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’s doesn’t mean they arn’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?
Lets 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 harmony of the right key.
1. Beat matching 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 practise prior to mixing and remember which song works with the next one they play. Or they can either memorise or label each record with the correct key. Alternatively, DJ’s 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 really obvious. However there have been countless YouTube videos when there is a fake DJ pretending to mix. Even when there are no cables even plugged to the mixer or turntable. Obviously if there is no power or audio cables. There will be no power or audio to mix with and the DJ is actually 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 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, its a very clear sign that its 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 each and 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 cross faders?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 allwoing 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 the pitch control?Pitch faders are cruicial for mixing the music to the same tempo (beat matching). Sometimes a DJ may mix all his own music they may be already at the same tempo, which would mean that they would not need to touch the pitch control. On he other hand, a DJ whom may or may not be clever depenending on the way you look at it. May have allready pre pitched the tracks the tracks they have lined up for the set to be at the same tempo. Some would consider this cheating, but it all fairness, they are still able to mix the music freely which is important as opposed to being stuck with a entire prerecorded set.
All and all, if a Dj is lifting up a vinyl case and pulling out a record, you know they a real for sure!