DJ Culture in the Mix: Power, Technology, and Social Change in Electronic Dance Music – Edited by Bernardo Attias, Anna Gavanas, Hillegonda Rietveld (Bloomsbury)


This important book proactively puts forward DJing as an established and constantly evolving culture, and fortunately goes beyond mere economic analysis of the DJ as entrepreneur.  Whilst seminal academic works on DJ culture available in English have mainly limited themselves to their own geographic locations, this book is refreshingly global in perspective covering scenes in Europe, North and South America, and even Australia.

Put together like a great compilation, you will love some and skip over other chapters in this collection of academic essays.  Theory for scholars is well balanced with engaging writing to inspire the DJ and electronic (dance) music head who wants to dig deeper.  Whilst this book is a big leap forward as a generation who grew up with superstar DJs comes of age, its biggest weakness is in trying to be a definitive collection.

However, as a professional DJ, producer and emerging academic myself, one standout article in this collection for me is “DJs as Cultural Mediators’, in which the author Ivan Paolo de Paris Fontanari explores the role of DJs operating in the favelas of his native Sao Paulo, Brazil. Paris Fontanari puts forward that the success of these peripheral DJs does not exclusively depend on their individual subcultural capital, but their ability to work collectively and be in tune with their community.  In an increasingly digitized world, the role of the DJ – as artist, entertainer, curator, critic, activist – has the potential to become of increasing importance, and needs to continue being looked at in all its complexity.  DJs are usually found at the forefront of technological innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as being archivists of cultural knowledge in the shape of recordings.

Despite digital DJing technology and music being increasingly accessible to anyone, it’s a good idea for successful future DJs to work even harder in gaining knowledge.  Engaging with books like this is one way of doing that.

Moses Iten



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