"Stop playing the same s**t": The DJ gripe of 2012

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For sheer comedic value, Paris Hilton’s recent DJ debut far exceeded expectations. The dancing, the mini-flag-waving, the idle hands: all brilliant. However, the set-list was somewhat revealing in its similarities to some of the scene’s biggest earners, with a roll-call of familiar remixes, a capellas and mash-ups. With festival sets often published online after the event, it’s easy to feel dance music déjà vu these days.

Are too many DJs just rolling out the same easy wins? It’s a burning topic at the moment, and one that inthemix heard Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella discuss in Vegas recently. “A lot of the big guys play the same tracks,” he said bluntly. “Eventually, we’re going to pull back on the line-up being so stacked.” Expert party-starter A-Trak summed up the mood this week in two Twitter posts, a sentiment that was then echoed by Laidback Luke.


“You look at dudes’ playlists after Ultra or EDC and it’s the same Beatport hits with a Gotye a cappella or Daft mash-up,” he added. “Zzzzzzz be original.”

It’s something that’s been on the mind of turntablist veteran Z-Trip, too. “I just wanna see more,” he wrote recently. “More skills, different music selection, more risks, more curveballs, less playing it safe, less predictability, less formula. I miss the inspiration I would get watchin’ masters put in work.” We heard a similar line from Armin van Buuren when he got on the phone to inthemix last month. “I was brought up in the days of Sasha and Digweed, Carl Cox, Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold: these huge sets that build and build,” he says. “I guess people don’t have the patience for that anymore. We live for the quick fix.”

So why the repetition? One theory is that mainstage DJs roll up to a festival with the set already mapped out – it’s just too bad that the other guy is doubling up. Skrillex’s manager Tim Smith put it like this in the current issue of Rolling Stone: “Most DJs mix on the fly, but there are people out there with prerecorded sets who have very, very intricate production. And that can give the consumer a better show.” It’s a topic that keeps returning to ITM, so what’s your $0.02?

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deangallagher1

deangallagher1 said on the 26th Jun, 2012

This is great I love this, because when you listen to such original and innovative artists such as kissy sell out, you don't even need to worry about this. If festivals are paying the artists they have play big money then why not ask to see their set lists before the event?

mlirosi

mlirosi said on the 26th Jun, 2012

DJs go for the cheap smiles at a festival by ripping out cheap bangers because it is very hard to get the intimacy that a club produces to take the crowd on a deep journey and really suck them in with a set, there are too many distractions.

Ncookie

Ncookie said on the 26th Jun, 2012

I play minimal techno, microhouse, uk bass/garage......I don't have a job as a DJ

patrickbateman

patrickbateman said on the 26th Jun, 2012

it's not just a problem with the mainstream, but also the 'underground'. 99% of djs (international AND locals) all play the same tracks and use the same style. the best djs are the ones who stand out from the rest, playing different records from the masses and displaying great technical skills on the decks.



this is spot on

achidley

achidley said on the 26th Jun, 2012

If anyone caught Sub Focus at Coachella weekend 1 this year, you would have seen what happens when the whole production fails and falls over. He had to reboot his set mid way through. Epic fail. Bring back mixing to a crowd, not the same "press spacebar performance"..

Check his fail-set here: http://switchcam.com/event/sub-focus-coachella-2012/
Apparently he blamed it on a faulty ipad..

ticketsplease

ticketsplease said on the 26th Jun, 2012

People want to go out, get trashed and sing along to the same songs they hear every day. Back in the day (when it was underground) you would go out to hear new music and come home with a phone full of track titles to dig up.

And I'm sure Z-Trip played the BEP's last time I saw him. He still rips though.

gedwashere91

gedwashere91 said on the 26th Jun, 2012

You can tell something is wrong when people are all carrying on like "SO KEEN TO SEE AVICII DROP LEVELS AT STEREOSONIC!!!"

Really? Is it going to be any different when he plays it compared to 100,000 other DJs cramming it into their sets for easy crowd appeal?

cheechvda

cheechvda said on the 26th Jun, 2012

@ Tickets PLease ..."Back in the day (when it was underground) you would go out to hear new music and come home with a phone full of track titles to dig up."

How far ago was "back in the day" when you could put track titles into a phone?

JackT

JackT said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Totally get your position gedwashere91, but I can understand the excitement about seeing an artist playing their biggest tune. He can't help it everyone else is flogging it.

