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The Secret DJ: "A proper DJ selects well and mixes well"

Our mystery spinner continues his guide to DJ success...

  • Words: The Secret DJ | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 12 October 2017
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Fear is a mind-killer. I’ve had the most awful things happen in my time. I’ve even left the decks to another DJ and gone home early in shame, only to find that I was literally the only one who thought there was a problem. People like Jimi Hendrix made a career out of ‘mistakes’. Indeed, much like his use of distortion, the entire culture of dance music is based on the crimes of slowing down and speeding up records and touching the vinyl – something hi-fi buffs and engineers would have a heart attack at. The whole dance thing is built on concrete pillars of what-not-to-do. Lifting up the needle that is actually playing by mistake is the first trick you learn to style out. Indeed, some wily veterans deliberately create an imagined crisis. A certain legendary DJ used to pull all the plugs when there was no vibe, to create a ‘power cut’. He’d stand there making ‘I dunno’ faces while people groaned and mumbled. The roof-loosening cheer when the ‘power came back on’ was something you could suddenly build a great party with. Cunning.

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t help but notice a lot of “mixing not important” articles lately, mainly written by and for newbie DJs and Balearic silverbacks who can’t mix well. A proper DJ selects well and mixes well. Making it a polarised argument about one or the other is ridiculous. It’s nearly as bad as when minimal nearly killed everything stone dead. Empty music made by empty people, all about bringing the bar down so they could join in. Don’t be fooled. Be highly dubious about anything that tries to sell you quick fixes. It’s hardly rocket science already; asking to make it even easier is bordering on criminal. Liken it to learning a language. Try as you might, nothing beats going to the country of choice and speaking it daily.

Some will read this and sneer. They never make mistakes. Oh, this is all sooo obvious. Well… not everyone is as awesome as you think you are. Some are even humble enough to want to learn. I’ve never been accused of humility, but I’m not so stupid that I think I know everything. Even after so long I still fuck up. I still go to school. I still listen to my peers. Once you stop being fluid, once you let the cement dry, you become forever stationary. A statue. A waxwork that looks like DJ but is simply a monolith with your likeness. Wheeled on and wheeled off stage like a giant limestone dildo.

Keep moving. Keep learning. I still try. I know I will sometimes fail. Knowing failure cannot harm me is the key to staying alive.

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