Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 365: What have we learnt here

So here we are, the very last post in the 365 day chain. I feel great pressure to write something deeply insightful and profound. I could always just link off to a youtube video or something? Shall I? Ok, ok... I couldn't end it like that.

Here we are, a whole 365 days (and posts) later. Those of you that have been with us from the start will know that initially this blog was conceived as a personal challenge. To make it as a DJ, or at least see how far I could get in one year.

It wasn't too long however before I realised how difficult that challenge was, especially to write about it every day AND make that interesting. It wasn't too long into the year then that the blog started taking a more wider approach, bringing you daily information about how you might be a better DJ and producer too.

All in all you might say that I largely failed in my initial goal. I could wheel out numerous reasons as to why, but I'll save that for the book ;). This however isn't to say that over all the whole idea was an exercise in futility, in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the last 365 days, I personally have gone from a total novice DJ with no idea of how to make a tune, to having played at probably the largest and most well know electronic dance music festival in the UK, possibly world (at a brand level). I won 3 DJ competitions, and one music production competition.

Last January I thought I knew a lot, now I know 100 times more, and realise there is still many more magnitudes of things to learn. I have made friends, and contacts with a great number of people, and been lucky enough to be given many number of things relating to DJing and making music. All of this is a great privilege in itself.

Rather than tire of the subject forcing myself deeper into it for the purposes of the blog has stoked the fire of passion to new un-thought of heights. If I have been able to pass one one ounce of this enthusiasm and information along the way then that is success for me in itself.

In many ways I thought that this last post might be the end, but as I briefly hinted at yesterday if anything it's barely the start. In the new year new projects will be undertaken, and much more of my time will be spent doing more of the same thing, discovering more about the craft of DJing, and the art of Production.

Without doubt the blog has changed my life in many ways. Having a project like this is without doubt one of the best ways to totally immerse yourself in something that you care about. If one thing has become clear to me, it's that the old adage of "You get out what you put in" is bang on the money.

Just by sticking with it, and doing a little bit towards something day by day you will be surprised by how quickly and impressively you start reaping rewards. They may be in the form of financial gain, or freebies, but more often than not, the best rewards are the opportunities, ideas and experiences that come from pursuing something, with intent, for a sustained amount of time.

Many of the interviews, features and tutorials will remain here, but will also be ported over to the new site and updated. This blog will return to it's original purpose as a web-log for my own personal musical endeavours. It'd be great to have you stay around, and don't worry it wont be daily any more!

The new site will take it's residence at and is open to contributions and collaboration if you too are interested in music/DJing/writing and anything related. Unfortunately I don't have a launch date yet as I am currently moving house (and countries!) but I would expect no later than February.

There will be a great many new and in depth features coming too as I take this on more or less as a full time job. There will even be a fairly big give-away to kick the site off.

For the producers among you, there will also be the launch of a digital record label. Distribution to all the big sites is in place and demos are being accepted.

So as you can see, many new and exciting projects in the pipeline, and these are just the ones I have told you about. There are a few more that are still at the ideas stage.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I bid you Happy New year, may you work hard towards the things that mean something to you, and if you do, you'll be sure to reap rewards.

Enjoy the music, and I'll see you on the other side.

James - Bang the DJ.

P.S. Below are a mix I never posted (the one that won me a Pacemaker) and my latest and I hope most accomplished track (with .wav download available) by way of a small gesture of thanks for reading!

HarmonicIndieDanceMix by Bang the DJ
Bang The DJ - On The Rocks by Bang the DJ




Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 364: This is the end...

Well almost. One day left of the 'daily' blog. So, what are you all going to do once I deny you your daily fix of Bang the DJ?

Fear not, this isn't the end, it is merely the beginning. Over the last year we have constantly bought you updates, information guides, tutorials and more from he world of DJing and music production.

So I thought it would make sense to take it to the next level. To accomplish that we have some big plans in the pipeline. We move over from the blog format, and over into the more substantial, supersized fully fledged web-site/portal/on-line magazine style format.

Expect a lot more home grown multi media in the form of tutorial videos and video interviews with DJs and producers, also expect more quality in depth editorial, reviews of equipment competitions and much much more.

I am quite excited about the whole thing, and can't wait to get it up and out there. We are still developing the site as we speak so expect it to launch some time in February. I'll pass on more info here as and when I have it.

Although this will mean the end of the daily blog updates, the blog will still continue to run in a much more relaxed and personal manner serving more as a web log of my own personal DJ/Producer adventures.

I'll provide a full wrap up of everything tomorrow, but just thought I'd get the word out now, before tomorrows no doubt over long, rambling and tear jerking final post.





Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 363: A word about the DMC

You couldn't have a DJ blog without mentioning the DMCs at least once.

If you don't know what the DMCs are, they are basically the World Cup of DJing. Definitely recognised as the most prestigious Turntablist event of the calendar. Big names like Craze, QBert, Roc Raida and A-Trak all earned their stripes at this very competition.

This years winner was DJ Shortee, who regularly gives tutorial videos etc over at Dubspot. They recently released a DMC2009 DVD, and while I just spoiled the ending for you, I don't think you'll mind once you see the trailer as it'll get you all pumped back up again and gagging to watch it.




Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 362: More DJ Courses.

We reviewed a bunch of DJ courses in the week building up to Christmas, so I hope you found that useful, and maybe even treated yourself or a loved one to one...

Well this one I literally just found today. It claims to be free, and certainly appears to be (bar possibly a few bucks in fees). Though I think the idea is that you sign up for their VIP site at the end of it (you get a months free membership|).

I imagine you don't have to join the VIP and can just cancel your subscription, so still probably worth checking out. Certainly good if you wanted a course, but couldn't afford one, or are left skint after Christmas!

Have fun with it, I'll try and do a full review in the new year if I can.




Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 361: DJ Resolutions.

Now that pesky Christmas is out the way, naturally our eyes turn to New Years, and with that comes new beginnings. and of course, resolutions.

Here are some of mine that I think many DJs might share, I would love to hear any others you might have.

