Tonight, Oddisee, Tunji Ige and Oshun will all be taking to the stage in New York City for a Red Bull Sound Select show that's essentially guaranteed to be good times. (Did I mention it's only $3?) And I feel comfortable making a guarantee like that because each of those artists was specifically selected because they've proven that their music doesn't just sound good in your headphones, they're well versed in bringing that music to life onstage too.
How did they do it? How did they go from those first almost inevitably awkward performances at open mics and small stages to playing New York City stages and touring? I get asked by aspiring performers for tips constantly, so to find some answers I talked to D.C.-based duo Oshun and fast-rising PA emcee Tunji Ige to pick up some basic hints and tricks aspiring live performers can add to their own arsenal.
Don't Just Repeat the Vocals You Used to Record the Song
"In the studio, you can do your regular singing voice, you can hit a falsetto, be more subtle. But live, that voice is going through a microphone, through speakers, into the crowd. Live, your vocals are more about projection, more about enunciation. Know when you'll need to edit your vocal tracks so they can fill in some of those gaps. The best live vocals can be pretty different than what you did in the studio." - Tunji
Don't Talk Too Much In Between Songs
"We definitely used to talk a lot. I remember, it was maybe our second or third performance at NYU, we performed over tracks. And we would spend five minutes with no music, just talking. It wasn't that bad, but we just over-explained who we are and what we did. It killed the energy, as opposed to letting our music and our craft speak for itself." - Oshun
Learn How to Hold a Microphone
"There's a certain way you need to hold a mic if you want to be heard clearly. A lot of rappers will hold the mic right up to their mouth, I definitely did for like my first five shows. And I've definitely had friends who have lost teeth [accidentally hitting themselves in the mouth with the mic]. And then I remember back in the day I'd perform and put my arms out, dancing on stage, and it would cause crazy feedback. So I had to cut that. Now I make sure to hold the mic closer to me." - Tunji
Image via Instagram
Make Sure to Connect With the People on Stage With You
"We've learned to be more interactive with each other, with the musicians, and not getting too stuck in our own little world and in our own heads onstage. Because our connection with each other will become our connection with the audience, and so to really connect with the crowd, we have to strengthen the connection between us. Everyone knows the music, they know how the song goes, but what makes it special, what makes it memorable, everyone has to be completely in tune and in the same frequency." - Oshun
To see Oshun and Tunji live in action tonight, along with fellow DJBooth favorite Oddisee, you can find out more details and RSVP here. And even if you can't make tonight's show, be sure to sign up for Red Bull Sound Select to get alerts on free shows near you and much more. Oh, and please artists, spend just as much time on your live show as your recorded music. In today's performance driven music industry, it's small tweaks like these that can make the difference in continuing to work that day job and becoming a professional musician.
Plus, we don't need anyone losing a tooth.