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!





The joy of bargain diggin’

I have been a vinyl collector my whole life but the small flats in London with no storage space and the pain of having to carry around crates and crates full of heavy vinyl stopped me to keep expanding my collection.

Another issue for me is the price of vinyl: Spending around £100 just to get 10 fresh new tracks into my DJ bag when I spin just makes no sense, at least not to me. I rather burn CDs with some new bangers I purchased digitally for 99p a song or even downloaded for free from Soundcloud… sorry, purists!

I still have a passion for vinyl though! It’s actually very remarkable that vinyl, a very much antique analogue format, still flourishes amongst the digital revolution. I believe it’s the haptic quality, the great cover artwork and just the pure joy of holding your favorite track in your hand.

So although I rather buy digital music now, I do make the the odd exception and pay full price for a new slice of vinyl. Actually there are only three reasons I buy the odd full price vinyl record here and there:

1) It’s just too amazing

 via  Dj Food
via Dj Food

There is only so much temptation a man can withstand: Star Wars plus 7Inch plus Rave Beats plus an original vintage toy? All for £5? HELL YES! Balkan Recordings just killed it with this one!

2) Recordstore Day suckered me into it

Ahhh the day that appeals to the nerdy, hoard-y side of every Vinyl nerd: Must get the exclusive for the collection! Oh look it’s so special can’t miss out! OMG this looks like a star!!! With it’s high price points and limited pressings it aims straight at the wallet of middle aged collectors like me, d’oh!

3) It’s connected to UNKLE and Futura 2000

If there ever was a record label that made me catch the vinyl collecting bug it must have been MoWax and it’s artist in residency, Futura 2000. With it’s endless special editions, fold out covers, Japan exclusives and rare promos, MoWax made it’s releases insanely collectable. So whenever I see a MoWax record that I don’t own yet it itches me to get it.

Ok, let’s be honest. There is a fourth reason I still buy vinyl from time to time. The reason being when it’s dead cheap!


Music Exchange in Notting Hill was the first amazing bargain paradise with a basement with thousands of records for £0.50 or less I discovered after moving to London. The place was/is perfect for discovering cheap promos of your favorite label, a forgotten classic on 12″ or an overlooked gem. Nothing feels more satisfying than leaving a record store with a bag full of great music that cost you next to nothing! 

So when I saw that my local record store Love Vinyl had a 20p bargain basement I just had to get involved, being the vinyl cheapskate that I am. The joy bargain digging brings me by far excels buying a rare copy of an overpriced album on Records Store Day.

Because you can just enjoy yourself without the guilty conscience of spending too much money on things you don’t actually need. You can be experimental as it doesn’t matter if you purchase some duds and you can indulge by buying some records for the album cover alone!

It’s a bit like eating low fat Nutella if there were such a thing: All of the pleasure, none of the pain!

With me having had an amazing bargain run this month, I thought I’d share some of my finds for your viewing pleasure…

Category: Who cares about the music, great cover!

Never heard of that Madonna song but I am digging ( pun intended ) the Warhol-esque 7″ cover. Next: Lime green, Apple logo and some vintage printer styles on Ninja Tune, how can I not bag this.

Straight up 80ties rave amazingness next, gotta love that Benz star too: KRUSHing it. Last but not least: Force MD’s. Can we please bring back synchronized dressing? 

The one that got away: I still can’t believe I left this one in the shop…

Category: This actually might be good!

The name Spyder D rang a bell so I just went for it. Turns out the track samples Nu Shooz 1984 Hit “I can’t wait” and is a total oldskool HipHop party rocker!

Next, the XL sleeve and the artist name “Hardcore” gave me an instant Rave vibe and I do enjoy my vintage rave music so this one went into the bag. Another winner as it turned out indeed to be some good old rave tune in the tradition of early Prodigy. WIKKKIT!

Next up good old Tony Touch. The title had me loop “He is the greatest dancer” by Sister Sledge in my brain straight away. Turns out, that’s exactly the song Tony messed with so another party track for the DJ bag.

Last but not least a record I found at Oxfam, fam! Priced at £0.99 DEFINITELY upper price range but AV8 from New York are known for their party Hip Hop mashups. 

Championing the style long before Insane Bangers, Hot Cakes and other Party Breaks labels, they can be hit and miss but the 12″ turned out well with 6 playable tracks! Yes Yo!

Biggest surprise: Bob Sinclar! I loved his first album back in 1995 but he since walked the dark path of commercial house music and looks today like David Guettas evil twin brother after a night of shagging models in a New York penthouse. But the lovely lady on the cover, the retro vibe and the happy price of 20p convinced me to give it a shot. 

Truth be told, the original mix is horrible. Good I checked the flip as a dude called Tommy Musto Aquavela managed to craft a remix that is actually pretty damn enjoyable. Well done! 

Last but not least…

Category: This is a certified hit! Go on, judge me!

It’s always fun to find guilty pleasures and childhood hits on 7″, especially abandoned in the bargain bin! This is barely the tip of the iceberg of my finds, other highlights include “Working 9-5” by Dolly Parton and “Magic Fly” from Space… 

Standout find: This crappy plastic bag. When I asked for bargain records in my local record store in Dalston the record dealer fished out this scruffy looking bag of scruffy looking 7″ from a hook in the back room.

I walked away with 10 records costing me £2 total. Songs purchased: “In the ghetto” by Elvis, “It’s not unusual” by Tom Jones ( banger! ), “Downtown” by Petula Clark , “Da Ya Think I’m sexy” by The Rodster. Just to mention a few of the oldies but goldies acquired. Now all I need is a drunken house party with a record player and it’s ON!  

So as you see, there is no shame in the bargain digging game! By the way… did you know you can replace scruffy looking vintage sleeves quite easily? Me not either. Check this out…

Ok I am off to collect a free 7″ from my local pub which they placed next to the beer tabs for decoration.:  Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” with “Someone to love” on the flip. OH YES!


Music and Video Exchange | 38 Notting Hill Gate | Notting Hill

Love Vinyl | 5 Pearson St | Hoxton

Eldica Records | 8 Bradbury St | Dalston