It’s no secret most of the EDM community wasn’t pumped when they got wind of the trailer for We Are Your Friends, the sorta campy Hollywood depiction of what it’s “really like” being a DJ, starring baby faced Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski. So I turned to real life DJs for their opinion of a movie that just went down as one of the worst openings in box office history. Ouch is right.
I brought DJs/producers Mister Blaqk, Jayceeoh, Kennedy Jones, Getter, Donslens and Josh Jacobson with me to watch WAYF last night in Hollywood. And there was an abundance of snorting, a shit ton of “brahs,” more than a few audible sighs and a whole mess of face palms. Scenes of Efron doing PCP (no, really) with an established DJ and others of him recording “natural sounds” to incorporate into his music received howls from the entire row. “When you collab with the roofer,” someone bursted out laughing as Efron excitedly recorded his buddy using a roofing staple gun.
Getter actually bounced during the first 30 minutes of the movie.
The solid bitch fest outside the theater made it clear this movie wasn’t intended for those in the industry to enjoy it or be able to even remotely relate to it: It was weirdly targeted to 14-year-old girls who can’t even go and see it because well, it’s rightfully rated R.
Warning: Major spoilers if you were really going to go and pay actual money to watch Efron wave his arms around for 95 minutes.
Alright, alright so on a scale of 1-10 how bullshit is this movie?
Mister Blaqk: It was a 10 on the bullshit scale. Not only because of how inaccurate the movie was, but also because of the fact that instead of evoking any sort of emotion or feeling, I was literally laughing at how comical the portrayal of an up-and-coming “DJ” was.
Jayceeoh: 7 out of 10 on the bullshit scale.
Kennedy Jones: “One” being a professionally endorsed, accurate National Geographic documentary on DJ/Producer life and the road leading to success, and “10” being, like, expecting to watch a real accurate movie about DJ/Producing but when you press play it’s just Disney’s Mulan playing on a loop. I’d rate this movie a 100 on the bullshit scale. Getter: A 10. It’s like a group of people that know nothing about the industry got together and decided to make a movie about it.
Josh Jacobson: 10! But I was thoroughly entertained and this film will be fueling jokes on our social media for years to come.
What were your initial thoughts of WAYF before seeing it?
Jayceeoh: Going into it I knew it was gonna be a joke to someone like myself. I have been making music/DJing for years to get to the point I am now. So when the trailer tag lines were, “All you need is a laptop, a little talent,” and “one song and you can become a huge DJ,” I knew this movie was gonna be bullshit.
Getter: Honestly I thought it was going to be the lamest thing ever. Before seeing the movie I could already tell they weren’t going to show any of the time consuming or boring parts of being a traveling DJ.
Josh Jacobson After seeing the trailer, I knew this movie was going to be hilarious and just way off the mark, like a The Social Network for the dance music world with a whole bunch of misinformation.
Mister Blaqk: I already had a feeling it was going to be lame just because of the fact that Efron was chosen to emulate a hard working, usually nerdy, guy who actually loves music and nothing else.
Kennedy Jones: I hadn’t really seen the trailer or heard much about it. Tonight was my first experience with the movie really.
Why do you think a good amount of DJs and producers had major issues with it when the trailer first came out?
Mister Blaqk: Simply because of the fact that it wasn’t in the slightest bit realistic or even believable. This movie was made for corporate plugs and sponsorships to prove that they are helping — or hurting I would say — the “EDM” industry.
Getter: I think seeing every big DJ taking time out of their day to rip this movie apart proves my point. We all know this movie is poison, but because it’s a motion picture, there will be some viewers that believe in it and think it’s the real deal.
Kennedy Jones: The writers made it more than obvious that they just wanted to capitalize on what they view as nothing more than just a popular current trend and hoped that a pretty boy would sell a terrible movie. They failed. Miserably. Sadly, so did Zac. When a great actor takes on a role, they investigate the actual person they are supposedly portraying. They dive into the world they are supposed to be creating in the movie. It seems like dude literally laid in his trailer on set with his homies doing whatever Zac Efron does, learned some lines off a piece of paper and pretty much just walked on set, said the lines and left.
What about how they portrayed women in the movie as fame hungry and deceiving?
Kennedy Jones: The most irritating things for me are how they depicted all females to be in the industry. Even though there was a “girlfriend/assistant,” they made sure she was also portrayed as a college drop-out, drug-using cheater. There were no strong female figures in this movie. All of the girls were completely depicted as sex objects and nothing more — and that is absolutely not true. It’s truly a disgrace and it’s sad.
Mister Blaqk: The movie basically made it seem like every chick in L.A. was ready to drop their panties just to fuck a DJ. I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of women who act like that or do those things that were portrayed in the movie, but the fact that the main girl in the movie basically only liked Zac Efron because he started to gain traction didn’t really help their case.
Alright yes, it sucked in almost all aspects. But what did it get right (if anything?)
Getter: The movie kind of nailed the “help from a more famous DJ” thing. In a lot of cases there is a super-talented kid who gets discovered and pushed by a higher up. But they don’t smoke PCP together.
Jacyeeoh: It was good that they touched on drug use in the rave scene. It’s good to scare these younger kids and show them that partying and taking tons of drugs is not always going to end up being a good time.
Mister Blaqk: The portrayal of Ratajkowski and how she started off not caring or giving any fucks about Zac Efron, but then as he begins to “succeed” with the progression of the movie, she becomes more fond and supportive of him.
