Superstar DJs: We Know You Sometimes Mime. So Why Hide It?

fat boy slim in Olympics

Fatboy Slim ‘performs’ at the Olympics closing ceremony. He definitely mimed, and he’s not the only DJ who’s done this. But does this really matter? Is the backlash justified? And how should miming superstar DJs react to the criticisms?

Lately, it seems to be a regular occurrence to see well-known superstar DJs outed for what I call “miming a set”. That is where a big-name DJ will play a pre-recorded mix while pretending to DJ at a large club or festival. First, it was Steve Angello, and now David Guetta has been busted several times for this… both artists using the rationale that a visual / pyrotechnics show had to be in sync with the music. Even Fatboy Slim got up to a bit at the Olympics closing ceremony.

Similar behaviour was also famously highlighted by deadmau5 recently, when he let out a badly kept industry secret – that EDM performers (especially who’ve come from a production rather than a DJing background) often basically stand there pushing buttons when they play “live”. Regardless of the thinking behind such actions, or the claims of how much of a set is mimed versus actually played, these incidents still build much controversy among fans and other DJs.

They expose a rift between the old-school view of the DJ as a musical curator, with the crowd an essential part of a two-way experience, and a more recent view of the DJ as a perfomer on a stage, with light show, fireworks and the rest, all carefully choreographed to produce a more impressive show. But is it sometimes justified to mime? And if so, how should DJ/producers go about miming with integrity, assuming that’s possible?

The problem isn’t the miming, it’s the duplicity…

I’m sure some DJs will hold tight to the idea that faking a set any time for any reason is just plain “wrong”. I partially agree, but I also think about in the past when labels, artists, and DJ remix services would make and release “megamixes”. For those who never saw this, it was a record usually 10 to 20 minutes in length with a long mix made of tunes that could either be from one artist, one label, or some style of music.

DMC megamix

A megamix album from the 90s .These were widely used by DJs, and came from respectable sources – this one was from the DMC.

DJs would play these megamixes at times when they got multiple requests of one artist, or even just to change things up, or especially for a 10 to 15 minute window where they could go use the bathroom or get a drink.

I honestly have no issue with any DJ playing one of these, or making their own. To ridicule guys like Angello or Guetta for using this would be a hypocritical thing for the DJ world to do. I mean, guys in the past would make mashups, remixes or megamixes on reel-to-reel tape decks! A bit of pre-production is as old as the recording devices used to do it on.

No, the problem is the duplicity. The idea that you come out and mime (whether 15 minutes or the whole set), and try to make patrons believe you played. Patrons run out and pay $30 or $100 just to see these names, and to only see them dance around and not DJ is literally, I feel, a rip-off. It also insults the work many DJs do week after week in an effort to be good at their craft.

Why not come clean?

The one underlying message I’d love to send out to those superstars is: “We get it.” At least, I get it. I know in this world of DJing you can only go so far with what we do. You look for unknown tunes no one has yet, make your own tunes, do four decks, or even get all “James Zabiela” on the gear with samples and effects.

But after a while, you have to go visual to bump yourself up to the bigger leagues. Tïesto did it with his stage set, Bad Boy Bill invested in visuals and gogo dancers. And now, the festival headliners are trying out laser and pyrotechnic shows synced to music. I understand it’s very hard to sync a show like that with live DJing.

Here’s a little secret, though… most fans and audience members can tolerate a little miming or lip syncing if you tell them in advance. If any of you ever saw Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, you might remember when she did a ballroom dance/lip sync number with a dancer dressed as Dick Tracy.

Why did no one give her flack for that? Mainly because she told people right there in a playful way she would do this. No crushed expectations or anything, plus she sang most of the concert, thus not cheating the audience.

How DJs should approach miming

So here’s what I think DJs who are planning on miming sections of their sets could try:

1. Tell the audience in advance
Advertise it even. You spent loads to make this incredible visual show. Toss up on your Facebook and Twitter how you’ll be playing a specially-made megamix in the last 15 minutes of your set which will sync to an incredible light and pyrotechnic show. (We could have guessed Fatboy Slim would mime his one mix at the Olympics, but you get what I mean.)

The beauty of this is you’re now spilling your guts and managing expectations. If anyone wants to get mad after the show when a “miming” video or image appears, you can hold your ground in that you told everyone beforehand. Your fans will come to your aid, too.

2. Remember to be a DJ, first and foremost
The one concern I have with the increased usage of these visual shows is we’ll suddenly see a headliner decide to forgo playing and have a one to two-hour pre-recorded mix playing with the “megamix in sync with the visual show” excuse (as deadmau5 points out, EDM producers who perform live often do little more than just this).

Dj decks

Why not use the huge screens and decent visual producers you hire to turn the cameras on your decks for a change, and show a bit of your dexterity and skill to the audience?

I and many others can tolerate a part of the set this way, but when it’s suddenly most of or all of the set, then I have to ask what you’re selling then? Why even book you when one can just pay for a mix CD and the visual show?

