Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the “Real DJing” debate

Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real DJing is and how it has evolved through the years. A-Trak shares his experience of shifting from analog to digital DJing, while still keeping his performances authentic. The post is seen as A-Trak’s response to mounting criticism that DJs are nothing more than button pushers.

What is Real DJing?

A-Trak begins the post saying, “There’s a lot of talk lately about what DJing is becoming. I’ve seen it evolve a lot over the years. I started DJing when I was 13, scratching vinyl and playing strictly hip hop, winning championships. The DMC judges thought I was pretty good at it, but think my definition was narrow back then.”

“I remember when my aunts and uncles found out I was a DJ they assumed I was the guy talking on the radio. So to define who we were, we called ourselves turntablists. We wanted legitimacy. As I grew up I got into more sides of the craft. Party-rocking and mastering different musical genres. In the early 2000’s I was Serato’s very first endorsee. I remember talking to Jazzy Jeff and AM about Serato: was it stable enough? We also had to convert all our music. DJing was becoming digital. Then Kanye hired me to tour with him, because he learned how to perform from Common and Kweli who had real DJs too – shout out to Dummy & Ruckus. We went on an Usher tour and Kanye wanted me to bust solos. My routines were too specialized so I had to make new ones that this new audience would understand.”

A-Trak continued on to address new and evolving DJ technology, “I started seeing the bigger picture. Then I got into electronic music. I remember seeing Mehdi, Boys Noize, Feadz playing on CDJs and thinking: these guys are turntablists too. Surkin was the first guy I saw DJ on Ableton in a way that felt like true DJing too. Now there’s a whole new cast in electronic music, and it’s still exciting to me. I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go over the years. And I don’t think my way of DJing is the only way. I wish I could also play like Carl Cox and DJ Harvey too. But I have my style and it’s my passion. I love standing for something that means something, as Pharcyde would say. When you come to my show you know you’ll see me cut. And take risks. DJing is about taking risks. I represent #RealDJing #YouKnowTheDifference”

 Support for Real DJing

These words made a big impact as other DJs and artists quickly took to Twitter to show support for A-Trak’s comments.

The hashtag, #realdjing, has now turned into a label to showcase what it means to be a part of the real DJing movement.

What Does Real DJing Mean to You?

DJing is all about takings risks. Just as A-Trak was one of the first to take the risk and pick up Serato (he now uses Traktor), we take the risk in being some of the first to expand the boundaries of what it means to be a DJ, producer, or an entertainer. While the “push play” debate continues, DJTT readers continue to discover new ways to perform.

What do you think “real DJing” is? Let us know in the comments below. Or you can join the conversation on Twitter by including @DJTechTools and the hashtag #realdjing in your tweets. Some of your tweets will be featured in our next article on “real DJing.”


Ableton Live Tipsdj cultureDj Equipmentdj performance tricksReal DJingTipsturntablism
Comments (168)
Add Comment
  • Eloy Zoet

    #realdjing = not overthinking it. Just have fun, if you do, your public will as well 🙂 what gear or method you use is not important.

    (Edit) LOL this article came as suggestion on my facebook, turns out its from 2014 hahaha

  • Ernesto Mitchell

    Very well put Mr. Dave Slater. My father was a DJ back in the late 70’s and I became one during my high school years using Vinyl as well. At the end of the day a DJ’s job is to entertain the paying public and help them have a good time. They don’t care what medium you use as long as the can dance and have a party. Everything else just impresses other DJ’s. Lets not forget what our job is and our primary purpose!!

  • Djing Names | Computer DJ Midi

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • Paul Oakenfold Has His Own DJ Summer Camp | ADDIKTION BLAST

    […] Designed by Oakenfold, the Electronic Music Academy and various “Top Gun Business Training for DJs and Producers,” the DJ camp offers attendees “inside, never shared before, access to production secrets, creative brand-building, and all forms of online monetization for those eager to scale quickly in careers in the EDM space and stay relevant.” AKA #RealDJing. […]

  • Paul Oakenfold Has His Own DJ Summer Camp | Fuckin Beat

    […] Designed by Oakenfold, the Electronic Music Academy and various “Top Gun Business Training for DJs and Producers,” the DJ camp offers attendees “inside, never shared before, access to production secrets, creative brand-building, and all forms of online monetization for those eager to scale quickly in careers in the EDM space and stay relevant.” AKA #RealDJing.  […]

  • Djing Parties | Computer DJ Midi

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the “Real … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • Djing Djing | Computer DJ Equipment

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • Cool Cat Djing | Computer DJ Equipment

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the “Real … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • Djing Keyboard | Computer DJ Midi

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • Djing Riding The Pitch | Computer DJ Equipment

    […] Are You Really DJing? A-Trak and the … – Since August, the internet has been abuzz over A-Trak’s real DJing campaign. The turntablist took to Instagram with a passionate post about what real … […]

  • calgarc

    Can we start a flame war involving deadmau5 and an unplugged pioneer mixer… Lol

  • Jolly

    In my opinion it’s all about pleasing the audience. If they want to dance to a certain song then you play it. #RealDjing (in my opinion) is when you like the music of the day (all genres) and not focus more on the effects you throw in, the scratching and the gear you use but on the songs you choose to play. I guess that was Djing originally. Oh, and for sure not speaking down about what other djs play, how they play and dissing them.

  • Miles Airon

    To rightfully qualify as a real dj, it’s not enough to be a sector, or to be a radio, hip-hop, party rock, drop mix, or safety mix type of player. It requires you to take it a step further and use either (or both) your playing mechanism (turntables, cdi’s, controllers, etc), and/or the mixer in way way that allows you to create new music on the fly with prerecorded pieces of music. Wether the turntablists quick cuts and manipulations, or the techno/house dj’s dep smooth blends… the key is mixing, and using your instrument to create more than the raw materials you start with. Thereby, as a trak stated, taking risk, and creating live music that allows the energy of the audience and environment to feedback through you as a performer. If your not hitting this mark, i’m pretty sure i can program a playlist to do your job… other than the sorry ass dance moves.

  • Dj Marcos Rodríguez

    #RealDjing is make music with music …

  • James Burkill

    you just had to do it DJTT, let the can of worms flow free… (face palmed so hard at the sight of this article)

  • Ashley Isaac Ivan Johnston

    At the age of forty a old school dj,who can play on anything introduced me to virtual dj and i could never play anything before.after lots of practice i could play to a crowd who by the way enjoyed every what is the big deal because times are changing,there’s so many ways to play music me it’s all about entertaining the crowd so call me an entertainer or a dj,the crowd still see me as a dj

  • Don Stone

    working a wedding with 2 ipods and a radio shack mixer and everyone is dancing even grandma? #realdjing.

  • David Vantage

    ALL djs are essentially just meat jukeboxes. The fucks it matter if it’s digital, synced, vinyl, cds, whatever the fuck. Just enjoy the God damn music and get off your high horses.

  • Fred

    Yawn. When will this end.

  • manoob1

    This article and s8 ad on the page lol native ad machine on work here…lol take a risk….

  • muahv

    #real djing# my personal thoughts of real djing , is sth that cant b detailed defined into words. Just like music, it is invisible yet powerful enough delivery some sort of “messages” ?
    The art of Sharing sounds, any sounds, etc, samples, effects or an original release…. And Uniting together in UR OWN way WITH OR WITHOUT whatever internal or external tools~or even brands. CDJ TURNTABLE SERATO VDJ TRAKTOR MIXVIBE PIONEER who cares!~ even if someone is not a pro but loves electronic music, comes out with 2 tape machine, and makes good melody even last only 2-3 MINS moment!i still give a thumb up!

    SIMPLE IS THAT . ” It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

  • Bas

    Is it an intended pun as he is photographed pressing a “play” button in this article head?

  • RealSPit

    A-Trak is a DJ no doubt and you must Respect that .. But let’s be real and not overlook the fact that he’s all about the $$ and sees an opportunity to capitalize once again on Turntablism and DJ Culture because the timing is right .. The REAL DJs are folks like Craze, Klever, Qbert and others ..


