Ever spent weeks preparing for a big gig, only to arrive at the venue and realize that you’ve forgotten a necessary adapter, cable, or worse. As DJs, there are millions of things that can go wrong when leaving the comforts of our home studios to play out. In today’s feature, we share our favorite tips for packing your DJ bag so you can be sure not to forget anything important, get to the gig in one piece, and set up quickly and easily.
We all have a tendency to get excited about shows and focus more on “getting our sets ready” than counting USB cables and perfecting our backpack Tetris skills. In celebration of the release of our new DJTT backpack v2, today we’re going to slow down a bit and cover some fundamentals. Remember, you do not start being a DJ once you get to the show. Your job is to provide music – and that requires that you have all your necessary gear!
The video below features tips from Mad Zach, Ean Golden, and Amp Live (of Zion I), but we’d love to hear your techniques and stories in the comments.
Mad Zach’s Tips
I am a classically-trained procrastinator, and for the bulk of my first year of playing out, I had the bad habit of working on new tunes right up until the last minute. The resulting time crunch would inevitably lead me to forget a critical cable or adapter. I can’t count the number of times I had to pay $10 for some tiny adapter at RadioShack because I forgot something at home.
As such, most of my tips on how to pack your DJ bag are geared around not forgetting anything, as well as fail-safe protection in case something breaks. Here are my key tips for successfully packing your DJ Bag and getting to the show in one piece:
1. Packing Up
- Make a hard copy packing checklist (save a copy for next time, too) and check gear off as you pack it
- Stay focused + only work on one item at a time – multi-tasking and distractions can cause you to forget something
- Grab the gear and all the cables you will need to use that piece of gear
- Put computer in the bag first
- Use colored tape: different small pieces of colored tape on each end of your cables will let you tell similar-looking cables apart
- Bring a power strip; in-booth power outlet real estate is often lacking.
- Adapters, business cards, lighter, bottle opener, spare cables, batteries, headlamps, etc should all go in the front/smaller pockets, you don’t want to be distracted by these items when unloading later
The single biggest technique I use to make sure every show goes off without a hitch is creating a redundant setup. This means bringing an extra copy or backup of just about everything important. You have to plan for the worst case scenario – because it will happen!
- Make a custom USB snake with gaff tape. This will eliminate the risk of forgetting individual cables, as well as make it super fast and clean to set up and break down. No more cable knots!
- Make your studio setup mimic the way you would set up in a club.
- Leave your audio interface plugged in, this will make set up and breakdown faster and less stressful.
- Pick the right DJ Bag! This will make your life much easier.
- Put everything in cases. This makes it easy to slip them in and out of your pack
- Focus your main carry-on bag to have everything you need to play music just in case you lose bagage at the airport.
- Use a side loading pack so you can make sure to be able to access your pack
Hopefully these tips help to make your own packing a success – be sure to share your techniques in the comments section! As we all know everyone has their own style and something to add to this conversation :)