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How Do DJ Duos Work? Secrets Unveiled

By Ferdi Vol
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While most professional & amateur DJs tend to work by themselves without any other person involved in the mixing, there are some DJs that prefer working as a duo. In fact, some of the biggest acts in EDM such as Daft Punk, NERVO, and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike perform as a pair. Now, have you ever wondered how these DJ duos work and perform songs? If so, then let me tell you that this article is specifically written for you!

The short answer is that there are a myriad of ways for DJ duos/groups to play music together. However, some of the most common methods include tag teaming (where DJs take turns mixing songs) and Daisy-chaining (where 2 or more DJs mix music at the same time, in different ways, all of them using equipment that is connected together). These are just the most common ways for DJ duos/groups to play their sets, and they generally tend to be the easiest ones too.

But they are not the only ways that DJ duos play their music though. If you want a more comprehensive understanding of these methods, then check below!

The Most Common Ways DJ Duos Play Their Sets

As I mentioned above, there are several different ways for DJs to play together, and let me tell you, some of them can get pretty technical. There has been a myriad of technological advancements in the DJing world in the last 20-30 years, and these advancements have really helped DJs play together in very diverse, even unorthodox ways. 

Anyways, below I provide a list of the most well-known ways DJ groups play together.

Tag-Teaming (B2B)

Also known as a bunch of other names, including B2B (back to back), each DJ takes turns mixing music. Generally, each DJ plays 3 tracks and then switches, and depending on the gear that the DJs have and their personal preferences, each DJ can have their own gear where they mix their own set or they can share controllers/mixers. The latter is more common in smaller or more niche events.

This is the most common way DJ duos play their sets. You will find most major DJ groups such as Daft Punk & Swedish House Mafia to play this way, especially in big festivals. Something important to note is that depending on who you are talking to, tag-teaming can mean a completely different thing to them. There isn’t actually an official way to call this way of mixing, with it being known by different terms.

DJ With Instrumentalist

While not as common with famous DJ duos, a combination of a DJ playing with other members playing live instruments is becoming a very frequent way for more niche DJ groups to play their sets. This method usually entails a DJ using his gear to mix as normal, but at the same time, there are 1 or more people playing instruments at the same time. The most common instruments to be used are Keyboards by far, but many other groups try to incorporate more diverse instruments to their mix, such as bass guitar, violin, or even saxophone, among others.

Usually, DJ duos/groups that incorporate live instrumentation tend to feature a less orthodox sound, especially when compared to the mainstream EDM being produced yearly. Many even like to combine funk, soul, or oriental music, to great success. Others tend to stray less from the mainstream while still incorporating a unique touch with live instruments.

Some groups that feature live instrumentation with DJ mixing include Empire of The Sun, Pretty Lights (duo and solo), among others.

Daisy-chaining

The most common form of daisy-chaining has some similarities to tag-teaming, but unlike it, both DJs have the ability to play at the same time using this method. The name of this method comes from daisy garlands, which are joined together in a sequence. The same thing occurs with the gear of the DJs playing.

The result is 2 or more DJs connected to the same PA system. A lot of interesting possibilities can arise from this setup. One DJ could cue songs for his partner with the other DJ actually does the mixing. One DJ could work the EQ & Effects while the other one mixes songs. You could even make a choreographed passage that goes really well with lights & lasers, as shown below.

How to Become a DJ Duo: A Few Tips to Help You Improve Your Mixes!

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are interested in creating a DJ Duo, group, or are just looking for somebody for you to experiment with playing together. There's also the chance that you already have the group formed and want to be the best possible! If so, there are a few tips that can really help you achieve the best mix possible while playing as a duo.

Some of these tips include:

Select the Right Songs

In the DJing world, one of the most important things that any DJ needs to have, solo or duo, is a song list with a diverse list of tunes. These tunes should be able to blend together rather smoothly, or else the crowd will not be as hyped up. In other words, the song selection is a very important part of being a good DJ!

This is even more important to DJ duos, the reason being that depending on the playing method that you choose, you can easily make cool routines where both members are on the same page. DJ #1 could work the EQ and do some loops with the track of his choice while DJ #2 introduces another track with its own effects. A DJ duo could even incorporate a cool "choreography" with the right songs, which brings me to my next point.

Work on a Choreography With the Right Songs

One of the coolest things that you can do while playing as a DJ duo is to do some "choreography" with some specific songs. For example, you could add some cool scratching on some passages, which will really make the crowd go wild.

This will be especially effective if you can make sure 1 DJ can play to a specific set of speakers in the room and the other one plays on the other speakers. This back and forth between both DJs will be immediately noticed and appreciated by the crowd because of the setup, but it won't be possible on all venues. It also takes a lot of practice for it to go smoothly, but it definitely is well worth it.

Focus on Creating Chemistry With Your Partner

It's often said that the best DJ duos kind of know what the other is going to do with mixing together. And as you probably know, this isn't something that just happens, but rather it happens when each DJ gets to really understand the little quirks and characteristics of each other. One of the most important things a DJ duo can have is chemistry, and the best way to do so is to have similar musical interests.

A good idea is to constantly introduce new music to each other. That way, the musical repertoire of both DJs will be expanded, and more importantly, it's a good way to find the songs that both DJs prefer, so that you can incorporate them in your live sets.

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About DJ Pro Tips
DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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