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Unread Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 10 tips for beginner DJs

Seing how more and more people join this board asking for advice on beginer gear etc etc. I thought it'll be a good idea to post these.

Original article is found on clubplanet.com
http://www.clubplanet.com/news/archi...o_the_club.asp


Quote:
June 01, 2006

-DJ Wolfie

Brace yourself. This list is not for the faint of heart. You may not like some of it. You may feel that some of these suggestions are not a DJ's job. Well, what's it going to be? Perfect mixes for your underwear drawer, or are you going to put some effort into becoming a real DJ?

Only 3 of the 8 bullet points have anything to do with the actual art of DJing--and they are waaaay down on the list. The rest are useful, pragmatic, and practical tips on how to really make it.

It takes some effort--and some elbow grease--to get your name out there. Follow these simple steps, and you'll be able to play your music in front of a crowd.
WollfieTips1.jpg
As a DJ, you will get your gigs from one of three people: promoters, other DJs, and yourself by throwing your own parties. Of the three, the main person you need to know to get gigs is the promoter. That should be obvious. Now, what isn't so obvious is what promoters care about. Sadly, your mixing ability is usually the last thing on their mind. I have spun at, helped promote, and created over 300 events in the past 6 years. You know what promoters focus on? Getting bodies through the door. I love the scene, I love people dancing, and when I promote, its a game of numbers. I look for DJs that will put bodies into the building.

On a deeper spiritual level, keep in mind that to really be successful as a DJ, it's not about you. It's about the music, the dancers, and the scene. If you're just looking for attention, that type of vibe takes from the scene. The more you give to the world of DJing, the more the world of DJing will give back to you.

Here are 10 ways you can start contributing to the music scene. The more you contribute, the more your DJ career will grow. These tips will improve your DJ skills, get you entrenched in your local scene, and make you the sought after DJ for upcoming events.

The following tips are given in the order of importance.

1. Get an e-mail list together and promote parties.

This is the biggest one of all. 9 times out of 10, the promoter will go with a lesser quality DJ with a mailing list over a talented DJ that doesn't promote. Start a mailing list now. Ask people for their e-mails. Do not give out your card and expect them to join up. Get their card, and then you'll be able to add them for sure. Start a collection of friends on tribe, myspace, or whatever social network site your community uses.

MAKE SURE EVERY PROMOTER IN TOWN IS ON THAT LIST. Then, send out info on what parties are happening. Even if you're not spinning, start sending out the info. Just by having a mailing list, people will start associating your DJ name with great parties. When a promoter starts seeing your name every week on those emails, and sees that you get people out to parties, you will now suddenly be in a whole new category. Once a week, tell your list where the party is happening. Talk about the good parties afterwards. Talk to promoters about giving your list special treatment. Ask promoters to let your list in for $5 less. That will reward people for being on your mailing list.

2. Take pictures and post them on your website.

Fresh content gets repeat traffic to your website. You do have a website, right? If you don't, talk to a toaster until you get over your technology phobia, then have your nephew to set up a website for you. Check out HOTTORRENT.COM--not only is it free, but they have all the tools you need without having to build your own website. They have mailing list functions, photo galleries, and everything else you might need. Be sure that people can add their name to the mailing list as they look at pictures.

People forward out photo links. You want to catch them the second they think "wow, those look like fun parties." Take photos of the pretty people, take crowd shots, make the party look like it's going off. It may be shallow, but you are building your scene with these techniques. After a few photo galleries like this, you'll see a rise in attendance, and people will start to recognize your name. They will also have this impression that you're involved with great parties.

(Editor's note: for a fine example of a DJ Web site, check out, well, www.DJWolfie.com.)

wolfietips2.jpg
3. Make a list of promoters and DJs you want to know in your local scene, and start working with them.

