the rush

what an odd weekend. not exactly what i wanted, but got lots out of it as i usually do with my spare time. i thought a bit about it today and came to the conclusion that i am good at doing a lot of things, but i have neglected promoting those things to a large extent. you may be like “what?! you’re always all about the BSP.” well, yes and no. there is more i could be doing. i mean, where is the AFK banner, the dj ariz0na banner, the rave victoria banner, the resonance radio banner, the pacific front banner, the blog victoria banner, the islandkidz banner etc etc etc? yeah, ok. some of these things don’t need promoting but i should probably be making a “current projects” page on for all this stuff.
woah. i mean, that is it. it was a rush making this latest CD. mp3’s will be poppin’ up soon. i made this CD happen in a matter of 3 days.
i’ll reveal the tracklisting at the same time. i didn’t even come up with a name with it by the time i realized i had finished it. i was talking to jim on msn and he suggested “rush” without even having heard it .. and it is a perfect name for the CD. when you hear it, you will know.
i think it’s worth noting that sasha said a couple weeks ago that he’s giving up the vinyl and turntables in favour of playing off his laptop — sasha is going all digital. he made reference to the fact that DJing is really all about the content, so the medium is really not that important. however, playing off of his laptop is going to enable him to do some extra cool tricks that would be impossible with records, so this is a major step forward. i have long thought that vinyl was more of a fashion statement than any remarkable use of technology, and it is interesting to see how the underground industry is turning. have a look at this interview with andy jarrod, head honcho of 3 Beat Record Label Management Group, one of the worlds largest and most successful underground music businesses.
this was a case i was making for mp3’s in 1998. 6 years later, it is actually happening.
that being said, “the rush” is my first straight up computer mix, complete with special effects and impossible mixes. and yes, it does sound better than ever. mixing vinyl is good for live performances because it is quite tactile. the advantages end there. mixing on the computer, you can resequence mixes, keymatch, reverse cue, etc etc. for each track, you can have individual compressors, filters, shelf EQ’s, reverb, bitcrush, echo, delays, etc etc. and VST plugin effects.
…and you can synchronize it with your music making software to actual LIVE PA work in the middle of a DJ set. seamlessly. more thought, more action, more control, better results.
the digital age is definitely upon us.
in order to use tracks off of vinyl, one must record them at 0% pitch to the computer. to save time, whatever tracks i had on vinyl and mp3, i simply converted them to .AIFF format (same as WAV format, except mac based). there are catches. here are the disadvantages to using a track off of vinyl:

  • almost all record players have sliding pitch rates. yes, even the invincible technics 1200 turntables. and that means that if you correct the speed of the track on the computer, it’ll be spot-on at the beginning, but not neccessarily at the end. headache-inducing, almost useless.
  • bad pressings also lead to pitch changes, detail loss, warps, even skipping.
  • vinyl collects dust. you may like that, but i’d rather have crystal clear hi-end that does not deteriorate or sound washed out after many plays. good music gets played a lot. this is a problem.

at this point, i wish that every vinyl release would come as a CDM as well — avoiding the vinyl at every possible stage would be the best thing in the world for the digital DJ.
i’ll always have records, just ’cause they’re fun, and a fashion statement, just like i’ll always have cool shirts. it’s part of the culture, and a big symbol of the culture as well.
learning this new software though .. and seeing the possibilities .. was a real rush.

