Anybody can be a DJ right? Well actually to be a ‘real DJ’ can be quite difficult. To be great takes a lot of skill.
In this day in age, it is very easy to fake being a DJ with all the digital software available. Just because a DJ might use the aid of a laptop or CDJ doesn’t mean they aren’t actually DJing but may help in assisting them ‘Fake it’. This article is to help understand the fundamentals of what a DJ actually does. Also what to look out for if you suspect you see if you fake DJ out there. Maybe, just maybe help appreciate when you see and hear skilled one at work.
Whats is a DJ?
Let us start by understanding what a DJ is. A (DJ) disc Jockey is someone who mixes recorded music while it is playing live. This is done by two main fundamentals, beat matching and hopefully, (but not often) mixing the songs in the harmony of the right key.
1. Beatmatching is done by adjusting the speed of the recorded music that is being cued up to be mixed in with the current music that is playing. If done live (Real DJ), the DJ will use the pitch fader on the turntable itself.
2. Mixing in key. This is a lot more tricky. The DJ will need to either practice before mixing and remember which song works with the next one they play. Or they can either memorize or label each record with the correct key. Alternatively, DJs using Serato or Final Scratch software have the benefit of software displaying the key for them.
Mixing in Key has a huge effect on the performance outcome of any DJ. Any DJ reading this who like to find out more information about it ‘click here‘.
5 Ways to Spot a fake DJ
1. Are there any cables?
This may seem obvious. However, there have been countless YouTube videos when a fake DJ is pretending to mix. Even when there are no cables even plugged to the mixer or turntable. Obviously, if there are no power or audio cables. There will be no power or audio to mix with and the DJ is in reality just dreaming.
2. Is the power switched on?
On regular turntables, eg: the industry-standard Technics 1200’s or one that plays vinyl. Usually, the platter is spinning constantly and you will see a yellow light, lighting up the record player and red light near the volume switch. Both are visible from a birds-eye view.
CDJs, are very obvious to tell if the power is on even under direct sunlight. Usually, the CD position is highlighted in the LED lights, along with either the time or name of the track. If the CDJ remains black or dull with no lights, it’s a very clear sign that it’s powered off.
3. Is the DJ wearing any headphones between songs/mixes?
No? Then its a good chance he/she has already prerecorded a set.
To beat match live as a DJ you need to cue a new song into the mix which requires a pair of headphones or in-ear monitors of some sort. The DJ needs to wear them in-between every song change. This occurs approximately every 1- 3 minutes or even constantly throughout the entire set they mix. This question may lead to the next further questions.
4. Do they use the volume or crossfaders?
The Crossfader: Between the turntables lies a mixer which you would have seen every DJ play with on some occasion tweaking knobs till no tomorrow. At the bottom of the mixer, there is a fader which they will use again to switch and fade the music to the next cued track. Usually it
Volume Faders: In some cases, the DJ may choose to put the crossfader in the middle of the mixer allowing all assigned songs to come through. Then they use the volume faders instead to control the volume of each input.
If you do not see any of the faders being used between tracks it is a very very likely sign that they are using a prerecorded set.
5. Do they use pitch control?
Pitch faders are crucial for mixing the music to the same tempo (beat matching). Sometimes a DJ may mix all his/her own produced music where the songs maybe already at the same tempo, which would mean that they would not need to touch the pitch control. On the other hand, a DJ who may or may not be clever depending on the way you look at it. May have already pre-pitched the tracks they have lined up for the set to be at the same tempo. Some would consider this cheating, but in all fairness, they are still able to mix the music freely which is important as opposed to being stuck with an entire prerecorded set.
All and all, if a Dj is lifting a vinyl case and pulling out a record, you know they a real for sure!
On another note, for any DJs new or old that wanna play out in the clubs, getting hearing protection is a must. Ask any professional DJ out there, I’m sure they will tell you they wish they got hearing protection sooner. As Mute Audio has shut down due to running out of stock, here is a great alternative we found on Amazon.