Over To You: Can A Club Set Have More Than One Style?

2 Many DJs2

2 Many DJs: They've made a name for themselves by being eclectic.

Digital DJ Tips reader Luke writes: "I have been both a mobile DJ for over four years and over that space of time have played every genre there is. The problem that I have had is that when it comes to wanting to put together a mix for a club gig it's generally expected to be all in the same genre, which for me is quite boring as I love mixing it up. So my question is can you create a DJ set for a club gig that covers different genres, or am I destined to just make the mixes I really want to play for SoundCloud?"

Digital DJ Tips says

Well you only have to listen to DJs like 2 Many DJs to know that it's possible to have a really eclectic style. I have struggled with this too, as I've done everything from underground techno raves to weddings! For me, I have a severely cut-down record collection (500 tunes) and every song has earned its place over the years. There are old and new records in there, well known and obscure, and covering a number of styles. I like to think I can play any gig offered to me (that I'd do) from just that collection alone.

Therefore those 500 records are my "sound" - while I can play sets in various style within that, there is - I hope - something "coherent" about that 500 tunes, which means wherever I play, and whenever I do a mix, it's hopefully recognisably "me".

That's the compromise I make, but I'd love to hear what our readers think too.

So - over to you. Is it possible to cultivate a varied, eclectic style and still get bookings in clubs, or does playing a single style stand you in better stead? Please leave your advice for Luke below.

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  1. Its a question with a simple answer

    If the club plays an eclectic mix of music then yes you can make a mix of various styles. If the club stays strict to one genre then obviously that's the music you need tout on a mix.

    I play a wide variety of music so target my mixes at clubs with similar tastes, saying that I love each genre enough to do a mix of just one style also if need be

  2. yes, of course! not only could you, but in my mind you absolutely should try to be diverse in a good club set. in my mind, there is nothing more boring than 5 hours of the same sound/style/tempo. when i dj, i play everything from oldschool hiphop through reggae, funky breaks, ghettofunk, moombah, wobbly stuff (...) and essentially cover bpms from 90 - 150...
    it's obviously important to find combining/similar aspects in the tracks you play (for me that would essentially be concentrating on bass-heavy music, breakbeats and a general funkyness) or tunes that let you transition between different styles, but with timestretching technology having come this far, it's even pretty easy to incorporate tracks usually far out of your bpm zone into your sets.
    also: never underestimate the power of a well placed massive switch in tempo or style. not everything has to be beatmatched all the time, and i've seen clubs going crazy when the dj drops an unexpected banger at the right time...

  3. Good topic, one many aspiring DJs struggle with. I think it's very important not to become a slave to one genre in order to grow as a musician. Certain jobs will require monogamy (ie warmup sets, rnb clubs) but I've personally found that people are interested to hear what YOU enjoy, and the best personal statement is a varied set. My most well received sets have always spanned 2-3 genres (e.g. techno, tech house, progressive) so don't be shy to cook with varied ingredients :-)

  4. If the club is dedicated to one style you have to follow the music code. But all genres have sub genres that can give your set more variation.

    The most important thing is that you never ever get cheesy.
    My favorite dj when it comes to mixed sets i Armand Van Helden. He can put in a 90´s euro-tune in the mix and it´s still cool 😉

    • Armand van Helden: exactly. Every aspiring DJ should listen to at least the first of his "New York: A Mix Odyssey" compilations. It's masterful cross-genre, cross-era mixing

    • hey! anther ref to Armand, 'friends' of his dj'ed at our club and right before they got on, one guy said to me "hope they like disco" meaning that nu-disco , and disco cutups (ala "You Don't Know Me" by Armand). And in their 4 hour set, ended up playing anything from Dada Life and Sidney Sampson to cold starting Prince "Raspberry Beret". They friggin KILLED IT, and the crowd only wanted more. YES play multiple genres.
      and also yes, pretty much buy New York Mix Odessy, GhettoBlaster, Nympho, Coochie, and anything else you can get your hands on by Armand Van Helden (Im kinda a fan)

  5. A good dj understands what should be played and how. It's just a matter of audiences and clubs. Usually people go to a club because they know a particular genre is being played or they know there are different floors with various music styles. Mixing different styles together might be hazardous since the time it requires quite open minded people. I remember once I mixed for an entire night at a Metal party, usually metal heads are quite conservative and do not appreciate a sudden chande in the tunes. Then I discovered that it's almost the same with other genre's fans. When you play dubstep, for instance, I doubt people would like to listen to the original version of Poker Face, by Lady Gaga. Sometimes I noticed that "dubsteppers"do not enjoy house music at all. At least in my experience.

  6. OH YES!!!! I believe a club set or any set in general should encompass a variety of different musical styles. The transitions to those different genres are what are the most work but it is very possible to accomplish and when you can create "mashups" like discussed in the last article from straight rap moving to a hyper electronic track or any other combination the crowd will love you for it.

  7. What do you mean "put together a mix for a club gig"?

  8. go where the fun is, if your enjoy playing different styles do it

    djing is an art not a script

  9. It depends on your job...a residency you can experiment a bit...sometimes you are hired to play a certain way!! Some genres aren't acceptable for a particular crowd. Example---playing rap for a crowd that wants country music!!

  10. Frankly, you don't have to think in terms of "do I play the genres that promoter books?" anymore. You have to think in terms of:

    1) Do I have a sound that would appeal to that audience?
    2) Can I or would I bring heads through the door?

    I remember giving out demos to a promoter to only have him tell me "you're all over the place"...meaning he felt I was supposedly jumping around genres too much compared to the guys he books who play one genre all night. He even mentioned that I don't brand myself to one genre, and I should.

    Weeks later, he books some local who is also "all over the place". What that told me was that it wasn't my demo, but simply that I wasn't popular enough for him. That I was not worth the investment of a spot and/or money. This other guy would get high with that promoter at afterhours events, and he was known and liked as a person among the clique of people who came to that promoter's events.

    Yes, we can ridicule this or whatever, but it's a fact of life. If you can fill a room with people, then it honestly doesn't matter what you play. Promoters are mainly seeing dollar signs.

    I personally say to play the way you want, just make it work. If a promoter is going to pull the BS I've seen, then move on to another or look for another avenue to build up a following where promoters like that won't even need to hear a demo...they'll simply book you because you'll bring them a crowd.

  11. Many people have picked up on it. It depends on the club and the night. Try genre hopping at a night like The Gallery at Ministry of Sound! One track that just had a dubstep drop got the whole crowd booing and having a sit-down protest! No joke!
    Genre hopping's fine if that's what the event is known for. But established nights with a signature genre, think about it. No promoter is not going to rock the boat just because you're bored of one genre, no matter who you are, as it's going to alienate his clientele.

  12. Despite my screen name, I play many genres. As most people are pointing out, the key is to know your crowd and meet their needs, which always means some variety. The important part is play the diverse sounds your crowd wants to hear while keeping a narrative of sorts in your playlist, so that changes in tempo/genre are natural and not jarring. If you can do that while playing consistently good tunes (no filler), you will please any crowd and even snobby djs like us.

  13. Thanks for all the advice Guys and thanks to Phil for using my question.

    I have started making my mixes with different genres and they are getting a very good reception!

    Gav and Tony, no i defiantly do not make mixes and play them in clubs.

    Would love peoples feedback on my mixes just check out my fb page

    http://www.facebook.com/flukeaus & go to the bandage section.

    Thanks for all the advice, keep it coming!!!

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