DJ Romain

The New Yorker talks 20 years of DJing and future fun...

Tell us what you’ve learned in your career about…

…public expectation.
In the early days, around 1990, I really cared what people thought about my tracks and I spent a lot of time in the studio to compete with producers that I admired. Now, 19 years later, I don’t care as much about public expectation. All I care about is it if I like it or not, because if I like it I know other people will like it as well.

…dealing with creative block.
I seriously don’t ever have that problem. I think it’s because of the amount of years I’ve been listening to music. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough days in the week to get all the musical ideas out there. One day I might do a soulful house track, another day I will feel like sampling some old disco tune or doing a tech track – there are so many ways to go that I will never run out of ideas.

…getting the crowd on your side.
One time I played at a club where the vibe was kind of on the hard house tip. I play deep house and I didn’t have that kind of music in my catalogue; the crowd were throwing their hands up in the air as if to say, ‘Faster, faster!’ I had a few electro tracks in my CD book my friend gave me for an emergency – and this was an emergency! So I mixed a few electro tracks with my deep house tracks and they loved it!

…younger DJs.
I can still learn from younger DJs because they’re up on the new music programs. You never stop learning.

…the music industry.
It has changed since I first got in. Back in the vinyl years things were good; you still had to know what you were doing with contracts and publishing, but you definitely made more money selling vinyl. And you could go to a record store and find out in person if DJs liked your track or not. But the changes in the market have created opportunities and space for new musical identities to emerge.

…creating a good tune.
To me, a good tune is one that gives me goosebumps when I hear it. To get inspiration for a track I usually listen to older house tunes that I used to play back in the early ’90s, but only my all-time favourites. So when I work on my track it should give me that same feeling. I have a wealth of good music in my record collection that I can pull from to use as a blueprint for whatever vibe I’m trying to convey in my house tracks – and, of course, to help figure out how it’s going to work on the dancefloor.

…stage fright.
I still get a little nervous before I play; anyone who tells you they don’t get nervous is totally lying! It’s just natural to feel a little jittery before playing for a crowd, especially for a big crowd. After my third or fourth mix I start to feel more relaxed, then when I get that feedback from the crowd, I really get into the mix. From there it’s give and take between me and the people on the dancefloor.

DJ Romain plays 360°, November 14.

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