DJing Slow, Fast and Everything In Between

June 25, 2019

They say that 128 beats per minute is the magic number. Why? At roughly double a resting human heart rate, a steady kick speaks to the needs of most dancers, a just-right Goldilocks pace for the masses. There is also a likely aversion to breaking the mold: Since the dawn of house and techno, dancefloors have predominantly gravitated toward that region, give or take a small shift up or down the pitch slider. So what happens when you deliberately drag 30, 40, 50 or 60 BPM wide of that?

DJs who once battled for the middle are now pulling dancers toward different poles. Until recently, some would talk about hard techno and acid as a byword for scenes that had crashed at velocity into a dead end. The early millenium was meant to be a low point of substance-light loops and confrontational kicks, all bark and no bite. But where people once sprinted away from harder styles, many high-profile DJs are now airing donk and gabber as well as the classics of Detroit and Germany.

A change has also taken place in the opposite direction, with DJs exploring “wrong speed” techniques. This might involve significantly pitching records down, finding obtuse chuggy grooves, or simply hitting the switch and spinning records pressed as 45 RPM at 33 RPM instead, inverting the original intention of trance or electro to uncover and release hidden qualities that were formerly blurred. It is a kind of re-education of dancers’ sensibilities, quelling the need for speed and provoking refreshed understandings of what is and is not rhythmically regular.

Numerous DJs have spent their entire lives outside the usual spheres – when it comes to chopped ’n’ screwed, dub and chill-out, these are genres defined, in name and nature, by a modulation or outright lack of motion. But a fresh wave of DJs are currently bending the contemporary house and techno club circuit to their vision. We spoke to thirteen artists from across the musical spectrum, old and new, to get their perspective and advice on how to make a comfortable home under tents marked Slow and Fast.

You’ll hear from Miss Djax, DJ Harvey, Kampire, Don’t DJ, Hixxy and more, speaking about the technical and theoretical aspects of keeping bodies moving when the dancefloor tempo is well above or below the norm.

Johannes Ammler

Front de Cadeaux

Optimal Tempo: 88 – 98 BPM

The sound of Front de Cadeaux is a result of mixing different genres at the same time in one single set: Afro, breakbeat, minimal, acid, techno, dub, vocal house, rave, trance. All of it. This variation comes about because we are using records originally in the 120 – 128 BPM range. Those selected records will be played at the “wrong” speed: 33 RPM instead of 45 RPM, with the option to pitch down further if we need. We call the tempo we arrive at “Supreme Rallentato.”

When we are digging or listening to our collections, it is a long road to finding the right ones, because our technique does not work with all of them. It must sound very different to the original piece. The resultant sound has to warm, sounding more like Balearic or dub, with massive kick bass and tropical percussion. It’s very different from New Beat, even if that comparison is made frequently. The choice of the mixer is important. We use an SP3 rotary mixer or a Xone:92 because we need warm analog sound for a perfect result. A DJM Pioneer gives a more metallic tone, which is not the best interpretation of the “Supreme Rallentato.”

The technical way of mixing at the wrong speed is different, too. A track that is eight minutes long when pressed becomes around 11 minutes in our hands. We can blend two tracks simultaneously over a course of three or four minutes, making use of space and time between the different percussion, frequencies and musical elements. Accentuating the rhythm in this way helps people dance with vigour, even at 96 BPM.

We consciously avoid heavy melodies or elements that will kill the groove. When we are playing at peak time after DJs playing close to 130 BPM in a packed club, we will draw for our most immediate tracks. That immediacy comes from the beat and the bass, which are quite heavy. Rolling synth arpeggiations, acid bass lines, flutes, worldly elements, percussive beats and uncanny melodies working well on the dancefloor. We have the option of adding some vocals that we record ourselves – and sometimes, we record the crowd ambience and voices of the attending public just before we go on, and throw that in too.

We believe as well in an altered perception of time and space due to the hypnotic effect of our set. At one show someone came up and told us, “It’s like I’m under the influence without taking anything!” Standard preconceptions disappear from view. A blind test will confirm this. Often, it is only when a track with vocals comes in that people suddenly understand what’s afoot. We will see dancers moving differently – dancing slowly, sensually, becoming intimate, with their mind miles away from trying to work out whether the record spinning happens to be house or techno at 30 BPM slower than usual. That’s beautiful to us.

