I have always, and I always will consider myself a DJ first. Being behind the decks- cutting, scratching, crate digging, and mixing- holds a special place in my heart that sitting behind a computer in my dorm making beats just can’t replicate. It’s not unlike producing, the idea of creating something from nothing.
But, just like that, electronic music producers are popping up left, right, and center. They’re becoming synonymous with DJs, while in reality they are quite different. Most big-name DJs are producers who took up DJing to be able to play live. But, you have your veterans like Tiesto and Laidback Luke, who were DJs that decided to produce; and your legends like DJ Jazzy Jeff, who hasn’t strayed from the turntables, period.
Production does have its benefits. For mobile and club DJs alike, having your own custom edits,mashups, and transitions could be the difference between an empty and overflowing dance floor. To me, mashups in themselves are an art form; it’s the “mixed media” of the music world. Plus, for DJs who also play musical instruments, it’s a great way to bridge the gap between your two worlds. I love adding live guitar to funky house tracks.
Nowadays, especially in a saturated market like New York, promoters don’t look at DJs the way they used to. Some will make you try to sell tickets, or promote their other shows in exchange for your slot. Others won’t look at you unless your Facebook or Instagram have 4-digit followers. They might not even bother to see your live demos, check out your Soundcloud to see if you can actually beat match, or call the other venues you listed in your EPK. Sometimes you have to keep producing to stay relevant. It’s eerily similar to the top-40 charts.
I’m not going to lie, producing isn’t unlike adding another instrument to your repertoire. While the underlying theories and principles stay the same, the new workflow brings with it a steep learning curve. Thankfully, like with anything else, producing gets easier with two things: 1) practice, and 2) the right tools.
Repetition is the only way to develop a skill. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as you put the hours in, you can only grow. In time, you’ll be revisiting old projects and transforming them into pieces you had no idea you were capable of producing. It comes with the experience. While I’m no main stage EDM headliner, I have seen this effect firsthand. In only a few months, I transformed my “Pumped Up Kicks” remix into something I’m actually excited to show off at my gigs.
While I can’t sit there and do the work for you, I can help you get the tools to get started. When I decided to start producing, I wish that someone had told me that samples matter. There’s an infinitely expanding world of sounds. Why should you be limited to the ones that came with your DAW? The time spent tuning that factory-installed kick over and over, could be spent tapping into your creative side and finding it! What is “it?” That sound, the idea, riff, melody, whatever it is that’s locked away in the deepest recesses of your brain. So, I’ve decided to give away a pack of samples – drum kicks, cymbals, snares, and some other good stuff – that I used when I first got started!
So, get going! Hit the link above, download this pack of samples I’ve collected over the past year, and find it!