Following on from At The Chase 2018: Competition DJing Pt 2 (Strictly Lindy) – this is the final part of my Chase competition DJing… and far and away the most challenging to find music for – for two reasons.
First – it’s probably the highest-level competition I’ve yet to play music for. Even though this is just a qualifying round for the cup (the final will be in 2019) – qualifying for the qualifiers is far from easy… Secondly – unlike the other Chase competitions, I was providing the music for the final. So… no pressure.
First we had the easy (for me) part – the prelims. Three songs – medium, medium, fast… although for this one, medium meant somewhere around the 180bpm mark, and fast took us up to 240ish.
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- Clarence Williams – Lord Deliver Daniel: One of my favourite songs – although not one I DJ a great deal. It’s that incredible interplay between the sax and the horns which gives it an incredible driving momentum, with So. Much. Rhythm… it’s very hard to sit still to it.
- Ben Webster – Sing You Sinners: Slightly faster, but a little more relaxed – it’s a nice track for generally playing around and making the most of the music.
- Ella Fitzgerald & Her Famous Orchestra – Sugarfoot Stomp: One of the classic high-energy tunes, from Ella fronting one of the most experienced dance bands of the time – it’s another from the Live At The Savoy album, which every DJ needs to own.
Here’s where things got a little tricky. The requirements that were were given called for a twelve bar blues, around 240bpm, in classic spotlight structure, giving two full phrases per couple followed by an all-skate. We had five couples in the final, and for … a variety of reasons, I found myself in the slightly uncomfortable position of creating a track to fit the bill.
This meant that I spent an anxious couple of hours editing a track to fit the format (which I was still editing right up to the wire) – and I took Charlie Barnet’s incredible The Last Jump … which is around two minutes forty seconds in length – and made it last for over five minutes. Things to be pleased about are that the result does fit the requirements like a glove… and that no couple got the same phrase twice. Given that the song consists of an intro, five full phrases, a drum break then a finale… that could easily have happened – so I had to be a little inventive with the edit.
For me – because I spent so long actually doing the editing, it’s now impossible to watch the competition without feeling a little tense, and hearing all the places I’d made changes. Others tell me that it actually does work. You can be the judge.
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(warm-up track was Basie’s wonderful Tune Town Shuffle)
Overall – despite the fact that I do find competition DJing quite stressful – I massively enjoyed DJing the Chase competitions, and I feel that I’ve learned a huge amount from them. I came home resolved to get hold of a lot more LONG tracks – so that I wouldn’t be caught out again by the need for long spotlight-format tracks. I’ve also learned that I need to resume an old practice of annotating all competition-worthy tracks that I find, recording the number of phrases, any drum breaks or bridges, and any general notes.
Finally, I’ve learned that the DJ is often in the competition videos (not to mention the cabaret videos), so should generally dress well, and not do anything too attention-getting (like packing up DJ gear during a band-led comp, or standing and filming the proceedings)