Is the superstar DJ era over?

6 04 2009

Thanks to the rise and rise of Laptop DJs and live music, the era of the turntable-spinning superstar Dj may soon be over…or not? Read to find out.

Superstar DJ

[originally from LA Weekly] At the indie-meets-dance club Echoplex in Echo Park, DJs spin, but just as often these days a floor-friendly sound will emerge in the form of a band, a laptop act or something in between, as was the case with Love Grenades on a recent winter night.

The quartet’s three frontwomen dressed up like pinup girls, opera-length gloves and all, and cooed and sang in a correspondingly sultry haze, complemented by ’80s-inflected musicians on bass, guitar, drums and sequencer. The Grenades’ dance-punk sound has been remixed by friend-of-the-band Sam Sparro, another local artist who has skipped deejaying on the way to dance-floor stardom. Love Grenades don’t deejay, but their recent single, “Tigers in the Fire,” is being peddled on DJ culture’s No. 1 online retailer, Beatport. Clubland is being invaded by artists like these, dance-friendly acts that don’t need turntables to get their point across.

The dance world has been rocked in recent years by laptop-, sequencer- and band-based acts ranging from Justice and the Black Ghosts to Booka Shade. Daft Punk’s Kanye West–led resurrection last year highlighted the duo’s own immersive, turntable-free live act. And the local nu-electro festival HARD Haunted Mansion surpassed the 5,000-ticket mark in the fall with nary a superstar DJ in sight. All this has even some jocks asking if the spin is no longer in.

One of the hottest acts to emerge from the electronic–dance music arena in the past few years is Toronto-based producer Deadmau5, who got his start as a computer programmer before graduating to successful bedroom production. Because he came to deejaying from the tech-geek world, he faced culture shock on the club circuit. We can imagine him meeting all those douche jockeys caught up in drug-filled hazes of their own perceived stardom, egos stroked by groupies, guest lists and MySpace comments — all this stoke for, as Deadmau5 wrote on his own MySpace page, “some dude” who presses “the ‘play/stop’ button and occasionally move[s] a pitch slider.” Late last year, Deadmau5 was interviewed by Irish Daily Star and gave a money quote heard around the DJ world: “I don’t really see the technical merit in playing two songs at the same speed together, and it bores me to fucking tears. I’d like [DJs to] dis-a-fucking-pear. It’s so middleman. They’re like fucking lawyers. You need them, but they’re all fucking cunts.”

Here’s an artist whose music is required spinning for the biggest DJs, and he can’t hold his tongue (but his label can, and they declined to have him speak for this piece).

Deadmau5 admirer and former Angeleno Dave Dresden has worn many hats over the past two decades, including radio host, dance-music journalist, music scout for BBC Radio 1’s Pete Tong, and half of defunct DJ duo Gabriel & Dresden. He says Deadmau5 is right. “The day of the DJ as a guy who plays other people’s records might be done,” he says, pointing to newer acts like Morgan Page, who often play their own music live via laptop.

The superclub Avalon Hollywood has in recent years made more and more room for the post-DJ act while giving a cold shoulder to superstar DJs, especially those spinners who play straight-line hypnotic trance. While it still hosts plenty of big-name jocks — mostly of the minimal-techno variety — the venue has seen more than its share of hybrid live acts, including Booka Shade, Gui Boratto and Martin Buttrich.

“I don’t think it’s over, I think it’s evolving,” Avalon co-owner Steve Adelman says of DJ culture. “I think people are going more into electronic bands, live acts and semilive acts. We strive to have a whole production and visual experience that’s not just focused on watching a guy on two turntables.”

L.A.’s Frank Dominguez, a.k.a. down-tempo electronic act Aime, started deejaying 10 years ago but switched in recent years to incorporating nonturntable elements, such as keyboards, effects pads, a drum machine, a laptop and even an iPod. At 31, he plays for a generation of clubgoers more accustomed to the shuffle-play dynamics of an MP3 player than the ecstasy-fueled Botts’ dots of a superstar DJ. “People now would much rather see an artist performing with more than just changing records back and forth,” he says. “The kids go with what’s more stimulating.”

Adelman, who’s been in the superstar-DJ-booking business since the mid-’90s, says those most affected by the demise of the name DJ are local “midlevel” spinners, not huge trance names like Tiësto and Armin Van Buuren. URB magazine editor Joshua Glazer adds that some of the so-called midlevel DJs who had settled stateside around the DJ boom of the new millennium have gone back to Europe, replaced locally by nu-electro bands. Still, Glazer argues, the DJ isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“I think the reports of the death of the superstar DJ have been greatly exaggerated,” he says. “I was one of the first people to declare that death. But compared to five years ago, I definitely think the DJ is on the rise.”

