Can we remix songs at home?

Let's be honest: do DJs really have to be able to mix?

(Shutterstock, Credits @ DisobeyArt)

I admit: It was a while ago, but in the vinyl era, perfect mixing was still considered a DJ's seal of quality. This seal of approval seems to have arrived in the digital age with controllers, autosync and streaming music with AI title suggestion systemsIndeedto be broken. Because on quite a few dance floors in the clubs, DJs are celebrated frenetically despite the lack of techniques ...

“There's not a problem that I can't fix 'cause I can do it in the mix” - In 1982 Indeep paid homage to the recorder who knew how to keep the crowd on the dance floor happy. If you think that the Technics SL-1200 MK2, which was launched a few years earlier, gave the starting signal for the songs to slide into one another, I would like to explain a little about DJ culture ...

As early as 1968, guests at the New York “Salvation II” experienced from their resident Francis Grasso what it means to be creative as a DJ. This not only refers to the fact that he invented the sliding felt mat under the record, i.e. slipmat, but also entered the hall-of-fame of the still quite young DJ culture as the first mixing DJ.

Mixing in the 1960s

I'm not talking about irrelevant fades that are yawning on the eight bars of the spartanly orchestrated intros and outros of a track. No, in his transitions he already mixed acapellas and breaks from various tracks with the vinyls, an early form of remix and also mash-up: A true master of the cut, with which elements of one track are sequentially cut into the other, was and is Grandmaster Flash . It was not unselfishly that he came up with the idea of ​​the crossfader.

In search of clues

Mixing has perfected itself over the past 50 years, starting with the longer, more mix-friendly tracks in a number of different versions, which took the DJ elite by storm as a maxi single on the full-sounding 12-inch vinyl. The evolution of work equipment, starting with more DJ-friendly turntables, later CD players, samplers, DJ controllers and software supported the growing creativity. But the resulting simplification of the craft is increasingly sabotaging credibility at the same time.

The listener, saturated with superfluous bells and whistles such as loops and samples and also overwhelmed by transitions that are tormented by the devil “I mix with four decks”, asks himself the question: Is this live, partially pre-produced or even a finished edit?

There is a lack of transparency in our skills! The lavishly filled digital library also encourages you to shoot tracks at the pack every second. A track builds up and you should let it sink in and allow the listeners time to hit the dance floor. Is this the evil that calls into question the need for mixing?

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Why do we mix?

Mixing is defined as the non-stop cross-fading of tracks at a constant tempo. It fulfills three functions:

  • keep the dance floor full without interruption
  • inconspicuously cheat new tracks that the audience does not yet know so that they do not flee at the first bar
  • define the style and creativity of a DJ

Even today, the first two arguments declare the need for mixing. On the other hand, the creativity of a DJ is increasingly taking a back seat due to the technical possibilities, but this is not to be equated with complete ignorance. After all, you can recognize a DJ not only by his choice of music, but also by his artistic processing of the tracks, which the audience understandably scrutinizes critically.

In the past it was considered a craftsmanship to play two tracks almost inaudibly longer than four phrases, i.e. 32 bars, without blunders, today it is child's play with the sync button. In addition, controllers have no wow and flutter and the drifting stabilization for DVS does its part. This is practicable for every app user at home.

With the simplification of the craft, the DJ in the club feels under-challenged, even bored, so that one prefers to use the time saved for the otherwise necessary beat-matching to initiate the mix more quickly or to increase the skill level at the transition. The ears of the guests do not always bear this burden, so that the crowd sometimes admires less and is more indignant for it. Because the tracks are in the foreground, not the mix!

Music Selector Vs. DJ

For this reason, more and more music selector evenings are enjoying great popularity in locations. Because compared to the DJ, the Music Selector stands specifically for its record selection and the playing of the tracks without having to lend a hand. This form of hanging up is the rebellion on the mix-scratch-cut race with the attitude: higher, faster, further!

What makes a good mix?

With the fade between two tracks, the DJ can establish his artistic status. A successful mix is ​​not defined by the length, but by how it sounds. Music style, groove, structure, position and key are the parameters to consider. Don't leave the mix to chance, but know exactly where and with what to get into a track and when to leave a track in order to finish the mix on the beat or breakdown.

Also give preference to the hard-hitting cut instead of an imposed soft aperture. In order to give your skills more credibility, you also do without fancy edits, sometimes put on originals again, so that everyone can immediately hear what you are doing artistically with the track. Don't kick every track out of the deck after a minute of play, but give it a chance to unfold. And don't be afraid to pitch-bend the jog wheel to keep the mix in phase. Because these small audible blemishes give your DJ art back the missing transparency and accompanying credibility, because it is played live. After all, one also assumes a band at their concert, if it sounds perfect, sometimes a full playback.

The mix on the siding?

Of course, with the mix as an elementary part of DJing, you have a safe party that can stall without it. But in the hierarchy of ingredients for a successful DJ set, the mix does not rank first. In the past, this was how the clubs celebrated the “non-mixing” DJ. Why? Because he knew how to inspire the crowd with his choice of music and the dramaturgical order of the tracks. After all, hardly any guest, with the exception of nerds with decadent DJ skills, will judge the evening solely on the mixing, but primarily on the music and the atmosphere.

Ultimately, the mix is ​​the icing on the cake as a measure of the quality of a DJ. It also turns out to be its unique selling point when it deserves the title "artistically valuable" in order to stand out from the countless, 08-15 mixed competitors.

So: I will always do it in the mix!

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