Nippers soul-clap form is impeccable.
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  • Nipper's soul-clap form is impeccable.

Earlier this year, we were thinking about running a feature called DJ Survival Guide. I interviewed several Seattle disc jockeys for the piece and accumulated thousands of words of wisdom re: the selecting, mixing, and playing of music for other people’s pleasure, but the thing never achieved publication. So I’m going to post those interviews on Line Out, because there’s enough solid advice to help a lot of aspiring jocks… and because the replies are interesting in and of themselves. This week’s installment is with Mike Nipper, who is a resident DJ at Emerald City Soul Club and Talcum, at which he spins northern soul 45s and sweats off about 10 pounds per gig. Nipper is also The Stranger’s receptionist and a master of the inappropriately lewd remark.

How many hours a week do you practice/prepare?
I'm constantly shopping for records, so when I'm not sleeping or working, odds are I'm on the make for new records. I never practice.

What’s your DJing format of choice and why?
Records. Mostly 45s only. ONE SONG per side, easy. I've played blacked-out drunk and not fucked up... so far.

What are your recommendations for headphones, needles, turntables, CDJs, DJ-oriented software programs?
Nothing beats Technics 1200s. I'm a selector, so I only use headphones to cue. Needles? I don't scratch or anything, however I hate Stanton styli... they're loud, but have too much high end for some mono 45s.

Where are the best places to obtain music, both in brick-and-mortar shops and online?
Online for rare stuff, but that’s what the brick and mortar stores sell anyways… though constant digging helps.

What are the most effective methods for procuring gigs? In a hyper-competitive field, how do you set yourself apart from other DJs?
Word of mouth. Make people dance/have fun. The patrons should remember you, and don't be a dick to the patrons or bar/club staff, and you'll be asked back. The bar could hire anyone... for free, even. So be a pro, dump the ego and be an adult. You're working... fun work, but it’s work.

What have you found to be the most efficient ways to fill the dance floor (with dancers, to be specific ;)?
Just one recognizable hit and... of course, booze.

Is beat-matching absolutely essential for a DJ?
Nah. I've found it to be a bit annoying. Trying to maintain one pulse from 30 records actually can drag down the dancing. If it’s too slow or too fast...

How do you deal with requests?
Poorly. I only play what I have in my box.

How effective do you think flyering is?
Can be great, but it needs to be targeted and timely. Blanketing a neighborhood weeks in advance is a waste; the week of is best and only placed where those who might actually come can see the posters.

What have you found to be the most beneficial ways to promote your gigs?
Good-looking and well-placed flyers, word of mouth, internet...

If you have an overarching philosophy about DJing, please discuss it.