General Lee has been mixing tunes since the 90s and with all those years of experience, he’s been generous enough to provide a quick lesson on how you can become a master behind the decks.
Although a lot has changed since then - the tech and the tunes - the basics to DJing still remain the same and General Lee will run you through them.
You can listen to the ‘Quickie: DJ Masterclass With General Lee’ George FM Breakfast podcast episode for the full lesson.
Figure out the tunes you love
Lee reckons to start off you want to be mixing the music “you’re passionate about” and “hunt out on a daily basis.”
Then, put those tunes in a folder in whatever DJ software you use. There are free options available for DJing software, such as ‘rekordbox’ and ‘Serato DJ Lite’ - just pick whatever one ya like mate.
Get ya beat-matching on
Transitioning between two songs during a mix is beatmatching. Tunes mix the best when they’ve got the same tempo or BPM (beats per minute). Luckily, most DnB, house, and techno songs have similar tempos.
Another important part of mixing General Lee brings up is mixing in key. Every song ever has a key, and some keys mix better with certain keys than others. General recommends using the ‘Camelot Wheel’ which lets ya know which songs mix together well and which ones mix together shit.
Use your ears
Nowadays DJing hardware shows a waveform that shows you when the beats match up. Back in Lee’s day he was using turntables and had to sync up his tunes by ear instead of pushing a button.
There’s nothing wrong with button pushing, but Lee reckons training yourself to mix with your ears rather than your eyes is the best way to learn, like learning to drive a manual car before you drive an auto.
Lee also talks about phrasing: how every EDM song tends to have an event (bassline, hi-hat, bridge, etc) every 32 beats, so count to 32 when you want to mix a song in/out.
Get to know the structure of the tracks you are mixing so you can have sound slick and get some ‘oofs’, ‘yeaaaa’s and ‘sheeeeesh’s from the crowd.
Not that gear mate, DJing gear. Lee says that all you need to start off is a simple 2-channel or 4-channel controller. It doesn’t have to be too expensive and will help you get used to all the effects and the actual feel of mixing.
You can also go old school with it and grab some turntables and use them with Serato. Turntables are harder but you’ll have General Lee’s respect if you get on them.
Make sure you listen to the full podcast linked above to get the whole lesson and all the details General goes in to.