Your DJ career will come from your circle of friends. It's that simple. So pick DJs and promoters you vibe with, and find a way to meet them. Go to as many parties as you can that they are spinning at or throwing. Say hi to them each time you go to one of their events. After awhile, you'll be a regular, and you'll find yourself being given much more respect from promoters and DJs. Don't ask them for DJ slots until you get to know them. The goal is to become friends and help them throw events, or carry record boxes, or pick up fliers at the airport, or give them DJ rides to the airport for out-of-town gigs. Promoters and DJs really need support staff, and usually can't pay people for this. They end up with a network of up-and-coming scenesters and bedroom DJs that work with them and are on the move.

Don't be a suck up. Be real, be yourself, and be up front that you enjoy what they create for the scene, and be persistent in offering them help. Come at them as an equal. Hero worship is fine from fans, but you're going to co create with these people. E-mail the promoters each and every time they throw a party. Offer to help each time. Promoters deal with many flakes, so don't expect them to welcome you in right away. They want to get to know you, and you have to just keep offering until they let you in to help. You'll learn a lot about the scene, and party politics, and make friends. This will put you as a person and DJ on the map as someone deserving a break on the decks. Then you can ask them for a gig.

4. Make demo CDs.

There are two reasons to make mix CDs. First of all, it's good for you to record your sets, all the time. You'll learn much faster by reviewing your work. Songs are introduced into your headphone long before the mix. Because of this, many bedroom DJs end up doing short blends, without realizing it. When you listen to your mixes, suddenly what you missed jumps out at you as a listener. The other reason for making demo CDs is obvious--you will have CDs to give promoters to let them hear your style, track choice, and mixing skills. Give these CDs to everyone, BUT ONLY WHEN THEY ARE GOOD. Never give out a badly mixed CD with obvious train wrecks. It will do more damage to your career than good. It's easy to get a promoter to listen to your first CD. But if the first one sucks, it's very hard to get them to listen to a second one. Give CDs out to everyone after your DJ mentors give it the thumbs up. Start building that fan base.

5. Spin with DJs that are better than you to learn new skills.

If you mix with good DJs, several things will happen. First, when you tag team practice, it will make you more comfortable when you're in a club environment, taking the decks and dance floor over from another DJ. You want to practice this. It'll trip you up if you haven't played with other DJs.

Next, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. So find great DJs, ask them to coach you, and learn why their mixing sounds so good. Last, once you start growing as a DJ, many times these DJs will get you gigs once you're ready. People help out their friends. When they see you doing well, they'll often times make a call and say, "He's ready." A promoter is much more likely to hire you if an established DJ vouches for you.

wolfietips3.jpg
6. Keep current on your music.

Buy at least 2 new songs a month, or better yet, buy at least 1 new track each week. You need to be checking the download sites, and hitting the record stores regularly. Buy from several different places. This will make you a better DJ, with a more rounded record box. You are only as good as your tracks. Do your homework, put in the maintenance time on your collection. read up on charts in your genre, and be familiar with what's new, what's old, and what's overplayed.

7. Throw your own parties.

One great way to get out there is to simply find a space, talk to a bar with a club, and start throwing your own parties. When you bring in other DJs, they will think of you in a new light. If you get them gigs, often times they will help you get gigs in return. Promoters will want to hire you since you'll start having a draw.

8. Buy or get access to a sound system.

The first person a promoter calls is the sound guy. If you're the sound guy and a decent DJ, well, isn't that convenient for the promoter When I started out DJing, I realized that if I had a sound system and made myself and the speakers a package deal, I would spin out much more often. It worked great. I was always the sound guy and opening DJ. So, I would show up, bring the gear, spin, and then meet the headlining DJs for the night. I priced myself as cheap as renting the gear, only now I would bring the gear, instead of the promoter having to deal with picking it up, setting it up, and all that hassle. This jump-started my career, and soon I was on every bill, playing at every party.

