On Djing...

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I am making my dj debut at my own farewell party early in June. Admittedly, there is little pressure on me to do anything other than inflict my own tastes upon others. However, I look to ILX for the dos and don'ts of djing, particularly as to any golden rules for opening and closing a set. I listen to lots of different music, and It's proving difficult to construct a set with any sort of consistency, and confine myself to one genre. I am also really concentrating on my first three songs - What qualities should these songs have?

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 08:58 (twenty-one years ago) link

horns, plenty of

pete b. (pete b.), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:02 (twenty-one years ago) link

Well, I WAS thinking of playing "Bitch" by the Stones...

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:05 (twenty-one years ago) link

first song should be friendly/accessible but perhaps also in contrast, possess an essence of 'warning' or menace - to symbolise your arrival, har...the only example i can think of right now is something like The Avalanches' 'Under Inspection'

stevem (blueski), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:11 (twenty-one years ago) link

that would probably clear the dancefloor tho, unless you were playing first/early

stevem (blueski), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:11 (twenty-one years ago) link

I'm still not sure if this place is going to let people dance, it's more of a bar. I was gonna play the Melt Banana version of "We Will Rock You" (as a statement of intent), but then thought better of it.

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:16 (twenty-one years ago) link

Also wanted to play "Energy Flash"!!

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:17 (twenty-one years ago) link

If I had to dj tonight I would surely open with Motley Crues's "New Tattoo" followed by something from Notwist. It think it could give a nice shape to the first part of the set. But please don't write down those infinite lists...you won't follow the schedule and you will have wasted a couple of hours. what kind of venue is it?

francesco, Friday, 16 May 2003 09:33 (twenty-one years ago) link

If it's not for dancing then don't confine yourself to one genre or be consistent - see, peasy!

Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:34 (twenty-one years ago) link

That's what I wanted someone to say, Tom! ;)

what kind of venue is it?

It's actually a very long but narrow room with booths either side. The strip of hardwood inbetween could be used for dancing, were one so inclined. I'm not sure how London licensing laws about people "swaying rhythmically to a beat" may constrict us, or not.

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 09:40 (twenty-one years ago) link

So I could stick to my rule of thumb: there's nothing worse than banging music+ massive volume+small club = you're so free to experiment and entertain people in a sophisticated way: switching continuosly thru genres... in this kind of places I tend to perceive the thing as "what would I play to a group of friends in my house"... kind of relaxing...good luck

francesco, Friday, 16 May 2003 10:42 (twenty-one years ago) link

play my 'Centraline Lounge mix' while you go to the toilet/bar

stevem (blueski), Friday, 16 May 2003 11:38 (twenty-one years ago) link

All ILX0rs arew of course welcome, but it's going to be a bit messy.

And did I mention it's in Camden?

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 11:46 (twenty-one years ago) link

Nordic, it's the lounge bar innit?

call it chalk farm, it sounnds classier.

I really shouold sort out that place for yoink!

chris (chris), Friday, 16 May 2003 12:45 (twenty-one years ago) link


Spot on. My description was obviously v. accurate!

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 12:51 (twenty-one years ago) link

How did you book it? I've been there twice to find it shut and the manager is never around whenever I call (admittedly not for a while now).

chris (chris), Friday, 16 May 2003 12:55 (twenty-one years ago) link

Manager is hardly ever there, it seems. We went in and spoke to a very nice young lady with an accent. Seems there is no set rule as to deposit/fee/capacity, though someone recently blew the speakers there, so they were a bit edgy about deposit (originally asked £300!!). In fact, still waiting for manager to call back and confirm. We have to pretend it's a 21st birthday party so they can stay open late (?????).

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

btw, the lady had an accent, that reads like I put one on to speak to her.

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:01 (twenty-one years ago) link

escuzze mee madam laaadie caan a av the privalig of a nite in ur cluub

james (james), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:39 (twenty-one years ago) link

sorry i shall leave, btw play whatever you want, your party = dj's right to choose, personally i wouldplay disco to make ladies dance, get the ladies dancing

james (james), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:41 (twenty-one years ago) link

Don't apologize, I love posts written in funny unplaceable accents. Ladies, yes. Disco, maybe, need more disco.

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:44 (twenty-one years ago) link

i believe james was adopting the accent of the sweaty fox

stevem (blueski), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:56 (twenty-one years ago) link

the sweaty Pinefox?

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Friday, 16 May 2003 14:02 (twenty-one years ago) link

I am finding "Male Stripper" by Man 2 Man meets Mann Parrish to be a real crowd pleaser in many different club environments at the moment. That could be a good one to kick off with, but where to go from there, that's the problem.

colin s barrow (colin s barrow), Saturday, 17 May 2003 00:10 (twenty-one years ago) link

Close with something brassy and deep. Open with something tart and sweet.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Saturday, 17 May 2003 00:32 (twenty-one years ago) link

And in the middle, "Move Your Feet"!

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Saturday, 17 May 2003 00:35 (twenty-one years ago) link

Don't know your crowd, but remember it's not what you have, it's what you do with it. Just don't get too drunk while spinning. A good DJ can play for the crowd and him/herself effectively if they gauge when people are movin' & shakin' or it's just headnods.