Join the Conversation


  1. there’s a lot to be said for digital files, and really the biggest thing about them, not just from a dj standpoint, is the complete absence of speed deviation, wow and flutter. and speed deviation isn’t just pitch, it’s the purity of the sound. compare a pure digital recording of a piano with an analogue played on a turntable. no matter how good, the piano, the most speed revealing of all instruments, won’t sound right, it can’t sound right in analogue.
    vinyl is teh cool, but you’re right, even the mighty 1200 isn’t perfect. even those turntables with 50 pound platters aren’t perfect. the 12 is a bit of a comprimise, a direct drive deck always flutters but no belt driven can muster the torque necessary for mixing. also, one of the 12’s least used features is its silicone rubber mat, it adds a lot of mass and helps keep the speed constant, but usually, the rubber is ditched and replaced with a slip mat, which weighs almost nothing.
    another big thing is that there isn’t a record where the spindle hole is exactly dead centre, which causes a significant deviation with each revlolution. and then add things like warps and the fact that, especially tracking at 3+ grams, and super especially from backcueing, records wear out, quickly, like when you’re listening to a used record at the store and you can tell just by listening where the dj who used to own it mixed it in.
    digital is the way it’s going, that’s been no secrect for 20 years now, and i think that the fact that records are still in heavy use is due in a large part to the fact that it was a lot of years and a lot of trying by manufacturers after cds first came out before a good dj cd deck was designed. i remember the first technics pro cd deck, the slp-1200, circa 1986, it was perfectly awful and almost impossible to work.
    all that said, i still like to be at an event and see the dj flipping the records on and off the platters. but then at delta heavy, i don’t recall being able to see sasha or diggers doing much at all from my vantage point, and it still was teh awesome.
    oh, and maybe with good software and enough time, anyone could mix records. but which records when, for who and how? anyone can melt butter, few can truly cook. there’s hella more to being a dj than just matching beats.

  2. I have always felt that digital recording gives a slightly cool feeling to music (probably a lack of hiss). A study done a couple of years ago (trying to dig up the ref) tried to compare the “enjoyment” of the music by volunteers to music played from CD and what they call Full Spectrum Sound (Basically contains frequencies that we are not supposed to hear). Surprisingly, people rated the experience of the FSS as significantly more enjoyable than a regular CD recording. Reason.. No one knows, that’s just the way it is.

  3. DJing is changing, yes. Unfortunately (as I see it), it is becoming far less of a performance-based skill or trade, and more of a thought-induced creative medium. There’s more room for error and slack in digital djing. You can pre-record entire sets and simply layer on top. As I see it, Digital is fine and dandy for the studio, but vinyl always offers a standard for people to define their skill – a ground-zero basis that determines skill. Vinyl is a raw medium where you are significantly limited in your avenues for change, thus forcing the John Digweeds of the world to truly exploit their sources in finding the best music. They work their tales off to produce their own work and to track down others so that they may showcase their music in its raw, unadulterated form for the thousands. In one cynical view, digital computer djing is a scapegoat – people don’t necessarily need to have skill in finding music, or prowice in their live music mixing ability. Taking an analog record and listening to it scratch and pop under a needles is a microcosm of the art of DJing; listening to Sasha pitch correct in years’ past on live recordings validates his art – perfect track selection, great live mixing, and not much extra to go with it.
    Bridging the art of creation with the art of performance balances two polar opposites. Heading in a new direction within the standard of DJing must not forget the purity of DJing material live. Vinyl is not simply a vessel for music – it IS the music – in its truest, unaltered form, exactly as it was meant to be heard. A producer could take solice in the fact that once out of the presses, his music was just that – his music – in all of its entirety and glory, not to be further manipulated or mangled by mouse clicks or further studio work.
    It is definitely a different direction.

  4. I’ve always been interested in combining mixing with vinyl and mp3/digital sources. I’ve always wanted to try something like final scratch ( which lets you spin mp3s as if they were actually vinyl with normal vinyl records.
    I’m curious, what software do you use to mix on the computer, and do you mix sets in the same way as you would vinyl (as in, do you mix LIVE, or is it a lot of pre-recording and setup?) I’m curious to learn more.

