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Detroit’s DJ Kutz explains why ‘playlist’ DJs are lame

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Photo by Porsha Mitchell for Steed Media Service

Mike “DJ Kutz” West is a highly sought after DJ from Detroit who’s been playing around on the ones and twos since he was 6 years old. He’s been officially deejaying parties since he was 10. Kutz became well-known during his college years at Michigan State University by not only deejaying, but also by making and selling mixtapes.

Now a seasoned veteran on the Detroit music scene, Kutz works the hottest events Detroit has to offer, including the annual Tux and Chucks Charity Fundraiser since its inception five years ago.

Rolling out recently caught up with DJ Kutz and got the details on why he considers playlist DJs lame, how he keeps the dance floor poppin’ and how he “feels” the mood of the crowd.

Our readers want to know — what’s on your playlist? Do you play from a playlist?
Absolutely not.

Really? Is that lame or something?
It is.

Is it?
Yes.

OK/ I didn’t know. So, how do you come up with the songs that you play? You always manage to keep the dance floor rocking.
It’s a feeling. That’s what makes the – I don’t want to say real DJs – but real DJs stand out from playlist DJs because we don’t fool with the playlists – we move the crowd. We play what people feel. We do what we feel that we know that the crowd would feel. So, it’s like you know, playlists would mean that I would play the same set every time I go somewhere.

And that’s not the case?
No. If I feel like playing Marvin Gaye, I’ll play Marvin Gaye. If I feel like playing Future and Drake, I’ll play Future and Drake.

So, it’s a gut feeling?
Yep.

Throughout the night?
Umm. Hmmm. – But I can’t tell you my DJ secrets.

What are your DJ secrets? Our readers want to know.
No, because then you might publish it and then these people who try to take the shortcut; I can’t give them my short cut. I can’t. Now, I can give you some general tips.

Give me some general tips.
Read the crowd. Don’t keep your head down in the booth. You gotta look up and see what’s happening. See if people are responding to your music. Look around the crowd. Even if it’s early. See if people are bobbing their heads. See if they’re paying attention to the DJ. You know – and read it. That’s all. Gotta see if they’re feeling the vibe.

Feeling the vibe?
Yep, but you have to know how to transition people into different genre’s of music and keep them engaged.

Yeah, because you play to a diverse crowd of different generations at the same events: ’90s babies, ’80s babies, millennials – but how do you keep them in the pocket to where everybody is rocking to the same thing?
You gotta know the crowd. I mean, it’s kind of a gut feeling. It’s experience, it’s a gut feeling. It’s a combination of a little bit of everything. Number one, you can’t be scared to play different music. And you can’t be scared to switch up from what is typical, however you have to keep in mind that you can’t go too far outside the box where somebody will be like “huh?”. But at the same time you can.

So you take risks?
If you’re good enough. See this what makes, in my opinion,  what makes a good DJ and a bad DJ. A good DJ will take risks – even if he fails at the risk, he can get the dance floor back. So, if I play a song that I thought was going to be hot, and then everybody is like “nah… that ain’t hot” and the dance floor clears, a good DJ will get that dance floor back. Regardless. So, he can take risks because he’s not worried about getting the dance floor back. I know what I can play to get people back on the floor. So, a lot of DJs count on a playlist. See, when you count on a playlist – if the “Wobble” doesn’t work, and nobody responds to the wobble in the crowd, then what you going to do? That’s if you playing off a playlist. So, you know.

I get it. So, you sound like a very experienced DJ. How long have you been deejaying?
Thirty years plus. I learned when I was six. Started playing when I was six.

That’s awesome. So tell our readers where they can find you on social media.
You can find me at DJ Kutz 313

And that’s across social media?
That’s definitely Twitter and Instagram. FB is Mike “DJ Kutz” West.

Photos by Porsha Mitchell for Steed Media Service