World College Radio Day was one of the craziest days of my life, and it came on the heels of a fever pitch of excitement at the station. Never have I been so excited about a holiday I had only heard of a week before it happened.
And in the midst of the hype, I decided to make a 5 hour set focused around dark techno and midtempo, which are genres I’m not exactly an expert in. Here are a few things I learned along the way for anyone who finds their set length exceeding the runtime of “Avengers: Endgame”. This is one for all the DJs out there.
- Focus on the big picture. Have a set theme going into it, and having different subgenres within your overall set description. This is just personal preference, but you really don’t want to stick to one very specific niche for more than a few hours. If songs start to feel the same, you don’t want to be stuck having to play that same thing for an hour more than you want to. I wanted my theme to be a “descent into madness”, so I started with house music before going into techno and later into midtempo and dubstep, slowly getting darker while trying to make any given few songs feel like they should be in the same set.
- Don’t worry about individual transitions that much, at least early on. 5 hours equated to around 90 songs for me, and that’s a lot to have to get in a hyper-specific order. Start by grouping songs into general categories like mood and tempo, which will narrow down the amount of ordering you have to do by a lot.
- Don’t be afraid to throw in something off the wall. Putting a noise pop song by Black Dresses in the middle of a bunch of dubstep feels odd, but don’t sweat it. A change of pace after an hour of the same genre sounds a lot better than you might think.
- Use your resources. In making this set I had to branch out a lot from my typical listening habits and ways of discovering music, Spotify radio stations of individual songs helped a lot with this. Music-map.com was also a great resource. This website lets you search an artist and showing a map of artists you’ll probably like if you like that artist, the closer together they are the more likely you’ll click with them. I came into this set liking Rezz a lot and wanted her style of midtempo music to be at least an hour of my set, so searching for Rezz on music-map let me find artists like Hlfmn and Whipped Cream whose songs became cornerstones of that time block.
And remember, don’t stress out too much. It might feel like a lot but doing a long set is about having fun and really getting to showcase a genre. If you’re genuinely enjoying the songs and how they’re flowing it’ll reflect in the end product. This is only my first set of this length and I definitely have a lot to learn, and that’s part of the fun of it, just scratching the surface of a new and exciting activity for me.