I spent about $1,500 bucks on speakers, and after 10 gigs, the speakers were paid off. After that, I made money on those exact speakers for well on 6 years. My early career is completely owed to having the sound system. Even if you can't buy a sound system, find someone who owns one that trusts you to borrow it. Make a deal where you split the money 50/50 for them owning and you managing rentals on it. Then, you can make yourself useful to the scene. One note- if you go this route, you must show up on time, and follow through on your commitments every time. No one wants to work with a flake. Your reputation is everything in this musical freelance environment.

9. Go to parties.

This may seem obvious too, but I am amazed at how many bedroom DJs want to spin, but hardly ever go to clubs. When you get serious about being a DJ, you need to know the lay of the land. Go to parties outside your normal bubble. See what scenes are happening. Go to all types of parties. Know what venues work with what styles. Listen to what's being played, and think about how your music fits into the larger picture. If you support other promoters events, they are more likely to support your events. Listen to people talking about other DJs, and what they like and don't like. When you go to spin your music, spin what you love. If you know what the overplayed tracks are, you can avoid them in your sets and stand out more as a DJ. You can also sound more unique by knowing what sounds and influences are underplayed. Sign up for every mailing list imaginable. You want to have your finger on the pulse of the scene.

10. Be nice.

Look, I'm going to come out and say it. The music scene, and the party scene is all about being social. Just be nice. No one wants to work with jerks. Promoters will hire cool DJs over jerks all the time. Who would you rather give money to: someone you like or someone you don't like. As you venture out into the scene, don't engage in gossip. Avoid flame wars on websites.

wolfietips5.jpg
Be real, be friendly, and keep a positive attitude. Win the war, not the battle. If you lose your time slot for some reason, don't yell and scream at the promoter, or other DJs. Show grace, and say "Bummer. But I totally understand why that's happening, and no problem. I'd love a chance to spin for you some other time." You'll be brought out so much more when you're a drama-free zone.

One time at a small festival of 1,000 people, I had a DJ that pulled all sorts of drama around scheduling. He was worried about losing his slot, and was a total prick about it. What he didn't know, and what he was shocked at when I shared with him later on how our crew works, is that we were just gearing up to play Electric Daisy Carnival- a 30,000-person massive. Had he actually lost his slot, and been nice, I would have made sure he got a slot on the next bill, which was a huge event. Instead he kicked and screamed, got a 45 minute slot, and cut into another DJ's slot, and fell right off our "DJs we use" list. The DJ who lost the 45 minutes to him did so with good grace, and got the E.D.C. gig. Be nice.

I hope these pointers help inspire you to get moving on making your dreams a reality. Music, dancing and DJing is a great creative outlet. You don't have to have Motzart's musical skills. You can still add to the scene in many personal, powerful ways. The main thing is to get out there, start meeting people, and make it happen for yourself and your scene. Do not sit around waiting for the phone to ring. You're attracted to music for a reason. Express it. Somewhere down the road, people will be cornering you at events, talking about how much they love what you contribute to the scene, and thanking you for bringing such joy into their lives. Play the music you love, and do the work needed to make the night a success. The world genuinely will be a better place with your full contribution to the scene.

For comments, questions, or suggestions, drop me a line at djwolfie@djwolfie.com. Or check out DJWolfie.com for more.
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Unread Jun 4th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for the tips home. Greatly appreciate
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Unread Jun 4th, 2006, 07:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing

That guy really seems like he knows what hes talking about.
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Unread Jun 4th, 2006, 07:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting this.
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Unread Jun 4th, 2006, 08:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The fact that it is true, makes me sad.

What does this guide say to me? It says, do you want to be a big local? If you do, then don't spend time perfecting your art or defining your style instead get out there and get face time so that people know you are going to their shows and bringing your friends and in turn making them money. Buy people drinks, be friends not because you have common interests but beause you want to use them to get ahead and they want to use you as well so it all works out in the end. A list of tips like this perpetuates the politics of the edm scene and does not make good DJs, it gets bad DJs timeslots. All this is what I find to be the worst part of the scene and why I wished that electronic music would have stayed out of clubs and underground.
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Unread Jun 4th, 2006, 09:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek-Fox
The fact that it is true, makes me sad.

