Techno Tuesday: Oliver Huntemann on the realities of being a globetrotting DJ
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Oliver Huntemann has been mixing records longer than most dance fans in the US have been alive. The German techno legend got his start throwing acid house parties in Oldenburg, eventually establishing his own record label Confused Recordings in 1995. In this years since, Huntemann has charted big tracks on imprints such as Cocoon and Octopus Records, and launched his new label Senso Sounds.
While Huntemann is currently working on his first artist album since 2011, he recently released his new Pech & Schwefel EP on Senso Sounds.
In honor of Techno Tuesday, Oliver Huntemann has shared a piece on the ‘realities of being a globetrotting DJ.’
Let’s first take a look back at the very beginning of my DJ career. I started DJing at a time when nobody took notice of them. The DJ was the guy who had to fulfill the wishes of the guests, nothing more and nothing less. I remember my first ‘gigs’ at school parties and while my class mates were dancing, drinking and kissing I was hidden behind a big tower of tape-decks, an amplifier and, if I was lucky, one turntable. A mixer? Wrong! The input switch of the amplifier must have been enough to do the job. Us DJs were a little group of mercifully treated nerds. Nobody understood why we liked to work with jumping turntable needles and the unavoidable spaghetti tape of cassettes. Using the right tape was a science. By the way, I preferred ’BASF Chrome Maxima II 90s’ (Just in case someone has the stupid idea of getting romantic in making a real mix-tape for his girl.).
Obviously times have changed over the years. Official surveys confirm that 97% of young men and 5.7% of young women between the age of 17 and 50 wanted to become a DJ as their profession. The prospect of a luxury life with huge fees, private jets, party all the time and — of course — less work seems very attractive to many people. The only disturbing part is the music but who cares. There are disadvantages in every job.
When it comes down to reality, the serious DJ is willing to give up most of his/her private and social life, be prepared to travel at least every weekend, sleep in countless and mostly uncomfortable hotel beds, spend hour after hour at airports and even more in planes, just to present his/her music for 120 minutes in a sticky dark club. Being a DJ is mostly about passion and creativity. I’m talking about topless performing girls on CDJs or seventeen-year-old good looking marionettes with pre-mixed sets by their producers. To make it clear, these are not DJs or DJanes. They are just part of the entertainment industry and that’s ok. Live and let live, just don’t call them a DJ. Pasta is not Pizza although both are served in Italian restaurants.
For a DJ by heart, these two hours in the dark and sticky club are worth more for some reason than almost anything else. For me personally, an intense DJ set is like meditation. I completely switch off everything and when I awake I’m destroyed and confused like hell, and satisfied. If it was a bad gig I think for days about what went wrong, trying to improve and not let it happen again. Also, usually it’s not done with just playing. During the week most of the DJs are entrepreneurs as well in terms of running a record company, an artist agency and/or spending time in the studio working on new music. We take our business very seriously and also try to achieve the best result we can as we’re professionals. If someone is thinking about becoming a DJ he or she should be ready for seven days a week with little sleep, a lot of stress, no daily routine and a lot of work — to put it in a nutshell: for the best job in the world.