DJ Bus Replacement Service

Optimal Tempo: 145 - 150 BPM

While I don’t impose technical limits to my sets, I want to play what I like as long as I can achieve whatever I want to impose on the dancefloor. In order to do that, I will have nebulous aesthetic boundaries such as, “Will a particular gag scan with the crowd of a particular country I’m playing in?” or “How far can I mess with the crowd’s musical appetite & preferences without losing them entirely?” I don’t like to linger on a particular theme, mood or gag for too long, though. It’s an easy but effective way of maintaining momentum in my sets.

I’m not enough of an audiophile to notice degradation of sound quality that would make me grimace inside my rubbery mask when hearing it over a club PA, but I imagine it probably matters more if a DJ was playing mainly uncompressed audio or FLACs. My ideal situation would be to always play a heavily tempo-distorted track – let’s say a 120 BPM pop song played at 140 BPM – with another track carrying a heavy beat playing underneath in order to mask the distortion. Conversely, the opposite is true when I play hardbass – the energy is practically falling out of the track if dip the tempo below 140.

I interchange between mix variations depending on dictating where the energy is going. Smoother mixing might consist of a bare loop of the incoming track for a while before the track reveals itself. At other points there simply isn’t time to go that way, so I just slap on the incoming track but still have some control to make it sound more like part of the track currently playing. A similar effect can be achieved playing an a cappella intro on a hardcore track before the kick drums come in, which is probably why so many hardcore and gabber tracks I play out seem to include that type of beatless intro. For truly incongruous mixes, I usually care less about blending and more about making the drastic tempo change as quickly as possible.

“Quick-and-clean kill” moments of that sort are nothing more complicated than simply just playing off multiple layers of very contrasting vibes – light/dark, fast/slow, serious/piss-taking – but I also enjoy sequencing things to lull people into enjoying a calmer section of music, like that less scary bit on a rollercoaster before the ride hits the vertical drop.

I don’t want to make any of my previous points sound like rocket science or anything, so I’ll just quote Keith Pratt from Nuts in May: “You need the right tools for the job.”

Trying out genre combos can illuminate cultural connections, leading to something interesting and new: St. Lucian soca and kuduro, Latin bass and soukous, ballroom and gqom, Afrobeats and dancehall; these all sound great together.


DJ Harvey

Optimal Tempo: 105 - 115 BPM

I’m the DJ equivalent of a sushi chef. I’ll present one piece of music and the way people react to that determines what the next one will be. It’s not so much that I play slow, I think it’s that maybe other people don’t. Some DJs underestimate their audiences and they overcompensate out of panic. People enjoy dancing to all sorts of tempos, and I would describe where I lie as midtempo. I rarely play purposefully slow music. If you’re playing at 70, most people are moving to the double tempo anyway – so you are in effect giving them 140. It’s a tempo octave, if you like. From the days of hitting a log with a stick through to today’s drum machines, frequencies don’t change and what rhythms that entrance people don’t change. We are still tapping into the same basic stuff.

I think the idea of an audience needing to visibly be “getting it” is a red herring. The ones leaning against the booth, staring like lost puppies into my eyes or scrambling to Shazam every time there is a small change coming out the speakers – they’re the ones having a great time. I know the feeling. When I was young, I would have loved to be squashed up against Lemmy’s trouser leg, having the time of my life. With the ease of digital technology, I get to stand around looking cool instead. This probably lulls people into a faux sense of security, so they think they can walk up and talk about their childhood, try and convince me that it’s their birthday, or whatever it may be.

If you play a well-produced record it needs little or no effects. I like to talk to my audience through my music and using effects can feel like an unnecessary way to go about that. One of the most powerful effects that most DJs don’t even consider is called volume. I can make the crowd scream just by turning the record down at the right place. Just turn it down! People go mad. That might give the crowd an opportunity to be heard and they can clap or scream or throw a bottle or whatever they fancy doing.

In terms of crossovers and isolators, François K plays it just as well as anyone, short of Larry Levan. These can be a fantastic tool to enhance certain pieces, parts or phrases within the track. But these can do just as much damage as good in the wrong hands. If you cannot get over the novelty of echoing stuff, overzealously and selfishly going against the energy flow, you will end up overcooking it. It’s like playing “Get Down Friday Night” on a Saturday night. That’s the end, real no-forgive stuff. You’re not paying attention and should be banned for life.