1. Learn to Scratch

2. Learn to Scratch better

3. Master beat juggling for the hell of it

4. Start a small net label

5. Follow up on all the Dj related stuff that I promised I would do this year but never did for various reasons.

6. Learn to beat mix backwards.

7. Make lots of VIP edits of tunes, and baffle the trainspotters

8. Get a tune played out on national radio

9. Rediscover the joy of plain old LOUD DJing (sorry neighbours)

10. Blog less!

Ok, there you go, those are mine, let's see how I fair this time around.

She has a point...




Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 360: Boxinday blues

All the sherry has been drunk, and the turkey is well and truly dry by now. What's a DJ to do? Easy, watch this, and remember DJing is better than Christmas, and that's all that matters!




Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 359: Merry Christmas from Bang the DJ.

We hope |Santa got you what you wanted, and that you get chance to have a Christmas Spin before the queens speech, and all the olds fall asleep infront of the telly.

Here is a great little Christmas Treat I found for you on youtoobs:




Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 358: DJ Scratch Academy

First we had QBerts Scratch University, now we have the Scratch Academy, also endorsed by some of the biggest names in turntablism.

I discovered this via Indaba music, which if you didn't know already is a great music collaboration website, always offering up collaboration invites with big artists, or other such interesting opportunities.

They also have a thriving community, and many interesting sub sections to the web-site. One of which is their A.I.R pages which stands for Artists in Residence. This is where the collaboration between Indaba Music and the Scratch Academy can be found.

So basically the two sites have teamed up to bring you information and tutorials about becoming a scratch DJ essentially for free. Though I imagine the info isn't as deep as you might find directly on the Scratch Academy website, it's pretty good for free, and it is good to see Indaba bringing in top names and features such as this.

Below is a sample video showing you what we can expect to see on the Indaba mini site:




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 357: Free Ableton live Packs

It's nearly Christmas, and I must say there is an air of generosity this year. It's definitely the year of the internet give-away. If you haven't been following TATW's amazing daily give aways then you've been missing out!

Ableton themselves have also made a Christmas giveaway in the form of two Ableton live packs. Perfect for you motley bunch as they include live recordings of Break beats covering Breaks, Drum & Bass and Dubstep.

Here is a word from the artist himself:

“I’m KJ Sawka and I’m excited to introduce the ‘Mad Beatz’ drum n’ bass, dub step and breakbeat collection exclusively for Ableton Live, as a special holiday gift. I’m proud to be part of the world changing Ableton team!

‘Mad Beatz’ is mainly drum and beat-oriented stemming from a live acoustic drumming session recorded at the Art Institute in Seattle, Wa USA. There are also plenty of electronic drum loops, percussion, basslines and keyboard riffs.”

And of course the all important link to the goodies. Below a video of the recordings in action:




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 356: More to the point

We're now inside the last 10 days of the year, and after another long break I have another quick update about Bang the DJ.

I've entered a bunch of remix competitions over the last few months, and if nothing else they have been invaluable in improving my music production skills. However recently I was excited to find out I had actually been selected as a victor in one! This is great news for me as it at least shows I am making some decent headway, and this is being recognised by already established artists.

So, a pat on the back for myself, and this of course means adding some points to the tally below.

The remix was of Shamanix's excellent 'Blood Drop'. The original and video are below, then followed by my remix.

The official video:

My version:

Also Shamanix himself contacted me and asked if it was ok to release this as part of a remix package... yes I think so!!!

So according to my score card, and a bit of making it up as this eventuality wasn't covered (winning a remix comp) this earns as follows:

Tune on blog = 8

Tune released = 10

Competition win = 15

The last competition win earned me 10, however I have made this 15 due to not mentioning the Pacemaker competition I sneakily won out right a month or so ago. This won me the Pacemaker that I reviewed last Friday.

This mini round of points brings my total up to 73, which is ok considering the lack of effort I have made in the second half of the year.

A further and more complete update on all things Bang the DJ to follow before the end of the year.




Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 355: Turntablism with Traktor

If there were still some people left that think Digital DJing isn't as much a skill as with Vinyl, it's time for them to watch this and stfu.

If anything this sort of technology totally ads a new dimension, and therefore exponentially difficult skill set. Half the time the skill is in the creative thinking about how to use this new technology. Sure things such as traktor may make the previous DJ skill set a bit easier, like beat matching and juggling. If you only use it to do those things then yes, it's fair to say you aren't earning your stripes so much.

Apply a little thought though and you soon realise this sort of thing is just small fry really, and if anything the lid is yet to be blown off of this technology, meaning much notoriety is still there and up for the taking.

So, the following video really should put an end to the digital Vs turntablist argument. End of story, let's move on.

P.S. the effect achieved in the video is done using just cue points on the track, and not single shot samples (which would be the easy 'prepared' way) meaning with skill this can be performed on the fly.




Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 354: Guide to the new CDJ 2000 & 900s

So now they are finally in all the shops after all the hype and waiting. Now you just gotta decide which ones you want. Simple as it may initially seem (one is clearly superior to the other right?) it's not actually as straight forward as you might think.

From what I understand the 2000 is obviously the flagship model, yet it does lack a feature that the 900 has, and is considerably more expensive (some £500 or so) meaning you pay for a whole extra 900 when buying two of these.

No problems though, djsounds (from Pioneer themselves) has compiled a video guide series which should go a long way to helping you decide. There are 8 videos in total covering pretty much any question you might still have.

If like me you are wanting to jump into this next generation of CDJ, but want to make sure you are spending your (considerable amount of) money wisely, then these are required viewing.

Check out the full series here...




Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 353: How to Make Smack my Bitch up in Ableton

After yesterdays mammoth post, today just a quick video turorial that needs no explaination.

If you make tunes in Ableton this will be very useful indeed, or if you every worry that you use too many samples then fear not... once you have watched this you will realise that that is probably ok!

Awe inspiring stuff!




Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 352: Tonium Pacemaker - Decks in the palm of your hand - Product review

All this week we have been reviewing DJ courses as present ideas for the DJ-Loved one in your life (even if that is yourself!). Well to end the week we are featuring something special, possibly one of the best Christmas presents a DJ might hope for.