First three,

If you can scratch well(or not), here ya go:

1. Start it up with a sexy hip hop joint or a downtempo track. Nothing bangin', just sweet yet attention grabbing. Make it a track that people aren't exactly familiar with but you wanna make them curious. You must scratch/mix something with it you are sure of your abilities though.
2. Mystic Moods' "Cosmic Sea" is a massive cut to ease into as a second song. Flip it and mix/scratch with something comfy.
3. When the ridiculousness goin' off, the crowd should be into it, then really go into funky overdrive with something like "Theme from Blackbelt Jones" or your holy grail blaxploitation of choice. The party should be off to a good start at this point.

Then when they are getting drunk and frisky and ready to dance,"More, More, More" and "White Lines" are never disappointing spins.

Troll Archer, a Friendly Troll, Saturday, 17 May 2003 01:31 (twenty-one years ago) link


Curt1s St3ph3ns, Saturday, 17 May 2003 02:37 (twenty-one years ago) link

(nordique, got your email will reply at length soon)

try to keep it interesting, that's my only advice.

i opened my last set with the books' "enjoy your worries, you may never have them again" with robert ashley's "in sara, mencken, christ & beethoven..."... tried to keep it fun and strange.

closed with a bird songs record that i was messing with into the long intro to the colette no5 DFA mix of casiotone for the painfully alone's "baby it's you"... for me it's just something that makes my hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

gygax! (gygax!), Saturday, 17 May 2003 19:49 (twenty-one years ago) link

the "don't get drunk" info is pretty good advice

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Saturday, 17 May 2003 21:03 (twenty-one years ago) link


Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Sunday, 18 May 2003 09:41 (twenty-one years ago) link

Just hold off until you actually start playing so you don't get tired.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Sunday, 18 May 2003 16:12 (twenty-one years ago) link

four years pass...

i really want to do this in some form or another and i think i have a potential foothold at an older gay bar in town. i know/am casual friends with the manager and i've asked him a few times about an empty monday night slot. he's been a little cool about it so far but encouraged me to come on a monday and hear what the later guy was playing. i'm not really hip to popular gay classics or anything but i think some italo and etc. disco wouldn't bomb? (crowd is older gay dudes and random hustlers.) the manager is an ex-cattle-showing country guy who probably wouldn't get too excited if i talked to him in playlist-ese, which is how i'm used to talking to people about music. but i really think the bar (one of the oldest landmarks in the city but kind of "uncool" now) might benefit from something a little more interesting than what it plays right now -- bring in a younger crowd, etc., but also keep its current clientele psyched to come out.

really my question is how should i make this happen? (obviously the first step would be to go there on a monday night and check it out and talk to manager; i haven't yet because of the holidays and assorted stress.) any things to say / pitfalls to avoid? i really want to dj somewhere, somehow, and right now this seems like my best bet.

in general though, how pathetic and gauche is it these days to do the mp3jay thing with an ipod? i think at this particular bar no one would really give a shit, but if i want to keep it up / do something else... i need to invest in a turntable and start buying vinyl right?

re general dj-ing advice: what's the best way for someone who likes music a lot and likes watching people enjoy music and has music he thinks people would enjoy to start playing enjoyable music for people in a public (or any kind of) setting? keep in mind i'm not very good w/ people or schmoozing but getting better and i feel like this is necessary for my future uh happiness. thanks

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 08:43 (sixteen years ago) link

do you have a laptop?

download traktor and use that.

gr8080, Monday, 31 December 2007 08:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Based on my experience I'd give two general pieces of advice:
1) Get used to people making ridiculous wishes for a tune, and generally not understanding you don't have every record they'd like to hear readily available in your bag.
2) Get used to people trying to hit on you.

I've DJed mostly in university student parties though, maybe your club is a more specialized setting so these things won't happen so often.

Tuomas, Monday, 31 December 2007 08:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I am a rock guy that came to the DJ game pretty late. It's a fucking blast getting to play my records for other people.

Here's a few quick tips:

1) unless you are going to do dance nights, you don't need to learn to beat match, scratch, or show off any other "skills"

2) FLOW is the single most important thing you can provide. Don't fuck with the audience repeatedly, even if you're playing adventurous music. At least use the "punishment/reward" concept if you must satisfy yourself

3) Don't be embarrassed to pick up a really cheap and useful book called "How do Dj Right". I read great reviews of it, and was blown away at how simple and correct its methodology is.


Other than that, yeah--don't use mp3s if you can help it. That's gay.

Nate Carson, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:01 (sixteen years ago) link

BTW, you don't need to own turntables unless you're going to do a lot of gigs at places that don't already have them. I do recommend investing in your own cartridges though. That will run you around $60 and will save your records from harsh needles on public decks.

Also, in case you didn't get it, my mp3 comment was a joke. I rely heavily on my vinyl collection because I don't beat match or whatever. So I fall back on two things: my great record collection and my immaculate flow.


Nate Carson, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, one more thing I've learned: the more drunk the crowd, the less adventurous music the probably want to hear. If you're playing at some club centred around certain genre(s) it might be different, but in general clubs people just want to have a bit of fun and not expand their musical horizons too much.

Tuomas, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:08 (sixteen years ago) link

i've got good flow, thanks. gr8080, no laptop :(. do you think a cheap-ish notebook/laptop w/ traktor or whatever is a better investment for all-purpose dance-ish semi-weirdo dj-ing than a turntable in the future?

tuomas, i'm not gonna be too weird. if anything i'm too sensitive to crowd moods--that is, if i take advice from upthread and don't do it drunk.

