There are those amongst my circle of friends who would disagree with this statement, nevertheless I maintain my stance. The fact that I’ve built a number of inworld music establishments does not make me a DJ, neither does the act of me hosting musical events at these venues, and even occasionally being asked to do so elsewhere.
There’s a real misconception in SL that being able to load a playlist into a mixer application and streaming the result inworld somehow endows you with some sort of magical talent, earning you the coveted status of ‘The DJ’, when in reality, pretty much anyone can do it – indeed, I’ve made no particular effort to join those hallowed ranks, nobody taught me how to do it or initiated me into the arcane art, and I’m happy to be the first to admit, playing other people’s music inworld is one of the easier things you can do in SL.
It’s true that I do put some time and effort into researching, compiling and curating the music I put together, mainly because I want to preserve the essential character and uniqueness of the venues I’ve created, most of which are homages to iconic real world clubs… CBGB; The Roxy; Wigan Casino; Radio Caroline; The Marquee, to name just a few. When it comes to being an actual ‘DJ’ however, I lack some essential qualities.
I’ve no skills, for example, in mixing, beatmatching or taking a creative approach to the music I select – I just play it, plain and simple. Neither, to the disappointment of some – who it seems are obsessed with this one particular point – do I engage in talky bits between, over or around tracks. Whilst some of the best inworld DJs I know have the gift of the gab, voices that can send shivers down your spine, and have turned playful banter into an artform, I stubbornly shy away from using voice at all.
Some people love to use voice in SL, I don’t. In fact I avoid it like the plague: I’ve used it in the past and it’s just not my cup of tea. I find that in ‘casual’ SL, voice is horribly distracting and takes the focus away from what is happening on the screen – if I wanted to have a conversation with you personally, I’d phone or Skype you, but chat to you inworld? No thanks. (Actually, I probably wouldn’t Skype or phone you, either – outside of work, my conversations of this sort can be measured in minutes, over the course of many months!) I also find that voice inworld destroys the carefully constructed mental picture and illusion of reality that I’ve constructed around myself: For example, when people I’ve known for years suddently start talking and their voice sounds nothing like I imagined, it can be somewhat disconcerting and can even change the way that I think of them from that point onwards.
Most of all though, I lack any sort of self-confidence when it comes to interacting with other people on that level. Certainly, I have no difficulty when it comes to speaking with my peers and others in the real world, professionally, but take me out of a work setting and put me into a purely social situation and I instantly retreat into deeply INTJ territory; which is fine – I’ve spent my whole life that way and am more than happy with things the way they are, although those around me can find it unsettling, even threatening and weird. So, when I sit behind a keyboard, I can type witty repartee with the best of them – it’s a purely academic and emotionally detached state of mind – but ask me to be a real person, reveal my weakness and vulnerability by the simple act of talking – using my own voice – on a social level, and I turn into a gibbering idiot, clam up and shut down. That’s a wickedly unpleasant place for me to be which leaves me reeling and totally demoralised.
I don’t know what people think when they encourage me to literally speak out, and I say ‘no’, and I don’t really care. I’m sure that one or two must think I have some sort of speech impediment or dreadful accent that I’m embarrassed to reveal; or maybe they think that I’m a burly trucker from Bermondsea, hiding behind my avatar; perhaps I’m being ‘mysterious’; or, most likely, they just think I’m being stupid. So be it, but if they had any inkling of the social anxiety that being invited to a party, attending a seminar or event with a bunch of strangers, or being expected to do a voiceover for a musical track creates in me, perhaps they’d reconsider?
You see, many of us really do hide behind our avatars, and when we go out clubbing, socialising and enjoying ourselves in the virtual world, it makes up for all those same things that we purposely miss and avoid doing in real life. If I wanted to come across as tongue-tied, awkward, and a bit of a personal disaster in SL, then I just have to be myself, but to be honest, I’d rather come across as confident, self-assured and in control. And that’s the way it’s going to stay.
So I’m going to continue to let the music speak for itself, rather than do the speaking myself. And besides which, don’t forget, I’m not a DJ!
Terrified of telephones
And shopping malls and knives
We’re drowning in the pools of other lives
Rely a bit too heavily
On alcohol and irony
Get clobbered on by courtesy
In love with love and lousy poetry
The Weakerthans – Aside