As many party-going Bristol folk will already know, electronic cigarette brand Blu eCigs along with Bristol’s very own Crack Magazine co-hosted an exclusive and electrifying free party featuring Erol Alkan, Prins Thomas and Pardon My French at The Old Crown Courts last Friday.
Far fewer of you will be aware that blu have also launched their very own mini-documentary series detailing the lifestyle, history and evolution of the DJ. The series, entitled “Freedom of the DJ” currently contains two 11 minute documentaries with further episodes to appear over the rest of the year.
The “Freedom of the DJ” series begins with “Introducing,” a compelling and easily digestible retrospective on the inception of the DJ. We get an inside look as to how the scene evolved in its transition from the sequined revolution of 70s disco up to the modern superstar dance DJs who, the world over, have begun replacing bands as festival headliners.
Featuring talking heads from DJs and producers including Jonas Rathsman, Boddika, Show N Prove and many more, we learn how the music imparted by early DJs created a thriving club culture that became a “celebration of diversity” and soon begat famous innovators such as Francis Grasso; as the pioneer of what was later to become known as “beat matching,” the New Yorker was the first real incarnation of the modern DJs of today.
We learn of the evolution of technology that brought in the first effective cross-faders and the game-changing introduction of the ultra-sturdy Technics 12-10s. Certainly, 1980s electro DJ Greg Wilson, when becoming the first man to mix vinyl live on British television, was grateful for his robust SL-1200s when a cameraman clattered into them during his ground-breaking demonstration on Jools Holland’s “The Tube” in 1983.
“Introducing” further tells the story of Merseyside DJ Mike Knowler’s visit to New York in 1986 and his discovery of House Music; called thus due to its origins at a Chicago nightclub called “The Warehouse.” House music later exploded in the United Kingdom and its pioneering DJs, though relatively underground and unknown back in the States, were embraced as celebrities in Britain; House music then paved the way for genres such as Trance and Progressive House while a growing culture of DJ super-stardom led to such luminaries as Pete Tong, Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim.
Also documenting the huge technological shift from vinyl to CDs to vinyl emulation software such as Serato and Tractor, the first episode of “Freedom of the DJ” ponders on the deleterious effects on DJ-ing as an artform and the diminishing requirement of the talents involved in mixing and beat matching.
“As technology evolves too much, you’re going to have to start calling them (DJs) something else aren’t you?” we hear Boddika muse at the documentary’s close; it is an interesting notion that the concept of DJ-ing has evolved to the point of its own obsolescence but such purist sentiments from Boddika and others will ensure a surviving sense of what it takes to achieve Superstar DJ status.
Part 2 of the series, entitled “Liverpool’s House” is also currently available on youtube:
Don’t forget to look out for part 3 which will be made available over the next couple of weeks.