DJs. Disc Jockeys. Disk Jockeys. They are a magical breed of human being. I guess my first experience hearing one (as with many of my contemporaries reading this) would be via FM and AM radio. There were wacky ones, serious list making ones and even fictitious ones who, as a kid, I could aspire to being like one day. Aside from a brief stint in college, that never flew, to my parent’s pleasure I’m sure. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the local characters hired by my junior high to spin records at 7th & 8th grade dances. Damn you “Stairway to Heaven” for being like 278 minutes long and never once being the soundtrack to my dancing with a boy. It was nightmarish. But I digress.
DJing. It’s a lot like chess. Always have to be thinking a few moves ahead, unless, of course, you’re cheating. Which is OK too, I guess.
So, records have gone by the wayside. I’m going to stop you before you start – YES. Some of us still buy records but I’m taking about the greater population. CDs too. Thinking of a DJ using media files is just so…unromantic. I have my favorite (radio) stations over here and on the weekend, in the morning, I can sometimes hear a voice or two that seem to be live but by all counts are probably pre-recorded. These days, to find a DJ you have to cross over into their domain. Someplace LIVE.
Last week I had the pleasure of going to Pret a Diner in Munich: “a dining experience,” which is what sparked my brain into writing about DJs in the first place. They prefer guests not call it a “pop up restaurant” but it is what it is. Housed in a former movie theater, it is a hipster’s wet dream of art, high ceilings and maitre d’s with moustaches waxed and curled to the nines boasting dinners with Michelin and Gault Milau starred chefs for a limited time until it is dismantled. I gotta say…it was AWESOME. We were seated at a table for two adjacent to the DJ. Now, at first glance I was skeptical. I knew the food was going to be amazing and the drink? Well, how could that be bad? But if the music wasn’t right? That is a game changer, friends.
The DJ, she (yes SHE) was a knock out called Ilona. Super easy on the eyes, stiletto’d, painted face, absolutely gorg. I seriously had doubts as to whether someone who looked as good as she could also know what the hell was going on musically. Well, the powers that be handed her the pretty card AND the genius music card (bastards) because she honestly made the evening. Starting out with The Jackson 5 she moved it to Yma Sumac, then to a non-descript jazz tune (my fault for not knowing), then to The Drifters (!!!). I looked to my other half and, without words, we both agreed that she was perfect. The evening continued to be fueled by pork belly, wine and the continued surprises from the DJ (lots of Stax) and to sprinkle this into her mix? OUTSTANDING. We bought her a glass of champagne. Seriously.
What I’m trying to say is that there are astonishingly good DJs out there. My husband’s favorites, David and Stephen Dewaele (Soulwax/2manydjs), amaze me every time. I mean, have you ever listened to Introversy? That shit is hands down out of control. Free up an hour of your time and give it a go. I am super excited to be seeing them live for the first time in Paris next week for their famed Soulwaxmas; more later on that one. Even with pre-recorded bits or lists (unconventional and controversial to the purists), at the end of the day, whether they are flipping wax on and off turntables or using media files, DJs have to plan the set list on the fly or in advance. Kind of like that friend who can make a really amazing mixed tape, you know, the one that you’ve saved since 1989? THAT guy. It’s all about transitioning from one song to the next, considering sound – and lyrics, perhaps – not only genre, and definitely the audience to make a string of seemingly unrelated songs fit together like they were born that way. A-mazing.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]