The Art Of Being A DJ

It’s no secret that the presence of the dance club disk jockey has become increasingly popular in the past decade. The rise of technology and music accessibility has launched electronic music into mainstream society. No longer a countercultural pastime, DJs are now finding themselves influencing pop culture with their hypnotic beats and global fan bases, selling out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden and making their mark in history. But just what does it take to nail the art of being a DJ?

I spoke to Fort Collin’s hottest resident DJ, Spencer Flower. A senior communications studies major at CSU, Flower has played gigs across Colorado and Mexico and regularly DJs at the bars in Old Town. He dished about his experiences in the industry, his love affair with music and the role of the DJ in the dance music revolution.

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Q: When did you know you wanted to be a DJ and how did you break into the industry?

A: I started DJ-ing when I was 16 years old, but what really got me started was the music. After falling in love with the music, I knew I wanted to start gaining skill and knowledge DJ-ing so I saved my money, bought some equipment, and just practiced. I started by recording mix tapes every once in awhile for anyone to hear, but then once I got to college it really picked up and I began playing in local bars and at parties regularly. Over time, my network has expanded and more opportunities have crossed my path along the way, and now we’re here.

Q: What do you think makes a good DJ?

A: There’s a lot more that goes into being a DJ than just showing up to the club and pressing play on the decks. Being able to read the crowd and have the right song selection makes the best DJs who they are. If the DJ can keep pumping out the right vibes and keep the dance floor full of energy, there’s nothing better.

Q: How do you think DJs are changing the face of music today?

A: I think that the DJs of today are the rock stars of yesterday. Music goes in and out of phases: new genres emerge at different periods, and different genres blow up in popularity at different times. Rap and Hip-hop went through this phase, as did Blues, Rock and Roll and Disco. I don’t exactly think DJs are completely changing the face of music today, but I believe they are adding so much more to it that never existed before. Technology has become so friendly to artists and DJs in this industry and the possibilities are virtually endless with what you are able to do with the music. Being able to express yourself musically has become easier and more accessible than it has in past years. With us living in such a tech-savvy world today, it only makes sense that big rock star DJs are the center of attention in the music industry.

Q: Why are you passionate about being a DJ?

I am passionate about being a DJ because I am passionate about music. I have always been a musician my entire life, and believe that music is a universal language that everyone can relate to. Without music life would be horrible. Being a DJ is about giving everyone in the crowd something in common. Every single person dancing out there is listening to the same thing and moving to sounds you are giving to them. Seeing the crowd smiling and having fun together is the best feeling.

Q: How is DJing an art form?

A: To be a good DJ, you need to be knowledgeable on the music, the tempos, the key, the breaks, and the drops. There is so much going on at once, and you need to be aware of that. You could almost call DJing an art of multitasking!

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Q: What is the coolest gig you have ever played at?

A: One of my all time favorite gigs was when the “World’s Largest Paint Party”, DayGlow, came to Colorado. It was a new concept to the nightlife scene that nobody had really experienced before and I was so stoked to have been a part of it. I was able to open for and meet some of my favorite artists, and I will always remember it. But Snowball Music Festival down in Guadalajara, Jalisco in Mexico was a truly awesome experience that I completely soaked in while I was there… Playing the festival was fun but being immersed in the Mexican culture where only a couple others speak English made the adventure so much more exciting!

Q: What’s your favorite song/set/artist at the moment?

A: My favorite song would have to be the new Skrillex and Alvin Risk track, “Try It Out.” My favorite set is 3lau’s Electric Zoo 2013 set. My favorite artist is a tough choice between Dillon Francis and Diplo, but I’m going to have to lock it down on the man, Diplo. Google him… Nobody does it better in this industry.

DJ Spencer Flower plays at The Rec Room in Old Town Fort Collins on Friday and Saturday nights. Stay updated with his gigs at Facebook.com/djspencerflower

College Avenue reporter Lucy Bode can be reached at collegeavenue@collegian.com