Should producers play their own music when DJing?
If the crew turns up shouldn't the DJ too?
Header photo by Matsu Photography
Recently Jamie xx was in the country for Beyond The Valley, Lost Paradise, FOMO and a host of sideshows. After bubbling just under the mainstream surface for a couple of years since breaking out on his own from The xx, 2015 was the year his popularity has sky-rocketed off the back of the release of his fantastic debut album, In Colour. But over the course of his Australian tour, there was a fair bit of criticism concerning the fact he didn’t play a whole lot of his own music. At Lost Paradise despite having a two-hour set he only played four of his own songs and skipped I Know, There's Gonna Be (Good Times) feat. Popcaan. Which for many raised the question, if you see a DJ should they play predominately their own music?
Looking at the example of Jamie xx, there's a pretty clear conflict between mainstream success and staying underground. For years Jamie xx flirted on the edge of these two fields with his Gill-Scott Heron remixes and work with The xx. He was never in the limelight for too long but everyone who watched him respected him as a DJ with some serious production skills. In the process, he became a gatekeeper for all things cool in the UK electronic scene. This started to change with the Girl / Sleep Sound release.
But In Colour really took him to another level; Jamie xx had completely stepped out from behind the long, dark shadow cast by his band with tracks like Loud Places and I Know, There's Gonna Be (Good Times) and people went ballistic. With the latter of those two tracks in particular garnering heavy rotation on our nation's youth broadcaster (so much so it's at least a contender for the 2015 Hottest 100), audiences down under were expecting a set laden with tracks from In Colour. Instead of having a good time with Jamie xx songs, they heard but a few, heavily interspersed with other artists' music with genre-spanning sets that were focused on the journey, not the destination.
And it was one hell of a set but it raises the question; who is he DJing for? Is he here to entertain a crowd that has paid to see him? Or is he here to play music he loves in an effort to expand people’s minds but in doing so potentially ostracise his fans? Which comes back to the conflict between mainstream success and remaining underground, and in the case of Jamie xx it's fair to say a lot of the complainants, for the most part, fall into his relatively new expanded fan base off the back of In Colour's success, and the popularity of ...Good Times in particular. Older fans of the artist going to see his set should (and did) know what to expect from a Jamie xx set; not a huge focus on material from In Colour, and a bit of a musical journey spanning a variety of genres not necessarily tied to his own output.
It creates a weird dichotomy, particuarly with the sideshows - promoters were able to sell a lot of tickets based on his more recent popularity and people loving a couple of his high rotation singles, but then some of those fans left his show feeling a little dissatisfied with what they heard.
So should DJs play their own music? Really, it's up to them, and then you to decide if you had a good time or not. Was Jamie xx not playing ...Good Times during his some of his sets a kick in the teeth to new fans? Maybe. Should they have done a bit of research into the artist so they could have gone in knowing a little better what to expect? Probably. Did they get an hour or two of selections from one of the world's most exciting electronic artists working today? Most definitely.
Check out the full photo set from our Jamie xx and Four Tet show in Perth HERE.