I have been a DJ for 23 years now and started when a computer and hard drive were only reserved for typing papers in a blue screened word processor or playing Oregon Trail. I started DJing on vinyl records (after a short stint on cassette tapes) and fell in love with the feeling of scratching a record back and forth on a Technics 1200 turntable. I traveled to the far ends of the world with vinyl records stacked neatly in flight cases and spent hours per week frequenting record stores, “looking for the perfect beat”. In the early - mid-2000s, companies and bold DJs were experimenting with the idea of incorporating a laptop computer into the DJ rig and the ability to access your MP3 files that you downloaded illegally from Napster and Limewire and I vividly remember saying to friends that “I would NEVER use a laptop to DJ with”.
Today, I sit at the cutting edge of where technology intersects with DJ culture in an attempt to find ways to optimize my workflow and harness technology’s ability to do things “better, faster, stronger”. I found myself performing not only WITH a laptop in my rig, but now, I have found ways to utilize ONLY the machine to be able to showcase the power of today’s technology. In no way am I abandoning the love I have for DJ hardware and the art of DJing, but more so, just redefining what a “Pro DJ Rig” looks like.
I teach thousands of people each year how to DJ. Some are very tech savvy, while others are incredibly intimidated by what appears to be a digital spaceship that plays music. Beyond the intimidation, the cost to get into this hobby, and potentially career can be equally intimidating and unattainable. Technology has allowed us to be able to lower that barrier and allow more people in. Purists will be upset with me for this, but I truly believe the way to preserve culture is to SPREAD culture and be INCLUSIVE instead of EXCLUSIVE. I believe in giving people tools, empowering them with education and mentorship and in turn, be inspired by watching their growth and being a part of something greater than self.
As human beings, we are all made up of energy. We create energy transfer between one another and this can certainly be seen from the DJ booth to a dancefloor of sweaty music heads. A DJs job is to help create and nurture that energy and this cannot be replaced by AI or technology necessarily. I am eager to see where technology will take us and what tools it will help provide us, but one thing is clear from my side, a good DJ who can create, manifest and manage energy will have job security as we move into the future.