This week we’ve had quite a few great tips from the likes of Jennifer Cardini, Ghosts On Tape, and Troy Pierce about the DOs and DON’Ts of setting a club night’s tone as the opening DJ. Now we tap Quartz and Bpitch Control producer Okain to share his insights on the fine art of warming up. So read on to for his tips, and grab his Beatport chart here.
Is there a specific “job” for the warm-up DJ?
The job is to get people exited for what is coming next!
How do your opening sets differ from your headlining sets?
Of course, I play softer, but it’s not only about that. I always think about the music of the artist that will play after me. I keep in mind that I am opening for someone. The difficult part I think is also to adapt yourself without losing your identity.
How do your music-buying habits change when you know you’re on warm-up duty?
I think that in the past I was always record shopping with a gig and a situation in mind. Then I missed so many great records! What I try to do now is just buy the music that I like. Then, when the weekend comes, I dig in my record collection before the gig and there are records for every situation.
What are the biggest mistakes warm-up DJs often make?
You have to put your ego on the side… The worst situation is if you play too hard.
What are the benefits to being the warm-up DJ?
One of the main benefits is that you have more time to enjoy the night after. Joking aside, you have the opportunity to play different music.
Is there pressure to capture the “correct” track selection during a warm-up set?
I remember I prepared the exact playlist of my sets when I was doing my first warm-ups. And actually it’s a bad thing because I really think now DJing is capturing the vibe of the moment, reading the crowd, the side of the room, the soundsystem. But the more you train, the easier you’ll capture the correct track selection.
How important is it that the warm-up DJ plays the same musical genre (or closely related) as the headliner?
To me, it has to be related for sure, but it is also nice to keep your own style. I will not play a 115 BPM deep-house set if I open for a techno artist. So warm-ups are not only about playing softer; it has to match also in style without being a copy. It’s not an easy task to play warm-ups!
Which is more difficult—warming up or playing peak-time, and why?
I will say warm-ups, but it really depends on your style too.
Do you find it difficult to avoid playing the big tracks just to get people freaking out?
No, I don’t find it difficult. There are plenty of really good tracks for warm-ups.
With the “book as many DJs as possible” mentality for a lot of clubs or parties these days, is the art of the warm-up DJ lost?
Yes, I totally agree. I prefer when I have a lot of time to play in general.
One piece of advice to any DJ who is booked for the warm-up slot.
As I said, put your ego on the side. Also, keep in mind that if you are doing a great job and that if you let the headliner shine, there is a big chance you will be booked again.
Favorite three opening DJs you’ve ever heard, and why?
From my hometown of Paris I will say D’Julz, Dyed Soundorom, and Varoslav. They are also great DJs in general, I guess because they have a big record collection and they can adapt themselves to every situation.
What are your three favorite warm-up-set opening tracks?
It’s a difficult one as I have many favorites:
Dream DJ to warm-up for, and why? What do you open with?
Laurent Garnier, because he is one of my heroes, but I don’t know what I will open with until I get to the party!