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:16 (sixteen years ago) link

And Nate is correct about not needing specialized DJ skills: if it's not a dance or hip-hop club, people probably don't care shit about such tricks. Basically you just need to learn to use the crossfader and try not to follow one tune with another one in completely different tempo (no slow r'n'b jams immediately after a fast house tune). The only things people will notice are blatant fuck-ups, like accidentally pressing the pause button. Which leads to one more piece of advice - don't get drunk, even if your drinks are on the house. A few drinks might be good to ease the tension, but if you get too drunk the potentiality of such fuck-ups is very high.


Tuomas, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:18 (sixteen years ago) link

thx tuomas, good advice.

p.s. manager told me cds were the operating media here so i guess that would be best (though i think i can get away w/ an ipod since the mixing "booth" is like above and hidden from anyone and i could probably find a stereo in and bring some jacks). what i really need to do is check out the set-up tomorrow and see how they're mixing em.

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:22 (sixteen years ago) link

i'd stay away from using your ipod and use cds if you can. burn your best sounding files to cd at least.

gr8080, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:25 (sixteen years ago) link

ok thx

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:27 (sixteen years ago) link

if you're unfamiliar w/ the basics of using a dj mixer (or even if you are familiar but haven't used the specific type the bar has) see if you can drop in before they open and mess around for half an hour or so, so you can get comfortable with the basics of going from one cd deck to the next.

even if you don't plan on beat matching, the more comfortable you can get with compensating for volume variances between different tracks, minimizing dead air between tracks, perfecting your general flow, etc.

also, bring your own headphones if you have a pair with a 1/4" jack.

gr8080, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:32 (sixteen years ago) link

also, nate otm. at least stop by the book store and spend half an hour thumbing through "how to dj right".

gr8080, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:34 (sixteen years ago) link

ok. i'm not a total mixer n00b but i'm unfamiliar with dual cd mixers if that's really what they have. this is great advice + making me think about what i haven't actually thought about yet because i'm too self-deluded and arrogant. i'll check out the set-up tomorrow if i can and report back for everyone's reading enjoyment. and i've got to grab that book; it looks really really helpful. thx nate!

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:44 (sixteen years ago) link

dont forget to have fun, too.

dont get too caught up in pre-arranging your music ("i'll play this track and then this track and then this track...") the best part of deejaying, even at a bar w/o a dancefloor, is connecting with the room and seeing where they're at with regard to what you're playing and how that influences your next selection.

if someone makes a request and you have it, play it. if you don't have it, be honest, but use their request as a springboard to a different topic, musical or otherwise. if people are super annoying and complaining about what you're playing or making vague and non-specific requests, tell them that the next deejay plays the kind of stuff they're into and he goes on in an hour.

also don't listen to tuomas; if you get to drink for free take advantage of that shit! its a bar, not a dance club, right?

gr8080, Monday, 31 December 2007 09:59 (sixteen years ago) link

always play 'you make me feel mighty real' by sylvester.

haitch, Monday, 31 December 2007 10:04 (sixteen years ago) link

haha yes! sylvester will not be MIA

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 10:13 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah gr8080 i just need to check their set-up and make that work w/ what i have +++++ the flexibility axis. this place is definitely NOT a dance place. people are drinking, eyeing other men and occasionally playing pool. some nights the bar just plays an xm radio station. monday is 'oldies' night but god knows what that means (general '70s/'80s). if anything i need to educate myself on some mainstream (gay) shit from that era to keep the crowd alive. and i am NEVER one to turn down a free drink.

strgn, Monday, 31 December 2007 10:20 (sixteen years ago) link

my pal's hairdresser had a 40th last night, and her DJ cancelled with only three weeks notice, so my pal suggested that I play it. Doing "mobile discos" really isn't what I want to be doing, but the birthday girl offered decent money and I felt bad for her having to scramble to find someone, so I took the gig. We had a chat when we first made contact and I explained that I'm not really someone who is going to play Brown Eyed Girl and Build Me Up Buttercup and Sweet Caroline, so if she was looking for something like that then I wouldn't be suitable. She said she didn't want something as traditional, and she was basically wanting a warm-up party for before her trip to Ibiza this weekend. So I thought, this is something I could manage - some cheesy stuff, some disco and lots of pop-house.

So to make sure I was prepared I asked her if she had any specific requests for songs, and times to play certain songs (eg last song of the night etc). She said she didn't want too much house music, but then sent me a playlist of 30 tracks that her and the people she works with love. It was all hard trance and techy stuff - think Billy Gillies and Hannah Laing, who are huge names in the world of crossover dance music in 2024 despite being pretty terrible.

But, it's not my night, so I decided to go with it. I planned to play an hour of disco, an hour of r&b, and then two hours of clubby pop-house and planned to keep the hard trance stuff to the end, so that when everyone was a bit drunk and lively they would dance to it. I don't think there's anything worse than seeing someone playing fast and hard to an empty room.

My night was a disaster.

First, the venue was a nightmare. She had hired it before it made the news a few months ago for an event that went massively viral for its awfulness. That event was blamed on the organiser, but having now spent a night at the venue I can see they weren't solely to blame. The staff were useless last night. They were more interested in pouring their own drinks than serving anyone. The "low lighting" was still like having the main light on in your living room. The speakers were terrible - really murky, and even with the volume cranked up it felt very quiet.

