Your Questions: Is It Feasible To Play Truly Eclectic DJ Sets?

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Eclectic DJ sets
Last updated 3 August, 2017

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Andy Weatherall is a good example of an 'eclectic' DJ, and this style of 'anything goes' DJing can be very appealing to the more adventurous among us. Pic from: erolalkan.uk
Andy Weatherall is a good example of an ‘eclectic’ DJ, and this style of ‘anything goes’ DJing can be very appealing to the more adventurous among us. Pic from: erolalkan.uk

Digital DJ Tips reader Mark writes: “I’m currently learning to DJ, but I’ve been a music obsessive for years. I’m mainly learning with deep house, house, chart mixes, Calvin Harris, that kind of thing. I wondered what your thoughts are on truly eclectic DJ sets. This is presuming that you can get a place that would let you play a set like that. I recently heard Andy Weatherall talking about his early sets and the range of music he’d play in an evening, so, I guess it’s possible.”

“In my mind, as long as its a great tune, it’s a great tune, irrespective of genre What advice could you give on trying to get a set that goes from Fourtet’s Suit and Tie Remix to The Stooges I Wanna Be Your Dog, via Sly Stone? I’m learning by using your How To Digital DJ Fast by the way, and it’s honestly invaluable.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

I think this is a fantastic idea, and I think as DJs get more experienced, they yearn to play this type of set! Music is a language, and knowing as many “words” as possible can only help you. You need to understand the importance of looking for links between tracks (vocal, instrumentation, “energy”, tempo, key, groove etc), and start to think in “blocks” of mood rather than just play completely all over the place. Creative mixing becomes important here, too.

Think about an overriding “theme”. For instance, I play in a beach bar. I can play rock, reggae, funk, dub, chill out, house, ska, indie etc etc but it all has to have that “beach” feel. My organic theme that has developed over time involves records with lazy vocals, whistling, bongos, mentions of “sun” etc etc. I can play all kinds of genres, but each tune has to “fit”.

Finding a place to let you play is another part of the battle. You need to have vision here: Know your city well and see a “gap”. Approach the venues where that “gap” might be filled. Choose a venue that at least half understands what you’re trying to do, and give it a go. The beauty about bars, lounges, pre-club venues etc is that you don’t need to get people dancing, they can just enjoy the tunes. Later, if your concept takes off, you could pitch the idea to a small club, and be the resident DJ… and the beauty is, you’ve tested the blueprint, and you’ve honed the formula. Because there definitely has to be a “formula” – eclectic doesn’t mean random.

Do you class yourself as an “eclectic” DJ? Where do you play and how did you get your slot? What are the challenges and triumphs of being this type of DJ? Please share your thoughts in the comments.