DJ Salah Ananse offers savvy tips on how to keep the crowd hyped

From the body of work entitled "Ministers of Sound"
Photo Credit: Salah Ananse/From the body of work entitled “Ministers of Sound”

Please describe your style of deejaying.
I’m an open format DJ. That essentially means I play different styles of music in a typical set. I play house, hip-hop, Afrobeat, reggae, Latin and more.

What is the missing element you feel your style of play brings to your audience that they can’t get anywhere else?
I always try to play records that the crowd isn’t expecting. I want to hit them with an album track or B-side that was hot. I also play a lot of my own original material or my own remixes. These days, most parties sound the same because everyone has access to the same material. Before downloading, the cost of purchasing a record was so high that most DJs focused on a particular genre. DJs really knew their music. Now we have access to everything. But we’re still hearing the same songs night in and night out. That’s boring.

What three skill sets do you feel are critical for any professional DJ?
Mixing: Sure there’s new technology that does it for you. But that doesn’t work on every record. Live records are hard to sync.
Crowd reading: Scout out the leaders/party starters in your crowd. Keep them moving. Everyone else will follow.
Have a thick skin: People are rude in clubs. They aren’t going to always like what you play. Things can get testy.

What do you feel was your first big break in the DJ field?
When I took the DJ gig at a spot called SHOUT in Atlanta, I pretty much quit everything else and focused on music. Rocking at J. Carter’s Sol Fusion parties also gave me an opportunity to cultivate an audience that was interested in soul, house and other black music outside of the Top 40 radio format.

How do you incorporate new technology in your sets?
I’m an early adopter when it comes to DJ tech. I’ve been using Serato (SSL and DJ) for over 10 years. Klever, who is a DMC champ from Atlanta, put me on to it in 2005. At the time, there were no other DJs in Atlanta with residencies really using it. That quickly changed. The Serato format also allowed me to midi map instruments and use them to control my sets.


Finish the sentences:
Practice and research are important because …
You need to know your music and your capabilities. Things always go wrong in club setting. You need to be prepared.
The best way to move a crowd is …
Going to your standby tracks. There are at least 10 tracks that always get the crowd moving. MJ, Prince, Stevie, BBD, even a line dance if you have to!
That odd track that I throw on to catch the crowd off guard is …
I have a few. But the Clark Sisters’ “You Brought The Sunshine” is always a spiritual dance floor experience.

What social media platforms do you use to engage your audience the most?

What are your residencies/signature events?
Signature events:
Afrique Electrique – A celebration of African-influenced electronic music
Sunday School – A celebration of soulful dance music form disco to house
The Atlanta Weekender – A five-day festival during Labor Day weekend leading into House In The Park Atlanta.
The Late Night Ritual – (with DJ Kemit) An exploration of groove-oriented material.
Self Serve – A Bring Your Own Vinyl Night
Libation X Afrique Electrique – (With Ian Friday) a yearly WMC Festival event in Miami
Mi Casa Holiday – Festival in Mexico
House in The Park Atlanta

Do you play festivals?
Yes. I’ve played numerous festivals around the world. I’ve also produced my own in Atlanta for the last five years.

If you had to give advise to a new DJ, what would the three most important things be?
Learn to spin vinyl. Once you can do that, you can play on anything.
Be patient.
Don’t undercut. That’s a good way to get blackballed.

Name two of your favorite destination gigs and explain why you like them.
Playing in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil is a spiritual experience. The last time I played there, we stayed in the Pelourinho section, which is the old city. That was the port where the slaves were first brought in Brazil. W got to dance to Ile Aye & Olodum. It’s great every time.
Mi Casa in Mexico is beautiful as well. It’s like a reunion every year. One year I rocked with DJ Spinna there and the DJ booth faced the ocean with people dancing on the beach and in the water. That was crazy!

What are two of your favorite albums to listen to when you’re not in the booth?
Marvin Gaye’s I Want You
Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale

Name three DJs who have inspired you.
Jazzy Jeff:  Simply amazing. The best to do it in my opinion.
Louie Vega: Forged his own path staying true to his roots
Kid Capri: The ultimate showman

Favorite sports team and hobbies?
F.I.L.A.- Falcons, Hawks, Dream and whatever the new MLS team will be. The Braves are headed to Cobb now. So they’re out.

Photography, BMX

Name a track that gets you motivated.
Anything by Fela, Shakara, Zombie, Upside Down, etc.

Munson Steed
Munson Steed

Founder and publisher of rolling out's parent company Steed Media Group.

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