I recently posted a blog explaining my decision to purchase a Pioneer DDJ-SZ controller but before I get into the jist of this blog post, let me tell you that I have no regrets whatsoever.
Over the past few years I have noticed a large increase in young, aspiring DJs who aim to grow their name and brand – I was and still am one of them. The problem does not lie here but rather the main concern is the fact that controllers which are relatively easy to acquire and learn compared to TTs also require minimal setup. Although this is definitely a plus for mobile DJs like myself, there is another group of young DJs who do not really care to learn the intricacies involved in setting-up/taking-down properly and quickly while being adapt to any equipment put in front of them. In other words, not only do many not know to which inputs of a main mixer their controller should be plugged but even more it is true that many are stuck in a box of simply knowing how to use their equipment and that only.
I was fortunate to have met Jason Spanu (DJ Shine), the programmer of Frank Ocean, Nelly Furtado, and Drake who is also a prominent Toronto, Canada techno DJ, producer, and certified Ableton trainer. It was through Jason that I gained interest in wanting to be exposed to a wide range of equipment in including turntables, club-standard mixers, and CDJs. My desire to learn was further fuelled by Corey at The Music Boxx in Toronto where I expanded my DJ skills on the Ableton Push, a variety of controllers, and special effects pads including the Native Instruments Kontrol F1, just to name a few. The point I am trying to get across here is that after receiving advice from Jason to get exposed to all sorts of equipment, I went out and did it. (Also, I know ever to go to red which apparently everyone knows but I still see red/orange so frequently at clubs when watching other DJs perform. Dammit people, understand that sound quality is important, too! Not just the song you’re playing. – DJM-800 anatomy to the left to give controller-only DJs a head-start on club-standard mixers.) I understand that this may not be an easy task but if I could do it as a 16-year-old, knowing nothing about the DJ industry, I think everyone who really wants to can make these connections, get exposed, and push themselves to be the best DJ they can be.
With that being said, I am still a big fan of controllers and I will always be. I am excited to start using the DDJ-SZ! On the other hand, as I just explained, I am not stuck in a box of just knowing my equipment and nothing else. While playing on the Traktor S4 which I owned for a few years, my curious personality always got me asking questions to other DJs who were setting up beside me to learn how unfamiliar equipment worked. I also continue to get my hands on CDJs and Technics every now and then so I don’t lose the skills I have built. This allows me to be more versatile and play on any equipment put in front of me, whether it be a club owned by Kenny Summit or anyone else. It’s this that I am sure Summit is trying to get across.
In the interview MagneticMag.com conducted with Summit, the question of would Summit let a DJ like Louie Vega play on whatever he wanted implying a controller, too. Summit responded saying, “If Louie wants to play on a fuckin Commodore 64 at this club, he is more than welcome to. We’re banning the idiots that don’t know how to use them. Obviously, DJs like Louie or Kenny Dope or ANY seasoned veteran are welcome to use whatever the hell they want to use. This ban on laptops is a more like a ban on the people who can’t bother to learn how to be a real professional and learn how to setup and break down their equipment without ANY disturbance in the night. But yeah, I’d actually ask Louie to use USBs or vinyl and if he said NO, I’d be like “alright.” lol.”
In short, all of you young aspiring DJs reading this, find a way to try everything out, make connections, and be adaptable to any situation in which you are placed. Not only will this make you a better DJ but also one who will be more respected by big names in the DJ community.
What do you think? Is being adaptable and versatile sufficient to countering the argument of no laptops in the DJ booth?
–DJ Mocha Love (DJML)