DJ Harvey Lecture (Seattle 2005) | Red Bull Music Academy

Extended seamless blends usually happen by accident, if at all. I’m trained on the moment of transition more than anything. As long as I’m not rhythmically throwing a racehorse down the stairs, it’s fine – even then, you just have to make to through. Case in point: Two or three shows ago at Ministry of Sound, I’d made a loop that wasn’t a loop. It wasn’t a complete four bars, and it just would not ride correctly into the next one I was bringing in, but I was too far to retreat. This tension went through the room and I could feel a thousand people willing this mix to happen. As it sort of faded just about on the edge of acceptability, the place erupted because they were mentally involved in trying to make this thing pay off. Maybe if you were mixing three-minute-long 7"s off belt-drive turntables back in the ’70s then seamlessness would be something to aspire to – but these days I think actually just getting from one record to another in some sort of exciting way is the way to go.

It used to be the case where I would buy a record thinking, “One day I’ll be able to play this,” where I was actually trying to be a professional DJ, and as a professional DJ you must aspire to basically entertain the majority of the people in front of you. 25 or 30 years ago was emphatically not the time to show off my prog albums, but I’ve been at it long enough that I don’t need to think twice nowadays. People come expecting a bit of a challenge or to listen to a longer piece of music.

Manuel Gottsching’s E2-E4 was once only available as a 12", so you could only get a certain amount on each side of the record. With the advent of the CD, you could then play the entire hour of E2-E4, which I’ve done on several occasions. It’s a great warm-up for doors opening at a festival, as it will place that entire festival in a nice sort of chuggy, cosmic, trance-y mood. And I suppose at that point I could take on the comment about your childhood, throw a cake, do a silly dance and still have 40 minutes of it left.

Rob Fabrie, AKA The Headbanger, AKA Waxweazle

Optimal Tempo: 120 - 210 BPM+

My tempo varies by alias. For instance, if I’m booked for an old school party to play my Holy Noise stuff, the range could go from 120 BPM to 160-ish. A Waxweazle early hardcore set would be from 150 to just above 200 BPM. For a Headbanger “millenium hardcore” set, that will go from 160 to 210 BPM or something.

Cut-up transitions is the easiest way to play faster music, throwing in little tricks like riding the faders and filtering. I personally like longer transitions, so I will always do a few of them. I do it praying mantis-style, like it was called in the ’90s. The big thing that’s changed over my 30 years in the game is using Rekordbox to set some key points in every track: It gives me flexibility to speed up the mixing if I notice some attention lapse in the crowd, or let the tracks breathe for longer. Don’t be afraid to take your foot off the gas once in a while.

I’m not a fan of ADHD mixing, and certainly not an overload of mash-ups. You think you are keeping the energy high, but it’s disastrous for the rest of the night. Take your moments to shine but don’t let your ego be bigger than the party itself. Attention spans can only get shorter that way.

A BPM is not a style. Just playing one tempo all your life means that you can mix with your eyes shut and headphones to one side. That’s ridiculous. It takes all the creativity and fun out of DJing and production. People need to stop thinking music is supposed to be in little neat boxes. I’m a big advocate of simply letting it be heard.

Hardcore’s current appeal is driven in part by fatigue of professionalization in techno. A lot of recent developments in the USA echo rave’s first great death around the early ’00s.

Shawn O’Sullivan


Optimal Tempo: 130 - 155 BPM

I approach music as a dancer: If it makes me want to dance then I know it’s going to work, and the audience will forgive any technical failures I might run into in my excitement to share this music. Some of the genre combos I like to play illuminate cultural connections. I play a lot of faster St. Lucian soca, which I’m told was inspired in part by kuduro, so those genres sound great together. Latin bass remixes and soukous remixes go well together; vogue/ballroom and gqom are a great combo; Afrobeats and dancehall are also an obvious match.

I think not being a technical person or coming from an obvious tradition of electronic music and DJing can have benefits. I had a range of role models starting out and also some inspirational peers in Kampala who blow my mind on the regular. Now, blends come about by ear or feel, and many I just stumble upon while on stage. It has freed me up to try new things that maybe shouldn’t have been tried but lead to something interesting and new.

I usually crank it up towards the end of the set, up to about 180 BPM before quitting or bringing it back down, once I feel like I’ve gained the crowds trust and they’ve given me permission to take them on a fun journey. Once I get to the faster end of the spectrum I tend to introduce faster changes. You can get a lot more out of a song in 30 seconds when that song is at 160 BPM. Often there’s just no room for long blending in the fast tracks and you want to keep the pace up and not give the audience time to realise that they are tired. I love to play all seven minutes of a lingala track if people will let me!

