So the date is set and time is confirmed with the client, that goes straight into the calendar with an alert set to avoid any mishaps? It's definitely not a nice feeling to receive a call asking where you are on performance night whilst doing many of life's many other things except being at work? Organisation is key, especially for a working D.J, organising the music library is also a key aspect into performing. I personally audition music on a weekly basis and usually set aside a day or two to catch up on the latest music and decide if I should have them added to my collection or if it has a space within my set. Once the task is done I analyse the music via mixed in key in bulk, which analyse's the key of the song, the energy of the track and cue points which then gets moved into to a dedicated folder, organised by a timeline (Year 2022, March 2022 New Music Downloads for example). I own a MacBook Pro 15" and would be considered a Laptop DJ as opposed to a USB DJ. (more on this on another blog!) The MacBook runs my Serato Software which I have been an avid user since its creation in the 90's and use an update program called 'Alchimie' (Unfortunately no longer supported or sold, but still usable even on the latest IOS Update), with a few clicks of a button this software automatically updates my folders of music in which I have meticulously spent time curating over time for me the same as my folder organisation. The thing is Serato has the ability to create folders and sub crates within its program but I personally find that organising my music via folders and sub folders within Apples Eco system so much easier to manipulate and handle and especially when I'm very time restricted! Once done and updated, I then get to work on opening Serato and updating the metadata and making sure BPM and gridlines are correct. Reason being some of these tracks are new to me and some I won't even recognise, especially if I hadn't had adequate time to know and get a feel of a track. I need to be able to quickly identify the track, know how the track feels and sounds like at a glance, all without cueing the song previewed in my headphones, especially in the heat of the moment!
By being organised in this way allows me to have a confident and strong set
and ensure's a good performance, especially when I want to make a point of playing GOOD NEW MUSIC to be heard for the very first time to the masses.
So the music library is ready, the computer and updates are all functioning 100%. Now the question is what are we playing on? Question's involved are: will I be using the clubs very own kit, what are they? are they in good working condition? have I used them before? Can I integrate my setup into theirs? Shall I bring my own kit? A lot to take in, I know, been there! From experience, I've learned that it's great fun to use the latest gear especially when they are Pioneer CDJ Nexus involved and whilst taking a picture with them from the photographer, it looks great for the gram. That's why it's important to ask questions in advance with the club owner, promoter or engineer regarding this vital subject. In my early days I would rely on my trusty Serato SL3 which would integrate into the club equipment to get me by and this would work up to a point where you would eventually come across mixers which were in poor condition which had no knobs or crossfaders, CDJs were old models and abused. Hence the controller, I started out on the Pioneer DDJ SX1 when it was first released and then made the leap to an SX3. I'm currently a proud owner of the Latest Pioneer Rev 7 with its motorised spinning turntable all in mobile controller size and have already used this on a few gigs. Working with a controller allows me to work and perform at peak performance in comfortable surroundings. I just setup and go, connecting to the venue or clubs sound system is easy, unplug the Original XLR and replug into mine, job done!
Rane SL3 for Serato
Pioneer DDJ SX1
Now that the equipment in mind is dealt with, back to the question at hand, the preparation before the performance. Make sure you arrive early, whether your the opening DJ, Headliner or closing DJ. Transportation and traffic plays a factor into your arrival and you're professionalism as a DJ. Don't forget the transition of DJ's from one to another, the musical gear equipment involved, the exchange of music whilst playing live whether you're taking over for someone or vice versa, this also requires time. It's very difficult and very easy to make mistakes or worse case scenario to kill the music off in a middle of a set whilst under pressure. Arriving early and giving yourself sufficient time to set up will clear your mind and ease yourself in contributing to a killer performance.
Pioneer DDJ REV7
Now its go time, the dance floor is packed, the room is sweating, the music is pumping, you feel the nerves kick in, the adrenalin within you start to kick in, you already know what tune next up will get this crowd even more hyped, all this practice and endless hours in the lab all comes down to this very moment, you locate and load the track up, the countdown on the current song is on, no turning back now, you touch the platter and fingers are on the fader and......
Thanks for reading! Catch me on the next blog for the continuation...("Heat of the Moment?")
DJ Deya (March 2022)