EDM Struggles: Playing Nirvana Mash-Ups In Your DJ Set

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EDM Struggles: Playing Nirvana Mash-Ups In Your DJ Set

DJs- Do you EDM?  Do you big room?  Do you play Nirvana mash-ups in your set?  Did you answer yes to all three of these questions? Then you have a problem.

Like most epidemics, this disease started off very small, with a couple of big room DJs trying to be hip and edgy. They wanted to 'switch up the vibe' with a little 90s alt-rock. Usually, it's some 130 bpm electro house version with a drop cued up by Kurt Cobain's iconic yell, "HEY!".

It probably worked the first few times- we can hear the crowd singing the words as the volume fader is pulled down--

Crowd: "With the lights out, it's less dangerous"

DJ Big Room: "EVERYBODY NOW!"

Crowd: "HERE WE ARE NOW, ENTERTAIN US!!!!"

That was fun.  The problem, big room DJs, is that you aren't entertaining us any more. The hip and edginess factor was lost about the 2nd time you hear it at the same festival.  Multiple that by about 100 festivals and countless club nights-- it's become so normal the norm-core cats won't fuck with it and the hipsters don't even see the irony.

We get it- "Smells like Teen Spirit" is a huge song and Nirvana was a major influencing band of the 90s. So if you want to play the song, play the original version. Use it as bridge to delve into a couple other different genres to break up the four on the floor club sound.

But better yet, play something off of Bleach or In Utero. Even better, take a chance by playing a song from a band of the same era that people might not be as familiar with.

Remember, you only need a small percentage of the crowd to get excited when you drop a song- their energy will be contagious. And if you're a good DJ, you'll know how to make it work.

Part of your job as a DJ is to go digging for music, new and old. Technology has made discovering new artists and songs easier than ever- take advantage of that. The great DJs are ones that take risks, break from the norm, and bring the crowd with them on a musical journey.

If you're playing Nirvana mash-ups in your set, the crowd is just stuck in traffic.