OK So this isn't a DJ course, but it is a DJ tool, a whole lot of fun, a gadget and therefore perfect present material.

I am of course referring to the Tonium Pacemaker. I have been drooling over these since the moment I saw them, and as it goes they are partly responsible for me getting into DJing properly, as the music on one of the adverts saw opened up a world of new tunes I'd not heard before.

There are lots of reviews, features and breakdowns of this product online already. I was lucky enough to get my grubby mitts on one of these recently, and I can't explain how happy I am with it.

So rather than repeat all the information you can already find online about it, I will simply review it from an actual end usage point of view.

When I first opened the box and powered the Pacemaker up I had already been watching video reviews about it online etc so I already vaguely knew how it worked. I was pleased then that on turning it on to find it already had a couple of tunes loaded on it, especially as I wasn't near my own computer.

Loading a tune to each "deck" I decided to dive in and try and get to grips with it. First of all by default the Pacemaker is set to CD Style cueing, which if you don't know is when it stutters the cue point, and you can adjust it back or forth. I personally found this very difficult to work with, though for some reason the compulsive in me was determined to get to grips with it.

After a modicum of success I soon found that you can change the cue setting to "vinyl" mode which is much better in my opinion. This is much like CDJs Vinyl mode, and unsurprisingly more like vinyl itself where you manually wind the tune on until you find your desired cue point. Press cue to set it, and you are away.

Once I had this sorted the fun really began.

It really is impressive the amount of control that you have in such a small device. To put it in perspective, this little gem has more features than my more expensive, much bigger dedicated iDJ2 console.

Naturally though what you get in features, you lose in work area. The Pacemaker for example comes fully loaded with EQs, gain control, hot looping (with loop splitter) and EFX. The EFX themselves are pretty impressive. Choose from Hi/Lo Cut, echo, roll, reverb, crush, delay, trans and wah. See, that's an impressive list by any ones standards.

The control surface is similar to that of an iPod jog wheel, cleverly divided into north south east and west. This means you tap from the center out to one of those four points to access the EFX or EQs, and then roll your finger round the side to adjust the amount. Tapping twice in the centre then doing the same allows you to adjust other parameters for that effect, such as roll amount etc.

This clever use of space is really what gives the Pacemaker the edge. It would have been easy to cram in the basic pitch controls and mixer interface and leave it there, but they really have made the extra effort in making it as close to a pro DJ console as possible.

The 'decks' are accessed by a select button on either side, and once pressed, anything you do (apart from cross fade) will affect this channel only. This keeps things tidy, but the only downfall is that you have to be very careful to remember which side you are working on, else it can go horribly wrong!

An example might be that you have Track A playing, and Track B in the headphones, beat matching. You cut the bass from track B, and then switch over to control track A. On a normal mixer you could adjust the Bass EQ controls for both tracks at the same time blending them over, but this can't be done while controlling one track at a time. Sometimes if you are not careful too you can roll off the bass of the main track forgetting which side you have left switched on too!

There is a setting that lets you adjust the effect with the fader, so as you go from one track over to the other it rolls the bass off of one and brings it up on the other. This is a reasonable solution to this problem, but requires turning this effect on and off each time, or just leaving it on always, which might not be desired.

Once you get the hang of these subtle nuances however you really can get rocking. I've tried it out over my Amp, and the sounds seems punchy and responsive. The controls are tactile, and as mentioned cleverly placed, sometimes it really is easy to get lost in the fun of it all.

My only drawback on the hardware side of things is the "P" button, which is a slider on the side which again allows quick access to multiple features (it basically acts like a Shift Key). This feels a little wobbly to me, and if you have larger hands of chunky fingers like me, sometimes feels like it might snap off over time. We shall see on that one.

Software wise, for me the only gripe is that (as far as I know) the beat counters can't be turned off, and they can be quite distracting. Especially if you are learning to beat match, and you want to do it all manually so you know you got it right. The display also has a beat grid which shows you if the beats are aligned. It seems pretty accurate but also distracting and, as before, if you want to be a purist, there doesn't seem to be the option to turn it off.

Lastly, sometimes the beat grid drifts quite wildly, despite the beat counters insisting you speed up/slow down the track, as if they are not co-ordinated. Again this can be quite distracting, and stops you from using just your ears, which is what you really want to be practising with.

Those small gripes aside though really don't take away from the sheer brilliance of everything else.

The bundled software is slick and easy to use. Great for organising your DJ library too to make it easier to find tracks once they are on the Pacemaker with it's not too large screen. You can also record mixes with the Pacemaker cleverly through the use of Meta data, which can then be transferred to the software, and exported as an audio file all very efficiently. You can also edit the mix on the software to tighten up that wonky mid set mix ;).

Easily the best DJ gadget on the market right now and if I am honest for the foreseeable future too. The new 60gb version is £299.99 most places, and while that may seem a lot, once you feel the quality, and have a go, it'll soon seem like a bargain.

Thoroughly recommended.




Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 351: DJ Master Course - Review

So far this week we've had DJ courses in Book format, DVD, and Online Video. Today's course is a bit of a combination, coming in the form of online videos with an accompanying e-book.

The course is DJ Master Course.

Created by Australian DJ Benny Drohan, DJ Master course is very well produced. The videos look slick, and the e-book has a very professional feel. This isn't just some quick rushed up cash money idea. There has obviously been some time spent in putting this together, and making it look the part.