    A trak is the truth and respect for him raising awareness and being humble at the same time. Real DJing is not having to align, sync, or program your library beforehand. Do you know how many people that rely on the computer and less on their ears mess up during public performances??? Countless I see all the time. Unless you are doing Progressive sound of any sort I do not even see using Ableton helpful vs a Traktor solution with the remix decks. I think the market will continue as it goes but when the people get more educated and into their music more vs the party that surrounds it … the markets ear will get more distinguished and critical of what the actual “DJ” is doing crafting his set. — Jason, KAV1ANI

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    What real DJing means to me? Therapy, plain and simple. Losing myself in music and having the time melt away as the weight of the world is unshouldered.


    I have now a pressing question: Is traditional A to B mixing still relevant?

  • Felix

    People, please, lets all just calm down – we get you can all use big words, but let’s stop with the condescending stuff, okay?

    A-Trak (and others) has’t become famous because of his ‘outstanding ethos’ or ‘incredible story’ – he is famous, like the rest of them, because of how his music makes people feel, how easily he connects with his audience/listeners – he is a DJ, a “real DJ” if you must, because he still knows what DJing really is – it’s not a competition, it’s not a way to get famous, it’s not a way to get girls, it’s using a talent in music, and playing work that makes people feel good, work that makes people enjoy their time.

    Whether you’re a producer, turntablist, controllerist, engineer, techie, or anything else along those lines, then you are still a DJ, so long as you keep what’s important – you’re there to give people a good time, and to show people what music can do. Call yourself a “real DJ” if it makes you happy, but pssst – nobody cares!!

    Now, are we all calm? Good.

  • D3RKIN

    I read the post from A-track about what he thought a real DJ is. I thought it was a good response but was vague and a politician like answer. This got me thinking so then I looked on the internet for a definition. Here is what I found as being the true definition in it’s simplest form. DJ – is a person who mixes prerecorded music to create a new sound. they did not determined on what medium is used to do so. So what is my definition to what a real DJ is? Well here it is….

    Beatmatching is usually what most of the debates comes down too, whether you can do it manually or not! Although it is a basic fundamental most people get hung up on this one aspect of DJing. I believe it is something you should learn as being a DJ you should be able to play on whatever equipment is presented to you or not, but there is way more to DJing than just that. The purist are going to hate me for this but anyone can learn to beatmatch and knowing how to do it doesn’t make you special. Being that DJing has changed and there is other ways to beatmatch this is no longer a requirement to be a real DJ. Now with beatmatching no longer being a prerequisite for being a DJ, mixing in phase should now become the biggest prerequisite and here is a hint it involves counting. If you can’t do this your tracks won’t build or change together making it hard to merge the two tracks properly. Now this brings us to the stuff that can’t be taught but definitely is what I think a real DJ should be able to do. Programing your music is the first thing that I think makes a real DJ, knowing what tracks go well together creating a story to bring your crowd on an adventure through highs and lows as you need lows so you will recognize the highs and great moments. Reading the crowd is what comes to mind next, knowing what the crowd wants to hear and when they want to hear it which involves being able to change direction if you start loosing their attention. Feeling the tracks to know how they should be played which should be bumped in abruptly, or gradually mixed this plays a big part of creating excitement or surprise. These are few things I believe that a real DJ should know how to do but this is my opinion. Besides what do I know?


    A real dj is someone who hits the sync button then raises his hand and fists bumps the full tune!

  • Tubab Lamin


  • J.Boogie

    It seems a lot of people are trying to taking the “high road” and saying screw this argument. But if I can borrow some words by Churchhill…

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
    That being said, what A-Trak is really trying to accomplish with #RealDJing is challenging everyone, experts and novices, old school and digital, club or mobile, and everything in between, to be better, and to at least strive to be better. That’s what taking risks is about. And that’s something that applies to all DJs on the spectrum. It has nothing to do with what side you “play” for.
    It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to switch to digital to get into live remixing and mashups. It doesn’t mean you have to learn to beatmatch to rock a party. But be open to all facets of what it takes to rock a party by whatever methods you use and push the limits of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to mess up because we only learn from our mistakes and that is especially true with DJing.
    At the end of the day, if you are content with where you are as a DJ, great! We all strive to be content with this and with the other facets of our lives.

  • Peter Croce

    This makes me feel good about playing Jean-Luc Ponty LPs in House/Disco sets.

  • justBob

    I agree with @Dave Slater, DJing is about playing prerecorded music (yours or others) to an audience (1-1000 or more). It doesn’t matter how you “spin” it. The way you do that differs based on knowledge, experience, talent and gear. Technology now offers the opportunity for the DJ to create original sounds or music either live or in studio and to present it to an audience.. See my first statement. Once you evolve to original sounds or music created by you, then you add that of a composer or musician. Is a band not a real band because the members use midi’s or other electronic gear versus actual guitars or drums? A DJ is what A DJ is and it doesn’t matter what or how they do it. Arguing over whether one is REAL or not is pointless because in the end, like with any form of entertainment, the audience will decide what they like.

  • Who cares?

    “Blah blah blah. I’m A-Trak. I used to win contests and played on vinyl, screw the rest of you…” That’s pretty much the summation of what I read.

    Who cares? What is a “real DJ”? If you play on vinyl, cool. If you rock through trakor, cool. If you can read and rock the crowd to all hell, then I reiterate, who cares if you do it on a 12″ or strictly digital? Sync button or not, if the crowd likes it then it really shouldn’t matter. It’s not like there in there wondering, “Jeez, I sure hope they aren’t using a sync button. I would suddenly hate this set if I realized they may or may not be using said button.”

    Pretentious music jerks needs to get off their high horses and love music for what it is. A unique dive into various sound waves through all kinds of means. If you want to point fingers at people who shouldn’t be popular then go talk trash about Girl Talk. But he still headlines a bunch of stuff. Taking “risks” can be done in all forms.

    I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. A-Trak, good for you for showing why you’re better than everyone else. I’m very impressed.

    • Siana

      Better than anyone else? Totally not what i read. He showed respect to performers of all styles and techniques, regardless of what they use, vinyl, DJ software, or Ableton.

      He didn’t show respect to sexy babes who just mime to a prerecorded sets, like Paris Hilton but worse. Is that who you are?

      And then you do exactly what you accuse A-Trak of doing with regard to Girl Talk. Hey, i think Girl Talk is not special and i don’t like a single thing i have heard of him, but i can’t see any reason why he “shouldn’t be popular”. Go ahead, clue me up.

  • superman



    In all fairness, a ‘real’ DJ is someone who can rock a party by reading the crowd and having the right choice of tracks. The format is irrelevant, as mainly only other DJs care about how or with what you play…

  • Jimmy K.

    Not all of us are trying to make djing a full-time career and go on tour with gayfish rappers.

  • Rasti Tkac

    DJing means entertaining audience. I’ve been DJing for living for 20 years now and my passion was electronic music, be it house, techno or trance. But even when I am booked for a wedding or a rock or hip-hop party, I do my job and entertain the crowd.
    I am amazed how DJs are purists about their genres and mediums (vinyl/digital) nowadays. In the end, it’s not about what music you play or what you play it from, as long as your audience has an amazing experience while you do it.

  • killmedj

    I played drums for 30 years, practised my guts out for most of that time and had a pretty good degree of success because of it. But that didn’t guarantee that I would be in a massive band making buckets of cash. Or that some kid using only mediocre skills wouldn’t be more popular than me. I think the same goes for DJing , practise, get good and have fun. But don’t waste your energy on what it is or what is isn’t. I DO agree with ATrak. but sometimes I wish we’d all just get over it and get on doing what we love doing. DJing!!. Real…. or Not. =)

  • Sir Scratch-a-lot

    Eh…Don’t listen to DJ A-Crack.

  • ItsWesSmithYo

    If someone was looking to learn/get into DJing and asked me the #realdjng question…I’d start with do you want to be a “soul” DJ, like a “soul” surfer (see Kelly Slater vs Tom Curren debate)…or be professional, IE, get paid. If soul is your choice, carry on with whatever you want…if Pro, I’d say the “job” is to entertain. From raves to radio, we all share that, and get hired to do that. If your lucky enough to get paid to do whatever you want as well, even better.

