The art of DJing goes back more than half a century: from the early days of hip-hop to modern scratch, the art of creating and mixing music has a long and rich history.
So much has changed in the industry since it first started. The technology and gear used by DJs in the music scene today differs a lot from what was used in the past, but the fundamentals of being an outstanding DJ have not changed so much.
The term DJ means “Disc Jockey” – a DJ is someone who is in charge of providing music at events.
A lot of people might think that DJing is an easy task, but that is really not the case. In fact, it requires a lot of skill. We went to Beat Drop, a music production and DJ school in Calgary, to further understand the education needed to become a master of the track.
A good DJ has the responsibility to make the audience or crowd enjoy the music being played and in order to do this, he must be well prepared with the right equipment and skills because he has the power to make a party a good one or a bad one depending on the music he plays.
Sean Stewart is a working DJ and a current student at Beat Drop, working to perfect his skills and already knowledgeable on the history of the craft.
“DJing, for a long time, was more of a radio thing, before it ever kind of got into the clubs and when it started moving into clubs it did so in a few different ways, like the sock-hop parties that would happen in the 50s – they were more common in the UK.”
Sean explains that the ‘northern soul’ genre of DJing is still quite famous in the UK and that it was the first genre that developed alongside the live DJ format.
Rick Cruz (a.k.a. DJ C-SIK) is the head DJ at Beat Drop Calgary and with 15 years of DJing experience, he is also 2014 Canadian Redbull Thre3style champ, two-time Red Bull Thre3style Regional winner, a three-time Calgary DMC champ and is one of Alberta's most sought after hip-hop, R&B and party rockin' DJs.
Cruz says there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to DJing.
“When it comes to DJing people think we are not doing anything, I heard Dillon Francis [an American DJ and record producer] in a YouTube video explain it in the most simplest of terms: ‘If you want to know why a DJ is not just standing up there and doing nothing, then think of the good DJ you’ve seen and the bad DJ’s you’ve seen, and you can tell the difference from being at a really good event and a really bad event.’”
Beat Drop is a school dedicated to teaching the required skills needed to become a certified DJ.
“Beat Drop has had a positive impact in Calgary, I’ve seen some of my students who I knew had potential in them but didn't know how far they could go yet – I’ve seen them play at festivals, I've seen them play their own gigs now and win DJ competitions, and I think it's because of Beat Drop and our positive atmosphere we carry here.”
- By Badria Abubaker and Mariam Taiwo