Friday, June 24, 2011

Amon Tobin – The Worlds Most Amazing DJ Booth?




Sometimes I ask myself, what is the point of all this musical manipulation? How far should we take the exploration of music performance technology? Then someone manages to combine talent, expertise, and vision all in one amazing application that reminds you – oh thats why. Because you never know when something magical will emerge.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Porter Robinson



Porter Robinson is an 18 year old from North Carolina who  is concurrently finishing his senior year of high school, and touring the world with famous DJs like Skrillex and Tommy Lee. Very few people in the electronic music scene had heard of him until just a few months ago when Porter’s first single “Say My Name” dropped, and almost overnight DJs like Paul Van Dyk and David Guetta were playing his songs before he ever stepped foot in a night club. Continue reading for more info on Porter and a free download of his hit song: “Say My Name”

Shortly after our interview with him, Porter was off to New Orleans to play with TiĆ«sto, and then quickly grabbed a flight back to high school in North Carolina. Hardly an overnight success, Porter started producing original tracks and remixes at the young age of 15. Three years later, his song “Say My Name” reached the number one spot on the Beatport Electro Charts.

Listening to Porter Robinson’s tracks, you will notice how he combines elements of different genres to create a very unique sound. His live performance was a mirror of the genre-blurring style fans have come to love and expect. Throughout the set, this young DJ effortlessly jumped from Electro to Dubstep to Drum and Bass and back to Lil’ John, leaving the crowd literally shouting for an encore.  Check out Porter’s unique production style and sound and grab a copy of the track that made him famous, “Say My Name” below.
Porter Robinson – Say My Name (Original Mix)

Dj Z-Trip


NAMM is great place to see the latest gear but its also the only spot where you can rub shoulders with a lot of world class artists. This year we caught up with the respected turntablist rocker, Z-trip, to see what he had in his dj bag. Although mr. trip was slightly reluctant to spill all his goods out on the table, he was more than happy to share some sage advice for younger djs around the globe.

James Zabiela (NEW)


We are back with another segment of  our popular series: “What’s in your DJ bag”?  This time it’s international globe trotter, James Zabiela, who stopped by the office to show us an amazing pile of crazy accessories that somehow fit into one bag! We also managed to get a solid pile of digital DJ tips that might help you be more prepared on your next gig.

MSTRKRFT (NEW)

Here is the first in a new series of videos we are doing called “What’s in your DJ bag?” where we stop guys on the road and find out the different pieces of gear they rely on night after night. Watch the first episode featuring MSTRKRFT and read on for more details about the gear.

IN THEIR BAG

MSTRKRFT-BAG_DJ
We found everything a rockstar DJ needs…
*  Serato box (Version 1) CheckMark
*  Pioneer Magnesium headphones CheckMark
*  Custom molded ear plugs (neon yellow) CheckMark
* 13-inch Macbook Pro (with solid state hard drive) CheckMark
* Car visor booklet with Serato and white noise CDs CheckMark
* $1,000 in cash CheckMark
* American work permits CheckMark
* Large Gold watch CheckMark
* Bottle of  Crown Royal CheckMark
* A seriously awesome mustache CheckMark