Digitalgrub

Digitalgrub said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Guess the lesson here is to avoid the big headliners at those festivals... But yeah, sick of hearing the same tunes all the time.

cizza

cizza said on the 26th Jun, 2012

I love Pete Tongs intro to to Laurent Garniers 2009 (i think) Essential Mix. "...something something I get sent thousands or records and i go out and buy heaps but something something whenever i see him play, he's always got something i've never heard before".

Ok so i cant remember it word perfect but that sums up the best part about going and seeing a DJ perform - discovering new tracks, new artists, new sounds. And getting super drunk.

BillyHoyle

BillyHoyle said on the 26th Jun, 2012

I'm a huge of fan of the prog house dj's being alluded to in this article and yet i have to agree. Far too often i hear ppl playing the same mashups that they've had no input in (if i hear Gotye with Levels again.....) and simply mix from intro to outro. I wanna be able to hear what the dj is doing- otherwise anyone might as well be up there. I also hate being able to recognise every track they play- there is an abundance of ppl producing electronic music these days- u can't possibly tell me that at any one time that there's only 20-odd big tracks doing the rounds. there should be thousands.

Conor-

Conor- said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Is that Joel Madden in the photo?

412nv

412nv said on the 26th Jun, 2012

^^^ PML that was my first thought. Though seriously why cant or wont Dj's drop an older song into the mix rather than playing the same shit. Like if i was at a Dirty south set at the moment he will be playing the same stuff as say Alesso, and so on and so forth, Yes they are the same genre, though drop some of your old remixes in to refreshing up a set. (these are the 2 names that came to my head, though you can pick nearlly half of the top 100 that all do the same thing

colesy89

colesy89 said on the 26th Jun, 2012

I was at coachella this year and the amount of times i heard calvin harris "feel so close to you" played by every big name dj by the time calvin harris played it all the feeling was lost, same as the bingo players at ultra "rattle" one of the most mixed songs into everyones set its hard to even get pumped for it

special ed

special ed said on the 26th Jun, 2012

*cue old person rant* back in my day being a good dj meant you had to be different. it was all about playing stuff noone else did. Nowadays, the age of digital everything is accessible by anyone, so people aren't as impressed as easily, and we end up with a generation who have no care for music on a whole, and just want what they're familiar with. its the crowds at festivals that are just as much to blame as lazy big name djs

dazza_b

dazza_b said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Maybe its not that this generation does not care but more so that the people in it for the music are far out numbered by fans of mainstream and commercial dance music that just didn't exist before this dance music/festival explosion seen in recent years.

Weqster

Weqster said on the 26th Jun, 2012

1) dont goto festivals with massive lineups. your setup for fail everytime.

2) take a week off from glitchy electro dub and go listen to a genre that hasnt made it into rolling stone.

EDM for me is all about the mystery. Unortunately, file sharing has made finding good music even harder. so much crap is given so much exposure, and its sooooo accessible that people will go years without realising that better, deeper, more apatheic music exists, it just doesnt come from itunes or beatport.

baax

baax said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Imagine being a big festival dj and playing the same worn out, fluffy, puke inducing cheesy tracks over and over again, how the fuck do they do it!
By and large touring bands stick to a set list but they are actually musicians who put the effort in so they are excused, dj's have no excuse.
I suppose this is what you get though when you audience is a bunch of people who need to follow the masses and have the attention span of a nit.

412nv

412nv said on the 26th Jun, 2012

^^^ They do it cause they get paid 100's of thousands in the most part to do it. The shit i would do for 100K a night.... LOL

ravelikespastic

ravelikespastic said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Its funny when your standing at the top of the hill at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in line for a drink, looking over 3 stages and you hear Levels atleast twice before your transaction is finished.
Hate.

mlirosi

mlirosi said on the 26th Jun, 2012

In defence to that argument, taking into account the state of the average punter it will take over an hour for said transaction to take place, by the time you line up for the first time to realise you need a drink card, than lineup the second time to realise you are in the bathroom line only to be distracted the third time by something shinny stuck to the back of your hand

Morecowbell

Morecowbell said on the 26th Jun, 2012

Watered-down crowds beg for watered-down music. The explosion in dance festivals has brought with it a whole lot of people who don't really care for depth or complexity in music and it seems that the 'big-name' DJs are taking the easy option and obliging with the same over-exposed rubbish.

Don't go to a festival nowadays expecting a musical epiphany...those times are over.

taylor williams

taylor williams said on the 27th Jun, 2012

I think a few of you are going to see the wrong DJ's.

