Hey Mr DJ, Put a Record On - Spear's Magazine

Hey Mr DJ, Put a Record On

If you want to twist the night away at a soigné soirée, you must have a superstar DJ, says Victoria Aitken

If you want to twist the night away at a soigné soirée, you must have a superstar DJ, says Victoria Aitken
 
 
PETRA ECCLESTONE IS no fool: no fashion passes her by, which explains why at her wedding this week she had booked David Guetta for a reputed £500,000. Superstar DJs are the latest party must-have. Kirsty Bertarelli also booked David Guetta for her party in Miami, while Sam Young has played at Freddy Windsor’s wedding, Elton John’s birthday and Donatella Versace’s party.

DJs are hip to the beat today: Dragonette and Martin Solveig, David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia are topping the charts. They’re cooler than rock stars, more charming than movie stars: when I interviewed him, handsome Kaskade smiled, blushed and offered me dinner. I met Gareth Emery after he’d been DJing all night; his energy was electric. And Stonebridge was thoughtful, funny and even empathetic.

Dance music’s future looks like it will climb dizzy heights. A lot has to do with the phenomenon of Lady Gaga, while David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia have helped bring dance music to the masses by working with hip-hop stars (David Guetta with the Black Eyed Peas, Swedish House Mafia with Tinie Tempah). And with or without hip-hop stars, DJs are now stars in their own right such as Deadmau5, a marketing genius who currently has half a million fans on Twitter. There’s even been an increase in dance music festivals in the last couple of years such as Electric Zoo, Electric Daisy festival and HARD Tour.
 

 
David Guetta featuring Rihanna: Who’s That Chick?
 
There’s money here too. On average $4 billion per year is made from dance music. According to an International Music Summit report this year, in the UK, EDM (electronic dance music) single sales have grown by over 50 per cent since 2007.   EDM artists and DJs have grown their facebook fanbases at a massive rate over the past year; David Guetta now adds the equivalent of a festival crowd to his facebook fan group every single day.

Despite the cost of a superstar DJ, it can actually work out well to have someone with a variety of types of music to play. Seamus Haji, a UK DJ who has remixed Mariah Carey and Rihanna, says: “I think people have started to book DJs as opposed to bands for private parties because in a party atmosphere when people go out to clubs they don’t listen to one band all night. They’ll be dancing to a DJ who’ll play house music from many different artists.”

StoneBridge, a producing legend, agrees: “If you book a DJ for your party don’t need six hotel rooms for all the band members and sometimes it’s a tenth of the cost.”

DJ legend Gareth Emery says: “DJs are so different now to how it used to be. Before nobody cared about the DJ and his performance. He was the guy with his head down looking at the decks, but in five years the art of DJing has transformed itself. DJs take on more of a rock star role. The crowd want to look up and see the DJ on the microphone partying with the crowd, so we had to up our level of interaction. We’ve had to up our game: before we’d walk on stage and nobody cared. Now I think about the intro and my entrance, such as having a blacked-out arena, or smoke cannons going off, or even confetti to signal the start of the show.”
 
 
THE KIND OF shows you can expect from different DJs varies immensely. A DJ might be like a rock star and only plays his own music to the crowd, or he might play half and half or even only other people’s music.
 
In the first category Kaskade, more of a rock star than DJ, says: “I am definably a performance artist. First I’m an artist, then a performer, then a performance artist.”

Kaskade and Deadmau5 both play their own songs. Kaskade says it’s like a “musician doing shows: people come to my shows because they love the music I make, and I want to share it with people. It’s a celebration of music, tension and release, and how and in what way I can build pressure in a large crowd. It’s how I express my songs, the songs I know very well as have been living with them for so long.”

When I ask Kaskade why DJs are becoming so popular, he says: “It’s more real than manufactured pop stars. People connect with the realness of it.”
 

 
Kaskade and Deadmau5: Move for Me
 

Both Kaskade and Gareth Emery are trained musicians. Kaskade was a singer in his school choir and in middle school played piano and Gareth was a singer/songwriter in a band before becoming a DJ, so for both them, even before they started DJing, they were performing. Gareth’s shows are very performance orientated: he plays the piano live during his sets and tries “to make my shows as epic as possible. It’s choreographed, with peak visual screens and pyrotechnics,” but “I mix my shows with crowd interaction on the fly.”

Vandalism are from Australia, but are even now being book in Greece and are famous for their “in-yer-face” performances, when Andy Van tears up the decks and vocalist Cassie Van gives a head-turning live performance. Cassie wears show stopping sexy outfits and drives the crowd wild; she sometimes even throw water on them.

When I speak to Andy about how he tears up a dance floor, he says: “It’s a bit like being a conductor of the dance floor. Carl Cox was a big inspiration: he would point, and point at the crowd a thousand times to lift them up telling the crowd what to do.  He would push and push them to go crazy. We like to be near the crowd, so we can interact with them, so we can sign people’s arms.” They don’t want to be isolated like rock stars.

If one performer isn’t enough, DJs like Cahill, one of the UK’s most famous producers, can be booked with all sorts. He says: “Our parties are moments of magic, and have already been enjoyed by many Premiership footballers, major corporate brands and celebrities. We are blessed to have remixed Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger, Cheryl Cole, Mariah Carey and many more. We love taking what we do with those superstars on the road and at exclusive parties for like-minded individuals. But not only do we come and DJ, we bring our esteemed vocalists, burlesque dancers, fire-eaters, jugglers and other entertainers to really create a 360-party atmosphere.”

Which all goes to prove that the best way to survive the tough times is to dance the night away.
 



 

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