Listening to the current mainstream electronic dance music (EDM) scene, is to me, an assault on the senses. It’s quick-fire round at the jukebox with music jumping from one track to the next and the sound maintaining a very digital feel. The donkey kong generation has passed and the 8 bit generation morphs into a digitally addicted 64 bit society. Computers command and receive our attention more than human beings. We pretend to interact with other humans, but really we are interacting with the box, tablet, screen or device that connects us. It sits constantly in view, or at the very least no further than 20 feet from us at any given time.
Computers and Music
Music has seemingly become ‘impossible‘ without computers. Instruments often cast aside for the (very good, yet lazy) sample pack. For those that do play instruments, musicians record separate pieces from different locations all over the globe, later to be assembled by a worn out zombie sat in the dark, staring into a screen.
We have all lost the art of conversation and social interaction, unless it takes place in an alternative reality known as ‘social media’.
We ‘hang-out‘ on Google and we ‘like‘ each others’ activities with a meaningless and lazy click of a thumb symbol. According to a recent publication I read (can’t remember where), most of us check our twitter feed within three minutes of waking up!
Many of us use computers at work and if you don’t, it’s likely you’ll stare at a phone screen for a number of hours a day whilst checking if people ‘care‘ about you or not. On your way home from work, you sit next to a very interesting person you’ve never met, but you don’t know they’re interesting as you both stared at your phone for the entire journey.
Then, when you arrive home, you jump on the computer to check for a recipe, or to talk to more friends, or to play your favourite music! The technology has infiltrated every facet of your life.
“There was a time before computers?!” I hear you exclaim.
Yes, I understand we are firmly in the grip of the digital generation. Babies are born with iPads connected to their belly button, their umbilical chord replaced with a white cable and 30 pin connector. Children can teach over 50’s how to operate an iPad before they can even talk.
I was born before computers existed in every household. I was born before the internet was invented. No, this doesn’t make me ancient, it’s really not been that long since society was enslaved by the the personal computer.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing, it’s just that people seem to be more connected to technology than to themselves. The Zombie apocalypse is already here, we’re just too blind to realise. You’ve given Apple your fingerprints, you’ve shared your entire lives publicly and we continue to stare into our small computers as we cross the road without a care in the world as to whether or not our death will be arriving in the form of a speeding car.
I remember when I used to play outside on my bike, or with toy cars in the dirt. Maybe a bit of swing-ball or badminton in the garden. There was no computer in the house, no computer in my pocket and not even the word ‘computer‘ in my vocabulary. This is how I know that another world exists ‘outside of the box‘!
Computers Suck your Soul
Have you ever been so ‘engrossed‘ in something on the computer that when you look away, you instantly breathe out in complete confusion and relief?! Your eyes adjust and you have no clue what just happened?! You feel lost, bewildered and have no concept of time! That, my friends, is your soul being sucked out. It leaves you tired. The energy frequencies emitted by your electronic device are sapping your own personal energy.
When you sit in front of your computer and surf the internet, you are actually exposing yourself to hundreds of thousands of frequencies from the computers of everyone else who is simultaneously surfing the internet. As a result, the normal fatigue that comes from exposure to the EMFs that computers radiate is multiplied hundreds of times. After spending significant time surfing the web, a more sensitive person would probably notice increased eye pain, headaches, or fatigue-even to the point of feeling “brain dead.”
The above quote is taken from lighthealing.com
You’ll notice that once you spend a little time outside in nature you’ll feel rejuvenated and more connected to yourself and the Earth. This is grounding. All that static and electromagnetic frequencies you pick up through the day are released into the Earth, and leave you feeling refreshed. This is the how computers can truly effect your wellbeing.
Change it Up – Go Analogue Occasionally
To give you an example of how the use of computers can tire you out, I want to tell you a short story.
