Here’s something I’ve wanted to post for a while, but recently Dennis Ciallela of The Scene Kings shared the above pic on his Facebook and it sparked the discussion again. It’s seems most DJs really feel this way…that being a DJ and producer are two separate things. I absolutely 100 % disagree.
Production is a part of DJing now just like scratching and making mixtapes.
Imagine a young DJ coming up to you and saying, “Hey, I love DJing and want to make it my career. I’m super-motivated and I think I have what it takes to be a top 10 DJ in the game. Do you think I should learn how to produce tracks?”
Now, what would you tell the kid? Now, what would you honestly tell the kid? I won’t even bother answering that question. Think about the 50 biggest open format DJs (the ones most prominent on traveling the bottle service club circuit). How many of them don’t produce? Is it an absolute necessary skill to have as a DJ? No. But yes if you want to grow your career and plan on keeping up with everyone else around you.
Now let’s look at the other side of the argument. If you’re a producer, is it necessary to learn to DJ? Picture that young kid asking you the same question, only reversed. “I wanna be a huge producer, should I learn how to DJ?” Isn’t the answer pretty clear?
This whole topic makes me think of some of the older veterans in the game. You all know the type I’m thinking of. They always used to bitch that real DJs would never spin on CDJs. They swore up and down that they would never DJ with a laptop and they still think you aren’t a real DJ unless you’ve made a mixtape on an actual cassette. Why do I bring those guys up? Because that’s who I think would be leading the argument against me here.
First, here’s what AC Slater said….
“I was reminiscing with someone recently about our early days of going to raves and clubs, and we realized how insanely different everything now.
i remember when djs had to start from the bottom, play the worst local gigs, build a following then slowly branch out around the country to play shows and prove themselves and build a real fan base. this is a different type of DJing of course, involving pricey (and heavy) vinyl collections that the DJ needed to know intricately, and be able to quickly thumb through when the situation called for a specific track. popular producers got to skip the ‘prove yourself as a DJ’ portion, but even then if they weren’t a good DJ the crowd would not be having it.
now its a whole different ballgame. many still come up in the more traditional way, but it can also be so easy to bypass any kind of “paying dues” portion of a career and really make it big with one single song or remix. luckily we don’t need to carry 100lbs of vinyl around with us anymore, and there are 100 times more events happening, and 1,000 times more fans than there were 10 or 15 years ago.
i dont think this change is bad or good. i embrace change, im just observing and reflecting. i think its impressive how things can change so much so quickly. if you look at rock/pop bands on the other hand, its still the same basic formula thats been happening since the 60s. because of the nature of technology i think electronic music will always evolve to another place, and that will always keep it exciting. what do you guys think?”
So now to the comments. I responded with, ” To be fair, you could switch this and say “DJs used to have it so easy. They never had to spend thousands of hours locked up in the studio learning how to produce music. All you had to do to become a big DJ back then was sit back while the producers made the hit songs and just wait for the wax to come out so you could play it. Now it sucks because you can’t become big without making some of those hits yourself.”
And someone replied to me with, “what (Jay Spring) just said is a huge problem…he said DJ’s have to be Producers to be DJ’s….its like telling a Baseball player to be a football player so he can be a popular baseball player…If you lock yourself in a studio for hours, you are a PRODUCER, not a DJ…..Ive been spinning for 24 years, Ive played over 1,000 gigs in 30 states and 7 countries, and I never ONCE touched a studio, or tried to produce a track, and Im well respected, and I havent had a day job since 1995….Good DJ’s get popular by being good DJ’s….if you suck at being a DJ, then maybe producing is somebodys way in…but its NOT mandatory…..just do what you love and be good at it! ….Id rather sit in my lab and cut up RUN DMC “Peter Piper” records until the grooves wear out for hours at a time, then waste my time learning software and remixing a Rihanna song like 200,000 other DJ’s are doing….thats me though….I will never let an industry tell me I gotta be a producer to be a popular DJ……talent will always prevail.”
My reply was this (and I swear I don’t usually make it a point to get into it with people on internet comment sections!)….
“It’s only mandatory if you want to keep up with everyone else in your field. All the top open format DJs are playing football now…Spryte, Scene, Enferno, Vice, etc. The recent winner of Master of the Mix, JayceeOh is playing football. The last Dj on the MikiDz show, EpicTwelve, is playing football. The last DJs I happened to speak with were the RockItScientists, and they are playing football. Football definitely isn’t mandatory to be a DJ. I agree with you there. But keep in mind that scratching and beat matching aren’t mandatory either.”
Boom. Roasted. I think??