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Takenori Kaneda in Mumbai |
July 26, 2005 08:47 IST
The War of the DJs was held on July 22 at Velocity in Tardeo, Mumbai.
Two days later the Mumbai Mirror newspaper wrote a small piece declaring that the event 'was one place where everyone was dying to be!'
The event was presented by the Zoom television channel in association with Times Music owned by the same company as The Times of India and the Mumbai Mirror.
The event featured eight DJs, most of whom were amateurish.
I took impartial notes on the DJs, but most of it was on their weaknesses. Because of this, by the end of the event, Velocity was one place I was dying to leave!
First off, these DJs, when spinning House or Trance music, were not able to beat match, which is matching two songs' beats. When, let's say, the two songs' bass drums are not in unison, the outcome can be uncomfortable to the listener because the two bass drums are playing at different times.
Most DJs at the contest failed in beat matching; this was distracting as hearing two different songs being played simultaneously, or trying to listen to two people talking at the same time. However, most of the people on the dance floor seemed to not notice.
The DJs' use of the microphone was terrible, too. Many lacked confidence when they were babbling something over the microphone because their voices were thin and weak. All were terrible rappers. What they were mouthing did not match the beat of the song and their voices lacked confidence.
One DJ, who will go nameless, started to sing (or rap, I don't know what he was trying to achieve) during a song.
At first, I thought he was mumbling something in Hindi but a guy next to me from Mumbai said he had no idea what the DJ was saying either.
Now for the scratching. Man, why did the DJs even bother?
They may have practiced the skill, but their scratching did not melt into their set, it seemed as if it was just added. So, to me, scratching belonged in their sets as a vegetarian belongs in a steak house.
Scratching is like playing the violin. Both are hard to master and both, when played dreadfully, can sound as if a nail is scratched against a black board. But again, I was the only one with a glum face when scratching was attempted by the DJs.
The aforementioned skills -- beat matching, the use of the microphone and scratching -- do not explain the core of the weaknesses of the DJs because I have not said anything of their transitions between songs.
DJs, no matter what genre of music, must be able to switch from one song to the next smoothly. Most of the DJs' transitions were abrupt and sloppy. Some even stopped the music.
This is one of the biggest mistakes a DJ can make because when the flow of the music is stopped, the mood of the crowd can drift away from the music and into boredom. The failed attempts in change of songs are like a piece of writing with no logical flow between one paragraph and the next. A piece of writing without logical flow is hard to read and hard to understand, DJing is the same.
Nonetheless, the people in the front row at Velocity were jumping up and down, even though I was shaking my head due to the terrible DJing or even though the back row looked bored and were not dancing.
The event was a well-coordinated-marketing event. Besides the 'fans,' who were jumping up and down, on the walls were youth-appealing posters of the sponsors. There were old men with cameras from the press taking pictures of the crowd and performers. There were cute girls handing out gum from some company I did not bother to look at.
And there was Puja Misra from Sahara One Television. She wore a mini skirt and a white, sexy top. Her job was not only to introduce the contestants but also to make sure that the crowd was not slipping into a comma of ennui. She seemed way too cheerful. I cannot blame her.
Most of the DJs were horrible and because of this, the crowd, at least the ones that paid to get in, was falling asleep. It was an impossible feat to hype up the crowd. I felt sorry for Puja but then again, she was getting paid more for being there than I was.
The front row might have been employees of Times Music and the back row might have been bored, but the middle row next to the bar seemed to have been enjoying them selves because they were having a good time. Was it the alcohol? Was it the music? Was it Puja? In the end, the answer does not matter.
What matters is that people were having fun. Even though I may have complained about the awful DJing, I have to admit that I enjoyed DJ Rohan, who won the contest. He was slack at times but his mix was unique.
In the end, the skills of a DJ are moot if one cannot accomplish what DJ Rohan did that night: entertain the crowd and to make them dance.
Takenori Kaneda from Baruch College, New York, is currently an intern at rediff.com