Now many might be thinking I’m going to go down the road of vinyl is king, digital DJs are just button pushers, it's about beatmatching blah blah but no. I like to DJ with all sorts of different mediums including vinyl but I also DJ with CDs, USBs and Traktor with controllers and DVS and I’m not going to get into which is best and this post is just about the music. But why should you buy hard copies from a record store? From a DJ point of view there are just some tracks that you can’t buy on a download like limited editions, old obscure records, remixes on older pressings or maybe the odd old DJ Promo. Searching around for these tracks which will in turn make you stand out from the vast crowds of DJs and the usual Beatport 100 DJs.
Buying from a record store you get the advice and opinions of the staff who could point you in another direction, again making you stand out. There may be the soul enthusiast who could point out a record with an obscure hip-hop sample that would to go with the old skool hip-hop record you just picked up or the disco enthusiast pointing out a record to go with that house record. We’ve all seen the film Human Traffic with Koop the vinyl pusher and the record store scene right? If not id suggest some home work and go and watch it but in the scene people are asking his opinion and advice. With record stores you’re getting a personal service and hopefully honest opinions and who would work in a music store if you hated music? Not many. Buying those records keeps this personal service going for other DJs and music lovers in the future and the creativity going. Record stores are closing because of technology and it’s a shame it needs something like this to try and keep them going, however vinyl sales are on the up (even if it was just for Christmas) so fingers crossed it keeps getting better.
When downloading new tracks online, you don’t really get a warm personal service, it’s cold and emotionless and this can be an uncreative process by simply downloading the Beatport Top 100. When downloading music you may see star ratings or the faceless keyboard troll leaving negative feedback just because and would you click on a low rated track? Would it even appear in your search? Probably not as it’s just text on a screen with a star rating and rankings. Everybody is going to be playing the same stuff this way, example would be Boiler Room. I’ve listened to quite a few and recently came across 3 sets which were all very similar and playing the same tracks and if all local DJs are playing the Beatport Top 100 then it’s all a little bit boring really.
Now, I fell into DJing (drunkenly and really being a bit too big for my boots) but I’ve been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember and I wanted to do album design from a young age. I went through school, took art, studied every album sleeve and later went onto do design at college. Then MP3s came out just before I finished and there was no need for album designers as MP3s don’t have that physical presence a record has with its sleeve and artwork. MP3s sometimes come with digital booklets but who reads them? Not that many I’m guessing. Hard copies of music has something more, it has design, texture, smell and all of which can create memory recall and emotion, I can pick up a record today and remember where I bought it and when. You may even pick up a record because of the eye catching sleeve and find something you wouldn’t normal choose online, especially if it had a low score. You can’t see scores in a store! However, this once did backfire on a friend of mine and the Spanish Classical Death Metal mashup CD wasn’t the punk CD he thought it looked like on the cover and it didn’t last long in his is collection but most of the time it’s fine or just ask to listen to it at the counter.
My main point is it’s about digging and being different and
even if you don’t use hard copies of music in your set you can easily copy them
to MP3 to use as you normally would. Some new pressings come with digital
versions and I often rip my vinyl to MP3 to use for smaller gigs because let be
fair vinyl is back breaking work carrying it around and it’s not always
practical. I use a USB Numark in the office to rip the tracks but there are
many other ways to do this. But you know it’s not just about vinyl but also other
mediums like CDs, they’ve been around some time now and there maybe some obscure
remixes on those CD singles and most are cheap as chips, in fact a lot of vinyl
is going cheaply second hand. You’ve also got other things to that go with a
shop such as a place for bands and DJs to place advertise nights, interact with
people, make contacts and maybe even get a gig. It’s about discovering unheard artists,
equipment queries, little tips, and so much more. Local stores will employ locals, it’s a wage to feed a
family, pay for their children’s school shoes and supporting your local store
supports your community and your community supports you. Without money they won’t
be able to come and see you DJ in bars, empty bars will lead to no gigs and this is another reason to use your local record store and other businessess', a little extreme but it makes my point.
MP3s has made the music industry disposable like an empty packet of crisps or a crushed drinks can and downloads are forgotten and lost in the vast hard drives in PCs. Hard copies are generally not thrown away and are cherished for many years and remembered. There are few big chart hits anymore and maybe why still some old classics are still around, they are cherished and maybe being pre-MP3 has somthing to do with that.
So to sum up don’t rely on Top 40’s, Top 100s or radio playlists but go out and explore and support the stores.
To celebrate Record Store Day below is a video of a Mr. Scruff vinyl set which was filmed by Mixmag at Piccadilly Records in Manchester. There is a short interview about why record stores are important to him and how they helped him. I’ve personally always enjoyed Mr. Scruff sets and I often went to see him play the Music Box in Manchester in the early 00’s, he’s one of the DJs that got me interested in DJing in the first place and still inspires me to this day.
Hope you enjoy the video and remember record stores are for life, not just for Christmas!
For International Women's Day here are 5 awesome mixes we enjoy listening to from 5 female DJs in the industry. We particularly like the one by Little Boots for its track selection and we have this on repeat here at THDJs.