With all the visual tricks and other big stage stuff, the fact you’re there to DJ a set should be the primary focus. So walk in and play! I personally don’t care if you manually play on vinyl or CDJs, or use a laptop with sync. Go and play. In fact, you should show authenticity by pulling the cameraman over and move the volumes and platters around to prove you’re playing live. People will respect you for that.

3. Give out or sell your megamix
Why not? I teach many lesser-known DJs to always multipurpose possible promotional materials. Why just make this to play at the festivals? Toss it up on Beatport or iTunes. What is treated like a ruse will turn into a great souvenir for your fans. If they enjoyed the show, be it in person or even online, they’ll want that megamix to pump on their iPods, and DJs may even want it to play in clubs. It’s a great way to make a big positive out of what currently gets treated like a negative.

The bigger picture…

So as far as the issue of miming goes, that’s it. Problem solved. Integrity is maintained and the DJ gets his or her big finale. Of course, the mainstream explosion of dance music in the US is throwing up all kinds of other questions, which were only partly dealt with in that last dance renaissance, Europe’s huge late 90s trance scene.

Should dance music be called “EDM”? Has something been lost between marathon DJ sets in the cosmopolitan anything-goes clubs of Ibiza and the glittering choreographed stage shows of Vegas? Should button-bashing producers stay out of DJ booths, and should DJs stop paying other people to produce music for them, which they then claim as their own? And that’s just the surface…

As the latest wave of dance music / EDM explodes across the States, no doubt we’ll be revisiting some of these points again over the coming months.

What do you think of the issue of DJs miming? Should superstar DJs just stop these visual shows? Or would they be better levelling with people on when there’s going to be a “mime” moment? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. In all fairness, Fatboy Slim’s Olympic appereance wasn’t really meant to be a DJ set, but more him being a part in the British-popmusic-retrospective that the ceremony was, so I didn’t mind him just faking it while playing short excerpts of two of his tracks.
    (That he recently starts all of his real sets with the same two or three tracks, is annoying me a lot, though.)

  2. I don’t think it’s every acceptable. Unless it’s something theatric like the Olympic appearance was. If a person it getting paid large sums of money they should mix live. Even if it’s a pre-planned Ableton set that is super simple to do just like a recording.

  3. …I wish I could see the camera on the mixer/decks… A-trak has done this, and it looks great. I really respect seeing it.

    …I think 90% of fans have no idea what’s going on & could care less if it’s a pre-recorded mix. It’s the song selection and order that they go for, right?

    …Once a certain saturation point has hit, audiences will expect more and hyped up and hyped-out DJs won’t be able to deliver. Keeping it creative and fun is key, isn’t it? I feel that in a few years (2013-2015ish) we’ll see a huge change in how the public approaches dance music.

    :D

  4. For me, it’s just disguisting. Why don’t rock bands do this? Pop artists? (Well, they actually do, and they huge backslashes for this). The LIVE performance is about being in contact with the audience, being able to react back and forth. As DJs, we have a lot of more freedom to enhance it — change the set, intensity of the song, put the chorus (or a drop) a second time straight. And instead we just ‘hit play’.

    Deadmau5 may be a great producer in the studio, but he’s very wrong about many performers. From Araabmuzik to ESKMO, a lot of electronic producers do GREAT live perfomances. They do it with the pretty same tools that many bedroom DJ/Producers wannabes have. Look at all other controllerists, mashing up other people’s tracks — you don’t even have to make your own music to be creative on-stage.

    Of course, it depends. From a personal standpoint, when I go to clubs, I go to hear live music played by artists I like. (And this clubs are generally more oriented for this type of ‘live’ electronic artists and their audience.) I understand that many people go clubbing just to have a fun time and pick up girls and get drunk, and they really don’t care much about the music as long as it has 4/4 kick beat — so may be for such audience and places it doesn’t matter this much.

  5. The lines are definitely blurry nowadays, especially with the range of tools at our disposal. Ableton will tell you Live can be a live DJ tool as well as a production tool, but it doesn’t leave much margin for error (compared to the hands-on mixing we are discussing here).
    From my point of view, I don’t honestly care what the DJ does (and consequently I will use any trick at my disposal – though I have never mimed I have used my own mixes for the beginning of my night when people are arriving, but the booth was empty so it was obvious) – for me the only thing that matters is the entertainment. If the crowd are entertained, job done. If the crowd are DJ-scrutinising technique critics then you better do the job, but in most cases I don’t think they are – just folks out for a good time/ good music. If they’re happy then whatever.

