If you are DJ these days, chances are you are a producer as well.
As we all know it’s almost impossible to be one without the other in today’s electronic music business (5 Reasons Why Producers Make More Successful DJs
). However, if you are just starting out, you might feel very self conscious about your productions, because you feel that they don’t hold up in comparison to the tracks you like to play.
The thing is, for the novice producer and the industry veteran alike, playing your tracks in the club is just about the most important tool to get feedback on your production.
It’s just so easy to get lost in a production and consequently loose any objective way of evaluating the actual music, its emotional impact and functionality. We easily end up focusing on some intrinsic detail, while completely blending out the big picture. But it is the big picture we should really be focusing on! The best way to stay objective, and to hear the music, and not the sound, is to listen to the track outside of the production environment. A DJ set at a club offers the perfect opportunity for this. When playing a track embedded in the flow of a DJ mix, our brains are automatically conditioned to hear the track in the context of other music and a state of emotional connection, rather than technical quality. And it is in this state of mind that functional and dysfunctional aspects of a production become blatantly obvious. Questions like: “Is a particular part too long or too short?” “Does the break happen when it needs to?” “Is the emotional energy and impact delivered on the drop and the following groove?” seem to almost answer themselves.
Together with the feedback from the crowd, this very focused type of emotionally embedding your own track within other tracks has a very distinct way of uncovering strengths and weaknesses in the music.
Of course, how, under the unhinged conditions in the DJ booth, you then make sure to capture that feedback, is a whole other matter. I imagine a small text block and a pen will come in very handy.
The second main reason to play your own tracks is that fans want to hear the productions of the artist they admire. Because of today’s strong connection between DJing and production, gigs have long evolved into more of a concert environment. DJs are known for their particular sound, and fans want to experience that sound in a club atmosphere.
So the next time you are struggling nailing down a track, and have a DJ gig lined up, take the opportunity, play it, and gain some serious insights into your production.