John Course and The Elements Of His Sets
“When a crowd is failing to get going, one of the most important things about DJing is reading that vibe and programming accordingly,” legendary Melbourne DJ John Course is more than happy to advise other DJs on how to get a night going.
Having started out by winning a couple of local Victoria DMC mixing competitions, Course is no stranger to the scene having been an in demand DJ for over two decades. He assures me that there are a couple of schoolboy errors that rookie DJs might make, “In an underground club you might be playing too much commercial music, in a commercial club too much underground music, so you have to be aware of where you are playing and how things get accepted by the crowd.”
It might seem obvious, but even Course has been prone to mistake in the past. Given that he spends most his time touring the country to gigs in clubs big and small, it is sometimes hard to gauge exactly what the crowd might be demanding. He affirms that, “As the guest DJ, crowd reading and music programming is the difference between you rocking it or just being ok and to me the music selection is way more important than mixing skills – although a good DJ can do both.”
In his time on the circuit, Course has got to know not just what works set-wise, but is equally able to gauge what surroundings form the basis of a good club night. For Course, the breakdown is straight forward – Get your not pads out because this is good advice! “Firstly the music has to be good. Secondly the venue has to be decent, that is good sound and good facilities. Thirdly the people have got to be on the same wave length and there for a great time and into the music.” With club nights now covering the board music genre-wise, Course feels that a club-goer needs to choose wisely what night they attend. Whilst some clubs are tailored for the mainstream chart-music listener, others have a sound crafted to a niche audience. As both a DJ and a club-goer, Course is adamant, “At a good club night the crowd is open to hearing new music and not wanting everything that they can hear on the radio.”
Having witnessed first hand the rapid change in the music scene, both in relation to dance music and in a wider sense, Course is more excited by the constant sound innovation than he is perturbed. Rather nonchalantly he tells, “Sounds always change from year to year so DJing is always about keeping track of new vibes. Certainly House music boomed since I started and that's obviously the biggest change.” Having proved a constant feature on such an interchangeable scene, he says that there are a few things that have allowed his continued success. “Firstly I am still super hungry for new music.” The statement may seem ludicrous from a man whose job is to ensure the his set has ongoing appeal, but many DJs have fallen by the wayside for a failure to remain relevant.
Course seems certain that being overlooked is not a curse that is about to abound him in his tracks. He is aware that he has a reputation, and he tells what for, “Playing big, uplifting House music and while this sometimes means that tracks I play cross over to a commercial market, I always have fresh new music in my CD wallet. Without new music a DJ's career is over!”
Whilst ensuring that his sets hold appeal for his audience, Course warns that taking the career lightly will not reap rewards. “A very professional approach to DJing...I turn up on time and while I have a few drinks I keep it pretty in line...” He insists. Working in an industry that opens to door to so many temptations, Course sternly advises that, “Staying away from them is a big step towards having the focus to see what is happening in the club and music scene and remaining part of it.”
With lesson one in the 'John Course Legendary DJ 101' series drawn to a close, the conversation turns to Course's upcoming appearance at Fusion's third birthday celebrations. The evening marks Course's debut at the club night, but he can barely contain his excitement having heard the sound system. “It is absolutely rocking, so I am looking forward to that!” Whilst Course remains coy about any new discoveries that might be included in his party set, he remains steadfast that “any set I do I always have lots of music ready so I can take it where it needs to go to have a great vibe. Maybe a couple of classics and definitely some fresh new tunes!”
John Course [AUS] is playing Re.Play’s 3rd Birthday at Crown Casino on Saturday November 27.