  5. Craig: Tails not Tales.
    [in its truest, unaltered form, exactly as it was meant to be heard] ?? That is what the Swiss said when they passed on quartz technology. Yet when was the last time you wound your swiss watch? Vinyl just happened to be first, it doesn’t mean it is better. If that was the case we would all still be driving Gremlins.
    [digital computer djing is a scapegoat – people don’t necessarily need to have skill in finding music] Finding music that someone else made, and sold to you. What about creating your own music that NO ONE ELSE HAS!
    [A producer could take solace in the fact that once out of the presses, his music was just that – his music – in all of its entirety and glory, not to be further manipulated or mangled by mouse clicks or further studio work.] Do you own the original mix of every song ever made? No White Label or Djsomethinginabag mix? Most records you play are manipulated from their original form. On a computer no less. How do you think it got to Vinyl? Do you think Neptune or Hybrid are sitting in a closet banging tom toms? And do you not manipulate them when you DJ? Isn’t that the essence of performing? Otherwise you would just be a record playing guy.
    [but vinyl always offers a standard for people to define their skill] The irony here is that you as a DJ come on and play a record. Yet someone with a record or a CD, AND a computer can create music live. Like a musician. If you want skill then try and make music on the spot, not playing an ‘unaltered track’. I agree with you about people coming in and playing a pre-mixed set. That is basically like slapping in a mixed tape. Not too much different than practicing a pre-organized set though I might add. All you need is beat matching after that. Or do you?….
    What makes a good DJ? Someone who can twist a couple knobs on the mixing board and eq out the high end, or flange with a couple records? Maybe someone mixes in a chorus from one song over the beat of another. How is this different than clicking a few knobs or dragging a slider instead of a cross-fader?
    I think what Davin is getting at is that the craft is the same, you are just using different tools. In this case you are going from a handsaw to a Tim Taylor V8 Chainsaw. Just think of the computer like an eight foot long mixing board, with lots of knobs to twiddle.
    ps: I love you man.

  6. …I was very much of two minds about this whole thing, and it’s been growing on me for a while, what with beatport & such. I was discussing it with a friend via email, and I made the point that:
    “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be cool to hear Sasha or Holden or someone playing a stutter-echoed melody from ‘Horizons’ over the drums from ‘A Break In The Clouds’, with the vocals from ‘You Are Sleeping’ or something?”


    …now I want to try it ; 0

  7. The Live PA I remeber was from Adam Star, he played after the headliner and blew him completely away. I would love to see more digital:)

  8. Neil,
    This is the deviation I’m talking about. Yes, once a record hits the press, it is a song, no matter what. That is the song. <– period. That is how the producer of the track meant for it to be heard.
    The difference between DJing and producing is exactly that – making your own music or implementing your own concepts into a set – pre-recorded, PA’d, or fly-by-wire – fundamentally changes the entire idea of DJing. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, however you are eliminating the bar that people were subject to. Where people had been previously subject to the limitations of their ability to collect records, they are now limited by their financial resources or networking abilities in collecting programs, hardware, studio space, operating platforms and RAM.
    What I meant in the skill in finding music, was that the particular skill was what set people apart from the rest, when live PA manipulation or Reason did not exist. If you found that what records were being sold to you as your only avenue for music collection, well, that is what limited you from becoming as good as the person who ended up on a pool or mailing list from a record company. One of the reasons that people said “production is the only way to make it big now; everyone is a DJ” is because it helped you access upfront music that noone else had the ability to collect. Remember, one of the defining standards between making music (producing) and playing it (DJing) was that DJing largely involved playing other people’s music. Disc Jockey (record playing guy) – not Electronic Music Producer. There’s a difference there. Again, these two are being moulded into one, in a natural progression of innovation. I believe that what Sasha is up to, along with everyone else in the alternative electronic music delivery movement, is attempting to scramble to find out what everyone wants, now that the time of the Superstar DJ appears to be passing. He’s thinking, ” gee, I made millions of people happy just five years ago, and now they’re all gone and the clubs are closing, and the trend is dying. What could they want? Where did they go?” Well, if you look at the popular underground music in 2002, 2003, the trend is leaning towards live electronic bands, or hybrids, such as Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Underworld, Moby, etc. Perhaps he’s hoping, or predicting that people are sick of hearing all the same tunes that everyone else played at Cream last week. That live is alive in ’05, and he will gain better reviews and numbers by adding some flair and live production aspect to his sets. This is one idea, anyway…
    Original mixes, remixes, bootlegs? Yes – the original Mix is exactly that – the original – Sasha wanted xpander to sound that way, and it surely was remixed a thousand times, but his was his. To rename it incurred the wrath of label lawyers and lawsuits. It’s called copyright and every art form employs it… I’m not sure what point you’re making there.
    Along came loop doctors, and onboard fx kits, and people started manipulating songs on the fly. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Did I say there was? No.
    There isn’t a thing that is wrong with a cd or pc based dj. I never there was. I’m only emphasizing that the two are very different, and so for someone (Sasha) to be saying that this is the direction that DJing is heading in, well, certainly it is a new direction, but the whole concept of DJing encompasses so many different aspects… They’re all equally powerful and useful, but really, manufacturing a set through computer means opens the door to different types of music skill.
    What I said was that DJing with vinyl set a standard. You could, ideally, judge someone by their abilities on turntables. Now there’s nothing wrong with pc mixing, however you’re opening up an entirely different can of worms with the introduction of one’s own music, production and software VSTs. You’re blending the distinction between music making and music playing. I’ll never in a decade brag that as a DJ, I am a musician. No effing way. I play music, and change how it’s heard. A producer implements instruments and imagination, and the more you use this in “DJing”, the less of a DJ you are.
    Is it less authentic a way of playing music? According to tradition of having a bag of records, and two decks, yes it is. Is it better or worse? No. Maybe what I am saying is that as we progress, the term “DJ” may be falling to the side.