Kennedy Jones: Crying during a DJ set. That shit is very real. Except, when I cry during a set, y'all will never know it because I don’t look like a newborn when I cry. C'mon, Zac, you’re a grown ass man dude.
Josh Jacobson: In the first studio scene, James makes a very real and beautiful point about how you can’t just imitate and make tracks with the same sounds as everyone else — it’s all about creating something new using unique sounds and finding your own distinctive style as an artist.
The only way “We Are Your Friends” can make a comeback is a sequel and in the first scene Zac walks in on @DILLONFRANCIS fuckin Zac’s girl.— Kennedy Jones (@KennedyJonesTHO) August 31, 2015
You guys immediately mentioned how things like “producer,” “artist,” and “musician” were never once mentioned. Does this movie perpetuate the stereotype that all DJs are “button pushers?”
Kennedy Jones: Absolutely. I still hear this from people all the time. “I’m sorry I don’t have to push buttons for an hour a day and make a ton of money.” I laugh in their face because, bruh, in between spending your life, holidays included, on airplanes and in transit, communicating with all of your company’s moving parts and partners like management, business management, designers, assistants, logistic managers, financial planners, collaborators, and then finding the time to produce quality work, the whole “hour a day” thing doesn’t really hold up. Furthermore, I don’t ever use a laptop to play, but that’s just me. I do it all by ear, in the heat of the moment.
Jayceeoh: I wouldn’t say this movie perpetuated button pusher-ness totally. They touched on being able to rock a party, read a crowd, etc., which is a major part of real DJing.
Getter: At the end of the day, DJs are button pushers. Being a DJ is about as easy as cooking dinner. It’s really everything except the button pushing that matters. The music you make needs to be original and catchy, you need a dope stage presence to get the fans going, and you gotta have patience. But the act of DJing is super easy. They made it seem super-difficult and exclusive in the movie.
Josh Jacobson: Based on the info in this movie, I’d be inclined to think that DJing is all about finding some formula to get rich off of that “one song” that people love rolling face to at the club.
What were some of the major technical/unbelievable parts that bothered you?
Josh Jacobson: His live setup was pretty silly — an Akai LPD8 mapped to Logic or Garageband or something. They could have at least shown him using Ableton or Traktor or something a bit more relevant.
Mister Blaqk: The fact he was wearing his headphones everywhere he goes. Nobody does that. Also, the fact that they made it seem like all your sets have to start at 120 and end at 128 BPM was complete bullshit. The first thing wrong with that is that some DJ’s — depending on genre — don’t ever even get to that BPM at all, let alone only increase their music by 8 BPM.
Getter: Like holy shit, “Catch their heart beat at 120 BPM, then transition into 128 and do that for an hour.” No. How about you start at 128, then go to 140? Then maybe 175 all the way down to 110. Now back to 160 then 128 again. Fucking “DJ” going up 8 beats per minute? Give me a break!
Donslens: You never wear your headphones around your neck going in or out of the club you just hold them. It’s like a law.
Kennedy Jones: Seriously the last thing I want to do ever, ever, after finishing a gig is put those fucking things.
How could they have made this a more accurate depiction of what you guys do?
Jayceeoh: I think this movie would have been more successful if they went more in depth with the writing and story line. Maybe went a different route with the casting and got a more progressive actor than a mainstream pretty boy like Zac Efron.
Donslens: Some person said “let’s just make money.” They didn’t care about accuracy.
Getta: I thought it was a comedy at first. I would rather get my ass beat for an hour and 40 minutes than see it again. Next time, dig a little deeper in your research.
Josh Jacobson: [They needed] more of a focus on the creative dimension of dance music as art, which would have helped tremendously. There is definitely a side of the scene that’s more focused on entertainment than art, but that’s the tip of the iceberg and most of us are out here to be artists — not entertainers.
Kenendy Jones: If they made the Straight Out of Compton of DJing it would be real. But they are not dumb with this movie being released with the same time as the Compton movie. They thought they could parallel it and be like, “If you like hip hop you’ll go see Straight Out of Compton.“
Mister Blaqk: "And if you like raves you’ll go see Zac Efron.”
Kennedy Jones: I am offended that there wasn’t one character in the movie that didn’t partake in party drugs and stayed home from partying only to work on music alone until 5:00 A.M. This movie completely dodged their opportunity and their obligation to the young people out there to be inspiring and informatively show the dangers or risks involved with being a musician. Instead, they focused on what happens if you party too much. It’s honestly just a disgrace.
[Hears plane overhead]
Donslens: Quick, someone better record that.
Is Emily Ratajkowski the only good thing about this movie? Sorry, had to ask.
Josh Jacobson: Yeah probably, she’s pretty gorgeous. They used the silly bit about how BPM interacts with people’s heart rates as an excuse for an extended close up on her boobs in that pool scene. So over the top…not complaining though.
Jayceeoh: Well, yes. Emily Ratajkowski breasts were the highlight of the film. Lord have mercy that rack is perfect. Also, Dillon Francis and Alesso’s cameos were pretty funny.
Kennedy Jones: No. She’s gorgeous I’ll give her that…but the best thing about this movie is it has given us, the music community from producers to fans to managers and agents, a reason and platform to really show the world and speak on the fact that we are more than degenerate party animals. To show that we are successful and articulate. Classy and genuine. That our love of the music is why we are here. Anything else is just smoke and mirrors.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy. Follow her on Twitter.