Miss Djax

Optimal Tempo: 145 BPM+

I still play only vinyl records with two Technics SL turntables, so I don’t have access to all the bells and whistles that digital DJs have. It’s not simply climbing tempo that builds to a climax, but a sixth sense for crowd mood and translating that to your choices. I prefer to make longer blends with two acid lines mixed together, as well as bringing back a bass kick in the break. But when the monitors suck, the turntable set-up is not good or the next DJ is installing a laptop and controller, so a messy changeover is imminent, I stick to shorter transitions.

Back in the ’90s, the average BPM at raves was very fast: 170 BPM or more. I usually played between 150 – 155 BPM, but many of the records that I played were still not fast enough at the maximum pitch of +8. I would be opening up the turntables with a screwdriver moments before the set to adjust the maximum to +16. I also went the other way for records pressed at 33 RPM. In 1996 I was asked to open the TV show of Thomas Gottschalk, a very famous live program in Germany with millions of watchers. I opened the show by playing Plastikman’s “Spastik” at 45 RPM with the pitch at -8. How funny to play a Plus 8 record at –8!

Even as techno tempos got lower and more minimal, I kept playing hard acid and was adopted in the hard techno scene from around 2008 onward. Nowadays many techno DJs are playing harder again. I’m not following trends. For me, it still comes down to the special, limited, rare records with which you can distinguish yourself, played in the right order.

Mark Barrott

Optimal Tempo: 70 - 105 BPM

I do the majority of DJing for a particular point: The sunset at La Torre in Ibiza, where I hold a residency. As I see it, there are six movements. If you’ve got long enough – and often you haven’t – the early part of the evening is starting off slow, making the stillness last as long as possible. I might be reaching for Indian classical, or it could be birdsong, or long periods of silence between the tracks. The second movement might appear like an obvious time to raise the tempo, but in this style, tempo doesn’t necessarily equate to intensity. Tempos can be misleading, as syncopation and other elements can make fast songs seem slow and slow songs seem fast. Building energy levels is tantamount.

Then comes the transition period. You may be only 20 or 30 minutes away from sunset, guiding energy into the big moment. At that point I’m more interested in drama. If you’re facing the sun when you’re DJing, then it’s like you’re soundtracking what you’re seeing in front of you, the vista of nature. Hopefully the majority of people are also seeing the same movie, and there are little tricks to ensure that. I might drop all the music and play some thunder. People get startled out of their reverie: “Hey, there’s this big blue sky, what’s the thunder?” In that moment you’ve grabbed them.

The fourth section is a sunset itself. You’re trying to create the payoff shot, where the sun is in the final minutes of its journey into kissing the ocean. This is where I might have a selection of short songs to mix in key, creating a mini-symphony of high drama and bliss. There will only be that sunset as it currently is, a unique event which requires concentration to match the emotion in the air. You get it pretty good most of the time but every now and then something really magical comes out – tear-jerking, even. The fifth movement is only ever one song; a moment to release the tension. Directly after that you’ve got the sixth and final part, which I label as twilight. After all this careful scene-setting, you want it to become more song-based and less theoretical as people head into the night. That’s how I see the arc of “sunset DJing,” as it were.

When playing slow your elements will be more exposed, so if they are weak you might do well to go at a faster pace. Even better, just have awesome sounds from the start.

Don’t DJ

It’s a sum of all these elements, and if you throw a curveball, it needs to serve a purpose in the greater scheme. If you look at one of the psychological tricks that radio programmers have been employing ever since the ’50s, if they want to break a record they’ll have a chunk of average records either sides as bookends. By proxy some of these “average records” – the ones in the middle, framed as the focal point – become a hit. With my kind of DJing, it’s a bit like that. If you know where you want to go, you can look at the performance in wide-view, rather than a track-by-track thing. And if an audience is with you, it becomes an exchange of energy, bouncing back and forth. Slowly.

I lack the confidence and patience to become a dance DJ – which is to say, dance beats above 115. If you look at somebody like Harvey, he can take people to the point of ecstasy and just keep them there, keep them, keep them, then eventually release them. I’ve been booked for fashion parties where they asked me to hit the accelerator within half an hour. It felt very cliché. When you’re playing uptempo music, if you are losing a dancefloor, there’s a lot you can do. With me, options are limited: a Grace Jones B-side, a Trevor Horn production, an extended intro to a song they know. And when I see the song ticking down on the CDJ, lights blinking, it looks like a time bomb to me, like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do?” When DJing slow, I have an instinctive sense of what is needed next. I play free of doubt, stress and pressure.

