“What’s the Laptop for?” “What software do you use?” Just a couple of the most common questions I get asked when touring. So let me give you a little insight to what my current preferred set up is in the DJ booth.
I don’t think I can ever let go of physical hardware, for me it’s important to feel like I’m performing and being able to touch and feel the equipment. In the same way if we replaced the steering wheel, pedals and controls in a car with a joy stick, buttons and a screen. Yes you could probably make it work, but the original controls were designed around our physical human body, so feels more natural utilising all our moving parts.
I feel the same in the DJ booth, I feel balanced in the middle, reaching from left to right to each deck as I mix the tracks with the mixer being the central point with real faders and knobs. Sorry, controllers just don’t do it for me, the decks are on a screen. I don’t want to have my head constantly planted in a laptop screen fiddling away on software to execute clever tricks that half the dance floor have no clue about, I need to be connected to the dance floor to enable me sense where to take my musical story.
I’d rather save the tricks for the studio, I find these things distractions and no fun for an audience watching a guy they’ve paid money to see DJ, staring at a screen.
Now you’re probably waiting for the contradiction to come as I explain what my Laptop is for? It’s basically a big storage device that’s LAN linked to the decks. A modern version of my record crate. The Pioneer CDJ’s read multiple formats: CD, USB, SD card and the LAN link I’ve just described (via Pioneer’s software Rekord box). I feel more organised looking at the playlists on the bigger screen of my Laptop. I can see all my sub groups of playlists at one glance, rather than scrolling up and down on the CDJ’s very small screens.
I can view all the tracks in each individual playlist along with track notes, colours and info as opposed to a ‘letter box’ view on the CDJ and the constant annoying scrolling up & down and repetitive menu hopping.
Whilst browsing for tracks, I can also load the tracks onto the CDJ from Rekord box on my laptop. I find it a very efficient way of working.
Having never settled with CDs and the tedious task of multiple burning and printing just to move one track, I find software amazing for organising music. It’s a simple case of drag n drop and add notes to the tracks as you go along. I know exactly where every track is, it’s vibe, energy levels and dynamics via my notes and complex tagging systems. When I naturally feel where to take a crowd musically, I can instantly view those tracks within seconds, rather than panicking watching the final 3 minutes tick away of the current track playing. When carrying around this enormous amount of music, I need efficient tools like this. Though I pride myself in having a photographic memory of all my music my laptop has truly become a turbo charged modern record crate.
– John ’00’ Fleming