What does this guide say to me? It says, do you want to be a big local? If you do, then don't spend time perfecting your art or defining your style instead get out there and get face time so that people know you are going to their shows and bringing your friends and in turn making them money. Buy people drinks, be friends not because you have common interests but beause you want to use them to get ahead and they want to use you as well so it all works out in the end. A list of tips like this perpetuates the politics of the edm scene and does not make good DJs, it gets bad DJs timeslots. All this is what I find to be the worst part of the scene and why I wished that electronic music would have stayed out of clubs and underground.
i hate to say it but i agree with you Tek..except for the last part..im glad it made it into to clubs..but the whole politics thing is BS..i read this article awhile back, and thought are you kidding me? granted its true but totally sad
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Unread Jun 5th, 2006, 04:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Of course there are fake people out there but it doesn't mean at all that people like have to be a part of it. I don't see it as a guideline, more of a suggestion.
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Unread Jun 5th, 2006, 05:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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there are other approaches though...

I did a dj competition on a radio station, among the 400+ contestants there were many known "faces", i was completely unknown. But i won the contest, and went from zero to hero in basicly a couple of hours of work. I got several gig offers right away, a couple of weeks later i had more gig and radio show offers lined up than i could possibly handle. I'm still getting offers while i'v never done a thing for anyone other than spinning, though i deny most gig offers now...taking things easy for a while.
And i'v turned into quite a jerk dj-wise...i spin what i want to hear, and if they don't like it i won't spin, no adapting to the crowd anymore, there's no fun in that to me...it works surprisingly well...

though my approach isn't an option for everyone...and it's sad but for most people who wanna get somewhere the 10 tips this guy listed are probably the best approach...
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Unread Jun 5th, 2006, 06:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustwave
there are other approaches though...

I did a dj competition on a radio station, among the 400+ contestants there were many known "faces", i was completely unknown. But i won the contest, and went from zero to hero in basicly a couple of hours of work. I got several gig offers right away, a couple of weeks later i had more gig and radio show offers lined up than i could possibly handle. I'm still getting offers while i'v never done a thing for anyone other than spinning, though i deny most gig offers now...taking things easy for a while.
And i'v turned into quite a jerk dj-wise...i spin what i want to hear, and if they don't like it i won't spin, no adapting to the crowd anymore, there's no fun in that to me...it works surprisingly well...

though my approach isn't an option for everyone...and it's sad but for most people who wanna get somewhere the 10 tips this guy listed are probably the best approach...

i agree with some of your comments i wouldn't spin a choon i wouldn't dance to, at the end of the day..you get noticed by having your own individual style
not for being co -operative and nice. as most dj's have this skill already
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Unread Nov 21st, 2006, 08:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Brilliant.
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Unread Nov 21st, 2006, 02:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Those are great tips to help further yourself, and only further yourself.
The funny part is, being involved with the music scene, all those things happen naturally.

Tek-Fox, you are right, its unfortunate that some DJ's get quite far with little or no talent, but, they eventually get weeded out and fade away. I felt that for the first 2-3 years of being a DJ I focused mainly on perfecting my technical skills and what did that get me? Next to nothing. Just because you are a "good" DJ does not mean anyone will take the chance to book you.

If I'm a club owner and I have to choose to book a show between 2 DJ's, both with the same skill level but one of them promote's the living crap out of himself and has a following, guess who I'm going to book. Clubs, promoters, record labels all have the same view "what can you do for me?" If one DJ is going to bring 150 more people simply because "he" is playing, hell yeah the club will book him. There was a recent DJ competition in Seattle where the winner got to open up for a headliner and basically it was supposed to be the booming start to his career. Well the guy won, opened for the headliner, had another show they booked him for which totally blew (attendance wise), had one more chance for another show and the turnout sucked again and now the guy is working at a grocery store and plays a happy hour set occassionally. He is extremely talented but does not promote himself.

