All You Need to Know About How to DJ Downtempo Sets

For every DJ, it is an amazing experience to see everyone on the dance floor having a great time dancing to the beat of the music. Just like everything else in life, there are some slight differences in what each DJ prefers. Some are hugely satisfied by playing music in a room with a relaxed crowd or dance clubs in Ibiza till the sun rises, while others enjoy playing hardcore Electronic Dance Music (EDM) all the way at a rocking club in Vegas. Numerous DJs have managed to settle for a successful occupation on the lower side of EDM. If you want to know more about how you can DJ downtempo music, you must first study its history and basis.

how to downtempo sets as a DJ

What Is a Downtempo DJ All About?

In today’s time, we are familiar with the term ‘downtempo DJ’ and know that they indulge in various music genres which include hip-hop, ambient, dubstep, chillwave, and much more. These different types were all introduced at one particular point in time: the 90s. The trend began when people wanted to ‘chill’ after a night of intense partying without exiting the club premises. Due to this, a ‘chill-out’ corner was invented to play downtempo music only; those were the same downtempo tracks we listen to today. EDM events (such as the ones held in Ibiza) began to adopt the ‘chill-out’ idea, but instead of creating special rooms, they employed downtempo DJs to manage the after-party crowd. These DJs played their tracks in the early mornings when the sun is beginning to rise.

These genres are not limited to ‘chill-out’ corners anymore but have far expanded to produce successful DJs such as Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Boards of Canada, and Zero 7. These well-known musicians are leading the downtempo industry today.

Basic Idea: Surroundings Are More Important Than the Beat

Despite the resemblance between downtempo music and electronic music, it is still vital to change your thinking pattern when it comes to learning how to DJ downtempo sets. The reasoning behind this statement is that downtempo is the only category of music that does not mainly involve mixing various beats. Even though there is a particular rhythm to the music, it does not play the major role during the process of its creation and neither is the average BPM and type of beat consistent with one another. A few ambient musicians use simple beats to create their music, whereas others may use complex ones. Since the BPM is lower for downtempo music as compared to others, there are no restrictions regarding what BPM should be utilized for an individual downtempo track.

The vital factor that you must remember while learning about downtempo music is an awareness of your surroundings. Since everyone in the club will not dance to the downtempo tracks, it is necessary the music you provide them with is something that they would want to hear. You must also remember that the beats you select create an atmosphere that people feel comfortable in and would like to stay in. As mentioned above, the ‘chill-out’ idea is not restricted to small spaces anymore, but this does not mean that it does not hold any significance. With time, your experience will increase and you will learn about how individual songs suit particular situations to create a space and which beats mix well with the tracks you have selected.

Matching the Beats

Even though the beats are not the most important factor when it comes to downtempo tracks, they still make a significant difference. For a consistent rhythm, you must ensure that the beats are in sync with one another.

Consistent Mixing

Mixing in a particular order is more important than ensuring that the beats are in sync. Since beats are not the primary focus in this music category, instrumentals and lyrics will steer the direction of downtempo music tracks. To ensure that your songs are on the right path, you must be careful when it comes to mixing. This genre revolves around setting the mood, and there is nothing that destroys it like a poorly mixed song.

Enhance Your Interests

All DJs want to succeed in their career; the trick behind this is to habitually follow the two basic tips mentioned above. If you mainly want to excel in downtempo music, these tips are everything you need to begin. The one last factor that you should consider is excellent taste. Downtempo DJs do not always require the best mixing techniques, but they should know how to create comfortable surroundings that set the mood right. To learn how to create the perfect atmosphere and mood, you must know how to enhance your taste and find out when is the right time to play which track.

Planned Spontaneous Actions

A skilled downtempo DJ is aware when the music needs planning or a natural move. An even better DJ knows when to mix in the two together. You would need to be aware of the music you will be using but would also want to be able to change the tracks to brighten the mood. Would you like to have more information regarding DJing downtempo tracks?

Even though the initial idea is not too complicated, many DJs spend their entire career refining their skill. Since the methods mentioned are quite simple to understand, there is ample time left for implementation and researching. It is imperative to make new discoveries with various sounds, beats, and instruments. The DJs who discover new styles and exclusive sounds set new trends and leave a great legacy. These DJs cause others to lose the race who only implement and do not discover unique sounds.

Locate the Right Place…

As a DJ, when you choose the downtempo field, you are limited to very few venue options. The music that downtempo DJs work with have slower beats and cannot be adapted to all kinds of surroundings. Therefore, every club may not be a suitable choice. On the other hand, some clubs and parties will have the ‘chill-out’ concept and appreciate quality downtempo tracks. These places are ideal to begin your DJ career within the downtempo genre.

…By Focusing on the Wrong Places

Even though your cool beats may not be suitable for the regular dance clubs, there are still many venues that require a DJ who knows how to control the atmosphere and make the mood a peaceful and relaxing one. Even though the ‘chill-out’ corner trend phased out after the 90s, there are still some clubs that actively use it, although there are not as many clubs that provide this service as there were previously. To begin your career, you can contact the clubs who still believe in the concept and are in dire need of a well-qualified DJ. The benefit that such DJs get are the vast options for venues as they are not just limited to dance clubs (like other DJs). They can perform at formal dinners, cruises, adult birthday parties, charity functions, shopping malls, and much more. The options are unlimited if you delve deeper into this field.

Be a Part of the Loop

It has been stated before that the real trick to receiving downtempo DJ opportunities rely more on who you are acquaintances with in the industry rather than what your skills are. Even though your skills hold a lot of weight, your contacts will play a significant role in progressing your career. You cannot be solely dependent on your talent if you do not know any leading individuals in the industry. Since the downtempo crowd is similar to a niche market, you will find it easy to change your relationships into chances of future performances. The most convenient way you can get to know people in this field is if you visit regular performances in your vicinity. You need maximum a month to be recognized by the people in charge of such shows. In a situation like this, it is ideal for you to speak to these individuals and give them an insight into your skills and experience.

Focus on Your Pitch

Before meeting a person or company that can hire you, it is equally significant to have a good lengthy pitch as to have a brief one. A lengthy pitch is less of pitch and more of an attempt at having a conversation with a person to find out more about them. You must discuss likes and dislikes that you have in common instead of conversing about yourself. Most of the times, this technique proves to be successful at winning an appointment with a particular club or event. This is because relationships established in this manner will naturally lead to opportunities in the future. On the other hand, if somebody questions you about your career, you only have half a minute to persuade them that you are the individual they are looking for because of your talents as a DJ. With both long and brief pitches, you will find many options open for you.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

The last and never-ending method that will expand your career as a downtempo DJ is to rehearse and exploit your talent to the fullest. You may get your initial shows due to your acquaintances, but if your performance deteriorates, you may eventually lose them.