What the hell is a DJ?

Hi everyone, I thought I would give you a bit of a glimpse behind the curtain at how we work here at Qube with a series of blogs about being a DJ.

This post is about the different types of DJ and the main differences between their crafts. And it is a craft, taking years to never perfect!

If you read our bios you can see that most of us have been "in the game" for a long time - mostly in discos, clubs and pubs and sometimes even cruise-ships. Most of us were DJs already and making the leap into radio is a natural one; particularly if you were a "personality jock" and used a microphone.

Some of the team were entertainers in other areas such as singing and acting and had to learn about DJing when it became something they wanted to do.

Club/Bar DJ

I say "DJing" but there are many types - your typical DJ on the turntables and scratching up mixes and beats is still a thing and something I still like to do. This kind of DJing is all about the blending and bringing two records together so that they match the same tempo and mix into one another without interrupting the beat. You can hear some of this in Lynton's show.

House music and EDM are the main areas where this is an art, a very tricky one to master (though a lot of today's technology does the work for you! "Sync" buttons make it easier) But generally, this type of DJ is a silent master of the decks performing to an audience that aren't interested in hearing the latest gossip or the DJ's private life.

Raves and clubs are where people go to dance and those that like house and dance music can find mixes and sets online to play/dance at home when not out clubbing on a myriad of sites.

Scratch DJ

From Run DMC to Salt n' Peppa there is usually a DJ involved at the back on some decks looking moody and forgotten. Scratching and mixing are tools used to make the beats for the MCs to rap over.

Scratching is very difficult and hard to master. Many times they are producers in their own right and make the beats and bass lines taking samples and putting them together into new or "meatier" versions of the original.

The scratch DJ can "juggle" records really quickly and there are yearly competitions by DMC run ever year to find the world champion - it's big business and the turntable of choice is still the Technics 1200, but more on equipment and tools of the trade another time.

From 1987 2019

Notice how the turntables are pretty much the same? Mk1 to Mk7 of the same kit! - I'll explain the tech differences in the next blog.

The techniques are much more advanced but the principal is the same.

Disco & Personality Jocks

The type of DJing often associated with weddings and birthdays is probably the closest to what a radio DJ/Presenter does. A bit of chat, a mix of genres, something for everyone.

Taking requests, giving "shout outs" and announcing that the buffet is open are the main tasks for a disco DJ. Discos are where most DJs will have cut their teeth and many of us still go on the road (post pandemic of course) as it can be a lot of fun (and well payed though the equipment is heavy and expensive!)

Remember that good DJs aren't cheap, and cheap DJs aren't good, as a rule of thumb!

And finally, we come to...

Radio Presenters

Though all of the above are interchangeable (A DJ who mixes can also use a microphone and present a "show") the radio presenter is there to keep listeners engaged, interact and stay true to the station's purpose. Some stations are all about music and their listeners only want to hear a particular genre with no talking and some are chat stations with very little music.

Our mission is just to have some fun whilst entertaining you.

Qube has its specialist shows tied to decades rather than types of music. I, for example present Electric Dreams; a show about the 80s but can have within it rock, metal, dance, indie, new romantic and even a bit of punk now and then!

I am relatively new to presenting; I like to chat and talk and play tunes, but truly engaging with the audience and coming up with new ways to entertain is challenging, but also fulfilling.

These are my thoughts on the business and are based on my own lazy observations. I started in 88 so have a fair few years experience but mostly in clubs and bars after starting in raves where mic use was secondary to the mixing and "reading the room".

The other jocks on Qube probably have more experience than me so it would be interesting to hear their tales in the trade!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!