Episode 113: Ten Years Ago

October 16, 2017

What we gonna do right here for Episode 113 is go back. WAY BACK. Back in to time...

Ten years ago. Sounds like a long time, doesn't it? Well, David and Trip take a look back and see how much different everything was:

  • 2007 marked the beginning of the mobile revolution. Apple announced the iPhone, and since then, mobile technology has drastically changed the definition of a phone. As DJs, there's so many apps and ways for our devices to help us DJ, now...all thanks to the advancement of smartphone technology.

  • DJ Mag's Top 100 is saturated in trance and rife with voting controversy. 
  • Beatport's Top 9 selling tracks in 2007 indicates the dominance of electro-house in the years before dubstep domination.
  • Daft Punk releases Alive in 2007 (which went on to win a Grammy in 2009).
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Pioneer launched the DJM-700 and the CDJ-400, Technics put out a super-limited run of 1000 SL-1200MK6, Vestax released the first serious DJ controller (VCI-100), and among several other hardware releases from Behringer, Xone, Korg, and others, the Innofader drops on to the market.
  • Traktor Scratch comes in to being after splitting off from Final Scratch.
  • Beyonce topped the charts in 2007, but the much of the top 20 was saturated by the likes of Akon, Timbaland, Fergie, while Rhianna and others were solidifying their superstar status, as well.
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Episode 112: Digging For Bedrock

October 9, 2017

In today’s episode, we spend some time digging into the progressive house and trance sounds of the 1990s and early 2000s. A close friend joins David as a guest co-host, and together, they explore the dark, tribal, melodic, and hypnotic rave sounds of “the Bedrock era”. Predictably, we spend much of the episode talking about Sasha and Digweed, though a few other names come up along the way (Nick Muir, Nick Warren, Sandra Collins, Quivver…)

First, we skim through the Bedrock album… that is, the 1999 DJ mix album titled Bedrock, mixed by John Digweed. From track one, you’re getting a serious lesson in progressive house. Raff ’N’ Freddy’s “Listen” has the uplifting diva vocals and shuffling beat of a house tune, but the dark and hypnotic features of early trance music. The whole mix is put together in such a beautifully cohesive way, that we present it here as one of the greatest examples of its kind.

Next, we have a look at Global Underground 013 (Ibiza) by Sasha. We play through the transition of Space Manoevres - Stage One (Pariah Remix) to Sander Kleinenberg - Sacred, and discuss just how beautiful it is. Things get fairly trancey in the mix… back when “trance” really meant something.

Finally, we explore Global Underground 019 (Los Angeles) by Digweed, which starts out with the classic Apollo Vibes by Pole Folder. This mix gets really down into the nitty gritty, where the influence of the rave is undeniable. This percussive, driving mix demands that your feet move without stopping. We also note how modern techno has really begun to work its way towards the sounds of dark tribal progressive house from yesteryear.

Overall, the conversation between David and his friend Tommy centers around the progressive dance music sounds from the start of the millenium. Other topics covered are: what makes a good transition, trance as an idea (rather than a genre), the joys of mixing vinyl vs. digital DJing, and the tag sets they used to play together in Dayton, 10 years ago.

Sit back, and come along for the journey.

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Episode 111: 13 Things All New DJs Should Know

October 2, 2017

In Episode 111, we review 13 key points that we feel are good things for new DJs to know. While there are certainly more than 13 things that every DJ should know, these were key points we felt were especially important for newcomers to the art and craft. 

We broke these points down in to 3 categories: Technical, Social, and Philosophical...because believe it, or not, there's a lot more to DJing than your technical skill! 

