DJ Tips and Tricks
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When you leave the bedroom and begin playing at venues the basic skills have been learned and hopefully mastered. Many DJ's will not strive to perform any better by learning more advanced DJ tips and tricks. They've learned their skill, they're playing to crowds, and they're now happy.
But what if you want to outshine the other DJ's you're playing alongside? What can you add to your DJ sets to make them stand out?
Or maybe you're making mistakes and need to take something away from your sets?
Whatever you need these top DJ tips and tricks will make you stand out above the rest!
Let's take a look at the ways to improve your mixes and to add a few things many DJ's don't have. We'll also point out some of the mistakes you very often hear from beginner and experienced DJ's.
4. Learn to scratch.
Something that always gets the crowd exited is hearing a DJ scratch. How often do you hear DJ's scratching in commercial clubs? Not very often!
Whenever I throw in some scratching I'll almost always get compliments from the crowd. It's something they don't hear much, and hearing a DJ do something different is exciting. Stand yourself apart from the others and start incorporating scratching into your sets right away. You can scratch over almost any genre of music. And even basic scratches can add a little something different.
As with anything though, don't overdo it. Too much scratching can get annoying to clubbers. Try not to scratch over any more than 4 tunes per 1 hour set. Unless you're playing hip hop, then you can probably get away with scratching all the way through.
5. Learn harmonic mixing, or mixing in key
This is something that not many DJ's pay attention to. But it's something that can totally transform the sound of your mixes. The old method for DJ's to find out the key of a tune was to use a piano and then label each record before heading out to play.
Thankfully there is now software available to tell you what key your music is in. Mixed in key is a great tool, and will list the key of each track in the comments section of your library. DJ mixing software will usually have a feature that will analyze each of your tracks. It will then list the key of the track in your music library. Serato DJ and Traktor Pro 2 both feature this. If you're using software it's still important to know your tunes well. Just because two tracks are the same key, it doesn't mean it will sound good in the mix.
Doing it by ear is more of a skill. Most DJ's will throw any track into the mix without even thinking about how the mix will sound. As long as it's beatmatched they couldn't care less. But some mixes will just not sound right.
When I mix I may not know whether the track is in the key of D or the key of G, but I can hear if the keys match. This is more important in some music genres than others, like trance for example where synths dominate the track.
If you want to take it to an even higher level, try matching sounds like kick-drums. Certain kick-drums or kick-drum patterns will not match or mix well. Others go together so well you'll struggle telling the two tracks apart.
When you can seamlessly mix two tracks and people can't even tell that the track has just changed, you'll know you've got it down!
6. Don't mess about with the faders excessively
This is more of a beginner tip, but I do hear many experienced DJ's doing it. Messing around with the up faders and constantly pushing them up and down to the beat. And quickly cutting across to the next track whilst vocals are playing. Why would you cut off the vocal to replace it with a couple of empty sounding kick-drums?
This has got to be one of the worst things to hear when your listening to a recorded mix. Hearing it out in a club isn't much better. It's ok if it's done right and to tease the next track. But when it's done pointlessly it can sound very amateur.
If you enjoy doing this, try recording your mix to see how it sounds to others. If you're not guilty of using this one in a bad way, it can actually be used for good too. You can build anticipation using a quick cut across with the crossfader. You can try it with your most popular tracks to tease the crowd.
The crowd may know what the next track is from a quick tease and this can really get them going. Just make sure you don't cut vocals off. And use it to tease a recognisable part of a track that the crowd will know.
Join me next week for more DJ Tricks and Tips on Let's Go Big Tunes blog page