While dance music certainly has taken on a whole new life these last few years with the explosion of EDM and its attendant festival culture, DJing as we know it (the style of mixing two beat-oriented records together for a seamless dancing experience) goes back at least to the '70s, in the age of disco—though, one could easily argue that it reaches back farther still. The point is, over the past few decades DJing has firmly established itself as both a creative cultural force and a viable career path—not some fly-by-night whim to be scoffed at. In that spirit, we decided to take a look at the life cycle of a professional DJ, from year zero to well past year 20, to get a look at what can change throughout the decades and how to keep that career sustainable.
The 1996 film Vibrations is maybe one of the worst movies you'll ever see about the world of dance music. Its plot revolves around a guitarist who loses his hands in a car crash, only to find himself, after numerous twists, transformed into a leading figure on the US rave circuit when his new tech-whiz friends create robotic hands and tools for him to produce and perform electronic music. With James Marshall and Christina Applegate in the lead roles, Vibrations is the epitome of '90s cyberpunk hokeyness—but for its acting and writing, not necessarily its message. At its core, it aims to illustrate that when it comes to expressing yourself, particularly as a DJ, where there's a will, there's a way. In that spirit, today we look at a few DJs who have adapted their production and performance environs to suit their disabilities, proving that indeed anyone can DJ if you surmount a few obstacles and put your mind to it.
You’ve been killing it in small clubs everywhere—but now it’s time to step it up and play for thousands (okay, maybe hundreds) of people who may not know who you are, or are just out for a party. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for your first festival set and win over a ton of new fans.
Marc Houle is not a DJ—in fact, he'd be the first to tell you that he's never really learned how to mix beyond fading one track out and another in—but that doesn't mean he can't rock a club. His live show, which he brought to MUTEK's stage a few weeks back in Montreal, consists of little more than Ableton Live, a vocoder, and TK, but his piece de resistance is a special prototype controller made by Livid for a Minus Records tour a few years back. He gave us a look at how it works, and told us about his new album, in today's video interview.
Much like the impetus for Native Instruments to create Maschine and for Ableton to develop Push, Zurich-based artist Ander (just Ander) also wants electronic music to get out from behind the laptop. To do so, the tinkerer and composer made Station, a grid-based, LED-and-knob-driven, multi-unit controller that he runs with Ableton Live and Max for Live for maximum improvisational possibilities.
Wearable bass augmentation. Tactile bass experience devices. There’s a whole lot of names out there for this relatively new technology, but what it boils down to is the ability to experience music playback with club-like bass pressure—but without a set of huge speakers. Two new companies are bringing this tech to market right now, and it’s an exciting development in the DJ, production, and home-listening worlds, so today we’re going to show you what it is, how it works, and why it’s useful for DJs and producers.
Montreal’s MUTEK Festival (which partnered with the Elektra festival for this year’s EM15 presentation) is nothing if not inspiring. Whether through its scores of experimental A/Visions performances, its workshops with cutting-edge music-gear and software manufacturers, its star-packed panels and lectures, or its late-night gigs from dance music’s most respected names, there is much to get jazzed about. On our trip there last week, we caught a slew of performances, and, as is always the case, some really rose to the top. Here’s what inspired us the most.
This past weekend, the DJ TechTools crew headed to Montreal for the 15th edition of the city's MUTEK Festival. As part of the event, we got to sit down with Richie Hawtin in the Ableton Lounge to chat with him about his creative process. Check out the video interview after the jump, and take a rare peek inside Hawtin's studio and live setups.