Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Contradictions Of A DJ Ego

I was really looking forward to Friday night.  Not only did I get to DJ the last set, which was a chance to put things right after the only other time I did the last set and cleared the floor (circa February/March), it was also my first night out for a month and most important, we had booked a DJ whom I greatly admire, Iain Kemz.

Not only a really sound guy and a good friend, but musically plays what I absolutely love.

Given my floor-clearing the last time I did the last set, and the likely high imbibition’s of alcohol, I practised more than ever.  I had my first three tracks sorted and a vague plan.  I had CDs marked with tracks that I wanted to play.  I practiced my set on at least 3 occasions.  This is very unusual for me.

Not that I don’t normally want to practice, but studying comes first and as the week goes on I get more tired by time I get home.

So I felt prepared.  However I wasn’t prepared for mixing my first track into outgoing vinyl.  Suddenly I realised I had no numbers to guide me.  Those that DJ regularly will know that you can DJ by numbers when using CDs, and I do tend to when fucked, at least for the first few tracks until I'm in the groove, excuse the cliche.

I wasn’t fucked on Friday, but I certainly wasn’t sober.  And the first mix didn’t go brilliantly.

I did then settle into it and the next tracks mixed in ok – sometimes very nicely, but I was unsettled and it was a matter of time before I fucked up again.

Normally what happens is after a few mixes, I relax and smile, and feel at home.  I never felt relaxed or at home all set.

Part of my problem was the age of some of the tracks I was attempting to play – older tracks don’t always have such a consistent and reliable BPM, and call for quicker mixing.

I’d say a third of my mixes were bad, a third acceptable and a third were good.

Needless to say, the more mistakes I made, the more I didn’t enjoy it.  I’m kind of looking back on it in shame.

However the feedback was contradictory, with plenty of good feedback, plenty of people afterwards telling me I played well, plenty of people saying they loved my music.

I had also been a little spooked out before hand because it suddenly got quite a bit busier 10-15 minutes before I started, and I heard, or thought I heard people saying they were there to see, James Winfield.  It might be imagination, it might be my DJ ego, but I think people might have been there to see me.

In fact I know at least some were, as some people told me to my face, one random even messaged me during the day.  I’m not exactly sure how this can be the case.

Whether they will be back after some of my abysmal mixing I have doubts!

I did finish on the below track, which means a lot to me at the moment:

The night as a whole is clearly growing.  More friends come down each month (though this month more to do with the pulling power of Iain and Ashley), I see and speak to the same regulars every month, we have increasing amounts of Spanish it seems (one even had a haircut to rival me).

It is getting busier much earlier than normal, and stays busier longer than it used to.  This could have been a tricky night with cold weather forecast and it not quite yet being Christmas party season but it was easily another success.

There were some sound system imperfections again with it being quiet at the back and too bass-heavy at the front, but not a lot we can do about that on the night…the Turtle need to sort that themselves, one assumes someone has been twiddling with the amplifier with the wide range of events that the room hosts.

So I look back having had a really good night, having enjoyed the sequin shoes but frustrated that I really missed an opportunity then.  The last time I DJ'ed fucked I just about pulled it off, and I was way more wasted that time.

Next time will be as close to perfection as I can manage.  It will be.  It has to be.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Economics Of DJing

I’ve just ordered another box of 50 blank CDRs and it has got me thinking about how much my hobby costs.

So they were £7.50 on Ebay.  TDK.  I remember buying TDK cassettes.  I have my doubts over the quality but maybe I should put those cassettes out of my brain.

I do buy 2-3 packs a year, easily.

I seem to need new headphones every year – although lesson learnt – never ever let anyone else use them unless you 100% trust them and always keep an eye on them.  Do not trust DJs that you do not know.  Currently I have cheap headphones, and boy don’t I know it with the rattle in my ears whenever they are on anything but bedroom level volume.

I am hoping to be able to afford a new decent pair next year.  And I will paint flowers on them so nobody wants to steal them.

Of course then there is the hardware to learn the craft.  I spent £1,200 originally on a mixer and CDJs.  I intend on buying technics next year, and will need a CD stand so my CDJs can fit above them, so I’m probably talking not too far off a grand again.  Plus I’ll either need to stabilise my desk (I broke it when moving) or buy a new desk.

I know I should buy my tunes but I don’t.  However this will change next year when I start buying vinyl.

Then there is the cost of going out.  Train fares, drink, food and any extras – the cost of a normal night out except I get a few free drinks.

But whatever it costs, when I get behind the decks and I feel the satisfaction of the first mix, all my investment is worth it – in fact, my investment is inconsequential.  It’s love.

When it is something you love doing, then the amount it costs doesn't matter - though that doesn't mean I will play for free!  Unless I really like you.

I am really lucky to have the residency that I have, and not have to whore myself out for free in the hope that someone one day might take pity on me and give me two free drinks tokens.

And speaking of which (the residency), I'll see you all there on Friday 20th November.  It's going to be a big one - a bit of a Mango re-union.

But who is hosting the after-party?