Here is a breakdown of some of the topics covered (taken from the web-site):

  • Incredible and Professional Custom Created HD Video Demonstrations Making the Knowledge Come to Life!
  • A Multitude of Audio Samples to Help you Hear and Understand the Exercises in the Course.
  • A Work Book Complete with Real Time Exercises and Incredible Diagrams
  • Learn How to Set Up Your Equipment Properly and Effectively Including Incredible Diagrams Making it Easy to Understand
  • You Will learn How to Start Separating the Sounds
  • Learn How To Cue Your Music using Vinyl or CD
  • Learn How To Keep Your Tunes In Time Without Using Your Head Phones.
  • Learn How To Beat Match – This is ESSENTIAL, It’s the Number 1 fundamental Skill of ALL DJ’s
  • Learn How To EQ and Master Your Mixes So That You Get Them Sounding Professional Every Single Time
  • Learn How To Mix Your Music at Exactly the Correct Point Effortlessly Every Single Time
  • You Will Learn How to Create and Record a Perfect Seamless Demo that People Can’t Stop Themselves Listening to and Raving About
  • A Glossary of DJ terms so Nothing You Come Across Seems Foreign to You in the Course or the DJ World.
  • Cross Fading, Up Fading, Harmonic Mixing, it’s All Included!
That's some good ground covered right there. Having worked through the videos, if you watch them alone, they are themselves enough to learn how to DJ pretty well. Though this would assume some familiarity already with the basic concepts of DJing and the equipment. The book comes in to fill in any gaps, and cater for those completely new to DJing.

The course also has a supporting blog updated regularly with tips and advice from pro DJs and more. Although this course may weigh in as the most expensive we've featured at $97 (£60/€67) it also offers an amazing affiliate scheme to earn money from recommendations, and a no quibble money back guarantee should you not be satisfied with the course, tho we feel this is quite unlikely.

Promo video below, and free lessons available on the web-site.

Over all this is a quality resource that gets you excited about DJing as you progress. Many times I got distracted for a few hours mixing after reading an idea of concept in the course. The enthusiasm for the art pours through in this course, and in many ways this is half the battle won in DJing, drumming up that passion. A well thought out program.




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 350: DJing for Beginners - Sonic Academy - Review

Continuing our mini series of product reviews we now take a look at an online only resource - Sonic Academy.

I first found out about Sonic Academy whilst doing some youtube searches ages ago, and it instantly caught my attention. Something about the look and feel of it straight away made me feel like this was a course/resource almost directly aimed at me.

Basically Sonic Academy is a subscription based service. They make their own video tutorials covering a host of DJ and Production related topics. Literally everything to do with electronic music is covered, but there is a definite leaning to the club and DJ side of things.

The tutorials I am going to cover today are the specific DJ related ones, as this is the theme of the mini-series.

SA offer two specific DJ courses, one is straight up meat and potatoes Vinyl DJing, and the other is DJing with Ableton. Therefore you have the option of the Vinyl course which is suited to someone just making their first steps into DJing, or the Ableton course maybe for someone who has earned their Vinyl Stripes, and wants to move into the digital world.

Both courses are laid out in a modular fashion, about 9 or 10 separate videos, each tackling a different topic.

In the Vinyl course, all the essentials you might need to get beat matching are covered. All the Sonic Academy courses are given by experienced industry professionals who have made their names as DJs and Producers, so you know you are in safe hands.

The Ableton course is also well laid out. I learnt a fair few neat tricks about general Ableton use as well whilst viewing the course, tips that are useful even beyond the DJ side of things.

Over all, both courses are simple to digest, full of useful tips and information. The vinyl course wont hold much interest for the learning DJ who already knows how, but just can't yet beat match, however is perfect for beginners. And as above the Ableton course is well suited even for users with some experience.

The courses can be bought individually, even on a per module basis (£3.99 each) or you can subscribe to the service annually and have access to every single course they have ever done, that's many many hours of video.

I myself have subscribed, and will certainly be renewing it. The site also has an active online community that is great for getting help and ideas etc.

They are even offering gift subscriptions so ideal for that DJ stocking filler! Below is a sample video from the DJ course, there are more free videos to check out on their web-site.




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 349: DJ's Complete Guide - DVD Review

Yesterday we reviewed the excellent DJing for Dummies. Today we move from the printed word to the small screen.

Today's review is of the DVD "DJ's Complete Guide". The title kinda says it all right there.

The change of media format brings with it a change of style. Books enable a large amount of information that is easily referenced, but Video boasts the ability to actually show you what to do, and this for some people is an important thing.

This DVD is presented by some chirpy blond lady, who takes the roll of presenter/interviewer/student whilst most of the DJ advice is dispensed by Miles Batty, a working DJ in London.

The structure of the DVD is fairly straight forward taking you through the basics, setting up equipment etc. Then a new topic is introduced as the presenter/student 'progresses'.

All the important topics are covered, equipment, beat matching etc and the delivery style is easy to understand.

The over all production quality is basic, but functional and the 90 minutes running time is enough to give you the information you need with out dragging it out.

Whilst this is most definitely aimed at the novice/beginner DJ there are still some nuggets of information within that could prove useful to intermediate. As is the nature of DJing, everyone does it differently, so there is always something to be learned.

Over all a good gift for the novice, or someone who hasn't yet taken up DJing, but wants to get a first look in, without committing the considerable hours required of a book.

Available now on Amazon here.




Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 348:DJing for Dummies - Book Review

Kicking off our DJ Christmas goodies reviews will be "DJing for Dummies".

The Dummies brand is well known by everyone these days, and they seem to have reached out to almost every corner of interest, pastime and activity. DJing is no exception, and we were lucky enough to get a copy to review.

The book is written by John Steventon, who is a real world working DJ who got into the game back in the 90s. Inspired by listening to other DJs he started making notes about the art, and later published these online, back in the early days of the internet. These notes grew and expanded and became a well respected resource online for DJing info, which is still there today:

Anyone who has ever read a dummies book will know the format already, but for those few that haven't opened the yellow book of knowledge, simplicity and clarity is the key here. The books are deservedly famed for their unassuming and easy to read style. DJing for dummies is certainly no exception.

The first thing you notice with the book is that you feel like you are being taught by a friend in your bedroom. Such is the style of writing that even some of the less interesting subjects, such as connecting up a mixer feel like idle banter between friends.

John delivers this friendly nature throughout the book, and peppers it with his friendly manner, and dare I say it bad jokes ;).

Another excellent feature of this book is it's comprehensiveness. Literally every aspect is covered from equipment, song structure, beatmatching, scratching, networking, getting a gig, and much much more.