He notes that cheap laptops and easy-to-use software, such as Serato Scratch Live and Ableton Live, have made it easier than ever to deejay — virtually — for a new generation of point-and-click jocks. “It might not be like 1999,” Glazer says, “but maybe we’re just not noticing.”

Links:

Justice – Electro Music With Punk Attitude

Ableton Live 8 – Out Now

View DJ products at Dolphin

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Native Instruments Release Traktor Scratch Duo

25 03 2009

Introducing Traktor Scratch Duo – part of the traktor family – the standard for reliability and creativity in DJing. Features the new Duo DJ Software, plus the award winning Audio 4 DJ Multi channel soundcard, and timecoded vinyl and CD’s.

Traktor Scratch Duo

Scratch Made Simple

For aspiring DJs who want to start spinning their digital tracks on vinyl and CD, TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO is the complete solution that provides both the software and hardware to perfectly fuse the worlds of analog and digital DJing. TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO comes with the powerful TRAKTOR PRO-based TRAKTOR DUO software, the professional AUDIO 4 DJ interface, ultra-precise control records and CDs plus many more valuable features to get you spinning in no time.

Go Duo

The included TRAKTOR DUO software features two state-of-the-art playback decks, an intuitive graphic interface with a Crate Flick cover art browser and unmatched sound quality. Advanced looping capabilities, with multiple loop and cue points plus up to three tempo sync’d effects per channel let you get deep inside the tracks you spin. The result of years of research and development, TRAKTOR DUO combines unparalleled creative potential with ease of use and rock-solid dependability.

Fab 4

TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO comes with AUDIO 4 DJ, a superior USB buspowered audio interface built specifically for DJing with two decks. This low-latency 24-bit/96 kHz interface uses super high-end Cirrus Logic® AD/DA converters for pristine audio quality – just like its big brother AUDIO 8 DJ. Four switchable inputs and four hi-gain (9.7 dBu) outputs let you connect to an external mixer and turntables or CD decks in a matter of moments.

Digital Tracks On Wax

TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO enables you to seamlessly fuse analog and digital DJing. With high-resolution 2 kHz control signal the included vinyl and CDs boast double the resolution of the competitors. This unmatched responsiveness means that everything from slow rubs to quick backspins and even motor-offs responds just like vinyl. Pressed with extreme care onto high-quality 120g discs, it really feels like each digital file is cut into the wax.

Easy Setup

TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO is designed for easy set up and comes with a dedicated set of high-quality Multicore cables (patent pending). Within a few seconds, you can hook up the AUDIO 4 DJ interface to your turntables / CD players and mixer and you’re ready to rock. And with the included TRAKTOR DUO software you can also spin without CD decks and turntables.

For more info, please visit the Traktor Scratch Duo product page





Cubase 5 Product Tour in association with Dolphin Music

10 03 2009

c5-tour1_news

Dolphin Music and Steinberg are presenting the new advanced music production system Cubase 5 exclusively at Leaf Tea Shop & Bar in Liverpool.

Cubase 5 comes with fully integrated new tools for working with loops, beats and vocals, such as LoopMash and VariAudio, combining with new composition features and the first VST3 convolution reverb to take musical creativity to new heights. With stunning innovations and additional enhancements that boost productivity and performance, Cubase 5 represents the absolute cutting edge in digital audio workstations.

The exciting new features and the revolutionary workflow with Steinberg’s Advanced Integration hardware, the MR816 CSX/X FireWire interfaces and CC121 USB controller for Cubase, will be presented by the Steinberg product specialists.

Cubase 5 Product Tour in association with Dolphin Music
Wed 25th March 09
7pm – 10pm


After party DJ by Dolphin Music

Venue:
Leaf Tea Shop & Bar  (http://www.thisisleaf.co.uk/)
Elevator Buildings
27 Parliament Street
Liverpool
L8 5RN





Tenori-On Lowest UK Prices For Limited-Time!

4 12 2008

GREAT NEWS! Dolphin Music might not Santa, but are giving him a run for his money! For a limited-time only, Dolphin is offering the Tenori-On for a lower price than any other UK retailer…and even better: you’ll get a free Tenori-On t-shirt as well! But hurry up: Offer starts today (Thursday 4th Dec) and ends Sunday 7th December.

Does it need any introduction? If you’re reading this you probably know what the Tenori-On is all about. Since its release over a year ago, the Tenori-On has proved to be one of the most innovative and exciting musical instruments that have ever been invented.

The Tenori-On is a revolutionary new concept, and is not only a very useful and versatile tool for professional musicians and producers, but also a fantastic instrument for those who never thought they could play anything, due to it’s “visible music” interface.

