Any advice for a new DJ?
There’s no set path or formula to become a good DJ, and no textbook answers I can give you. Speaking from my own experience, I always wanted to be a great all-round DJ.
First and foremost, I’d say to enjoy the learning process and don’t put pressure on yourself to make quick progress. I got my first set of decks years ago with no experience whatsoever and no plans other than to have fun. Its best just to stay curious and let your passion lead you. Try and figure out how to do things yourself and learn from your mistakes. If you’re in it for the right reasons and want it to work, you will naturally pick things up.
Understanding phrases, BPMs and beatmatching is crucial as the backbone to the “science” part of DJing but, don’t forget that DJing is also an art. Personally I feel the “art” part relates to understanding the relationship between the music you play and the emotions they trigger with your audience. So practice playing sets (what songs to play and when to play them) to suit whatever the occasion. You really only get good at this by playing live gigs where you’re forced to read the crowd and make them happy. So take any opportunities that come along because every gig you do will teach you something new.
As for scratching, I find that DJs either really want to do it, or they don’t. It’s not essential to be a DJ and will not save you if you are weak in all the other areas of DJing. But it can make a good DJ great, and give more reasons for people to respect what you do.