An Afternoon with DJ’s: A Recap

Yesterday I went along to the second Orcon IRL talk at Golden Dawn. This is a very good talk series put together by Public Address blogger Russell Brown in conjunction with 95bFM who have been live streaming the talks online. The topic of yesterday’s talk was DJs and DJing, something I know bugger all about, but have always been intrigued by. Now in years past I have been a bit of a snob towards DJing as a practice, “what’s all the fuss about”, “I don’t get it”, but thankfully this talk cleared up a lot for me around DJing in what was a fascinating, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
Things kicked off with Esther MacIntyre interviewing Aroha Harawira. This was a very interesting talk and explored what it is like being a female DJ in what is largely a male dominated area. Aroha spoke very well and mentioned one horror incident which I am sure female DJs face quite a lot where she was groped when DJing at an event. It was interesting to hear how Aroha got into DJing and found it intriguing to hear that she was just passionate about music and wanted to play it to people. She also spoke of the art of DJing and from her perspective how DJing is not necessarily always about the flashy stuff such as beat mixing and scratching, but more so about knowing your music and being a selector of music. So this is knowing the music you play and having a connection to that music. She summed it up by saying that the identity of a DJ is in the music that you play in that it means something to you.
The second part of the talk was with Serato founder AJ Bertenshaw. Now this portion of the afternoon was a bit too techy for me, and to my eyes seemed more like a promotional activity and sales pitch for his company more than anything. Although I must say, despite this, I was very impressed with the look of Serato’ new pyro app. This is an app that can be used on phones and tablets and allows people to beat match, make playlists and mix tracks together. So basically an easy way for people to DJ on their phones.
The final part of the talk involved a DJ panel that saw Russell, Esther and Aroha joined by Murray Cammick, The Professor, DJ Dubhead and Tina Turntables to share their stories and experiences of DJing. It was interesting to hear that for a lot of them, DJing began with them collecting records as teenagers, something that was a common theme throughout the afternoon in that DJs are first and foremost music fans. We also got to hear more horror stories about DJing, with most usually occurring at weddings including one incident where Dubhead had an artichoke thrown at him. There was also the predictable annoyance involving people coming up and asking them to play certain songs. Format and how technology has changed DJing was also an interesting discussion topic, with the consensus on the panel being that a mixture of digital and physical was the way to go for modern DJs. Dubhead made the point that people get too hung up on format and that in the end it always comes back to the music. The point being, if you are playing great music it doesn’t really matter if it’s a record, CD, or WAV file. Although all of the panelists agreed that audio quality when DJing is so important.   
So in summary, the afternoon was very enjoyable, and it was a great introduction into the life of the DJ and the processes of DJing. I went in knowing very little, but came out realizing that DJs are pretty much just music lovers wanting to play music to people and share their love of music. Although the trickery that goes with DJing such as scratching and beat matching is important, the main thing for inspiring DJs is that you have to have a love of music, and that the music you want to DJ means something to you and your identity. This in the end is the true essence of DJing. 

Sam 

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