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.
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.
Mad Zach just wrapped up a brief US tour and was kind enough to record a quick How I Play interview from behind the booth at his gig in Oakland, explaining how he uses his Midi Fighter Spectras, Twister, and Moogerfooger to perform a dynamic set. Watch the quick interview inside as well as a complete video of his hour-long set later that night.
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.
Producer/DJ Jake Stanczak has made a habit of changing things up over the years. Whether jumping coasts from New York to Los Angeles, migrating from Reason to Ableton Live as his main production tool, or producing across the bass-music gamut—from making drum & bass as Ewun to crafting more electro- and trap-infused tunes for Skrillex’s OWSLA label as Kill the Noise—Stanczak has all manner of tips and tricks for keeping things fresh. We tapped him for some pointers on how to boost your creativity and what you should really focus on in the studio.
Not only is UMEK (aka Uros Umek) one of Europe’s most prolific makers of techno and tech-house tracks—the Slovenian DJ/producer is also a machine when it comes to crafting sample packs for others to use in the studio. Loopmasters recently released UMEK’s newest sample collection, Loops From Behind the Iron Curtain—2.7 GB of loops, one-shots, and synth presets named after his renowned radio show—so we talked with him about his sampling philosophy and what it takes to build such a package.
Before he made the jump to Berlin, Toronto's Adam Marshall was already an integral player in Canada's hallowed techno and house scene. But in recent years, his popularity has only grown. With a packed touring schedule, a highly acclaimed studio partnership with Christian "XI" Andersen called Graze, and the 50th release of his New Kanada label, Marshall is the definition of an in-demand producer and DJ. Yet he still found time to drop an amazing podcast mix for XLR8R a couple weeks back, so we talked with him about his approach to mixing and how he put it all together.
Before his recent show at Mezzanine in San Francisco, Chicago house superstar Felix Da Housecat (who now splits his time between London and Atlanta) stopped in to the DJ TechTools studios. Throughout our chat, the man born Felix Stallings Jr. waxed philosophical on his musical upbringing, making classic tracks for future generations (despite the disposable nature of today's singles-based dance-music industry), and how he finally came around to digital DJing.