  6. Watching fatboy slim at the Olympics it was obvious he was miming and So on but he was still giving it all behind the decks and was looking like he was enjoying himself which gave the crowd energy this kind of miming I can put up with. What really gets on my nerves is people live Steve angello who is playing a normal gig at a club and still uses pre mixed cd’s and then stands there with his back to the crowd while the new tune is coming in. The crowd have come to see you perform at least look like your doing the job and give the crowd some energy

  7. DJ Majestic says:

    Where do I start?
    1. Miming is never okay. The reasons stated – to snyc the light and pyrotechnic show is bogus. Light can be synced to live music as well as the fireworks. We are living in the computer era. So that’s just an excuse for a lazy wannabe who don’t have the skill to make it happen.
    2. I don’t normally promote other people’s events but you have to give respect where it is due. If any of those big name posers what to test their skills, let them enter the DMC battle.
    3. What they’re doing is just as bad as Milli Vanilli lip syncing. And remember they got run out of the industry.
    4. Your cheating yourself & your paying customers.
    5. A mastermix is fine as long as it was done by you (not paid someone else to do it for you. Again, it’s like someone giving you the answers to a test, and you know you cheated.
    6. Promos can be given out, but then that promo should never be included in a live set. A DJ should always be on top of their game, and always creating new sets.
    I could go on but I think I made my point. And one last note. An open challenge to anyone who thinks differently. Meaning Tiesto, Steve Angello, David Guetta, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, and even Pauly D. All of them are nothing but glorified button pushers. If you want to labeled a DJ – bring the 1200’s, CDJ’s, or even MP3’s. Nothing premixed or recorded. Let’s see what you got. And bring your check books. Producers are just that, and I have nothing against producers but it’s two different thing. Example: Just because you can write a song doesn’t mean you can sing it and be a superstar. But wait – Autotunes says you can. Check & mate. Goodnite.

    • “lazy wannabe who don’t have the skill to make it happen” – I think this is unfair, many of the names you mention are quite capable of playing a set on two 1200s, and deadmau5 is a telented producer who nobody, I think, would call lazy.

      • DJ Majestic says:

        Being capable is one thing, but actually doing it is quite another. As for Deadmau5 i take nothing away from his producing skills. But as for DJ’ing, that’s a whole different field. But I will say this. He has the best marketing of all the producer/DJ’s in the market. Someone in this thread referred McDonald’s (which I reference alot myself). They don’t have the best food, but they have the best marketing in the game.

    • I agree with most that you wrote except this:

      “bring the 1200′s, CDJ’s, or even MP3′s”

      would you mind if I brought macbook, launchpad and a maschine instead?

      Oh, and DMC doesn’t cover ALL possible DJ skills at all, it really is about turntablism only IMO.

      • DJ Majestic says:

        You can bring it, but the question now is are you truly DJ’ing? The Macbook is not the problem because that is just storage for your music files. But the launchpad & maschine (just a bunch of buttons/pads). So by pushing buttons are you DJ’ing or producing? At the end of the day the final result is music that sounds good. But that doesn’t make you a DJ. Quincy Jones is one of the best producers ever, but it doesn’t make him a DJ.

    • It really pisses me off when people start the “bring on the 1200 or 1210’s” I am now using a digital controller and the advantages of this is immense. I started djing with vinyl and know how to beatmix two records together. Djing is about putting tracks together and what does it matter what equipment you use to do it as long as it sounds good.

      • DJ Majestic says:

        I also have a Vestex 380 in addition to my 1210’s. That’s not the issue. There is a place for controllers, space savers if nothing else. Also when tables are not optimal, like on a float in a parade. I agree, as long as the end result sounds good you have achieved a goal. Let’s just hope that theory of equipment doesn’t transfer over to aspects of life. It would not be a pretty picture if you took your car to a mechanic for brake work and they say why get new brakes when these still work, or worse they put substandard parts on your car and you crash due to brake failure. It will matter then.

      • a Musician , or artist or DJ is never the gear
        imagine 50 years from now , deejays or whatever the name that time ;) will be playing on like a Projected gear from your watch xD or somthing controlled with the thoughts , so what about the 1200s right there or cdj or launch pads . ( they will be on museum man ) think of it like the primary weapons of the people who lived 10000BC

        i think the gear controversy is verry stupid

        my thinking about a dj is the music , whatever the tool , do it with a knives i dont care , actually i’v already prooven that i dj better then some djs i know who have cdj and 1200s with only youtube videos or a media player .

        the skill is not in the tool its in the mind and soul ;) and learning progression and love for music , not just to been that cool guy who deejays who u hate all time cz he had girls and you not :p

        btw i own 2 cdj 900 and djm 800 , i produce with ableton and fruity loops wired up + midi keyboard

        a Dj should rock their audience whatever the tool they have ,

        ” Djing is about putting tracks together and what does it matter what equipment you use to do it as long as it sounds good.” +1

        if you just beatmash a 2records on vinyl and thats the only thing you do , just sell it and buy virtual dj and a decent controller and you’l do better ;) you save money and gear weight by doing that ;) but somtimes its about the cliche image right ?! :p

        do whatever it takes , and with whatever tool u got and make the best from it .

        The great will rise

  8. I’m gonna speak out on this and say the problem isn’t with the DJs or producers – it’s with the people. It’s with the people that WANT to hear the same songs over and over. It’s from people who don’t realize that this resurgence in DJ popularity has resulted in producers taking over the stadium rather than the club. I’m all for festivals and mega concerts with a ton of DJs, but really I believe that’s what is truly killing the “art” of DJing.