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The DMC – A Brave New Era


DMC is an institution. Since its inception, the DMC world DJ championships has been a turntable focused competition – but that’s finally all changing. DMC recognises that DJing isn’t just about turntables anymore, and Sally McLintock, DMC’s World Events Manager, tells us that when it comes to allowing controllers into the championships, “it’s up to the DJs, we go where they go – we’re open minded”.
“it’s up to the DJs, we go where they go – we’re open minded”
Let’s pull up for a moment though – in order to know where you’re going it’s important to know where you’ve been, so Sally gives us a little bit of information on DMC’s background. “Our founder Tony Prince DJ’d on the world’s largest commercial radio station Radio Luxembourg. In 1982 he started playing mixes which became very popular. The station had around 50 million listeners across Europe.  In February 1983 Tony and his wife Christine launched a club exclusively for DJs and club promoters called Disco Mix Club which eventually became known as DMC.  Members received a monthly magazine newsletter which Tony christened Mixmag and by 1985 DMC launched a DJ Convention where Whitney Houston made her very first live appearance and where the World DJ Championship was born.
We dropped the club DJ baton when we sold Mixmag but we continued to provide them with the world’s only weekly DJ publication DMC Update for many years and last year stopped printing a paper version maintaining the data, news and charts for club DJs online. We’re bringing back The Buzz Chart to radio which is pretty exciting because this is what the DJs need, a central point for the best new tunes around.  There’s too much music around these days so it’s a shortcut for them to easily find the hottest tracks.
“We’re in a year of transition, testing the water for technology”
When DMC began we started off focusing on all DJs including radio and mobiles and even today we still provide the mobile market with commercial monthly mixes and club DJs still look to DMC as a source for very special exclusive music and an outlet for their own talents.”
As for the championship’s popularity: “7000 in Wembley Arena was a pretty good year. 3 times at The Royal Albert Halls (5000 per event).  Membership worldwide was in the lofty 7000’s back in the early 90’s and our magazine Mixmag was selling 150,000 copies monthly when EMAP bought it.  DMC attracts more DJs than ever to the World Championships. We’re in a year of transition, testing the water for technology. In the Online Championship we’ve said ‘anything goes’ so we can see where creativity takes us. It’s not an easy trick being all things to all men but we’ve done the balancing act for 28 years and we know DJs know we care for the industry.”
“It’s not an easy trick being all things to all men but we’ve done the balancing act for 28 years and we know DJs know we care for the industry.”
That transition is a big leap for DMC. At the moment, the DMC World Championships equipment specs are still locked to two turntables and a mixer, but for the first time this year DVS systems are going to be allowed with no restriction on the functions that they offer (team battles have allowed DVS for a couple of years, but only as a straight vinyl emulation). What’s more, the DMC Online Championship, in its inaugural year, has no equipment restrictions and the response to this freedom will shape the future of the live championships, says Sally; “the finals to the Online Championship are in August, so we’ll see then. If half the people in the final are using controllers, then it’s certainly something that we’ll look at for the live events next year.”
We asked: What are the challenges present in making what would be a monumental change in the DMC? “When you have as many DJs as we do, you have a logistical nightmare with the changeover of every set – it’s time consuming, and you don’t want a live event to slow down to a halt, which is why we’re looking at what happens in the Online Championship to see what we should do in future.”
“we’re looking at what happens in the Online Championship to see what we should do in future.”
And the future’s bright. “80,000 visitors watched the first 3 rounds of the Online Championship with a total of 11 rounds to look forward to. DMCworld.tv is going to become much more important to all of us as we take the internet onto mainstream TV, and how great is it even now that a kid can film his two  minute set in Manchester and know it’s being watched by fans in Japan, New York and Australia?
We’ll soon be launching DMC Radio. Update will become an appendage of the radio channel to become DMC Magazine and our new download site which has been fine-tuned to cater to single sales will be launched in April.  The magazine, the radio, the download and DMC TV will all work in tandem and we’re more focused on the well being of the DJ industry than we have ever been.  There’s even plans afoot on the radio channel to run a Radio DJ Competition.”
So there you have it; a quick look into the workings of the world’s biggest and longest running DJ championship, a glimpse into the future, and a bunch of things you (probably) never knew about the size of the DMC empire. Many thanks to Sally for her time spent answering our questions! Head on over to dmcworld.tv to check out classic DMC videos, and dmcdjonline.com to view the online entries so far and find out how you can sign up – There are four rounds still to go, so you’ve got plenty of time to enter your dominating routine! The only question that remains is this: What equipment will you be using to enter?!
Check out DJ Shiftee, a former DMC World Champion, give us an exclusive run down of one of his new digital techniques!

Review: Avid Torq 2

The managers at AVID’s R&D department must have been bouncing off the walls with joy when they were set with the monstrous task of competing with the boys at Serato and Native Instruments. A lot of time and effort seems to have been spent creating Torq 2.0; packed full of effects, live editing options and connectivity with studio software such as Ableton Live, and of course, their own Pro Tools. The intended highlight of the show is the Traq Morph, which Avid have described as ‘The Crossfader’s Second Coming’ – a typically bold statement for them to live up to. Fortunately, they have delivered in the past. The question is, can they deliver again, and draw in enough of the rest of us to break the Serato/Traktor divide?

Reviewed by Oliver Lockett
PACKAGE TESTED: TORQ 2.0.1
PRICE: $250
  • Customers who purchased an Xponent or Conectiv hardware device prior to 1/13/2011 are eligible for a $50 upgrade form 1.5 to 2.0
  • Customers who purchased an Xponent or Conectiv hardware device between 13/1/2011 – 30/6/2011 are eligible for a no-charge upgrade to Torq 2.0 software starting 8/2/2011
PLATFORM:
  • - Mac OS X 10.5.8 – 10.6.5 (10.6.5 recommended)
  • - Windows 7 32/64 (recommended), vista 32/64 SP2 or XP SP3
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS (Mac & PC): 2GB RAM, 500Mb HDD Space, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz
AVAILABLE: Out now

THE GOOD

  • Familiar layout
  • The ‘triplet mode’ is a nice addition for mixing those tracks in triple time
  • ‘Traq Morph’ crossfader allows you to perform effects that would normally require a spare set of hands.
  • VST Effect implementation

THE BAD

  • The setup for vinyl timecode has far too many variables which make it difficult to configure.
  • Tough to use without a controller
  • Can’t add own effect to track morph

THE BOTTOM LINE

Torq 2.0 is a must have for those who already have version 1.5, especially if you own an Xponent. The Traq Morph is a great, hassle free way to spice up your mixes, and VST implementation allows almost unlimited possibilities. It’s not the best for turntable DVS, and without a controller you might get confused by the interface, but those with a suitable MIDI controller should find Torq 2 very impressive.

