Photo: Shutterstock/DisobeyArt

How to Piss Off a DJ

by Alex Scola May 29, 2014

These days, it’s pretty glorified to be a DJ. Everyone thinks about the dude standing in front of a sea of drunk or rolling college kids, juggling beats and dropping bass at the next biggest festival of the season. Few people remember that that moment represents a small snapshot of a DJ’s life, which is very much not a party when not at the decks.

Few DJs get famous without being epic producers, which in turn takes a seemingly endless amount of hours parked on a laptop both mastering the skills of mastering and actually developing the tracks that will help them make their name. A lot of work goes into becoming festival-worthy, so when the dues are paid and titles earned, while many DJs manage to keep their egos in check, others can get a bit entitled.

You’ve probably seen what happens when mega-famous prima-donna DJs get pissy about something (see: Deadmau5 and anyone), but there are a handful of things people routinely do that will universally piss off just about any DJ. Having been one myself for the better part of a decade, I know exactly what they are.

Force us to listen to a whole song.

If you’ve got a friend who’s a DJ, you’re probably all-too-familiar with the phenomenon of musical-ADD: that constant changing of iPod track or radio station after the first chorus of the song. When mixing, it’s rarely the case the song will make it past the second drop without the DJ initiating the transition into the next track. Subsequently, we almost never hear a song past the second or third minute, because by then we’ve moved on.

Drill that enough times, and the instinct to have the song change, and be the driving force behind that change, becomes overwhelming. Therefore, to a DJ there’s nothing more mind-numbing and maddening than listening to a song in its entirety.

Scoff at our laptops.

Go ahead, tell me what I’m doing isn’t proper “disc jockeying” and that playing a show on a laptop is illegitimate. Allow me to apologize for the horrifying practicality that is being able to carry a near-endless library of music in less than a backpack and having access to it in seconds, without having to flip through crates or page through CD binders. Not to mention the fact that I can do stuff on the fly through software that’s virtually impossible with analog methods.

Fail to recognize the separation between the scene and the DJ, particularly regarding drugs.

I’m going to put an end to the debate once and for all. Yes, a lot of people at raves and electronic music shows are on all kinds of drugs, but it’s actually exceptionally difficult to DJ while tripping balls. Don’t get me wrong, tons of DJs spin in a multitude of situations and under the influence of a variety of things (and they’re even good at it), but don’t assume all of us are messed up when we’re performing. Please and thank you.

Tell me to turn it down.

This manifests in two ways. First, when someone decides to shout in my face, “HAAAY, I’M TRYING TO TALK, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN TURN IT DOWN?” I love music; I play it as loud as possible and for as many people as possible. Playing my music loud and enjoying it is what got me through those shows where only six people showed up, and is what remains constant when I’m playing to a crowd of 1,000. So, when you ask me to do the opposite of that because it’s inconveniencing you…I see red.

The other way this seems to crop up is when I’m working on a set or track in my apartment, in the middle of the day on a weekday when I: a) finally have some time off from my day job, and b) there’s almost no one around to bother. And yet, somehow, there’s always that one person who’s trying to sleep at 3 in the afternoon on a Wednesday. Really?

No requests, please.

These days, if a DJ is booked, the promoter is saying, “Hey, we like you, and we trust your taste in music.” With some exception, this means most sets are planned from start to finish out of professional necessity and courtesy. If you make a request, recognize that our ability to play it hinges on whether or not we have it in our library, whether it fits with what we already have planned, and whether or not we even want to play it.

Sorry, but I’m not going to wildly change what I’m playing because y’all came to the wrong show, especially when doing so might jeopardize what I was paid to come here and do.

Gravitate to the DJ booth.

The DJ booth is the coolest spot in the club, and you’re invited! Just kidding. Seriously, stay the hell away from the booth — especially if you have a drink.

The single biggest no-no in a DJ’s book is to approach the booth with any form of drink. I’m truly amazed at how often people forget that drinks are liquid, which, of course, is the mortal enemy of anything electronic. The spilled drink that fried the laptop not only ruins the show, but can also cost the DJ/producer their entire music library (including countless hours of works-in-progress). It happens all too often. (Don’t believe me? Look at how pissed Dillon Francis was when it happened to him.) Don’t be that person.

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