    • It’s a good point – after all, McDonalds isn’t on every other street corner because they sell the best food, but because they dumb down what they do to suit the biggest number of people possible… then go ahead and do their take on the eating experience very well indeed.

    • Then maybe we shouldn’t be mad at artists and try to educate the public? I think that controllerists and MPC players (like Araabmuzik) do a lot for this. The more views on youtube videos of real DJ perfomances, the more educated the people will get. (I hope).

  9. “a specially-made megamix in the last 15 minutes of the set which will sync to an incredible light and pyrotechnic show”

    what an excellent sentence.

  10. So, a different example.

    I was at a music festival 2 weeks ago and saw a part of Steve Aoki’s show. I’m not a huge fan of his style of music in the first place, but he seemed so busy throwing cake and champagne around that his mixing (I assume it was live) was so basic that any DJ in the audience must have felt a little bit cheated on. My non-DJ friends really enjoyed the show but the question is, if it would’ve been better (in the sense of more entertaining) to play a pre-recorded set.

    For those who wanted to see sophisticated live mixing (like myself), there were 6 other stages anyway.

  11. Good read.. you make some valid points … I used to use Ultimix

  12. Gah, why does everyone (primarily non-producers) completely misunderstand what deadmau5 was saying? His post had NOTHING to do with playing a prerecorded mix while pretending to DJ. What he was saying is that producers cannot literally recreate their tracks from scratch live, and shouldn’t be expected to. He was arguing FOR DJing, as opposed to being some kind of octopus/live musician, and also saying producers shouldn’t be expected to be controllerists/turntablists. He was saying producers should be able to “just” DJ, because in his mind, his fans who know nothing about the difference between DJing and producing expect him to PRODUCE his tracks live and also improvise new ones. Do you even know how his live setup works? He uses ableton, so obviously he doesn’t beatmatch manually (on this site, it’s hard to be upset with him for that), but he has all the stems of all his tracks set up with lighting cues included in MIDI data along with the tracks. That way, he can do LIVE REMIXES, which is way more than the majority of DJs do (largely because they can’t do that with even a 4 track software, and because they don’t actually have the stems for the tracks they want to play), and the lighting will just automatically follow along with the most important elements. What he refers to as “just” pushing play is what everybody else just calls DJing.

    • Well, we understand perfectly what he was saying, which is why we drew the distinction between DJs faking DJing and producers pressing play in our article.

      • Ok, but when you talk about producers pressing play, it gives the idea that what they’re doing isn’t real DJing but that you forgive them for that because they’re producers, when they’re pretty much doing what any Ableton DJ does except with more options available to them. That was what I thought you meant, and I doubt I was the only one. Separating it and describing some people as pushing play and some people as DJing implies that they’re doing different things, one less than the other, when 95% of the time they’re doing exactly the same thing.

      • Lordamercy says:

        How is live remixing Djing? It is pushing buttons though! Mouse Head can defend himself im sure, theres no need to take someones opinion as a personal affront to someone whose earning money producing rather than DJin

  13. I believe visuals have a place in the DJ set. It adds to the overall experience. However, I believe that the visual show itself should be controlled manually, by an experienced VJ / Pyro / Lighting engineer. That’s probably the point of view of someone who’s never worked a large show before, but there it is.

    On the other hand, a punter paying $30-$100 for a ticket to see one of these big name DJ’s may well not care whether the DJ is actually DJing live or not. For the individual, it’s all about the experience and what price you put on that experience. If they came away from the night having been blown away by the aural, visual and scale of the event then so be it. I’d be willing to bet that these people are part of the majority for gigs of this nature.

    Having said that however, I personally, would not be in that majority.

    rogue lj

    • I’m up there with you in that the DJ set is far more important to me than the visuals, and I’d be perfectly fine with less visuals or a visual show that isn’t synced.

      I guess in the end, to please all the masses, I think these headliners should be more forthcoming rather than await to get busted online. Turn a negative into a positive, and especially make sure most of that set is actually them playing.

      • while i agree with you, really though..who is the actual person who cares about our opinions? over half of people at festivals are young people having fun who wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between dutch house and dubstep.

        The rest are probably drunk or high enough to care by the time the headliner shows up.

        a small minority actually cares. And in the money game, the small minority loses to the masses.

        While i’d rather see a real live dj set with reading the crowd and being involved with the crowd, my opinion probably wont matter until the rest of the people expect the same.

      • Rick D, I agree with you…but I found it amusing one well-worded comment on a Mixmag article sent some of Guetta’s management out for my blood. Obviously, they’re scared to death if the truth gets out more.

