DJ Jazzy Jeff sat down with us during the filming of our DJ Jazzy Jeff’s How To DJ Right course, and shared with us a great list of 12 things DJing has taught him over the years.
Think of these as guidelines, as wisdom, as lessons or rules even, that he’s found to always be true, and that he uses to guide his DJing life. You could do a lot worse than take some of these on board for your own DJing!
We already shared the first six of these in this article, meanwhile here are the second six:
7. Every DJ set needs a take off, a flight & a landing
Jeff: “You have to plan your sets so that you have a ‘take off’, a ‘flight’, and a ‘landing’ – the beginning of the set, the good and heavy part of the set, and the finishing part.
“All three are very important. Start off wrong, and sometimes it’s a little bit harder to reel people back in. Next, you want to ensure that the flight is smooth and people are enjoying it. The landing is: How do you pass it off to the next DJ, or how do you end the night?
“And of course you have to pay attention to the time. If you know you’re playing out for an hour, you say OK, the take off is 10 minutes, we’re going to play for 40 minutes, and we’re going to land in 10 minutes. And if you’re playing for two hours, of course you adjust accordingly.”
Want Jeff to teach you how to DJ? Check out DJ Jazzy Jeff’s How To DJ Right
8. Be bold
Jeff: “Do not be afraid to take chances. The only way you’re going to push the culture or push your career forward is to take chances.
“Sometimes you might have a favourite record that you don’t think everyone else will like, so sometimes, be bold and play it! Play it to see if you can make people like it.
“Now that doesn’t mean to do it all the time. Instead, it means picking and choosing carefully when it’s time for you to be bold. But playing it safe never wins – you have to be willing to take a chance.”
9. Collaboration, not isolation
Jeff: “DJing is a team sport. You want to be cool with a bunch of other DJs. You want to be able to swap music, ideas and styles. There’s so many things you want to be able to pass back and forth, because it helps you.
“I think collaborating with people, putting a team together, helps you grow – just like in sports. If I’m going to surround myself with people who shoot the ball really well, it’s only going to improve my shooting.
“When you look at it like ‘it’s just me against the world’ – well, I don’t know too many people who won like that. It’s OK and normal to start off alone, but as soon as you can, collaborate. Don’t try to take this on by yourself.”
Read this next: Collaborating With Other DJs & Musicians – Why & How To Do It
10. Know your audience
Jeff: “Know them. Understand. If you know that these people like a certain type of music and a certain a style of music, then you know what to give them.
“If you have a hot dog stand, don’t try to cook chicken. You need to know the people who are coming. If everyone is coming for hot dogs, make sure you’re serving the best hot dogs!
“And when people change, it’s about changing with them. Knowing your audience isn’t about telling your audience what to do. We all grow, we all change, we all tend to like different things over time. If the world turns left, you should turn left too…”
Watch Jeff in action in this 10-minute showcase
Jeff recorded this for us as part of our coverage of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 controller. As well as being a great little mix, it’s ample proof that you can DJ well on all types of DJ gear.
11. Embrace technology
Jeff: “Things change. I have 100,000 records, and I still enjoy my records. But once technology moved so that now my records are files in my computer, to me, it was important to embrace that. You don’t have to give up what you had before, but it’s about understanding that if technology moves in a new direction, you should follow it.
“There are things that I do when I’m DJing and things that I do in the production world today, that seemed impossible not so long ago. So get yourself an air fryer, get yourself a toaster oven! These are all technologies that enhance our life. So embrace them.”
12. DJing is bigger than the club
Jeff: “People want to have a good time. There was a point in time when I thought that the only way people were going to have a good time with a DJ was in a club or at a festival. But I realised that you can play music for people and they can stream it in their homes and achieve the same goal.
“Music is something that we play and enjoy everywhere, and you should be able to enjoy your favourite DJ everywhere – just like the radio. I hope streaming is something that takes off, because you should be able to enjoy listening to DJs till you’re 90!”
Want More Jeff?
Did you enjoy Jeff’s 12 points? (Remember, the first six are here). Would you like to learn more about how you can have DJ Jazzy Jeff teach you how to DJ?
Then check out DJ Jazzy Jeff’s How To DJ Right, the only DJ course out there from Jeff himself.