DJ Summits in the Global South

Project Director: Ed Pavlić (English)

This Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant-funded project is part of the Global Studies of the American South research category in the Willson Center’s expanded Global Georgia Initiative.

For many Americans, DJ’s are known as radio announcers, as dusky and often kitschy voices in the late night, or as over-wired, manic narrators of morning commutes. For many others, however, DJ’s have been master-composers, narrators of musical stories that link disparate genres and play across eras of our musical history. At times functioning in ways resembling quilt makers more than employees of glossy corporate or musty local radio studios, these DJs compose tapestries, montages, musical “mixes” made of innumerable bits and pieces–bridges, hooks, breaks, choruses, bass lines–taken from often divergent styles of music.

To the extent that they comprise their works from the primary materials of other musical artists, these DJ’s present a highly stylized and refined version of our lives as “consumers” of musical products that often suffer from their packaging. These DJs’ work presents, therefore, a practice of liberating consumer items from constraints–constraints from song structure and length to distribution networks–imposed by market forces in the age of consumption. To some extent, often by transforming listeners into dancers, DJs work can liberate the consumers as well.

In addition, many DJs are producers as well as consumers. In the same way that some voracious readers mature into our best writers, in many musical arenas, most notably Hip-Hop and other kinds of dance music, DJs have long been the most innovative and futuristic producers of musical content. In performances as well as in studios, therefore, DJ’s represent a vast storehouse of musical intelligence often operating outside–often just barely outside–the spotlight of our contemporary popular culture.

DJ Summits of the Global South will bring pairs of practicing DJ composers to Athens to talk with each other about their careers, their communities, their approaches, their networks, and the motivations behind their work. After these dialogues, each visitor will play an extended set demonstrating the mix of production and narration associated with their signature styles.