The Hobby Collector - DJing

‘Bro, I’m with the DJ.’

Everyone knows a guy who brought his guitar to college. You know, that guy. Well, I wasn’t that guy. Instead, I lugged around a 40lb metal case with DJ equipment in it from dorm room to dorm room. Way less convenient, and way more likely to cause trouble. Just how I liked it.

What do you think of when you first think of a DJ? A radio host queuing up tracks on their Radio1 show? An OG scratching hip-hop backing tracks for Busta Rhymes? David Guetta staring into oblivion while “playing” at Tomorrowland?[1] Or perhaps one of the new players like Knock2 playing a packed club with next-level lights and visuals (photosensitivity warning). Sorry in advance if you dated yourself in this process. I’m not particularly sure that I can fit into any of these categories, but I’d like to think I’m not too shabby after many years of practice. As you read on, I ask that you keep two things in mind: 1) I really don’t like talking about myself, so subsequent posts may be less ~ nostalgic ~ 2) I refuse to associate with the DJ stereotype[2] that you might have thought of earlier, so please try to keep that image out of your head.

DJ Luigi in The House

I can still remember the day I discovered a love for electronic music. I was in my early teens, visiting family in another state. We popped into Target and there I saw a CD with a neon green mouse head and the title “4×4=12”. The album opens with “Some Chords” - a track with alot more than just ‘some’ chords. The awe I experienced while listening to it for the first time cannot be overstated.[3] After that, I was hooked.

I can’t quite recall when I discovered DJing as a hobby, but I do remember not having any turntables or equipement for the longest time. All I could do was mix tracks using my mouse and keybinds in Virtual DJ. It was kinda lame, but at the time I felt on top of the world. Eventually, I started doing livestreams via the built-in broadcasting feature. I’d often manage to get a decent listenership thanks to some help from online communities I was a part of. We’d host virtual parties and even a charity concert or two over the years. It felt awesome to make people happy and see/hear their reactions to the music I had picked.

Eventually, as I entered my late teens, I convinced my parents to help me get a DDJ-SX2. At the time, it was a top of the line, all-in-one DJ controller. My buddies were impressed and so was I. It wasn’t long before I started recording my mixes and sharing them out. I’m sure some of them are still out there. For the first time, I truly experienced the rush of perfectly transitioning from one track to the next, over and over, building a flow energy through the music. And it was addicting.

As time went on, one of my good friends, who was also interested in DJing and music production,[4] ended up joining me - often going B2B with me while we shook my entire house with our loud music. In retrospect, my parents were absolute saints for putting up with all of then noise. They knew I loved it, and so they let me be. Somehow, we ended up DJing our school dances, homecoming, and prom. While this made it difficult to actually go to the dance, I didn’t much care. There was something almost like raw power to be experienced up on a stage in control of everyone’s night. It was electric and we loved it. Throughout the last two years of school, we played countless events. Hell, we even threw an all electronic “music festival” at my high school - complete with lighting effects, foam machine, and a killer sound system. It felt like the only direction to go was up. Like most highschoolers who played some sort of music, we even talked about creating a group and signing up to play openings at regional festivals. Alas, it was not meant to be - and on came college.

I of course brought my DJ equipment to college. I mean who wouldn’t? I wanted to be cool and make friends and that seemed like a way to do it. My roommate was into it and even had a speaker system with a sub. Perfect. On top of that, we were cool with our RA who 1) didn’t care what we did and 2) was literally never there anyway. Did we get noise complaints once? Yes. Was that something I considered to be an achievement? Also yes. Now in retrospect, I do realize I violated my rule of not being a douchebag DJ, but it was collegeeeeee. I’d DJ for my friends and their friends, for our independant college radio broadcast, and even for charity events. I even got offers to play at the local bars. It was a blast and I made many happy memories along the way. Eventually as I settled into friend groups, I’d DJ, sans equipment[5], for every big party we’d throw. We slowly ammassed a huge speaker system, light effects, and fog machines. It was the life. Even though I chose to leave my equipment at home, it was still a magical feeling seeing everyone light up as the next song I chose would come on. I wished it could last forever.

Like many a youth before me, life reared its ugly head and got in the way of me being a superstar DJ.[6] Responsibilities, relationships, thin apartment walls - it all made blasting music at all hours of the day rather difficult. Do I resent any of that? Absolutely not - I love my life how it is. Do I plan on installing a sick stereo system in my Fortress of Solitude[7] once I have a standalone home? You bet your ass I do.

I still think about coming back to it - just for the fun of it. Not to play parties or shows, but just for myself. The joy that comes with getting the beat-match perfect and the track transition smooth is addicting, and I itch for that feeling again. I love music - I always have and I always will - and DJing lets me mainline it like nothing else.

Originally posted on Scribbles
Cross-posted via EchoFeed

  1. This incident aside, David Guetta sucks as a DJ and is a poser. I will die on this hill. ↩︎

  2. Read: Douchebag. ↩︎

  3. I grew up as a ~ classically ~ trained musician in a tiny town. That is to say my world was limited to classical, jazz, and classic rock. So hearing electronic music for the first time eye (ear) opening. ↩︎

  4. Another WeblogPoMo2024 post will likely be written about my adventures in Ableton at a later date. ↩︎

  5. Read: Press play on Spotify and curate the queue. Not really DJing by my measure, but that’s basically also what Paris Hilton did when she DJ’ed so meh. ↩︎

  6. Sarcasm. Loads of it. ↩︎

  7. Anywhere where my better half can’t hear me. Best for the both of us lol. ↩︎