Why do you think there are so many bedroom DJ's? I bet you there are 50 bedroom DJ's that have more skill than John Digweed but their problem is they don't get themselves out there, they don't promote themselves. You need to create some sort of a desire, a want, something that will attract people. You have to have the answer to the question "Why would I come see you?" and if you don't have that answer you stay playing in your bedroom until you do.

I don't feel sorry for bedroom DJ's who stay bedroom DJ's because I was there myself, hell we all were and many still are. But I made the choice of working my ass off, giving out hundreds of demo's, had my website built, took pictures of shows to get more people to go to my website, met booking agents, promoters, club owners and showed them what I could do for them. I didn't follow any magic list like the one above that led to success. Hard work is what I decided to do.

You have to make the most of every opportunity you are given. When I first started playing out at small small venues, years ago, I told myself "I need to somehow get people to show up, I need to show this club they made a good call in booking me". Sure enough the following grew and other clubs took notice.

I'm extremely thankful and happy that my hard work has been paying off as I'm a resident at the top club in Seattle. I've had the chance to play with many of the best DJ's in the world in front of some huge huge crowds all over the US and to see that all of that was because I worked my ass off is extremely rewarding. But at the same token, people don't realize how much time I spend promoting a show that I'll be playing at. I literally several hours a day for a good week or two before the show getting the word out to people.

So I guess to sum it up, anybody (after enough practice) can play records, but the ones who get to the next level and beyond are the ones who can make a crowd "want" to watch them do it.
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Unread Nov 21st, 2006, 03:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree that you need to promote yourself and get it so that people want to come listen to you, that part is essential for any DJ out there. That is something I learned the hard way, as I am not someone who is good at promoting. Thankfully, I have other people who help talk me up because I don't like to do it, I find it somewhat shallow. Thats my own personal dealings though, and its something I've got to overcome if I ever want to go anywhere.

What gets me is there are so many DJs out there and many of the budding bedroom DJs will get booked simply because they can bring 20 friends on any partcular night, and in the dnb scene in the US that means a lot to the club owner, especially if they drink a lot. So instead the local scene turns into a rotation of medicore DJs playing the same tracks. Well then people who aren't the DJs friends stop showing up because it is the same thing every night.

One that that is happening here is that people will throw parties and give DJs 45 minute time slots, or an hour to do a tag set. This is to get as many DJs in the door as possible to hopefully get them to bring as many people as possible. So now instead of 6 or 7 quality DJs on a 9-4 night you get 12-14 DJs playing shorter sets. How much does that suck? A lot.

As a once party promoter I figured that the most that any given local DJ was good for was 20 people, and that is on a good night. Still, just because a DJ doesn't bring a crowd one week doesn't mean it is going to be the same the next week. Look at Spor, who played here a week ago, he had about 20 people show up and he is a huge name in the dnb scene. The last time he played the place was packed to the brim. Some days you just don't get the breaks.

This is why I like playing for DI. I put out my notices as to when I'm playing to the communities I am on and I get to play to a crowd while still holding onto the humble bedroom DJ aspect of things.
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Unread Nov 21st, 2006, 03:31 PM   #13 (permalink)
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With that said, I just wanted to add this. DJs who are serious about it, these are not bad guidelines. There is very much a social and political game to be played and that is just a fact of the scene, but in the end we are all here for the music. Get face time a good demo and pratice your ass off and you will get booked, you need all of that.

So how did I get my gigs?

I handed out promos of my stuff to everyone, but I didn't just burn a CD, throw it in a sleve and call it a day. I went out and made my stuff look professional. Everyone I saw had the same old tired crap, CD's in sleves with a label on the top. Its cheap but I can tell you right now that I didn't listen to a single one when I was promoting. When I had a mix which I thought was demoworthy I bought a printer than could print onto the CD's (no labels necessary) I got an artist to do a inlay card and tracklist, I got the liner notes professionally printed and stuck them all in slim jewel cases. It looks like a CD you would pick up from best buy, and I even to this day 2 years later people still talk about my demo.

