Not Everything In London Needs A DJ

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 26 months ago
Opinion: Not Everything In London Needs A DJ

In the early noughties, DJ pair Soulwax created an alter-ego for themselves, coyly named 2manydjs. Well, sorry lads — you were roughly 15 years too early with that jibe. Right now, we are officially suffering through peak DJ.

Don't get me wrong, in the right situation a DJ is fantastic. In the club on a big night out, the DJ provides the banging tunes for you to bust a move to. Sunday lunchtime at a vintage market? Not so much.

We at Londonist pride ourselves on our Things To Do section. Every day we get sent hundreds of events happening in each corner of the city, and we sift through bringing you the very best. Looking through these events it's astonishing to see how many of them boast about their 'live DJs'. First of all, there's no need to say 'live' — how could they possibly not be live? Someone pressing play on a pre-recorded mix and pretending to DJ? Or is there a phenomenon of corpses propped up behind decks?

"Look at all those people grooving to the fantastic tunes I'm playing." Photo: Zefrog

Secondly, in a lot of these cases there's no need for a DJ whatsoever. A DJ's role is to provide the ideal soundtrack to wherever they are. What's the ideal soundtrack to a book launch? Background noise. Plug an aux cable into a phone and play a Spotify playlist. Skip the hassle of paying for a DJ, and having all that equipment to awkwardly set up. It's just not worth it.

Don't buy that we've hit peak DJ? Here's an example to win you over. A half marathon in Hackney with "DJs at every mile to keep you [this is aimed at potential runners] going." This is incomprehensible on so many levels. Can't wait to hear all the runners afterwards saying:

Yeah I was fading a bit around mile nine, but then I heard the DJ drop an absolute banger and it powered me through.

Ignoring the implausibility of the above statement, let's look at another logistical issue. As runners reach the mile marker they'll hear the music for about 20 seconds, before they continue jogging past it — unless they choose to stop and dance at the markers for a bit, but I worry for their times.

Poor lonely DJ, there was really no need for you in the first place. Photo: markdbaynham

So how did we end up in a situation where everything in London needs a DJ? Well, like many changes in how we consume music, technology's played a massive role. Back in the day you'd need two turntables, a mixer, soundsystem and a tangled labyrinth of wires, for a DJ set-up. Over time, technology improved, and became cheaper, so nowadays any Tom, Dick or Harry can throw their hat into the ring.

This has coincided with another factor. Dance music is really cool right now. 10-15 years ago, guitars were at the forefront of music. Now that dance music has picked up in popularity, we need DJs to perfectly match beats and seamlessly slide one track into another. Or have their computers do it for them, as is now so often the case.

DJs have just become another box to tick for events in London. All these events are desperate to fit in with one another. Well, event organisers, we're here to officially say; it's ok, you don't need a DJ. Spend the money you would've on a DJ on booze. Because, that is guaranteed to make your craft market/book launch/half-marathon way more popping.

Last Updated 28 December 2017