The Dilemma of the Digital DJ

I am a music lover, and I like to say I’m one of a diverse range of styles. If I were to close my eyes and pick a few CDs at random I could end up with David Bowie, Portishead, John Mayall, Fiona Apple, Martha Reeves, Flying Lotus, My Bloody Valentine, John Coltrane, Public Enemy, Fred Everything, Pearl Jam… the list goes on; and that’s just the CD albums, then you add in all the nu-jazz, soul and funk that sits on the vinyl shelves, and the deep house and techno that now lives on the hard drive- although I’ll admit that am a fan of an actual physical thing which I can hold: I find it adds to the music listening experience, the building anticipation of the CD tray sliding back home, or the stylus making its way towards the first cut track…

While I love the aesthetic of vinyl, it’s not how I buy my house and techno anymore: I’ve become a convert to the digital download. While some of the purists may not approve, I am quite happy that my record boxes are now folders on a hard drive. I can choose the particular mix I want to buy, so my wallet is happier, and I don’t have to carry the weight of too many 180g pressings around in bags and boxes, so my spine is happier.

I will admit that learning to beatmatch oldskool takes a lot more practice than hitting the sync button in Traktor, but, to be honest, that doesn’t really bother me. You can make two arguments: the first is that technology has freed up djs to be more creative with their mixing allowing them to remix on the fly; the second, and the one to which I subscribe, is that as long as the tunes being played are good, do you really mind? I would rather listen to two great songs simply mixed back to back than three tracks that don’t fit the mood of the crowd perfectly remixed into some new song.

I suppose it depends on your point of view and what you want out of a dj set, do you want to be awed by inspirational mixing techniques and mash-ups, or do you just want to hear unadulterated versions of great songs back to back…?

This post first appeared as an article on the NowThenRecords website.

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