Technical

  • The Fundamentals Are Worth It

    • Today's hardware and software take care of a lot of the fundamental skill out of the hands of the modern DJ. But, technology can, and inevitably will, fail. How you respond is entirely dependent upon your skill and confidence in the fundamentals.
  • Experience Leads to Confidence
    • While it's easy for most DJs to get used to their equipment, you may not always be able to play on your desired rig. Some gigs require you to use gear you've never seen before. Getting yourself exposed early on to different gear will make you even more versatile, as a DJ, thus increasing your confidence and flexibility to take more gigs.
  • Pro Gear Isn’t Necessary
    • Just because we have well known "industry standards" and most of our favorite headlining acts appear playing on NXS2, TOUR1, and PRIME setups, doesn't mean you have to have that to be a successful and skilled DJ. There are many DJs out there who have vastly different riders and many are playing on very different setups. Just because you spend the money on a pro-level setup doesn't mean you become a pro-level DJ. Get what you will use, and can afford, and master it! That's what pros do!
  • Protect Yourself: Always Use a Contract!
    • This is especially true for our friends in the mobile/wedding/corporate event circuits. This is often the only protection you have against a client who refuses to pay. For performance/club DJs, however, using a contract from day one might not be necessary. However, as your popularity (and your booking fee) increases, it will become more and more important, so do not skip looking in to putting this together sooner, rather than later, after you've already been burned!

Social

  • Be Versatile, but Focused

    • It's ok to love multiple genres, but many genres have their own scenes, and each of them are filled with dedicated fans that can sniff out a laissez faire newcomer. If you spend all of your time spread too thin between multiple genres and scenes, you may find it hard to succeed or advance in any of them. And, it can be very confusing for people who see you playing techno at one show, then hip hop at another. Take the time to become proficient in a scene and develop real fans before dipping your toes in to the next one, because the fans, the music, and the scenes deserve it, and you owe it to yourself to really develop your music library, skills, and network properly.
  • Nurture Your Network
    • This is probably one of the most important, behind technical skill. Without the proper networking skills, you'll never leave your bedroom. You have to not only impress people as a DJ, but you have to get their attention as a person. How you establish and work within those relationships will ultimately determine what opportunities are made available to you.
  • We’re Not JustDJs, Anymore
    • We have to wear many hats, these days. While most of the headliners have multi-person teams of tour managers, audio engineers, booking agents, graphic designers, and marketing specialists, most of us are working on a much tighter budgets. That means we need to be able to do all of those things, or be able to network with others who can do those things for us while we barter something else, in return.
  • You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar
    • To be blunt: Don't be a dick. There's stories upon stories of people who act unprofessionally, at best, and petulant or violent, at worst. And it's not just a few bad headliners who "made it", this is a very common attitude within local scenes, as well. Ultimately, the best thing to always do, is take the high road. Don't let people take advantage of you, but handle conflict in a much more productive manner. And, especially when things go well, make sure to be gracious, thank the promoters and anyone who helped you throughout the night, and be the type of person people want to keep working with.

Philosophical

  • Know Your “Why”

    • No one can tell you that your reason for wanting to be a DJ is the wrong reason. But, be honest with yourself and know what that reason is. This will allow you to take the steps necessary toward your goals, and will help you align with others that have the same philosophy and goals.
  • Not Every Gig is a Good Gig
    • Early on, it's easy to take any gig just so you can take a gig. This is not always best, though, as it often leads to many problems, such as getting stuck with never-ending free gigs, run ins with more inexperienced or nefarious promoters, and poorly organized gigs. As you gain more experience, most DJs start seeing the value in being more selective in when and who they play for.
  • Learn From Your “Elders”
    • Older DJs have been around a while. They've seen things, heard things, learned things. You can learn from their experience. Sure, you may have to endure a little "Back in my day..." conversations riddled with criticisms of all of today's new gear, software, and youth's mentality. And, maybe on some level they have a point. But, don't let that stop you from learning something from these veterans. Many would LOVE an opportunity to teach someone the things they know. And, you're not beholden to do things their way. It's ok to learn from them, and make it your own. Who knows, maybe you can teach THEM a thing, or two.
  • Keep It Real
    • It's good to have a dream, and having stars in your eyes is a primary driver, for some. But, always keep in mind that the percentage of DJs who aspire to be at the Tiesto, Deadmau5, or Skrillex levels, and actually MAKE IT to that level are extremely low. The music business is a ruthless one, and for every star it makes, thousands of other dreams are crushed, day in, and day out. Even if you do "make it", it can take YEARS to do so. But, that shouldn't stop anyone. You can be successful, as a DJ, in your own right. You can still enjoy it, play for people, be very talented, and even get paid to do this. Have dreams, aim for the sky, but keep a realistic expectation and try to curb disappointment from not attaining superstardom by being thankful for the successes you do achieve.
  • Never Stop Learning
    • Never relent on improving your game. Learning new things is what keeps you relevant. Whether it's new technology, new techniques, new genres, or new gear...there's always SOMETHING you can learn to make yourself a little better. The day you become complacent with the way things are, is the day you start becoming irrelevant...so push yourself!

