Interview with Deejay Jent: Getting started post-covid
Who are you?
I’m Jente de Maa, playing as Deejay Jent. I’m from Harderwijk (Netherlands) and I’m 26 years old.
What kind of DJ are you (wedding, bar, club, specific genre)?
I’m a true all-round DJ, like sort of a party DJ but not really. I do the odd wedding every now and then, but most of the times you’ll find me in larger bars playing a mix of all genres.
How often did you perform pre-covid, was that regular or seasonal?
Pre-covid I played four regular gigs a week. Aside from that I did some hockey parties through my residency at Café Bubbels (Amsterdam) and a wedding or a birthday here and there.
Do you have any residencies, and if so, will they still be able to hire you once they open up again? Do you stay in close contact with them?
My regular podiums, or residencies, are Cafe Ome Co in Harderwijk, and Cafe Bubbels in Amsterdam. I’m really lucky that I can pick those two up once bars reopen here.
What have you been doing since the bars closed?
When the covid lockdown closed all bars, pubs and clubs I spent my time at home. I’ve been unemployed for months, and that sucked to be honest; waking up everyday without a plan or purpose. After a while I picked myself up and forced myself to start doing something to keep busy. I started delivering orders for a restaurant I really like. It doesn’t come close to DJing, but it’s really nice to have something to do!
How have you kept your DJ skills in shape?
Because I had no rhythm, no plans and no job I found it hard to stay motivated to play, especially without a crowd. After years of performing it’s weird to play music without any feedback from the dancefloor.
I chose consciously to take a break from playing, and from maintaining my music library. I’ve been getting back to it in the last few months, and I’m now playing twice a week at one of my residencies, still for an empty floor of course. That really helped me getting back my skills, muscle memory and my tricks.
Do you still keep your music library up-to-date in the same way as before the lockdown? What is different?
Because I started playing again I found something out about myself; I fell into routines or habits. Unfortunately those habits weren’t always good, sometimes they were just the easy ‘This works so I’ll keep doing it’. That’s fine, but you shouldn’t be repeating the same thing week in and week out, especially if you’re playing at the same venue every week.
I’ve started overhauling my music library; I removed tracks that I don’t play, I moved tracks that I lost somewhere along the way and I recategorized where necessary.
Apart from that I decided to mix up the default sorting on my CDJs. If you play often, and you have your CDJs set to ‘sort by default’ you kind of start to know the lists, and usually it’s more than ‘kind of’. I discovered that I knew all my playlists by heart, and that I therefore kept choosing the same songs every time. Remember what I said about routines? This is a way to break through those habits.
I’ve also decided on a new sorting system for myself. Club DJs usually sort by BPM and Key, but party DJs at bars or weddings usually sort by ‘energy’. That’s why I’ve now categorized all my songs in a specific ‘energy category’.
By doing this I put myself in control of the flow of the evening. If I decide I want the crowd to go crazy I’ll pick a song from a high-energy list, but if I want the crowd to have a bit of a break I’ll switch to a more low energy track. After all, you can’t be going all-in on the dancefloor all night.
This system helps me bring variations in my set. Rather than going for the first easy going song in my head, I’ll open the category ‘easy going’ and I can pick one of many.
After DJing by myself with my new library a few times, I discovered that half my time is spent setting CUE points, so I’ve now added CUE points to all my track through Rekordbox. Yes, every single track in my library. No matter what song I pick, it’ll be loaded right where I want it to start.
Have you done anything during the lockdown to make yourself more valuable as a DJ than before the lockdown?
As a DJ at a residency you have to be able to stay unique for your audience every time. If you fail to do so you’ll get in a rut and you might lose your place. That’s why I think it’s very valuable that I changed the way I set up my library.
By playing with the energy in a crowd you’re also helping the venue: If you go hard for 10 minutes, and then switch it up with a slow song, you’re giving the crowd a chance to strike up a conversation, go to the bathroom or (and this is what the bar likes) get a couple of drinks!
Have you been able to perform as a DJ in some way during the lockdown, and if so; how?
I’ve only been able to play for myself unfortunately, since all events open to the public have been cancelled. I did get a couple of requests to do a livestream, but I decided not to do that because I don’t really like DJing without a crowd, and to be honest I’m not really good at that either.
How do you prepare for the end of the lockdown?
All in all, I’m ready! My USB stick is loaded with songs, I’m feeling good, so it’s counting down the days till we can start again!
How do you expect things to be different once we ‘go back to normal’?
I think the adjustment period will be very short as soon as we go back to normal. We’ll be back to dancing in crowded places in no-time. I kind of hope that we’ll get another Roaring Twenties to be honest. I hope that people have been waiting for so long that they’ll start celebrating three day weekends.
We’ll have to see though, the peak might fade quickly, but maybe it’ll stay long enough for us DJs to get a bit more out of it.
How do you prepare for post-covid life? Will you be reforming your music library, changing your set-up or revamping your marketing? Comment to share your insights 🙂
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