The birthday girl had hired a saxophonist to come play for an hour. This seemed a bit strange to me but I'm open-minded. The woman turned up and she was lovely, really nice, great chat. She was due to start about an hour into the party and play for an hour, and while she was setting up we were chatting and we were in agreement that it was a tough crowd. The dancefloor space had been reduced for a photobooth which didn't help, but you could tell that people were out for a nice subdued drink rather than a big night out. As we were working out when she would take over, she asked if I could skip a few things I had planned to play because she was going to play them as she played her sax over them.

She then played what I can only describe as "Scottish Floorfillers: The Megamix." In Glasgow we have a local radio show that's really popular called "The GBX" which is basically donk versions of pop hits and club classics. In an hour she played all the biggest anthems, the stuff you would rely on: "You're A Superstar", "Boom Boom Boom Boom", and Scotland's other national anthem "Bits & Pieces." She also played all the big 80s stuff "Sweet Dreams", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "Young Hearts Run Free." Every time she started a new song my heart sank because it was a song I was expecting to play and get a decent reaction. Even then, people were still in their seats, not really feeling it.

She finished at 10pm. That left me two hours to play. But when someone has come in and played all the biggest crowdpleasers before you, where do you go from there? I get that if you're only playing for an hour and you want to be booked again by other guests you have to show you are the most fun and great entertainment. But it really fucked me over.

I started with some chart dance-pop. It was going OK. Then, just to really knock me off, my laptop froze and Rekordbox crashed. I could have just crawled under the table and died at that moment and it would have probably went down better. A minute to reset and it was fine again, but nobody dancing. I was playing stuff from the playlist the birthday girl sent me, which I wasn't even enjoying myself and nobody else was. I did a pivot to 80s pop. Still no dancing. I tried some 90s pop. Still no dancing. I went full cheese - "9-5", "Don't Leave Me This Way", "A Little Respect." Still no dancing. Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, The Weeknd. Still no dancing.

At the end of a Scottish party it's traditional to play Runrig's "Loch Lomond." Everyone gathers in a massive circle, holds hands, and sings along to the slow bit, then do a weird running/mosh dance to the fast bit, while the person whose birthday/wedding/etc it is stands in the middle. It's standard procedure and it would be odd to go to this type of event and have that not happen. When the time came to play that? Still no dancing.

It is fair to say that I completely bombed last night. I know logically that a lot of it isn't my fault - a lacklustre crowd, someone else stealing my energy, a venue that didn't offer anything conducive, and a tech glitch - but I genuinely felt embarassed going home with cash given how underwhelming the whole thing felt. At the same time: this isn't the type of thing I want to be doing, and I don't feel sad that I didn't flourish when attempting to do something that I don't really want to try again.

My phone fell out my pocket on the taxi home and I won't get it back until this afternoon, and that somehow feels like a metaphor for my evening.

boxedjoy, Saturday, 4 May 2024 09:29 (one month ago) link

Wow! I can't imagine anyone is ever going to have a worse DJ gig than this to beat such an incredible story. I'm so sorry you went through that, but what a tale! The saxophonist part absolutely blew my mind.

I do think this will be an outlier in just how awful a gig can be and I hope one day you can appreciate it for what a great story it gave you. But yes, i think I'd be fairly traumatised after that experience!

It did teach me what a crap Scottish person I am though as I never knew that about Runrig's "Loch Lomond." I asked my wife if she knew that and she just burst out laughing saying how can you not know that!!?. Oops!

Anyway, super sorry but thanks for sharing!

stirmonster, Saturday, 4 May 2024 09:57 (one month ago) link

I am now trying to picture you playing "Loch Lomond" in Queens Park tomorrow and it is cracking me up

boxedjoy, Saturday, 4 May 2024 10:56 (one month ago) link

Yeah, that sucks. A Little Respect is a bit of a litmus test for me: if they won't dance to that, they won't dance to anything, and there's nothing that I can do to fix it. I had a saxophonist with me for a party earlier this year; she sent me a playlist of half a dozen tunes, and I put them into a mix at the start of my set. It was... fine. And then everybody disappeared upstairs, and almost nobody danced for the rest of the night (I did the A Little Respect litmus test, after which I just relaxed into the situation.) The person whose party it was felt bad about it, and gave me a bottle of wine the next day to compensate!

I didn't know that Bits & Pieces was a Scottish anthem!

My Friday nights are still going well BTW. I have an optional extra half hour which depends on how busy the bar is, and for the last couple of months I've been playing it in full - we always get a late surge of punters, even if it's been quiet earlier. The renewed interest in country has become very apparent: Wagon Wheel is massive (US readers: feel free to roll your eyes, but it was never a hit over here, and it seems to be having a moment), and I get a good reaction to Tebey's recent cover of Blinding Lights, which TBH I prefer to the original.

