Weekend Recap – The Art of Open Format DJing with Dj Danny Rockz

We recap our performance at Paddy’s Palooza and chat with Danny Rockz about his article “The Art of Open Format DJing.” What does it take to a the ultimate “Open Format” DJ?

The Art of Open Format DJing
Serato 2.4.3 Beta

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  1. You guys made some good points. When I was just starting to get into DJ’ing and was learning all of the technical aspects involved, I’d go to the club and constantly pick apart Dj’s sets in my head, and really be bothered by different shit. Now that I’m DJ’ing regularly, I know there’s sometimes a bit more to how a DJ plays, and what they play than what I used to think years ago. For example, the club that I play at is supposed to be a super top 40 club with the charting rap and classics sprinkled in throughout the night. Also, this club is open from 10-3:30, so I’m now playing 5 and a half hour sets. To an outsider I may seem shitty for playing the music that management requires me to play. Also, some may hate that I often will play a couple of the biggest songs twice in a night, but again, it is recommended by management that I do so. Funny example. A couple of nights ago I was opening up with some 80 bpm throwback shit, and my manager came up to the booth and told me to get it poppier, so after the next chorus of “dead wrong” by biggie I scratched in some uptempo pop song. The only two people in the club that would know why this uncalled for and messy switch in vibe occured would be me and the manager. This kind of bothers me a bit in situations like this, but at the end of the day the club goer, or dj hater is not the one deciding whether I get paid or not.

  2. I liked the theme of this recap intertwining Dannys article into the discussion. I read Dannys article a couple of days back, and it touched on some very good points. Regarding creativity, I couldn’t agree more. Individual creativity from within each and every DJ should always strive for something a bit different to make your own sets unique. Sometimes we can become complacent within the hottest trends, and jump on the bandwagon and play what everyone else is playing, but like you guys mention, there is a time and place to fit in whats cutting edge and what will be unique to your own individual set.

    I was at a well known club venue a couple of years back and a well known DJ was spinning that night. Everyone I know who has ever heard this DJ always had good things to say about this DJ. It was probably because this DJ was a very good at not only mixing perfectly, but also variety and creativity. Well into primetime I start to hear a repetitive loop, and at first thought nothing of it for the first couple of looped bars, but then suddenly realized there must be a problem. Just as I started realizing it from my own inner DJ perspective, soon after, my non DJ friends I was with along with many people in the crowd started questioning this loop. They knew something was up. The loop was perfectly on beat, not off by any means, but even from a DJs perspective, the looped portion of the song was much to long to be deemed as an intention on part of the DJ, plus there was no mixing over or out of the loop. Within a short time, I couldn’t believe the negative things I was hearing people say about the DJs lack of experience when just minutes prior to the loop mishap, they were all hands in the air having a great time out on the dancefloor.

    What got me most upset was the fact that the crowd who was blatantly complaining looked down on this DJ all of the sudden just because they heard something out of the ordinary for too long which was this unintended, overplayed 4 bar repetitive loop. Granted some may have been influenced with some alcohol, but they never even probably stopped to think that maybe this DJ is having issues/technical problems. I know non DJs don’t usually think in that way, but common sense should kick in. I felt like right then and there trying to make aware to these people on what may be occurring, but instead kept quiet and watched them ramble on about how a good DJ wouldn’t let that happen. I never got to find out what the issue was, as I was too far away towards the back of the club, but I’m assuming it had to do with Serato acting up, and it was obvious to me the loop was either intended to play on beat while the issue was getting resolved or something else of that technical nature, because after a couple of minutes(and it was Id say just about 2 minutes of this repetitive loop), the DJ finally smoothly mixed ot of it!

    In regards to DJs being so hard on themselves for maybe not having a good night or maybe thinking that they might of slipped up a bit, I agree that most of the crowd never hears it, as DJs tend to either correct it asap, or more times then not, it has to do with what a DJ was intending to do creatively in his or her mind, and having the outcome of that intention be something quiet different by the time it reaches the crowds ears, Either way, the crowd had no idea what you meant to do in your mind, so when they hear the outcome, what you actually mix in or out, to them, its what they thought you meant to do in the first place because they weren’t in your mind thinking along with you! I think its in a DJs nature to always come off a night that we may have slipped up a bit, questioning and critiquing ourselves to no end, when in reality, percentage wise, most DJs rock the house more than they know it!

    DJs sometimes tend to perceive what most of the time isn’t quiet noticable to the average crowd goer!