Some of the resources I have read have tended to either just rush you through beat matching, or how to scratch, and kinda leave it there. In DJing for Dummies however there are many many elements that I hadn't even thought about that are covered. All of them real world and useful. Just simple things about various settings while using the headphones, or what to do when a gig goes wrong (often accompanied by a real world field story based on the authors own experience).

Therefore, due to the ease of reading, the comprehensiveness of the content, and the level of knowledge you will acquire, I have to give this a definite personal recommendation for any budding DJ that wants to be guided into the art almost effortlessly.

Naturally the book is available at all good book shops, and online such as here. A bargain at under £10 via Amazon.




Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 347: Christmas Gifts for the DJ...

Ok, so your partner is a DJ, or wants to be a DJ more likely. It's Christmas, you haven't a clue what to get them?

Ok there are plenty of things you can get them of course, ranging from the fabulous new CDJ2000 (pricey!) through to a mini torch for finding records in those dark DJ booths. However in keeping with the theme of this blog... how to be a DJ, I thought I would run a set of features over the week reviewing products that are about just that.

Starting tomorrow I will be reviewing different 'Learn to DJ' resources that are out there on the market. From Books, to DVDs, to online courses. All of them tried/viewed/read in person by yours truly. All of them are friendly on the pocket rolling in mainly under the £/€20 mark so all entirely affordable too.

I hope this might help those of you looking for those last minute gifts in the run up for Christmas!




Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 346: Mixvibes VFX DJ/VJ Controller.

A while back we took a brief look at VJing and some kit that went with it.

VJ kit has always been a bit more varied than the DJ side of things where you tend to have an obvious industry standard (Technics/Pioneer etc). Complying with VJing's cavalier nature, the scene as a whole seems to be made up of various creative and personal set ups.

With such a variety of styles and techniques within the discipline it's not hard to see why it has remained fragmented like this.

Mixvibes however have come up with a smart looking piece of kit that might go a long way to bridging the gap between the DJ and the VJ. There have been attempts before to merge the two, but they normally end up being a DJ tool with visuals, or a VJ tool with audio.

It's hard to tell just how much of each is in this box, but from the spec it seems to hold a lot of promise.

For example, there are 20 audio effects on board, and each one corresponds to an visual effect. I imagine this means you can have a tune playing, entirely separate visuals, and apply the effect to the audio, and the corresponding effect is applied to the video. Importantly keeping the effects in time. Hell it even says you can scratch video.

The trouble with these things will always be adoption. This may win the hearts of many avid users, but there will always be purists of either side that will see additional functionality as muddying the water.

I however think, done correctly, this can be a way to take things to the next level. A mad full blown audio visual sett with context, performed with dedication and practise could really be something.

Check the promo video below, and then head over to the web-site for more info. In the meantime I'm itching to get my hands on one for a road test.




Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 345: DJ Hero for the iPhone...? Delicious Vinyl DJ!

Well kinda...

Now that everyone has rinsed out DJ Hero completely, no doubt they will have twitchy fingers. Well fear not as the answer is here, and you can even take it with you. All this providing you are and iPhone/iPod Touch owner.

Delicious Vinyl have managed to cram in all the fun of the "Hero" franchise of games into the tiny confines of the iPhone. We've got real scratches, classic hip hop, and samples. It's all there.

I can actually see myself getting more out of this than some of the 'real' DJ emulation applications. This one just allows you to rock out and get your fix, simple as.

What's more it;s a snip at £1.79, a fraction of the price for DJ Hero on your favorite console. Also i might be wrong... but DJ hero doesn't have Young MC does it.. this game certainly does, so Bust-a-Move!

Head over to the App store on iTunes now and look for "Delicious Vinyl DJ". Video demo Below:




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 344: Zenhiser - Twisted Electro House Basslines

Ok, lots of talk of samples recently. So continuing on with the theme here is a review of Zenhisers new "Twisted Electro House Bassline" pack.

Zenhiser have been in the sample and loops game for some time. They also happen to have some of the best Old Skool loops and stabs I've ever seen, which is an easy way to gain my complete respect.

However, back to those Electro bass lines. First up, lets get straight into it. Below is a quick mini demo I made using just their loops, and some simple beats. This should give you both an idea of the quality and the sounds going on in the pack:

As you can see the quality of the audio is spotless, and the bass lines really pack some punch. Rather than just flat loops made from a dry midi file, it really feels like the audio has been treated as if it were 'track ready'.

For example, in the demo, the first loop sounds like it's been sidechained against a trigger kick drum. You can hear it throbbing slightly in time giving it that shifty groove which makes a track so much more funkeh.

The other key point worth mentioning about this pack is that, while smaller than some other "uber complete xxx" packs, what you do get is quality, and is fairly reflected int he price. At just 5€/£ (about $8) this leaves a remarkably small dent on the pocket. So much so that you have to be careful not to keep adding more and more packs to your cart under the illusion it's no money!

There are larger packs available too for those that do want a comprehensive library quickly, but this pack is and ideal starting place for a number of projects, all for the price of a beer and some crisps (or chips, depending where you are from I guess).

Get it here...




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 343: QBerts Skratch University

Possibly one of the biggest names in DJing, definitely so in the world of Scratch DJs. QBert has been a pioneer in turntable artistry for a long time now.

Anyone who has ever seen him at work will know exactly what I mean when I say this guy is good. Very good. Beyond good. OK, so I think this really deserves some video to hammer this point home:

Good stuff huh. Well scratching is probably one of the things people associate with DJing the most. Yet the percentage of DJs that can actually do it, or do it well is very low. I for one am certainly not capable in this area.

Recently though I have been thinking about how cool it would be to master this dark art, and who better to learn it from than Qbert himself. I present to you the Qbert Scratch University! Yes, you read it right. The main man himself is offering to show you his skills, and even provide custom and personalised feed back (via the exchange of videos).

What's more is that you get all this for 3 months, for the stupidly low price of $60, just $20 a month, peanuts. Below is a promo video from the site, there are some sample lessons on offer too.




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 342: Free Samples - Go get 'em

Loops are great fun, and can be life savers at times. Every self respecting producer should have a substantial library that you can dip into now and again when you want an instant creative starting point/new directions/sound etc.