My most loyal regular - at least 70 years old, less than 5 feet tall, zero dress sense and an amazing dancer, Nothern Soul spins, the lot - has become something of a mascot; everybody wants to dance with him, nobody takes the piss, and something about his gentle enthusiasm helps to set the mood in the room. He drives about 35 miles to get there, and books a room for the night in a local pub. I'm honoured!

mike t-diva, Saturday, 4 May 2024 10:59 (one month ago) link

I am now trying to picture you playing "Loch Lomond" in Queens Park tomorrow and it is cracking me up

ha ha! i shoud do it to see what happens.

stirmonster, Saturday, 4 May 2024 11:09 (one month ago) link

mike, your most loyal regular sounds amazing. what a hero.

stirmonster, Saturday, 4 May 2024 11:11 (one month ago) link

oh, and yes - I didn't know that Bits & Pieces was a Scottish anthem!

i honestly think if this was designated Scotland's official national anthem a good % of the population would be all for it.

stirmonster, Saturday, 4 May 2024 11:19 (one month ago) link

Another great thing about my regular is that he loves the deep cuts - Azymuth: Jazz Carnival is one of his favourites, and more recently he's been loving Warriors: Destination (a brilliant Britfunk/jazz-funk track which is all about the lengthy instrumental middle section). As he's always there at the start and is the first one to dance, I programme my first half hour especially for him, before wheeling out the more obvious stuff.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 4 May 2024 11:27 (one month ago) link

Omg what an absolute nightmare boxedjoy. Hope you can look back on it and laugh someday

I did another members night in the Italian club bocce court last night - I have so much fun playing there, it’s not really conducive to dancing but I did see a few people bopping here and there. Tried my hand at a cosmic-style set (lots of leftfield 80s synth and jazz-funk peppered with some African and Brazilian tunes, never went above 112 bpm), ppl responded well to it and I am ruinously hungover today oof

donna rouge, Saturday, 4 May 2024 15:52 (one month ago) link

I know there's a "digital DJing" thread I recently revived, but feel like this is a better all-purpose place. Let me know if I should take this over there...

I've always been predominantly vinyl, not for any snobbish reason, mostly I just have the records, I'm used to them, and I'm very used to the process of flipping through my records and pulling certain ones up front and pulling some out halfway, all in a way that's very physical and immediate and way more fun than making a playlist while DJing.

I've also appreciated the limitation of only bringing so many records, and not knowing I have a huge library to pull from.

Regardless I'm trying to set up my USBs/Rekordbox to do more digital djing...to not have to lug as much vinyl, to access stuff I don't have on vinyl, to do some edits and take advantage of looping.

Wondering what people like to do organization-wise. I have a bunch of playlist broken up by genre, some obvious genres, some just obvious to me, and some of the contents clear, some just make sense to me. I'm just wondering if there's some magic number where a playlist is just too big. If I should be splitting up some of these genres into smaller playlists, maybe by era, or relative bpm, or something else I come up with.

Or do people not bother with this and just throw everything in there and just search for things?

My playlists tend to range from 40 songs to 170 songs, depending on my interest.

Any thoughts? This is important because I dj like twice a year.

dan selzer, Friday, 10 May 2024 00:33 (one month ago) link

despite being an archivist by trade, my digital library is an absolute mess lol. i don’t have anything organized by genre and my tagging is pretty spotty too. for my happy hour sets which are usually only three hours long, i always make a playlist of about 75-100 songs and make it a point to stick to that playlist for the whole evening. (if i have access to my entire drive i will literally be paralyzed with indecision.) i have a rough idea of the songs i’m feeling that week and then i just spend some time diving into my collection pulling things together that i think would complement or build nicely off those songs and try to fashion a semi-coherent set from there. lots of just zipping around my collection and seeing what’s what. organizing it by BPM helps me with set-building too, tho ofc that number isn’t always accurate on rekordbox.

donna rouge, Friday, 10 May 2024 01:11 (one month ago) link

I get the paralyzing. Trying to avoid that. Excited to add stuff to the library but worrying I'm gonna get lost.

I have 1 playlist called "crate" that I basically fill up before a gig with stuff I'd like to play, so I at least have that shortcut to a small playlist of appropriate stuff.

dan selzer, Friday, 10 May 2024 01:17 (one month ago) link

i find myself doing the equivalent of packing a crate of records for most events i play by making a smaller playlist of stuff i'm most excited about playing that night. i also dump everything i put in rekordbox for the year into an yearly "incoming [current year]" playlist and i make two copies of it, one sorted by date added with the newest at the top and then another sorted by BPM, so like: "inc 2024 date" and "inc 2024 BPM." gives me easier access to the music currently on my mind. there might be a way to change the "sort by" of playlists on newer decks but idk i'm used to doing it in rekordbox. i also make playlists using real or made-up genre names and for various djing purposes (segues, tools, acapellas, etc) and i use that double playlist tactic for any playlist that gets into hundreds of tracks. it's common for me to have the same tracks in multiple playlists b/c they're genre-flexible. people do cool stuff with tags which makes it much easier than using playlists to sort and search for tracks b/c you can search for multiple parameters like "disco + peaktime + chugger" but i haven't gotten into that b/c i don't always play on nice cdjs that support that so for now i stick with my shitloads of playlists

karl...arlk...rlka...lkar..., Friday, 10 May 2024 01:21 (one month ago) link

i am typically not a very organized person, so it's taken me forever to arrive at this even vaguely sensible system

karl...arlk...rlka...lkar..., Friday, 10 May 2024 01:24 (one month ago) link

I’ve made sure everything is tagged with the correct Year and Genre(s).
I don’t really do “Energy” or “Mood” tags.

Then I just make a smart playlist with, say, Genre contains “Italo Disco” and Year is min 1980/max 1987. I’ll go through that subsection, and pick the tracks I like and put them in a playlist, which will go to my USB stick.

I’ve got a Denon Prime now so it’s EngineDJ instead of Rekordbox, but it works pretty much the same.

This works well for single-genre sets, not ideal for anything-goes genre-hopping.