As DJs, we’re in the business of communication and emotion. Atop that, you could say DJs in my particular niche are hypnotist entertainers. What we’re trying to do is enhance a person’s experience, so that along with some food and drink, or the view, or the company of their friends, they walk away with a really special memory you have helped to soundtrack.


Optimal Tempo: 165 - 200 BPM

Over the years I have come to realise that I can’t actually put my finger on why I love certain songs. That has helped me trust my taste in music more and more. For ages, I’d never have played faster than about 180 BPM tops, but some of the tunes today by Sefa and Lil Texas have opened up a way to push my sets a little faster at points. Now, anything goes. Go too fast and it doesn’t always sound good to my ears, but conversely there are many melodic tunes being made at 190 – 200 BPM that I really love.

Some new releases, great though they are, aren’t paced well enough. Too many breakdown tunes in a row and you could wind up with a higher percentage of breakdown time than actual kick-lead sections in your sets. High impact drop tracks get an amazing reaction when the first 16 bars crash in so the obvious choice is to be on that tip throughout your set. But I become very aware if the crowd are stood about waiting for that build and drop rather than finding a groove to bounce along – it falls flat if they just look great for 30-second sections of your set at a time. I’ve never been a fan of too much chopping unless it doesn’t jilt the flow and rhythm of the track people are currently dancing to. I’ve seen dancefloors lost pretty quickly that way. Balance is key to get the most from a varied crowd of different ages and tastes.

The BPM debate will probably go on and on, but I don’t think tempo alone is make or break. The hardcore scene has sadly always had it’s critics, but even 28 years later, there are magic tunes I listen back to and can completely understand why they hit. There are some unbeatable songs, amazing pieces of art from the producers of hardcore and happy hardcore. The musicality and vocal excellence of these is up there with the best house, garage and trance. At the end of the day, it is just a BPM change.

Alicia Carrera

Optimal Tempo: 80 - 115 BPM

I started playing in bars and listening spaces where the priority was to know the records well, recognise what the moment called for and find coherence with the previous pick. Beatmatching took me a little time since my head was still guided by the melodies instead of the rhythm. Keeping the music organized by speed became an important step when selecting music for a club session. In most clubs, electronic music is fairly standardized and sometimes the crowd is not used to slower rhythms. It may take time to connect if they do not know what they are going to find.

I like playing tracks with a thicker atmospheric production, but I also find it attractive to play songs with more lo-fi sound profile. Beatless intros or just a lone hi-hat provides a connection into the next song. Subtle mixing, based on the links between themes – a particular sound, melody, voices, an ethereal atmosphere – allows for smooth transitions.

In a similar way that ritualistic percussive music is meant to reach different states of consciousness, a hypnotic state should become reachable when keeping any sort of consistency. Rhythm is internalized by the human body naturally, regardless of whether the speed would be slower or faster. The amount of time for induction is all down to context, and receptiveness of the crowd. Playing in intimate situations where people go with an open mind is often the most satisfying for both parties. Everything within that mood can then happen in a spontaneous, unique way.


Optimal Tempo: 175 - 185 BPM

A good lump of the hard drum & bass crowd are now comfy with the faster stuff. I have been guilty of taking a while to adjust to that, but it has got to an aggravating point to where people expect just that from you at certain raves. With smaller gigs I tend to contain myself to a more direct mixing approach, avoiding breakdowns and steadily rushing forward. The intensity naturally comes with changing fidelity levels song by song. I play a lot of different music that’s fortunately not mastered under one roof.

I’m less interested in raging build-ups at the end than I used to be. There were times when I’d go beyond 200 BPM, which is an exception these days. I love an absence of structure and form, allowing you to take things to another place, even down a notch without losing the flow. Often I even end around 140. Within a one or two-hour slot, a set could range between 30 and 70 songs. A lot of those deserve a full-length spin, but that’s being decided on the go. I just started using Rekordbox and am still getting used to the fact that you can choose, skip, ignore and loop desired parts, even though the creator intended to have the composition being played out as it is. Coming from me as producer with no initial interest in DJing, there is still a battle going on with that.

I went through many challenging stages of finding the right touch. The favourite is still what I call “flying blind” – not memorizing songs beforehand and even without seeing the waveform, so there is an exclusive dependence on how well you think you know the composer and their style. This may sound like a bad career move, but what I’ve learned from it is to follow your gut and to let go of anything that you heard is the right thing to do.

