Digital DJ Tips reader Kamil writes: “I was bedroom DJing for about four years and recently took a few weeks off. That got me to thinking: Should I start over with a clean slate, making a new music collection which will consist of house (I was mixing mostly EDM with a touch of house for these four years). Do you think I should take this approach, the ‘clean slate’, or continue in the EDM, the stuff I’ve been mixing for years?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
So many things here, Kamil. Firstly, if you were playing out, you’d know what to do, because it’d be dictated by the gigs and audiences you’re playing to. Try and get some gigs. It’ll sharpen you in all kinds of ways, not just this way. (To put it another way, if you’re just bedroom DJing, who cares? Do what you want! You’re only pleasing yourself, anyway.)
Secondly, of course, cookie cutter EDM is quickly becoming yesterday’s news, but how long do you think “deep house” or “tropical house” or whatever variant of today’s sound is currently ruling the clubs where you live is going to be flavour of the moment? Are you going to get stuck in the trap of genre hopping to keep up with today’s supposed tastes?
Far better is to keep the very best tracks from each year, know why you’ve kept them, and look for links that cross genres and styles with all music, today’s and yesterday’s. What is it that you particularly like about certain tracks, that means you come back to them again and again? How can they fit into a body of music that you consider to be 100% essential?
In my experience, just a handful of tracks from each year truly represent what’s important about that year for any given DJ. Focus on those and ditch the rest, but don’t throw everything out to “start again”. Great music doesn’t suddenly become rubbish overnight. Have more to say than just the flavour of the month, and use music from all years and genres to say it.
Finally, if you put time aside weekly to prune, sort and maintain your music collection, you won’t ever reach this point. A DJ’s collection is a set of tools, and like any set of tools, there’s such a thing as having too many tools (because you can’t find what you need when you’ve got too much). Make every tune fight for its place in your collection, and by all means be brutal: Better to have 500 tunes you know well and can use to play a great set with 95% of the time than to have a huge collection that muddies your thinking and confuses you every single time.
Have you 100% ditched EDM? Have you ever been tempted to make a “clean slate” and start your collection from scratch, whatever genres that meant abandoning? Did you do it, and if so, what did you learn? Please share your thoughts in the comments.