Siegbran, Friday, 10 May 2024 19:36 (one month ago) link

jeez I don't do any of this, but I have an unorthodox setup and don't mix at all, plus it's for a restaurant/bar so I don't have to worry about people dancing

I bring 1-2 crates of undigitized vinyl, plus a box of 45s. then on the other mixer channel I use a laptop with, y'know, 20,000 albums on the external drive, I bounce back and forth as I please

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Friday, 10 May 2024 19:45 (one month ago) link

just like my radio shows, I tend to build up mini-playlists on the digital side, 15-20 minutes max

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Friday, 10 May 2024 19:46 (one month ago) link

then keep in reserve as needed

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Friday, 10 May 2024 19:46 (one month ago) link

a lot of times this involves me just randomly scrolling through the 7500 FLAC albums just to see what catches my eye

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Friday, 10 May 2024 19:47 (one month ago) link

i think if i were playing regularly to proper dancefloors i'd be a little more organized in terms of my sets. my happy hours are kind of "anything goes" sort of deals although they do broadly tend towards disco, synth-pop, house, italo, etc.

donna rouge, Friday, 10 May 2024 20:10 (one month ago) link

I've taken the approach of building up my DJ library slowly, trying to limit it to just tracks that I know I'm enthusiastic about. Each of the mixes that I record and post here is also my first time working with that particular set of tracks. I usually start by building up a playlist on spotify of tracks I like that fit a certain theme. Once I have a good list and Bandcamp Friday rolls around, I will buy up those tracks and pop them into a corresponding playlist in Rekordbox. I give each playlist/mix a name I can remember and that reminds me of its overall mood. After the mix is done, I hang onto the Rekordbox playlist and add it to my USBs, that way I have a collection of playlists that are already organized around specific themes and have a catchy name to easily identify them, which makes it very easy to find tracks that fit a set when I need them.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Friday, 10 May 2024 20:20 (one month ago) link

I've got it mostly worked out. Most of my playlists aren't that long. I just have this one playlist called "Recent" which is 278 songs that were recorded like, after 2000. I know, my idea of "recent" is ridiculous. And I play almost none of it. Some of my early 2000s nu-disco friends like Metro Area and Danny Wang yes, but much of the rest of this stuff, not really. I just want to? I have a bunch of mixes I've made over the years with a lot of this stuff, that I'm happy with, just never seems to fit in with my decidedly more retro sets, which is what I've always been most comfortable with. So fun to make those mixes, which I started as a sort of "see, I have new(ish) music too".

But I generally have trouble working a lot of that stuff in. Like the old techno and house I play works well with the old italo and new wave, but the new stuff sounds too different to me. And I LIKE being eclectic.

It's a lot of bandcamp stuff, some pretty small/obscure. But also stuff like Border Community, Norwell, Lawrence Le Doux, Roy of the Ravers, Oyvind Morken, Roman Flugel, Young Marco, D'Marc Cantu. Stuff on Lovefingers ESP

I could probably split some of it out into nu-disco, nu-techno, nu-house. Or go by region.

Though I may just split it up into tiers based basically on how likely I am to actually play it.

Stuff like these mixes:




are completely unlike anything I've ever even tried to play in a club/bar/party/etc. But I'd like to. Maybe I just haven't played those kinds of parties. Maybe I'm still stuck on my old days in my 20s where you really had to lay on enough vocals and hooks to get it going. And I don't mind doing that still! I love that.

this mix is a better mix of newer house/techno and classic house stuff that I like, but still isn't what I actually sound like when DJing.

this is more akin to what I sound like playing out:


or the first 35 minutes of this:


I don't know if I want to find the best way to mix it up, or find ways to find myself in contexts where I could play more deeper house and techno. There's been a change in NY where techno really blew up in the past 10 or so years and I'm jealous of people where they're banging out techno an the audience is into it and into the energy and not just waiting for something they recognize. I have PTSD, years of "play some michael jackson or prince" requests in Williamsburg bars. On the flip side, I don't actually like the techno and house 99% of people are playing these days so feel conflicted. And find when I'm djing it's still a more low-key space and early enough that I stay in my comfort zone, even if it's a relatively eclectic one, but it's one with vocals and songs, because that seems to work better for me, and because I think it's fun!

Not that I don't like any proper contemporary DJs but even then I find it more likely that they'll mix it up more. Optimo never sounds like the same thing all night long to me, thankfully. I saw Scott Zacharias DJ a sunday night in a bushwick record store 2 months or so back and it was mindblowing. I didn't know a single song and there were long stretches of just deep banging jacking house stuff that could've been chicgo 1987 or somewhere now and then stretches of weird european classic rock or whatever. I don't know what but it was fantastic and everyone was dancing. And I was there from 9pm to 11pm, then went home and got a good night's sleep! What a dream.

Sorry I'm ranting. Generally things are great in NY. People dancing at 8pm or 10pm. On a sunday night. There were MANY years where nobody would start dancing until like midnight in manhattan or 1:30 in brooklyn. The new kids are so keen to just have a good time, it's really cool.

And I'm not being naive, I know what the good and/or popular parties were like 20+ years ago, I was there. More than I am now. Even those huge gigs didn't kick off till later.

not sure I'm making my point, going to go to bed now so I don't say more conflicting things or anything petty or bitter. Tomorrow hopefully I'm gonna process the dozens of tracks I digitized a few weeks ago.