Fans of Derrick May, Derrick Carter, Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, Jeff Mills etc never have this complaint.

clasek

clasek said on the 27th Jun, 2012

Just saying, one upon a time u would turn up at least an hour or 2 early when the guy b4 u was playing to make sure u didnt play the same stuff as him. And in return they would have the good sense and knowledge not to bang out a bunch of popular tracks or go to hard too early ....now days it just seems like DJ's feel as though they can rock up when their set is about to start and play whatever the fuck they feel like, with no attention to what was playing b4 or where the night is going.....overall imo DJ's are becoming complacent

Weinertron

Weinertron said on the 27th Jun, 2012

lol @ this argument. It seems as though all of the feature articles and the ensuing comments on ITM these days are just rehashing issues which have been around for ages and never disappear. I don't know about any of you guys, but I distinctly recall going to Belfast gigs 6-8 years ago and hearing Blue Monday about 5 times in one night. The more things change, the more they stay the same....

Festivals = Disappointment. you heard it here first

cizza

cizza said on the 27th Jun, 2012

Moar. Friend sent me this article. Fantastic read from a journo who used to work with Mr. Tenaglia.

http://hotwaterinc.tumblr.com/post/25938207447/hitstart

katiecunningham

katiecunningham said on the 27th Jun, 2012

cizza your avatar is so distracting

twistedbydesign

twistedbydesign said on the 27th Jun, 2012

" Skrillex’s manager Tim Smith put it like this in the current issue of Rolling Stone: “Most DJs mix on the fly, but there are people out there with prerecorded sets who have very, very intricate production. And that can give the consumer a better show."



Tim Smith can suck a taint.

How would intricate production impact mixing on the fly if you wrote the fucking track?


lol @ 'the consumer'




Who remembers any of fuzzies drop the pressure life/day parties?

There was like 20 of em...Which translated to hearing that fucking song at least once an hour all day...







Also what the fuck is levels?

cizza

cizza said on the 27th Jun, 2012



If i was an astronaut I'd totally spend the entire mission trying to ride people into floating vomit. Wouldnt you?

walkdogz

walkdogz said on the 27th Jun, 2012

This is not a new issue, it's exactly the same with any of the big tracks in the past decade. Think Mylo - Drop the pressure, Royksopp - What else is there, that We are your friends track and the Mylo remix of whatever the fuck it was with the chick singing. All these tracks were rinsed when I started clubbing. This is nothing new, and to try make it out like it's a new thing is pretty retarded, and it's also pointless because it will never change. If anything, there is a wider array of music being played than ever - just not at the main stage. Case solved, stay away from the main stage.

guarantee you won't hear the same shit played here.

http://www.dourfestival.be/en/lineup

Funkedub

Funkedub said on the 27th Jun, 2012

A mediocre dj plays in his own little world. A good dj knows how to play to the crowd. An excellent dj plays music that he likes that also fits the event.

Also ... Listen to Z Trip on this tip

patrickbateman

patrickbateman said on the 27th Jun, 2012

I think a few of you are going to see the wrong DJ's.

Fans of Derrick May, Derrick Carter, Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, Jeff Mills etc never have this complaint.

carl craig plays the same shit every set tbh and jeff mills sets are always pretty similar as well but he's awesome so it doesn't matter

jessbingham

jessbingham said on the 27th Jun, 2012

i think its awesome that all these old skool Dj's are coming out and saying something,so props to them.The other thing is why would you as a dj want to play the same tracks all the time? fucking boring yourself,when i was playing at a bar last year i would do different tracks each week so the bartenders dont say "oh he's played that one before",but hey if its the same shitcunts doing it then just dont see em.

dirtydoge

dirtydoge said on the 29th Jun, 2012

i have lost all faith in everyone except myself, i mix my own sets now cos 99% of mixes now days suck nuts.

Heist9000

Heist9000 said on the 30th Jun, 2012

Dance music fans wanna hear sets that are a journey and have loads of fresh tunes, or live sets of elaborately manipulated material.

Pop fans wanna hear the hits. It just sounds louder at a festival than at the local tavern (not always, if Future is organising it for example :) )

SANDSHREW

SANDSHREW said on the 2nd Jul, 2012


DON%u2019T SPEAK AGAINST THE SUN YOU FUCKING SPANNER

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN ARSE, YOU FUCKING SPANNER.

LOKIAU

LOKIAU said on the 2nd Jul, 2012

Future was plagued by this, I must of heard a version of "Levels" by every person I watched.