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





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!





Customer Spotlight: Promote Your Talent!

2 12 2008

Are you a performing musician, or music producer? Want to let the rest of the world know about your work, or promote your band? Get in touch with us and be in our “Customer Spotlight” feature!

Dolphin would like to hear from musicians, recording artists and producers who’ve bought gear from us. Let us know how the gear you’ve bought from us has helped you. Let us and other Dolphin customers know a little bit more about you and your work!

Just email media@dolphinmusic.co.uk  and tell a bit more about your music! Let us know what gear you bought from Dolphin, and how it helped you! You can send you a press-release, bio and website links so other people can hear your music.

Each week we’ll do a Customer Spotlight profile in our News section and the next one could be yours! The feature will also be included in our Weekly News Round-Up which is sent to over 30 thousand people each Friday.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to promote yourself! Get in touch with Dolphin now!

Read previous entries:

Customer Spotlight: John Burns and Purple Comedy
Customer Spotlight: Janey Summer, D.I.Y. Solo Artist