If you’ve got the basics of DJing locked down and you really want to take it to the next level, check out our 5 advanced DJ techniques to make you stand out from the crowd.
Essentially, a DJ’s job is to play somebody else’s music, but that shouldn’t stop you making it your own. If you’re not familiar with production software then it’s high time you did get familiar. Spending just a small percentage of the time that you may have spent learning to beatmatch will be enough for you to make some really effective edits that you can drop into your sets. It can be so effective for a dance floor to hear a track they know and love, but with a slightly different twist. And because it’s your DJ edit, you’re the only one playing it, so there is no shame in playing it to death!
2. Build Your Sample Bank
It is simply not enough to use acapella and FX that everyone else has got – you’ve got to create your own that are unique to you. You can pretty much record anything these days, so make sure you utilize the technology to build up a load of clips and sounds that have inspired you through the years. These might be from film, TV or anything else. The end goal is to use any technique you can to stand out from the crowd, and there is an almost infinite amount of samples out there to help you to make this happen.
3. Add Live Instruments Into Your Set
Not every DJ can play an instrument, and not every DJ has time to learn, but it sure helps in the quest to get noticed. And you can make a great impact on a DJ set with a very basic live performance – just the concept of a live interruption is very appealing to an audience. You don’t even have to use a formal instrument… Green Velvet manages perfectly well using his headphones as a microphone and singing parts of his own tracks (see video below):
It can be as simple as singing through your headphones a-la Green Velvet, tapping a drum pad, or playing a few notes on a little midi keyboard, but it can make a huge difference.
4. Stem Mixing
You can buy a lot of DJ tunes these days that come with the option of purchasing each individual part of the track, or ‘stem’ in addition to the whole track. This is an immensely powerful tool. It gives you an almost infinite number of options when it comes to manipulating and mixing the music you’re using in your set. DJ controllers made specially for mixing with stems are well worth checking out. Even without them, stems can be used to great effect in your sets.
5. Harmonic Mixing
Harmonic mixing is where you have to use your brain beyond the basics of matching beats with beats and rhythms with rhythms. Matching melody over melody is a bit more complex, and refers to formal musical rules that go back centuries. The Camelot wheel (see below) is a tool many DJs use as a guide when trying to match one record with another, but this should not be used religiously. It’s up to you to understand when a key clash can sound good enough to get people’s attention versus when a key clash will ruin the vibe and clear the dance floor. The best DJs understand how combining different melodies can move people. They might not be able to tell you what key any of it is in, but they just feel it. Make sure you do the same.
Featured image by @RUKES