The Pressure’s On

“A lot of it is down to who you know, than your actual talent. Lots of real talent gets wasted but that’s just the way it is.”

With chart-topping music becoming increasingly dance and club influenced, it raises the question of how much pressure there is on young and upcoming DJs to reach that star-status.
Club and dance music has always been popular, and artists such as Fatboy Slim have been household names since before some of the more recent well-known DJs were even born. However over the recent years there has been an increase of DJs who are now household names such as Calvin Harris and Avicii who have both established ‘star-status,’ producing a number of songs that have had number one hits.
With the pressure of other types of musicians being well known through talent shows such as X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent, not many people are aware of how equally pressurising it is for DJs to establish a ‘name’ in the music industry.

Pictured above: DJ Ange.P with DJ EZ

In order to investigate this further we sought the opinions of young and upcoming artists to get a direct insight into the pressures they face. DJ Ange.P, 28 from Paris, has gone from a self taught bedroom DJ to headlining acts and performing alongside established artists such as DJ EZ and the Heartless Crew. “DJs nowadays are more business minded, building a life-style image and reputation on top of their DJ skills. They are producers, social platforms, marketing experts, promoters, brand faces and more. The level of activity and money required is huge.” What is meant by a ‘lifestyle’ image? When artists establish themselves and build a fan base, they portray an image of themselves through things such their choice of clothing, but is this a contributing factor to the pressure? “I personally try to perform to the best of my ability, whether at a house party or performing in front of 1000 people and I always make sure I am aware of the image I am portraying.” The image you portray is vital to your fan base as they expect you to act and dress in a particular way that perhaps coincides with the music you make.
Although your fan base may expect you to perhaps dress and act a certain way, you must not apply this to the music you play at your sets. It’s important to master and settle on a particular genre of music, but you should not play the same type of music for however long you have been given behind the decks. Mix it up; nobody wants to dance to the same repetitive dance beat for more than an hour.
Another important factor to take into consideration is interaction with the crowd. Everybody loves the standard “Ayia Napa” DJ chant on a Garage set, but nobody likes a DJ that talks over the whole song.
Most musicians are well aware that it takes more than making decent music to stand out. Marketing yourself for instance is vital if you want to be somebody in the business. Another obvious pressure that faces many people in life to reach their goals is money.
‘‘DJ Battre Diminuee’ who started out playing sets at weddings and has worked abroad but mainly performs in local clubs gives us an insight into this. “There is an absolute pressure amongst the DJ community to have the latest kit, tracks and to be the life of the party. There is nothing better than mixing a track and dropping it in a way that nobody else has. The reaction from the crowd is insane; for me that’s enough to push me to the top.”
Although this relates to the pressures of money, it also relates to the pressure of image as he mentioned the importance of performing in a unique way by doing something that has not been done by other artists before.
The fact that both of these DJs mentioned the surrounding pressures more than the possible pressure of the types of music they are creating made me question whether having talent itself was an issue at all when it comes to achieving that ‘star-status.’  With the opinions of aspiring artists being given, it is always interesting to hear the views of an ‘outsider’. With an obvious knowledge on the matter needed, who better to ask than an MC, as they work alongside DJs in their line of work.

Pictured above:  Aran Taylor  (T Dot)

Southampton’s own ‘MC T Dot,’ who has performed alongside some of the biggest names in the drum & bass scene, such as Mampi Swift, Decimal Bass, and Nicky Blackmarket to name a few, certainly had an opinion on the matter. “There are many people who are talented, but only a small few get chosen to move up in the music industry, a lot of it is down to who you know, than your actual talent. Lots of real talent gets wasted but that’s just the way it is.”
If your reading this and you think you are already doing all of the things you possibly can to make a name for yourself in the music industry as a DJ, then you could probably use this small piece of advice. Be prepared for criticism; take it with a pinch of salt, if there are negative comments on a forum or YouTube video of your music take the comments on board. After all if it’s a forum, the chances are the keyboard warrior who wrote the negative comment, has most likely been to one of your sets. Don’t respond to the comments because it will only hurt the image you have built for yourself as an artist. There is no doubt that the younger generation of DJs are facing far more pressure than DJs of the past. Although there are undoubtedly more ways for DJs to have their sounds heard and to promote themselves through websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, this only creates more competition.
The trick is to not get too caught up in the pressure that is created online through competition of trying to get more hits on your self-created YouTube videos or more likes on your Facebook fan pages than the next upcoming artist.
Instead of entirely focusing your time on promoting yourselves online, get yourselves out there. Play as many sets as you can in as many places as you can.