“I have so much respect for people that still use vinyl,” says DJ Miller. “It’s so hard. It’s really hard to master the precession of dropping a needle exactly where it needs to go.”
Miller, 22, comes from a new school of DJs—call it the “MacBook Pro School”—the DJs that grew up finding music on Napster and iTunes, as opposed to digging in the crates.
“The technology has revolutionized what it means to be a DJ,” he says. “It’s a double-edged sword … the things you can do with it are so advanced and crazy, and you can be so creative. The possibilities are endless. But, to put it bluntly, there are a lot of bad DJs out there.”
Miller, who simply goes by his real name, DJ Miller, when performing, recognizes the pitfalls of DJing from a laptop. The entry barriers of becoming a DJ have all but collapsed. Nowadays, you see kids with iPods full of illegally downloaded music calling themselves DJs—and they get gigs.
“Now everyone wants to be the DJ,” Miller says. “It’s so easy now. You don’t have to carry crates of records around to do a gig.”
And with every kid with an iPod calling himself a DJ, it makes it harder for good DJs, like Miller, to get recognized.
“It’s not just being able to play music,” Miller explains. “It’s being a likeable person and having a personality … having fans that will support you.”
It’s also about knowing the right people. Miller, who DJs at Edge, Nikki Beach, Pearl and other night clubs in Reno, happens to be friends with some of the best DJs in the business, like Las Vegas’ DJ Vice and Reno’s EJ Luera.
“From there, [EJ has] inspired me,” Miller says. “He showed me the ropes. He taught me so much. I have no clue were I’d be without DJ Vice and EJ. Hands down, those guys have helped me so much.”
Sitting in a coffee shop at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is a student, Miller speaks very humbly and openly of his craft. He’s candid about his shortcomings as a DJ. He doesn’t brag about his skills, although he’s quite good. Instead, he explains the skills that good DJs use.
Skills like looping and mixing breaks and feeling out the crowd.
“I really like mashing up songs,” Miller says. “Mashing up is basically putting two songs together. … You’re putting songs together to create a whole different song, different sound.”
“I never plan an entire set,” he says. “What I’ll do is plan out little tricks and little samples at home. … I plan out the little things, the little intricate parts.”
The more he talks about the nuts and bolts of DJing, it becomes obvious that technology has helped the art move in new, exciting directions. Back in the day, DJs used to mix the breaks from different records over songs, hence having two tables. Miller and other DJs are still mixing breaks, And, of course, they still use their tables for scratching and mixing, but now they’re able to take it even further.