To the untrained ear, techno might sound like the easiest type of music to make. And while techno does rely on simple structures, great techno music is anything but simplistic. Just listen to some of the early Detroit Techno tracks by people like Juan Atkins and you’ll learn to appreciate the subtle artistry and attention to detail that great techno artists rely upon when making their music. On the other hand, techno is one of the biggest genres in EDM today, and learning to separate the good tracks from the not-so-good can be a real challenge. So if you want to know how to DJ techno like a pro, you’ll first have to familiarize yourself with what great techno music sounds like.
Taste and Curation
Because most people can grasp the technical elements of how to DJ techno music fairly quickly, becoming a great techno DJ is as much about being a good curator as it is about understanding the technical aspects of the genre. Of course, everyone has their own definition of what good techno music sounds like, so no one will ever agree with your setlist 100% of the time, and that’s not a bad thing. Your job as a techno DJ isn’t to try to match everyone else’s tastes; it’s to develop your own taste to the point where you know more about the music than anyone else in the room. Your job shouldn’t be to play everyone’s favourite tracks all the time; it should be to surprise people with tracks they didn’t even know they wanted to hear.
Space and Texture
Techno music can be at times very sparse and at other times very dense. Part of understanding how to DJ techno is understanding how to balance these two extremes. Once again, this is where taste and curation come into play. Some DJs lean towards the denser, heavier material, while others prefer to remain in minimalist territory, and the rest will land somewhere in between. Where you land on the spectrum doesn’t affect your value as a DJ, but it is important to keep in mind that the mixing styles for different types of techno will vary. Sparser tracks are usually better suited to longer transitions, while denser tracks usually work better with quicker transitions. Of course, there are always exceptions, so use your ears and your judgement to figure out what type of transition works best for each track.
Effects as Instruments
Another element that sets great techno DJs apart from the mediocre ones is their ability to manipulate effects when needed, and their taste in how they employ these effects. In our final blog post in the How to DJ Techno series, we’ll get into some of the specifics of how to use effects when DJing techno music, but for now, check out a free preview of our effects video tutorial series. This 4-part video series by DJ Rafh will teach you how to get the most out of your effects on any DJ system. You’ll also find plenty more lessons like this on Spin-Academy.com, which you can join right now for only $19.95 per month.