Golf Clap - How We DJ
Detroit-based DJ/production team Bryan Jones & Hugh Cleal aka Golf Clap tour regularly in the US and play at many of the hot spots in New York, Detroit, Denver Colorado, Boston, Oconomowoc, Cleveland, Phoenix, Chicago, Los Angeles & Milwaukee. So we wanted to find out more about their personal preferences & tastes in Clubland. This is How Golf Clap DJ. Also, check out their new album on Low Steppa’s label Simma Black, out now on Traxsource.
The 313 LP is available now on Traxsource.
Are you guys more DJs or Producers — or BOTH?
We like to think of ourselves as both equally.
Describe what makes a good DJ in three or four words.
Selection, timing, stage presence.
Who or what inspired you two to become DJs?
(Hugh) A combination of things, partly being involved with the orchestra from a young age, and the rest from being involved in the underground Detroit scene. It wasn’t as it is now with everyone trying to be a DJ because of the larger investment people had to make with vinyl. I was in a few plays when I was a kid too which I think is why I love being on stage.
When did you know you wanted to DJ?
(Bryan) In High School I had been playing drums for about 8 years, but wasn’t listening to music with live drummers anymore. I ended up selling my drum set to buy a sampler, and then I bought some belt drive Numark tables and a mixer with no EQ’s. I didn’t know what I was doing yet at all, but I knew – that was what I needed to get started…
Who was or is “The DJ’s DJ”?
Suppose it all depends on what the criteria is. Two of the most innovative are DJ EZ & Eats Everything. Shadow Child is probably tops at the moment for playing the best new tunes we haven’t heard yet.
Describe your main and preferred DJ set-up.
4 CDJ2000 Nexus w/ Pioneer 900 mixer.
Do you use a lap-top? If so, what platform/program?
No, just load up our USB drives from Rekordbox.
Why do you choose this way of playing?
Just seems logical to us. We use lots of the effects on the mixer and a lot of the looping and cueing features on the CDJs. Also, this is typically what is in most clubs we play (2-3 decks). In addition, Rekordbox has been the most stable platform either of us has used to date.
Any special, unique, crazy things on your rider?
(Hugh) I like a stupid amount of limes.
Beverage of choice while playing?
(Hugh) Patron on the rocks w/ EXTRA LIME.
(Bryan) Grey Goose & Redbull.
Favourite country/club/city to play?
Besides Detroit, some of our favorite places lately have been Chicago & Denver.
Do you Sync, What’s your view on this? Has it leveled the playing field for the better or worse?
No. We rarely see anybody use the sync feature on the CDJs. It can be cool if you’re doing some form of hybrid live set or using a bunch of effects from your laptop or something.
Any DJ Controllers?
No, just the CDJs and mixer.
Favourite or “go-to” EFXs while playing?
We use a lot of effects in our sets. Taken a lot of inspiration from people like DJ EZ & Eats Everything. We also have four hands between us, so we can pull off some combination tricks that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I suppose the most used would be echo and reverb on the effects, and the filter and dub echo on the sound color FX.
Read the crowd or just pound it out?
Always read the crowd. The main part of being a DJ is playing the right song at the right time. Always know your audience too. Before you even get to the show, you should have an idea of what’s appropriate based on where you’re playing when you’re playing, and who else is on the lineup. We try to get an idea of what most of the people are there to hear and play as close as we can to that without changing our overall sound.
Big festivals or intimate clubs? Why?
It’s crazy how different they are. It’s tough to pick a favorite as well because they are the two ends of the spectrum, and we love them both. Intimate clubs you actually get to play what you want a bit more, and you can connect with the dancefloor more. When you’re at a big festival, you see the crowd as a whole and don’t connect with individual people. You’re also quite far away from them usually. There’s nothing like the energy at these festivals though, and just being there and hanging out for the day before your set can make the experience like nothing else.
Ever miss the CDs or Vinyl days?
Not really. The USB drive is far easier to maintain and much smaller than a CD book. There’s so much good music out there these days, and it would be a shame to cut out 99% of the music we play because it’s not available on vinyl.
How do you maintain your music library?
Mainly on Rekordbox. Our key is making a folder of good songs, then listening to them over and over for a few days. After listening to 30 songs over and over, you start to notice some of them don’t sound as good as the others, or something will start to annoy you, etc.
Any Tips for Aspiring Young DJs?
Sit down and decide if you want this more than anyone else. Seriously think about this. The path to “making” it in this business is long and windy and may very well involve being broke for several years. You need to have thick skin. Also, people are going to give you a hard time coming up, and an even harder time once you get some success. The main thing is to be on time, professional, play your very best under ANY circumstance, make new friends in every city, and no matter what don’t ever let anyone see you slippin’. We like to make a point of going the extra mile wherever it’s possible by doing afters shows, giving away swag, taking pictures. It seems corny but at the end of the day the more time you spend around the people who consider themselves your fans, the better off you are.
When it comes to pricing, I would just say to remember “who asked for the gig?” If it was YOU, then be prepared to play for whatever they can offer you. Remember they didn’t come knocking your door down to have you play their show right? On the other hand when a promoter does come to you, I think that it’s only fair to take into consideration things like capacity, cover, age, additional lineup and come up with a fair price that everyone can benefit. The larger offers will come with time but in the meantime you are building a good report with promoters, and building your demand in that market.
Gosh, this is getting long but one last thing. Focus on your hometown if you are from a decently sized city, if you aren’t from one then move to one. You are literally fighting an impossible battle if you aren’t at least near a major city with people in it. I’m not saying it hasn’t been done, but this is a numbers game like any other. Build your demand in that city and work on replicating that in other cities nearby. If you are outgrowing the city you are in, move to a bigger one.
Do you do any of the Obligatory DJ Poses?
We’ve both coined a few moves but they don’t really have names, (Hugh) I like to swing my towel around quite a bit.
How do combat the “Everyone is a DJ” mentality?
Don’t really combat it. I wish more people did it. There’s always going to be a lot of DJs because the definition of the word really requires very little criteria to meet. However, not many of them will really stand out or get our attention in the grand scheme of things. The good ones shine through.