FIRST GLANCE

As one would expect from a product which is also being marketed as an upgrade, Torq 2.0 has been built around version 1.5, which keeps an air of familiarity that those using 1.5 and the M-Audio Xponent will embrace. Hovering the cursor over any of the icons will provide you with a brief description of their function at the bottom of the screen, which is really useful when getting used to the software. However, including the shortcuts alongside them would be a simple, yet vast improvement for new starters. The visual waveforms are also in need of improvement, with only half of each being shown and only in one block colour, something standard in both Serato and Traktor. However, the first screenshots of prototype user modified skins are showing up on the forums, and there is already chatter generating between those with a mind to fix this.

MIXING TECHNOLOGY

Using the four deck layout is, at first attempt, tricky to navigate; but if you spend a couple of days playing with it, the ideas for creative mixing start to creep in and before you know it you’re away. The looping technology is really user friendly, and this is essential when creating four deck sets. For example, if you reposition playback using one of the Quick Cue buttons while looping is activated, playback will jump to the new location. Torq automatically places the Loop In Marker at the new location and places the Loop Out Marker in a position which maintains the same loop length. It does take a little patience to get out of previous habits, but using only four icons you can create automatic loops anywhere from a sixteenth of a beat to the entire track. You do need to make use of the control and shift keys, but learning where to do so does make the whole experience of using Torq without a controller easier than you might first think.

THE HIGHLIGHT – TRAQ MORPHING

Torq’s four channel crossfader is fully assignable, as expected from what could be described as Torq’s unique sales proposition. In a nutshell, the ‘Traq Morph’ takes crossfader control and effects control, and integrates the two. First up is the ‘Traq Morph Algorithm Frequency,’ which essentially combines the crossfader with either a High-Pass filter on the source Deck and a Low-Pass Filter on the second Deck. The cut-off frequencies are set the same dependant on the position of the crossfader, however with a Mid-Pass filter on the source Deck and a Mid-Cut filter on the second Deck, with the width of the mid band is determined by the crossfader position. The hilariously named ‘Algorithmic Duck’ is on offer to crossfade between tracks by using either a frequency based or volume based ‘ducking’ effect – this lowers the perceived volume of the first track at the very moment the crossfader reaches the transition point between two audio signals. The desired overall effect is the both tracks will sound like one continuous song, and if you make long, careful blended mixes, it comes in rather handy whilst you get busy preparing your next mix.


The ‘cut’ mode switches between the tracks at user determined intervals, so, for example, you could switch between the tracks every eighth of a beat. I really just found this to be a fancy way of transforming, but it does function just as well as Avid intended it to. Finally, we have their proposed highlight, the ’Morph.’ This essentially is a complex algorithm that determines which rhythms to use from each source, and creatively mixes it for you itself. This was created to make one track sound as close to the other as possible, and it does have to be heard to be believed just how clever this can actually be. The only disappointment with the crossfader is that you cannot assign your own effects to it, which seems odd given the extensive opportunities that would be presented with this implementation.


AND THE REST…

Also included in the software are all the essentials – full key adjustment with an optional lock; a sample bank holding up to 18 samples – and this number might just be increased by one of the upcoming user mods; the internal mixer, which is fairly basic with the EQs and gains, but beefed up with the Traq Morph; and a ten piece effects rack with up to four available per channel, which is great when you consider the stress it will take and the audio quality that Torq delivers. You can also add your own VST effects with remarkable ease, and they are available to be MIDI-mapped. The auto beat matching works as well as any other out at the moment, and there is a nice touch with the ‘Triplet Mode,’for those who are thinking of mixing in 3/4 (or, more likely 12/8).
One problem with Torq 2 is that turntable fans may feel left behind. The Torq timecode vinyl took a lot of time to calibrate for my setup – I used two Stanton STR8-150s with the M-Audio Conectiv – and it never delivered the accuracy needed for any serious scratching. This being said, it works adequately for the basics of mixing and beat matching, and a lot of help for the various setup options are available online, with a whole library of video tutorial aimed at all levels of expertise. Torq 2.0 does not disappoint with a MIDI interface, and with all that Torq offers, it is here with a mind to conquer the digital market.
NB: There is currently a 30 day trial available from the Torq website, which includes all the features excluding the ability to save any cue points or analyses of tracks. As it isn’t locked to an external interface, there is anti piracy software that needs to be installed, which comes in the form of a driver. It requires authorisation before use, and it may be best to set a restore point or create an image of your hard drive so you can quickly revert any changes to your registry if you choose not to continue using Torq.