Creating unique sounds is an essential part of being a successful DJ. When crafting a great DJ mix, you have to be patient and ponder about a few key essentials first: Who are your target audience? What professional structure will it attain? How do you intend to achieve a perfect mix?
A good DJ surrounded by party people steers the energy of a room by playing the right tunes at the right time. If he hits a groove that creates a stir, he will follow it to its logical conclusion. If the dancers are looking tired, the DJ may cool it off and play a down tempo track to encourage people to grab a drink. Such is the nature of playing to a live audience.
On the contrary, it’s a different ball game altogether making a DJ mix for a road show, radio show, or for that client you want to impress. There is no immediate feedback loop and you have a lot more time to prepare, but before you hit record, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.
- Know your audience
The mix you make to get a DJ performance at a club will no doubt be entirely different from the mix for a dinner party. Knowing your audience is a helpful tool for narrowing track selection, determining the appropriate length and energy level. For example, a party mix will produce high energy with seamless transitions and an upbeat feel while doing it. If it’s for listening pleasure, something downtempo with a melody that reflects the slow focused pace.
- Draw out a direction
This is a helpful tool in understanding the direction of your mix. The most common include a ramp; a steady rise from slow BPM to high with matching energy or mountain; rise to a peak halfway through the mix and asymmetrical descent.
- Order and selection
Track selection is largely a product of personal taste and your target audience, whereas track order is determined by the energy levels you hope to achieve. Be more creative when mixing old tracks and new ones. Your track selection should represent the direction of your music collection you want to display.
Afro-pop music DJs favour beat-matching, hip hop DJs do more with cutting, and radio DJs engage in transition by fading. While you can make an excellent mix with any single transition type, using a combination of transitions can both help some tracks fit together that may not otherwise, and or create variety in your set. If your mix has a mixed bag of genres, change it up transition-wise. If you are playing a single genre, a seamless beat matching all the way through is the way to go.
- Harmonic mixing
Despite being the same genre and BPM, some tracks simply don’t fit together. While some DJs have an innate sense about tracks that complement one another, others will find it frustrating without a good explanation. Harmonic mixing is the blending of two pre-recorded tracks that are either in a similar key, or their keys are in association with each other. Unless you are looking to create discord, harmonic mixing (mixing in key) will improve the musicality of your DJ mix.
- Phrasing in your DJ mix
When to start mixing one track into another, the length of the transition between tracks is a case-by-case situation. If the next track you choose drops too early, you could burn out your listeners. Knowing how one track ends and how the next begins will be key to creating the right composition where the structure of one track compliments the next. This is good phrasing or timing.
- EQ, loops, filters and effects
Some feel that altering the songs with any creative combination of the above tools will destroy the purity of the tracks, while others will do everything in their power to bend the music to their will. The bottom line is that, your unique manipulation and mixing technique do you separate yourself from another DJ mixing the same tracks. Don’t sell your brand short and assume your mix won’t get very far, take your time to always create unique mixes.
My party pace pusher for this week is D’Banj FT. Slimcase – Mo Cover Eh