Illustration by Bouklao
Dr. Mohammed has saved four lives this month. He's on two and a half hours sleep, taking day and night shifts. Last night he assisted on a coronary artery bypass. He takes home 750 LE.
DJ Mo has pressed four buttons in one night. He's on two and a half hours sleep, taking regular dips of MDMA. Last night he played A DJ Saved My Life. He takes home 5,000 LE.
No one's clapping behind the doctor as he makes incision (thankfully; that would be unhygienic and distracting), and he does not have his name on posters plastered across social media. And if he did we're pretty sure he wouldn't request to remove the acronym of Dr. for the sake of artistic integrity. "Everyone's a doctor these days man! Just put Mohammed - and make it big - and put it on top of all the other doctors on the flyer."
Then again, no one makes requests for the doctor to play "haga less dark," so maybe it balances out.
So, you can see why then, the idiom that everyone is a DJ is no truer than here in Egypt. Mohandes Deeshay is just a very attractive occupational option, and one whose dakhla was calling my name.
The opportunity fell on my lap one night. No, that wasn't opportunity, that was my fifth beer. I started chatting with the owner of the bar who told me one of his bookings fell through for next week. I slurred, "I CAN DJ!"
I had forgotten all about this conversation when next week came, and to my surprise my brother and I were on the bill to play our first gig under the pseudonym of Horrible DJs the next day. Fuck it, I thought, how hard can it be?
Now, the hardest part of becoming a DJ is downloading Traktor. There were all these different torrents, and file extensions, and rips. The internet kept cutting. it was really strenuous but eventually we got it on the PC and we were DJs. We then went to MP3 Youtube Downloader, downloaded a bunch music that came up on the home page, and categorised them as either 'dark' or 'light'.
The next night came, and after 0 minutes of mixing practice, and little knowledge of where to plug the laptop in, we had a full house. 100+ people all here to hear the Horrible DJs. That was easy.
Now I was always irked with the fact that DJs don't take requests; I mean you're there to perform for the paying customers. I was adamant that we would take all requests that came our way, and we would become the most popular DJs in the country and would be invited to play all over the world as DJ Request, eventually just Request, and finally RQST.
Even before getting on the decks we had received our first request; a young gentleman insinuating that he's here to listen to khabt and/or Deep House. Ah excellent, I think, We have some of that in the 'dark' section.
The bar was bustling with energy and our time had come. We get on stage and look down at the mixer, then look at each other and shrug. There was all these flashing lights and buttons with obnoxious names like 'FLUX and 'QUANT'. There were ten different play buttons. What the fuck is quant? Is that the button that makes the dakhla?
Eventually with a little help from a bemused sound engineer, we got some music going. We had been given some advice from a DJ friend that it's important to match BPMs. And thus, the sync button became our best friend, but also our enemy. Apparently you can't sync Cindy Lauper with Marco Carola, nor will there ever be an audience diverse enough to tolerate both.
People had started to leave just as we were getting into it, my brother finding a home in the phaser knob that makes everything sound like an alien invasion, which he proceeded to apply to every single track.
Requests started flooding in, which was getting really annoying because they were ruining our artistry. I managed to deflect most until I had had enough when someone from the crowd wearing a V-Neek t-shirt and a leather jacket with diamonds comes and requests some Hip Hop whilst we were just fading out of Aerosmith and into an audiobook by Alain De Botton. Sure thing. We play Rihanna's Bitch Better Have My Money... Five times... In a row... With phaser effect.
I slowly began realising why it's not so easy being a DJ, and why they get paid so much - that's in addition to the constant offerings of free alcohol and narcotics. It's incredibly difficult to mix two songs together when you're seeing double. Does that mean we were mixing on four channels?
Eventually, our last guest, a die-hard Rihanna fan, made his exit and the lights of the bar came on. Oh well, at least we get paid! Unfortunately we were unaware that our DJ stipend actually had a limit and now we owned the venue money.
After finishing the gig, my brother had completely passed out. I was worried so I gave Dr. Mohammed a call. Alas no answer; he had a DJ gig that night.
The next morning the owner of the bar forwarded us a message from one of the guests. "I need to complain. That DJ you were hosting tonight... One of the worst DJs I've ever heard... Anywhere."
To which he replied: "I couldn't agree more. They're Horrible DJs. We warned you on the flyer, and every other form of social media to let you know, but you still came... Sorry about that."
If you would like to book us for a gig e-mail info@CairoScene.com with the subject 'Horrible DJs'. Fee: 750 LE.