    Personally, I’ve tried a lot of devices, mediums, styles, etc…many b/w of this site, which ironically I was turned on to from a guy in Sri Lanka who I never would have met if I didn’t explore a lot. What I can say for sure is all of this experience has made me better able to deal with most anything that comes my way. I’m usually well prepared, and very comfortable with all the variables. I’m not Q-Bert, Carl Cox, Diplo, or any number of others that I’ve looked up to at times, but I do feel that I share a much better experience with crowds when I’m energized by what I’m doing. For me, realtime/live selection, beat matching, mixing and some crowd interaction are a minimum.

    While I’ve done everything from the lingerie football league to open format, these days I’m dialed in on clubs/raves that hire me for my style…a bit of that soul/pro combo. That said, I also produce so I get a big high from playing jams I made that people like. But I definitely separate DJ/Producer in terms of the $$$. For what it’s worth, I generally play 25% released by others, 25% released by me, and the the same ratio of unreleased. This is what works for me.

  • hardcoreplur

    as long as you aren’t doing exactly what a iPod can do.
    *looks at Aoki*

  • marki

    eventually,DJ’s will be so Recognized as True Musicians/Artist that they will be Paid even More to perform Un-rehersed Un-Edited Live routines for THAT Audience ONLY…Like LIVE PAINTING….This will be a great thing,and you will be able to buy the performance from the DJ/Artists Directly…Imagine,Having to do something New and Flow with no rules Every Time you Perform….Unless of course you are asked for something in particular, aka ala’ wedding DJ,or Birthday…but what the DMC and ITF has as Format will be the Default of ALL HARDCORE Performances…Like has Happened with all sonic art forms….Disagree all you want,but its coming….and I Personally cant wait…,Like Radars Loop Pedal Performances,That My fellow Tablists,is THE FUTURE-Super Creative,and Brand New,Like Freestyling for Tablism.

  • Mike

    Djing is like driving, Its like saying drivers that use automatic gears are not real drivers. Every person picks whatever is comfortable for him/her. In the end of the day what matters is where you drive (what music you play) and how. The most important thing in djing that you enjoy what youre doing, if someone doesnt like to manually beatmatch doesnt mean he/she is not a real dj. I always saw djing as playing music nonstop with smooth and transitions so the audience always dance without interuption.

  • x

    everybody and their mom is a real dj

  • x

    djing is dead just go on mixcrate and download a mix and play it at your party

  • x

    Mixing hip hop with EDM…and that how traditional hip hop died

  • noxxi

    whats pathetic here is turntablists participating in a digital dj forum complaining about how its “not real”.

    it leads me to believe that they haunt these sites all day just to feel the satisfaction of being righteous. That’s what bullies do, they put others down to make them selves feel better about their inadequate lives.
    If you feel the need to dis digital djs, then maybe its because your desperately jealous that nobody cares about vinyls any more, save for DMC participants (also known as people with actual skill) furthermore, DMC participants generally seem to be accepting of new ways to be creative.

  • Dj Vegas Vibe

    @atrakinfinity I represent #RealDJing #YouKnowTheDifference #DjVegasVibe

    • fosho

      no one cares lol

      • Dj Vegas Vibe

        @FoSho, Looks Like you Do

      • Dj Vegas Vibe

        Looks Like you Do

  • Christophe Bram

    There is no such thing as “real DJ-ing” in my opinion. DJing is playing other people’s tracks, it’s hardly artistic. DJs are there to rock the dancefloor, and this can be achieved by pressing play – how you do it doesn’t matter.

    If you’re looking for respect and legitimacy in the music world, quit DJing right now, and start producing. The respect that currently exists for DJs is unwarranted.

    • lrq3000

      I think you are pinpointing a crucual fact: the dual identity of the DJing job, which can be seen both as a musical profession, or as a commercial one. If you see DJing as a musical profession, what matters is your contribution to the music. If it’s commercial, the ending result is what defines your job (making people dance and buy drinks), and it doesn’t matter the way you do it nor the musical contribution you make.
      Really we are all talking about two different jobs just sharing the same name.

  • Frank Wassenberg

    Djing is more than the SyncButton.

    Djing is: Read the Crowd (also important for Set Playing-DJs 😉 )
    Djing is: to bring the Venue owner the maximum profit. This includes, that you NOT keep the Dancefloor the whole NIght full. The Crowd must drink!!
    and so on
    and so on

    For me is the pushbutton-thing totally overweight.

    Vinyl, CD oder Digital?
    It has to fit for me personnally..

  • penguinsdoom

    If you just press play. Yes you can DJ. and good for you. but your a joke to a turntablist and a finger drummer. Stop being just a step up from a fake “Model DJ”. Your also the reason articles like these are wrote. It depresses me when some tells me they DJ and i want to get together with them. They whip out their ipad 4 and pull up a lame app and have no skill. Dont get me wrong. There are some good apps and i uses them for practice and as a back-up kit, but these people are the reason DJs are being seen as lame and simple. DONT JUST PRESS PLAY. DJing becomes a new beast when you try and almost meet a level of producing with your kit.

  • scamo

    It is funny, I just made a comment the other day in another DJTT post about the “DJ mixer” and the “DJ performer” paradigms. There is a difference IMHO and the tools DJs have at their disposal these days help them be even more of a performer, also without necessarily being a pure musician. That is also where people are thinking lines are being crossed both from a DJ perspective and a musician perspective. I don’t think there are any lines anymore and those, who wish to draw them, are IMHO only (sorry to say this and with no intention of insult) insecure in their own capabilities. Those who think bigger and can show what a DJ performance is all about, will be the better DJs, but as performers and not just mixers of music. If you want to stay a “DJ mixer” that is fine, but I do believe sooner or later, it will be completely old fashion and the “DJ performer” will actually be expected from the dancing crowd.


  • rens

    I don’t know. I’m not a DJ. So I can’t say for sure. But how I feel is how you read the crowd, and being able to mix music live, and mix it well. Some DJs don’t even mix well, they just go into the other song that clashes, or is off beat. It sounds like they’re just playing a playlist rather than DJing. I think the debate was brought up because of the new technology thats being used. Is abelton really mixing? They’re using CDs not Vinyl. To me, it doesn’t matter, if they’re mixing good, and mixing right, and they’re reading the crowd well….they’re a good DJ. and bad DJing are people who do the opposite or use pre-recorded mixes and pretend they’re DJing.

  • Flashback

    To correct the article: A-Trak actually uses Serato DJ now.

  • x

    djing is playing or mixing music seamlessly and keeping the crowd hyped, thats it.

  • Dj Midosa

    I’m don’t agree 100% with what A-Trak…

    I don’t think Djing can be real of fake…If you play pre-set mix, certainly you’re not a Dj.
    If you are a someone who plays on turntable, controller, or even hitting your dick on some gear to make music ) then, you are probably a Dj.

    I think that presuming “Real Djing” is about taking risks seems poor as argument. Everyone is taking risk already by staying behind a deck and playing music for people he doesn’t even met before and trying to entertain them. Pauly-D took a bigger risk that A-Trak by spitting champagne on the crowd, and well, he’s a Dj like a shit.

    In the other side, talking about good music selection, technical skills, (the risk of the ) technical evolution etc as stated by A-Trak here.. is not a big deal here too… because we’re already talking about DJ… So if someone doesn’t have skills and a good music selection, and doesn’t feel open enough to try technologies to improve his skills, he’s not even concerned with this discussion, and not worthy an answer from A-Trak in person, because he’s not a DJ.. yet.

    Just think about it… Is it legit to say that a controllerist is not a DJ, a turntablist is a DJ, when talking with others Dj ? No… You will probably be considered as a dickhead.

