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Everything I Learned About DJing From Netflix’s ‘Full House’ Reboot

An electronic music novice learns about Coachella, trombone samples, and tomato soup from the streaming service's strangest sitcom.

by Sean Egan
Mar 11 2016, 6:25pm

Last week, like everyone in America with two eyes, a beating heart, and a high tolerance for unrestrained nostalgia, I queued up Fuller House, Netflix's follow-up to the much-beloved 90s sitcom, Full House. I was relatively comforted to discover that the show, which I'd absorbed exclusively via osmosis through Nick at Nite, remained largely the same, with the new iteration casting Danny Tanner's cute kids—sans Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen—as the responsible adults in charge of children of their own. Fuller House takes place in the same house as the original—just with more people shoved in there, get it?

In a twist that makes sense for the reboot—yet seems weirdly insensitive to returning actress Jodie Sweetin, otherwise most famous for a memoir detailing years battling substance abuse—grown-up middle child Stephanie assumes a role that's an analogue of sorts to Uncle Jesse in the original. She's the hip, hard-partying aunt, but instead of fronting a retro-leaning band that plays Beach Boys covers, she's an up-and-coming EDM DJ. Because that's what people do these days, I guess. While Fuller House finds Jesse, like so many aging independent musicians before him, settling into scoring music for film and television, it also sees Stephanie take up his mantle, touring globally and enjoying the kind of success her Elvis-obsessed uncle could only dream of (Japanese hit singles notwithstanding).

Now, personally, I'm way more familiar with punk bands rocking basements than DJs spinning London clubs, and I'd presume that most of Fuller House's target audience—that is to say, those who are old enough to fondly remember a show that took place two decades ago—has a similar lack of knowledge about the contemporary dance music scene. This leaves all of us electronic music novices with no choice really but to accept the Full House universe's portrayal at face value, no matter how strange it might get (and it does get very strange, from drunken celebrity encounters, to impromptu Coachella sets, to tomato soup baths). So here's what I, a clueless electronic music luddite, gleaned from my experience watching the first season of the most surreal sitcom sequel ever to stream.

1. You can become wildly successful with a totally lazy moniker.

Like DJ Harvey or DJ Richard before her, Stephanie simply affixes the profession "DJ" to her existing name, trekking around the world over the course of the show under the name DJ Tanner. This is, I assume, how many an electronic music career has started.

This name selection is to the chagrin of Stephanie's sister, Donna Jo "D.J." Fuller (née Tanner), who, like her clean-freak father before her, is a total square. Miffed at the fact that her name's been coopted, D.J. suggests that her sister instead perform under the equally uncreative moniker "DJ Stephanie," which Stephanie scoffs at because apparently in the Full House-verse there's already another famous selector performing under that banner. I made a note to actually check out DJ Stephanie's music soon, because I, unlike D.J. Fuller, am not content to go on living my life as a square.

2. Electronic music isn't for children.

When Stephanie gifts a collection of "the hottest dance hits from the clubs of London" to her nephews via flash drives (which, I gather, is the hip format electronic music is distributed on theses days), D.J. condescendingly goads, "I'm sure there are no inappropriate references to sex, drugs, or violence on those songs." This prompts Stephanie to immediately snatch the drives back—revealing the fundamental prurience and danger of the music she plays. In other words, parental discretion is advised.

Stephanie further reinforces this assertion by describing her average gig: "When the clubs are going off, bottles are popping, [and] people are hooking up" —a characterization which goes a long way to accounting for her lascivious nature, her ability to knock back mid-afternoon cocktails, and her fondness of brownies of questionable legality. The electronic music scene is clearly not an appropriate place for children, or anyone trying to remain sober for that matter.

3. Being an electronic musician is exceptionally easy.

Stephanie proves performing electronic music takes literally no skill whatsoever. During a gig at a Mexican wrestling event, an apparently normal locale for a DJ set, for instance, her set seems to entirely consist of pressing play on full tracks, and sometimes pretending to scratch non-existent vinyl records on a turntable (when she's not leaving the booth for extended periods of time to chat with family, that is). Just like Deadmau5!