  14. Lordamercy says:

    How DJin has changed, its ashame and irrelevant at the same time. Producers are the new superstar DJs and it shows. As long as people keep buying tickets to see em then they’ll keep getting booked. McDonald’s was the correct comparison and I can’t wait for it to go back to sweaty little rooms filled with music lovers as opposed to people who wanna go into the office bragging about seeing a mickey mouse head wearing emo dude

    • ‘I can’t wait for it to go back to sweaty little rooms filled with music lovers as opposed to people who wanna go into the office bragging about seeing a mickey mouse head wearing emo dude’
      Amen to that Brother..

  15. I really like your advice to tell the audience in advance, when the dj will not play live. It really changes the whole idea of “miming”.

    When you make a conscious decision to put the emphasis of a party on the “show” and not the dj, I’m fine with that! Actually, it would be an interesting experience, as you can do stuff with the music that would be impossible while playing live.

  16. I personaly have no problem with them fakeing it( Sounds like something only girls do) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if I were to go to a festival with an amazing lightshow that would be the reason for going. Not to listen to Guettas song. I can do that at home, on radio, at almost any local club. I even do mix some of his song during my time behind the decks at clubs. I’ll be warming up for Hedegaard on Saturday he’s a famous Danish DJ/Producer and I’ll have a look if he does it for real or that girly thing :D
    It would be nice though festivals just posted on their poster. Apering on stage :D so they only anounced that these people will be on stage.

  17. Fatboy Slim has paid his dues, and i would bet that miming was not his choice but rather imposed on him so that everything runs smoothly for the biggest show in the world.

    • I agree to be honest. It’s the same when Guetta “performed” on a talk show. He was on the decks miming while Akon (I think) performed. People gave it flack, saying he should have DJed…but I think that setting was about show. It’s one song, not a full-on set.

      I’d only give FB Slim flack if he showed up to a fest or club, and mimed a whole set.

      • Yeah, it’s always these “live performances” on shows, where they have only one song to play and have to act like they are DJing to full playback. It’s another thing I don’t like to see, but at least it’s more understandable than when it happens in the club during a “live” set.

        But in fact, all I wanted to do is post this video, where the German band “Die Ärzte” parodied that thing around 10 years ago on Top Of The Pops:

      • actually guetta has mimed several times so i don’t thing it is imposed to him

  18. What gets me is that with the tools available to us now, there are fewer and fewer excuses for this. For those of us who use tools like Ableton Live, there are ways to sync your light show to your performance…especially for those who have “made it” and have the money and time to dedicate to finding solutions. Even with producers, you can use Live to perform your tracks to the degree you want without djing entering into it. I don’t think it’s a valid excuse to say it’s because of syncing a light show. If people who do this on their own, in their spare time can figure it out, why can’t the big names do it?

  19. Seeing what folks pay to see these people, miming is cheating. They paid good money to see a performance, not some idiot dancing behind the decks. As for the pyro and video, I predict folks will tire of that once they begin realizing the more flash over substance of the events.

  20. Christopher says:

    I lost all respect for him at first but then I realized it was not by any means a full DJ set and with the other stuff going on Its less damaging.

  21. There’s no excuse. period. Especially with Digital Djing nowadays. I’ve seen plenty of producers do fully live sets using synths, software & CD’s or vinyl. Tidy boys, K90, Sam & Deano spring immediately to mind as DJs/Producers who’ve smashed out properly live performances. Best example I can think of is Lab-4 though. They were producers first & foremost who performed their music live with synths, computers & effects units complete with spectacular light show and often bringing live drums, guitars and vocals into the mix.

    Let’s not forget either that rock bands like Metallica & Iron Maiden are just as big as the current crop of mainstream EDM producers and never go on stage miming, yet still have spectacular light shows and performances, synced with the music.

    Crossover acts like Faithless and the Prodigy can perform dance music live. In fact last time I saw Faithless, EVERYTHING was live, with at least 3 percussionists, chimes, bassist, a whole host of backing vocalists and synths.

    Producers like Deadmau5, Angelo & Guetta have enough money behind them to get a high calibre live team together and actually PERFORM their music rather than charging us £30 or more to just see them press play?

  22. There should be clear distinction between DJ’s, Producers and Musical Artist Being in a DJ booth playing music dosen’t in my opinion make, you a DJ. If you play play music from Ableton using pads and/or Keyboards I’d class you as a Performing Artist much like the synth bands from the 80’s. If your playing a pre recorded set of just your own original music you’re a Producer. If you’re “spinning” tracks, beatmatching, mixing on the fly watching how the crowd reacts and riding the vibes you’re a “True Disc Jockey”
    Each one has their place but they shouldn’t be confused and there lies the problem. If a Rock band incorporates a Reggae beat in to a song they don’t become a Reggae band.

    • Yes, that’s definitely part of the issue.

    • The problem is, I believe that the way digital DJing has evolved, it is widely accepted (or implied) that even if you dont actually use DISCS….when you play pre-recorded tracks, mixed one after the other with any sort of source (CDJs, laptop, other) you are then…. “DJing”.

      So it all comes down to this: Disc Jokeying has “escaped” the strict term of using DISCS – today it merely means “mix tracks real time”. No matter how much difference there is between using a couple of turntables and hitting 5 or 6 clip play buttons in your Ableton Live equipped laptop, the thing is, it has already been reffered to as DJing so many years now that the public cant understand the difference.