    I didn’t even think about it when i started trying to mix one song into another. i wasn’t even able to think that i could do that with a tool, that we call a turntable or a controller or a cd player… I was just playing song on my auto-reverse cassette player, damn it… All what was in my mind at that moment, is the need to have this song, after that one at that moment… I don’t even think about being a dj, or dreamed about it. I was not even watching dj shows on antenna Tv.. So come on.. Djing on turntable / controller can make you a real Dj?.. For real ?.. What about trying to scratch with a cassette by hitting pause and playing with the cassete’s wheel.. That should make me the Hercules of Djing?.. f*** that shit. (I laughed a lot when DJTT posted the tape scratching article some weeks ago.. old memories for me).

    Final though: If you don’t have the passion and the talent to do something, you have nothing. And if you have both, and don’t improve them, then you’re not going anywhere.
    So A-Trak, you are just talented, passionated, and improved this two gift you was born with. That what makes you a good DJ. Otherwise, Real Djing doesn’t exist… There’s just Djing, good and bad DJ. Like acting, there’s good and bad actors, football: good and bad player etc…

  • Ecks Seed

    I didn’t real the whole writeup but from the exert taken here I like that he never said “DJing is NOT (insert here)”

    Think about it

  • Buddy Musko

    If you add value to the songs you are playing you are a DJ

  • danh

    The guy who loves (/ knows something about) the music he plays (and who does NOT only play the music he produced – personally I call these newly seen stage performances “producer shows” – there’s nothing wrong with this, but this is not DJing in MY opinion!).
    Could be done with gramophones, iTunes, traktor up to ableton live and similar to ADD live performance FRAGMENTS.

    It does not depend on the technique he uses. There are many “producer shows” where a track change is made using the same equipment and techniques some DJ use (beatmatching, fading, equing).
    But there are also many real DJs out there who just play one song after another and who neither press a sync button nor change the pitch of the track or fade between tracks – I’m thinking about all the rock / alternative / metal DJs for instance.

  • thisDJ

    If you break it down to it’s most basic definition, the clue is in the title. #realDJing contains the acronym DJ, which as we all know stands for disc jockey. So by default I guess to be a ‘real DJ’ would suggest using media of disc form, eg. vinyl/cd. The term DJ now however has evolved and encompasses all performers regardless of the type of media/equipment used who is in control of the musical output at a club/bar/party.

    For me, real DJing is about the basics. A mixer, two+ decks, beat matching and scratching. End of discussion.

  • s1ugh34d

    The press play DJ and the non mixing DJ are still DJs but they are basically a playlist. Maybe you make a living from bringing your music collection to an event and playing as many songs as you can for the crowd. Maybe you play YouTube at a gig for tracks people demand you have but yet don’t. Hell maybe you plug in peoples phones to keep them happy. I’ve seen all of the above.

    Keeping a groove and mixing tracks, making that mix that no one expected, or scratching a track perfectly into another, that’s DJing. I got into DJing after jaw dropping watching other djs live mix and scratch, watching endless hours of DJs like Z-TRIP and AM just kill a track.

    I’m no turntablist per-say, I prefer the CDJ. But hearing the beat sing with another, mixing songs mash up style and mixing those two completely different tracks in a way even you didn’t know was possible, that is real DJing. Making the crowd dance, watching them enjoy the sounds, and loving the music you play. Love djing and music, but the guy making a playlist in WMP on a desktop at a graduation party can still get paid, that’s why DJs get mad and start calling people glorified iPods.

  • Gracious T

    As “NOOB” Its laughable to me that some of the hate around “NOOBS” and controllers, sync buttons and varied shortcomings is so negatively charged. The dance community is an accepting bunch and as long as your aspiring, learning, practicing and entertaining without bogarting any of the so called “real DJ’s” then who give a fuck. None of these cunts who call themselves “real DJ’S” came out of the box with skills and they would have all jumped at the technology had it been available. Embrace the craft and entertain the people and you can hold your head high.

    • SomeGuy

      if everyone can do it with the click of a sync button, there is no skill left and you are basically stroking the giant space cock.

  • smuve415

    some dude wrote in here that this debate/discussion “is getting stale”.. He’s pretty much right – but I also find it entertaining, cuz its always much of the same thing – the O.G. Purists, against the New School Controller generation, rarely do u find too many people in the middle who can understand & appreciate both. I wish I could say I was purely like that, but being in the game as long as I’ve been, I am slightly biased on the O.G. side.. in my opinion, the sexiness of DJ’ing went out the window for a while now. I know 95% of a crowd didnt give 2 shits about what a dude was doing with 2 turns and a mixer – but me and a lot of other fellow DJ’s – and countless trainspotters – did. here’s one question or gripe I have – in the older rave days when a person or persons (Chemical Bros. for example) had a bunch of MPC’s & Virus’s & other gear set up on stage – they were listed on the flyer as doing a “live P.A.”,, not DJ’ing. So where the hell did a person playing a pre-arranged set on Ableton get to be considered DJ’ing? in my eyes, thats not DJ’ing… just my opinion of course.

  • lazysoul

    A-Trak switched back to Serato a few months ago.

  • Mike Linder

    A real DJ is an entertainer, someone who can control a crowd, someone who plays for an audiance but has enough of a personality to put his own take on a set while keeping the masses dancing.

  • CUSP

    Debates should be framed with solid boundaries to the foundation (one side vs the other) otherwise it’s a discussion.

    I think what A-Trak is saying is that people like him are interactive, from way back in Radio days, to Internet DJs, those who make decisions in the now are the live artists. People like Paris Hilton are basically “Chuck E. Cheese” animatronics, and that’s fine if all you’re looking for is something pretty to look at that looks like it could be interactive… but they’re not. There are a bunch of artists who make their own tracks, but play the same set everywhere they go (as though they were crafting the tracks new in each location, but that takes a lot of energy, and it’s risky, do they typically don’t.

    To be fair, there is a lot of “telling” in performance art, but most people prefer some asking as well.

  • LongTimeLurker1stTimePoster

    Real DJ’ing is about putting music out there for people to enjoy. In this respect it is similar to asking “What is a real musician?” U2’s The Edge slathers simple chords with thousands of dollars of effects, but he’s still a musician. If A-Trak wants to start a movement, fine, he can deal with the blow-back of musicians basically saying “Who gives a shit if it’s a DJ on decks or a DJ on a digital system or a DJ on an iPad – it’s still just a DJ. Just because you do little dance moves and use outdated equipment doesn’t mean you’re some kind of genius.”

    That’s why I’ve got mad respect for guys like Deadmau5, Daft Punk, and anybody that wants to perform live. I get it, DMC is fun. However, anybody with a musical ear and enough dexterity for “cup stacking” could get in on it. Time marches on.

    • No Qualms

      A real musician is someone who has mastered the basics. Notes, scales, chords, inversions and can recall them at anytime.
      A real DJ is the same, you need to have mastered the basic skills. Beat matching, beat juggling and scratching.
      It doesn’t matter what equipment you use, just like it doesn’t matter if you play the piano or guitar. You need to have the basic skills or your not a #realdj.

  • filespnr

    in the bigger picture, we are talking about “the Great Lowering of the Bar Age” this isn’t just happening in the world of djs. it is happening everywhere. it is nice to have knowledge at the end of a keystroke, but we must be careful not to congratulate ourselves as if it came from long hours of study in a dusty library. analogously, in DJing there is a subtlety, a cultivated style and charm that comes from long hours of practice/experience, that can’t be matched by any software. that doesn’t mean if you are new to DJing that you don’t have style, it just means that your style could probably use some cultivation, and like one of the other comments alluded to, you won’t get that polish on your style by downloading tracks from beatport and playing an hour at 128 bpm.

  • filespnr

    I saw Sunshine Jones, at the Bar Dynamite, talking to the crowd and singing from a notebook of lyrics “over” all these house tracks. “Bout as real as it can get it was f’n’ awesome

  • deejae snafu

    DJing is making people dance or be wowed by tricks or creativity. thats it. dont matter the tools or the type of music or performance.

  • Dave Slater

    Do you play a variety of pre-recorded wavelengths between 20Hz & 20kHz to an audience consisting of one or more people?

    If so, you are a DJ.

    The methods and technology you use to make that happen are completely irrelevant.

