As you course through your career as a DJ, you will start to notice that mixing requires less effort and time compared to when you first started.
Your skills will all have improved so beatmatching, for example, demands lesser time for you behind the deck.
You can stand and just listen to your mixes for the majority of your performances.
While this sounds convenient, it’s not very ideal if you want to give the impression that you’re worth your professional fee.
So how can you tighten your mixes?
Read on to check out some of the DJ effects, tips and tricks I’ve learned that will help boost your performance and significantly improve your showmanship during gigs.
Channel Upfader Tricks
Your channel upfader has much more potential than you think.
To add some zest to your mixes, you can perform tricks that usually involve closing the fader or moving it back and forth.
Try out the following:
An old-school trick commonly observed from scratchers, this requires you to move the fader up and down as quickly as possible between the 70% and 100%.
The sound effect produced is best for sections that don’t have a drumbeat.
Additionally, you can also add more intricacy by controlling the range of the fader movements by using your other hand to press the fader strip (make sure you have a good controller with sturdy faders – they tend to be one of the weakest points of the mixer).
A rather common trick used by performers to engage the audience is to direct the mic towards the crowd and ask them to sing along.
This is a really good DJ trick if you have a large crowd since it’s not very effective if you only get a few voices to respond.
Once you play a track (of course, make sure it’s a familiar song that people can sing along), you can create additional interaction by closing the channel upfader so the singing audience can hear themselves.
The perfect way to engage as well as show that you’re active onstage.
One of the oldest DJ tips in the business is closing the fader on that very last beat that precedes the ending phrase of a song.
You then immediately open the fader again once the next song's first beat comes in.
This is a commonly used trick to accentuate the transition and create more impact during the comeback.
Practice and experience is the key to the successful execution of this trick.
You need to be good at naturally knowing when that last beat is and when that first beat is about to come in.
Make sure that your target beat is the one before the last phrase of the climax of the preceding song.
The other is the first beat of the following song before any vocals come in.
Impeccable timing is important here so listen to hours and hours of music until you’re able to pinpoint the spots in your sleep.
So even before you start thinking of performing tricks, make sure you’ve got your basics covered.
This is self-explanatory but I want to emphasize that doing this at the right timing makes really good effects.
Since the equalizer allows gives you control of the music in three dimensions, you’ve got a lot of freedom to experiment on DJ tips and tricks.
The resulting sound of this trick is slightly unsettling and discomforting.
Nevertheless, it spices up your mix in a unique way.
When you push the treble together with boosting the highs, you get a unique sound effect.
Another variation can also be done by doing the opposite on the lows.
Cutting the lows creates anxious anticipation for the return of the original sound since it means removing the drums and bassline.
You can also use the bass knob to accentuate a track’s climax by cutting the bass on the last beat preceding the last phrase of a song (again, you need to master when these beat points are first).
Using the knob instead of the channel upfader allows you to cut the lows for longer periods – a good example would be cutting the lows for several bars of a build-up.
You can also play with the lows during the audience sing-along effect.
There is also the variation of cutting the bass when a catchy hook comes in.
Since the lows make up most of a track’s volume, you give the audience a smoother melody to sing along to.
Different combinations create different sound effects.
For instance, cutting mids and lows create an anxious and metallic sound.
It gives listeners a weird feeling of loss, so they become anxious about having the normal sound back.
Cutting mids and highs create a threatening sound instead that makes the audience jump out.
As if something is trying to catch them off guard.
If you notice, simple DJ tips like the above can add some diversity to your set.
Add in some physical gestures and you’ll spice up your mixes.
A word of advice though, practice moderation like everything in life.
Doing too many tricks on every single track will make you sound like a newbie trying to impress.
Do a lot of practice at home and make sure you get the basics first.
Try the abovementioned tricks individually and practice them on songs repeatedly until you master one.
After this, go to the next trick on the list.
Escalate learning from there with combinations and you’ll come to a point where you will instinctively know when and what tricks to use.
Not using a headphone makes you hear the sound from the speakers with delay.
This can have a huge impact on the timing of your tricks and ruin your intricate set.