From being a DJ in my local town for the past 14 years I have seen a dramatic decrease in bars and the number of people coming out into town. I started DJing when my town didn’t have late licences, beer was cheap and Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday was rammed. We’re lucky if we get a busy Saturday now. The licensing laws in my in my local town back then said you had to be in your chosen bar by 10:30 or you were locked out and had to go home; here you stayed till the end at 1:00, you couldn’t even leave to go to the cash machine. Now, at the time this seemed daft and to some point yes it was but I think for my local town its one of the reasons for the decline. Bars are now open until 3:00 and you can come and go whenever you feel, which is great to an extent but with cheap alcohol now in supermarkets people are choosing to drink at home, watch X-Factor and come out after midnight. They aren’t locked into one bar to spend the cash in one place and by the time they get out into town they are already drunk and don’t spend as much. Money is tight for most and I don’t blame them for this but local bars that aren’t chains simply can’t lower their prices to compete with supermarkets, in fact the prices in bars go up to try and meet their overheads and its made worse that people aren’t out as long. In my local town, a large chain has opened up, selling cheap drinks and it’s wiped the town out. Everybody else is struggling, simply because they can’t compete on price and the people who are out are simply sheep. Everybody moans about the fights, cheap nasty drinks, the bad cheesy music, plastic pint glasses, too many kids but they all still go because everybody else goes there. Which leads me on the people who go out into town....
The crowd dictate, which I think is a big reason for the problems in most towns. One reason I decided to write this was also to defend the poor DJ in the documentary who was playing a small local bar and who they were laughing at for playing the Macarena. Another reason for the decline in nightlife, mainly in smaller towns is simply the people who go out. A DJ in small town usually doesn’t have the fan base, they don’t have the pulling power the larger DJ’s like Annie Mac have or even the number of people who go out like the cities do so they have to play what people dance to for what little people do come out. If people don’t dance to a house track but they do dance to the Macarena, unfortunately the Macarena wins regardless even if we all think its cheddar cheese. Now, I run a few nights, one pop and one soul and motown. The 2nd has been running every Friday now for the past 4 years, although funk, soul and motown isn’t anything new but it’s not the same as every other bar in my local town playing chart, it’s not really an offensive genre, people know it and why I started it. I have a modest following in the small bar but I still get arguments every week as to why I won’t play Drake, Rihanna or Calvin Harris. I explain nicely why I won’t be playing those tracks and they can hear what they want in any other bar and club in town, I show them the flyer; explain it’s been running for 4 years like this, doing something different etc. So far I’ve been spat at, had a bottle thrown at me, heckled, had somebody threaten to beat me up, offer me money, cry on me, screaming at me saying I was £$%^, one tied to get the whole bar to walk out, I’ve been told I’ve ruined somebody’s night, one threatened to pour a drink on my equipment and one tried to throw the PA speakers on the floor. The last one was because I wouldn’t play Madonna “Like a Prayer” which isn’t funk, soul or motown believe it or not. The rest was because I wouldn’t pay top 40 chart. This is a smaller bar, I can just about get away with advertising and doing a genre specific night but I only draw in enough of a crowd to make it just about worthwhile. If you’re in a larger bar and people aren’t willing to listen or dance to something that’s not top 40 or cheese then what do you do? Most will play to what the crowd want to dance to even if it cheesy to keep the dance floor full. Unfortunately, in smaller towns chart, cheese and RnB is the majority.
We have been keeping a look out for the new player for some time now since the #ChangeYourRider hastag first appeared, we have now seen some videos appear and from what it looks like.....wow!
Hopefully I won’t be biased as I’ve used Denon products from mixers to media player myself for a number of years but I also use Pioneer. I’m currently using an older Denon mixer in my current setup, mainly because it does what I need it to do and it’s built like a tank. Anyway, SC5000 Prime..... We’ve not been able to get one to test as we are only new so unfortunately I can only go from what I’ve seen and won’t be able to test one until a show in the UK or we get one in but they look awesome from the videos we’ve seen. With the full colour screen, hot cue buttons, effects and even down to the little things like album art work in the platter and the power backup if the plug is pulled. Yes this still runs for a while in case the power is cut so not to interrupt the playback.
So, the screen first. Its high definition, hi-contrast display is touch screen which is great for navigation to find that track quickly and allowing you to get back to the mix or interacting with the crowd. If you have not had time to analyse your tracks, this is the first player capable of on-board file analysis and showing all the data such as the beat grid, wave form and BPM on the colour screen. Also, another unique feature on the SC5000 is its bank of eight multifunction trigger pads for your hot-cues, loops, slices and roll playback which is great for live remixes/edits and some controller DJs will hopefully feel comfortable with the SC5000 as well. One last feature which I’m just excited about is that the SC5000 has two audio outs, why? Because you can play two tracks at the same time, one can be playing on channel one while the other is playing on channel two and both with its separate colour codes so you won’t get confused. If you like to use multiple channels at the same time like me then it’s much cheaper to buy two units than four! I also hear the RRP is cheaper than Pioneer.
25 August 2016
The new version has more features taken from the CDJ2000NXS such as a 7-inch high-resolution touch screen, FLAC and ALAC file support, high-quality audio design and enhanced track browsing. With the Mark 2 you can quickly find the track you need by filtering by BPM, key and a feature that finds suitable tracks using previously tagged tracks in Rekordbox. This is great news for DJs who DJ on the fly and on an odd occasion get a little stuck, it’s happened to us all. On the previous version there was a QWERTY keyboard and search words which this new version still has so finding the next track is still pretty easy and quick to do.
The new version can be connected to the DDJ-SP1 controller where you can use its large performance pads and the XDJ-1000MK2 has eight Hot Cues plus a lot of features you would expect to find from many CDJs. Pioneer say that the Mark2 handles just like the club-standard CDJ-2000NXS2 and from the pictures/videos from the launch it looks like many who are used to CDJs will feel right at home.
15 August 2016
Denon announced today at the DJ Expo the MC7000. The professional DJ Controller comes with 4-channel capability and dual USB connections. With the two USB interfaces the MC7000 allows two DJs to play together while using their preferred DJ software. Great news for those DJs who like to do back to back sets or seamless handovers.