Which does bring up another question. I'm gonna remove some pops, remove the space before, fade out the end etc. Eventually normalize. But does anybody do any mastering of any kind at this point? Or do you figure the record sounds how it should and I ripped it well and should just let that be? Or do you think oh some subtle mastering compression/eq or whatever can help this compete a bit?

dan selzer, Saturday, 11 May 2024 04:23 (one month ago) link

When I said "this mix is a better mix of newer house/techno and classic house stuff that I like, but still isn't what I actually sound like when DJing."

I meant to post this: https://soundcloud.com/newyorkendless/definition-of-a-plan

dan selzer, Sunday, 12 May 2024 04:06 (one month ago) link

AND getting work using iZotope RX and Ozone for some subtle restoration and mastering and I realize that somehow a good half of the records I ripped months ago are in mono. Finding some of these on the iTunes store so just gonna buy them. This really sucks. Half of those are not available anywhere so I'll likely re-rip. I know Mono is ok in the clubs, but I want it for mixes and listening.

dan selzer, Monday, 13 May 2024 13:13 (one month ago) link

I took Siegbran’s advice and checked out “djay Pro.” Despite the terrible name, it’s nifty! It’s far more interesting than Traktor Pro 3, and, from a software perspective, way more functional than a CDJ-3000. I feel bad that it took me thing long to take a look. I blame the name.

“Fluid Grid” provides a proper, Ableton-like grid where it statically registers a dynamic track to a dynamic grid. I say “it” because, in my limited experience, I couldn’t find much tooling to modify the track and even less tooling for modifying the grid. Nevertheless, it does a reasonable job at the translation, even on tracks where I would’ve assumed it would shit itself like “Good Vibrations” and “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner (a staggering 90 PM to 170 BPM change). It even managed to keep _reasonable_ time to my vinyl rip of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider” and the J Dilla tracks I tried. It doesn’t do part detection, as far as I can tell, but the analysis did find all the key changes in “Paranoid Android” so parts were easy to spot.

Siegbran was right about the cross-fader. It’s sick. It does all the transitions I’d want as someone who almost exclusively plays dance music. However, it’s so sick that I now want to customize or build my own cross-fader automations, e.g., it doesn’t ship with a jungle or drum and bass rewind transition!

I still need to mess around with NeuralMix (i.e., their segmentation feature) more but so far the results have been mixed.

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 13 May 2024 19:41 (one month ago) link

Not that I don't like any proper contemporary DJs but even then I find it more likely that they'll mix it up more. Optimo never sounds like the same thing all night long to me, thankfully. I saw Scott Zacharias DJ a sunday night in a bushwick record store 2 months or so back and it was mindblowing. I didn't know a single song and there were long stretches of just deep banging jacking house stuff that could've been chicgo 1987 or somewhere now and then stretches of weird european classic rock or whatever. I don't know what but it was fantastic and everyone was dancing. And I was there from 9pm to 11pm, then went home and got a good night's sleep! What a dream.

I miss Detroit parties.

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 13 May 2024 19:42 (one month ago) link

I've always been a fan of djay pro. Started using it in the pre-pro days and thought it got written off because it was so mac/iphone based and had a cute skeumorphic interface. But it was obvious to me at least that it was also extremely easy to use, totally functional and powerful. I've had two controllers over the years that worked primarily with djay off the phone or iPad and was very happy with it. I only moved up to getting a pioneer XDJ-RX2 so that I could DJ with just a thumb drive and get more used to the same controllers/mixers that are in most venues.

dan selzer, Monday, 13 May 2024 20:10 (one month ago) link

Siegbran was right about the cross-fader. It’s sick. It does all the transitions I’d want as someone who almost exclusively plays dance music. However, it’s so sick that I now want to customize or build my own cross-fader automations, e.g., it doesn’t ship with a jungle or drum and bass rewind transition!

Yes, and drop your samples in, so the crossfader triggers a rewind + "Selec-t-a-h!" w/ timestretch FX -> drop next

Siegbran, Tuesday, 14 May 2024 07:40 (one month ago) link

I say “it” because, in my limited experience, I couldn’t find much tooling to modify the track and even less tooling for modifying the grid.

So what I understand is that this is all auto-detected on-the-fly, there's no stored beat grid to modify.

The Crossfader Fusion thing, I can see where that is headed: put 8 crossfader presets under your performance pads, select one and map a button to "apply crossfader", and voila: automated transitions. I can see why Algoriddim is hesitant to put this in the interface too prominently though, this is going to absolutely infuriate traditionalists.

Siegbran, Tuesday, 14 May 2024 08:06 (one month ago) link

Oh and the other cool thing about Djay Pro is that it's as of now the only DJ platform that can use Apple Music (the streaming service).

Siegbran, Tuesday, 14 May 2024 08:09 (one month ago) link

Me and Nick B have started a new radio show (I’ll post a link when the archive is up). I was a bit sceptical of the studio because they don’t have physical decks, just a little controller with Djay Pro - I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised how good it is.

Chewshabadoo, Tuesday, 14 May 2024 12:26 (one month ago) link

eh speak for yourself, i was having a mare (just for a change)

Bernard Quidbins (NickB), Tuesday, 14 May 2024 19:23 (one month ago) link

At the risk of mortifying Nick, here is our first show warts and all! I like it, but I think we’ll get better :) In particular on my side I had a very busy and stressful week at work and have about 15 minutes to get some tunes ready.


