A gargantuan sense of self-entitlement, a complete lack of self-awareness and an insatiable thirst to be paid a lot of money. To an extent, these are qualities that some of the biggest DJs have had for decades – in many ways, this goes back to the days before house music. But is the problem as bad as ever or getting worse?
Ears To The House occasionally receives emails on the very subject – many of which frequently end up in our Wednesday Whisper column. A question lesser asked, however, is why they’re like this. So we thought we’d ask our industry insider for his opinion – and having been around since the mid-1980s, he would know a thing or two on the subject.
So let’s have some history first – were they always like this? The Insider says “The first bunch of house DJs were mostly humble guys – you got the odd one that acted like a d***head, but most of them were nice enough. Then you got the likes of Derrick May coming out of Detroit, putting out this personality in the press as an arrogant p***k – and many thought they had to be like this too.”
“As the DJ started to become more central to a night out, many of the big players realised they could capitalise on this. Most did – they’d demand more money, they’d put more stuff on their riders and they quickly became surrounded by yes men who did what they wanted and didn’t ask questions. They’re not used to being told no. That’s why they lose their s*** at even the mildest criticism.”
And have these DJs got worse over time? He says “They got more demanding as the 90s went on, that’s for sure. They kind of plateaued in the early 2000s before starting to rise again, but more slowly. Some of them eased up and started trying to act like humans at the start of the pandemic – but they didn’t last too long. Now we’re in a seller’s market, if you like, the egos are well and truly back.”
“The reason they do it is because they can. It’s this simple. They know they can get away with it and no one will call them out – or, at least, that’s how it used to be. And whenever they do get called out, they start playing the victim or dishing out the kind of abuse they’d never take from someone else. It’s pretty pathetic, really.”.
On the subject of the best way to deal with diva DJs, he simply says “The way we usually deal with it is to give them what they ask, then usually agree amongst ourselves that they’re a bit of a c***. It’s probably not the best way, though.”…