A friend came around to check out Traktor, we starting playing on the Kontrol S4 and messing with effects and having lots of fun for an hour or so, until we both noticed how tired we were getting. We both felt that we didn’t want to look at the screen anymore, it was draining our energy. Initially we decided to close the laptop and mix tracks without looking at the screen. Realising that we still needed to see the screen to select our music, we had to opt for a more severe approach.
My friend had never used an analogue audio mixer with Technics before, so we changed the setup. We ditched the computer, moved to vinyls and the dynamics changed.
We had no screen to stare at and as such we became more interactive with each other and the music. We had a crate of physical music to flick through and as such, the amount of information we had shoved in our faces became less overwhelming. No BPM, no file size, no bitrate, no key, no release date, no track length and the very best thing; no waveform. Without these distractions, it became fun and engaging again and our energy levels increased.
This experiment also led to my friend discovering the beauty and satisfaction of manual beat-matching. He was excited that his ears became more aware and the music began to absorb into his very being. He was ‘hearing‘ the music for the first time. Less concerned about what effect to add, or what cue point to jump to, or what trick to master; he started to focus on simply listening. The urge to jump around and chop up tracks fell away and the essence of DJ’ing returned. The music was front and centre!
This led to me posting the following tweet:-
@traktortips The new school of DJs need to realize DJing is about music programming, not how many buttons you can push in a short time.
— Endo (@DJEndoLive) September 23, 2013
I basically felt that with all the hype about controllerism and the constant urge to use effects and chop music up, that newer DJ’s are losing the ability to remain focused for an extended period of time.
They say that television adverts are part of the reason for an increase in ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The short quick succession of different commercials and the choppy nature of television, is wiring our brains in such a way that we need constant stimulation through changing the feed of information that comes to us. People are finding it increasingly difficult to sit still for long periods of time and I feel this is carrying into DJ’ing and even into clubs! People can’t simply listen to the music and get lost in the moment, they must be ‘shazamming’ the music or tweeting a photo of the event. Isn’t it time we all just took a step back to breathe and to soak in the moment?!
DJ Endo makes a very valid point in reply to my tweet above!
The availabilty of so many effects, buttons, control knobs ands tweaks is encouraging DJ’s to mess with the music so much, that the music is being lost.
With the uprise of ‘controllerism‘ and the constant stream of videos showing this trick and that trick, many up and coming DJ’s seem to think that controllerism is a form of music.
I remember watching the DMC scratch mix competitions and gawping in awe at the skills, fascinated to watch the trickery. It was excellent, but there is no way you could dance to that. Controllerism, is DMC scratch mixing, upgraded to midi controllers. It’s very entertaining to watch, horrible to listen to and unless your dancing style is similar to the actions of having a seizure; impossible to dance to.
No Need to Ditch Traktor
Whilst I am in no way wanting to promote Old School over Digital (as that could take us down a very argumentative path). I am recommending that all DJ’s remove themselves from the computer now and again and ground themselves in the present moment.
Traktor might now be a huge part of your life, as hobbies often are. But we all need to understand the detrimental effects that various activities have on our delicate and sensitive bodies. Re-connecting with yourself and also to the music, is good for the soul.
Music is healing! It is proven that certain frequencies have positive effects on the body, whilst others have negative effects.
Whilst the use of computers should be reduced, the use of music should be increased. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to reduce the use of Traktor (although having an all vinyl, no computer mix session certainly felt good). Perhaps you can cut back in other areas like aimlessly trawling facebook for instance!
Make time for the Important Stuff
You might feel that DJ’ing is the most important thing here? Well, personally, I’d say it was your health. Put yourself first and your passions second. If you’re healthy and of sound mind, body and soul, your passions will be given the right conditions to grow and expand. Allowing yourself time to balance life and to give back to yourself, will allow you to create what you you desire from a place of pure potential.
Give yourself the energy you require to shine and free up your time to focus on what’s important to you.
Surely that’s your passion for music!
Main photo credit: Steve Koukoulas