 

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Episode 110: On the Road Again

September 25, 2017

For Episode 110, Tony is able to sneak home to talk all about his summer adventures with us.

From the grueling schedule, to the intricacies of preparing a stage for a major festival, to the different personalities, Tony doesn't pull any punches when describing his duties as a stage manager.

We also take a voicemail, where we unpack a controversial new app called Spinfire that aims to put DJs and producers together in a free marketplace. DJs offer to spin producers' tracks at live gigs for a given price, and then provide video proof of the play in order to get paid.

We explore how this is kind of similar to radio payola, and paying for inflated social media numbers. But, at its core, it really is a different, and more complicated animal, and we're not sure where we land on it.

This also prompts Tony to discuss artistic integrity with us, where he gives us some first hand accounts of the talent(less) hacking that happens with some of these huge festival headliners.

Where do YOU stand when it comes to artistic integrity, buying social media stats, and apps like Spinfire? We'd love to hear from you, so leave us a voicemail, or sound off in the comments!

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Episode 109: Trip’s Throwbacks!

September 18, 2017

Way back in the day...Trip had an idea for a blog: Feature songs he loved from WAY WAY WAY WAAAAAAAAY back in the day, telling stories and pointing out the features of these songs that he admired about them. 

Well intentioned as that idea was, he just couldn't stay on top of it. Trip's a pretty busy guy, typically, and writing blog posts is no easy feat, on top of being extremely time consuming. Not to mention, he just didn't have the traffic, which led to a loss in motivation to keep it going. 

Then, he brought the idea to Passionate DJ, thinking our established community might be just the motivation he needed, but at the end of the day...even with the motivation, he lacked the time.

So, now we are trying it out on the podcast! David and Trip take a trip down memory lane, talking about a handful of powerful tracks, full of yesteryear's glory, all while digging through the mail bag and answering more of your questions on the show!

We hope you enjoy these selections! Let us know what you think of this episode, and if you'd like to hear more like it!

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Episode 108: Choosing a New DJ Controller (Fall 2017)

September 10, 2017

Today's episode of the Podcast is a little different than normal. Every year, David gives a major update to The Controller Compendium: an ultimate buyer's guide for DJs who are trying to decide which DJ controller is right for them. 

This episode is an audio version of that guide, for those who prefer to listen on the go. If you'd like to follow along, just go to PassionateDJ.com/controllers. There, you'll be able to see reviews, check the pricing, and compare features.

Since the digital DJing revolution, the art of mixing music has become accessible to many people who would have otherwise been left out, due to a lack of options or money. The development of robust mixing software, along with the hardware to control it, has been one of the most significant things to ever happen in the industry. A DJ controller gives you tactile control over DJ software, allowing you to mix music on a device that’s specifically designed for the task.

The DJ hardware market has grown exponentially in recent years; people are now able to choose a controller which fits their budget, their workflow, and their choice of software. This is wonderful news for DJs, but it also makes the shopping process difficult.

That’s where the Controller Compendium comes in! This guide is meant to help you make an informed decision, so that you can feel confident when spending your hard-earned money.

The controllers are broken into three price points: Premium, Midgrade, and Budget. David provides his top 7 recommendations in each of those categories, as well as giving some general tips for making a smart buying decision. Happy shopping!

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Episode 107: DJ and Selector (Mo Visits Jamaica)

September 4, 2017

In this week’s episode, Mo Dingo travels to Jamaica and brings us an interview from a local DJ and seasoned industry worker. In his chat with DJ Crazy (not to be confused with DJ Craze–that was last week), we learn about the rich and varied DJ culture in Jamaica.

The beautiful island country has been influencing the art of DJing (and music in general) on a global scale for generations. In this very raw interview, DJ Crazy explains to us the difference between a DJ and Selector. He speaks about playing for tourists vs. playing for locals, popular hardware and software, and some of the different venues he’s had experience with. And, he explains what it means to go “dub-for-dub”.