  9. I think a DJ is someone who plays music. Some of their own, some of other peoples. For people. Who cares about whether or not it is on vinyl or not?
    Craig, I think what you’re saying applies well to things like DMC championships, but when we’re talking about fade ins, EQ twists and effects as is popular mixing in the kind of music we play, turntables are merely one of the sources and not at all defining of the music.
    Craig says “A producer implements instruments and imagination, and the more you use this in ‘DJing’, the less of a DJ you are.”
    That’s a bit scary to hear, but I think I understand what you’re trying to say there. I think it was about 6 years ago that they declared this to be the era of the DJ-Producer. Every big DJ has to have tunes to play that are their own. Witness Digweed dropping Heaven Scent and pointing at the crowd.
    I don’t see implementing live PA as making someone less of a DJ .. if they mix tracks together or play them in a sequence, then they -are- a DJ ’cause that’s what DJ’s do.

  10. hang on…
    Being “less a DJ” is not a step down. I think we need to establish what a “DJ” is. Do you consider Hybrid to be DJs? What are they when they do PA? What do they do during a “DJ Set?”
    If they began playing all of their own tracks, off laptops, with variable changes throughout their tracks, and indistinguishable mixes and effects, what would they be performing? A DJ Set or a Live PA??
    I’m not downgrading any aspect of a DJ, only that classically, in my mind, it has been a fundamental and limiting performance of music. It rarely applies to the term “concert,” rather a “performance” or “rave.”
    I’m trying to establish that as everyone moves into their own creation and establishment less of the assembly of tracks and more into the performance of one’s own musical ability, that they are becoming less of a “DJ” as the title holds, and more of a “performer,” “artist,” whatever. The title doesn’t hold as much meaning once you disengage from the classic bearings of Jockeying Discs.
    Is this becoming any more clear?

  11. Also, note that from a theory point of view, laptops & Live reward people who made the best choices about what to play and when to play it, instead of rewarding people who can beatmatch.
    (and in terms of those choices, Sasha is pretty darn good…)
    It returns DJing to ‘selecting’, and not to ‘holding a mix for 5 minutes’. One could make an arguement that that’s what it’s always been about ; p

  12. mina, they’re just “posting a comment and complicating things” like the form instructs. 🙂
    but yeah, I agree.. the details of how groovy tunes are conveyed to me are not important, so long as they are conveyed to me. that’s it.

