It ain’t easy being a DJ

Every since I went to a disco when I was 14 during a family holiday and thought “This music sucks, I could do this way better!” I have been hooked on being on the turntables and playing out.

Finding new awesome tracks, hearing your music over a club PA and seeing 300 people go ape on the dance floor to your music selection is just awesome. So awesome that I have been djing for over 25 years now! Damn I feel like an old fart. Anyway. Check out my mixes, ya welcome:

But with great power comes great responsibility and every art form has some rules and regulations. Either imposed by oneself or by the rest of Club Land: The promoters, fellow DJs and of cause, the punters dancing in front of the DJ booth.

Being the DJ can be the best feeling in the world, or the worst place to be in.

So let me talk about what being a good DJ means to me.  For me a good DJ only needs to do one thing well: Analyse the vibe of a crowd correctly and make people have a great time.

Sounds obvious, but the DJ and the crowd can really fall out over how this goal should be achieved best, and there has been a lot of frustration on both sides of the dance floor! DJs complain about people not being open minded enough to get into the groove and the crowd moaning about snobbish DJs who refuse to play the fun tunes!

I personally had people getting personally offended that I would not play their favourite Metal track… in a Funk Club… #facepalm

All this pain can easily be avoided with the right mind set on both sides of the equation.

To me the biggest aggravation happens when the DJ and the crowd BOTH misjudge what they signed up for and don’t adjust their expectations accordingly.

As saying YES or NO at the right time is the key to happiness, let’s discuss the different situations a DJ and a guest can find themselves entangled in, and how to deal with them correctly!

The House Party

A mate throws a party, and you bring a bag of tunes to play in the kitchen.

In this situation nobody is getting paid and DJ and guest are equally getting wasted. So the DJ really doesn’t owe anybody and can play what the fuck he or she wants. At the same time guests do have the right to ask for tunes without the DJ throwing a hissy fit.

This is a casual situation and should be approached as one.

Power levels: DJ: 60 / Guest: 40 


The local boozer

You get a Friday to play tunes in your local pub

Here the DJ is expected to provide a service and is hopefully getting paid. Getting no pay or shitty pay does NOT relief the DJ of the expectation to provide appropriate music! So this is not the place to try out your latest Free Jazz albums and you need to expect to be approached by drunken punters.

Still, we are not at a high flying club night, so the DJ should be allowed to have fun with it as long as he or she is not playing Hip Hop tunes to a Classic Rock crowd.

Power levels: DJ: 40 / Guest: 60 


A proper club night

Congrats! You made it to a properly promoted venue!

The DJ should hopefully get properly paid now and the pressure to entertain is on. In this situation the guest has ZERO right to approach the DJ! Even the promoter is banned from wandering over and suggesting tunes!

If things go south the guest is free to leave if he or she doesn’t like the music. And the promoter should have done his homework better before booking the DJ for the night. Once the disco train leaves the station all controls are off!

After the night is over and the DJ is paid the promoter has the right to shake his fist and never book that DJ again. That’s what people get for not booking ME in the first place!

Power levels: DJ: 100 / Guest: 0


A wedding / birthday party

“Hey I like your music, would you play at my wedding/birthday party? You can really play whatever you want…”

Let’s be honest here: You are, even if promised differently by the groom or the birthday girl, 100% expected to be a human juke box!

Very often the person who hires you has no idea about the musical preference of his or her guests. So when the people don’t dance and start to turn on you, the host will get nervous and will try to fix the situation by making comments like:

“Ok I said no cheesy stuff, but nobody dances… could you play 5 hours of straight Chart Hits although we agreed that I didn’t want you to? Please?”

Throwing DJ attitude around in this situation is futile! You have to accept that you are the little DJ BITCH of whoever hired you, all his mates and their drunken parents too.  So get on with it and PRAY that you packed that ’50 classic Party Hits’ CD your flatmate got with his free paper the day before! 

Top Tip: Either decline such bookings straight away or make it worth your while financially. As you WILL be required to play Justin Timberlake… at least twice! Being the humanoid Spotify playlist is not worth doing for peanuts and if the people don’t want to pay what you feel is fair NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER DO IT!

Power levels: DJ: 0 / Guest: 1000


The perfect gig

“Hey, we listened to your mix and as we are really into Minimal House and you are really into Minimal House we really like you to play Minimal House as our guests only like Minimal House!”

The perfect storm: You know what you get into, they know what they get into and it all falls together perfectly. You get paid a good fee, everybody is dancing and is happy. The Vodka Red Bull is flowing and MixMag writes a gushing review the next day.

Why can’t all sets be like this?

Power levels: All egos are extinguished… 1 Nation under a Groove!

Some final words of advice:

If you are booking a DJ: Communicate clearly your expectations and check his or her mixes first so you are not confused why he or she plays Techno at your Jazz Night!

When you hate the music as a guest: Either deal with it or leave. Respect that the DJ is a human person too and is not out to sabotage the night. Most likely he or she really tries his or her best to make you have fun! So buy another beer and give it a chance. Maybe the reason the DJ plays so much Trap is that your mate who hired him or her requested it. 

Disclaimer: At NO POINT is it OK to walk over to the DJ, tell him or her how much he or she sucks and then rattle down a list of random songs you like to hear right now. Not cool!

When you are getting booked: Don’t sell yourself under value, respect your craft, try to spread L.O.V.E. and know what your getting yourself into when saying yes to a booking!





Back to the Future: Futura 2000

 via Acclaim Magazine
via Acclaim Magazine

It’s interesting too see how BAPE founder and Streetwear legend NIGO continues to bring his buddies over to UNIQLO for some nice global exposure. First it was NY artist KAWS that had Hypebeasts go crazy, now it’s Futuras turn to release a capsule collection with the Japanese fashion retail giant.

