We from Gigstarter are proud to introduce you to our very own DJ LLout, DJ of the Year 2020. LLout will take you with him through his journey of becoming Mr. Nice DJ and share some valuable tips about the industry.
What do a butler, a toilet hostess and a DJ have in common? Don’t be alarmed. You’re not about to tumble into a stand-up comedy routine disguised as a blog. But… what DO they have in common though? My two cents? I think they should all strive to make the time people spend in their presence more enjoyable. The fact that one achieves this goal by knowing which tie Master Wayne would prefer to wear with his anthracite suit, the other by supplying visitors with the silkiest brand of toilet paper, and the latter by intensifying and looping a break as far as he/she/they possibly can without losing the attention of the crowd before unleashing the drop upon them, doesn’t do damage to the similarity.
This perceived goal is exactly why I can’t help but wonder what has gotten into the DJ’s (hobbyist as well as established professionals) that turn up 5 minutes before their gig, use those 5 minutes to talk to the two people they already know, plug in their USB-stick, and, over the course of a 2 hour set, do not look at the crowd once. Not once… Apart from all being struck by a very sudden case of agorafobia, (which would be highly unlikely, if not; statistically impossible) I cannot, for the life of me, think of a valid reason to do that. Or… to not do that. The way I see it; a DJ has the distinct honor and privilege to improve a crowd’s time spent. “Wherever, Whenever” as Shakira would put it. Then… how can you know for certain you’re doing a good job, if you don’t verify with them every once in a while?
It doesn’t stop at the crowd though, just as it didn’t start there. It begins and ends with the person or persons that were good enough to spend their money and stake their reputation by completing the booking process in our favor. This act tells ‘us DJ’s’ that they trust us to make the time visitors spend in our presence during their event more enjoyable. That’s no small responsibility, and therefore often isn’t a decision taken lightly. If treated fairly, we owe it to them to do right by their trust. How? By giving it our all, each and every time. AND… By simply being nice. I don’t pretend to say or know this is the truth. It’s just what I came to find during my personal experience as a music lover, an enthusiastic hobbyist, as well as a DJ trying to make a decent living out of bringing music towards crowds in a form I hope they will enjoy. Being a nice guy (and not an arrogant prick or an inconsiderate piece of horse manure) makes all the difference as and for a DJ. At this point, around 450 words in, it might be a good idea to introduce myself…
My name is Lammert Lettinga. Half a year ago I decided to try and make the noble art of DJ-ing my main source of income. So far it’s been an interesting ride, and I’ve been doing better than I thought I would. However, since I’m not the kind of person that sticks to short introductions unless explicitly asked to; the background information that I will provide might not always seem as relevant to you as I’d hoped it would. The thing is… in a blog, unlike in live interactions, I’m now blessed with the superpower of being able to delete the whole shabang with a few subtle finger movements and start again, fresh. That is, if (or rather ‘when’) I start to drown in a swamp of details. If only my day-to-day conversations were blogs… Please feel free to write ‘MAND!’ in the comments below. In the unlikely case Gigstarter will grant me the opportunity to keep writing, I’ll use your feedback to become a better, or at least a more relevant blogger.
DJ LLout at one of his gigs
My story starts on December the 27th, 1986. For many people just the day after Christmas. Not for me though. It was that very day I drew my first breath of Frisian air. A terrible day for a birthday party. Everyone is fed up with food and drinks, and usually sinks into an after-dinner-coma that lasts until it’s New Year’s Eve. This might begin to explain why I tend to make the rest of the year into one big party. And, in my humble opinion, every party needs music. My passion for this form of art is partly rooted in genetics. With my dad co-owning a mobile disco set-up in his younger years, and my mom’s pull towards soul-, funk-, disco- and especially Motown-records, one can say I was born into the love for music. I would be the baby crawling towards the speakers, instead of moving away from them.
Passive passion became active passion. I learned to play the keyboard; the cooler nephew of the piano (or so I thought back then). Every Friday I listened to the Top 40 on the radio, trying to press the record button on my cassette deck at exactly the right moment to get the perfect ‘cut’ of the song I liked. And when downloading mp3’s became possible, this took up all the time I had left after school, time spent with family and friends, my job as a dishwasher, chasing after girls, and pretending to do homework. But what a majestic and obsessive-compulsively organized digital music collection I have to show for it now!