The Tenori-On…causing waves in the world of music.

In the past 15 months or so, many famous artists have adopted the Tenori-On, from legends such as Bjork to celebrated up-and-coming acts such as Little Boots, who recently used one on her debut appearance on the Jools Holland show on BBC2.

A new band even called themselves after the instrument: the three girls who are The Tenori-Ons have been spreading the word, and even appeared on the Paul O’Grady Show!

Now…It’s time for you to join the revolution!

Dolphin Music is offering an exclusive Tenori-On promo! Buy the Tenori-On for just £599, cheaper than at any other retailer in the UK, and get a free Tenori-On t-shirt (size X-large).

But you must hurry up! This deal runs from tomorrow (Thursday 4th December) to Sunday 7th December…so you’ll only have four days to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity!

Get your Tenori-On this Christmas…NOW is the perfect time to join this musical revolution!

Yamaha Tenori-On + Free Tenori-On T-Shirt!





London Elektricity Energizes Tracks with iZotope Software

20 11 2008

Groundbreaking DJ/producer Tony Colman—a.k.a. London Elektricity—talks about gear, technique and how to thrive in a changing industry.

Tony Colman, a.k.a. London Elektricity, has been breaking ground as a DJ, producer and label head for over a decade. Not only is he the mastermind behind seminal drum & bass albums like Billion Dollar Gravy and Power Ballads, his label, Hospital Records, has launched the careers of influential artists like High Contrast and Danny Byrd. In addition, Colman’s Hospital Records podcast has become one of the best places to hear innovative, unsigned music before anyone else. We caught up with Colman to talk about gear, technique and how to thrive in a changing industry.

What can London Elektricity fans expect from your upcoming album? We hear rumors that you’ve been working on your guitar chops.
I hate the word expect! It always leads to abject misery in the user. I’ll just say don’t expect anything but hope for an album you can visit time and time again. I’ve ditched mainstream dance music structures for the most part. And yes, I got all my guitars out, filed the frets, sorted the pots and restrung ‘em. They’re all over this record.

You do a lot of work from your home studio and use old, obscure samples from vinyl. How has iZotope RX been helpful in the process of making music and dealing with samples?
iZotope RX has been amazing for me. While I was prepping for this album, I went through my entire sample library and RX’d it. It’s a tool that I never thought would be possible. It’s such fun that it makes you want to use it even when you don’t need to—I find myself making excuses to use RX because it’s so satisfying. It leaves all other clean-up systems behind, even ones that cost 10 times as much.

How have you been using iZotope Ozone in your music?
I’m just getting to the mastering stage now, though I’ve used Ozone on some prior instrument processing jobs. It’s such a powerful tool. Ozone is a unique approach to mastering and once you master it you’ll be integrating it into all your projects.

You and Chris Goss (the original second half of London Elektricity) have managed to create an incredibly successful independent label in an era where MP3 sharing has threatened to make labels obsolete. Care to share any of your secrets?
These are our honest-to-god secrets: DO NOT have a business plan. DO NOT set targets. Just work harder than you ever imagined was possible for longer than you ever thought you’d have to, and treat your artists like you’d like to be treated by a label. And then one day you look over the parapet and you realize the landscape has changed for the better. And don’t be paranoid. File sharing is the best form of viral marketing out there.

There seems to be a very DIY approach to making music among the Hospital artists. When you sign a producer’s music, are you signing finished tracks, or does Hospital step in to help polish the sound?
We sign up talent. Originality. Those things are paramount. Technical expertise can be the most boring thing in the world. It’s tertiary to talent and charisma, because you can’t learn how to be a genius and how to inspire people, but you can learn how to get a brilliant mixdown.

For more information, visit London Elektricity online at myspace.com/londonelektricity and hospitalrecords.com.

RELATED GEAR:

iZotope Ozone 3

iZotope RX

iZotope Trash

iZotope Spectron





Guns ‘n’ Bombs: America’s Answer to Justice

20 11 2008

Cutting-edge electro-house duo Guns ‘n’ Bombs uses Torq DJ software to conquer the underground club scene.

Guns ‘n’ Bombs has been called “America’s answer to Justice”—and the Los Angeles-based production team boasts the credits and accolades to back it up. In just two short years, the group has released a string of highly successful remixes (Chromeo, The Gossip, Klaxons) and secured a record deal with ultra-hip French label Kitsuné. Comprised of Ima Robot bassist Filip “Turbotito” Nikolic and Chicago DJ Johnny Love, Guns ‘n’ Bombs is known for taking underground clubs by storm and rocking the crowd with their ambitious style of robotic electronica. Their hit single “Nothing Is Getting Us Anywhere” practically dares you not to dance—pulsating with digitized basslines and infectious synth grooves. With a production rig based on Torq DJ software, Guns ‘n’ Bombs continues to attract international attention for their powerhouse performances and dance-friendly remixes.