Crazy also shares his thoughts on the future of DJing in Jamaica, and his advice for up-and-coming DJs in its smaller and more rural areas. (We found it to be pretty good advice, in genera!)

Huge thanks to Mo Dingo for arranging this interview, and to DJ Crazy for sharing his wisdom and experience with us!

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Episode 106: Chatting With DJ Craze

August 28, 2017

In Episode 106, we have a really special treat for you!

Hailing from Miami, Florida, we landed an extra special interview with the ONE, THE ONLY, DJ CRAZE!

For those of you not hip to DJ Craze, he’s an award winning turntablist and record producer, known for his skillful mixing of genres like hip hop and Miami bass, trap, breaks, and drum & bass. To date, he is the only solo DJ in history to win the DMC World DJ Championships three times consecutively…so if ANYONE has anything to say about DJing, this guy is probably one to listen to.

 

* Note: we apologize for the audio quality, as our call recording app failed on us and we had to recover the audio from a background recording. Thanks to Trip's hours of hard work, the recording is much more listenable... but those who listen to the podcast in their car (or other noisy environments) may want to save this one for home listening.

First we get a little background on DJ Craze, but then we start to cut right to the chase. Back in July, Craze sent out the following tweet:

“The dj culture is a joke cause YALL have made it a joke. We've always been here repping the artform ... lame edm producers made it a joke”

Starting from there, we launch in to a discussion about the phenomenon of EDM blowing up in the US, and the effect it's had on DJ culture.

Then we try to get to the heart of #realdjs - how it became the "battle cry" for those trying to preserve the culture, but it has become misused over time. Craze’s answer to this might actually shock you! It was actually meant to educate people about the art of DJing, rather than those who use DJing as a chance to play some remixes or edits and put their hands in the air to cheerlead for an hour. With high profile DJs who do next to nothing and yet make insane amounts of money out there, Craze felt the need to show people “what real DJing is, TO ME.”

We also talk about a lot of different topics. Why he prefers Traktor, what music is on his iPhone, his current favorite hip-hop artists, thoughts on mumble rap and where hip-hop is headed.

All in all, this interview was an honor, and we had a blast talking with him and we are sure you will love it, too.

"DJing, and hip hop in general, was kinda my escape from the whole world. I come from nothing; you know, five of us in a one-bedroom apartment. Hip hop was a voice for those of us in the inner city who didn't have shit. And that's what I loved about it. So I surrounded myself in hip hop culture. And that's what attracted me to become a DJ and turntablist. I couldn't rap, I couldn't break, I couldn't graff.... but I wanted to be part of this culture that I loved so much. And that helped me to understand the world." — DJ Craze, Passionate DJ Epsiode 106

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Episode 105: Thinking Harmonically (Our Chat with Mixed in Key)

August 21, 2017

For Episode 105, we landed an interview with James Araujo of the Mixed In Key marketing team. As the product that has been the leader of the key detection and harmonic mixing game in the digital DJ world, we are honored that they took some time to help explain not just what Mixed In Key is, but how their software is another tool we DJs can use to create better sets.

For those who are not familiar, Mixed In Key is the flagship product for the Mixed In Key company, started by Yakov Vorobyev. In short, the software analyzes your music library, and then properly tags the music with the key the track was written in.

This allows us, as DJs, to use a mixing technique called Harmonic Mixing, which is where you mix tracks together that fall in the same musical scale. Mixed in Key facilitates this by either tagging the track with the traditional key notation and the scale (C Maj, A# Min, etc) or with the numeric system (1A, 3B, etc). Both of these notations can then be used with the Camelot Wheel, which allows us to take advantage of a music theory concept called “The Circle of Fifths”, very easily.

Is this necessary? No, of course not. Thousands upon thousands of DJs have been very successful without ever learning a lick of music theory. However, if it’s a tool you can learn that would allow you to be more flexible and do some new things, then there’s certainly no harm in it!

Mixed In Key also has other features, such as batch ID3 tag processing, energy level detection, and it will even automatically place cue points to use with Traktor, Serato, and other digital DJ software.

