July 2015

A DJs turntable at a wedding

As you know, I travel a lot. I’ve been all over the world and have played all kinds of clubs. In addition to the clubs, I’ve played raves, I’ve played electronic dance music festivals, I’ve played birthday parties, I’ve played frat house parties, I’ve played weddings. You name it, and I’ve played it.

Now the list of places I hate playing is exceedingly long. The list of places where I love playing is shockingly short. But I’m not going to go into either of these two lists in this article. That would fill a book. Scratch that, that would fill a multi volume book. Maybe even an encyclopedia. You know one of those old ones that took up a whole bookshelf in your dad’s study? Yeah, the list of places I hate DJing could fill one of those. And you know that business card some idiot handed you the other day? Turn it over. The list of places I like playing would easily fit on there.

A DJs turntable at a wedding
DJing weddings is even worse than DJing for tourists

Anyway, I digress. Today I want to talk about one specific club. A type of club you may well know if and even play quite often, if you travel and DJ like I do. It is the club full of tourists. Like this one. I hate these. That is not to say I especially like playing local clubs either. Those very much depend on the country. In some countries, the locals are great. This is true in much of Europe. It’s even true in parts of the US. It’s not true in China. It’s not true in Thailand. It’s not true in countries like those where people dislike horrible music.

Again, I digress. Back to the tourist clubs. Why do I hate them? I’m sure you can imagine this on your own, can’t you? I realize tourist is a general descriptor. They come in all shapes and sizes and have all different tastes in music. That is the problem, I suppose. When playing a club or show, I like the audience to have generally the same musical taste. That way I can create a set that will take them on a journey. It is specifically tailored to what they like and as a result they love me.

When you have a lot of different musical tastes to cater to, this is impossible. Every song you play, 60 to 90% of the audience will hate it. You can’t really create a coherent set. You have to just wing it. In many cases you have to do the unthinkable: you have to take requests. Now this is the absolute worst. People never seem to request good music. They generally request stuff that doesn’t fit in with anything else you’re playing or stuff you would never be caught dead playing. They expect you to have tracks no one has heard of and tracks everyone has heard of, but no self-respecting DJ would have. Dealing with these requests is the worst. And if you try to do any singing, don’t even get me started…

But when you travel and DJ, you often have to play events like these. You’re not going to get the best gigs when you’re new in town. It doesn’t matter how great your reputation was in the last country, people won’t know you in the next one, unless you are one of those superstars. So you have to build up your reputation again. That means you have to start from near the bottom again. It’s simply the price you pay for traveling the world in our profession. As with any other job, if you want stability and security you can’t move around.

So what do I advise aspiring traveling DJs to do? Suck it up. If it gets too much, vent to your friends. If they don’t want to hear it anymore, do what I did. Start a blog and vent to the public. Probably no one will read it, but some people might. You just did, after all.