The Beginner DJ Blog
BeginnerDJ Interviews DJ Psyence: Life, DJ Tips and The Next Generation DJ Contest
Recently BeginnerDJ got to sit down and pick apart the brain of DJ Psyence about DJing, insider tips and the his current entry into the Next Generation DJ contest.
For any beginner DJ that wants to know about the insider life of DJing, learn some tips on how to better your craft and to know just what is at stake with the Next Generation DJ contest, you can’t afford to miss this.
DJ Psyence is from Toronto, Canada and has a monthly Deep House mix show titled Lab Sessions that receives regular rotation on internet radio stations around the globe. He is also part of the MASSO DJs collective that can be found at MASSOdjs.com.
Hello, please introduce yourself
Hey, I’m DJ Psyence (Matt Soriano), born and raised in Toronto, Canada to parents of Chilean and Polish descent. I’ve been lucky enough to visit both of these great countries and experience the cultures, having family in both places. I like to think it has made me more appreciative of the global community we can all share from electronic dance music, too, beyond the language barriers.
I also currently have a monthly pre-recorded Deep House “mix show” called Lab Sessions that has streamed on internet radio stations around the world (Deepvibes Radio – UK, Ibiza Global Radio – Spain, OHM Radio – Spain, Dogglounge Radio – USA). While it’s only a start, it’s something that keeps me motivated to push forward, including all the great feedback that I’ve picked up over time.
That’s simply fantastic! It’s so great that the DJ world can have so many people from all over the globe bringing others together through music, reaching as far as you have through your mixes.
So, what got you started into DJing?
I bought my first set of CD DJ decks in 2004 with a lot of the money I saved up from a grocery store job while I was entering College. I made the decision after playing around with computer mixing software and being inspired by friends that also had a general interest in DJing (DJ B Like Bert for one), including some DJ tutorage on vinyl turntables from local Hip-Hop deejay, DJ Nana. Over 5 years later, experimenting with different music genres at gigs around the city, and some time spent away from the decks, I believe I’ve made ground on what I like to play.
Ha, such simple beginnings, it seems like many of us slave away at the 9 – 5 working towards buying our first decks. You’re quite lucky to have so many DJ friends from the get-go, they sure seemed to have a major influence on you.
What type of music do you play?
It’s basically House music, but I like to play in what is most known as the Deep House sub-genre. My style also encompasses elements of Tech, Soul, Funk, Latin and more. It can sometimes get pretty eclectic in terms of reaching through the different sounds of House.
It’s nice to see a DJ that is mixing it up with genres instead of sticking to one type, big ups on your musical selection. The House genre seems like it’s never lacking of various sub genres.
What gear do you use for mixing?
I’m a CD DJ at heart, no laptop or anything but poorly hand-labeled CDs unattractively stuffed in CD booklets – I’m trying to better organize this! That’s what you get for buying most of your music online. Lately I’ve been warming up to using a midi controller and mixing software to record “studio mixes”. It does change the flow of DJing a bit compared to CD decks, but I like to deliver a more refined product for my mix shows. However live, it’s CDs all the way for now. I’m sure I will incorporate other gear for live performance eventually.
I can’t blame you, with the amount of music selection you can find online, it’s a no-brainer that you’d choose CDs. DJing is really expanding with the inclusion of midi controllers and software, it’s great that you’re incorporating them into your mixes.
With all that gear, do you ever plan start producing music of your own?
A definite goal for the future, but I’m not in a rush to put something out if it’s going to lack experience/substance for the sake of being called a producer. I’m hoping that building as a DJ first is going to get me more focused on the kind of sound I want to bring and push further when I do take on production.
That’s an excellent strategy, don’t overdo it and let other areas of your skills slack from not being able to focus. Hopefully we can hear some of your own stuff in the future!
Where can we find your mixes and other info?
Everything is up on MASSOdjs.com in the ‘DJ Psyence’ menu link, or click here. MASSO (Music And Sound Seduction Organization) is a DJ collective I started with DJ B Like Bert at the end of 2009. Its main purpose at the moment is to serve up our mix-set downloads. You can also add our MASSO DJs Facebook Group here and find me on Twitter, Myspace, and SoundCloud.
Excellent, you really are all over the place online, that’s a lot of communities to keep up with but you’re really holding it down.
Don’t think we let DJ Psyence off the hook just yet, you knew we had to ask him a few questions about DJing and see if he could give us some tips.
What is the most important skill that a beginner DJ could learn?
Take time to not just listen, but study songs of your chosen genre and focus on the different layers of sounds, how they work with each other and build up, and how they influence the energy of the song.
When you understand the dynamics of songs in your genre, along with knowing the individual songs well that you’re planning to play, it makes a big difference in your mixes. This is also why different genres may have popular aspects of mixing used by many DJs in that scene, because the songs are structured on a template to that genre.
Hip-Hop can work well with roughly 30 sec blends (when you start mixing in the next song), but try a 2 min blend and you’ve pretty much made a mashup (blending two songs over each other for the full time amount), since the whole Hip-Hop song itself may only be 3 mins long.
As for House music, a 2 min blend may work perfectly and keep the energy of the mix consistent without a dip into intro/outro sequences (usually less energy here). However you would want to blend/mix according to the energy you want to maintain, and what is working best for the given songs.
So, paying attention to the little things and how the songs are structured can make you a better DJ. There are many books and free articles online that can explain different mixing techniques and more. I’m sure BeginnerDJ.com can hook you up with the resources! Don’t forget that in the end you can be a great technical DJ, but if people aren’t feeling your song selection and how they all flow together, it won’t save the mix-set.
Pure wisdom. You can’t beat insight like this, this should help any beginner DJ. Hey, thanks for the shout out haha!
