A lot of Electronic Music people have read the infamous Deadmau5 post which appeared on his blog quite a while back. The other day a friend of mine and I were rehashing it because I’m thinking seriously of doing some “live” shows when the weather gets warmer and that raises questions about exactly HOW I might accomplish these performances.
Deadmau5’s original missive was titled WE ALL HIT PLAY. And in this little article, Joel Zimmerman (aka Deadmau5) openly let our little secret out of the bag---namely that big-time EDM acts pretty much play back whole pre-produced sets rather than risk trying to play live or even remix live.
To quote Mr. Mouse:
"I think given about 1 hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of Ableton and music tech, in general, could do what I’m doing at a Deadmau5 concert."
That got some attention from the pretenders who didn’t want the family business hung to dry in front of the whole world.
Of course, this is not DJ-ing. And Deadmau5 himself pretty much makes that point. The problem is that the public confuses DJ-ing with Composing, Producing, and general studio work. They are definitely not the same thing.
I would say DJ-ing is when you take recordings by other acts and play them back-to-back matching beats and fading one into another.
Being an original music artist on the other hand means you’re someone who works their ass off in a studio setting creating from scratch out of your own brain and then taking that music out on a big stage in front of 15,000 people or so and giving it back to them the best way possible. Whatever that is.
For me, I think it would be having all my tracks there running in sync and being able to remix on the fly. Change it up from the original record version. That would keep me busy and it would be fun.
Deeper into Mr. Mau5's blog post he had this to say:
“I’m just so sick of hearing the “NO!!! IM NOT JUST DOING THIS, I HAVE 6 TABLES UP THERE AND I DO THIS THIS AND THIS” like…honestly, who gives a f**k? I don’t have any shame in admitting that for “unhooked” sets…I just roll up with a laptop and a midi controller and “select” tracks n hit a spacebar. Ableton syncs the s**t up for me… so no beatmatching skill required. “Beatmatching” isnt even a f**king skill as far as I’m concered anyway. So what, you can count to 4. Cool. I had that skill down when i was 3, so don’t give me that argument please."
Joel has a lot of personality!
EDM tracks run at anywhere from 120 to 150 beats per minute. Many of the parts that accompany the music are broken down into 16th notes. Try playing a couple hundred rapid-fire 16th notes every minute with your hands on multiple instruments over the course of an 8 minute mix. It's not really possible.
That's why we use computers.
No, it’s not because we’re not musical. And yes we can actually play most of us. And to me, that's perfectly fine. I know if I'm watching an EDM act I'm hearing a lot of electronics. I love electronics. I also love the harp. And the banjo. And the violin. A lot.
But I also expect that Deadmau5 (or whoever) actually wrote and recorded their own original tracks back in the studio. That they personally created the music I'm hearing and that's the big thing that separates them from DJs. Not that there's anything wrong with being a DJ. (My weekends would be a lot less fun if there was nobody in all those club booths spinning and...well whatever else it is they're doing in there.)
But I myself have zero desire to go get a bunch of tracks from iTunes and fade them together one after the other.
Not why I got into music.
But then---to each his or her own... Arlin