Do superstar DJs just press 'go' on their live shows?

  • 20 November 2012
  • From the section Music

It started with a video that appeared to show Swedish House Mafia DJ Steve Angello pressing play on a pre-mixed segment of a festival set.

A war of words was sparked between some of the dance world's biggest names and it is yet to die down.

"In a way, yes, you press a button but you're still there performing your art," says Swedish House Mafia's Axwell.

"Maybe DJ'ing is just reserved for people who use vinyl then."

Swedish House Mafia
Swedish House Mafia are selling out arenas worldwide on their farewell tour

Speaking to Newsbeat from the middle of the group's globe-spanning farewell arena tour, he adds: "We that use CDJs or Ableton [software], let's just call us artists if that's easier.

"Maybe the debate will end. I don't think it's a healthy debate to have."

Calvin Harris has followed in the footsteps of David Guetta and Skrillex in stepping into the DJ super league in recent years, via collaborations with everyone from Rihanna to Florence & The Machine.

"I think it's not a problem," shrugs Harris. "In the club you want to hear a produced piece of music, you want to hear the bass, you want to hear it as good as it can sound.

"I used to perform with a band putting all sorts of work into a live show and I can tell you that the reaction was worse than it is when I'm DJ'ing."

Nick Decosemo, editor of dance magazine MixMag, says the debate continues to bubble.

"If you're a real purist live music fan then you probably want to see some kind of talent with an instrument," he says.

"On the other hand you may just want to go to a show because you've heard these songs, you love the artist and you're going to see some kind of mind-blowing light show - you're quite happy to be there, lost in the moment."

Deadmau5
Canadian DJ Deadmau5 has been criticised for admitting "we all hit play"

At the time, Canadian star Deadmau5 responded to the row with a blog which tried to tell the truth about what happens behind the turntables up on stage. It was headlined We All Hit Play.

"I'm not going to let it go thinking that people assume there's a guy on a laptop up there producing new original tracks on the fly, because none of the top DJs in the world to my knowledge have, myself included," Deadmau5 wrote.

"Questions of authenticity have been raised," five-times DJ world champion (and one half of Duck Sauce) A-Trak said in response.

"He [Deadmau5] doesn't fully understand, or care for, what DJ'ing is at the core, but that doesn't take away from his talent."

Today A-Trak says fans' expectations have changed in a world of flashy productions and cutting-edge light shows.

"Crowds used to come see DJs for a musical journey," he says.

"Now they expect to hear specific songs, and furthermore, they want to see a show."

Sub Focus
UK DJ Sub Focus at this summer's Radio 1 Hackney Weekend

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