  23. Wow, must have been a slow DJ news day, LOL! Really, how can I possibly care what some big name DJ does at some poncy event I that I wasn’t at, and would likely never attend anyway? These are hardly what I would call DJ gigs in any universe that I live in. Who gives a flying f@ck?

    • Sorry, didn’t mean to dis anybody else’s opinions here with the above comment. I was trying to respond to your asking: “Does it really matter?” and I got a bit carried away. I’ll try again:

      No, it doesn’t matter to me at all.

      There, much nicer ;-)

    • Potentially, the hundreds of thousands of people who attend these events?

  24. Interesting thread, had me thinking. the conclusion i came to is down to the amount of work an artist has to do on stage. you have to draw a line and that is the only thing i could come up with.

    Songs are recorded and not “live” anyway. so where do you draw the line? say i get two radio edits and play them back to back fading from one to the other. none is going to think much of it. then i get two heavily remixed with effects samples loops etc etc prerecorded (by me or others) tracks and play them back to back. now that will sound more dj like. but in both cases ive done the exact same job, which means that its nothing major. no extra effort, no extra skill, as far as the live performance goes.

    Now imagine i get a simple beat going, and then on that i throw on accapellas, and another track on top of it, then effects come into play, then another track is on loop and a million other things. and the camera shows what im doing. thats like a guitarist doing a solo with the guitar at the back of his head. yes it’s hard to do live but software corrects errors and at the end of the day that is the art of a live performance.
    So miming is faking. to me anyway. end of.

    Do you think if Iron Maiden played at any ceremony/tv show/gig, they would have anything prerecorded? And they are the daddy of light effects and stage shows (think Eddie). Light effects have existed since the era of discos.
    now that was light effects and it was all analogue.

    And i have no problem with button mashing. there is an art to do it right. a keyboard/piano player mashes buttons too. so is he a fake?

    So after a bit of thinking i came down to that conclusion. its down to the amount of work a dj has to do on stage. what does everyone else think?

  25. My personal opinion is that no matter the excuses, miming is faking. The DJ is pretending that his moves alter, in some way or the other, the sound coming out of the speakers which is not true…so it is a deception of the audience. Anyone can find a lot of excuses, even justifiable ones, but the fact remains: you are doing moves which are useless, and would be more apropriate for a photo shoot model (striking poses, miming and whatnot).

    I believe the O.P. has nailed it when he mentions “informing the audinece” – this takes away the “deceiving” part and throws the ball to the audience’s court so to speak: do you idolise a person that much that you’d pay to listen to a set prerecorded with him only posing, just to have good times and party? if yes, no problem go ahead and do so.
    But leave alone the freedom of choice for people who prefer to go to a 300 persons maximum capacity no-name underground club and see a person sweating behind the mixer actually altering the sound coming out of the speakers with his moves – for them, this maybe a fancier show without all the lights and fireworks and whistles.

    • check out our country, how many fake mimes do we have? Let’s start
      Playmen
      Claydee
      Slick Boys
      Nicko
      Enerjy deejays
      Otherview
      Reckless(ixa tin timi na ton do na pezei ena wraio pre-recorded set)
      Mark Angello and many more (with some very nice exceptions)
      as long the audience doesn’t know what a producer is and what a dj is then there is a problem. teenagers are saying these names mentioned above,that are djs because they see them with some big headphones and some equipment,they will not sit down and watch what they are doing but they will just go to the dancefloor have a drink and have a good time

  26. I feel no pity at all with people who fake their profession. They’re supposed to be at the top because they are the best. Well, we all know that fame and best aren’t synonyms, but when i can do a faked set we’re suddenly at the same level and then they’re NOT at the top (im not a dj at all, just playing around the last 20 years ^^).

    It’s like watching a football game where all the players run around pretending they just scored …..

  27. Ryan Dejaegher says:

    The biggest flaw the EDM explosion and festivals is that there is no show in putting a producer on stage especially compared to a band. Let me explain.

    A live band is capable of recreating the song on stage just as they did in the studio. A live band is also capable of doing solo’s and doing some improvising to mix things up. What you have with modern EDM producers is all the functions of a band rolled into one. The producer is the keyboard player, the bass player, the drummer and any other number of elements that make up their song. However the EDM producer isn’t nearly as flexible as a band. I doubt there are EDM producers who could go on stage and start to play a different bassline or lead to their #1 song. If using something like Ableton, they are likely stuck with what they have loaded into the project they use for a show.

    Now back to the problem with EDM and festivals, obviously guys like Guetta pull in HUGE attendance numbers and therefore dollars. But how do you turn producers like Guetta into a show? You can’t stick them up there with just a laptop and have them press play with no equipment in front of them (this is practically what they do anyways) So festivals and promoters present producers as DJ’s.

    Basically if producers were presented as they truly are, there’d be no show. I’m not knocking these guys talents in the studio but it does leave a sour taste as the average joe see’s what they do as DJing, when it’s really a smoke screen.

