Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Refining The DJ

How many of us say we are DJs? How many of us really are DJs? What does society think of the DJ?

Personally I shy away from telling people I am a "DJ", especially as a lot of the time I play house music. I can't help but sometimes think when I tell people I play house music they picture this, when really I am this. To those who may be uninterested, uniformed or simply don't care, most club DJs play house music, right?

So how does society picture the DJ? In a 2010 interview with Juno Plus, Jeff Mills said: "I have seen and heard some incredible things (from digital DJs) and with the new technology. It’s going to take us into a completely different realm if we can make it more open so regular people understand how this technology really works. There seems to be a great divide between the DJs that use this technology and the audience, because I don’t think the general audience knows how digital DJing works. I think most people in the audience assume that the DJ is still mixing, even though they are using computers."

Most DJs I see today perform from behind a laptop. Personally, I have trouble connecting with what they are doing, imply because I don't understand it. For others it is obvious. I recently saw Truncate (thanks to Andrew Till at MACHINE) and noticed that both CDJs and turntables had been removed from the booth. All four DJs playing that night were using Traktor, so there was no need for them. This was the first time I had seen such a thing.

Truncate and the supporting DJs played strong peak time sets, but on a personal level I felt the absence of a DJ. I know that I can associate and identify with the movements a DJ makes in the booth when playing vinyl or CDs, but so to can a digital DJ when watching one of their own. Truncate's set may have been one to remember.

So I pose the question - If a vinyl enthusiast, CDJ trained, house and techno obsessive blogger, does not understand entirely what a laptop DJ is doing - how much does Joe and Flo?

TEDxBrickLane is an event being held at Vibe Bar in London's east end on the 29th of March. It is a series of eight talks, each no longer than 18 minutes each, looking at different aspects of the DJ, including; the history and reasons behind the DJs rise in popularity over recent decades and the knock on effects it has had in the way we consume music in the 21st century.

Speakers include Ibadan boss Jerome Sydenham, Funktion-One founder Tony Andrews, expert in illegal drug use in society Dr. Karenza Moore and revered music writer and reviewer Joe Mugs.

TEDxBrickLane will be streamed live at and and will sit permanently on the TED's website and YouTube following the event.

If you are in the London area this Thursday, drop on by for a pint and chin stroke, if not may I suggest a glass of red and a reliable internet connection.

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