They do cost money though, that much is true. And if like me you are a collector at heart, this can become quite addictive.

Sometimes though there is such a thing as a free lunch, and or samples... The guys at Sample Pack have been generous enough to give away some juicy looking collections.

I've given some a listen, and they haven't skimped on quality that's for sure.

Check them out here.




Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 341: 20 Ableton tips in 8 Minutes...

The excellent Cuepoint tv dropped this smart video the other day. I didn't get round to watching it right away, but am sure glad I did in the end.

I've been using Ableton for about a year now, and thought I was starting to get under it's skin. So when at the beginning of this video he said that current users might roll their eyes at a lot of the tips, I wasn't expecting to learn much.

I was surprised then to find that almost all of the tips were either new to me, or added on things I knew, but obviously hadn't been getting the most out of.

This video should be compulsory viewing after someones had Ableton a month or so, it could save you hours.




Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 340: Our Stage is your stage...

Many new and interesting music sites seem to be bursting into existence right now, and today's offering is no different.

We're back to social networking in a music styleee again. Seemingly as people tire of the monolithic social networks, more specialised ones are emerging. Makes sense in a way to actually want to operate in a network that specifically interests you.

Today's site is by no means small and niche though. This appears to be a new project from AOL, and possibly their attempt at muscling in on more music sales too.

The site is a simple 'set up an account and upload tunes' kinda deal. However they also sell your tracks for you, non exclusively (which I admit I was surprised about!). Also there is an added competitive element introduced via a "Judging" section. Where you are presented with 2 or 4 songs (depending on how you set it) and then have to order them. This is good in one sense, because it goes a long way to eliminate blind voting, people spamming their voting link about etc etc.

The only problem though is that it makes the whole process quite tedious, as you are forced to listen to a certain amount of each track before you can vote on it etc etc. Also, not being harsh, but there is some dross on there too. The winner each month in each category wins a prize, with a much bigger prize for the over all winner.

Hopefully this means the focus is on good music, but let's see how it actually pans out.

Anyways, enough talk, best check out the site your self. All in though it looks like a worthy addition to the online music hosting collection...




Day 339: Top 10 Music Gadgets this year.

The air is full of marketing, the wallet is getting thin... it must be Christmas time.

This means shops screaming at you as you walk down the street, the air filled with the smell of cheap sweets, and family arguments. Oh the cynicism.

It also means no end of Top 10s, best of the year awards and other such cheap content. We're no different. In fact we're worse. Instead of compiling out own, we're just bringing you someone else's. Ok, we may do our own... but for now here is someone else's. Beatport's in fact. So you know you are in good hands.

Top 10 studio gadgets for 2009, read it here.

I'll be disappointed if I don't get all of these in my stocking this year.




Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 338: How to Warp beats in Ableton for Creative Effect, not function

You may remember recently I posted a guide on how to warp your tracks quickly in Ableton. Well today I am going to show you how to do something different with the very same tool.

Warping is Ableton's way of allowing you to manually get beats, tracks and loops in time. Sometimes when you are given a sample, simply put, it's badly saved etc. Warping allows you to easily tidy this up, get things water tight and back in time.

That's the intended purpose anyway. Today I am going to show you a misuse of that process for a creative, rather than functional effect.

Firstly open up a clean loop in Ableton. This can be done with anything, but I am illustrating it with a drum beat, as these are often over looked when it comes to creating affect.

Here is how the loop sounds unaffected:

If you are wondering, this loops is part of Prime Loops' Fidget House Grooves pack.

Now double click on some of the beat markers and drag them about. For this to work well you will need to double click the marker before and after the one you are moving as well, as this holds them in place and stops Ableton moving them back and forth to keep time.

Remember this is misuse, so we need to tell it what to do, not the other way. Basically what we are doing is increasing, or decreasing the time between one beat and the next, whilst the over all loop still remains in time. This gives the loop a new feeling or swing.

Putting emphasis on different parts of the loop like this can really change the feel of the rhythm, and make it sound less stuffy and precise.

Here you can see the same loop with a few of the markers moved.

And this is how the loop sounds now:

This definitely has a different feeling, and it almost sounds like a snare roll at the beginning. This is only a quick example, but with a bit of creativity, this can be used to infinite effect.

No go play...




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 337: Let's Mix! New site for DJ mixes.

We blogged about this a while ago, but that was when it was just an idea, now it's a reality. Those awesome DJ friendly peeps at Tonium ( the same people who bought you Pacemaker) have made a site dedicated to DJ mixes.

Their original site was meant to be a place for owners of their device to upload and share mixes, but it soon became popular with the broader DJ community. As the user base grew it became apparent a change of approach was needed, and out of this came "Let's Mix".

With Sound Cloud recently alienating DJs with their new time limit system, this could be welcome news for some people.

I'll certainly be considering it as the new home for my mixes, keeping Sound Cloud free for tracks.

The site launched today, so get stuck right in!




Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 336: How to use Serato to mix with only one Turntable

I've never used Serato, but I hope to change that very soon. Lots of news and rumours recently about them stopping production of 1210s, but there is still something appealing about the DVS method.

This video yields two benefits. One is a excellent and smart way to carry on working in a club should one of the turntables fail for some reason, the other is that if you are skint like me, you can enjoy the benefits of serato, just with one turntable... that is good news. As I was only planning on buying one to have about. Being able to actually mix two tunes with it is just pure bonus.




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 335: Gigsby - Music Network for better gigs.

Please dear lord, finally might we see something to put the final stake in the heart of MySpace Music.

There have been many exciting specialised networking sites coming through over the last few months, but this one looks top of the pops for us DJ/Producer types.

Not just because of the glitzy sleek and colourful website. Though I do like a tidy looking web-site, instills the confidence (and they have one of them cool viral promo teaser videos (below).

So, the site. It's called Gigsby, and it promises not just MORE gigs, but BETTER gigs. Although not even in Beta yet, I can tell by the design, the promo and the copy that this is going to be something good! These sort of projects always look like the best places to work too.

So I'm on the mailing list, and I'm going to wait patiently for more info. I recommend you do the same, and then follow them on all the usual sites.

