Jauz, Laidback Luke, Chocolate Puma, and more weigh in on pre-planned DJ sets
In a lengthy post on his Facebook page, Jauz revealed that he intended to play an entirely pre-planned set for his appearance at this year’s Lollapalooza. After going through hectic preparation for his set, the Los Angeles-based producer ended up forgetting to transfer his meticulously planned performance to his USB sticks and subsequently had to perform entirely off the cuff.
By all accounts, Jauz ended up providing a killer performance nonetheless. However, his admission to pre-planning his set left some others in the electronic scene rankled. Laidback Luke was perhaps the most vocal, who cordially disagreed with Jauz in a series of tweets.
Laidback Luke also eventually looped in legendary Dutch duo Chocolate Puma, described as his mentors, who then weighed in on the situation.
The crux of this whole Twitter-conflagration is a problem inherent to electronic music: what precisely constitutes a live performance? That question also strikes a sensitive nerve as electronic music has had to push back against the notion that producers and DJ’s are just “pressing play” when they go on stage.
To be clear, there are lines that cannot be crossed; a pre-recorded set is literally “pressing play” and DJ’s and producers who perform as such — there certainly are some out there — should refund their fans the price of their tickets. Beyond that, however, there is considerable leeway in which to perform.
If Jauz did play his pre-planned set, hit every transition, and delivered an all-time performance is that less of a live performance than the one he ended up winging? Is Lido or Disclosure performing with keyboards and drumpads or Griz playing his sax more of a live performance than Laidback Luke DJ’ing on the fly? Are they not comparable? If not, would A-Trak using vinyl be more live? To go one further, is a vinyl DJ who doesn’t use stickers to mark cue points on his records more of a performer than one who marks his?
In essence, as long the performer is actually doing something live on stage, the answer becomes, at best, a personal preference and, at worst, an infinite regress.
DJ’ing is an art form and should absolutely be respected. It is also, for better or worse, the best way for producers — to remove any equivocations, DJ’ing and producing are completely different animals — to perform their tracks out at clubs and festivals. There will absolutely be those who can put on more technically impressive mixes and there will be those who truly shine in the friendly confines of their studio. At a point, any artist has to decide on the best course of action to reach their ultimate goal: to get people moving. If they accomplish that, the overwhelming majority won’t be concerned one way or the other.