    The ONLY thing that matters is whether your audience is enjoying what you are doing!

    Can we stop this endless argument now please? It’s getting very very boring and stale…

    • Jimmy_Russells

      Sure, we can agree to your definition of “a DJ”. Unfortunately the article and argument are in regard to what “real DJing” is, so your words not only miss the point, they are completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

      • Gracious T

        Did you read the response or have someone read it to you while you were sharpening your crayons?

        • Jimmy_Russells

          What a well crafted ad hominem attack! It’s truly a shame that it carries no argumentative weight and is, as such, dismissed without further attention.

          • noxxi

            but you just gave it attention

          • Jimmy_Russells

            Did you think that by demonstrating your lack of reading comprehension we would think you were clever? Try reading each and every word next time. You look like an idiot when you don’t.

          • noxxi

            what a seemingly astute put down! shame then that it seems to have to connection to my comment at all.

            tell me, what part did i fail to read or comprehend?

            oh wait, was that in response to your own previous comment? if so then yeah thats pretty accurate

          • Jimmy_Russells

            I see that you still haven’t read each and every word. You failed to comprehend the effect of the word “further” in my previous comment.

          • noxxi

            my mistake, your still kind of a sanctimonious prick though

          • noxxi

            its funny, now that ive eaten i feel differently, less argumentative… so, sorry for trolling you 😀

          • Jimmy_Russells

            But I liked your recognition of my sanctimonious prick-dom 😉

            I just realized we took part in a different discussion here that was significantly less hostile. Kind of funny.

            Anyway, it’s been . . . shall we say, “real”? 😛

          • noxxi

            yeah i noticed that too! hence why i edited my comment! haha! its weird, no hard feelings i guess, ’tis the internet after all! 🙂

          • D15TO


        • BLKSMTH


      • Dave Slater

        Jeez dude what part of “The ONLY thing that matters is whether your audience is enjoying what you are doing!” didn’t go in?

        That is real DJing!

        • Jimmy_Russells

          I have to disagree both with your misinterpretation of my above comment and your assumption that some part “didn’t go in”. The simple view that an audience enjoys what you are doing, especially when that is alleged to be the “ONLY [sic] thing that matters,” completely disregards aspects relating to music, music production, and/or music performance as being forms of art.

          As I stated above, the article relates to aspects pertaining to a “real DJ”. You offered an opinion of what “a DJ” is. These are not necessarily analogous. You raise no contention that they even are. You just state them as if they are the same. To showcase your lack of distinction in terms, you even tried to substitute the word “true” for “real” in your above response to user lord.

          By your logic, you could certainly argue that the more popular (don’t get all fired up yet haters, in a broad sense of the term, “popular” clearly encompasses Mr. Slater’s one or more people in a room scenario) something may be, the more that it should be validated. Yet that argument is clearly weak.

          I’m not really here to illuminate you though – that’s a job for you. Accordingly, I’d prefer if you contemplate the logical ramifications of your thoughts before you shit them out all over your keyboard and please refrain from attempts at rhetorical questions until you are able to discern the subtleties of the argument at hand.

          • Dave Slater


            Ok first off language is fluid. It always has been and it always will be or we’d still be speaking like Shakespeare and txt speak wouldn’t have happened.

            If the inherent meaning in the sentence is preserved when interchanging “true” and “real” only a grammatical pedant would pick fault. (Please see definition 1.2 – )

            Secondly you miss my point.

            Any distinction between DJing and “real DJing” is an absurdly stupid construct of the ego.

            It’s just DJing

            Some are better at it than others. Some get the fundamental relationship between DJ and audience. Some don’t

            To quote A-Trak from the article:

            “Kanye wanted me to bust solos. My routines were too specialized so I had to make new ones that this new audience would understand.”

            And that doesn’t negate or disregard the “music, music production, and/or music performance as being forms of art.”

            Nor do you have to go down the lowest common denominator route

            It’s just a simple statement of fact that if you do not engage the audience they will vote with their feet.

            That might be reducing their movement to a shuffle or leaving the room entirely.

            At that point you’ve failed as a DJ regardless as to the label you put upon your efforts “real” or not

            My original post was written out of frustration of yet another article about “real DJing”. “Real DJ’s play vinyl” or “Sync users aren’t DJ’s cos they don’t beatmatch” etc etc.

            The endless arguing of ego’s about what is the only way to DJ

            Now A-Trak is coming at it from the right perspective when he notes the different styles and technologies presented by other DJ’s

            He even say’s “I don’t think my way of DJing is the only way.”

            But to me it is an endless circle of frustration that these arguments continue to happen and as I said it’s getting very very boring and stale.

            You can continue to split hairs as much as you like. To me it’s just DJing.

          • Jimmy_Russells

            I appreciate your passion and I follow your arguments above, but I respectfully submit that you are not using the correct dictionary. The correct definition of real in this context can only be found here: (see def’n. 1). If the word “real” in the context of “real DJing” is supposed to be the proper dictionary definition it simply doesn’t make sense. They have to be talking about “real” in the keepin’ it real sense.

            I like your points about engaging the audience or failing as a DJ (to paraphrase a bit), and see more clearly what you meant now. I don’t think that necessarily precludes artistic brilliance arising in DJing that is unrecognized at the time, for example. Audiences certainly aren’t always in the best place to be the sole arbiters of merit – they simply decide if what they are hearing/seeing fits their fancy at the moment. Perhaps that is but a hair being split, but I think it deserves at least some consideration.

            Well argued, sir. I imagine it would have been more fun over a few pints, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

            Keep it real 😛

          • noxxi

            i would like to chime in here,
            If the audience is not arbiter of merit, then who is qualified to say that a dj is good or not, or real or not. since the DJ is essentially nothing without the audience i would argue that they are the sole arbiters of merit indeed.

            you cant leave it to your fellow djs, its no secret that we love to pick sides and hate on each other. if you dont dj for an audience then who do you dj for? who decides if your good or not?

            more importantly, who has the right to decide if your a real dj or not? i dont think that being a turntablist gives you the right, i could quite easily have kept my vynils and been a “real dj” but i did not, i had timecodes, then gave them away. have i turned my back on djing? no. am i a fake dj? apparently… do i care? no, but i do get sick of these bullshit arguments.

            you know, i could say “real dj’s loop and build unique tracks”

          • Jimmy_Russells

            Difficult questions that probably don’t have correct answers. They do, however, make it pretty clear that something as simple as whether or not someone spins vinyl or hits play on a laptop. I don’t think it’s entirely wrong to argue necessity of an audience, but I still don’t think audience reaction/participation fully satisfies me. If the audience is dumb enough to say someone isn’t a “real DJ” simply because the DJ is using timecodes or CDJs, or whatever, they are certainly not qualified to determine merit.

            Perhaps the only person who can (or should, if they even care to) make the distinction is the DJ. Perhaps there shoulnd’t even be such a distinction. I have timecodes as well these days but I still bring some vinyl with me (largely because I have some tunes on wax that are pretty fun), but I don’t think that’s where the meat of the dispute is.

            Finally, there are quite a few interesting ideas for defining our “real DJ” in the comments, but I kinda like your “real dj’s loop and build unique tracks” sentiment.

          • noxxi

            thats a pretty decent response i would say, and it does bring up an entirely new topic, about who really is the decider of whether a dj is good or not. i would say the audience decides if a dj is good or has worth, and skill is probably up to the judgement of other djs.

            This could really be a long and contentious subject. we all know skills when we see them, but where one person sees skill, another sees no skill. to me, what makes a real DJ is becoming more and more of a moot point. what makes a good DJ on the other hand is a far simpler topic to answer.

          • Jose

            I feel that as long as you can put music and make people dance and have a great time that should suffice.I’ve started with vinyl and was so hard headed about going digital but now I have both Serato and Traktor. Ive have plenty of events big to small and knowing how to accommodate every crowd is one key point to being a great dj. I’ve had young guys just starting out dj at a club where I’m at and they make errors just like many of us have. Do I judge them? Not one bit instead I give them pointers. Yeah he can be competition but we are also a community and share a love of music and the passion for it.

