A Practical Interview With a Prominent DJ (3rd in a Series): Christian Science
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 4:47 PM
From Christian's Facebook page.
A few months ago, we were thinking about running a feature called DJ Survival Guide. I interviewed several Seattle disc jockeys for the piece and accumulated thousands of words of wisdom re: the selecting, mixing, and playing of music for other people’s pleasure, but the thing never achieved publication. So I’m going to post those interviews on Line Out, because there’s enough solid advice to help a lot of aspiring jocks… and because the replies are interesting in and of themselves. This week’s installment is with Christian Science, resident with DUG, a long-running monthly night devoted to funk, soul, reggae, disco, and boogie in which all cuts are original vinyl releases (next party is Fri. Sept. 7 at Lo-Fi). These guys are the hardest of the hardcore analog-for-life warriors... and they have fantastic taste, too.
The Stranger: How many hours a week do you practice/prepare? Christian Science: Practice is for suckers and it wears out all my hard-to-find, rare, original vinyl. But seriously, I wish I was able to practice more, but a very busy work and home life with a wife and two daughters makes it a monumental feat at this point. Knowing your records is kinda like practice, and I know my records; songs that are compatible in style and tempo—that helps.
What’s your DJing format of choice and why? Original vintage vinyl, ’cause I'm just a nerd about that sort of thing.
What are your recommendations for headphones, needles, turntables, CDJs, DJ-oriented software programs? Sony headphones have always been my go to. Shure M-44 cartridges. Technics 1200s, obviously: all other tables are shite for DJing. I don't use computers for DJing.
Where are the best places to obtain music, both in brick-and-mortar shops and online? For vinyl in Seattle, the only true boutique shop is Jive Time. A steady stream of quality records at fair, not cheap, but fair prices. David and RJ have been killing it there for years. They are the shop to beat. Of course, Bop Street deserves a mention, love them or not so much, it's always an adventure. I frequent many other spots around town that aren't exactly secret, but seem to be far less popular and I'd like to keep it that way, for selfish reasons.
And a word to wise on Seattle's record fairs: People are sleeping, seriously. If we called them a "pop-up shop," would people start coming again? That's exactly what they are, a one-day GIANT record store. If you are into records there is absolutely no reason to miss the Northwest Record and CD show at Seattle Center, the Big Dig [at Lo-Fi Performance Gallery]—hell, even the Lake City Record Show is normally worth the time.
Online, of course eBay is essential if you must have some original Iranian funk or Brazilian psych. You are never gonna find it in the dollar bin at Everyday Music. Not for the faint of heart or empty of wallet. Another great resource are the Sales forums on various message boards; my current favorite is Waxidermy.
What are the most effective methods for procuring gigs? In a hyper-competitive field, how do you set yourself apart from other DJs? Having great taste, rocking crowds, and blowing minds are great ways to get gigs.
What have you found to be the most efficient ways to fill the dance floor (with dancers, to be specific ;)? Play good music that you love.
Is beat-matching absolutely essential for a DJ? Yes, especially for a hiphop, house, electronic-music DJs. If you can't beat match, figure out another nice way to transition from track to track. Train wrecks won't always kill a party, but they don't help it.
How do you deal with requests? The middle fucking finger. Seriously, if you want to listen to your own music, stay home and listen to your own damn records, or more likely if you are making some asinine request, your iPod or throw your hat into the DJ ring. Quit bothering me; I'm too busy making this big room of people dance.
How effective do you think flyering is? We are dedicated to making an original piece of art every month and putting it up around town. It definitely helped to build the party and nobody’s going to forget the party if we are up every darn month. Four years running and we've never missed a month. We have a couple out-of-the-way spots where some of our stuff is still burning from three years ago. I love that.
What have you found to be the most beneficial ways to promote your gigs? A fun party will generate word of mouth. Nothing is better than hearing from your friends what a good time you had. It's great to remind people about your gigs, but don't bug them; posting a million times a day on Facebook is a real turn off.
If you have an overarching philosophy about DJing, please discuss it. Same answer as filling the dance floor: play good music that you love.