Hello Internet! I’ve been nominated for Best DJ via the Dallas Observer 2012 and that feels good. I have juggled a number of jobs unofficially over the years from promoter, to video game enthusiast ringleader, to booking agent, to projectionista, to glorified bar-back, but the one title that I have the most success at is JOCKEY OF DISCS.
2013 will mark a decade of djing under my belt. I’ve watched the equipment paradigm shift from real-life milk crates of vinyl all the way to the current smattering of iPad docking dj-from-the-cloud devices. It couldn’t be a more exciting time to watch djing evolve, not just from an equipment perspective, but more importantly from a musical observance. EDM has certainly shown it has a gung-ho American style, which in typical U!S!A! fashion, marginalizes a wide spectrum — but also focuses it into a narrow archetype which skyrockets certain styles to superstardom the world-over. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it has me anxious to see what genres emerge from the Americanized EDM standard we have been beaten into our ear canals from quite possibly every advertisement this year. DJing is still a relatively ‘young’ profession, one that few grandfathers enjoyed, so it still feels to me like it could go almost anywhere – especially with the industry’s recent decision to almost yearly reinvent the technology supporting the art. I’ll stop blustering now and point you to the ballot. Vote for me if you think I deserve the title. peace.
—> 2012 DOMA ballot <— (vote ‘yeahdef’ under Best DJ, item #25)
I’m opening up for a dude named Devin in November. Make sure you get those tickets (on sale starting today) at Club Dada’s website. Come celebrate Danksgiving with special guest Le$, hosted by Jesse Porter. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this show. Devin kind of epitomizes the American dream — just a chill dude, rappin, makin $, and enjoying the fruits of his talented work. –cough cough—
I’m opening up for what I could only think to describe as a modern day troubadour group, Turquoise Jeep. I am not really sure if it’s tongue-in-cheek enough to be labeled tongue-in-cheek, but one thing is for sure — they are really good at dancing. I was going to attempt to perform a video djing set, but the logistics of setting that up proved more difficult than anticipated. Attendees should expect portmanteaus, pop-n-lockin, and pumpin’ jams.
To those who might not be aware, I am playing a 90s-centric party once again on Tuesdays – this time at Rubber Gloves in Denton. I just wanted to let you know this this event will be 100% music video edits done by yours truly. I’ve spent the last few months quietly making hundreds of music video edits and they are ready to aid you in your journey to drink and move your butt. FREE ENTRY. Come dance.
Wow! It’s like a tiny serato inside a boring black box! As a mobile dj, it’s difficult to not be intrigued by a unit like this. Laptops are expensive and vulnerable to crashing. Usually a dj’s best friend, but they can arbitrarily turn on you when you least expect it. These days a $1000+ laptop is usually inseparable from most dj setups. Stanton have proven themselves as a groundbreaker of innovation with this all-in-one, no-laptop-required, portable djing solution. It’s discrete, portable, and inexpensive – let’s take a look at what this unit has to offer.
I’ve never seen a piece of stanton gear that impressed me with their build quality. That’s just a harsh reality. That isn’t to say they aren’t usable, just not as durable as other gear (from Rane/Pioneer/Numark). The SCS.4DJ doesn’t break the mold in that regard. Comprised entirely of plastics, the SCS.4DJ is begging for a successor properly housed in a rugged metal body. The controls are not fun to use either. All the knobs and faders are tapered smooth plastic, zero grip. I ended up replacing them all with DJTechTools Chroma Caps. The jog wheels have a surprisingly good weight and feel to them, leaving you wondering if they spent 95% of their R&D budget on the jogs and the rest on everything else. One other major gripe I have with the unit is the crossfader. There’s an inexcusable amount of distance between the extreme end of the fader and the 100% cut-in turntablists are accustomed to. If you’re going to offer a hard cut crossfader curve, make sure 0% and 100% doesn’t have so much distance between them.
