J00F’s DJ diary: Two weekends down under
An insight to what’s going through my mind when DJing…
It’s quite a difficult feat turning up to a club in a city/country that I maybe visit once a year. I don’t play here every week. I don’t know the crowd. Do they like the music more melodic, progressive, hard or uplifting? I have to continuously analyse these things as I go along.
The first half an hour of my set is the most important as I test the water or where I’m going to head musically and how I will unfold my musical story. I look around at the dancefloor testing people’s reactions, watching facial expressions, seeing how they are dancing.
These are all signals, signs that tell me in what direction to head. Sometimes you nail it as you open your set, other times you need to work a little harder until you have them in your grasp.
That’s when I get my buzz and the Fleming smile appears. No drug on this planet can beat that feeling of that special moment when I know I have taken control of the dancefloor. It hits me like a flash of lightning, I really can’t put in words how it feels and why I work so hard to achieve that moment with each and every set.
On my 2011 J00F Editions club tour of Australia (four hour sets at each club), I made some notes from a DJ perspective of what was going through my mind as I was playing.
First stop was Melbourne. I’ve been playing here for well over 10 years, but that doesn’t mean to say I know the crowd well. As with any territory musical fads come and go, so I’ve seen many changes over this time and not all fit into what I’m doing musically.
I have the reassuring comfort knowing that I seem to have my strongest fan base here, but never take this for granted I still have to analyse where I’m going to take things. I play a combination of both huge events and clubs shows in Melbourne, both can be quite different.
Usually on the big shows I’m surrounded by euphoric DJs, so I have no choice but to bang things out, as the BPMs and energy will already be high. This time, however, it was a club show with me being the only guest. I ensured that all the opening DJs on this club show didn’t cause the aforementioned problems, otherwise it would be difficult for me to start my set deeper. They all did a sterling job.
As this was my first gig on the tour, I was so excited! The opening set was perfect, I got there a good 30 minutes before so I could absorb where he was taking things. As soon as I’m in the DJ booth, I go into DJ mode and I look around analysing. I don’t mean to be unsociable if some try and say hi, my brain starts to get into this zone and I try and figure our how I’m going to open my set and where to take it with the first few tracks. Nothing is ever pre-planned. I felt I could open with a medium-energy, deep progressive track, as that’s where the energy currently sat with the warm-up DJ.
I wanted to keep this great feeling, then take them a little deeper to enable me to create my personal lightning bolt! A good 45 minutes in, I changed gear and made that magic moment. I could see it in everyone’s faces, they where pretty vocal too as this moment happened then I felt in control. I had taken them on a really deep moment, it was now time to have fun. With each twist and turn I took they followed. So I was able to have fun with these guys and girls. I took them to many peaks and back down again. I love playing sets like this. I had a random sporadic moment wanting to play an old Push classic that I scrambled to find just in time.
I was really in my DJ zone throughout, having thoughts of tracks coming to me naturally. While playing, I also have to take into consideration that some people only get to see me perform once a year, they hear my play tracks on my radio show (Global Trance Grooves) and want to hear them in a club environment. This often means I have to play certain tracks almost every week. I desperately try not to get tired of them myself and have to remember this is the first time these people have heard it in a club.
There were no dramas here at Melbourne, everyone allowed me to do the job in hand perfectly following me. In hindsight I wish I played a bit more hard Turbo mix action and this stuck with me until the following week in Sydney (you’ll read about this). The club was packed all the way until my last track, what a great feeling for all of us.
The following night was Perth, so take in mind I had only four hours sleep then a five-hour flight, plus time difference, getting me in just in time for the gig. I was playing at Metro, a huge ass club. This instantly changed my frame of mind. Unlike Melbourne that was a small intimate club, I was playing to a wider audience. I know a majority would be there to see me, but the rest will either be either curious or weekly regulars.
I knew I had to roll my sleeves up for this one and try and keep all the dancefloor interested. From my experience it’s going to be impossible to keep the club busy until 5am – the regular crowd naturally go when the bar closes and they get tired. From then on, it will be my dedicated fans.
That’s exactly how things panned out. I worked my ass off for the first two hours making sure everyone was going to stay. They were very receptive to the deep progressive vibe that I stayed with for a good two hours, this sound really seemed to work with everyone at the club. Me too! I sensed the moment when some would head home due to it being late.
You can do two things at this stage. Throw a load of cheesy anthems to try and make them stay…..you all know me by now, there’s no way I’ll short-change my fans. So I changed up a couple of gears and started throwing some seriously dark pounding tunes at them.
The energy levels were outstanding at this point, it’s what they wanted and needed to get them through until late. It really worked as their vocal response was fuelling me. Yes, some of the regulars went home, but I knew from this point on I had my dedicated fans in front of me and I continued my J00F journey upping the energy, BPMs and intensity. They all stayed until the very last tune!