I often ponder the incredible passion we had for DJing back in the days of 1210s. Lugging heavy, jam packed record bags and awkward boxes on to planes, trains and automobiles, and trying to meander through the packed out dance floors without getting stuck. Come of the weekend, I would heave a bag on to each shoulder and proceed to the train station on foot, in high heels. I can only conclude that I was out of my mind on pure love for the art of mixing. Have you tried to get around with a weighty bag of records recently? I now liken it to shifting a piano. And the thought of doing so in heels makes me nervous, surely it was a recipe for a broken neck.
What made vinyl so special was the element of excitement. It was pretty rare to make it through an entire set without the deck being knocked, the record letting you know it's got a new scratch, the jumping and skipping getting so out of control that you would have to put the arm weight on backwards and stack a penny or two on the needle itself, physically being able to see the last track about to end, the sheer surge of adrenaline when the next record has decided to jump repeatedly near the beginning and having to frantically start it from the next break which thankfully was clearly visible from the grooves. The sound of the mix slightly slipping out, riding the pitch to get the two tracks to settle back together again, jamming records back into the sleeves leaving them in absolute tatters, and lets not forget the shameful state of many a mixer out there bringing the other challenge of channels cutting in and out due to worn out, beer soaked faders! You see it is for this reason that visually the thrill of watching a DJ mix vinyl cannot be emulated by any other form.
My love for vinyl was pretty strong and when things started shifting towards MP3s and CDs I wasn't so quick to move over completely. I soon started to receive new material and promos on CD (yes people used to send those rather than just a file online!) which I wanted to play out along side the vinyl, so for a long time I took a Pioneer CDJ100 around clubs with me. The transition towards CDJs was a very long and slow process for clubs and it was a total gamble as to whether or not that would have any for you to play on, the CDJ100 in my bag became a vital piece of kit.
The first time I got to play on Pioneer CDJ1000s was at a newly refurbished venue in the Midlands, UK. They were so much fun to play on and so easy to use, much to my luck the next DJ was extremely late in taking over from me so I got to toy with them for three hours. By this point in time more and more of my favourite tracks were only available on CD, vinyl pressing was winding down and it was more apparent now that I would have to take the plunge and kiss goodbye to my vinyl.
I like beat matching by ear and hand, for me this is where your energy starts in the same way that vinyl did. DJing isn't just about beat matching but this is the absolute basic and something I wouldn't want a piece of software doing for me. My personal style as a DJ comes down to the mixing. I love mixing for a really long time, the longer the better, making tracks and sounds play off each other and creating whole new grooves. I'm not into chopping and swapping from one track to the next, or gimmicky and somewhat annoying effects. I like things to flow, building beats upon beats to form interesting energies and an atmosphere. And rather than effects, I prefer to simply use the EQs to 'filter' sounds.
I like the freedom that CDs (or USB sticks if you prefer) give you now. It's great being able to take such a large collection of music with you wherever you go. Pioneer have achieved a great thing with their CDJs, keeping it as close to home as vinyl as possible. All the settings such as tension, release and speed enable you to set up an environment which gives you a similar feel to 1210s. There are stacks of other cool features on the current industry standard CDJ2000, but that's for another time. For now, as I like to say 'KEEP IT CDJ'.