The Perfect Festival Set: N-Type

The Perfect Festival Set: N-Type

It’s part two of our festival special, and today we’re getting the inside info on how to smash your set festival-wise.

This ain’t no standard turn-up and play procedure. You’re battling with a whole host of fellow DJs to win the crowd over. You might be playing after someone who plays a completely different genre. Or playing before a DJ whose tunes you usually rinse with execution.

Play it well and it’ll outshine any club experiences you’ve ever had. Play it badly and you’ll wish you never bothered going at all. Don’t worry, festival regular N-Type is on hand with some wicked advice.

“I love playing festivals; they’re my favourite gigs,” he grins. “It’s a different crowd, different vibe. People are there to party hard. You don’t have people who are just passing through to stand there, have a little listen and fuck off. These people are there to have a party, so give them one!”

Pack your bags

Like all sets, selection is obviously key. But don’t go thinking your club set will smash a muddy arena. Think bigger!

N-Type says…

“The most important thing is to make sure you’ve packed enough stuff that will appeal to all people as well as your core stuff. So let’s say Glastonbury; I’ll pack enough stuff that people know in quite a few different genres as well as the stuff people know me for. Don’t sell out: only play stuff you like, but dig deeper; bits of old school or two-step. Spread your set out. People aren’t necessarily there for you or your sound.

“You can introduce your sound to a much wider audience. And if you play a tune that people really like then mix it in with a brand new tune. It illustrates to people that you’re actually mixing and doing something. You’re clearly manipulating the vibe. You have to break stuff to people, you can’t just drop a new tune and expect people to kick off instantly. Mixing it in with an oldie that people love is the best way of doing this. Introducing sounds to people is very important at a festival – I’ll pack a bag full of all new dubplates when I’m playing at somewhere like FWD, but I wouldn’t at a festival.”

Who’s up next?

With your tunes packed wisely, now spare a thought for the man who’s up next!

N-Type says…

“Never play the tunes of the DJ who’s coming on after you! People want to hear that DJ play their own tunes. I know they’re bangers, I usually play them… But not if I’m playing before the man. It’s rude! I’d hate it if people did that with me. Work around the side, even if that tune works in your set, don’t play it! Obviously people can play what they wanna play, but if you’re playing their material before they come on it really is a bit of a diss. Think about the whole night and not just your own set.”

Who’s playing elsewhere?

Remember: you’re not just up against DJs in your genre. You’re up against every DJ from every shade of rave possible. A house DJ is on before you, and a techno DJ is on after you… Do not worry!

N-Type says…

“It’s how you present things to people. It doesn’t matter if a different genre DJ is playing before you. Genres don’t matter so much anymore now anyway, we’ve gone back to that old school feel like it was back in the day. Look at the Rinse line-ups where you’ve got funky, grime, dubstep, D&B all in one arena!”

“The way I see it now is everything is multi genre so just pick an introduction that’s got a similar feeling. And don’t worry if people leave the tent! Just make sure you get people coming back in. It’s not dissimilar to a club set in that way. A lot of people go out for a cigarette between different DJ sets anyway, just build it up again. As long as it’s rammed by the end, then you know you’ve done your job.”

Who’s on the mic?

Unlucky, you’ve got two passes… One for you, one for your other half. Your MC is going to have to stay at home. No drama: chances are the MC in your arena is going to be a good’un anyway.

N-Type says…

“Obviously I’d love to have my own MC every time, but if I can’t then I got to go with who’s MCing. Face it; if they’re MCing at a festival they’re at a good level anyway. They’re not going to be shit. So you don’t normally come across some dick who chats a load of bollocks, you’ve got a pro. It’s not a massive concern to be honest, don’t worry about it!”


Festival soundsystems… Welcome to your biggest acoustic nightmare. You know yourself from raving, these can be hit and miss even at the best festivals. There’s only thing to worry about when you’re on the other side of it, though.

N-Type says…

“All you need is good monitors. That’s it. What I usually do is go up while the DJ before is playing, have a little look at the set-up. If I can’t hear what’s going on then I’ll have a word with the sound guys and get it turned up. If you can’t hear it properly, you can’t mix. Bottom line. Soundsystems change at every festival but generally the sound is always best at the front. Which is where you want people to be anyway. Not hanging around, lurking round the outside!”

And finally…

Don’t get stressed and ruin this amazing moment. Your first festival gig is something you’ll never, ever forget.

N-Type says…

“Just enjoy it! Look forward to it! They’re special gigs. Even after years of playing them, whenever I get a festival gig I’m like ‘YES!’ and I’ll try and have a word with my agent and see if the rest of the weekend is free. I’ll always have that buzz. Always. Just remember: Don’t go there with a standard bag. Really think about your tunes and most importantly… Do your thing!”


N-Type runs Wheel & Deal. Check out their discography on Drum&BassArena here!

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.
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