Nona Hendryx - Transformer
Asti Spumanti - Luxury Life
Fun Fun - Sing Another Song
Scan Man - Arabian (Mang & Trujillo Long edit)
Stone - Girl I Like The Way That You Move
Time Capsule - Sexual Desire
Electric Party - Caribe
La Sellrose Can Can - Happy Morning
Van Jones & Mary Diggs - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?
Rude 66 - In Exile
Mark Du Mosch - Nazomer
Bolis Pupul - Completely Half
Hannah Diamond - Affirmations
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Signal
Jesse Rae - Hou-Di-Ni
Lime - On The Grid (extended)
Gino Soccio - Remember
Pleasure Pool - Ask Your Body
Haruomi Hosono - Turquois
Perfect Vision - This Hook
Jean Luc Ponty - Open Mind (Luke Solomon Body Edit)
PowerPlay - Foolish 4 Ashanti
Life Form - Come Down (June Mix)
Erika De Casier - My Day Off
Needs - Walkin Thru Circles (Thump Mix)
Jordan GCZ - Sunny Side Up
Propaganda - (The echo of) Frozen Face
Change - The End

Chewshabadoo, Thursday, 16 May 2024 09:59 (one month ago) link

yeah some truly abysmal mic technique on my part, ugh. it's the one thing that you never practice isn't it? and then you open your mouth to speak and all words and thoughts have vanished from your mind, like cats out of an airlock

Bernard Quidbins (NickB), Thursday, 16 May 2024 11:26 (one month ago) link

i would love to do a presenter-led radio type thing but my delivery is poor. i can talk for england but as soon as a mic is on or i feel i have an audience, i hesitate, repeat myself, lose my train of thought, run out of breath

your mom goes to limgrave (dog latin), Thursday, 16 May 2024 11:56 (one month ago) link

exactly that. OTOH chewshabadoo is freakishly pro at it, so unflappable. it's just not fair tbh

Bernard Quidbins (NickB), Thursday, 16 May 2024 12:54 (one month ago) link

yup. i have frineds who d a weekly one and they're just great - really clear, no umming and ahhing. it's a chore to listen to me

your mom goes to limgrave (dog latin), Thursday, 16 May 2024 13:02 (one month ago) link

Haha, pro is definitely pushing my radio abilities! But I have got more confident in managing to bluff a load of utter nonsense out in a clear-ish fashion

Chewshabadoo, Thursday, 16 May 2024 13:40 (one month ago) link

loving the show guys

karl...arlk...rlka...lkar..., Thursday, 16 May 2024 14:16 (one month ago) link

I never heard that Nona Hendryx song. So good.

dan selzer, Thursday, 16 May 2024 16:07 (one month ago) link

OMG! They used to play that Nona Hendryx song at the first club I ever attended regularly and I never knew what it was. Thanks for solving a 40 year mystery!

Looking forward to listening to the rest.

Not umming and ahhing is way harder than one might imagine.

stirmonster, Thursday, 16 May 2024 19:42 (one month ago) link

when I first started doing "real" radio DJ slots in early 1991, I had only ever broadcast on cable FM, which like its name is only available in homes w/cable. so I had to get a real paper license from the FCC, I still have it. the station manager had this little tape player rigged up so that it started recording as soon as the mic went on, and stopped when the mic was cut. then he would sit there with you, listen back through your show but just the voiceovers, and (pretty nicely really) shred you to bits over every obvious mistake. he turned out to be a jekr in some ways but he was a great old school radio teacher, and those lessons have stuck with me ever since.

also, for most normal mics, position them at a 45 degree angle to your mouth, it helps minimize the sibilants and plosives. and listen in headphones of course.

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Thursday, 16 May 2024 19:57 (one month ago) link

"jerk" lol

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Thursday, 16 May 2024 19:57 (one month ago) link

Celia played the Nona Hendryx - it’s featured on the film Love Lies Bleeding out at the moment.

Chewshabadoo, Friday, 17 May 2024 12:08 (four weeks ago) link

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Laswell and his catalogue, but when he was great, he was great. I was already pretty steeped in NY disco not disco type stuff and had that Material album One Down and probably had never listened to it. Then a few years into my descent into italo-disco I finally realized my favorite ever italo song was a Material cover. The cover is better...but not much.

dan selzer, Friday, 17 May 2024 14:23 (four weeks ago) link

I like all the early Material stuff from when they were an actual band, Temporary Music and Memory Serves, I have zero interest in everything afterwards

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Friday, 17 May 2024 14:35 (four weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

was interviewed for a radio show...DJ was exploring the book Meet Me in the Bathroom and wanted to talk more about what was going on in NYC in the early 00s. As I'm happy for any attention and chance to reminiscence, I was game. Plenty of talk about DJing, then and in general, as well.


dan selzer, Friday, 31 May 2024 23:18 (two weeks ago) link

I keep meaning to give this a listen, but I’m so bad with audio interviews… any transcripts around?

Chewshabadoo, Monday, 10 June 2024 19:37 (six days ago) link

I played two Grateful Dead songs last night at the restaurant/bar, 1st "Alabama Getaway" and I noticed a dude at a table close by was real into it. Later when things really got going (it was packed for a good hour) I threw on "Shakedown Street" and he and a buddy applauded after it ended, that's a first for me!

I painted my teeth (sleeve), Monday, 10 June 2024 19:39 (six days ago) link

no transcripts unless he puts it on youtube and it's automatic. don't think soundcloud does that.

dan selzer, Monday, 10 June 2024 20:51 (six days ago) link

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