DJ Tips Part One | The Journey

“Your job starts in the record store, not on the decks. Your worth as a DJ begins and ends with what’s on your shelves and in your bag. For every hour on the deck, a good DJ spends days, months and years picking out tunes and learning about music.”

– Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster

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My first DJ set was less of a set and more of a playlist and I was absolutely terrified. Lucky for me it got people dancing with a smile on their face and sent me home with one too.

From that day I knew I was on a journey. I wasn’t entirely sure of my destination but that didn’t matter. I set off without a map but trusted the universe to send me guides and sign-posts whenever I needed them.

I’ve kept a special DJ journal where I keep notes and ideas. This blog is just an extension of that. So far I’ve mainly written about music and artists I admire, but now I’d like to bring in more DJ musings.

I invite you to join me on my travels.

Here’s where it all began.

MY MUSIC PASSION STARTED YOUNG

Stevie Wonder album lyricsI grew up in a home where the radio was always on.  I began buying records in my teens, spending hours deciding what to buy.

Imagine buying an album without hearing it first; that’s what we did back in the day.

I remember buying song lyric magazines so I could learn the words to my favourite music. The first song I remember consciously learning off by heart was “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder:

Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just won’t quit
But here are some of music’s pioneers
That time will not allow us to forget
For there’s Basie, Miller, Sachmo
And the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out
There’s no way the band can lose
You can feel it all over
You can feel it all over people

So much truth in that song – I recommend listening to all the lyrics!

Vinyl musings

When I meet people who aren’t dancers, they ask if I DJ vinyl.

My answer: “God, no!”

I often add that I gave all my vinyl to a friend. Rudi Lewis cut my hair for years. He was a part-time DJ, so he gladly took all my records off my hands when I switched to CDs. Eventually, I switched again to all digital.

Do I regret not having that vinyl nowadays? Maybe slightly, but mostly, no.

I couldn’t do what I do now with vinyl.

Although, a couple of years ago, in a Blues club in Berlin, there was a DJ spinning vinyl and I was seriously jealous. She looked so cool…

The art and craft of DJing

More recently, I was heading to a blues event in Oxford and stopped at a second hand book store on my way to the venue. I LOVE second hand book stores — you never know what you’re going to find, right?

I love that feeling of being on a voyage of discovery.

There I found a book that made my soul light up…

I’ll share more about this book in my next post, as it taught me so much.

What to expect in my next post

How do I find music?
How do I buy music cheaply?
Is it great music?
Will it work on a dance floor?
Does it fit my style?

Blues DJ Tips is a new thread of posts starting now. I hope you’ll join as I share my experiences from the past few years, and bring you insights from other DJs too.

If you want to stay in the loop, sign up for the fortnightly Blues-letter I write with Jered.

In the meantime if you have questions or thoughts you want to share, please feel free to drop me a line.

Tracy

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