All the Gear but no Idea
All the gear, but no idea – Riijkaard Van Shuuten.
Right-o, let’s do this. One last safety check and then we’re away….
1) Complete ten years as a hardcore(enough) raver/tunespotter – check
2) Carefully choose an arena-worthy DJ moniker – check
3) Do the CD vs Vinyl argument to death. – check
4) Scratch head, flip coin - check
5) Research equipment on DJ Forums - check
6) Look at bank balance, repeat step 4 – check.
7) Haggle over price for aforesaid equipment – check.
8) Get talked into powered-speakers that tip the scales over original budget – (the more you spend the more you save, I’ll need good speakers when I’m playing the Metro…) – check
9) Wait six weeks patiently (?) for them to deliver wrong setup. – check
10) Set wife on the manager of record store – check
11) Connect all leads and power on. – check
Too easy. I’ve got a pile of printed e-books and a batch of tunes ready to be mixed seamlessly into the perfect set. Let’s do this thing. Hey, what’s the big idea? What do you mean there’s nothing in the manual beyond connecting the equipment? Ok, I get it; it’s all about trial and error – kind of like in the boudoir, right?
You see, the trouble is once you’ve got the equipment, everybody wants to come round and have a go and lend a critical ear to see how you’re going. I soon discover that the first three weeks are best spent alone in a locked room with the speakers on low – god forbid anyone should hear these sounds I’m making (although I’m sure Richard James could market them). I am now beginning to understand why my dad wouldn’t let me have a violin.
The worst thing is, just when you feel you are getting somewhere, you realize that you have the crossfader set to ‘thru’ meaning that the expectant punters (Denise the lazy-eyed cockatiel) have been hearing all of your beatmatching through the master speakers. No wonder it sounded like the perfect mix in my cans – I was only listening to the left channel! Or worst of all, you fade into the second track only to suddenly realize (far too late) that it isn’t playing on the master and you are fading into silence! Or, or, or get this one - you have accidentally hit the fader-start button which means as soon as you touch the cross or channel fader, the track coming in goes back to it’s original cue, leaving your painstaking efforts to align them utterly redundant.
It’s a bit like learning to drive, but without an instructor. You make your mistakes, and get into personal habits that may or may not be the same as other DJ’s. But that is the beauty of it – no two mixes will sound the same (unless you’re Peter Hook) – I’m not saying I could pick a DJ by listening to a transition, but everyone has their style, and although mine is more Bananaman than Banana Republic at the moment, it’s definitely on an upward curve.
I tried to showcase my mad skills last week after splitting a crate of grog with my best mate, a seasoned vinyl DJ. Turns out, being unable to focus on the 6 deck setup rollercoastering in front of me was the least of my problems. Failing miserably and swearing at the swirling, mocking LEDs, I sloshed off to bed defeated and ashamed. It wasn’t until the next morning, mouth still reeking of vomit, that I discovered that one of them wasn’t plugged into the mains. Luckily my mate had the identical mouthrot and we greeted each other with appropriate decorum. Maybe next time.
So for now, it’s all about practice, practice, practice and looking over my shoulder to make sure no-one except Denise is listening. It works both ways – have you ever watched a friend or family member put themselves out there and perform so badly your skin crawls and your vertebrae cringe? It’s not just for my sake that the door is locked, but don’t worry, one day I’ll be making people cringe in public – and getting paid for it! I said maybe. In the meantime though, I promise I won’t give up my day job. Not just yet, anywho.