Sophomore Jacob Green reflects on what it is like being a DJ
by Tatum Sturdivant |Editor-in-Chief
Disc Jockeys (DJs) and DJing have grown more popular in recent years. Instead of a live band to play at events, people are now hiring DJs in order to meet all of their music desires.
After stumbling across a few nonvocal tracks in 2007-2008, sophomore Jacob Green became interested in being a DJ. Green has an electronic dance music (EDM) radio show at Butler on Fridays from 2 – 4 p.m. for KBTL 88.1 FM The Grizz. Green also does gigs at weddings, parties, and school dances.
“A lot of people do not have an ear for nonvocal music because most of the meaning in a song can be sought in lyrics,” Green says in a phone interview with The Grizzly. “But for those that follow electronic music, they can find that spirituality in the melody and not necessarily in lyrics. I always found that so intriguing that a person can use musical elements rather than lyrics to express feeling or emotion … to a listener.”
While Green enjoys DJing, that does not mean it has not come with its fair share of challenges and pressures he has had to overcome.
“My least favorite part would be the pressure because while you are expressing these feelings to other people the pressure is on you to keep that going; to follow it up with something that makes sense,” Green says. “You cannot go from playing some crazy bash ‘em up hardcore song to playing ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael. Personally, for me, [the] pressure is not too thrilling.”
Preparing for a Show
Even with the pressure piled on his shoulders, Green goes into his radio show without practicing what he is going to say ahead of time like others do, he says.
“A lot of people say they practice before they go do a show. I let those things come naturally because that is where the best things can come out when you just let that flow,” Green says. “It is not necessarily what you put together, it is how you put it together. If you put it together from your mind or…from your heart.”
Although Green does not plan out what he is going to say, he says he does prepare his music ahead of time.
“I just go through my music library and see what I have,” Green says. “I think about how I can use this song and then use it to lead into another song that might contrast a little bit.”
However, when Green performs a gig he does like to practice beforehand, he says.
“When I set up I will drop five or six tracks in a row and practice a few transitions and I will practice scratching a little bit and call it a day,” Green says.
DJing versus Radio Show
While DJing and having a radio show are similar, there are ways they differ and tend to affect one another in some way.
“DJing here in Wichita … I just throw out a song that I have never played before to see how people react,” Green says. “I do not know what [the song] is going to do, but I want to see. If I get a really positive reaction out of it I will put it on my setlist for the radio show.”
Green does not just get insight on what songs get a good reaction, but he knows what people want to hear.
“The radio show … has clarified my understanding of what people want to hear as opposed to what I think people want to hear,” Green says.
Learning From Mistakes
Thinking about radio stations, one thing people cringe at is dead air.
Green recalls one time during his first year in the Mass Communications program where he loaded a long song on the deck and stepped out of the radio station not realizing the door was locked.
“I had this gut feeling the door was going to be locked,” Green says. “But I kept on walking anyways and I closed the door.”
Another time Green recalls is when he DJed his high school’s homecoming in 2015. After a song with high energy, Green played a slow jam which led to every person getting off the dance floor and finding a chair.
“I got to thinking and I had not played a certain song yet, so I put Usher, ‘Yeah!’ on the deck and I faded it out and dropped it right in,” Green says. “All of a sudden here they are on the dance floor again. It is really challenging to keep that energy going in your environment, you have to keep a constant flow of energy going.”
Green advises anyone interested in being a DJ to do is to learn how to handle pressure.
“Sometimes when you are under pressure it will show in your set,” Green says. “They are going to see that you are nervous and it is going to become a tangible feeling for the other people.”
In order to handle this pressure, Green recommends not to practice, but to do it how you want it to be done.
Lastly, Green urges anyone interested to go for it, but be ready for what is to come.
“If you want to do it; pursue your dreams,” Green says. “It can get difficult in a heartbeat.”