Tag Archives: DJ

Build Your Own DJ Survival Kit

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Amy Pilcher, a music fan and digital marketing specialist at MediaVision. Read on for a practical list of ‘must haves’ for any aspiring or veteran DJ. Think she missed something? Let us know in the comment section!]

The stage manager gives you “the nod” and you know, it’s on. As you step out onto the platform, you try to steady your hands as the collective adrenaline of the crowd starts your heart racing. You’re a finely tuned setup machine and your gear is out and connected in under a minute. A moody pad begins to spread from the speakers and the crowd erupts with excitement. This is the moment you’ve been rehearsing for weeks, plotting the perfect curve for that jaw-shattering drop. The synths sing, the snare builds in intensity, the crowd is poised to explode and then… crickets.

It’s a nightmare that any DJ worth his or her salt will face at some point. Gear failure is simply part of the job. While there’s no spell you can weave to banish gear failure for all time, you can certainly be prepared for any eventuality, with this DJ survival kit. Once assembled, you’ll have what you need to deal with gear failure, connectivity issues at the venue and a host of other unimaginably unpleasant situations.

Backpack

Most DJs will have a “lucky pack”, which they swear carries with it some kind of mythical powers. If so, use it. If you’re looking to buy something new though, aim for a pack with as many separate compartments and external pockets as possible. You’ll quickly get to know where everything is stored, saving precious minutes during setup and pack up and in the case of technical failure. Also, choose a bright colour that will be easy to spot on a dark stage.

Flash drives

While carrying your music collection on flash drives is already common practice, you can keep a separate collection of “emergency” flash drives with the power to save your neck in a huge range of situations.

  • Pre-built sets:

There’s nothing worse than struggling to solve a technical issue, while an old, stale house playlist ruins the mood and starts turning people away from the dancefloor. With a few cleverly constructed emergency playlists, each loaded onto their own drive, you’ll be able to simply pop in the right drive and let the playlist do its work, while you attend to the issue. If you’re a working DJ, you no doubt already know what types of events you play most often, so simply build a playlist for each type of set. One for a late night club set, one for a wedding reception, one for a Sunday lounge gig, etc.

Use flash drives in different colours and be sure to label them regardless. It’s easy to forget which is which in an emergency.

  • Drivers and MIDI maps

If you’ve ever had to map your controllers from scratch while an audience stares at you, you’ll know how important this drive is. Include an updated set of drivers for your Traktor, Serato, Mixvibes, or any other software you use and don’t forget to include a text file containing your serial numbers. Remember to update this drive when if you make changes to your midi maps and ensure that you’re storing a copy of the most current drivers.

Adaptors

There’s nothing quite like the terrifying realisation that the event organisers have obviously just used your tech rider as a coffee coaster, and ignored its contents entirely. Purely because frantically running around asking members of the audience for a 1/8 to ¼ adapter really isn’t rock star, here are the adapters you need to pack in your survival kit.

  • 2 X 1/8” female to 1/4” male jack
  • 2 x RCA female to 1/4” male mono jack
  • 1 x 1/4” female jack to 1/8” male jack
  • 2pcs RCA female to female (for extending cables)
  • 1pc RCA female pair to 1/4” male stereo jack

DJ Adaptors

Spare Cables

While we all dream of a truly wireless future, we have yet to see a wireless technology that performing DJs would trust to replace the good old cables in their setup. Aside from the lovingly organised and immaculately rolled cables you take to every show, keep these spares, which should have you covered in almost any eventuality.

  • 1 x 1/8” male to 1/8” female cable (surprisingly handy in many situations)
  • 1 x 1/8” female to RCA pair male (great for plugging in phones and external sources)
  • Spare USB cable (no explanation required)

VJs, don’t forget these essential backups:

  • 1 x DVI to HDMI adapter
  • 1 x VGA to DVI adapter (again, you really don’t know)

Other Essentials

  • Energy Supplement

Whether you’ve been standing around waiting for your set to start, rushing between multiple gigs, or trying to stay pumped for that late night slot, be sure to have a few extra packs of your favourite energy supplement in reserve.

Remember, while energy drinks are great for an instant kick, their high sugar content mean that when they wear off, you’ll feel even more drained. Healthier alternatives include nuts and dried fruits, like raisins.

  • Spare headphone cups

If you have spare cups for your headphones, be sure to pack them in your survival kit. These come in handy when you least expect it.

  • Duct tape

As if we even needed to mention this. Duct tape fixes an incredible array of problems that you might encounter during setup for a live performance. The sound engineer probably has his own collection of duct tape, but don’t count on it.

Interview: DJ & Producer Ryan Farish

We’re fortunate that artists of all genres – from gospel to hip hop and blues to indie rock – choose TuneCore when they want to sell and get their music streamed online. The origins and popularization of the house music genre dates back over three decades ago, but anyone with a set of ears knows how much it (and its sub genres) has exploded over the past five years. Many DJs and producers have been able to gain a name for themselves quickly, but there are plenty who have been on their grind far longer.

