Let’s take things back to where they all began. We wouldn’t have DJs if it weren’t for the invention of the phonautograph in 1857. Unfortunately, it could only record sound, but not play it back. Thomas Edison fixed that with his phonograph cylinder.
The term disc jockey wasn’t coined until the mid 1930’s and the first discotheque didn’t open until 1947 (trivia fact: it was the Whiskey à Go-Go in Paris, France).
Many newly named DJs dabbled with playing music, but it wasn’t until Francis Grasso came along and introduced the world to beat-matching in 1969 that DJing really became an art form. Grasso was also the first DJ to wear headphones during his sets.
Like all forms of art, there are multiple techniques. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc, aka the founding father of hip hop, created the break (playing two records at once while extending the parts that will make everyone on the dancefloor go crazy).
Scratch DJing was discovered by accident. Grand Wizard Theodore loved to practice his skills in his room. One day, his mom was fed up with all the noise, so she came into his room to tell him to turn it down.
Instead of shutting it down, Theodore stopped the record with his hand. The sound intrigued him and paved the way for months of practice before he actually shared this gift with the world.
Fast forward to today and nearly everyone either knows a DJ or is a DJ. So, where did the art of DJing get jumbled and lost?
Well, for starters, it’s so easy for anyone to be a “DJ” now. I could hop in my car, drive over to Best Buy, and pick up a set of turntables. That’s basically all I really need to become a DJ. Some people don’t even bother with the turntables and just download a mediocre mixing app on their laptop and call it a day.
I can’t just pick up a paintbrush and call myself Picasso though.
DJs now have the added tasks of becoming their own promoters and marketers in a sea of fake, talentless DJs.
All of the new technology also makes it easier for self-proclaimed DJs to market themselves to small venues. It really does not matter how much you spend on equipment though. No algorithm can make up for poor EQ mixing skills. A flashy set can’t buy your personality or style either.
It’s no wonder why many of the mainstream DJs have pre recorded sets at their sold out shows. No one really cares if Zedd or Calvin Harris is playing live because they’ve already made a name for themselves. When you go see Skrillex (or any other famed DJ), you’re really paying to rage with your friends with the artist on an expensive set.
For all the underground DJs, that’s not an option. The “pre recording” is really just practice for the actual show. If you really want to make it in the industry, a DJ must have a unique style and sound. You also have to rock your set like nobody’s business.
You probably won’t see the countless hours our DJs put into perfecting their craft, but their charisma, energy, and hell of a night experiences speak for themselves.
You’ll also remember the Famous DJs by how great of a night you had. Even if you had a little too much fun and can’t put together the entire night (no judgments here), you’ll at least remember that the DJ was insane.
No matter what event you are attending, you can always expect a night of nonstop dancing and fun when we’re behind the turntables.