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So you wanna be a 2Klub DJ?  Here's some advice on getting a gig - with us or anywhere, - and info about our occasional New DJ Talent Competitions.

The Search for New DJ Talent Continues...

My DJ competitions early in 2003 had entries across a variety of styles including ambient, funky, trance, hard trance, techno, and hard house, along with a CD of original compositions with the winners winning £50 and the fame and glory (?) of a page on the 2Klub website, plus me plugging them to people I know in the industry and the prospect of playing at future 2Klub gigs.

I'm still looking for talented new DJs across a spectrum of dance music including Techno, House, Trance, Hardcore, and Nu-NRG and the various variants of these, (only these please, and therefore not Drum & Base, Hip-Hop, etc. etc.). To show me what you can do, send me a demo CD, (CD only please), of your mix. For an idea of what I'm looking for and what to include see below. If you want an acknowledgement please include a SSAE with your demo. To get your CD to me e-mail me first at the address shown below.

Some General Hips and Tints for Aspiring DJs

In general, if you're not well-known, your chances of getting a gig are increased significantly if you take the trouble to go to the club you might want to play at, and meet the people running the night.  Why?  Well...

Firstly, you get to understand better what the promoters are doing, what the music policy is, what the style of the night is about, what the clubbers want there and how well what you play fits with all of the above.

Secondly, you get to meet and influence the people who can give you a job - not only the promoters but also the resident DJs, who may well have a say in any gigs offered.

Thirdly, you get to assess whether these are people who you want to work with and who can do something to help your career.  Once you've met them, you might decide that they and their club are not for you.

What I look for

The music policy for a 2Klub event is to build the atmosphere and tempo. Because I'm interested in keeping the sound fresh, what we play evolves. In 1999 we were the first hard house club in Manchester and played hard house exclusively, but in 2001 I brought more NU-NRG into the events. In 2002, Nu-NRG and Hard Trance have been the way things have been going. I am not a big fan of Bouncy hard house, nor of sequences of tracks with l-o-o-o-o-ng breakdowns. I look for people who play "cutting-edge" tracks; I don't want people to play tunes which have been well played for months elsewhere.  So I'm looking for people who have access to, or are creating, new sounds. My goal is to provide clubbers with an interesting experience, different from anything in most other clubs.  Whilst there is some slight room to play anthemic tunes, I do not want my nights to be filled with them. Lots of clubs, including the Ritzys, jumped on the hard dance music bandwagon, and use DJs who play the standard Nukleuz and Tidy Trax tunes.  There's nothing wrong with those labels, nor those tracks, especially when they first came out, but what makes a club special, musically, if it simply plays whatever can be heard elsewhere?

As a lot of the clubbers I know go clubbing at least once a week and maybe hit two or three clubs in a weekend, hearing the same tunes over and over again soon becomes boring.

I also have a preference for mixing which is tight, which kicks in with deep bass lines and which builds through the set.  By "tight mixing" I mean avoiding playing much of the simple beat intro to a track.

In summary therefore, I'm looking for people who are innovative, interesting and know how to build a set which sustains energy.

This may seem simple and basic, and it is, but, having heard lots of demos, I've come to the conclusion that there's not that many people who do it well.


Demo Disk Specifics

There seems to be some uncertainty in the minds of some aspiring DJs about the quality of their demo - should it be perfect? The simple answer is, "Yes!". A "demo" disk is a demonstration of what you can do. It's therefore assumed to be you at your best. Any imperfections won't be assumed away, and the promoter will take the view that "if he or she can't get it right for the demo, then why should I think he or she will be any better live".

The number of people who send me CDs without track numbers is astounding. This seems both arrogant and inconsiderate, not to mention unhelpful to the DJ! It seems to assume that the promoter will listen to the CD all the way through in one sitting; many don't and won't; they'll do what DJs do when selecting tracks - they want to listen to what they want to listen to, possibly the mixes, the selection of tracks throughout the demo, etc. Putting in track numbers makes examining a demo a LOT easier, especially if you have listened to the CD all the way through and then want to listen to something specific again. Do yourself a favour and put the track numbers in.

There's some degree of argument about whether a demo should be a replica of what you'd play in a club as a set or not. My feeling is that it should be, only more so. The differences generally are that a professional demo will probably be heard during the day, in a car, office or someone's home, and you have no idea whether it's been preceded by anything else, or even nothing. Thus the surrounding context for a demo is much more variable than that for a club set, where you'll know what's expected, who's playing before you and after you and where the audience is often in a receptive mood. A demo should aim to be interesting (absolutely vital that, as there are sooooo many which sound the same), and thus the choice of the opening track is critical, as this can immediately attract attention. Then apart from being attention-grabbing the demo should demonstrate your ability to tell a story, take the listener on a journey etc. in its own right; i.e. unlike a set it exists apart from anything else anyone else is playing, and so it offers you an opportunity to be more adventurous than you might otherwise be live. Of course the basic technical skills have to be there too, but that's taken for granted.

A few things which didn't go down well with me and which I don't advise for other promoters:

Spraying perfume inside the envelope. Whilst this probably will distinguish you from other DJs, it may not work in your favour. For one thing perfume is a very personal choice - one person's sexy aroma is another's cat's piss. To make matters worse I opened the envelope in my car, which then stank for the rest of the day.

Making the demo shorter than the CD can hold. All I can say is this immediately raised the question "Why?". If the promoter is expecting something like seventy minutes of demo, why make him or her wonder why there's only fifty?

Having said all that you might want to know that Eddie Halliwell made it without ever sending anybody a demo disk. Not one? Nope. Not one. How then? Well, apart from being impressively good, he usually suggested people come and hear him play, plus a lot of people who knew him (and later heard/saw him) told other people about him. In my experience getting gigs is as much, if not more, to do with networking - getting to know people and getting them to know you.

Unless you think you're in some way exceptionally good and different, (i.e. something which will show up on a demo), sending out demos without having met the person you want to listen to it, is a bit like sending out your resume to everyone you can think of who might give you a job, and that's usually unlikely to work. The demo is much better coming after you have met the promoter, and extracted some kind of promise to listen to what you're going to send them or give them.

If you want to avoid the difficulties of promoting yourself, one option is to convince a DJ agency to take you on. From the promoter's point of view they have the advantage of acting as a filter - if you're represented by an agency then that's some assurance to the promoter that you are reasonably good. The disadvantage though is that agencies charge fees, and therefore can make you more expensive to hire.

I'm going to write some more about DJ agencies on another page on the site soon. If you have any ideas, thoughts experiences etc. with or about them please let me know: Jonathan


What to do next...

Okay, so now you know what I want, (other people may want other things of course!). If you still want to send me a demo CD, (no tapes or MDs please) then please e-mail me:


When you send a demo, please enclose:
  • a cover letter with your mailing address,
  • phone number,
  • biography, including previous gigs
  • photo if possible, and 
  • don't forget to label your CD with your name and phone number.
  • a tracklist is essential - please indicate name of track, record label and year, and finally,
  • an explanation for your choice of tracks and the thinking behind the set.
I listen to every demo I'm sent, (I know many promoters who don't), but, whilst I would like to be able to reply to every one, I simply do not have the time, so please, do not expect a reply by mail.

If you or someone you know might also like to work with me in other capacities than DJ please write to me.

Good luck whatever you decide to do,

Jonathan

Here's a website written by a DJ for DJs
Click Mooby to access the fascinating world of DJ Recess. His website provides loads of useful info for DJs of all backgrounds and levels, including info about DJ techniques, getting a gig, DJ agencies etc.
 
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