The New DJ Revolution: mp3j's (and
You are a DJ but you don't have any bulky gear. You don't need to
drive to a gig, the subway/underground will do just fine. You also
don't need an assistant to carry milk crates of heavy vinyl. Everything
you need is in your pockets and the size of a cigarette pack. You
only have 2 iPods,
but together they
music to play for several months straight, 24-7, without a single
repeat. You are a mp3j.
the turntables are motionless. The only thing spinning
is a chorus of iPod hard drives, or the ceiling
(if you're friends
with the bartender).
The club's name is Dreambagsjaguarshoes
and the event is called noWax.
The concept for noWax is simple: MP3s,
not wax. iPods, not decks. On noWax nights, mp3js
bring their iPods and wait for the automated projector above the
DJ booth to flash their number. Then they plug-in and mix three
songs back-to-back against another mp3j. noWax is a public
competition very similar to Rap
Battles, a la Eminems movie 8
Mile. Whoever mixes the best set of songs and doesn't get
booed off stage wins. They continue to hold their place on the stage
until another mp3j can dethrone them. "People
who never normally get to play tunes in bars or clubs are getting
a taste of the glory, and they love it!"
says DJ Charlie Gower, co-organizer
is the latest instance of a new trend hitting clubs
and pubs around the world. It's called MP3Jing
called 'iPoding' by dorks)
and the reasons for its popularity are obvious.
compact size combined with its unbeatable user interface and sheer
mass of musical storage make it the default choice for digital music
heads around the globe. Apple has sold
millions of the little gadgets and people carry them around everywhere,
including the bars. "It's practically
insane when you think about it," says
Zak Carr, a recent iPod owner. "At
any given night, there could be a half a million songs in one room."
London's noWax isn't alone in embracing this
Clubs in New York City have also started iPod Nights
to lure in customers. The New York City venue, APT (pronounced
A-P-T), allows patrons to sign up by grabbing a ticket from
a deli dispenser and mix a couple songs off an iPod. The event
is hosted by two guys both named Andrew who pre-select a giant
playlist every week. It is best described as
a do it yourself jukebox/Karaoke
system for the crowd.
November 7th, 2003 @ noWax
The Crowds: Shoreditch for London's noWax.
Geek-chic at APT in New York's meat packing
district.The Shoreditch area in East London is full of media and
art based folk. It started as a place that just had artists studios
and then became pretty trendy, and now has lots of bars and young
companies. So if you have been to downtown Manhattan, picture a
Greenwich Village smack dab in the middle of East London. "Quite
a fashionable area!" says
would you rather go? East vs. West. Let
us know, especially if you've been there.
There's two ways to DJ with an iPod. The first is to go "pure
and set up with two iPods and a mixer. This method is less perfect
and more for the crowd's geek-fun of it all. The mp3j's doing all
the mixing are usually audience members like at noWax
or APT. The other way is to go "pro Pod."
People who actually get paid to DJ can hook their iPods to a laptop
and use programs like DJ
Studio or Final Scratch. They can then pretty
much pre-program the entire night, but that's no fun is it? You
might as well just turn on the jukebox.
Sure it sounds great, but MP3Jing has its drawbacks. Especially
for the professional DJ. Which would you rather pay money to watch:
a DJ sitting behind a laptop/iPod
pushing buttons, or the real deal spinning vinyl and rocking that
cross fader? Unfortunately with the MP3Jing method, gone is the
expert physical touch of a DJ and his vinyl. And some people feel
that it's just not the same. "I
paid $25 one night for some DJ I didn't even know. DJ MegaByte
or something stupid and computerized like that." says
Laura, a connoisseur
of New York City's 'house' music scene. "The bouncer
at the door said he was really popular, so we kind of felt a little
better. But then he was just up on stage with a computer. He probably
hit play on a CD and was checking his email or something all night."
The public is used to that familiar background hiss of a record
playing and the fancy finger work that goes into a "live"
DJ's show. They want the DJ to feed off their energy and have that
energy reflex in the music that is being mixed.
On the other hand MP3Jing
has plenty of advantages in its favor. For one, a professional DJ
could download a new tune from a friend, while at the DJ booth,
and play it minutes later. The digital immediacy of it all is a
very cool and a underused factor. Another great advantage is the
size vs storage aspect. The iPod is about the size of a tape cassette
and the 40GB iPod can hold 10,000 songs, or four-weeks
of music played continuously 24/7. That should be long enough
to DJ your next desert rave,
right? And if your goal is crowd participation, like with noWax,
then MP3Jing is the way to go. Everyone can just bring their own
iPod to the club and plug-n-play. Drunk
people and someone else's expensive turntables just don't mix. Especially
if they are yours.
TRICKS & WORKAROUNDS
a pitch adjuster on the iPod, you can't match two songs up exactly.
All your transitions are gonna be chunky DJ
Shadow style. That's not exactly bad, but your mix just won't
always have a nice easy flow.
Scratching - tap the center button of the iPod
and gently jog back a second or two to make the music pause. It
actually sounds more like a CD is skipping, but what are going
time new iPods or iPod firmware gets released, things get better.
But the improvements don't always have us DJs in mind. Maybe they
could make special iPod DJ firmware. Hey Apple, are you listening?
Add scratching. Press and hold the center button to activate a
touch pad "seeking mode" that could simulate scratching
an auto sensing BPM (beats per minute) feature in iTunes and/or
on the iPod. Or have CDDB
(CD Database) add this info to their online database. That way
DJs can better plan their sets by matching.
to this article:
Charlie Gower - Mr. Gower is a DJ, promoter and creative
consultant working out of London. He specializes in the field of
idea generation, brand representation and development. With the
help of cutting edge English based companies like Sense
Worldwide, Cake and Canoe, Mr. Gower has organized some of the
most successful club parties in town. His Tantramar night is quietly
hailed as one of the best underground nights in London. Always a
trendsetter, Mr. Gower with Raj Panjwani and Sense Worldwide launched
a new event thats taken London by storm. Their love for technology,
music, and the DJ craft helped inspire them to launch noWax.
thanks to the following people for their help:
article has been reported on by the following publications:
- iPods Take The Place Of Turntables For Some DJs
"...we are delighted
to see this article. It's great exposure for Apple."
- iPods and 'MP3Jing' profiled
News Network - The New DJ Revolution: mp3j's, (and
Minute - 'MP3Js' battle it out in London with iPods
Hacks - The MP3J Revolution
- Geek News: The New DJ Revolution: mp3j's (and iPods)
- La révolution mp3j
- The New DJ Revolution
for this article in the February 2004 issue of MUDDLE