Please please please no more myspace/Facebook fansites, let this be the way forward...

Video below, check the site here.




Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 334: White Christmas on the Theramin.

Tomorrow being December the 1st, means that the barrage of Christmas related adverts and marketing really is going to step up a gear.

So, what better way to get in the mood than watch a rendition of White Christmas skillfully played out on the theramin, that most magical of musical instruments:




Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 333: Above and Beyond get Rick Rolled.

Following on from yesterdays masterclass, I noticed the following video in the 'Related' section. While fairly amusing in it's own right, what I love more are the comments below the video.

While it's fairly standard for youtube comments to be the purest source of moronic wisdom, some of these are very interesting. Proving if nothing else that people who like this sort of ubiquitous Trance have no sense of humour.

Well the one's who feel the need to comment on youtube videos at least.




Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 332: A DJ Tutorial from the worlds number 1 DJ.

When I saw a video on youtube with the above mentioned title, how could I not blog it.

Some golden information here perfect for beginners and pros alike:




Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 331: Your chance to get to play at Glastonbury.

It's the mother of all UK festivals, and anyone who's ever been will tell you how vast and varied the whole event is. I've loved it every time I've been, even the last time which was soaking wet, was the best fun I ever had in a wet field in fairness.

Although I think the festival has seen it's hey day as a festival of fringe and exciting artists (at least on the main line ups) there is still a great amount of exciting music to be heard there if you look for it.

Now is your chance to be one of those exciting artists. In association with Q Magazine, Glastonbury has set up an Emerging talent competition. This is your chance to perform at this legendary event. I'm not sure if Q Magazines involvement implies they are looking for more Rock based acts, but I can tell you for one I'll certainly be sticking a demo in. Gotta be in it to win it etc.

Find out full details here:




Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 330: How to Quickly Warp tracks in Ableton for DJing

So you wanna DJ in Ableton, or maybe you just want to make a killer mix tape. So you heard that using Ableton was what every DJ was doing these days and that it was easy right. DJing with a computer? Anyone can do that...

So why are your mixes sounding catastrophic? You thought it was just drag and drop right?


Don't get me wrong, DJing in Ableton, at least at a very basic 'blending tunes' level is easier than learning to beat match on conventional turntables etc. But that doesn't mean it doesn't come with it's own problems, and the most important of all is Warping.

Amazing as Ableton is, it's algorithm for calculating the beat locations etc on a track when you import it isn't 100% and sometimes needs some manual intervention (by you the DJ) to get it right.

There are a couple of methods of doing this, but this is the one I have found to be both the quickest, and most reliable. This is in Ableton 7, and tho warping has been revised in 8, the principle remains the same.

The first thing you need to do is open Ableton, and drop a track into the session view. Then click on it's clip icon so that the wave form shows at the bottom of the screen. Move along the track a bit and you will see some of the beat markers are slightly off.

So what you need to do is go right back to the beginning of the tract. Basically 1.1.1 as Ableton likes to call it, and you'll see the first beat marker there looking ok.

But if we zoom in (by clicking on the wave form and dragging down). We'll see that all is not as rosy as it first seemed.

Yowsers I mean look at that, it's almost half a beat off. Not to worry, now we get to do what Ableton is famous for... and that is 'warping' or as they like to call it 'Elastic Audio'. What we need to do first is grab the green square with the number one in it. This is the marker for the first beat on the track, and drag it over to where we see the first drum starts. Just click on the green square, and drag it over to where the sound wave starts.

However, it's worth mentioning that, much like before, the sound wave appeared ok, until we zoomed in a little, the same thing can happen here. So what I normally do is drag the marker over, and then zoom in on the first beat to a much higher level to make sure I am right on the money illustrated below.

Ok, so we're looking good. Now is the easy part. It seems crazy now, but the first article I read on warping tracks advised just going through various parts of the tune and lining them up one by one, sporadically through the tune. Two problems though, that method is both a ball ache, and unreliable, as still loads of your beats will be off. Then I learnt about the feature I am gonna show you now. Right click on the wave form near this first beat we have just lined up and you will see and option "Warp from here (Straight)". This is a life saver. Basically what this does is then realign all the beats based on the marker we just adjusted at regular intervals. This is perfect for digitally sequenced music (less so for humanly drummed songs).

Ok, so we're almost there. Now we just need to check along the track at one or two key areas to make sure the beats are spot on (in case there is something weird going on or whatever). The best place to check first is towards the end, as if there is any problem, it will be most evident here.

Well looky there, those crafty beats have drifted a tad again. Why this happens I don't know, but what I do know is that over 90% of all tunes do seem to have this (albeit minor) drift. As these are 16ths the difference might not be that audible, and you never know might give your mix that all important human feel. However we're serious about our trade aren't we, and no drift will do, so it needs to be squashed. We do this just the same as we did that first beat. Just simply double click on of the offending beat markers (just one mind, as that will bring the rest in-line) and gently drag it into place again.

Ok cool, I'm slightly obsessive so I like to give the track one more check further down the waveform (also this is most likely where you will actually be mixing with another tune) to make sure those beats are still in-line.

Et voila, hey presto, sorpresa, it's all done and looking water tight.

That might seem a lot of work, but in reality once you've done it once or twice, you become a dab hand, and the whole process takes about 10 seconds. Once you've done that, you're ready to roll!




Day 329: Making Serato friendly DJ Edits in Ableton.

The two 'Lives', Ableton and Serato have been working together more and more, and this can only be a good thing for you and me.

This might be an indication that Ableton aren't looking to muscle in on Serato's established DVS throne, but could also mean exciting things coming out of their joint collaborations.

Below is a quick video that shows you how you can make DJ friendly edits on the fly with Ableton, that can then be used immediately with Serato.

I'd love to be able to spend a few weeks dedicated to working these two pieces of software into the ground. The possibilities are literally infinite.

Oh, if you're not so familiar with warping tracks in Ableton, even for doing non live mixes (ie studio sessions) then this tip also applies to that. Though there is a better way to do that for studio mixes imo, which I will go through tomorrow.





Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 328: Acapellas 4U - and you.

Despite sounding like a dodgy high street chain, Acapellas4U is actually a very useful resource for both DJs and Producers alike.

As you might expect, the site is dedicated to, Acapellas. As a remixer, this is invaluable. Even when making original tracks, these Acapellas can be a great source of vocal hooks. Sometimes just rooting around and downloading something a little bit obscure can turn up some vocal gold for your white labels.

For DJs, these downloads can be great for making crude remixes on the fly, or just for adding some vocal flavour in the mix. Why not breakdown into a familiar vocal, hold it out solo for a while, then bring in a beat, and build up the tension.

The possibilities are endless, but whatever you decide to do, you'll no doubt find yourself at Acapellas4U as it's no doubt the best resource for them online.




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 327: It never rains but it pours - More iPhone DJ apps

There has been much promise, and finally after a long wait, it looks like the flood gates are going to open for fully fledged DJ apps on the iPhone.

Not one but two for you right here. (Don't forget Quixpin too which we covered here).

First up is Touch DJ by Amido. This app has a slick looking interface and promises a whole bunch of features. In fact when I was watching the video below I started thinking maybe the Pacemaker was getting a run for it's money. Then I remembered 2 basic yet fundamental flaws that will plague any iPhone DJ app.

Firstly that there is only one audio out. All the apps I have seen so far, Touch DJ included, avoid this problem by splitting the stereo into two separate channels. One side for headphones, the other for master out.

Touch DJ also tries to avoid this by inventing something called 'Visual Mixing'. The basic idea being that you visually match the peaks in the waveforms, thus getting the track in time, before bringing it into the post fader mix.

While this seems clever enough, for me I like to hear my mix before I bring them in. It'd be a constant source of surprises just to do it visually. Plus it doesn't cater for anything like vocals that might be present in the mix etc etc.

The second limitation is that, ridiculously, yet sadly not surprisingly, Apple restrict access to the music library on the phone. I know! I mean that's part of the point. So, what this means then is that any tunes you want to DJ with must be uploaded separately into a dedicated location, separate from the iPod functionality.

These limitations aside, this app looks pretty smart, and has some nice effects, and interface. Touch DJ is available now for $20/£11.99 via iTunes.

Next up is the splendidly named Sonorasaurus this app takes a horizontal view giving a more 'DJ console' view.

Also with the same hardware and manufacturer (ie Apple) restrictions, the tunes have to be uploaded separately via a built in http server. Again much the same in terms of functionality. The interface looks slightly less glossy, but more crammed in, and the app is just half the price at £5.

I'm not sure I'll be packing away my Pacemaker just yet, but if you are an iPhone/Touch owner, and want an application to mess about with then these look great. They are a fraction of the cost of the afore mentioned Pacemaker, but when you can't even do something as simple as play a track in Stereo, or monitor your mix, you start to see the fundamental restrictions of the platform.




Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 326: Simple Ableton productivity tips

Straight to the point today. It's Monday, no need for faffing around. The ever resourceful Tom Cosm shared 10 of his top Ableton productivity tips, and here they are:

  1. To reset a parameter (knob or fader) to it’s default value, select it and hit delete. I am always mucking around with random parameters in a trial and error fashion, but sometimes it just sounds like balls so a quick hit of the delete key lets you reset, forget and move on.
  2. Want to move everything in the piano roll up or down an octave? Command+A (Select all) then Shift+up or down. This is great to take that bassline down an octave, or that synth line up.
  3. Holding down the ALT key while having the pencil tool selected will allow you to draw lines freehand instead of snapping to the grid.
  4. Learn to change the grid size intro triplets, or off completely using key commands. The most important one is Command+4, this turns the grid off and on.
  5. To move just a few notes in the piano roll, select them by holding down Shift and clicking. This is great if just a few bass notes are two low. Shift+click them and then use tip #2 (Shift+up) to move them up an octave.
  6. Hold down Shift while pushing spacebar to play back the audio exactly where you last stopped it.
  7. Use Command+D to duplicate a loop AND it’s automation, then drag the end of the first loop instance across to cover the rest. This allows you to make changes to the loop contents that remain consistent throughout your tune.
  8. If you cut/delete/chop up a loop to the point where it’s messy and has gaps, select the area where you’ve chopped and push Command+J to consolidate it all into a neatly timed loop. This works for Audio and MIDI loops.
  9. Whether it be the clip navigation bar or the master overview, double click to zoom everything out to 100%
  10. Use the virtual keyboard to not only play notes on a synth, but to trigger samples in the drum rack. It’s a great make shift way to bust out a rhythm rather than placing notes on a piano roll.

There you go, done.

get into using them and watch the wasted hours evaporate.




Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 325: The top 100 web-sites for DJs/Producers

Our good friends at Producing Beats have done it again. They have compiled a list of 100 web-sites every DJ/Producer should frequent. Sadly BTDJ isn't on that list, but they do link to us permanently on their blog-roll, so we cant complain!

Check it out here, it really is something special. Nice work guys.




Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 324: Deadmau5 talks samples...

Canada's most famous mau5 semi recently released a sample pack on Loopmasters. In this short video he explains how that came about, and gives a brief insight into his early days in the scene, interesting for that if nothing else.




Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 323: MIDI Fighter - Arcade inspired Midi controller

Those annoyingly clever swines over at DJ Tech tools have done it again. Check this out and tell me it isn't the coolest thing ever.

I don't even really need to explain it do I, look at it, it's a thing of beauty. A simple trigger finger/MPC style midi controller sexed up in a 90s arcade stylee.

The controller comes as a kit, but before you groan in dsisappointment, fortunately no soldering or other such tedium is required. All you have to do is clip the buttons in and screw the case together and you're done.

The kit is further customisable depending on your skills/how arsed you are. And it's reasonably priced to for something so unique. At $160 for something that is uber cool and effectively custome built I say it's a bargain.

The ideal Christmas present for the DJ that has everything... I just hope my nearest and dearest are reading this *cough* *hint* *cough*

As always check out their excellent site for more info, you should have it bookmarked by now anyway ;)