    One last thing, the biggest irony is that promoters have to pay these guys to basically do nothing. The promoters know they’re doing nothing, the “DJ” knows they’re doing nothing, the light guys know they’re doing nothing, but when it comes down to it throwing them up on stage behind a Pioneer mixer with all the faders down will still turn a huge profit for everybody. Save yourself the $500 festival ticket, buy some awesome speakers, some lights/strobes, and throw a house party playing your favourite DJ’s mix, it’s the same thing.

    • fully agree man! I don’t like the fact that it goes on, but the money will always be there and by the thousands! That’s what drives it, the money. The promoter knows what’s going on, the crew knows what’s going on, the dj knows what’s going on and their buddies know what’s going on, do they continue to do it? Yup…because people will go regardless…The DJ could be up there like Paris Hilton or just stand there smiling and as long as people go…it will continue to happen. People have to demand more, and that happens by not showing. If people know it’s happening, and these festivals keep getting filled up, should we blame the DJ who will, and i know i would too, GLADLY take the money or blame the fan who is paying? It’s like the big artists putting out crappy music, I shouldn’t blame them, should blame the people paying and not demanding more from music.

  28. Fake is always fake. They are called Actor dj’s.

  29. I look at it by both sides. I love DJ’ing and love it when an artist can do a great live set, even if it’s just 85%, if they can read the crowd and do it live, it’s awesome, that’s what DJ’ing is. I don’t want something that’s already set up weeks before the actual show. But will I say it’s pityful and they shouldn’t be allowed to do that? No. that’s childish and I’d rather just not support…I hate the idea of lip syncing, but if people know it goes on and still go to the concerts, that’s the people making the decision to go.

    Then I look at it as the DJ playing…2 things, could be very very bad if the pyro goes off because usually they are trying to make a movie/documentary as well and if you slip up and someone records it, the youtube consequences can be very bad…You’d have people going around saying they are horrible DJ’s and should get out.

    The thing is…Producers who make great music aren’t really the be DJ’s at times, but people WANT THEM THERE playing live…So would I do it for a butt load of cash? Yeah, until someone else is paying for my expenses. What should be done? Not support these type of acts…basically. It’s like the Scary Movie parody franchise…awful movies, but people are going to continue to shell out the dough to watch and millions will be paid. Should you stop because the hardcore base wants you to stop? Half who probably just download your music and won’t go to your show? No…especially if you have a family.

    DJ’s who do it: Do it until the people who put out the money demand something different. If they wanto pay for one to pretend they’re a DJ and it’s obviously working in your advantage, do it.

    Fans who are against it: stop going to these shows, the artists will eventually get it when they have a fire works show for 100 people and the real live dj has 1000 people.

  30. let’s be real though, the ‘what constitues a real dj’ debate will never end. No matter what it will continue to go on, if it’s not pre-mixes it’s ‘digital dj’ing isn’t real dj’ing’ ‘using a laptop isn’t real dj’ing’ ‘controllers aren’t real dj’s’ ‘using HID isn’t real DJ’ing’ ‘if you’re not using vinyl you’re not a real dj’ ‘if you play pop you’re not real’

    the list goes on. Just like us talking down on pre-mix dj’s there’s a website named VinylDjTips dot com which is talking about us, the digital dj’er, etc. etc. The debate will never end as to what defines dj’ing because to each group it’s all different. As one person said, where do we draw the line? and who should draw that line?

  31. reason808 says:

    I’m jumping into this discussion late and I’ve only skimmed the comments, BUT . . . . two elements of performance seem unmentioned so far.

    1) People go to a concert (or any performance really) to watch somebody express a talent. There’s something inherently exciting and appealing about that. That’s probably why Steve Akoi and the Jesus pose are loved by the punters.

    EDM has always had a hard time with this even back in the synth-pop 80’s. Watching somebody play keyboards, especially when most of the audience couldn’t even see the keys, isn’t as exciting as a guitar solo.

    Personally I find guitar solos boring and self-indulgent. It’s like watching somebody masturbate. However, millions of people disagree with me, for several decades now.

    2) I think there some sort of primal, tribal need going on for an audience at concerts. It’s like they need to come together and worship their heroes. For me, the idea of watching my favorite band perform live at postage stamp size across the distance of a soccer field seems like a total waste of time and money. Especially with crappy sound. But most people think “WOW!!!! I’M SEEING THE ROLLING STONES!!! I’m so glad I spent $600 for this!!!” But hey, I’m a guy who hates guitar solos.

    I also think the personal qualities that make you talented in the studio don’t work on stage and vice versa. Its very rare to have them combined in one person. Madonna is an amazing performer with huge amounts of charisma, she’ll put on a hell of a show over a sync track. Most EDM producers, even if they’re beautiful women, don’t have strong stage presence or personality.

