Opinion

Battle the Shackles | Mastering the Crowd with Self Control and a Crossfader

Being a DJ requires a lot more work than people realize. Get a closer look into the complexities of DJ performances and managing control of the crowd and the mind.

There are a ton of DJs in the known universe. I am one those people, but none of those people are me. They don’t live the same life. They have different setlists, styles, and rigs. We still all have one thing in common. We are the translators who close the gap between your synapses when the beat drops. I’m sure you wonder what is so captivating about a laptop and a pair of loudspeakers. Let me show you.

A Quick Glimpse Behind the Deck

live-dj-performance-entertainment

DJing hasn’t changed much over the years. Despite advances in performance tools and technology, the end-goal remains the same; Every DJ in the world is painting a musical mosaic behind the deck.

I’ve been producing music for around 8 years. DJing offers a different kind of sensation compared to the drive of studio workflow. Unlike studio engineers, club DJs generally don’t need to follow a strict timeline. The crowd is the clock.

Mixing tracks is a mental workout that requires our full attention. We constantly scroll through setlists, beat-sync, cue transients, apply effects, and adjust EQ. We’re also responsible for babysitting two jog wheels to keep the wheels of music turning.

DJs navigate music setlists like a chessboard, staying several moves ahead of the current situation. Lately I’ve realized that’s not always a good thing. Yeah, I get so lost that I get ahead of myself from time to time. Sometimes, we make wrong moves behind the deck and in life. Still, the beat must go on. Life is transitory and so is our mix. 

Transitions

The most difficult part about mixing is figuring out how to string together transitions to create the flow of continuous music. Mixing is an illusion. There are 101 things going on behind the deck. It’s up to the DJ to keep the crowd from noticing it.

There’s a lot in our lives people don’t know anything about, much like what goes on behind the deck. As a DJ I’ve learned to adapt and handle transitions in difficult times. Even when the beat rises out of control and I’m about to drop, I have to figure out how to keep it going. If we can master a crossfader, I wholeheartedly believe we can master any difficult transition in life.

DJing is 100% feel.  I can tell you what all of the buttons do and how the interface works, but all of it means nothing if you can’t feel. As DJs, we exhaust ourselves to the point of emotional weightlessness. I drive my anxiety to the point where I don’t feel it anymore. I have to make friends with it and turn it into a source of energy on stage.

My worst adversary that I battle every day fuels my ability to perform well. When we’re in control of the beat, we’re in control of ourselves.

Those of you who follow me can hear my shackles rattle everyday. Thanks for putting up with it. The next time you see a DJ at the booth, just know she’s battling without the shackles on. We all are.

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