  13. i can make impossible mixes now. at the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter. i’ve always wanted to be able to do this, but i’ve always wanted to put music together for people who -don’t care- that the mix is impossible, and wouldn’t know the difference.

  14. well, Mina, in the end that is how it all works. It is about good music.
    We are merely philosophizing. There is theory for everything, and based upon where you are going to school, you should know very well that titles and terms define what people do. Historically even, whether they live or die. In the end it does not matter, but it’s fun to talk about.

  15. your question about hybrid is a good one craig. pretty tangible example there, heh. they’re dj’s, producers, performers, composers, remixers and engineers. so, i guess they are hybrid at all times, and one of those other things at specific times. i think one thing that distiguishes a dj from the other types of perfomance is their ability to play the crowd. this makes the dj more occupational than the other roles a performer could play, but it also gives the dj-producer a bit of an interesting angle that a straight up live PA artist would lack, as they usually have pre-deterimined sets that they play from start to finish, and expect the crowd to ride -their- wave.
    interesting, that.

  16. by -their- wave, i mean the performers own. whereas the dj feeds back what the crowd gives them. different relationship in performance.. kind of like improv vs. opera .. lots of direction determined by crowd response in improv, not so much with opera.

  17. Great googilly moogilly. Loving this. (in a non-mcdonalds sort of way)
    Craig- I now get your point about dj vs. producer
    Mina- I’m with you. It is all about defining specific terms and finding a shelf for everything. My head spins when these guys get talking about Prog, techno, garage, speed garage, jungle, electro, house, hard house, soft house, limp house, leaky condo …etc. Basically if I can dance to it = good. Or perhaps it is pleasing to the ear when I am not in the mood to dance. Good or Ass.
    Davin- This is all your fault 🙂 I love your comment about mixing impossible mixes for people who don’t even notice. veritrue. For many of the great unwashed they just know they are having a good time and they don’t care why.
    Hell some people have a good time to shitty music too. Take that hippity hop for example.

