Home Forums The DJ Booth Creating a unique DJ sound

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  • #1005664
    Phil Morse
    Keymaster

    So my rules are to “cross genres” (pick 2 or 3 genres you love and try and make “your” sound with music from each of them), to add to your collection carefully, to try and get a good mix of old and new, rarities and popular, known and unknown, and to put every tune you allow into your collection to the acid test: Do I really love this record?

    I think that if a DJ does this, great mixing will follow, because he or she will have fewer records, thus learn to mix them better, and also learn the “right” order to put them in, in a way DJs who use add 200 tunes a week to their collections can never manage.

    So my question to you is: How important do you think it is to try and forge your own unique “sound”, and what’s your top tip for doing so?

    #1005667
    Terry_42
    Keymaster

    Well I think the best thing you can do (and I totally agree with you) is to listen to as much music as you can, but be very picky and selective on what you add to your collection.
    This helped me broaden my horizon for many genres, but some people give me feedback that they know when I am mixing be it a Dance Club where I play specific genre(s) or a wedding where I have to play anthing, but stick to my collection as good as I can.
    And yeah 200 tunes a week? Hell never.
    Also I tend to throw out tunes that I feel are “played off”, I stick them in an archive crate, but they are no longer part of my active collection.

    So in the end: Quality over Quantity, where you have to decide on what Quality is for your style.
    So basically I wrote a lot, just to say I totally agree hehe

    #1005669
    Daryl Northrop
    Participant

    I firmly believe that a DJ’s duty is 50% entertain 50% educate by exposing people to new music, and new ways of hearing music mixed together. If I am playing mostly a dance set, I will drop in very danceable industrial or hip-hop tunes as a way of putting some variety in the mix – also, I try to vary the beat. 2 hours of 4/4 beats is just cruel to the crowd.

    #1005671
    El Jefe
    Member

    Phil, in your playlists do you mix the genres all together or do you keep them on separate playlists and say, “Ok, now it’s time to jump over to ________ genre”?

    #1005676
    Arthur Kokanov
    Participant

    Im still very new with my mixing but I am doing exactly what Phil is saying atm. I am focusing on building my top 100 of all time favorites first (im at around 20 right now). The tracks that go into this crate consist of the music that I absolutly love.

    #1005682
    Hee Won Jung
    Participant

    Daryl Northrop, post: 21539, member: 2350 wrote: I firmly believe that a DJ’s duty is 50% entertain 50% educate by exposing people to new music, and new ways of hearing music mixed together.

    +100 for this. I firmly believe this. IMO Anyone can play music that everyone wants to hear. Its playing music that no one has heard and making them rock out that really gets me pumped when i play.

    #1005683
    Hee Won Jung
    Participant

    Daryl Northrop, post: 21539, member: 2350 wrote: I firmly believe that a DJ’s duty is 50% entertain 50% educate by exposing people to new music, and new ways of hearing music mixed together.

    +100 for this. I firmly believe this. IMO Anyone can play music that everyone wants to hear. Its playing music that no one has heard and making them rock out that really gets me pumped when i play.

    #1005697
    D-Jam
    Participant

    My top tip for forging your own sound is to listen to DJs you like and any that many people recommend. See what they do mainly so you’ll get introduced to new stuff.

    Shop beyond the popular. Most people sound the “same” because they’re too busy buying the top 10 and top 20 tunes everyone else ends up playing. Seen guys try to “copy” or “mimic” the big sound of the popular local DJ. They’ll get all protective of their playlists and claim to be different, but in the end they’re just wannabes of the bigger name.

    Explore music…get things that might sound good to you, but you worry might turn off a regular crowd. Make tracks your own…so if one of those uncertain tracks wins them, you’re the one they’ll know for that tune.

    Go beyond the new. Like Phil mentioned, play old and new. Dig for older stuff and work it with the new. The best DJs are NOT the guys who come in and play 20 new promos…but the guys who rock it with 20 years of great music.

    #1005738
    Phil Morse
    Keymaster

    El Jefe, post: 21541, member: 638 wrote: Phil, in your playlists do you mix the genres all together or do you keep them on separate playlists and say, “Ok, now it’s time to jump over to ________ genre”?

    I tend to mix together, but maybe stick with a sound for 2 or 3 songs. I’ll keep BPMs roughly together though.

    #21546
    Reason808
    Participant

    Hmmmmm . . . . I come at it from a different perspective. I’m not motivated to create my own style so much as discovering the heart and soul that connects of a group of songs. I suppose a unique sound is a byproduct of that.

