The Secret DJ: "The ritual of preparation helps to rebuild shattered confidence" - Comment - Mixmag

The Secret DJ: "The ritual of preparation helps to rebuild shattered confidence"

More words of wisdom from the mystery spinner

  • Words: The Secret DJ | Illustrations: William Davey
  • 25 October 2018
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The pressures on your confidence are many, and age can be a factor. When I was very young I was too stupid to be scared. I had the overreaching overconfidence that is usually bestowed on us at the start of life. But it was overconfidence that became my downfall. I thought I knew it all. I thought that because I was always working I must therefore be doing all the right things; that because I was fairly high up in the pecking order, everything I did must be correct. It took several years of being drastically wrong and out of touch to recognise the issues and stop blaming other people. The fact is, we rarely look at our own part in our downfall.

Solutions? Well, easier said than done, but I stopped playing the same, easily-found music, and made a conscious decision to go back to a place when I really cared. I stopped saying yes to unrewarding, crappy gigs, even though that often meant earning zero cash. Zip. Not a sausage for long periods. And I also started to do something I hadn’t done in a long time: I prepared. I never used to prepare: after long, busy periods where you legitimately haven’t had time to, you start to tell yourself you don’t need to. You do.

The ritual of preparation helps to rebuild shattered confidence. You’re ready: you know what you’re going to do, and what is at your disposal. It doesn’t have to be a fixed set – god forbid. But readiness comes from having spent time thinking about it. By working on it you’re adding value: the value of time spent.

I also started doing things like reading trade papers, magazines, blogs and reviews, and listening to other DJ’s sets. How many older DJs do you know who reel out the old “Oh god, I haven’t read Mixmag for years...” with a theatrical sigh? They, of course, are far too important to show an interest in what’s actually going on out there; far too cool to be curious about what different people with new, fresh tastes and ideas are into and discovering. But when you stagnate it eventually erodes your confidence. And when you stop listening and learning, why should people listen to you?

The combination of looking out for myself physically as well as retraining and reinvesting in the job brought me back into the middle of things, and restored my mojo. Give it a try. Of course, you could always borrow the balls you need from a bottle or wrap. But that will only make it all worse in the long run; believe me, I tried – and failed majestically doing it that way too...

The Secret DJ’s book is out now

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