How To: 10 steps to Drumming with a DJ
By: Desereé Fawn of “Dance Loud”
Why I started performing with a DJ:
Growing up, I started playing the drums in school at the age of 10. I performed in symphonic, concert, jazz, and marching band throughout college. The bands I performed with outside of school ranged between rock, gospel and metal. Upon attending art school in Chicago and majoring in music, I was introduced to the world of “house music”, now living in the city it was first created in. DJ Kristin, the love of my life and band mate of 8 years, was also a big influence on house music. My love for performing high tempo tracks, along with Kristin’s love for house, was perfect for the creation of our band name “Dance Loud”. We have now toured coast to coast and had the chance to spread the positivity of house music across the nation. The rest became history for us as a house music DJ and Drummer duo.
1. Comfort: Perform the way you practice! I practice barefoot therefore I perform barefoot.
2. Genre: Be a passionate performer! I enjoy high tempo dance music, metal, and jazz. Our sets consist of just that: high tempo house, with elements of swing and jazz, and metal using double bass kicks when suitable.
3. Monitors: You sound the way you hear! When your cymbals are ringing, you need a good monitor! I prefer an in-ear headphone in my left ear to hear the music and my right ear open to hear me (kind of like a DJ).
4. Stage: Be flexible! Every venue and club is uniquely different from one another. Be prepared for performing with a side-to-side set up, V formation, drums in front of the DJ, or even being on separate sides of the room. A lot of the times, a venue is set up for either a band or a DJ… rarely both.
5. Mixdowns: Do not clutter the mix! House music has long blends of 2 tracks being played as one and can easily sound messy with the extra layer of acoustic drums. Always keep in mind to complement the mix and not to clutter.
6. Accents: Know when the bass drops! House music and other forms of electronic music are not produced the same way that top 40 and other mainstream tracks are. Builds can be 12 measures long and breaks can be a half a measure. I prefer to mimic the builds and destroy the breaks!
7. Beats: Compliments make everyone feel good! House music has a strong focus on quarter notes yet pianos and horns can be used for rhythm vs melody. I enjoy performing syncopated “off-beats” often using polyrhythms and polymeters to create a energetically diverse sound and performance.
8. Crowd: Feel your Fans! Read the crowd the same way a DJ does. If they’re feeling it, go harder. If not, bring it down a notch. Play as if it’s the last show you’ll ever play!
9. Stamina: Sprint not jog! If your performing at 128 BPM’s for 2 hours straight.. Be physically prepared to perform for 3 hours straight and stay hydrated so you’ll always be able to end with a bang!
10. Hearing: Open up those ears! When you are waiting to perform and enjoying the opening bands, as a natural defense our ears close to prevent damage from extended amounts of high level sound. I like to step outside for 5 min prior to my set to let my ears open for clarity. You only sound as good as you can hear!