PATIENCE. This virtue will serve you well if you plan on getting this unit. The SCS.4DJ runs a closed-source distro of linux, pushed by what I believe is an ARM processor. This is how they can keep this unit running without an internal fan. The downside is that ARM processors are just not fast, making a simple task like scrolling through a playlist and selecting a song take anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Oh and that nice waveform the screen displays will most certainly have to be processed by a computer, because if you threw a few thousand tracks onto a USB drive and plugged it in the analysis process would be well over 24 hours. This is a unit that you’re going to have to dig around in forums and the manual to prepare your music for. It is the antithesis of plug-n-play.
Hardware and software are all very important, but ultimately it just comes down to what you hear. Stanton delivers with a warm sounding output from the 1/4″ leads, but the RCA outputs are terribly drowned out and will require an external mixer to boost it’s volume to an adequate level. The effects section has some pretty good effects. The flanger in particular sounds very good (possibly even better than the flange on my pioneer djm800), but I guess that’s purely personal taste. One odd choice was the “Slicer” effect which is actually just “Random” effect. It engages arbitrary reverse and brake messages at specified intervals with one parameter dedication to how random it is. Not fun. I’ve never known djs to be anything but deliberate people. If I push a button on a piece of gear, I don’t want to be surprised by the outcome.
Don’t buy this unit at retail price. Until Stanton releases an update to the scs.4dj that fixes it’s sluggish OS, I don’t think it’s worth $599. That being said, I found mine new-in-box on eBay for $200 and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. It’s the perfect unit to keep plugged in at home next to my computer to test out a quick mix. Once you get used to running their companion QuickGrid software on your USB drive before you start mixing, it’s actually a really compelling unit. Definitely fun, but not dependable for a professional environment.
Barcraft Denton is going down tomorrow at Boomerjack’s Wing’s & Grill in Denton TX. This is going to be a damn fine exhibition of SC2 skill – but its not all about starcraft. We’re going to be having a bunch of different setups from retro gaming to the latest games to play and compete. Mainly it’s just a place to link up with fellow nerds, watch some high-level gaming, and have a beer or two. Did I mention we got the best hot wings in town?!
JOIN THE BARCRAFT DENTON FACEBOOK GROUP!
RSVP TO THE BARCRAFT TOMORROW!
I’ll see you at Boomerjacks tomorrow around 8pm. peace!
This will be a big one folks. If you can pull yourself away from Diablo 3, I would recommend showing up.
This month, the first Wednesday falls on the 9th. I thought it’d be fun to drop back into my 90s Night playlist. If you’re too young to dance to 80s music, and you hate what’s on the radio right now — roll over in the No Limit tank to Gloves on wednesday. FREE | $1 drinks.
Yo! I’m kicking off a brand new monthly called “Choplift” on the rooftop of the home of the handsdown BEST chili dog in Denton, Cool Beans Bar & Grill. This is going to be a rooftop party unlike Denton has ever seen, with an excellent roster of headlining guest djs from across Texas. Get ready to pack out the roof starting Cinco De Mayo while myself and inaugural guest LDFD lace the upper deck with feel-good beach tunes and warm weather wub.
The response I’ve gotten has been awesome, it seems like everyone wants to chill on top of roofs these days. Mark it down on your calendar! Cinco De Mayo (May 5th), Cool Beans, Dope Tunes, Chili Dogs, Cold Adult Beverages. FREE
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Here’s a picture of the first piece of Vestax gear I ever owned next to my latest acquisition. Needless to say, things have changed. In a market where more and more intricate controllers are entering the arena each year, Vestax might hold the #1 spot in sheer number-of-slidey-buttony-spinny-things per square meter. That’s a far cry from the PMC PRO 06 there on the left, a relic from an era where simplicity and stability ruled the retail shelves. But is all this extra knobbery really going to help you dj more creatively? yes and no. Let’s delve into Vestax’s latest and greatest – specifically the DJ Techtools Ean Golden special edition.
