For every DJ actually out there playing sets in front of an audience, there are 10 who only do it at home. What’s more, there are 100 who really want to do it but haven’t got around to starting yet. One of the reasons is that many people simply wonder whether they’ve got what it takes to be a DJ.
So if you’re one of those who isn’t DJing in public yet, or has yet to build up the courage to start at all, and you’ve ever wondered if you’ve got what it takes, read on. The good news is that it’s easy to spot whether you’ve got the right stuff to one day make a great DJ. Here are some tell-tale signs that you’ve “got the music in you”. See how many apply to you, and check your score at the end…
How many of these situations describe you?
1. Whenever you move house, the first thing you do is set up your music system
Find a socket, get the speakers out, wire everything up, select the first tunes to listen to in your new place, and let the music help you unload and unpack everything else. Moving into a new home with your stereo in a cardboard box in the corner, silent? Unthinkable.
Why it matters: You’re passionate about music. You need it in your life at important times. It’s cool to have music on. All DJs share this intensity – they need it in order to hear enough tunes to be a step ahead of their audiences.
2. You can’t just “let the music play”
You can’t simply passively enjoy music – you’re there on the volume control, or adding things to the playlist, rearranging and shuffling, plotting a path through your listening rather than just letting someone else’s pre-arranged order do for you. And that includes when you’re in the car!
Why it matters: DJs don’t just play music, they manipulate it and programme it, they build suspense then release it, they react to what’s going on around them by adapting the soundtrack. You don’t need DJ equipment to do it – just an awareness of what you want to hear next.
3. You find yourself saying “this sounds just like…”
You simply can’t listen to the radio or watch a music show on TV without saying: “Well, it’s obvious Katy Perry’s been listening to Kei$ha a bit too much recently!” or some other arch comment.
Why it matters: All great DJs make musical links and leaps, often surprising ones, in their sets. Being able to pair up records and see influences across artists, genres, even decades, is a big part of DJing.
4. You prefer to listen to your music within earshot of other people
Whether it means keeping your bedroom door open, or your window, or cranking it up so the neighbours can hear, you just don’t want to keep that music to yourself!
Why it matters: DJs are not so much interested in what they happen to like per se, but rather in what other people think of what they like. They feel a need to express who they are through the music, and they get addicted to the acceptance they get from playing “their” tunes to other people.
5. You retreat into music when you’re emotional
If things go against you, someone hurts you, or you’re just having a bad day, your instinctive reaction is to get the tune that says it to you (and you know which one it is, too) and smother yourself in it – loud.
Why it matters: DJs know the power of music to change, reflect and build people’s moods, and they harness its mood-changing potential in their DJ sets. They’ve learned because they know the effect it has on them.
6. You forget what someone’s saying to you when a tune comes on that you like
No matter how important the conversation or how much you want to be involved in it, as soon as a song, riff, vocal or melody you either know and love, or haven’t heard before but that interests you, comes on in the background, you find yourself locking onto that instead!
Why it matters: DJing isn’t 9 to 5, and DJs know that inspiration can come from any snippet of music, snatched from anywhere.
What’s worse, once you’ve lost it, you might have lost it forever. Now, what was it you were saying again?
7. You’re always the first to notice when something is played twice
Whether you’re eating out in a restaurant or listening to the radio at work, the minute they play the same song again or the CD in the establishment goes round again, you notice… and then wonder why nobody else ever seems to.
Why it matters: Part of you wants to be DJing right here, right now! You know you can do better than the radio station, you feel slightly angry that this cool bar or great restaurant has such little regard for its musical backdrop that it could let such a thing happen. There’s a drive in you to make the world a better musical place through the simple act of playing records properly.
How did you score?
5 to 7: Why the hell aren’t you DJing in public? Has somebody locked you indoors? Do you live 100 miles from the nearest bar that’ll let you do a low-key Friday night every now and then? You don’t need any more than your laptop to DJ nowadays, you know. Stop making excuses and do it!
3 or 4: OK, so you probably have a bit of a life outside of music. You’re normal, in other words. But you obviously love your music. You’re definitely not tone deaf.
And the fact that you’re reading this means it’s something you want to do. So why not? I am guessing you’ve already got a laptop, the software doesn’t have to cost you anything nowadays, and music is cheaper than ever before, so what have you got to lose?
0 to 2: Mmmmm. Are you sure you answered truthfully? If so, you maybe want to be a DJ for money, fame or sex! It’s unlikely you’ll have the staying power to get very far with it, as musical passion is a great driver – the best, in fact. To DJ well takes a lot of work – are you sure it’s the easiest way to get what you want?
So – what are the other tell-tale signs that you’re “once a DJ, always a DJ”? What little behaviours and preferences have YOU noticed in other people or yourself that give the game away? Let us know in the comments…