Lockdown Livestreams: How Durham DJs are bringing music to audiences.

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Lockdown Livestreams is a collective group of DJs, mainly current Durham students and alumni, as well as some other creatives who have performed at Durham events, who are currently livestreaming sets from their homes every weekend throughout lockdown. I spoke to QVV (Merry Crossland) and Vimmspace (Ishaan Shukla) about their involvement in the project, who both started DJing in their first term at Durham as part of Durham DJ Society.

QVV pre-performance at her home set up. Image owned by Merry Crossland.

Lockdown Livestreams started as a weekend festival over the Easter break, originally named roomtown, but then continued over the lockdown period. The project grew from then on and the group now continue to stream sessions every Friday through to Sunday 18.00-23.00, with times and days varying depending on how many performers there are each weekend. Livestreams take place on both Facebook and YouTube and all of their previous sets are available to re-watch at any time.

“There’s less restrictions to streaming at home as well, so there’s definitely more going on every night.”

The quarantine setting of Lockdown Livestreams has meant that sets differ from live club nights in many ways. There is such a vast variety of different styles played each week, even with single nights including a large range of music due to the freedom of streaming rather than focusing on a theme. DJs are not restricted to certain genres or artists for particular club nights but can instead perform what they like. QVV told me “There’s less restrictions to streaming at home as well, so there’s definitely more going on every night, so we might have an hour of 140bpm, then someone else streams an hour of ambient and then the night might end with an hour of anything that isn’t necessarily genre specific. It’s less pressure than a typical club or event night”. Although it is impossible to get the same feeling as club nights, the group aim to make the music sound as good as possible by playing their sets through an audio interface and anyone can tune into sets whenever they like.

Vimmspace performing live in Durham. Image from Ishaan Shukla

“The fact that the audience can react in real time makes it way more special.”

The audience interaction also diverges from what many DJs are used to. The audience can and react to sets as they are played, creating a motivational atmosphere for performers who are playing live rather than pre-recorded beats. Vimmspace comments “the fact that the audience can react in real time makes it way more special”. Sets are accompanied by visuals and the “raw and unedited” content gives a different experience to club night music due to the way DJs are performing online. Both QVV and Vimmspace feel as though the experience has furthered their learning of DJing throughout the lockdown period, as it has allowed them to continue to take risks during performances, just on a new platform.

With viewers from all over the UK, as well as some oversees listeners tuning in from America, Lockdown Livestreams is not a party to miss. Anyone can watch sets via the group’s Facebook and YouTube pages, watching all previous streams and live via: https://www.facebook.com/lockeddownstreams/ and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx6Ulg_XhQu6YLOBXgEiuKg?fbclid=IwAR2fy5Fi2ab5JcPw78ivuAm-y6xzwnyNI-hYTpmOaiUUrRWx6_DjWuNbfFE . It will be interesting to see what the group continue to do at the end of lockdown.

Image: owned by Merry Crossland, QVV streaming.

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