          • Hhotelconsult

            that’s a producer, not a DJ?

        • teknik1200

          justin bieber has an audience, it doesn’t make his music good.

          • Steve


          • Steve

            Not defending bieber by any means… but the whole ‘good DJ’ thing is waaay outta whack.. I mean i love to dj and actually believe myself to have quite an amount of skill.. I believe that the artist him/her-self should/would know whether or not they are good or not.. Paris Hilton.. I’m sure she knows that she’s shit.. but she believes that she is good.. it’s still totally an opinion thing.. I’ve made some super dope mixes, with like 40 plays… Still super good.. idk if audience has anything to do with it… it’s all about ego and how much you’re trying to inflate it.

          • teknik1200

            yeah but some folks do things to sell and to be the big thing they have $$ marketing and the means to force feed stuff. They do it to sell something wether it’s an event or an image or something, however they typically don’t do it for art.

            you might not live in a country as commercialized as I do and as such you might not be as jaded as I am.

            Sure good is an opinion but I tend to appreciate art that has soul and the soul tends to show.

            Just because someone sold more tickets does not make them “better” so the whole “but everyone is dancing” argument is bum. The last point is what I was getting at. Sure “good” is subjective but “soul” tends to shine through hence the whole “keep it real” thing..

            I’d rather hear an artist that loves their craft playing in a dark room with a sound system over a mass produced shiny pile of poo.

          • DJ YROC

            That’s subject to everyone’s own opinion. I’m not a fan of his music either but he’s making millions, so I guess a lot of people must find his music really good.

      • Mutis Mayfield

        Few people care about what is or not #realdjing (usually other djs or hyperreal followers) but lot of people (and not only dumb listeners or wanabees) focus their attention in music.
        Becoming realdj in the past not was everytime becoming a true musician (A-trak is one of the few turntablist who uses and understand the value of ttm kind notation)
        Also adapting his routines to new listeners is a good step in the right direction (if you want to survive in capitalism doing your “thing” but it is only for “champions” due to “realdj” statements which are heavy and slow instead of flexible and light (fresh?) like in the beggining of the artform itself (rock a party with infinite loop or beat juggling to let people DANCE)

        So Realdjing? Truemusicians will be a better hashtag

        2cents from a turntable and culture lover.

        • marki

          thats Dead On Mutis’…Dead Right.

        • filespnr

          that may be a true in a context or culture that is more familiar with what djs do, but in my life, the reality is this. I have never heard one disparaging remark from someone where I was playing about turntables or records. yet, in those same places I have always heard, although presumably innocent on the part of the speaker, comments intended to belittle the midi controller. I mean, these aren’t the harshest of criticisms, and coming from someone who couldn’t plug in a controller and start the software(novices), I don’t take the remarks to heart, but nevertheless, they are always there.
          the comments about the midi controller always ring with an air of “them being cheated” as if I didn’t put enough work into it. (and I have some nice controllers, ya know)
          I think of it like hamburgers. I will not say that my palette is sophisticated enough to, in a blind test test, tell the difference between
          “a patty that was frozen, cooked in a skillet, slapped into a cold bun with a slice of processed cheese”
          “one made from fresh ground beef, cooked on a smoky grill of mesquite wood, covered with a fat slab of cheddar, and put into a toasted bun”
          if I’m standing there watching the whole thing happen, or at least in the general area and aware of which is happening,
          I certainly know which one is going to be the more pleasurable experience. 🙂

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I felt the same myself adapting the “scratch” sound to my old sp555. With the voice transformer fx and controlling the pitch knob (with dry/wet at 100%) you could do the same process to sound like moving the platter (high pitch to low pitch) but no control over vector position (///) so only foward cut and no hand for xfader neither… Tricky? Yes. Useful? Well almost fun and a “some kind of” solution because I can’t afford a turntable these days (or turntable or sampler, booth was impossible for my budget) and for the turntable route I would need a mixer and a sampler? Well I decide go the opposite path. Now I have some of all but the less useful to pay my bills is the scratching gear.

            IMHO the next BIG thing which is finnaly here is turntable groovebox.
            F1/S8/Akai Afx/Trigger finger pro.
            Remix decks/Flip/Bridge 2.0 (offficial) and apps like Livetronika Studio or Ms. Pinky m4l and even the new tools from image line are going to give some fresh air to all of us who will give them a penny for them and try to do musical andalso funnyofplay tracks.
            Trick, cheat, false and so… Well it is in our hands more than ever.

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            whoa… haven’t thought of Ms. Pinky in almost 10 years. Bought a pair of timecodes, way back when I was testing the DVS waters with Final Scratch and Torq.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Well Mutis is Mudo, maybe we meet us in the P forums in the past? 😉

        • teknik1200

          by that same note only pianists can appreciate real talent?

          DJs have the ability to BS sets in the way most other musicians don’t and people who are into the scene notice, not just other DJs.

          Advocating low bars because no one knows better just keeps the audience in the dark where they’ll never learn.

    • lord

      I have to agree thats the beginning and end of it everything else is ego!

      • Dave Slater

        Totally. Whilst everyone needs a bit of ego in order to want to get up there and do their thing in front of people too much of it only leads to dissing others for not being ‘true’ DJ’s because they don’t follow the prescribed format your ego has created to elevate your own self worth.

    • BadData

      ur my best friend

    • Siana

      Yep, the people who put their prerecorded set (possibly completety made by someone else) into one CD player and then just mime to it (see famous YouTube performances by various supermodels and even Guetta) are quite certainly DJs. Let’s totally put them into the same category as people who actually DO something, and thus increase the apparent value of the DJ profession.

    • lrq3000

      This definition is too general to be correct. It also includes movie playing, artistic ambiance records in expositions and really any pre-recorded sound material. I neither have a good definition, but I think it should at least include some notion of interaction, not only with the public, but with the sound generation.

      • lrq3000

        And furthermore I don’t agree with the definition of a “RealDJing”. A performance is either djing or it isn’t. Playing a record without any interaction simply isn’t “djing” at all, it’s just “playing a record”.

    • David Foster

      Short and to the point. I agree. No more to say than that really.

    • Steven Teijeiro

      Keep the party moving. Tell a story, give people something to listen to!

  • chris


    my friends told me, that she – the crowd – makes the partie.

    for me, i don’t like when i make music and some freaks stands in front of me and looks at me – at this point i take an killersong, that the dancefloor gets filled and rub this freaks away

  • Mojaxx

    This comment section could get interesting!

    Just a point of note, Matthew; A-Trak is back on Serato again now.

  • riddimdojo

    Real DJing answers a simple question that the audience has to respond to: “Were you entertained?”

    If the answer is yes, then it does not matter what the DJ used to do that. If your audience is expecting to see turntabalism (DMC championship), then that is what the DJ would need to do. If they don’t care but want to hear good music – you do what you think you need to do.

    DJ’s and other critics hating on other DJ’s are misguided and drinking too much of their own kool aide.

    Criticize somebody’s style if it needs to improve, not because it isn’t yours.

    • SomeGuy

      That’s not enough. The audience is stupid (see people). They are easy to impress. Real djs know how to combine music better than software, how to manipulate a dancefloor, not a program, how to change directions in a moments notice to compensate for changes in crowd atmosphere. They can beat match any song in 3 seconds flat, no digital aids required, just a headphone jack. They can play vinyl set NO PROBLEM if their computer breaks down. They were probably already playing a vinyl set, or at least using vinyl controllers. I’ve played thousands of shows since 1997 and the state of the word DJ is in shambles. It used to be an art. Getting records used to be hard. It required a ton of dedication. Today, you just download a copy of the same song everyone else has, and move on. There is far less exclusivity. And I guess that’s the times we live in, but I expect that a real dj while compromising in this way, would spend his time getting more technically skilled, not less.

      • riddimdojo

        I agree with you about the skill. Its a requirement to handle almost any situation, any mix of crowd. I am not advocating letting the software choose or just pressing sync or running a preset playlist by itself. Interaction. reading your crowd is important to entertaining them. You should aim to get more technically skilled – in order to entertain.