What tips could you give with promoting your mixes and landing a gig?
You have many mediums to get the word out on your mixes and that you’ve started to DJ, from setting up a simple website/blog, podcast, social media pages (myspace, facebook fan page or group), handing out physical mix CDs with your contacts on it, submitting mixes to radio stations online and offline, and also getting involved in your local scene.
Whatever you can do to build a local listening base is good, too. Don’t be ashamed to put yourself out there for fear of how it might look. Let the haters hate! Just keep your head on, respect the artform, and check yo’self on the promo pics or you might end up on djfameorshame.com! (but all press is good press right?)
The internet really has changed up the games of promotion. Just think, before you generally had to know someone already at a residency to land a gig, now you can show off your talents, tell your friends and do your own promotion online. Let’s all hope you don’t end up in the “shame” section haha.
What advice could you give to beginner DJs about choosing gear?
While many DJs are moving into or incorporating digital forms – either through laptops or CD decks – you also want to consider what you’ll be doing with the DJ decks.
While there isn’t much divide between dance genres and it comes down to personal preference, there is something to say about scratch DJs. Vinyl turntables are still valued over the digital forms of playing, and the DMC World DJ Championships are a testament to this.
In the end I would try to get a feel of all forms of DJing from turntables to midi controllers, because maybe you’ll want to mix it up instead of just stick with one form of DJing.
Also if you’re on a budget there are many pro-quality beginner setups you could buy. My belief is that if you’re going to go on budget, get something that you don’t mind tossing or giving away after a few years (resale value may be close to nothing) if you decide to upgrade to the industry standard gear. Otherwise just get the good stuff from the start, after really considering if this is the right thing for you.
Spoken like a true DJ. Recently Richie Hawtin got rid of all of his vinyl, now if that doesn’t say something about DJing I don’t know what does. It’s all about flexibility these days.
Scratch DJs will most likely stick to vinyl for a very long time but for many DJs, whatever lets them play their tunes, as long as the crowd is having a great time, it doesn’t matter as much.
What insider tips and tricks could you give about DJing?
I believe you should always be on the lookout for music trends and niches that can be filled.
Electro House is a highly saturated DJ market, but what about another sub-genre that you may really feel but notice there isn’t much of a scene around? You may have a unique opportunity.
Even if there is a good international scene but locally it lacks, what about trying to organize events and become known for that style of music. Regardless you want to explore different genres of music if you’re undecided on what to play, instead of only following what other DJs are doing.
Play music that will move people either on the dancefloor or emotionally, but most importantly music you like to play, or you may become pretty bitter about it after a while. Though, adapt your style to suit different venues, crowds and locations when playing out.
Your mix CDs should be your top choice of music, or geared toward getting a gig at a certain venue/event. Have a listen to other DJs mixes because you may pick up techniques from them better than reading about it, and listen to your own mixes even more so you can see where you’d like to improve. And shit, don’t forget to have fun.
So this means my career as an Italo Disco DJ may come true, hell yeah!
Where do you think DJing will be in the future and what could beginners do now?
I think with all the digital tools available the DJ has even more options when controlling the music.
Even if you’re still a believer that a well produced track played out with minimal effects and overall programming for the night will win the crowd over (I’m with ya), it’s worth knowing what your other options are.
The use of midi controllers, using your DJ decks to control mixing software on laptops and similar tools don’t appear to be a fad. It’s all about the music in the end, though, so wherever the state of technology is, you will always need a human ear to deliver a great experience.
I’ve also tried harmonic key detection software that tells you what tracks will blend nicely together, but there are still a lot of other elements underneath that need to be considered.
My point being is that there is nothing wrong with embracing new technology and adapting, because a “real” DJ will find creative ways to put them all toward good use.
The Next Generation DJ contest is in full swing and you can bet your ass that DJ Psyence is working hard at it, check this out…
Please tell us about the Next Generation DJ contest
Pioneer, Beatport, DJ Magazine and Let’s Mix have come together to host a DJ mix competition that is mainly driven by online promotion.
The contest progresses through a qualifying stage where one uploads their mix and has a goal to reach 200 votes to get thrown in the qualifying pool.
From there 100 finalists are chosen based on the quality of rating, and tasked to create a mix around a specific theme, which is then judged by staff. First prize is basically a dream come true for most DJs in terms of opportunity to show their skills to the world, to say the least.
You guys wrote a great overview of The Next Generation DJ Contest as well.
This contest literally is the next “big thing” in terms of what’s going on currently with DJing. You can afford to miss an opportunity like this.
Have you entered the contest and if so, where can we find your page?
Yes, you can vote for my mix Lab Sessions Vol 2 at this page or by clicking the banner below. Rating is done by clicking the stars at the top. You can also play the mix at these links.
Do you think you have what it takes to win the Next Generation DJ contest?
I would like to think so. Even though it’s been over 5 years since I bought my first pair of decks, I still have a lot I’d like to experience, and DJing is something I’m passionate about and enjoy. I also do all of my online promotion and graphic design, along with maintain MASSOdjs.com. So if this doesn’t pan out for me, I’m still pushing forward.
The competition looks really fierce but regardless of how it goes, it’s such a great opportunity to get out there and show off your skills.
If you did win, where do you think it would take you?
I’d hope it would give me a good opportunity to showcase what I can bring with my DJing. If this comes true, we’ll see what happens from there!
Thanks for the interview BDJ!
Best of luck with the contest and thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to pick at your brain.
We hope everyone has as much fun reading this interview as we had doing it. You can get some really great information about DJing including some tips and tricks so be sure to take note.
Don’t forget to give Lab Session Vol 2 a listen and vote for it in the Next Generation DJ contest!
About the Author - Muxx
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