Then came my University days in the magical student city of Groningen. As a member of a smaller student society, I got the opportunity to volunteer as a bartender. During my breaks, however, there was only one place you would find me: the DJ booth! I’d be watching while the different ‘DJ’s’ played and ‘mixed’. This mostly meant pressing the Play-button of one channel at the exact same time you’d vigorously pull down the volume of the other channel on which the current song was about to end. One DJ, however, took it a bit more seriously, and I was lucky to call him my friend. I watched him play time and time again, and as soon as a song popped into my head that, I thought, would make a good transition, I gathered my courage and shouted the artist and track title in his general direction. The cool thing about this action was what followed: most of these suggestions were instantly implemented and often turned into eclectic mixes that became quite popular with our crowd.
There was only one puzzle piece left that needed to fall into place. A very good friend of mine, Floris Brandwacht, carried that piece across the threshold of the infamous Huize Fauf, when he became my roommate. The puzzle piece, of course, was a deep-rooted love for many different styles of electronic music and an almost idolizing admiration for the Godlike cool cats that mixed all those hypnotic and uplifting tracks together. Seemingly effortless and seamlessly, without even breaking a sweat. It didn’t take long for me to get infected with the virus he brought to our beloved house, and it’s about time I thank him for everything that followed in the virus’ footsteps. So: “Floris, mooie gek. Bedankt!”
A little impression of LLout his sets
Since you didn’t sign up for reading a novel about my twenties, I’ll fast-forward to the actual point of my blog. BOOM! PLOT TWIST! Most people that know me will be picking their jaws from the kitchen floor right about now… (...the funk soul brother!) “Lammert, skipping through a story about himself? When pigs fly, and after he described the actual size, color and shape of the pigs and all the clouds in the sky with them.” Yes friends and foes, it is true. I shall get to the point! But before I do so, there is one essential bit of storyline that I can’t leave untold, because it was nothing short of a game changer for me.
A few years ago, while playing at a weekend festival a couple of good friends of mine hosted, my first set came to an end. I handed over control of the decks to the next DJ on the timetable; Sebastiaan Hooft. We had a nice chat and since he seemed new to the group, I asked him how he ended up there. He replied with just one word: “Gigstarter.” He immediately picked up on the dopey glance in my eyes, and concluded I had not yet heard of it. He proceeded to tell me about the platform, the extensive artist profile you can create, the surprisingly easy way people in search for a DJ can find and book you there, and the automated review system that reminds the bookers to write a review about your performance. After a respectable recovery period from that weekend, I got excited and created my first profile.
In the past 2 years I’ve created 3 different artist profiles, got numerous cool bookings, received wonderful reviews, entered the Gigstarter DJ of the Year contest (and won!), co-hosted an event at their office in Amsterdam and, as we speak, I’m finishing up writing my first guest blog for their platform. That word, spoken by a DJ I met over two years ago, ‘gigstarted’ the idea of turning my passion into a career. Now bridging towards the actual point of this blog: This would have never happened without an approachable and interested attitude towards my fellow-DJ.
DJ LLout: DJ of The Year 2020
So, I truly believe the world needs no more Mr. Nice DJ’s! Which simply starts with:
1.) Treating everyone you encounter at a gig in a way you would like to be treated.
In regards to the hard-working volunteers and paid contractors at any event, big or small: they probably have a lot on their mind while being responsible for a variety of tasks, so don’t assume you’re their top priority, and especially don’t make their job harder by acting all diva-like. The security guards that do or do not recognize you right away are simply doing their job the best way they know how and mean no disrespect, so show them some well-deserved respect in return. The host(s) or neighbor(s) that ask or even demand to turn the volume down a notch aren’t ‘whining wankers’. They probably have every right to do so, so respect their wishes. And give some love to the DJ signing off before you step up to the plate. If this person is in it for the same reasons you are, he/she/they probably put everything into it and will therefore have earned a sincere hug or at least a passionate high-five.
2.) Keep your promises and whenever you can, OVERDELIVER.
If you have any social pull; help an event to promote ticket sales, spike enthusiasm amongst their and/or your fanbase and show the world that you’re excited about the opportunity to play the event. Because you are. Right? Show up at the time you agreed upon, or even better: a half hour before, and ask how the event is going so far and if there’s anything you can do to help. If a booker comes up and asks you if you’re willing to play a bit longer than you thought you had to; don’t be annoyed about minutes or half hours ‘overtime’. You’re doing what you love. Right? When a host or an event organizer has something particular in mind when it comes to the music, style or direction, try to be creative and offer your expertise to get to the most enjoyable outcome for everyone. Because it is your expertise. Right? And if there’s a dress-code. Go all out! They’ll love you for it!
3.) Be appreciative of and thankful for everything anyone does for you before, during or after the gig…
…and remember that you have one of the coolest jobs in the world, so thank your lucky stars that you get to do this, night after night, time and time again.
Are you looking for a DJ or just want to get in contact with LLout? Check out his profile below!
Check out LLout
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