All DJs Are Glorified Button Pushers

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We all hit play. It's no secret. When it comes to "live" performance of EDM (ED: electronic dance music)… that's about the most it seems you can do anyway. It's not about performance art, it's not about talent either (really it's not). In fact, let me do you and the rest of the EDM world button pushers who fuckin hate me for telling you how it is, a favor and let you all know how it is.

As much as we'd like to think that the DJs and electronic musicians of the world get on stage and make crazy dance music on the fly—the truth is that most of the time they're just pushing play. Just ask Deadmau5, one of the most popular electronic musicians in the world.

I think given about one hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of Ableton and music tech in general could DO what I'm doing at a Deadmau5 concert. Just like I think ANY DJ in the WORLD who can match a beat can do what "ANYONE else" (not going to mention any names) is doing on their EDM stages, too. Have a look, then let me explain:


Okay, so here's me, in a big silly mousehead.. twiddlin a knob or somethin… okay so here's how it works…. Somewhere in that mess is a computer, running Ableton Live… and it's spewing out premixed (to a degree) stems of my original producitons, and then a SMPTE feed to front of house (so tell the light / video systems) where I'm at in the performance… so that all the visuals line up nicely and all the light cues are on and stuff. Now, while thats all goin on… theres a good chunk of MIDI data spitting out as well to a handful of synths and crap that are / were used in the actual produciton… which I can tweak *live* and whatnot… but doesn't give me alot of "lookit me I'm Jimi Hendrix check out this solo" stuff, because I'm constrained to work on a set timeline because of the SMPTE. It's a super redundant system, and more importantly it's reliable as FUCK! And obviously, I've done the show a couple hundred times easily by now, so the focus over the past few runs with the "cube show" has been more revolved around adding new audio / visual content to keep it current.

So that's my "live" show, and that's as "live" as I can comfortably get it (for now anyway). Of course it'll evolve, and change-up, but I'm sure a few key principles will always remain the same.


I'm just so sick of hearing the "NO!!! I'M NOT JUST DOING THIS, I HAVE 6 TABLES UP THERE AND I DO THIS THIS AND THIS" like… honestly. who gives a fuck? I don't have any shame in admitting that for "unhooked" sets... I just roll up with a laptop and a MIDI controller and "select" tracks and hit a spacebar. Ableton syncs the shit up for me… so no beatmatching skill required. "beatmatching" isn't even a fucking skill as far as I'm concered anyway. So what, you can count to 4. Cool. I had that skill down when i was 3, so don't give me that argument please.

My "skills" and other PRODUCER'S skills shine where it needs to shine: In the goddamned studio, and on the fucking releases. that's what counts… because this whole big "EDM" is taking over fad, I'm not going to let it go thinking that people assume there's a guy on a laptop up there producing new original tracks on the fly. Because none of the "top dj's in the world" to my knowledge have. myself included.


You know what makes the EDM show the crazy amazing show that it is? You guys do. The fans, the people who came to appreciate the music, the lights, all the other people who came, we just facilitate the means and the pretty lights and the draw of more awesome people like you by our studio productions. which is exactly what it is. But to stand up and say you're doing something special outside of a studio environment, when you're not, just plain fuckin annoys me.

Republished with permission from Deadmau5's Tumblr. He'd like you to know that he's got a new track on iTunes that just dropped today. Check it out.