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How a good wedding DJ actually mixes music!

Categories About us.
21 Feb, 2022

Everyone has been to a wedding where a DJ’s tunes sounded a bit off, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it. Leaving long gaps in between songs is an obvious no-no, but there are more subtle factors at play affecting how you experience the music being played. We break these down in this blog!

Counting, phrasing and reading

To be a great DJ, other than being familiar with a variety of musical genres, there are a few other important things to get really good at.

Bear with us as we’re going to get a bit technical, but we’ll keep it simple!

Counting the beats

Every bar of music has four beats! If you listen to a song, you can count the beats easily. So why does this matter? When choosing a part of the song to transition out of, it sounds jarring if you don’t count the beats properly (and it can sound sort of “cut off”). For example, guests may be singing the chorus, so you don’t want to cut the vocals off prematurely. It’s very subtle, but if you are hearing it all night, it can definitely disrupt the flow of the music.

Phrasing done right

This is similar to counting the beats, but on a larger scale. A phrase is usually four bars. You can hear this best in EDM or House music that has a noticeable build up to the drop! This means as well as the bars, a good DJ needs to understand how phrasing works in order to choose a good part to mix out of.

Reading the crowd

Lastly, a great DJ will be able to ‘read the crowd‘ and play the right song at the right time. This comes with years of experience and is kind of like a 6th sense in some respects. It also means that although you have your music organised, you don’t have a pre-prepared playlist that you simply play in order (regardless of what your wedding guests may be doing at the time).

We’ve all been on a dance floor when the DJ drops an absolute banger that fits perfectly into where the night is taking you – that’s reading the crowd at its best. 🔥

The automix problem

The whole idea of this blog came about from us learning the disturbing fact that there are wedding and event DJs who are simply putting a queue of songs together and letting their DJ software mix from one track into the other.

This is known as “automix”. We liken this to the “cruise control” of wedding DJing.

While you’ll still have someone standing behind the decks waving their hands up in the air, they’re really not doing much else. To make matters worse, the software blends from one tune to another usually at odd times, and for long transitions, making it sound, just wrong (see above in relation to counting and phrasing).

“If you were happy with “automix” – quite honestly – Spotify would suffice.”

It also automatically selects a bit of the song to mix into, when often wedding guests want to hear the iconic start of a tune. So automix denies you the opportunity to drop a tune in from a recognisable beginning that will make the crowd go “OHH!” (think of the beginning of Man, I Feel Like A Woman or Gangsta’s Paradise).

Remember, being a wedding (as opposed to club) DJ means playing well loved and well known tunes, so you want to make sure those partying in front of you know what song you’ve started playing and get their butts to the dance floor if they’re not there already!

So why does all of this matter?

Firstly, it matters because you’re paying someone good money to effectively create the musical soundtrack for one of the most significant days of your lives. If you were happy with “automix” – quite honestly – Spotify would suffice.

A DJ manually mixing means they are carefully considering what tunes will work best at any given moment and responding to what’s happening in front of them. It also provides more flexibility to change things up very quickly if there’s a shift in energy on the dance floor. Sometimes we will, at the very last moment (like literally 10-20 seconds before the current track finishes), change our minds and load up a song we think will work even better (read more about how we pick tunes).


Live mixing for the win!

We exert a lot of energy during our wedding gigs and honestly live life one track at a time! We often get asked “what’s the next tune”? At our weddings, and a lot of the time, our response is “we don’t know yet” as there are so many factors at play!

If you want to hear some of our actual recorded sets from real weddings and events we’ve played, you can check them out here:

Eddy’s mixes

Aleks’ mixes

You can also check out our sample mixes, which will give you a great idea of the flavour that we bring to our wedding sets.

If you are looking for a wedding DJ that will live mix and work hard for the money, you can get in touch via our Book a DJ page.

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