  32. for me i have to say that they need to get focused
    look dada life
    both are producers and djs but the one is actually making the tunes while the other is inspecting and giving new ideas, during a live set it is the other way around so one is a really good producer who can dj and the other is a rally good dj that can produce, it is the perfect fit.

  33. DJ Skittles says:

    I really like the idea of giving out their mega-mixes on Beatport or iTunes or the like. Unfortunately what tends to happen is huge artists will just use the same mix over and over and over again when they tour from city to city and club to club. If they released their mixes, it would force them to make a new mix every time, which is good. I like I actually like it better when its 100% mixing and now as much visuals. I saw Porter Robinson live over the summer, and he does all his stuff live. During the set, he screwed up a few times. Basic stuff like he forgot to turn off a loop. But it was awesome! It proved that he was actually doing it live, which with widely popular DJ’s is really rare. Huge DJ’s really need to move back to total live sets, cause its just simply better that way

  34. DJing should be done LIVE if your not going to do it step out of the way because there are a 1000 people behind you who will. It’s no better than Milly Vanilly or how ever the hell it’s spelt! It’s IMO blasphemy to an art form that deserves so much more. Why even be there just push play and jump back in your limo and leave its pathetic again this is just my opinion and you know what people say about those.

  35. Footballers, athletes, actors, painters, pole dancers, whatever, cannot go out and pretend to do what they are doing, it is completely impossible!

    I have always disagreed with musicians miming because I like first and foremost their music, I would not even know who they are if I didn’t!

    As for DJ’s miming, nah man, really not into this one! Technology moves forward and it is good to move with it so long as you have genuine passion and can show it live!

  36. Miming is never accepted in my opinion… Fans pay alot of $$$ to travel and see their favorite DJ/Producer out Live. Live is the keyword here, where the actual touch of the turntable/CDJ/Controller/etc. has an immediate response to the crowd’s ears. I believe it’s that fear of f&*king up a mix because of some drunk dude bumping the table, the weather, or just a technical issue w/ the laptop brings that excitement for the other DJs and laymen watching him/her. I do directly compare the similarities of miming to a singer lip syncing because of the fact that it should be a live performance… Most people expect you to sound different out live as well because of the energy of the crowd or lack thereof.

    One of my favorite DJs out there right now killing it, who I call a “DJ’s DJ” is DJ Enferno. If you been living under a rock, he’s actually a battle DJ – DMC Champion who reinvented himself and takes pride in doing “Live Remixes” at all of his shows… He also incorporates his Turntablism background by scratching, cutting, juggling, etc. w/ whatever he’s playing at the moment – whether it is House, Hiphop, Rock, etc. His setup has evolved over the years, and recently consists of 2 Tech 1200s, NI Maschine, Casio Keyboard, Ableton, Serato, and the 4 channel DJ900 Pioneer mixer. He actually got discovered by performing live and became Madonna’s official DJ… I can go on and on, but it’s easier to just do a search on Youtube on Enferno and you’ll see what I’m yapping about.

    I think this guy is the truth and he’s bringing back that WOW factor that people used to have about DJs, rather than the “I can do that…” mentality ever since Laptops came onto the scene… I think it’s just for the visual aid that when people see that a DJ has the same Macbook that they got for Christmas, they can just put 2 and 2 together and buy a all-in-one controller…

    But that’s why I love this art, It really doesn’t matter what gear you have – You can have a cassette deck and Ipod behind that DJ booth, but as long as it’s pleasing to the ears… it doesn’t matter… You can only fake it for so long.

    Unless you’re video recorded live at your venue, most people can only see the DJ’s head & shoulders because of the facade or booth. Keep in mind that a DJ must sound good first, rather than look good. All that other riff raff (ex. Mickey Mouse hat) is for promo and visual aids…
    And I think we should give the fans a little more credit, because most people can definitely tell if a DJ is performing live or not just from listening to their sound for a 2-4 hour set…

  37. wiretransfer says:

    Now that Armin has explained his setup in detail can we kill the idea that it is ‘necessary’ to premix or mime?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m96MbRMzdHQ

    Yeah, it’s a little hacky but it’s stable and works with off-the-shelf gear and a bit of data prep. Imagine what’s possible for those running on/with a PC!! Even imagine how much simpler his setup could be if the CDJs could handle extra audio channels or output other data either through audio/ethernet/etc. Why shouldn’t PC software or CDJ be able to send track IDs and timecode to other equipment out of the box?

  38. I *do* often play pre-produced sets synced to video at shows, and my approach is to create a set that contains the audio AND the video, render it to an MP4 or similar A/V file, slice that up into the individual tracks, add an intro and outro to each track (again, containing the audio AND video), and then I mix those individual tracks live during the show. That way, if the crowd’s not feeling my set even though *I* love it, I can easily bail out and change my game plan, and if it’s working great but someone has a request, I can slide out of my set, into their request, and then right back into my set. It takes a bit of prep work, but once you get your workflow down you’ll have the best of both worlds (from planning everything in advance to doing everything off-the-cuff) and you’ll never be embarraced to have a camera pointed at you on stage.

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