Sometimes I wonder if such a project really turns new people onto art and Graffiti or if this collaboration just appeals to the same old fans that are already on board. In any case: I love it!

As I am growing older I can’t justify spending crazy money on T-Shirts anymore, and the never ending hunt for the next hype item get’s pretty tired. I rather just walk into a store and get what I want at a reasonable price!

So that NIGO picked Lenny McGurr aka Futura to create the next UT collection makes me more than happy.

It’s not secret that I am a massive fan and have had the pleasure to bump into Futura many times in London. He was always super cool: Embracing the fans, signing items and having a chat.

A green UNKLE toy based on his designs was my first purchase on eBay many moons ago and I am still here in 2017 collecting his stuff!

For me Futura embodies all aspects of the Urban Lifestyle that I love: Music, Fashion, Technology and Art. Being it his early works in the 80ties, the artwork for MoWax in the 90ties or all his projects and collaborations since… I just never get tired of seeing his artwork!

So let’s take a journey down memory lane and recap. This is by no way an extensive retrospective of his work, more like a quick introduction for anybody who is not familiar with Futura and would like to know what all the fuss is about…


Growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan Lenny McGurr aka Futura 2000 started spraying at the tender age of 15. After an unfortunate accident painting with a friend in a train tunnel he put his art on hiatus. After four years he picked up the can again, painting alongside New York Graffiti legends like Dondi, SEEN and Zephyr. 

  via Style Wars
via Style Wars


When Futura painted his “Break” train in 1980 he turned heads: Abandoning the traditional Graffiti lettering style was revolutionary and way ahead of his time as normally writers would make sure their names would be boldly featured. Futura stuck with this style and the rest is Graffiti history.

  Image by Martha Cooper
Image by Martha Cooper

This FUTURistic approach blurred the line between traditional Graffiti and abstract art and made it possible for him to crossover to the fresh new art scene that formed in SoHo at the time.

Rubbing shoulders with Pop Artists like Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Basquiat and Warhol, Futura went on to exhibit in galleries like the Mudd Club, PS1 and Fun Gallery. Especially Keith Haring was very proactive in getting Graffiti artists acknowledged and helped getting them to mingle with the more established art crowd. At some point Futura even dated a young Madonna! True story…

  via 1981.ny
via 1981.ny

A fun clip from 1982: A young Futura creating the logo for the Film “King of Prussia”

After people like Agnes B starting to collect his art he caught the attention of the British band The Clash that embraced the new Hip Hop sound and the Urban Art scene. They invited Futura to paint during their concerts and he started to get involved in designing their album covers too.


When long time fan James Lavelle started to purchase his painted canvasses to use them as artwork for his newly founded label MoWax in 1992, Futura was again at the forfront of a new cultural movement. 

As Lavelle connected the creative energies of Tokyo and London by signing Japanese acts like Major Force West to his label, Futura soon got exposed to a whole new world based on fashion, otaku culture and limited edition art objects.

When Lavelle and NIGO clicked and NIGO started releasing albums on MoWax, Futura was once again the man to go to for the album artwork…

The MoWax cover that made him notorious was the cover for UNKLE’s magnum opus “Psyence Fiction”: It sold millions and featured heavily his “Pointman” characters. As MoWax boss James Lavelle loved creating different versions and promo items for each UNKLE album, soon Futuras signature pointmen and atoms could be spotted on various UNKLE releases and merch like T Shirts, Jackets and collectable toys.

Futura soon translated his art into his own collectible toys, sneakers and fashion. Most of these items were exclusively sold in Japan for a committed scene of collectors.

Living in London gave me access to many cool events, so when Futura opened his show at Maharishi in Soho 2005 I was able to take this snap with the man… couldn’t stop grinning!

2000 to the future

Ditching the “2000” in his name and going forward simply as “Futura”, Lenny McGurr still goes from strength to strength. Collaborating with brands like Nike, Maharishi, Medicom, Converse or Hennessy, his visual iconography, typography and abstract aerosol art still stays as relevant and fresh as it was back in 1980.

Apart from all his achievements in the past and present, another thing that fascinates me about Futura is his love for technology! He was one of the first artists to creatively embrace the internet, launching his site 1995 as more of an art project than a portfolio website. Although the site hasn’t been updated in ages, it’s still impressive and fun to browse.

Continuing the digital legacy of his website is his Instagram account @futuradosmil where he shares pictures from his travels, photo manipulations and new artwork. You rarely see a picture of Futura without his camera, snapping away as he travels the world. A true digital nomad…

So as you see, Futura has been part of Urban Culture for over three decades. Adapting, collaborating and creating. And never standing still! 

Very inspirational!

Ok, so I stop here. Before I sign off let me share with you a litte fun list of… 

5 essential Futura pieces I wish I had:

1. 1000% Futura Bearbrick

Created by Medicom Toy in Japan, this big blue alien is the perfect accessory for any MoWax fan out there and towers literally above all other toys based on Futuras designs…

2. OG Futura UNKLE BAPE Jacket

One of the early collaborations between NIGO and Futura: This BAPE jacket features heavily the Pointman UNKLE logo and will turn heads wherever you go. 

3. A real Futura Canvas

Very obvious I know… d’uh! Maybe one day when I win the lottery…

4. OG Futura FLOM

Apparently only 24 pairs in existence. Made to celebrate the launch of his Futura Laboratories store in Japan 2003. Worth 15.000$ a pair… peanuts!

5. Futura x Colnago Limited Edition Master Pista Bike

This bike sets you back a cold $100.000: One of 38 custom made Futura 2000 frames with hand painted wheel details! More about this beauty here