Ryan Farish falls into the latter of those two. An electronic artist, producer and DJ, Ryan boasts multiple Top Ten Billboard charting albums, a co-writing/production credit on a GRAMMY-nominated song, and a growing number of song placements licensed for TV shows, films and commercials. With a combined 60+ million YouTube views and his critically acclaimed recent album, Spectrum, (released earlier this year via TuneCore), Ryan was kind enough to answer some questions about his background, influences, the industry, and the electronic/house genre.

What were some of your first introductions to dance and electronic music?

Ryan Farish: I first fell in love with electronic music in 2000 when I was introduced to it on a website called mp3.com. My first early influences were ATB, Paul van Dyk, Enigma and BT.

How old were you when you began producing? What drove you to embark on a career in music?

I began producing music professionally at the age of 24, but I had been recording music with tape decks and an old Korg 01/w keyboard for many years before that. I can remember writing my first song when I was 10.

You’ve been making music during a span of rapid change within the industry. How do you feel your genre was impacted by changes that took place during the mid-2000’s as an independent artist?

It’s been all uphill for electronic music. With all the technology and stores like iTunes, Beatport, Amazon Music, and then the rise of social media, it has allowed other genres besides just pop, rock, and mainstream music to be accessible to the world; and that has really allowed some great music and genres, as well as the sub genres of all kinds of music, to have a chance to be heard.

Tell us how the advancement of YouTube has affected your growth as an artist.

It has had a tremendous impact. Fans are able to share, and collaborate in a sense with their favorite artists, and this has been a wonderful experience for the music to reach as many people as possible. I am constantly blown away by the quality of the fan videos that are made for my songs, and these videos made by the fans play a huge role in helping spread the music.

What do you consider to be some advantages that young producers have in 2015 that may not have been available to you when you got started?

The technology and recording tools in the box, the computer, have come a long way, in terms of the sound quality of the software available such as soft synths, plugins and samplers, and more powerful computers which have become more affordable. With hard work, self education, and the heart for the music, there really is no limit to what you can create today, right at home.

Conversely, what are some of the challenges facing artists looking to break in 2015?

There is just so much music out there. This is why I am always encouraging up and coming artists and producers about the importance of creating your own unique sound.

How has a service like TuneCore played a role in your musical journey thus far?

TuneCore has been very valuable, for several reasons. TuneCore has allowed us to select which stores to send the releases to. Also, the user panel is very easy to navigate, and since we are a label with a lot of releases, it makes things simple for our office to calculate and distribute royalties.

As a multi-instrumentalist, what are some of your musical influences outside of the electronic genre?

The Pat Metheny Group, Coldplay, U2, and Empire of the Sun.

Ryan Farish studio

Tell us about what you were going for on Spectrum. How has it differed from past releases?

With Spectrum, I really came from a place of just creating for the sake of creating. Fearlessly pursuing the sounds, and emotions I felt and wanted to feel in the music. I think when we pursue music and art with this kind of authenticity; we are really able to tap into the full spectrum of who we are as artists. This is where the title for the album came from, and I believe this principle works in a similar way across many areas of our lives.

You’ve got some serious experience under your belt at this point. What major lessons have you learned when it comes to marketing a record like Spectrum that a younger Ryan Farish could have benefited from?

It’s really important to have a unified vision for an album, and a sound. It’s easy to explore many directions sonically, but it takes discipline to put together a solid musical vision. There is no substitute for this, and it’s really important starting out that you identify what you connect with the most musically, discover what you can contribute to music as a whole, not try to copy others, and try to stay focused on all that.

Got any advice for young producers who are in the midst of releasing their first album, EP or single?

Release it… and move on to the next. Your tenth song is most likely going to be better than your first song, so keep writing. I’ve worked in the studio for many years, with a lot of talented writers, artists and producers, and we have a saying, onto the next, when we finish a track.

I can remember back in 2008, after winning a Dove Award, and I celebrated with one of my co-writers of that song for about two hours, then we said… ‘Onto the next.’

Music is an ever evolving expression of life, which is why it’s so important to move onto the next track, the next idea… the next release. Keep moving, keep dreaming, and keep living the music. Being an artist isn’t something you do, it’s something you have to decide and commit to being, and live the music every day.

Gadgets We Like: djay for iPad

My dream of becoming a DJ…can now be a reality! With Algoriddim’s djay app for the iPad, you can discover your inner DJ or hone the skills you’ve already got. Load one song from your iPod library to each turntable deck showing on your screen. Then get to work mixing the two together – match their BPMs, scratch the tracks, and change EQ settings. If you like one particular string of chords you can set it to repeat. All done?  You can export the resulting track to a Mac or PC through iTunes file sharing.

Continue reading