Performing Live with Torq

The Guns ‘n’ Bombs sound was born from a musical melting pot of hip-hop, electro house and disco influences. To reproduce tracks live, Turbotito uses Torq DJ software for advanced control over his sound clips and backing tracks. “I used to produce a lot of hip-hop in Denmark and we always dreamed about having the vocals on vinyl so we could cut them up,” he explains. “Torq has made all of that possible. We can record a live vocal bite, add effects to it, drop it back in a sample clip and instantly scratch it into our set. Torq allows us to go beyond emulating vinyl by doing something that’s impossible with traditional records. For Guns ‘n’ Bombs stuff, it’s great to manipulate sound clips using vinyl control. I can just throw down my hand for edits and speed control—it’s really fun for experimenting.”

Turbotito was an early adopter of digital DJ technology—he initially tried out Serato and Final Scratch before discovering Torq DJ software. “Torq has extremely accurate pitch controls and beat calculations, making it superior to the other DJ applications,” he says. “It’s super precise, which makes the loops tighter as well. The looping is the best I’ve tried on any system—including CD DJ players and other DJ software.”

For live DJ performances, Turbotito enjoys the intuitive user interface that Torq DJ software provides. “I never really understood the waveform display on Serato,” he relates. “Every time I use it for correcting stuff, I kind of make it worse. I like the waveform display in Torq much better. If you are unsure of what’s going on with your beat matching, it’s so easy to see which track is behind. It makes DJing a visual experience.”

The M-Audio Torq Xponent comes with the revolutionary Torq DJ software

Unique Studio Sounds

Turbotito has developed a unique production style that involves tweaking and manipulating original sounds using a variety of hardware and software tools, including Torq DJ software. “I never use sampled material,” he states. “When I first started making electronic music, I bought a sample CD—but after six months I started hearing those clips and sounds in other people’s music. So now we only use drum samples, no loops.

“I use hardware synths and software plug-ins to make the majority of the Guns ‘n’ Bombs sounds. If you just open a synth and start playing it, it’s going to be totally recognizable. We alter all the sounds we use because I don’t like playing the presets that come with the synthesizer. The looping controls and effects in Torq are great for altering prerecorded synths and drum tracks to create something unique. Torq lets you make your own sound.”

Check The Gear:

M-Audio Torq Xponent

M-Audio Control CD for Torq

M-Audio Torq Conectiv Vinyl/CD Pack Exclusive Gold Vinyl Edition

M-Audio Torq Control Vinyl

For more information, check out www.myspace.com/gunsnbombs 

 





Numark MixMeister Control: Hands-On Computer DJ System

11 08 2008

Get your head out of the laptop and into the party! MixMeister Fusion software gives you a radically different approach to DJing, so you can focus on rocking the party – not the nuts and bolts of DJ technique.

You don’t need to concern yourself with counting and matching beats, setting cue points, or syncing keys. MixMeister does all the technical work for you, freeing you to be in total creative control to interact with your music – and your audience!

Merging powerful Digital Audio Workstation capabilities and full-featured DJ performance, MixMeister Fusion is one slick package. At Numark, they love software, but we also know that DJing with software on a computer has one big weakness… NO KNOBS!

Enter MixMeister Control: the only hardware control surface specifically designed for interaction with and control of MixMeister. All hail the return of the knob… 40 of them, along with 53 buttons, and a big honkin’ jog wheel. Who said DJing with software had to feel like checking your email? MixMeister Control is designed to work like a hardware extension of MixMeister software.

MixMeister Fusion eschews everything you know about traditional DJ software and workflow. Forget the turntables-and-a-mixer thought-process and remember the best gig you ever played. What makes a great show great is the production value of the performance; not the technical aspects. Fusion frees you from worrying about counting and matching beats, setting cue points and worrying about the key of each track, enabling you to spend your sets wowing the crowd, not squinting at little masking tape strips.

MixMeister Fusion helps you mix complete sets from full-length songs. You get the functionality of a loop editor and Digital Audio Workstation, and you can blend songs together to create masterful music mixes. You can manipulate tempo, volume, and EQ in real time, on-the-fly. Fusion records all your DJ actions, not just audio, so you can go back after the show, and edit studio-style. Export your completed mix as an MP3 or burn it to CD.

Whether you use MixMeister to rock the party, make your own mixes… or both, MixMeister Control is the only serious way to interact with your music.

MixMeister Control retails at £299 from Dolphin Music…get your hands on one and get the party started!