Part of being a successful DJ is creating your unique DJ sound.
Anything is possible in the DJ world.
For you to have a chance at real success, locally, nationally or internationally, you’ll need to stand out from the rest and create your own unique style.
What is a unique DJ sound?
Many DJs you’ll see and hear when you go out in bars and clubs play similar music to each other.
There’s not much really wrong with this, as long as they’re making people happy and as long as people are dancing.
But if you want to be better than them and rise above the average deejay, get real, better paid club DJ gigs and keep on getting them every weekend, then creating your unique DJ sound is essential.
Your music selection, the order of your tracks, the style of mixing and the blend should all be in your style or DJ sound.
Your style needs to be so unique to you that you could copyright it. No one else can play in the way you do.
Deejays may try to copy you, but they’ll never do it, because only you know how to react and surprise people with your unique style.
This is how you do it.
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1. Find Rare Gems
First up, you need to get busy searching.
Whether it’s seeking out quiet record shops where the crates have dust on them, finding random websites with solo artists, contacting bloggers that few others know of or digging into your own collection, you need tunes no one else has got.
The ideal way to creating your sound is to find the best combination of least known but most catchy and memorable tunes.
What you find should be rare and unknown but also very memorable and catchy.
It should have the music freaks on the floor staring at you and crowding around you to find out what it is.
Some gimp will fail miserably in an attempt to recognise your tunes with Shazam, because Shazam doesn’t have a clue who this track is by.
You need to have tunes that people know but you need rare gems too.
These are what make you stand out.
How to get ahead of DJ Shazam stealing your tunes
2. Create DJ Remixes
Look at any successful DJ nowadays and you’ll see they have a ton of remixes and some of their own tunes to their name.
The likes of Soulwax, Boys Noize and Laidback Luke are just a few examples.
With some luck, your great remix you could end up getting you lots of attention on DJ forums and on youtube.
With this kind of viral success, getting gigs should be a breeze for you.
I’ve DJed with a group called Jolie Cherie. Since they got signed to Kitsuné records, they get huge DJ gigs in the best clubs in London and Paris.
And they’re not even DJs, they’re musicians.
A good tune or remix can let you leapfrog masses of other DJs.
My tips on DJ remixing
3. Be a punk
By being a punk I mean go against the grain.
You’re there so that people can enjoy themselves, but there’s nothing wrong with being a rebel and shocking people with your DJ sound style.
This doesn’t mean you playing a set for yourself and then dancing away in your booth while everyone else looks at you in bewildered silence and disappointment.
It means you play against the grain. Drop surprises. Be a bit crazy.
How do you do that?
Vary your style and drop the last tune they would expect.
Ask yourself a question: what is the last possible tune anyone would expect me to play right now?
Then play it.
Example: I was in a bar/club playing nu-funk, disco, house and nuggets of hip hop when I suddenly hammered out “Gay Bar” by Electric Six. As you may know, this is a hard rock tune.
Everyone was dancing and this just kind of confused them. They didn’t stop though.
I didn’t care about the reaction of some people who didn’t like it.
This takes some guts but it gets you noticed.
Just make sure you pull it off right and make sure your surprise tunes reflect something in the atmosphere.
Shock people, but do it in an original way.
This takes some practice so try it at smaller venues first.
4. Be eclectic
Anyone can become a genre DJ for a year or two.
What happens is that genre focused DJs get great gigs to start with, when their music is fashionable.
Then when clubbers decide they like something else these guys get dropped like a hot potato.
Music is fickle and changes rapidly, just like fashion.
Playing electro, which is fashionable in some countries now, and nothing else will get you nowhere long term.
You’ll be good for a year or two, then everyone will move on to something else and some of them will even dislike your style.
Eclectic DJ Sound
Being eclectic means changing your style. This style of playing reflects a unique DJ sound and you’ll be remembered far better for it.
If you’re playing electro, then drop some pop d’n’b just to show people you’ve got balls.
Why not be crazy and drop in some old Dusty Springfield rework that you’ve done yourself?
Vary within your genre, push the boundaries.
Get to know how to play various styles. As well as creating your own sound, you’ll be able to get noticed and you should even get more gigs as your style can be adapted to any venue, not just single genre venues.
Practice mixing 5 different styles and then try it on a night out.
5. Mix old and new tunes
Why you should mix old tunes?
Isn’t DJing all about the best new amazing tracks, hot off the block?
No it’s not. And you’d be making a mistake thinking it was.
Much of the music you hear today is older music recycled.
Loads of what you play right now is based on an older tune, contains samples from other tunes or is a copy of one.
When you make a shout back to old tunes people love it. When the cheesy song “Lady” by Modjo was well known, I’d deliberately play the song it had stolen from to make people jig.
Yep, check out some old tunes by Chic and listen to them. You’ll see where Modjo completely lifted their only successful track from.
Likewise, there are a couple of Daft Punk tracks which sample heavily from old soul and funk. When I drop them, people look bewildered but still love it.
There’s a massive Dr Dre number which directly takes the music from an old Joe Cocker classic.
It goes on..
When a certain style is fashionable, give a shout to old styles that are similar too.
New music trends are a rehash of old ones.
When nu-rave was trendy, I would drop loads of the old classics from real rave back in the early 90s. People loved this.
Not only does it make people dance, but it shows you have depth too. You’ll also have some older party animals in the crowd, there always are. They’ll absolutely love you for blasting out tunes of their young days.
How about your DJ sound? Do you have one? Leave me a comment below.