MUSEUM MONTHLY: HOW THE INTERNET SAVED DJING (IN TORONTO)

This monthly blog has become basically an outlet for me to complain about how everything has had a negative effect on music & djs, how people generally suck, how advertising has a terrible impact on the music industry, and how everything has become disposable, etc. etc. Today’s edition started out in a very similar way…

 

So a couple weeks ago I had a really good EDM party going at my normal Top 40 gig. The crowd was popping off to everything I played, no matter how melodic or dirty it was, they were loving it. Until these two dumb bitches approached me in the booth to request ‘new Hip Hop.’ (For those of you who don’t know.. in a Toronto club, when two girls ask for ‘new Hip Hop’.. they mean DRAKE.) When they had made the request I had been knee-deep in a twisted twerk set, a sound that generally I hadn’t found a way to mix in successfully before, but it was killing it that night. I made the mistake of trying to reason with these girls by informing them that I was playing Twerk music, which is like ‘new hip hop mixed with electronic beats.’ And the one girl replied “THIS ISN’T TWERK. I DON’T HEAR MILEY’S VOICE!”… And that was how Miley Cyrus and the internet destroyed music.

 

So the intro to today’s blog was done, but as soon as I researched to try to find more examples to prove my point, I realized something: How lucky was I that I only had 2 people out of hundreds complaining about the music that night? How come heavy electro, moombahton, trap, twerk, etc. all go off in the Top 40 club now? Sure, we can chalk up the success of some of the euphoric melodic electro like Avicii & Calvin Harris to previous points made in our articles like ‘Classic Genre Mix-Up with David Guetta,’ but where are these people hearing the less commercial EDM? It certainly isn’t on the radio…

It is on the internet.

As much as the vast medium has had a negative impact on most elements of society, it really has changed what Djing is for me. Here is a little background for those of you who don’t know me: I started out as an electro and mashup dj, breaking in to the club scene in Toronto in a large way in 2006 and 2007 at party institutions such as Circa night club. Electro in the mid 2000’s was very different, especially the type that I enjoyed, and all I cared about was playing it and old & hilarious mashups. As Circa was an EDM club, and so was many of the places I played at this time, the music I was passionate about was the music that I was paid to play.

Here is a set from 2 Many Djs that inspired my style:

Then everything changed. In 2008 I left my career-path when I realized that I could make a living djing. This meant one huge sacrifice: in order to make enough money I had to play at commercial clubs. I went from playing for kids on drugs wearing neon to playing for suits and heels ordering bottle service. WEIRD. At first, I tried it the EDM way, and I got hooked up with some cool gigs with top-notch acts like Steve Aoki & Kid Cudi, where I definitely got a chance to showcase the music I was passionate about. But the more and more I played, the more and more I realized: if it wasn’t on the radio, if it wasn’t made in the last 20 years, and if everyone in there didn’t know it, it wasn’t acceptable. I continued this horror as I got my first radio show on the most commercial station in Toronto, where even my style of tricking people in to liking my EDM music by layering a Katy Perry vocal on it was squashed. That was when I lost my passion. Having to play the same 40 tracks every week, un-remixed, drove me insane. And it stayed that way, minus a few month stint in Europe, until about a year ago.

Now what I’m about to say might offend you, but bear with me for a moment. I’m about to give credit to some things that I hate, passionately, but there is method to my madness. About a year ago I started noticing songs from viral videos being requested at the club. While it was absolutely painstaking to accept that I had to play these songs, I made the best of it. I took the opportunity to start mixing in less mainstream EDM songs, something I haven’t done since I was forced to cut the EDM influence on my music out completely. Since people were so incredibly excited after completing the dances seen in these viral videos, I could just rock it out for the next 15 minutes, without even pandering to the crowd by layering Top 40 vocals on the music. This was pretty exciting.

And what was better, even after these songs came and went, I was still rocking the tunes that they had opened the door for me to play. And now THESE tunes became my entry into playing even heavier and less commercial EDM then I had ever dreamed was possible at a Top 40 club in Toronto. The following is some examples of the songs I got to play after the viral videos of Gangnam Style, Harlem Shake & Express Yourself were released. These tunes have now replaced the need to play the viral songs, and become their own party anthems:

Gangnam Style let me play:

TJR – Whats Up Suckaz

Deniz Koyu – Bong

Harlem Shake let me play:

Ca$h Out – Cashin’ Out (Turbo Swag Trap Remix)

DJ Green Lantern – Yap ‘Em

Express Yourself let me play:

Major Lazer “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” feat Busy Signal, The Flexican and FS Green (2013)

DJ Snake ft. Lil Jon – Turn Down For What

Now, after time has passed, people are even more interested in what the internet has to offer. Sometimes my crowds even know cool, heavy, EDM songs before I do. Here are a couple examples of tunes that were requested at Top 40 clubs, before I even had them in my library.

Fatboy Slim, Riva Starr & Beardyman – Eat Sleep Rave Repeat (2013)

Martin Garrix – Animals (2013)

So thanks internet, for re-creating and re-inspiring what I do. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make people in once classy clubs party so hard they spontaneously puke on themselves and screw on the dancefloor. It is truly an exciting time for Top 40 Djs.

However, all of this being said. There is still a dark side. WHAT THE F*#@ IS THIS S*&# and why do people request it? I HATE YOU INTERNET!!!