What’s the difference between DJs and musicians?
Here’s one: without an audience, DJs just don’t make sense.
Two scenarios that make my point:
A dimly-lit bar. Elegant. White-shirted waiters. The air inside — cool, gentle. Seductive, merciful, a sensual, thoughtful respite from the suffocating humidity outside.
Shadows play against halos of light. It is romantic — sophisticated, even.
In the corner sits a young man with an acoustic guitar. He is perched upon a bar stool, hunched over his instrument, crooning mournfully into his microphone. His voice is intoxicating and husky. This man has soul.
Every few minutes, he brushes his dark curls from his eyes, looking hopefully around the room, his eyes shining with longing.
But the room is empty. Behind the counter, the three bartenders shuffle nervously from one foot to another. Will anyone turn up tonight?
But the singer-songwriter is unperturbed. He closes his eyes and sings.
And when he opens them again, he sees only his fretboard, and the ridged black whorls of the microphone. Everything else, everything beyond this two-foot radius, is blurry and unimportant.
He yearns for an audience. He doesn’t want to play alone. But even without a single listener, he is strangely calm. At peace.
His instrument is all the company he needs.
The same bar. Cool, tastefully-lit. Sophisticated.
In the corner stands a young man. He is tall and slim, and he is stoically mixing nu-disco records.
Good nu-disco records.
The music is soulful and funky and groovy.His toes bounce across the floor, barely seeming to touch it. His hips move more slowly, gliding through the air in slow, gentle figures-of-eight, each motion lasting two bars.
The lights on the CDJs blink — bright whites and greens and purples. They shine in his little patch of darkness. He peers at them, and the music flows, one track into another: one endless, inviting, joyful song.
His music is an invitation to a better state of mind.
But there’s no one else there.
And without an audience, the mixer and the knobs and the buttons, they don’t seem to make sense. DJing cannot be a solitary endeavour. It’s just sad, in a way that a guitar will never be.