Electronic music is big business. Sometimes it makes good music, but it’s easy to be skeptical when people like Paris Hilton declare themselves DJs and subsequently play shows to 1000s of people. Plus, we’ve all been DJ iPod at a party. Some of us have fooled around with Pro Tools and Ableton. For a fan, the important question is what separates the DJs from the musically-illiterate “button pushers” who know how to press play?
A-Trak is a Canadian DJ who wants you to know that he is very much not one of those people who simply press play, that he tries to give every club a unique show every night, and how the new electronic music artists are “turning the scene into a caricature.” To A-Trak, the difference between a “button-pusher” and an artist is that “button pushers” play the same set every night. Real electronic music artists press buttons playing songs in a different order at different shows. It’s pretty standard old-timer complaining, but maybe he’s got a point. Regardless, he brags about his skills in a way that makes it sound like he learned to DJ in a kung-fu monastery.
I come from the most technical tradition of hip hop DJing, known as turntablism. I practiced daily for years with monastic discipline, learning and creating intricate patterns of scratching, beat juggling and trick mixing. To me there is a certain romance to this arcane craft.
Hey, if approaching electronic music like a monk produces tracks like A-Trak’s, I’m all for it.