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  • Katia Rose

So You Want to Write About DJs

Before writing When the Lights Come On, I was not the kind of person who could tell you what a CDJ is and how it's different from a DJ Controller. I didn't know what a DAW was, or what 'mastering' entails, or how to put a song you've made on Spotify. I knew the hero and heroine of my next novel were going to be DJs/electronic music producers, but that's about all I knew in regards to how that type of music is made and played.

And so, the research began.

I thought it would be fun to use today's release week feature to take a behind the scenes look at some of the videos and resources that helped shaped When the Lights Come On into what it is. I spent many an hour on terminology websites and watching YouTube tutorials and performances. These are a few of the ones I think are worth checking out, even just for the sake of learning something new (and marveling at impressive talent!)

When Everything Was New: a mini documentary about Flume

This documentary is free to watch on YouTube, and it's a really detailed and intimate look at what rising to the top as a musician is like. It follows the seven years that took Flume from hitting music scene radars for the first time to totally dominating his genre.

My research into DJ and production gear introduced me to a device called the Ableton Push. When I was researching, I wasn't just looking to gain knowledge about the industry; I was also looking to get to know my characters better. I'd think about what gear, sounds, and techniques would appeal to them, and I knew right away that Paige would be all about the Ableton Push. It features in the book a few times, and watching amazing performances like this one shaped how I wrote about Paige using it.

How Deep is Your Love cover performance by Neon Vines

This is another performance that really informed how I described Paige playing and making music. Neon Vines is a truly incredible artist who uses her own live vocals in her performances, just like Paige aspires to do in the book. It's also inspiring to see her achievements and skills in a music scene where women have to work extra hard to be recognized or even exist in the first place, which is something that Paige faces too.

DJ Hapa's Intro to CDJs from Scratch DJ Academy

Clearly, I am very much at the 'intro' level of my DJ knowledge, and videos like this that break things down from a complete beginner standpoint were really helpful in gaining the terminology and background info needed to make dialogue and descriptions in the book convincing. It was extra helpful for writing the scene in which Paige and Youssef have their little music battle on the CDJs in an empty club. If you think DJs are just up there pressing pause and play, this is an eye-opening video to check out.

If you'd like to see all my research in action (oh and, you know, read a steamy second chance dramedy, of course!) you can find When the Lights Come On here.


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