Mixed In Key also provides other tools for DJs and producers to use, as well!
Odesi
Flow 8 Deck
Platinum Notes
Beyond Beatmatching
Mashup
Metabliss

Visit Mixed In Key to purchase!

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Episode 104 - Summer 2017 Hardware Updates

August 14, 2017

For Episode 104, David and Trip do a run down of the year’s biggest gear announcements, before the Summer NAMM event. We have mentioned some of the gear, throughout the year as it came up, but now we can revisit the highlights and put the spotlight on some of the other gear that we overlooked.

Kicking things off, Pioneer introduced Rekordbox Interface 2, which is a 2 channel DVS audio interface for Rekordbox. These units will allow a Rekordbox user to connect two turntables or CDJ’s and a mixer, in order to use timecode vinyl or CDs with their Rekordbox DJ software.

Also from Pioneer, we see the MKII version of their stripped-down 2-channel DJM250 mixer. It comes Rekordbox DVS ready, which is really nice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly 2-channel mixer with DVS functionality.

However, if Rekordbox isn’t your thing, or you’re just not into Pioneer, Mixars UNO has a very similar 2-channel stripped down battle style mixer, as well. Instead of Rekordbox, it comes loaded with Serato DVS functionality, and comes in about $50 cheaper than the Pioneer DJM250 MKII.

If you need something with more bounce to the ounce, however, Reloop has dropped the new RMX-90 on the market, this year, and man...is it sexy! In the same vein as the DJM (but definitely not a knock-off), this is a 4 channel, Serato DVS ready mixer with a separate AUX channel, and is Innofader compatible. Even cooler, though... is that it has a powered active USB hub BUILT IN to the mixer, so if you’re running low on USB ports on your laptop *coughMacUserscough*, this could help to alleviate that problem.

 

Gemini is also coming out swinging this year with the SDJ-4000 and the MAS-1.

The SDJ-4000 is an all-in-one, standalone controller. While the aesthetics leave David and Trip with a 1950’s Star Trek computer kind of vibe, the feature set is full and Gemini is looking to compete. With dual decks, full color 7” high-res display, routable effects, and two USB ports, this unit is a likely contender for those who are looking for features on a budget.

The Gemini MAS-1, however, is a different type of controller, as it is geared for the Ableton Live user experience. With the layout of the sliders, pads, and knobs, it looks to make the DJ experience a little more intuitive with Ableton, which is not necessarily an intuitive DJ experience.

DJ Tech Tools has made 1,000 of the HUGE Midi Fighter 64, and they are now for sale. The big brother to the original Midi Fighter controller, this one has 64 arcade style buttons, laid out in an 8x8 grid. Finger drummers will love this one, as well as DJs/producers who want to add the ability to trigger sounds from a LARGE, brightly lit unit. Gorgeous, and very fairly priced for a limited run unit.

Akai, following their tried and true path, have released the MPC Live & MPC X. Both have multitouch displays, touting 16gb of onboard storage, and are BATTERY POWERED. However, even better than a lot of the sampler workstations out there, MPC has made these units STANDALONE, meaning you do NOT have to have a computer to make music on these units. They’re both expandable using SD cards or Sata connections, and they’re even Ableton Link compatible. The only decision you have to make, is which one is the right size for you, and fits your budget. Go MPC Live for more mobile friendly and budget conscious, go MPC X for the big, bad boy, studio version.

Now, we realize that the Toraiz AS-1 is a monophonic analog synth, which doesn’t actually classify as “DJ Gear”, but it’s made by Pioneer DJ, so we made an exception. It’s another synth in the Dave Smith line of incredibly amazing gear, so we felt it was worth the honorable mention.

Finally, we know everyone is talking about Denon, and their new Prime line, and trust us… we are, too! But, we also talked about it so much, this year, that we intentionally didn’t go too deep on it, but it’s hard to have a conversation about the hot new gear in 2017 without talking about the top contenders. With the rich and impressive feature sets and aggressive marketing campaigns, we’re duly impressed with Denon and wish them the best of luck on the uphill Battle to replace Pioneer in the booth, even from the most die-hard Pioneer fanbois amongst us.

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