        I disagree with you about the audience. If the audience thinks it was not entertained (the majority – you can’t please everybody), then you’ve done a good job.

        If a DJ doesn’t care what the audience thinks then they are only about self expression and that’s a different situation with a different result.

        Djing was different in the early days (I learnt on vinyl), but its gotten easier because thats what technology does. It then means you have to up your game if you want to stand out. Your routines have to be better, improvisation better, better ideas. That is not about whether you use TT’s or not, or if you use a button controller or how long its takes to get music now. Its about how creative you can get in order to entertain the audience. That is where the work, dedication and skill come in now. Some get away with doing less now, but that leaves room for those who put in the work to shine.

        Having crazymad scratch skills is irrelevant to a 70’s disco crowd (I’ve seen this happen to a young DJ already). They are about selection. If a DJ can mashup/improvise a cool disco mix to take their game higher, they will surely gives you thumbs up.

        So the audience (people) are not stupid IMO, they don’t need to care if you used TT’s or Novation twitch (unless its a crowd that expects TT’s). When they are on the dancefloor, they want to enjoy the music. That’s what pays our bills.

        • SomeGuy

          Agreed, but don’t rely on the audience to make decisions about dj skill. The final product (the musical experience) is paramount, and it is for the audience.

          I was never a scratch dj, I was a techno dj, so for me it was all about the mixes.

          The audience, in my experience is stupid, and really don’t know good from bad. This is based on djing a lot of different rooms (200-10,000).

          Here’s a great example. I once picked up the needle off the wrong record, in front of 10,000 people. Solution? Scream really loud, drop the needle whereever, the crowd went OFF like i’ve NEVER seen. They had no idea. NO CLUE. That is one of many examples of how the crowd doesn’t know anything about djing, and can’t be relied upon to make judgement.

          The only thing they know is if they are having fun.

          Another example, saw metallica recently in front of 40,000 people. Lars ulrich was just horrible, worst drumming, way off time. The only people that noticed were musicians. Everyone else thought it was perfect.

          People are not good judges of quality.

      • noxxi

        if the audience is so stupid then why try to impress them with your stone age decks? vinyl this and vinyls that, vinyls suck mate, there’s a good reason the world has moved on, yeah it takes skill, it always has. but why not put your skills to some actually useful purpose like mixing and creating interesting transitions instead of jizzing over how you can hold a beat, the audience cant hear all the extra work your doing, but they can hear a lack of interesting mixes.

        • SomeGuy

          I can assure you there was plenty of interesting mixes 🙂 When I did it there was only vinyl. Also I did a full on live PA, where I produced every song. The transitions we did were interesting, and created manually. Pre-mixing a song up the the breakdown, lining up to builds so the come together at the same time, then back to the original.

          I’m not a old-tech purist, far from it! I don’t mind adding in some new stuff, I think a lot can be done with a touch of technology, I’m just railing against the complete reliance on it found it today’s scene.

          I love progression, but when the art is removed, it’s just not the same.

          • noxxi

            but you can now do all or most of that live! easily. there are obviously dj’s who are shit, and thats that, but you cant just name yourself a real dj just because you use old equipment. the nature of djing has changed dramatically. i dont resent vinyls far from it, i appreciate the skill involved, i do resent turntablists taking the default argument of new technology equals fake dj, it looks like they are right on paper, but they love to totally ignore any benefits or new challenges digital djing can present. if digital djing is not real djing then neither is turntablism. and frankly the argument of vinyls being the right way is a tired old trope, its unimaginative, self riteous and basically amounts to telling the world that a dj is worth nothing apart from beatmatching. if thats the case then now that softwares have sync, i guess all djs are obsolete now.

            sorry if im being a bit abrasive, this topic infuriates me so much! why cant people just appreciate each others skill and technique. rather than hating on others just to make them selves feel like they are the best thing ever. your equipment has no bearing on your talent whatsoever.

          • SomeGuy

            While you make some fair points, but when your tech takes care of most of the skill factor, what’s left? Nothing compelling. Hell, even the old fashioned DJ shit was too fake for me, from a musical perspective. I quit learned guitar and joined a rock band where people make music for real. The more tech you add, the further you are away from the the greatness of actually creating music life.

          • noxxi

            your saying the tech takes care of the skill which is totally not true, it takes care of a finite set of skills, the ones you cant seem to see past. it takes care of some behind the scenes tasks that used to be necessity. leaving you to do the fun part. you all seem to keep forgetting that there is more to djing than beatmatching, you dont go “aw man, last night was epic, that dj beatmatched amazing all night”
            nothing compelling? haha! what?! so your into djing purely for the love of matching the tempo of 2 tracks and nothing more?
            I get taking pride in being able to perform those nuts and bolts background tasks, but if you didnt have to do them, think about the stuff you could do with that time instead.

            the dj vs instrument thing is not relevant here, they are 2 completely different things. that may be real music to you but its just sound waves, when you start getting into purist arguments like that you begin to lose focus of whats what.

          • SomeGuy

            God, about so much more than beat matching lol, hard to describe to someone that has never seen the way it was.

          • noxxi

            haha! your absolutely pathetic! i used to play vinyls mate, so no need to explain. i feel your pain, imagine trying to explain something to a narrow minded self righteous luddite who refuses to accept new technologies and cultures because he feels it undermines him.
            your doing your self a huge dis service if your actually trying to say that all your good for is being a human sync button. what do you think digital dj’s do? do you honestly think we just walk up to the decks, press sync and walk away? if you do think that then you obviously dont know fuck all about djing.

            tell me, once youve beat matched by ear, then what do you do, is that the mix over? job done, no need to select any tracks or touch the mixer, best leave that crossfader alone since your jobs complete now eh. fucking idiot.

            people like you need to get off your high horse, “back in the day”, “real skill”, “you digital djs dont have a clue”. well, how would you know? how can you say you know that what you do is the real thing if you cant even see beyond 2 vynils and a mixer that you apparantly dont even touch?

            more to the point, what the hell are you doing here? on a digital dj site?

          • SomeGuy

            Wow, so much anger. LOL. I am up to date on new tech, I’ve played about 1000 gigs, I even used generation 1 of final scratch. Released lots of records (before digital distribution), released digitally understand music production, and music creation. Owned a record store, used ableton live for my Live PA set, Hit many countries, seen lots of shit. Tech is not something I fear. In fact, I write software for a living. I have a recording studio (full of digital) and write music in a band. I can see far beyond 2 vinyls. Even 10 years ago I was it was well beyond 2 vinyls lol. Its really hard to type how it all works/worked in a stupid forum post, so don’t worry about it. Enjoy your EDM dj career.

          • noxxi

            for somebody with so much world experience, yet you still cant attribute any creative skills to djing beyond the basic technical requirement of synced music. and your constant search for what is the most real thing, is a dead end. you cant rock a nightclub with just a guitar, its about whats appropriate not whats real.

            tell me, if you can see beyond 2 vinyls, are accustomed to technology and you play all over the world, then whay would you laugh at there being more to djing that just beatmatching? sorry but your statements contradict your (suggested) lifestyle.

            what it seems more like to me, is that you desperately want to be the most real, without knowing what that actually means. you take it on face value that your more real than your counterparts and side with default arguments against everyone else, yet you have no real opinion on what they do, you either dont know what they do or dont beleive they are worthy of learning about.
            This is evidenced by you consistent lack of substance in your arguments, except for bragging about your career (which may or may not be exaggerated), and laughing at responses, even though you have yet to put forward a good reason why any of us on the digital side are wrong.
            dont worry, all of your turntablist chums are the same, skilled no doubt, but stuck in an infinite loop of the ego.
            you know there are some mesiah like dj’s who combine both techniques, where do you stand on that then?

            if i ever get a big career in djing and EDM i will enjoy it, but i’m not holding my breath, realistically my chances are low. i play a few gigs, i play at home, at parties, i do it for the love of doing it, not for the image/

          • SomeGuy

            I certainly can. I quit dj’ing because even when it was much harder than it is today, it’s still felt like a very fake way to make music. After years of it, i started to see right through it, and it was sad. Even after writing all my own songs, producing them, etc, the performance aspect was so soul sucking i quit.

