By Tony Fernandez
People (and when I say people I mean some DJs) say that being a DJ is easy. Anyone can do it. All you need is blah, blah, blah. Well, it’s not that easy. Here are a few indicators of if you really have DJing in your DNA.
You’re at dinner, or you’re watching a TV show or a movie, or a commercial comes on (this happens to me ALL the time), or the BEST is when you’re with friends exchanging witty banter, and a song come on and…. you stop what you’re doing, mid-sentence, to register the song. Why is the restaurant playing THIS song? Is this new? What is this? This is dope! Where’s my phone so I can Shazam this! The music feed for DJs NEVER stops. Never. We’re not trying to be crude or impolite. It’s just the way we’re wired.
You are constantly listening to new music and noticing this track sampled such n’ such! Or this thing sounds like that thing! DJs are a walking vessel of beats and melodies, or at least you should be. DJs, like normal people, are inundated with music. The thing is, DJs process music differently: Once new music, or even a throwback is heard and processed by a DJ, the next step is to figure out how we can incorporate it into our repertoire. I need to find this record!!! Where can I play it? How can I play this for the next gig I have? Is this a peak-hour record or a warm up / cool down rack? Are there remixes that I can find that will make this song better for me to play? Can I even play this record? Will I play this record? So many decisions…
While most DJs enjoy a night of debauchery as much as the next guy gal, we LIVE this stuff, like ALL the time. If you eat steak EVERY day, you kind of lose the exclusiveness of having a good steak. Same thing with DJs and clubs. DJs know how it all works: the lights, the sound, the cryo jets, the booze, the tunes. Not only do DJs know what’s behind the curtain, we expect a certain level of service when we get to the club. And if we don’t get it, it’s going to be a woeful evening. We probably know someone at the venue; we get on the guest list, we get in for free, and at minimum, we have our own little area for us and our friends. But the reality is, DJs want to be in the booth. Yes, even on our nights off. We don’t necessarily want to be working, but we want to be where the action is, and we know that’s the booth. Not being in the booth is just weird anyway.
Finally, the most important sign you just might be a DJ is… knowing the right song for pretty much ANY occasion. I’m not talking about knowing the next song to play at a wedding, your friend’s backyard BBQ, or at the nightclub. Yeah, you should know that. I’m talking about picking the right tunes for the soundtrack of people’s lives. There is a song for pretty much ANYTHING. You met your significant other, there’s a song for that. You broke up with your significant other, there’s a song for that. You get a new job, you lost your job, there’s a song for that. Your favorite team won or lost, there’s as song for that. Your iguana died, there’s a…, well, you get it. As you should, because you’re a DJ (or you wouldn’t be reading this!). You deal in harmonies and musical refrains like the Pillsbury Doughboy deals with cookies. It’s what you do.
I know what my DNA is comprised of. I have a clean bill of DJ health. Hope your checkup is fabulous.
Keep ‘em spinning.
Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on Facebook. Email firstname.lastname@example.org