Roll Call

Photo by Radek Grzybowski

How are all my fellow DJ’s doing right now in these unprecedented times?

Existential crisis?

Creative renaissance?

Prolific weight-gain?

Making the best of these times can be a feat in and of itself when your livelihood gets pulled from under your feet in a matter of days. Having to get sidelined for couple of months is one thing, but the overall uncertainty of what this industry will look like for the next few years is another. I don’t doubt that eventually life will go back to business as usual. but being able to whether this storm and stay within this sector is a question I’m sure a lot of us are going to asking themselves over the next couple months.

Coming off my best year both professionally and financially with a full-time club schedule and a growing business on the side really is bitter sweet. The future was looking bright as I began achieving some smaller financial goals and seeing some bigger ones coming closer and closer every month. But I think we all got a little complacent and forgot one of the universally true facts of life.

Shit happens.

So, now that is has what the hell can we do about it when the government has made the vital resource to our craft illegal: large groups of humans. Some have made the almost instantaneous pivot onto online platforms like Twitch, Instagram Live and the like to continue the work. This is a great option, but not unlike my brothers in the world of comedy who would echo this sentiment – it just ain’t the same without the crowd. The symbiotic relationship between a performer and a crowd is something that is vital to the art forms of stand-up comedy and DJing. There are a lot of parallels between the two crafts. They are both solitary one-man show type of operations that rely on the attitudes and energies of their audiences to propel their performances forward. But then again, you can do a lot of things by yourself that are infinitely better with one or more people along for the ride.

Even Bill Maher, who is doing his show remotely like all the other ones, has resorted to inserting a laugh track and cutting to archive crowd footage for a tongue-in-cheek comic effect. It’s obviously fake. but it is a vast improvement on his first remote show where the jokes were paced with eery silence where the audience laughter used to be. It’s better but it still lacks the energy of a good mob sharing a laugh.

As DJs we can all relate to dropping that perfect song at the perfect time and hearing reaction from the crowd. That’s the juice that keeps us coming back night after night to get that little dopamine top-up. I miss that a lot right now.

So what do we do? Sit around and wait for the world to tell you it’s okay to continue pursuing an industry and career that has been rendered obsolete for at least the rest of the year? I’ve moved three events scheduled for June, August and October until 2021 this week alone. For this year, the writing is on the wall for the corporate and special event market. Which leaves the clubs. This could be the saving grace for a lot of us, but what’s going to be left of the club industry and what is going to be allowable once the dust settles?

And do any of us have the time to wait?

JT James is a DJ, producer and writer based out of Vancouver, Canada.   A veteran of the DJ and recording worlds. he has produced several projects in the genres of hip hop and electronic music under various aliases such as James Divine, Track Nicholson and Sandy Villanova.  Be on the lookout for his upcoming single with underground hip hop legend Ras Kass and his electronic music collaboration with James Landau, in 2020.  







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