How To Use DJ Mixes To Improve Your Sound

Gain inspiration from DJ mixes.


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Plenty of DJs out there make it seem as though being original is the most important part of being a DJ, and it is important but it is not the most important. How do you go about creating original DJ mixes? The number one thing is inspiration.

Think about what (or who) made you want to become a DJ. Chances are it was a DJ and his or her particular sound rather than how “original” you thought it sounded. Of course being unique is a great trait for a DJ, but you have to find inspiration to help you produce a unique sound.

That is where DJ mixes can play a huge role.

Before You Listen…

Before you continue your musical education with DJ mixes you should make sure you have several good sources for music. Keep in mind that your source for mixes may not be your same source for traditional tracks, so always be on the lookout for great sources like MixCrate and SoundCloud.

A truly great source for these mixes is live events. DJs are always selling their favorite or most loved mixes at clubs, festivals and concerts. I always make sure I have cash on hand to pick up CDs of DJs spinning any event. You never know who or what sound will get your creative juices flowing so don’t limit yourself.

It’s In The Details

When you listen carefully to DJ mixes—I prefer to listen only, in the dark with no other stimulation—you can hear tons of sounds and effects that don’t often register. Listen first to new DJ mixes with just your ears, then begin to add in the rest of your senses and see what else you notice.

When it’s time to buy new music, approach it as you would your favorite movie. Remember the first time you saw The Sixth Sense and you were totally thrown for a loop at the end? Then upon the second and third (and fourth & fifth) viewing you started to notice small details that gave clues to the ending. That is how you should be listening to compelling mixes for your own inspiration.

New Sounds                                                     

Have you ever listened to a track and wondered, what is that sound? Well that is exactly what you should be listening for when you get your hands on new DJ mixes. Listen for anything that stands out to you and see if you can find a way to re-create it and see how well it works with your particular sound.

The best way to get in touch with new sounds is to listen to international DJs who have been influenced by a wide variety of instruments and sounds. Remember; just because a DJ speaks English fluently doesn’t mean he or she hasn’t been heavily influenced by their own musical culture. Use international DJ mixes to help you find a unique voice of your own.

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Unique Effects

One of my favorite things about picking up DJ mixes is that you never know what others use for their own inspiration. I love when I hear a track and it features some wild sound effects that I would have never thought to use. These DJs make me grateful that I’ve given up the police siren and bullhorn effects in favor of lesser used effects.

More importantly I pay attention to how they use these effects in their mixes for a sound that is unique to their style. Effects, and loops for that matter, don’t have to be used in a way that we have become accustomed to them being used; in fact your sound will be better for finding a different placement for them. It’ll enhance your sound and leave the crowd wondering why they find your sound so compelling.

Genre-Mixing

One of the most useful tips I picked up came from an entire day of listening to DJ mixes. Some of the sounds that I most connected with were those that mixed unlikely genres to create a great mix. It takes a lot of practice and a deep knowledge of music to make inter-genre mixes work, but when you do make it work it’s…magic.

This may not be something on your DJ bucket list, but simply being able to effectively mix genres can make you a better technical DJ.

There’s A Fine Line…

Make sure that you’re using these DJ mixes for inspiration only. Do not attempt to steal someone’s sound and pass it off as your own. You’d be surprise how many times I’ve heard DJs make subtle changes to someone else’s mix and credit themselves for the sound.

Create your own mixes ‘inspired by’ or ‘in homage to’ a specific DJ or sound or even name the mix something that makes it obvious. The point is you want to be taken seriously and you want people to see your own creative genius; not your ability to mimic another DJ. 

I hope I helped you find inspiration as a DJ. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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