            I went back to real instruments (guitars, drums), and 4 guys in a room who have to play the right notes at the right time.

            If I cared about my ego, I may have even told you my DJ name. I did not, because I do not care, and neither do you. It’s not important. Have fun playing at house parties.

          • noxxi

            you taunt me like i’m bothered about playing house parties, i actually play parties at venues but thats not important, i’m comfortable having a quiet career, like i said im in it for the love not the ego. besides, have other aspects of my life that are more important to me, like an actually viable career in architecture and a family.

            its clear you just want to put people down to make yourself feel amazing, hence why you took the bait when i mentioned where i play, i knew you would.
            I guess you have become jaded and just hate your career now, don’t put others down because they love theirs. however insignificant they may be.

          • noxxi

            here to troll my ass, thats just a get out clause for you to save face when youve made a tit of yourself, enjoy trolling my ass

          • SomeGuy

            Done and done.

          • Johnny Price

            I think that the main of the concept of “real” vs. “fake” DJ is all about the practice element minus the crutches of the sync button. The new technology that is out nowadays is awesome but I believe the concern is more about the fact that newbies 6 months into the game & famous people who download only the popular music that everybody’s spinnin’ & who don’t know their ways around a dj mixer, CDJ or even a turntable (Have you seen the Paris Hilton & Pauly D shows?) are spinning using the sync button which slaps a lot of veteran DJs in the face who are in their basements & bedrooms practicing how to cut, scratch, beat match and how to program some great combos & create some seamless, freehand mixes from them. I wouldn’t mind using Korg sounds, loops, cool samples & additional sound effects in my dj sets. However, I think a lot of new djs are sounding the same by riding the sync button in their sets where the music mixes lose their funkiness & soul. This is what the heart of the argument is about. I mean, do we really like listening to a track that is 95 bpms to speed up to a track that is 130 bpms? What’s wrong with turning the turntable off to give the record a slow down effect & transition into scratching the downbeat of that high-energy track? Here’s a concept, USE THE MIC!!! Talk to your crowd. Ask them how do they feel in the venue and/ or dedicate the opposite genre or pitch speed track to someone or some group in the club. Lets be more creative with our transitions. Can we still be creative & attain a track’s original luster? How creative can we, as djs/ artists, be without the sync button? I believe this is the primary focus of this discussion.

          • SomeGuy

            btw we did everything live. lol, there was nothing else.

  • Woody Aki

    As much as I’ve been in the game for the last 23 years, whatever defines real DJing is variable from one person to the next, so there’s no concrete answer. However to me, real DJing to me is a varied musical selection that weaves an intricate sonic tapestry via a clever/unorthodox sequential process that reflects the individual nature of the DJ, that keeps your head nourished and your feet moving on the floor, regardless of what medium you use, whether it’s turntables or digital…

    • Gracious T

      Well said

    • filespnr

      “that reflects the individual nature of the DJ” YES SIR…this right here. I think the main reason I am so bored with much of what I see TTism, or tricks and stuff, is that I don’t feel i’m seeing this. it feels more like watching prerequisite scratches and patterns get ticked on a checklist, each new “master” completely un-differentiated from the rest.

  • Chris Cracknell

    #realDJing is playing music that could all come apart at any time. If everything is in snyc then where is the danger (apart from the danger of it becoming really boring) Making and performing technically difficult decisions, choosing music that wasn’t designed to go together, creating something more than the sum of it’s parts. If you are locked in to a beatgrid, that isn’t likely to happen. Take risks, fuck things up, get better. That is realDJing.

    • manoob1

      sync is a cool feature that can free up your mind to do other creative actions… but having it off sometime is fun too

    • Saulat Qadri

      Love your post

    • Hhotelconsult

      Love this…. “music that wasn’t designed to go together”. That’s my JAM. I love doing that. This isn’t that adventurous, but a fun soul jazz to hip hop set is great, etc.

  • NotConfirmingAtrain

    DJ-ing to me is like Hip-Hop. “Knowing that I can do it”. If I can share it with others (a crowd) and make them happy then it’s a bonus. But I do it primarly for being creative and having fun. Being a turntablist you do live remixing when doing beatjuggling. You make solos when scratching over a beat like a guitar player is doing a solo during a certain moment in the track. You can make music like a live band (BNN, C2C, Ned Hoddings etc.) By selecting your preferred music and not “what journalists/top10lists” are saying I show them what “Hip-Hop” is to me (not just Rap-Music but all good music based on my taste). And finally the Hip-Hop battle attitude, with which I expose what’s wack to me (like for example non-creative, not themselves producing wannabee button-bashers who try to act as artists when only being a little bit more sophisticated than the average jukebox/playlist) and not just play along and act nice/political correct (I’m not depending on it economically anyways so I don’t need to be “open”). What people claim to be CunTROLLerism has been done a long time ago and is nothing new. Like during DJ Shadows concerts, when he redoes the track “Organ Donor” live (bashing buttons on his MPC3000…only difference is it’s his track that he produced)…

    • filespnr

      if you really have that attitude, you feel comfortable showing out with controllers, too. 🙂

  • limerick

    Real DJing is about not to bitch around about other people and doing your thing! I deeply respect A-Trak for doing exactly that.

  • Saagar Ishwar Chandiramani

    To me, Real DJing is about connecting with people in the moment through music. This could be done through various controllerist techniques, a grooving transition between genres or even just your set as a whole causing you and your audience to come together in that moment. I personally believe pre-recorded sets simply take away the all important element of connection between DJ and crowd. One of the best feelings I’ve had in my 3 years of DJing is just suddenly going from a house record into some good ol’ Whitney Houston (I Wanna Dance with Somebody) which sent the crowd into absolute euphoria and there was no way I could have accounted for that ahead of time. In fact, I didn’t even think it would work but felt I had nothing to lose four hours into a set. With that, I believe A-Trak is right. DJing is about taking risks. It’s about risking the chance of messing up or losing your dancefloor for something potentially amazing. It’s about being raw, real and in the moment with your music to create something that will exist physically, for a moment but in the minds of you and your audience, forever.

  • Sikosis

    Tune selection, when and what to mix in and reading the crowd are what I call #realdjing

  • calgarc

    most DJ’s are glorified Ipods! Being able to beatmatch and mix music without using digital aid/, being able to to play a set that does not consist of the beatport top 10 in order makes you a real DJ. Now controllorism is a whole other thing on its own.

    • noxxi

      shaking my head at you and your fred flintstone opinions

    • J.Boogie

      Try to apply the whole “anti-sync” argument to other circles and it starts to really look ridiculous.

      1. “All you fake chefs using electric mixers and food processors!” (You can dice 100 onions in 10 sec by hand, but how does your food taste?)

      2. “All you fake drivers using automatic!” (F1 cars use sequential paddles and they are, arguably, the “realest” drivers there are.)

      3. “All you fake scientists using computers!” (Don’t think we would have cracked the human genome by hand…)

      So you can beatmatch! But how does your mix sound? Can’t EQ for crap? Can’t properly phrase? How’s your song selection? Programming? Can you read the crowd? Oh, you have some tracks I’ve never heard before! But the crowd doesn’t feel it so why do you insist on playing them? Easy on the levels! You’re stuck in the red! etc. etc.
      (Not saying any of these apply to anyone here in particular, but I hope you get my point.)

      Real DJing doesn’t require vinyl and/or turntables. Technology can often make people lazy (which is where I think a lot of the angst at the SYNC button comes from), but it can also make great things even better. Beatmatching is just one facet of DJing. It’s important, but there are 100 other things that make a good DJ, a “real” DJ.


      • calgarc

        like i said, controllerism is a whole different animal. I understand the use of sync with various routines. but to me DJing has a lot to do with being able to beatmacth songs together among other things like track selection.

        • BLKSMTH

          Your brain must be numb.

    • noxxi

      well i’d rather be a glorified ipod than a fucking gramophone