Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Role of the DJ: How to Break Boundaries in Electronic Dance Music

The popularization of electronic dance music and DJing in the past decade raises questions about music and culture. Today’s music scene is increasingly linked with technology in all facets of production, performance, and promotion. Technology and the internet create unprecedented challenges and opportunities for musicians. The role of the DJ is a controversial topic in online communities today. The role of the DJ is unique and constantly changing.

What is a DJ’s Role in Today’s Dance Music Festivals?

Michelle Lhooq’s article about the the role of the DJ in festivals raises a number of important questions about electronic dance music performance. An increasing number of artists in the past decade have approached their careers as a persona rather than a musician. This is directly related to the commercialization of electronic dance music.

I would like to respond by opening a discussion about ways to be the best DJ, performer, and musician that you can be. There is a wide spectrum of DJs and different philosophies about DJing. I’ve spent time at Northwestern University studying music and learning from DJs in the Chicago area. I am still trying to wrap my head around this constantly evolving art. 

Everyone has their own definition of a DJ and their own priorities as a performer. DJs have unprecedented material at their disposal. And they have unprecedented flexibility as a performer. The one thing that really stands out and draws me to DJing is the fact that you have so much flexibility. You can play any music you want. This has not been possible to the same extent prior to the internet. 

When I started DJing, my mentors emphasized mixing different material and formats. Ryan Keesling (Searchl1te) and Madrid Perry (DJ Madrid) taught me that it is our duty as a DJ to bring together unexpected and otherwise unrelated styles of music. This advice resonated with me over the years. 

I hope that budding DJs, big name artists, and music enthusiasts alike think more critically about music. And the social and cultural implications of music. Recognize different priorities of performers, audiences, and venues. Find new ways to explore space and time. And experiment with the unfamiliar. At the end of the day, your music is your craft. It really shows when you stay true to yourself. 

Lucas Messore is a music producer, guitarist, and DJ from Miami. He is currently a senior at the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. Lucas is involved in Street Beat - the electronic and hip/hop radio show on 89.3 FM WNUR. 

1 comment:

  1. So far we have talked about the "front of house" elements of a festival, but have neglected the good work that goes on behind the scenes. Without power any festival would never get off the ground.see more at-house music festivals