Whether purists DJs like it or not, the game has changed. And we’re not just talking about the process in which DJing is currently conducted, either.
But first things first: I must start with a disclaimer. I have created a parody article on this fresh-faced phenomenon before. Although instances of prepubescent tots rocking the ones and twos are humorous, cute, and—depending on the person—nauseating, we shouldn’t be too quick to dissuade young kids from pursuing their DJ dreams.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s tackle this from just a production point of view (for now, at least). It’s true that musicians like Black Summer (see featured image above) and (especially) Madeon were very talented for their age when they became famous. But it would be foolish to jump to the conclusion that these guys installed FL Studio and became star producers overnight. What you don’t see is the hours, days, weeks, months, and years of hard work that guys like Madeon had to put in to get to where they are now.
Madeon (AKA Hugo Pierre Leclercq) became popular in 2010 with his prize-winning remix of “The Island” by Pendulum when he was just 15, and he then shot to stardom with his Pop Culture mash-up (see video below) the following year, which became viral almost immediately and has since amassed 36 million+ views on YouTube. However, Madeon had already been tooling around on his computer and other production peripherals since he was eleven years old, nearly five years prior to his first brush with mainstream fame.
What can we learn from this? Put simply, specialist DJs that only focus on playing (rather than producing) are becoming a rare breed indeed. They aren’t extinct, granted, but it is seemingly becoming a fundamental part of becoming a well-rounded DJ to be able to at least have a cursory understanding of production principles, if only to apply them in a live setting.
There is another huge benefit from learning to produce/DJ at a young age, and that is that you will already be miles ahead of those who pick up the requisite skills in their late teens/adulthood. Additionally, seedy bars and clubs may well be dubious places to be playing if you’re a 13-year-old kid, but it doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’re older to DJ parties. If you have the chops to play, then your age is irrelevant. There are plenty of house parties and family functions you can use to spread the word.
In a lot of ways, DJing/music production is like chess. You will get your prodigious youngsters who excel at astonishing levels, but in order to realise your potential, you must put in the hard yards. You need to be creative, inventive, and confident; natural talent will only get you so far. Put in hundreds of hours learning every nook and cranny, and eventually people will respect you regardless of your age.
Most importantly, if you’re a young kid reading this and wondering if you’re too young, the answer is simple: No. No, you’re not. If you have the drive, the determination, and the imagination needed to make and play music that makes people happy, you will go far.