How I Put Together a DJ Set Pt. 2: When an Older Song Finally Sounds Right

The Knife "Like a Pen" 12" (Photo: Liz O.)

This week, I’m documenting how I put together a DJ set for Underground. Even though my sets are, ultimately, spontaneous, I try to spend a little time every day working on them. We’ll see how it all works out on Friday night. RSVP for Underground’s Siouxsie and the Banshees vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs night on Facebook.

The record in the above photo is The Knife’s remix 12″ single for “Like a Pen.” It came out on Mute back in 2006 and that’s probably right around the time I bought it. I’ve had it in my crate for a gigs here and there, but I’m not quite sure I’ve ever dropped any of the mixes in a set.

I never thought the remixes on this record quite fit with anything else I was playing, that is, until Tuesday. I was going through a shelf of random, unalphabetized and uncategorized vinyl, looking for something that was electronic, but would sound good at a Siouxsie and the Banshees vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs party. The Knife would work. The music is dark and Karin Dreijer-Andersson’s distinct vocals go with the kind of mood our theme bands cultivate.

When I’m picking out remixes to play at Underground, I search for the vocals. It’s really important that the mixes are vocal heavy and don’t stray too much from the sound of the album version. Ultimately, everything I play has to be song-oriented. After all, I’m spinning at an indie club, not a techno party. I dropped the needle on the Heartthrob mix of “Like a Pen” and the vocals worked. Plus, I knew instinctively that it would go really well with an early-2000s electro hit that I still love to play.

However, there was a problem with this mix. Somewhere in the middle, there’s a super noisy bit that I think would be too distracting for people on the dance floor. Egad! It would have been otherwise perfect.

But, there’s always a solution. I grabbed a 12″ for one of the massive Underground hits, which has a long, instrumental intro. It was a little faster than The Knife track, so I slightly increased the pitch for The Knife while slowing down the second track. Then I mixed the second track into “Like a Pen” right when the noise was kicking in while messing with the EQs until the sound was less piercing.

It worked. I tried it a few more times until I really started to like the way everything flowed.

But, will it work on the dance floor at the Grand Star this Friday night? I still don’t know. If I’m feeling brave, I’ll try it. If I start to feel like this isn’t the right night for it, you’ll have to wait.

To be continued.

For more on my club work, see my DJ bio.

One thought on “How I Put Together a DJ Set Pt. 2: When an Older Song Finally Sounds Right

  1. Pingback: » Set List: Siouxsie and the Banshees vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Night at Underground Beatique

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