Music History

If You’re into Spinning Records, You Need to Read This: The Truth About Djing

Here’s a long read from by Jesse Saunders, a pioneering house DJ, wherein he offers up what he says is the truth about what he and his peers do for a living. If you’ve ever spun in a club (or wish you could/had), this is a great article. And while we’re on the topic, you should seriously check out this great DJ case for transporting your equipment.

As a young DJ in Chicago in the early 1980s, I was never satisfied with the status quo. I was always looking to innovate new styles of mixing and turntable instrumentation to enhance the listener/dancer’s experience. Eventually I added drum machines and a synthesizer to the live mix, which led to producing the world’s first house music record?—?“On & On,” released on my label Jes Say Records in January of 1984.

This record marked the beginning of the movement known as house music, the foundation of electronic dance music. Thirty years later, we celebrate the success of what began with a passion for beats, curiosity about technology and the motivation to make people move.

I began my career as a teenager and worked my way up, forming a DJ crew with my brother Wayne Williams, who is now senior VP at RCA Records. Along the way we recruited turntable brothers and named ourselves the Chosen Few DJs. As we progressed, I built our speakers and coffins [equipment cases] in my mother’s living room, much to her chagrin. This enabled our crew to remain above the curve occupied by other DJs?—?we didn’t have to rent equipment and we were the best mixing DJs in Chicago. Other DJs in the city saw what we were doing and tried to emulate the concept.

In the decades since, I’ve lived a lot, learned a lot, traveled the world and spread the rhythm and love of house music. Along the way I invested in bringing a real performance into my DJ sets. Here are some of my favorite stories.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38300 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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