    #1005813
    Michael Lawrence
    Participant

    Agreed! Additionally I love taking loops, samples from other genres like electro/dubstep and dropping it on a nice hip hop vocal. Started experimenting this way alot more and you create magic out of tracks you’ve had in your playlist for years…. I also try to avoid the “genre trap” as there are so many commonalities between different genres it would be a shame to limit yourself and the potential!

    #1006061
    Miec
    Member

    I think to find an individual style is something that just takes time. I am still in the process of building my style (started DJing 3 years ago), but I can share what I have experienced so far.

    When I started, I used to buy lots of compilations on beatport for two reasons: 1) To get a big enough track library to get started 2)because the individual tracks were fairly cheap and 3) because (in hindsight) I didn’t really know what I was looking for. In the end I ended up really liking only 3-5 tracks per compilation, but listening to and mixing all the other stuff helped me to develop sound-wise. Nowadays I like to look back at these tracks and I find myself wondering how I could miss some gems that where part of those compilations (For instance, Nic Fanciulli’s Remix of Two Dots was on a CR2 Comp i bought in 2010.. didn’t like it back then but nowadays I still play it sometimes).

    By listening to lots of (random) stuff, I found many artists and labels I really like and most of my new purchases nowadays come from my “MyBeatport” list. And importantly I never buy tracks the same day I add them to the cart so I can have a second listen in a different situation and sometimes on a different sound source (e.g. Speakers vs. Headphones).
    What I think is really important is to get “fresh blood” into my favourite artists/labels on a regular basis. For that, I listen to lots of mixes and podcasts from artists I like and if a song catches my attention I try to get the ID. If I get the ID of a track I really love, I check out other stuff from that artist and the labels he releases on.
    What also greatly helps is too look beyond your country’s musical dimensions. I am from Germany but spent the last 9 months studying in the UK. I enjoyed Deep House before, but that time really broadened my musical taste. And stuff that is already “old” and maybe overplayed in the UK (take Julio Bashmore – Battle for Middle You or Blawan’s Getting me down) may be something I can play here in Germany and it sounds new and unique. Things may be different in Berlin, but at least where I am now, no one plays this.

    Back to the topic of finding an individual style, it is important to notice that “unique sound” can mean different things. When building a collection you could see if a collecion is wide or narrow. Let’s compare two artists like maybe John Digweed and 2manyDJs. Both certainly have a unique style but while Digweed mostly sticks to his Bedrock sound, 2manyDJs incorporate lots of popular tunes and it is the arrangement that makes it sound unique.
    In the end, developing that style is a process that takes time and hopefully never stops, and the pace is different for everyone individually.

    #1006378
    softcore
    Member

    Being primarily a producer it was fairly easy for me to establish my sound first and foremost by playing my own music…This in itself, as one’s music usually has a certain sound and style helped a lot. Usually though, even when playing certain tracks I get comments from friends that some of them are indeed a “signature” of me playing even though I had never considered them that way. To give an example, seconds after playing Ormatie’s “Only” on one of my webradio shows, everyone listening knows its Softcore’s airtime! 😉
    I think then, it all boils down to how much you express yourself by the tracks you choose to play. If most of the tracks you choose to mix are really what you like to listen to, then inevitably these will be your “signature” sound.

    #1006389

    As far as creating your own “sound”
    I agree with Terry_42

    Well I think the best thing you can do (and I totally agree with you) is to listen to as much music as you can, but be very picky and selective on what you add to your collection.

    A lot of DJ’s I’ve met love to stick with one genre of music. (Which there is nothing wrong with.) If you really enjoy one type of music, good for you keep at it.

    However, I personally feel that if you consider yourself a musician or performer you should gather inspiration from multiple sources. I am astonished by how many club DJ’s I’ve come across who don’t know the fundamentals of many founding artist. I have always found importance in music history, I feel that you should be educated in things you love to do.

    Personally, I listen to a vast majority of music, anything from Drum and Bass, Glitch, Hip-Hop, House, Classical, Reggae, Death Metal, etc… If I like the artist, song or genre I’ll listen to it. No shame in it.

    What I like to do is take an artist that I really enjoy and has inspired me to create music, and research the artists that influenced that particular person, artist or collective, and then research those artist, and their inspirations, until it becomes a never ending cycle.

    For example, I’m a huge metal head, go to shows constantly and I have a vast record section on it.
    However, If you saw me playing one of my shows, you’d be baffled by the fact that I love that genre of music, or even know anything about it at all.

    Recently, in my remixes and some productions I work with I noticed myself finding a slightly more aggressive mixing pattern, and my taste in tempo changes are very similar to some of the genres of music I find myself listening to more and more.
    My scratching, and beat juggling as well.

    This is just my personal take on it, but I feel that the more you listen to, the more you’re up to be influenced by.

    Anyhow, keep spinning!!

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