    • Its funny how 1 error like that can send people off into anger and immediate almost hatred like we have to prove ourselves to the public when we are djing and make an error. I guess our job can sometimes be more political than we expect. But looking at it from a different job, a waitress, she may screw up and other waitresses may be like omg thats happened to me before i feel bad (kind of like how u were made aware of the problem with the dj) but the gen public could be like omg u suck! Same with the waitress. I guess we all critique others in their jobs and expect everyone to be, not PERFECT, but good at what they do. Its kinda made me realize that maybe getting upset of little shit that people do while working or “customer servicing” me, may just be one screw up they’ve had in a long time. Who knows.

      • I agree, it is funny how an error of that nature has the crowd spiraling into a hating on/cursing frenzy, lol! That’s why I think a lot of it in those types of situations can be blamed on a little too much alcohol consumption on the part of those patrons who are the ones hateing!

        I think nowadays most DJs tend to have more sympathy for their DJ peers, like you mention in the waitress analage, people who work in the same field can relate to mishaps because they’ve experienced them as well at some point, and that kind of goes along with what Danny Rockz, JD and Spring were mentioning in regards to not judging DJs if they go out to a club on their nights off. We’ve all been there, and especially in these last 8 years or so as computer based/MP3 Djing started to take off, more and more DJs have encountered tech issues that they never had experienced prior with their old traditional 2 turntable/mixer and crates of vinyl records.

        Today’s age of DJing has both seasoned vets and beginner DJs alike sometimes experiencing some of the same tech issues, some of which are unavoidable, like spur of the moment Laptop freezing/crashing and Programs not playing nice out of nowhere, or memory ceasing. Just look at what JD mentioned a couple of weeks ago regarding his memory in his Laptop. Its hard to get the non DJ public to understand our “DJ issues” nor should we have to spend time explaining issues to everyone, however their was a time back when DJs rocked plain vinyl, and if a DJ faced problems back then, it was mostly being offbeat/trainwrecking or something similar. Nowadays, like mentioned in the video, DJs are less apt to mess up in regards to maybe say beatmatching because of all the visuals and the taboo “sync” buttons. Todays DJs bigger fears mostly reside on the equipment side with tech/laptop issues!

  3. Jay Spring-Gaga song that goes into a crazy dutch part…

    With these episodes as long as they are, I find myself writing down little bullets..
    -Spring Mentioned Gaga song into dutch

    I laugh when I get done cuz I’m like, noone wants to hear me sit and babble on this stuff so I just want to kind of comment or throw an “I’ve done that too” in here every now and again.

    As far as the Gaga into dutch, been there, done that and yes, freakin’ embarrassing. But, and I’m not speaking for Spring on this one but as for me, that goes back into my lack of effort to organize my music. I have become much better at this because I have now put in the time to reorganize my music and anytime I see the word “DUTCH” in the comment or genre section, I know its got that dutch break. (just something I’ve come up with) I’ve also started changing my genres differently than how I put them in my crates in an effort to see what type of track it is if I get behind or just want to completely change up a set with fresh remixes. If the song, say for instance is a TOP 40 track that would be the first thing I put in my genre section, but then I try to describe what kind. If its just a top 40 original than its Top 40-OG..if its top 40 but is mostly a dance, redrum, but then has a tiny little progressive house to it, I’ll put that in. I basically go from the MAJORITY of what it is to the least bit of what it is…so like Top 40-Dance, House, Dutch..That tells me that its a track that must have a little bit in it that has a dutch or high energy house breakdown in it…and I can usually figure out what that is anyway…

    Moving on…

    I have grown, personally and as a DJ very very quickly when I made the move from NY to DC. I met the right people, got in to the radio station production work, and then just met all of the right people to get me in the right locations. I’m still no wheres near as good of a DJ as I want to be nor as I should be. The reason I’m telling you this is because I was offered a position with a Clear Channel Radio station to be a Live-On Air Mixshow DJ this past month. This past week, I received a request for my latest mixes and told him that I would record a live set for him if he wanted. (because the reason they were having trouble finding a new one was because they want “FLAWLESS MIXING” and I quote that). My response was, So your looking for a perfect DJ…let me see what I can record for you tonight but you need to understand the location of this club and the genre of music versus what you will be having me play at your venue. He said no problem. He WAS the problem. I started out with my disco house set (its a restaurant/club so some people are still talking over drinks and what not when I start and its upscale as well but the crowd can sometimes tend to be older so I like to start off with tracks like:

    Hungry Like The Wolf – Steve Aoki’s The New York Werewolf Mix,
    Dancin (19Sixty Cut) (Play That Funky Music White Boy)(70s Mix),
    Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough 2010 (Diggz Short Edit)

    Listening back to my set, it was flawless, in key and great. No mistakes, I even do my own acapella edit with a track and go from the original to a remix that I have and that was fine, no problems. The problem I think started when a group of my friends decided to show up and buy shots. Oh and during a transition when I went to “ECHO” out and forgot to change the tempo so it wasn’t FLAWLESS. Adding that with the shots and the bartenders who always treat me so well, making me extra strong drinks, problems started. Not in a bad way for the club because honestly, it was just like every time I play there, 2 blocks down in front a line awaiting to get in, people bouncing (i dont call it dancing much anymore haha) and just an all out blast. I killed it (or had thought I did)…This is where I laugh because the next morning, I went back and listened to my primetime set. I’m ashamed. I’m embarassed. I actually want to take the letters D and J away from the PRIEVO in my name because there were times I was like, did I let a drunk white girl take over and do this?!?

    Ok so maybe it wasnt that bad, but honestly, I can’t send that to Clear Channel. And worse yet, should I lie to them and make a new mix and say here it is or should I suck it up and say, I’m not your man? I have a lot of questions running through my head on this but I do blame a lot of that on the fact that it was a different kind of night and turned more into a party for me than a job and that RARELY happens. I learned a lot of valuable lessons out of it though and I think recording live every set is something I am going to do, not to put out to the public to DL like I used to but just to learn what I am doing and where I could work better on things. Its a great tool and I dont know about you guys but I am sometimes my worse critic. I tend to push myself pretty hard and think a lot of the things I do can be better when many think they are just fine.

    This weeks topic was great, I havent had much time to comment or post lately but I do get a chance to catch them all and I have in here Spring mentioned going out with friends and before saying “this dj sucks, or why did he do that” and now his friends are first to ask him…I used get and do that a lot, but more so with wedding djs, as far as critiquing. I almost get upset with some of those guys because they can be very corny and it just annoys me. But a lot of my closest friends don’t go out for the DJ. They go out for a good time. And I learned this when my head wouldnt fit through doors but it helped me in many ways. I used to take atleast 1 day off a weekend or if i wasnt working every weekend to try and meet up with my friends and go out with them or do whatever, its a break and its nice but I started realizing I wasn’t taking a break from work or djing. I was critiquing the dj, listening to his sets, taking mental notes, but more importantly, getting a chance to look at the crowd from a different perspective. When do they stop and get drinks and why? What are they saying about the DJ and music and why? etc….the number 1 thing I learned, atleast with my friends, they werent there for the DJ. They were there to have a good time. They were there to hit on chics and try to get laid. Honestly. And for my girl friends that I hung out with, they were there to dance and be girly with the girls and maybe flirt a little bit and see where it went. I didnt interview these people per-say but I used to play poker for a living, so reading people is something I can do fairly well.

    It astonished me though. They weren’t there for the DJ!!! And this whole time, I thought people who NEVER knew me, people who did know me, I thought EVERYONE was there to see me. The slap of the reality was, they weren’t. So, my head shrunk a little and I was able to fit it back through the doors and decided I wanted to somehow have an impact on these peoples nights to where they will COME BACK because OF ME!…so that was my goal set…and its worked. I’ve learned to take my ego, throw it out the door, and be the DJ. Not the hero.

    I come to this site mostly because I dont find time to sit down and talk with my other DJ friends and its nice to “shoot the shit” as I was growing up we called it. I never plan on commenting in this long of messages but I read all the other comments because people write them for a reason. You guys post your videos for a reason. I’m here for a reason, I want to be better, meet people, and progress before I become mundane and usual if its not already too late. What you guys do here is great and I get a lot of good laughs to see that the mistakes you may make or the situations you and other people have been in, everyone else has been in. I can’t thank you guys enough and recently JD has helped me with a purchase of some newer microphones and helping me with some set ups in that, I appreciate it guys. Great recap and I’ll be looking forward to next weeks, happy 300 on your next video fellaz. Great work.

  4. hahaha Jay Spring i know the feeling when your djing for a reg top 40 crowd and a top 40 song has a heavy dutch break that you didn’t know about lol the customers are like WTF! and your like OH SHIT! while trying to keep a straight face like this was supposed to happen. last time i was in that situation I grabbed the nearest Pitbull song and it was all G

    “when in doubt play Pitbull”

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