Johannes Ammler

Yoji Biomehanika

Optimal Tempo: 140 - 155 BPM

Coming into DJing as a producer first, with a feel for integrating musical elements, matching up and mixing records on pitch-modified turntables didn’t take long to learn. Practise was more about getting songs’ chord progression and structure in my head. I treat the chords and key of songs with great care, so as to avoid discord. Even after 30 years of music, I’m mostly still just battling with my personal level of completion.

I’m very into what’s called “euphoric hardstyle,” which is characterised by its graceful melodies and chords. Hardstyle is really rising right now, isn’t it? Tens of thousands of people are gathering at festivals for 150 BPM+ music. There are signs of a hard trance revival as well, so I think things are going to get very interesting.

For me, it is less about tempo than sharing my view of the world through music and reaching a level of oneness with the crowd. I’ve never once thought about an intensity ceiling – the story unfolds as I’m sharing it with the audience, which is raw and thrilling because I never know how it’s going to end up. Anyone assuming fast music lacks nuance probably didn’t experience very good quality stuff in the first place.

Shawn O’Sullivan

Optimal Tempo: 160 - 220 BPM

160, 180, 220 or 220 BPM are cornerstones of my favorite hardcore subgenres: doomcore, acidcore and freetekno on the slower end, moving up through breakcore and into various shades of industrial hardcore and speedcore. I think things get a little silly if you go much above 250 BPM – although a number of artists confidently break that rule. If the crowd is there for hardcore, you really don’t have to worry too much about reading them! They’re usually pre-primed for punishment.

Hardcore is more conducive to quick cuts, tempo shifts and disjunctive moments than contemporary techno offshoots. I’m not exactly a technical virtuoso behind the decks, but I do find myself enjoying rudimentary cutting and splicing, backspins and little tricks when playing harder stuff, particularly if it’s breakbeat driven. Mixing and layering continuously for two or more minutes as you would with techno is generally going to just sound bad. The tracks are so maximal and often have unpredictable breaks, vocal samples and changes that are going to line up poorly. It keeps them dynamic and limits the toll on dancers.

I almost exclusively play hardcore that predates 2003. The tracks are rarely structured or engineered for optimal DJ or club use, but they have so much more character and vitality. As far as intensity goes, I generally prefer the more abrasive and experimental forms of hardcore. Dutch gabber never appealed much to me; labels like Fischkopf, Hangars Liquides, or Praxis were more my wheelhouse. I discovered the music of the Michelson sisters – AKA No Name and Mouse – at a pretty young age, which forever ruined my brain.

While it’s really cool that hardcore is having a bit of a renaissance, I can’t help but view it as one of the last gasps of a dying industry. Professionalization has pushed artists to play a homogenized, easily exportable sound, so hardcore’s current appeal is driven in part by fatigue of that. But then again, the resurgence of these sorts of ’90s genres does feel like “underground” music’s going out of business sale. A lot of recent developments – clubs and publications closing, over-saturation, desperate grabs and relevance – echo rave’s first great death here in the States around the early ’00s. I don’t expect this industry to last in this form for much longer. I’m more into baking and lacto-fermentation these days anyway.

Don’t DJ

Optimal Tempo: 30 - 180 BPM

Patience is invaluable in the business. The soundcheck was scheduled for right after your arrival, but the sound technician is not ready yet, there is some major problem, two hours later it is finally your turn exactly when dinner is scheduled, and so on… Maybe that’s why I don’t feel uncomfortable demanding a bit of patience from the audience before I drop that bass.

A lot of frustration I had with early collaborations, bickering over small details, changed when I started producing, releasing and playing out as Don’t DJ – it was a pretty liberating experience and I have carried that relaxation forward into all walks of life. I play by intuition. If I was to just run a preselected playlist, I always assume that boredom would be transmitted to the crowd and that would be the worst outcome for everyone. I’d rather take risks in tempi, rhythms, dramaturgy. Even an enormous change can take place behind ambient or noisy textures, camouflaging the shock.

Playing slow music with minimal elements can be the most effective of all. There is more space for transient qualities: The natural reverberation of bodies; the sound of a bell or a big drum, which become more enjoyable when you can hear how the material behaves over time. You get different means to incorporate tension and contrast in your arrangement, which is harder when everything is already crowded with beats and hi-hats. Of course, when playing slow your elements will be more exposed, so if they are weak from the start you might do well to go at a faster pace. Even better, just have awesome sounds from the start.

Music reflects life in general: A certain amount of patience is likely to be rewarded, but don’t be stupid and wait forever. You might get stuck in the wrong queue.

Header image © Johannes Ammler

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