We got some sound advice, wit and wisdom from some of the world’s top DJs. Today’s question:
What is your pre-show ritual?
I don’t have a pre-show ritual, but I have an on-tour ritual: Anywhere I go, I try to find a bike to hire and go for a ride. I love cycling; if I weren’t a musician, I would be a pro cyclist. I have been cycling since I was a kid. I’m always pedaling a fixed gear. There are periods when it’s more intense and I ride every day, or other periods—particularly over winter or if I have a long tour—when it’s less frequent. But obviously, I’ve ridden daily for a couple of months to prepare. There is also the odd disco-nap… or five.
I like to take a quick nap before the set. One hour is usually more than enough just to reboot the system and relax my senses. This helps me really focus on my set and the energy that I get from the dancefloor and to respond to that with my music.
I always try to make unique edits for the show that I am about to play. I also enjoy showing up a little early before the performance to feel the energy.
I have an early dinner, disco nap for a couple of hours, shower and neck 3,000 mg of vitamin C and guarana. I never skip this routine before a show. It gives me the right boost whilst living on three hours of sleep between shows and traveling from city to city. When I’m doing long sets, I have my vitamins with me as well. I don’t drink nor do any mood-altering substances while I’m performing, so it helps keep the energy levels up.
We always warm up our voices for 20 minutes before a set if it is a live vocal performance. Throat Coat Tea and honey is always by our side. If we aren’t caught up in pre-show adrenaline, sometimes we remember to stretch our bodies. For the most part we’ve overcome our nervousness before shows. The most important thing is to not ignore or deny the fact that there is a little bit of fear in you. What makes us stronger and more resilient is when we can admit that we are HUMAN with natural feelings of stress and anxiety. Suppressing an emotion will only make it manifest into something worse over time. We also have the most amazing, accepting, and supportive fans who welcome us with open arms on stage; that makes it easier to let go of the ego. And right before we step onstage, the three of us, along with surrounding performers and our team, will throw our hands in the middle and yell, “1, 2, 3, TROLL!”
An hour or two of some quick pre-show edits, then off to the venue to get a read on the crowd and get in the zone before my set.
The Glitch Mob
We have a meditation we do before every show to clear everything away and be in the moment. We say, “Here’s to the now” and huddle together in silence for a minute. It’s important to us to clean the slate before performing so that we can be on point. No matter what’s happened during that day, we focus on bringing our best to the stage.
Cassettes Won’t Listen
A couple beers, stretching, practice any new dance moves I learned that week.
Always stressed, thinking of the set and preparing it with my musician.
I always have a beer or two and listen to the DJs that are playing before me so I can get a feel of the crowd and know how to open my set.
Usually, I have a Thai massage and facial backstage, then a big team hug with my entourage. Not really; in reality, I have a few drinks, pace around a bit, and am generally not very talkative—but that’s just the pre-gig nerves and excitement.
Meditation is always a great pre-show ritual. Before all of the craziness, it’s good to mediate and reflect on what’s ahead of you.
Normally, our pre-show ritual involves checking out the city that we are in and finding a good restaurant to have a steak and a few beers before the madness begins!
Kissy Sell Out
It’s funny, some big DJs I’ve met along my travels don’t break even the tiniest drop of sweat before walking onstage, but I have always been that weird guy who nervously paces back and forth behind the curtain before a performance. A lot of people find my pre-show jitters slightly unnerving, but for me, it’s just a sign of how much I care.
DJing really can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. By intentionally making some of my DJ “set piece” moments so complicated and intricate that it all feels as though the flow of music could fall apart at any moment, I get a huge buzz. Holding it together and pulling off moves with an umbrella of risk above, you can shoot out an air of excitement that will ripple through the front row of people and cut right across to the back of the crowd. I remember when I would drop my classical music remixes at big festivals, fully aware of how wrong it could go if I didn’t deliver properly. When it works it feels amazing, and the moment I can’t do that anymore I will just hang up my headphones and do something else!
I don’t tend to have a pre-show ritual, but I do like to listen to the DJs playing before me.
Dzeko & Torres
Usually have a couple drinks just to get warmed up and shake any nerves.
Being as unprepared as I possibly can—in terms of my set, of course. I hate pre-planning stuff. It becomes a handicapping element to just connecting with your audience and enjoying the moment together. I never sort anything musically or have the slightest clue what I’m going to play before a set. That’s what makes them exciting.