I haven’t seen another USB controller built to the amazing specs as the vci400. It’s a serious tank. I really appreciate how they have each control element attached not only into the PCB, but also onto the metal chassis as well. This style of construction really gives a rock solid performance base. I feel like I could gig with this week after week for several years and never have a single problem with it’s physical functionality. It’s heavy, but not cumbersome – which is exactly what you want in a portable dj controller. DJ Techtools went against the grain and changed Vestax’s iconic red to a sleek blue style, and dimmed the entire appearance of the controller as well. It looks slick, but I’m not sure it’s the right decision to design a low-contrast controller that’s sure to spend a lot of time in dark booths.
DJ Techtools’ staff are verified traktor mapping experts, as shown with the control capability of their simplistic midi fighter line. I can’t help but think they over-extended themselves with the vci400 mapping though. I may be old fashioned, but I think it’s far too ‘busy’ for my personal dj workflow. Some things in the mapping simply don’t work as advertised, and I feel they should have placed more of an emphasis in track preparation and gridding and less focus on flashy effects that (let’s be honest for a moment) wont get used.
1. Slicer mode does not function properly while key lock is enabled. If you try to jump with the slicer function to another one of the 7 temporary cue points after the first cue from which slicer was enabled, you will hear a snippet of the sound of the first cue in all the subsequent temporary cues upon triggering. This makes chopping a 1-kick / 2-snare / 3-vocal sample / 4-stab relatively dull, because you’ll get a kick at the beginning of each of those chops. For someone who djs with key lock enabled all the time, I found this really frustrating. I was looking forward to that feature. Not to mention the key lock algorithm inside traktor is the best sounding of any dj program on the market! I feel like that let down in itself was a major blow to the mapping provided by djtt.
2. Don’t expect the scratch performance you had on the vci 300 unit with Serato Itch. It’s not there. This is not the vci 300 successor. The mapping ships with 15% scratch sensitivity, but I chose to dial that up a bit to 19%. It felt a little tighter, but it still doesn’t give you a good feeling cut. Scratch djs should steer clear of using this unit with Traktor.
3. I grid my tracks on the fly. I would have liked to see some gridding tools inside the djtt mapping in lieu of the GRID FX panel. That effect is somewhat lame and I don’t see it being used by anyone but spastic newbs. It’s rare you get an occasion to dial up that glitchy 1/64 beat repeat effect in a dj set. I wouldn’t have given it such a prominent placement in the mapping.
I shouldn’t get too harsh on the mapping though. Most of it is brilliant and inspired work. The Jog FX and Gratify elements in particular sound great and I can see having a lot of fun with those. They did some fantastic work integrating the sample decks in a way that just ‘makes sense’, and I think users that normally don’t use the sample decks would gravitate toward applying them to their sets. I just feel that they wanted to pack it full of too much wow-factor and that mentality took precedent over a rational dj workflow as a result.
Wow! I can’t believe they packed so much stuff into this beastly controller. XLR and 1/4″ masters, dual line / dual mic inputs, robust monitoring, sensitivity adjustments and jog torque controls, this thing has it all! Wait… What’s missing? BOOTH OUTPUT! Controller manufacturer’s: INCLUDE BOOTH OUTPUT. Aside from this omission – I love all the options they managed to squeeze into this design.
If you can stomach the price ( I believe it to be fair ) then this is a great controller from Vestax. I see a few drawbacks in the DJTT mapping, but if you’re not going to scratch and don’t mind getting under the hood to tweak a few parameters to your liking, this might be a perfect fit for you. It sounds fantastic and for someone who likes mixing 4 decks in traktor, I think this controller is the new reigning champ. I for one will be returning this in anticipation of the vci 380, which should give me back that impeccable jog performance in Serato along with a Slicer that works with key lock. I’m going to miss some of those beautiful Traktor effects, but I’m more of a 2-deck guy anyhow ^___^