[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep3: Capital City DJ Olympics Postmortem

Ok, so that happened!

First, I want to say thanks for sticking with me as I blog about my entry into the Capital City DJ Olympics. This will be the last post on that topic. Returning readers may remember that 2 weeks ago I was freaking out about entering the DJ competition, and was scouring the internet for tutorials. Then, by last week, I had pretty much set up my Live Template for DJing, in preparation for my first DJ performance on 10/23/2011.


It went well, I think. I – along with the other DJs in the competition – owe some thanks to the guys at Boxcar Management for putting on a great event. Lots of people came out, and it was a great time.

Live footage of my set:

(SPOILER: the camera never turns away from the goofy looking DJ guy)

… and a recreation of the set on Mixcloud:

(I forgot to record the set at the event itself, but based on what I remembered about the set and the live footage I could recreate the set pretty well.)

Anyways, yeah. As promised, here’s this week’s tutorial, on warping tracks in a way that will make your DJ life more convenient:

See you next week! Leave some comments if you have any questions!

[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep2: My DJ setup

Welcome back! Clint, aka DJvsComputer, of Bachelor Machines here.

For those of you who are following along, we are in week 2 of the saga entitled “Clint Learns To Be a Laptop DJ OR ELSE” due to my impulsive and possibly insane entry into a local DJing competition despite my lack of any DJing experience.

As you may remember, last week I was frantically watching and rewatching DJ tutorials from Abletonlife.com. UPDATE: At this point I feel like I am ready to perform, the internet saved the day again! YAY CLOUD

I wanted to discuss my DJ setup a bit. I’m using a PC laptop and an Akai APC40 controller… I’ve taken on a lot of the points that Ryan from Abletonlife recommended, and I’ve also gone and created my own custom DJ FX rack for this performance. Check out the video below (18 min) to see how it all works:

One of the things I was particularly interested in was which of the two library tracks was the “good one” that I ended up using when things were rocking. The answer is: the one that groups tracks by type is the one I use exclusively. If I were recreating this set I wouldn’t even bother with sorting them by key. In my opinion, the best way to sort them would be by type and THEN by key.

On that topic, one of the things that was recommended in the Abletonlife tutorials was to assign these kind of goofy 1A, 2B signifiers for musical keys to the tracks instead of just saying what key they are in. Two points about that:

  • It is most DEFINITELY a useful thing to put clips’ keys into their clip names. It’s a huge help in making a great sounding mix.
  • I think that if I used a crutch like that 1a, 2b thing to relate keys together, my music theory professor would burst through the wall of my studio like Kool Aid Man, revoke my degree, and possibly end my life.

Music theory is fun, guys! It’s not that hard to understand what keys work well together.

Another thing that AbletonLife discusses which I took issue with was this notion of putting in a warp marker every 4 bars. That, friends, is crazy talk. I’ll go into more detail next week about how I warp tracks for DJing – I found a useful tip that will help you if you’re a DJ.

EDIT (10/27/2011): I reread this and I think I come off like I think you need to learn a ton of music theory to be a good DJ. I definitely don’t think that’s required. All I’m trying to say is, I think exploring a bit about the relationships between keys will help make more cohesive mixes and will be fun at the same time.

[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep1: Wherein I become a laptop DJ

Hi folks! This is Clint again, of Bachelor Machines.

Unlike previous Tutorial Thursdays, this week’s featured videos will not be of my own creation. I’m going to let the Internet tag in on this one because I am currently busy warping tracks, practicing sets, and having a nervous breakdown by turns.

About a month ago, my good friend DJ Rachael P talked me into submitting a demo for entry into a local event here in Lansing, MI, USA called the Capital City DJ Olympics, about which I made two assumptions:

  1. I would probably not get in, and if I *did* get in that meant that most of the people that were in it were at around my skill level.
  2. Since this thing is on Sunday nights, no one was going to be there.

Both of these assumptions turned out to be false. This is a HUGE event for Lansing. And the DJs are legit. Scarily legit:

DJ Lee JMore expert DJ

The guy on the left there is DJ Lee J, aka the house DJ for the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers. o_O

So here’s a thing: I’ve never DJ’d in a club in my life. My entire DJ life up to this point consists of one (1) work event wherein I played some background music while people ate dinner.

Here’s a picture of me going into cardiac arrest at the Capital City DJ Olympics:
Clint has heart attack.

So yeah. I’m not the teacher this week. This week, I have been watching stuff and learning things, specifically these DJ tutorials brought to us by Abletonlife.com:

How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 1: Setting Up Ableton And Preparing The Songs from Ryan on Vimeo.

How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 2: Working With Clips, Setting Up Effects, Blending Songs from Ryan on Vimeo.

Dear Ryan at abletonlife.com:
You are rad.

Next week might be more of the same kind of thing, we’ll see. I gotta get back to practicing if this whole “underdog success story” scenario I am hoping for is going to work out.