The next time around I went and did a full out professional job and to my supprise people actually paid me for my new demo. Now, the money I was paid was used to pay the cost of making the CD's so I didn't actually make any money, but in the end I promoted myself big time and had 0 income loss. You can't ask for more than that.
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Unread Nov 21st, 2006, 04:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek-Fox
With that said, I just wanted to add this. DJs who are serious about it, these are not bad guidelines. There is very much a social and political game to be played and that is just a fact of the scene, but in the end we are all here for the music. Get face time a good demo and pratice your ass off and you will get booked, you need all of that.

So how did I get my gigs?

I handed out promos of my stuff to everyone, but I didn't just burn a CD, throw it in a sleve and call it a day. I went out and made my stuff look professional. Everyone I saw had the same old tired crap, CD's in sleves with a label on the top. Its cheap but I can tell you right now that I didn't listen to a single one when I was promoting. When I had a mix which I thought was demoworthy I bought a printer than could print onto the CD's (no labels necessary) I got an artist to do a inlay card and tracklist, I got the liner notes professionally printed and stuck them all in slim jewel cases. It looks like a CD you would pick up from best buy, and I even to this day 2 years later people still talk about my demo.

The next time around I went and did a full out professional job and to my supprise people actually paid me for my new demo. Now, the money I was paid was used to pay the cost of making the CD's so I didn't actually make any money, but in the end I promoted myself big time and had 0 income loss. You can't ask for more than that.
amen! That is a huge thing. Most booking agents for clubs won't even listen to a CD that has a name and phone # hand written on it with a Sharpy.

Here is my most recent CD:



And on the other stuff, you do bring up excellent points. Playing that many DJ's in a night is freakin nutso, wow! I guess its just a tough situation all around because if the clubs don't make money, we don't have venues to play at. Even the underground warehouse parties back in the day had to make a good chunk of money to stay open. But at the same time liquidating clubs with horrible DJ's sure as hell doesn't make our job any easier.
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Unread Nov 22nd, 2006, 06:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Anyone know of a website where us bedroom DJ's can upload mixes to for free? Needs to be, say, up to 100MB and not in 10MB chunks like youtube or esnips..

That would be a useful PRACTICAL tip!

djdoboy.com does a good job of marketing himself...btw. Would be a good example.
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Last edited by ciscobiz : Nov 22nd, 2006 at 06:37 AM.
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Unread Nov 22nd, 2006, 06:42 AM   #16 (permalink)
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putfile.com
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New Psy-Dub remix!
http://www.ubetoo.com/psytrance/46349
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Unread Nov 22nd, 2006, 12:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thx Phin. I stuck to ********.

What Jonny says about Digweed is a bit nuts IMO. I don't believe there are 50 DJ's that can spin like him. I know what you mean Jonny. Marketing is key. But I don't think that the issue of spinning in that style can be reproduced without the tracks that went with it in those early days.

I haven't listened to him in at least 6 years. When JD was a true player, when it was still underground you would hear the best progressive bar none. But it all changed mid 90's. CD's started coming out and there was money to be made. I rarely listened to any of those CD's that made me think this is just the kind of thing JD played the last time I heard him. Because it wasn't. And all of that made me lose interest. High street music. It was crap.

I was in Australia in 2001-2003 and I used to go to the GAS Club in Sydney. JD had a New Years show there and it was silly money to get in. So I went down the road instead and enjoyed myself for a third of the price.

People may be able to copy him now. I'm trying to spin progressive in exactly the way that John Digweed did back in 94 and earlier. Well, I would do if I could get a hold of those tracks. I'm just 10 years or more too late. But I know that during that time he played the most amazing Progressive. I expect he still can do but has been collared by the mechanics of economics to pay his way in life.

For me, the music is OK but not great these days. It needs to go back underground into small beatboxes and places like Ministry of Sound in London need to shut down ASAP! They are CRAP!
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