Recent thoughts on DJing & Production

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Some recent thoughts I've had on the current state of music production and DJing in particular... A friend said to me once that "an artform is defined by its limitations"...

Think about that for a second...a painting is defined by what you can do within the confines of canvas, paint, brushes and what the artist can conceive.

DJing is the same. The limitations of the discipline are actually the most liberating aspects of it.

The fact that with 2 turntables as a mixer there is only so much you can do. And, the music won't beat match itself.

These limitations simplify the process, allowing for true art to happen in the form of programming, and for the DJ to specifically focus on the energy within the room, to reflect it, challenge it and manipulate it any way they see fit.

The danger is now, with modern technology, as we stare over the precipice of unlimited possibly, of no restriction on the artform, that we throw the baby out with the bath water, and sacrifice the skill, inspiration and soul of the artform for the sake of convenience.

A statement formulated in my brain whilst in Barcelona last week...

"If there is no risk in art, then there is no skill"

Think about it deeply for a bit and you'll see what I mean...

Having used technology to perform (I used ableton to DJ for a few years) I know what this statement means.

If every record perfectly syncs itself, there is no risk involved. How can inspiration happen if nothing can go wrong? If the technology covers your arse, hides your multitude of sins, and allows for endless choice of music, how can the art reach its potential?

And also, how do you ever build a high level of skill and artistic merit if everything is automated?

It's the same with music production...now thanks to modern DAW software, it's impossible to make a mistake...everything is undoable, everything can be sanitarily, homogeneously in time with no rough edges...an endless tidal wave of synth presets and drum samples can be accessed in a few clicks...

But what's the consequence of this? The lack of risk, of things going wrong, and the lack of restriction eventually leads to a malaise...such a situation is in my view prevalent in electronic music and DJ culture at the moment.

So what do we do?

In my case, I go back to go forward...

Self imposed restriction and discipline are the keys to the kingdom

Know your method of expression and utilise it to its full potential.

Return to the source. Go back to basics, and reconnect with the artform's essential humanity...I'm attempting to do this in the DJ booth, and in the studio too...less tools means you can do more...

What are you doing to make sure your music, performance and art have meaning? How does it stretch you to make you, and your audience better for the experience?

I challenge all of you to think this way and apply it within the context of your own careers and music, art and expressions...have fun x