4. DJs know all your favorite celebrities (like Macy Gray!).

It's established that Stephanie's tight with notable music world figures like Iggy Azalea (who gifts her a hair extension—what?) and Rihanna (with whom she allegedly developed dance routines in Lisbon). If that weren't enough, relevant artist Macy Gray shows up to corroborate a certifiably insane story in which she and Stephanie escaped a police raid on a club Bangkok (where Stephanie was spinning), fleeing to Cambodia on the back of an elephant. Clearly, glitz and glamour—and political intrigue—comes with the profession.

5. This is what Coachella looks like around 6 pm.

Coachella becomes relevant on Fuller House when Stephanie, who is attending the festival as a spectator, is called upon to spin an impromptu set on Coachella's main stage due to the injury of the headliner DJ Unbreakable—who was set to perform at 6 pm for some reason. For a Coachella headliner, the dude's surprisingly off the grid, though I'm sure that kind of mystique is central to his appeal.

For those of us who've never been out to the festival ourselves, the above scene made for some crucial scene-setting, and a useful visual for viewers unaware of the kind of environments where fans typically consume this sort of music.

6. Festival crowds don't like jazz but they do like jazz remixes.

When Stephanie interrupts her Coachella set to Facetime her young nephew, she lets him practice an exceptionally flatulent version of "Old MacDonald" on the trombone in front of thousands of people in order to boost his confidence. This understandably stops the audience dead in its tracks. Stopping your last-minute festival set to take a phone call from a family member in need is an acceptable thing to do, sure. But the assembled fans understandably can't stand that kind of atonal brass nonsense.

What's interesting, however, is that the crowd goes absolutely apeshit once Stephanie begins to remix the performance, adding in a backbeat and some synth work that's, frankly, equally flatulent to my ears. This leads me to believe that contemporary electronic music fans either: A. love samples of obscure and/or stupid shit, B. are crazy about squelchy synths, C. will go hard in the pit for anything with an insistent kick drum, or D. all of the above. [Ed. Note: It's probably D.]

7. Your personal brand is crucial.

Stephanie intuitively understands that, like Daft Punk, she needs to have a distinctive and dynamic visual component to her act. Take, for instance, her personal logo, which uses only the silhouette of a set of headphones and her name in a tasteful sans serif. This trendy minimalist approach extends to her backdrop, which with a few simple lines evokes the omnipotent iPhone. Even the sentences that comprise the backdrop's faux text messages are minimalist, needing only the fragment "DJ Tanner is gonna spin the hottest" to convey her modus operandi.

On the other end of the spectrum, see these striking graphics Stephanie comes up with to accompany her inspired remix of "Old MacDonald." In this instance, she superimposes bright neon images of trombones and other instruments, which look like they could have originated from a collection of Windows 98 clipart. Drawing upon my hazy knowledge, this is, as far as I understand, vaporwave, which basically just means "good" and "cool."

8. Electronic musicians always have access to industrial quantities of tomato soup.

For reasons that are not particularly important, Stephanie is able to produce this amount of tomato soup at the drop of a hat:

I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm certain electronic music played a role.

9. Being an electronic musician does not make you famous, or very much money.

Stephanie consistently struggles financially, despite her relative success in her field. Despite the fact that she's living rent-free and functions as an au pair of sorts to her kids, D.J. constantly hounds her to get a job, and in one episode, she's reduced to pleading with her father for $5. In addition, no one seems to recognize her in public, or care about her burgeoning career. She achieves her greatest notoriety by dating San Francisco Giant Hunter Pence, then breaking up with with him on air during an MLB game telecast, like some kind of sociopath. Truly, the electronic music industry is an unforgiving one.

10. An electronic music career is fleeting.

As Fuller House's first season goes on, Stephanie's DJ career fades more and more into the background. She begins to eschew spinning sets in order to focus on a non-starter of a singing career. Even her family seems to all but totally forget that she was ever a figure of note in the electronic music scene.

And that's the greatest takeaway from this season of Fuller House: the producers and selectors that make up fast-paced, cutting-edge world of electronic music are the exact antithesis of the wholesome predictability of Full House's cherished milkmen, paperboys, and evening TV—and thus not long for this world. But then again, that could be for the best. Maybe a professional stint in the electronic music world should only ever be a metaphorical half-forgotten sitcom subplot in any reasonable person's existence. Because in the end, it's just a distraction from what Fuller House ultimately teaches us is the most important thing in life: extreme, unhealthy, unchecked co-dependence...erm, I mean, family! Come on guys, let's group hug it out.

Sean Egan is a film critic who now knows everything there is to know about EDM. You can find him on Twitter.