DJs often get a bad rap. Whether amateur or professional, recreational scratcher or esteemed producer, the plebian masses of the world will inevitably lump them together into one pulsing, homogenous ball of air horn happy club rats. We who possess a more comprehensive understanding of EDM and all its assorted eccentricities know that this image of fist-pumping, “Levels” loving turntablers whose teeth wax florescent in the black light is not the whole and absolute truth. There are as many archetypal versions of “the DJ” as there are types of chili peppers or strains of rhinovirus. That is to say, a lot. They repeat themselves with minor changes here and there, and some are, shall we say, a little more to the left on the human decency scale than you may be comfortable with, but regardless of their faults we cannot paint them all with the broadest and most judgmental of brushes as universally awful.
This does not mean that the proverbial “DJ” is a respected figure. On the contrary, both outsiders and taste makers to the world of electronic music create and perpetuate various stereotypes of what a DJ has become in the land of overbooked festivals and twenty-five dollar club covers: a joke.
Dillon Francis, one of those being laughed at, has done what any smart ass who has ever been made fun of relentlessly would do in his situation: lay on the sarcasm and hit them over the head with a heavy dose of satire. Thus DJ World, a digital miniseries and brain child of Francis himself was born. Episodes of the series showcase the best of the worst of EDM’s glowing underbelly in mockumentary fashion. The premise? Six DJs. One house. One cash prize. Intrigued? You shouldn’t be. I’ll sum it up in a paragraph. There’s the formulaic wastrel, the eternally angry one who equates his musical efforts to high art, the nerd with the backpack who is just happy to be here, the NASCAR jacketed douche constantly sporting a pair a Beats (the size of which would make Freud squint suspiciously), etc. Some memorable lines?
“I just have a bag of pills.”
“Everyone’s on drugs.”
“I’m a huge fan of EDM, have been going to shows since I was five.”
“David Guetta on my dick.”
“Cher you know. The Doors. That really inspired, you know, a lot of my dub sounds.”
…and on and on ad nauseam until we finally arrive at the basic point: DJs are a bunch of self-absorbed pricks.
Do I agree with this assessment? Not entirely. What I can agree with is the fact that the moniker of “DJ” when applied to an individual—talented or not—tends to place their worth as an artist under societal scrutiny. Why? Not because they actually are a bunch of self-absorbed pricks, but because they as a collective whole are defined by the sins of their night club haunting second cousins.
Maybe they have a point. Even for the unquestionably legitimate artists at play in EDM today, Twitter disputes, material excess, and off-stage antics tend to eclipse the actual music in importance. As a result, what you have is a group of people catering to an audience’s anticipation in more ways than one. We are shown what we expect to see, and nothing more.
The persona of the DJ is one that did not arise organically—it was created, built to satisfy a need that we the people have to love to hate. Even some of the most talented artists are guilty of it, of the performance, the wearing of a constructed identity—a manufactured ego whether true or false. It is the act of presenting a caricature of themselves to the world.