So, now I have the equipment I need to get started.
I have my 2 stanton turntables (belt driven) an old beat up mixer and new 2 channel DJ mixer a Numark M3….decent. I was lucky enough to find some records at a second hand shop along the way so I had everything I need to start scratching technically.
As you might imagine I didn’t find any hip-hop records in any of the second hand shops I had spotted, and I didn’t yet know of any record shops in town. I had to do the best I could by trying to make hip-hop music with disco, pop and rock records…which is how it was invented in the first place. I started digging in youtube for videos about turntablism starting with the basics with beat matching, dropping on the 1 and beat juggling. I won’t go into explaining these techniques as there is plenty of material out there to help get you started if you have an interest. I am particularly partial to DJ TLM’s tutorials. His share the knowledge series is invaluable to beginner DJ’s.
Now with some essential skills under my belt I started practicing mixing, beat juggling and scratching. Scratching, mixing and battle routines are what really fueled my interest. If I had to point to 1 track that inspired my to pick up turntablism it would have to be DJ Z-Trip’s mix of Biggie’s Hypnotize and Pink Floyd’s Young Lust, if you never heard it, check it out!
“oo-oo-oo-o-o-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooo I need a dirty woman….bom bom budda bom bom boom boom bap! oo-oo-oo-o-o-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooo I need a dirty girl-irl-irl-irl-irl”. That mixing, beat matching, and cutting (the fader) is perfection to me. That’s The style that inspired me to DJ.
My first couple of mixes were really nothing special as I wasn’t trying to make great mixes but rather practice the various techniques I had studied, from basic baby to flare scratches.
Before moving on to a digital set-up I really wanted to take the time and learn the craft from the basics up to modern technology. I really love and respect the craft of turntablism and have the utmost respect for all the forefathers that pioneered the culture. It was really offensive to me to see the current climate in 2015-16 where EDM DJ’s would be putting on elaborate performances with their hands in the air and not on the vinyl (or controller). My bet would be a lot of the DJ’s in that category really wouldn’t be able to perform anything impressive with simply a mixer, two turntables and 2 records. I didn’t want to fall in that category.
After spending a few months learning the basics on actual vinyl I finally caved in and picked up a beginner level controller, a Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2. I still didn’t have a laptop so I started playing with it hooked up to my desktop PC. It was very cool to finally start being able to scratch with my full music library, songs I hadn’t yet collected on vinyl, although by now I already had acquired a pretty impressive record collection.
With my knowledge and skills improving and my interest in turntablism only increasing I found myself now on the hunt for some proper turntables and keeping my eyes open for an affordable laptop to make my system portable. I had my sights set on getting a pair of Technics SL-1200 MK2’s - the classic turntables. My co-worker was also into the culture and got me a really sweet deal on an old beat-up pair for a really great price. Now I had everything I needed except a laptop which I blew my next bonus from work on, nothing too special, an old HP laptop/tablet with a touch screen and pen so I can draw right on the display (bonus for me as a traditional and digital artist). With all my equipment in place I have all the basic pieces to perform properly on both straight vinyl and digitally through my controller.
Although I can now perform with either vinyl or mp3’s I still cannot control mp3’s with my turntables, I need an interface such as a Rane SL (2-4) box or a new mixer with Serato or other Software compatibility built in. with my current setup I have my turntables patched into the phono lines of my mixer with the controller and any other audio into the Line channel, I can seamlessly transition between traditional vinyl and mp3, just can’t control the mp3s on my turntables yet…