"Today's DJs Afraid of Risk"

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July 16, 2012 by DJ Elroy

I really feel that now most of the music and DJs … have become based on a one-dimensional ideology … It’s definitely lost some soul to it, because they all try to sound like one another and they really don’t take risks when it comes to DJing. Most are scared to challenge themselves to tell a story while they are producing and DJing.


Yes, he was talking about techno DJs and producers in general and German-based artists in particular, but I wanted to expand the scope of his statement for a moment because it seems to apply across the board. House, electro, techno, dubstep, and most of the niches and sub-genres in between.

Since the rise of digital DJing it seems that a lot of the individuality and character has been disappearing from DJ sets. Back in the days o’ wax the supply was limited. Sure, there were a few records that everyone seemed to have (or want), but nothing like today where half the sets from half the jocks are the same damn songs.

It’s easy to go to Beatport and buy everything off the Top 10 list. Newbs especially are pulled in by the guaranteed hits and track recognition. They don’t want to take the time to dig for themselves.

But in doing this their set will sound the same as the next guy. Boring and predicable.

And the rookies aren’t the only ones guilty of being one-dimensional. There are plenty of the world-class elite that don’t challenge themselves anymore. They’ve found a formula and simply stick to what works. Yes, it’s safe. You could even make the argument that people have come to expect a certain sound from their brand. All I hear is more of the same when it comes to “big room house” or “anthems” or “festival music” (and even much of what’s being wrongly thrown under the banner of “progressive house”).

Remember the sets from this year’s ULTRA Miami fest? How many of those guys played the same songs? Hell, if you were streaming the music and not watching the stage you’d be hard-pressed to name the DJ based on the music alone.

Before you jump all over me about that, I’ll admit there were plenty of stand-out acts in the lineup. And there are still plenty of unique characters in the biz as a whole.

I can say the same about a lot of the music being produced. It simply lacks soul. It might be good for an in-the-moment hands-in-the-air feeling or a big drop, but then what? What’s next?

I guess sometimes that’s all you need. But still… It wasn’t always about the short attention span fist-pumping brodies. Used to be about crafting a journey, building a story, using the tracks to create something new and exciting.

Now anyone with a computer and a cracked digital studio suite can piece together a song in a matter of hours.

I’m not saying that there are no good artists out there. There are some amazing DJs and producers around, and more breaking through all the time. But back in the day it seemed almost everybody was a trailblazer in some way or had a unique sound, style, and personality.

That’s not true today.

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