By now, if you haven’t seen the DJ movie We Are Your Friends – an EDM-themed film starring Zac Efron as a rising-star DJ – you’ll at least have heard about it. While some audiences found the film entertaining, from a critical perspective, this attempt to bring the world of EDM to the silver screen was a complete and utter failure – just try to find a positive review of the film and you’ll get an idea of what the critics had to stay.
So is getting out to see We Are Your Friends a worthwhile use of an evening for someone who wants to learn to DJ? Whether or not you decide to see the film is up to you, but taste and critical views aside, there is something that all DJs can learn from this ill-fated DJ movie.
The Mainstreaming of EDM
One thing you won’t learn from watching We Are Your Friends is how to actually become a good DJ. Sure, there are some shots of Efron’s character recording samples and making tracks with his laptop, but there’s really nothing here about how to DJ well. Instead what you get is a Hollywood version of the EDM culture surrounding the art of DJing, and this film’s portrayal of that culture tells us something interesting: If Zac Efron is starring in a movie about what you do, you’re no longer part of a subculture.
Regardless of whether or not you liked the film, the mere fact that this DJ movie exists tells us that EDM has been fully embraced (and exploited) by mainstream culture. Considering the fact that it can take years to get a Hollywood movie from script to screen, this means that EDM culture has been in the mainstream for a while now.
One reviewer from Consequence of Sound summed up the cultural implications of this film like this: “Even setting aside for a moment that We Are Your Friends feels several years late to its own party — the EDM wave it aims to catch has by most metrics crested by now — the film is still somehow both cloyingly of-the-moment and instantly obsolete.”
What This Means for DJs
Does this mean EDM culture is over? Definitely not; big name DJs are still making bucketloads of money playing to massive audiences around the world, and they’ll probably continue to do so for years to come.
What this does mean is that, as a DJ, you can’t simply get by on the cool factor of being a DJ anymore. Let’s face it – DJs are everywhere these days. So rather than fading into oblivion as just another wannabe DJ, you’ll need to find ways to set yourself apart and become known as a real artist.
How do you do that? The best way is to simply work as hard as you can on your craft. At Spin Academy, we’ve got online video tutorial lessons on everything from understanding the basics of how DJ gear works to tips on getting gigs and promoting yourself.
If you’re not putting in the effort to improve your skills, then you’ll most likely end up getting lost in the noise of the EDM wave just like Zac Efron’s DJ movie will. But if you’re really set on improving your skills and setting yourself apart as a DJ with real talent and artistic abilities, then you could end up building yourself a successful DJ career that will continue long after the EDM craze has died down.