Producers vs Live DJ’s – Who Rules the School?

Okay, here’s how it goes for me. I discover an EDM song that blows my mind. The song is really good that I can’t get it out of my head. I in fact find myself humming to the song’s melody for the better part of a week.  If I’m a fan, then I already know other tracks that this guy has created. But what if I’ve never heard of him before? I’ll obviously get curious and look into his work a little more. Maybe “a little” is an understatement. When I decide to stalk you, I take no prisoners. Believe me!

me stalking my favorite djs
Me stalking my fav DJ’s

Well, soon enough I find myself really digging the producer’s other songs and so what’s the next step? Seems only logical to hire him to come perform at my wedding party and pay him in advance to cover my funeral too, right? Okay, jokes aside, the next thing would be to buy a ticket to go see the guy play live in Miami, Ibiza or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Producers vs. Live DJ’s – Who rules?

If I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll land a selfie or 2 with him. Do I care if he knows how to DJ? Like really good dj-ing, all technical aspects considered? Uhm, I probably don’t care that much. Now, if what I saw on social media last week is anything to go by, a lot of people who read this will probably want to drive a wooden stick through my chest, you know, vampire style. Here’s why:

Renowned Dutch Electronic Dance Music DJ, Laidback Luke, recently said something that drove many into a fit. And It all began with this simple tweet:

laidback luke controversial tweet

Someone quickly responded that seeing their favorite producer play live was more important to them than that producer’s DJ-ing ability. This statement immediately rubbed a few people (mostly DJs) the wrong way and a small Twitter war began, with the other side insisting that DJ-ing ability was just as important as quality and skill of production.

Now, I’m not really a Laidback Luke fan but he is an industry veteran-perhaps one of the best in the world and so when he says something, I’m at least going to look into it or pay some attention. However, I’m not with Luke on this one. For me, a DJ set is just like a concert. I view it more like a musical showcase.

hardwell at tomorrowland

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to attend a concert where the performing DJ just plays songs without much consideration to the crowd and setting. When you’re paying upwards of $250 for a festival ticket, you want to have the best experience. Nevertheless, I personally feel that a lot of great EDM producers are criticized for not being outstanding on the turntables.

Sometimes, a new artiste in the game may create a few dope records that garner a lot of support and this ends in fans wanting to see him performing at Tomorrowland, Ultra or another huge festival. This kind of pressure may lead to them hitting the stage before they are ready. For this reason, I think we should cut them some slack.

Both DJ-ing and studio mastery are great arts and anyone in either camp will obviously glorify one more than the other, based on where they’re coming from. Generally, DJs who started producing will enjoy the turntables more than the studio while producers who started DJ- ing while cherish studio time. So who should we applaud, the chef or the waiter? The short answer? Both! Without the producer, the DJ would have nothing to play but the DJ also plays an important role of helping us discover good new music.

Turntable Mastery

In the aforementioned Twitter argument, Luke in the end stated that he would like to see more producers “performing live” rather than DJ-ing. If turntable mastery for you is important, I imagine that you only go to the shows headlined by great DJs. On the other hand, if you admire an artiste’s production skills, you attend most of that artiste’s shows. And there’s plenty to choose from. Zedd, for example, plays more concerts than DJ sets. His fans therefore make an appearance to have him play his songs for them live and therefore the DJ-ing aspect doesn’t come in very strongly here. It’s more of a showcase.

In contrast, Laidback Luke, a great producer and a genius DJ, values his sets very much and takes a lot of time to prepare. He therefore scores more of the DJ-ing fans.

Though one may be a better producer than they are a DJ, that’s not to say that there aren’t any acts out there that excel in both areas. Personally I can vouch for people like Skrillex. His sets are just as insane as the records he puts out. When that happens, obviously everybody wins.

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you attend shows and festivals to see your favorite DJ on stage or do you show up to witness mad turntable skills and discover new music?

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