(Photo Courtesy of Thomann)
“Close-up shot of a DJ Setup.”
Nate Coady & Collin Gallagher
In this year’s celebration of Black History Month, the Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted “The Science of DJing” in Moloney Hall on February 2. Local disk-jockey DJ Dutch gave a presentation on what he has learned in the eight years he has been a DJ. Originally from Somerville, Dutch has played at nightclubs to parties around the greater Boston area. However, he himself did not have his own humble beginnings. Inspired by the old-school DJs of New York like Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc, Dutch started his DJing career by finessing Guitar Center’s 14-day return policy. He would purchase a DJ’s controller, use it to earn a paycheck, and then return the controller for a full refund, using the funds as well as his paycheck to purchase a better one every time. Despite this master plan, Dutch says, “It was very rough, but I did have DJ friends who were just as eager…we would practice every day,”.
One could see how there is truly a “science” to it by the way he describes his profession. To be successful, there are many elements that need to be present. A DJ must be energetic, original and must be good at transitioning between songs, whether that be blending or scratching. There are many nuances to each DJ. They have their own voice and methods, not to mention a good presence on the microphone to hype the crowd up to gain the holy grail of DJing: clout. In other words, an audience or a following.
At the beginning of Dutch’s presentation, he provided a background on the evolution of the art of being a disc jockey. He highlighted the differences between old-school and new-school DJs, explaining the unique qualities and skills required for each. Dutch explained the language and terminology that contemporary DJs use and discussed the technology that is essential for modern-day DJing. The presentation concluded with a practical session, in which Dutch invited students to come forward and learn how to use a real DJ controller. The session quickly transformed into an impromptu freestyle performance, with Dutch inviting participants to showcase their skills. During the hands-on session of Dutch’s presentation, he demonstrated his versatility as a DJ by smoothly transitioning between various musical genres, such as Afrobeat, Dancehall and Hip-hop. This showcase of his skills and expertise was well-received by the audience, who were impressed by Dutch’s energy and passion for DJing. The energy in the room was palpable, spreading throughout the building and demonstrating the power of music and the role a DJ can play in lifting people’s spirits. The lively atmosphere was a testament to the impact that a skilled DJ can have on an audience.
Dutch is very passionate about bringing authenticity back to the DJ profession. When asked about the effects of social media on the profession, Dutch says, “If you have [a controller] and you have a social media, you can definitely put up a front…it sucks, but that’s life,”. He stresses the importance of authenticity because that is the spirit of the job. Back in 1970s New York, the old-school DJs had a lot less technology, which they had to make up for with their personalities. There is a soul and a passion that is an integral part of being a DJ, this profession will always have its roots in how it brings a community together. When asked what’s the best venue he’s played at, Dutch said, “I want to say out of state, but I would lie…like it was fun, but it didn’t mean a lot to me compared to when I DJ’d for Boston Carnival…It’s a high achievement when you’re considered to just be on that truck, spinning for the rest of your community.”