  18. Great convo, guys. davin and I were talking about the Sasha thing not so long ago over on my blog and this ties very nicely into it.
    For most people fifteen years ago a dj was one of two things- a radio jock or a cheesy canned-music guy at weddings and school dances. Twenty-five years ago most of us didn’t know that people like Larry Levan were setting the stage for a global revolution. Before record players had pitch control you had to put an upturned glass on the record and add weight to it to slow down the rotation. People didn’t know what to make of it- they knew these songs from the radio but somehow these djs were making them blend together. When the record industry finally caught up with the fad they started adding instrumentals to the b-side of singles so that djs could remix on the fly.
    And right there is where Craig’s initial point loses wind. Almost from the start artists have been all for djs remixing their music. That means it gets played. Years later we’ve mastered beat-matching and I can’t think of a single dance-music producer out there who imagines for a moment that his song is going to be played in its original form from start to finish. Who, anywhere, gets to hear the first and last minute or more of any song, no matter how good? It’s all bridge. Same with the break-down in the middle. It’s for mixing. We’ve got savvy producers making songs with three different versions with specific speeds and carefully tuned energy so it will get played at a specific point of the evening. Making music FOR djs to manipulate.
    So if you can accept that producers for thirty years have been making music with the full knowledge that it will be modified by djs then let’s talk about the audio: analog vs digital…
    David recalls the same research I do- people really do prefer FSS over digital. I agree with them. An analog production sounds more full. The bass is warmer and the treble is well-rounded. I think the problem is with compression, mostly. I’m willing to bet that if a producer were to put out a digitally recorded song on both vinyl and CDS, and the dj’s equipment for each were comparable, then most of us wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Certainly not at a party.
    So producers know that their product isn’t sanctified, and digital reproduction is more than adequate (first-generation, at any rate), then what could possibly put a vinyl dj ahead of his digital colleague?
    Craig does make a good point there. The vinyl performance involves a lot of movement. It’s a bit of theater and it’s something many of us have experience with. He’s playing records and isn’t it amazing what he can do with those things that we’ve played at home on the parents’ hi-fi? A digital dj doesn’t need as much room to work, and the work involves buttons more than 12″ wheels. Although not for much longer: Pioneer and Denon are on that, as you may already know. I will tell you that mixing vinyl is a hell of a lot easier than mixing cds. Every dj I’ve talked to has agreed with me there. I’ve embarrassed more than one dj when he scoffed at my cds and I invited him to give mixing a try.
    But yes, some vinyl djs put on a good show. Then again, so does Sasha. I disagree with Craig’s assessment of Sasha’s decision to use more tools. I think Sasha is at the top of his game, he’s bored, and he wants to push the boundaries. Find me a mechanic who has no interest in souping up his car. Find me an athlete who’s content with second place their whole lives. Find me anyone who’s content with things just the way they are. Sasha is without question a master. He has seen the top of the very top. So now what? Keep doing it? Stand with the proven formula? Might as well retire. You can’t expect him to be interested in it if his fans aren’t. If the formula is two decks and a two channel mixer then what the hell is Carl Cox doing with three decks? Can’t you only play one song at a time?
    Craig actually proves the point for me: if it’s about the performance then isn’t it really about the performance? Why be content with the standard? What good is a benchmark unless you intend to surpass it? We’ve all seen two decks and a mixer. Give us something MORE.
    If a dj is only allowed to spin from his two decks, spinning only 12″ originals and doing nothing more to them than beat-match through the mix-break… bah. Forget it. I’m going home. You will never convince me that a dj isn’t already a producer as soon as he makes his first mix. That’s house. And if he’s a producer then why can’t he break new ground? Is he allowed to mc over his mix? Is he allowed to smack a drum during his set? Is he allowed to talk to the girls?
    In the end it’s about the performance. No one more than three rows back knows any different anyway. Just make me dance and I will love you as a god.

  19. these technologies such as final scratch and ableton have completely shattered the glass ceiling that is Techno. i’m not talking techno as the genre umbrella that all electronic falls under, I’m talking Techno, with a capital T, I’m talking Umek, Jeff mills, Pantytec, Richie Hawtin, etc.
    The Techno guys have been absolutely instrumental in the popularity and DEVELOPMENT (tech producer monolake was instrumental in the development of ableton) of these tools and it’s made techno fucking incredible again. Seriously. There’s a second renaissance in the Techno world (mostly because i’m hooked into it now) You have to hear some of the sick shit that Hawtin, Villalobos, Magda, Tejada, Luomo, Dear, Akufen, Monolake, Hrdvsion, matt jonson etc are doing with these programs! Mind you, Techno, to the average listener is faceless at best. Most people, even dj’s have no idea what’s going on within techno. You kind of have to be immersed into to techno, and know the songs and structure, whereas in Prog, each song is more ummm, song based so the transitions are noticeable.
    But trust me, these people are totally bridging the titles, dj and artist. they’re transcending the boundries that each title had superfluously imposed on each other. This new hybrid DJ/producer is definately embracing the technology for the greater benefit of listeners.
    Now, Techno has the luxury of doing this without any animosity from the behalf of the producer. I’ll try to explain what I mean by this. I think that most Techno Producers look at their music as a means to an end, understanding the tracky nature of Techno and realising that most of it is going to be played for maybe a a maximum of 3 minutes at best, possibly while being layered and fucked with all teh way through it. The mixing style stresses emphasis on movement rather than the song itself being the movement. This is where Progressive and Techno differ in opinion. Progressive tells a much more detailed story through each song. I liken Prog to chapters of a book and Techno to pages.
    It’s really late and maybe this makes very little sense. so i’ll leave it at that for now.

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