4 Reasons Why Theo Parrish Is Wrong About Laptop DJs

Theo Parrish Laptop DJing

'Get away from me with that laptop, charlatan!'. Theo Parrish doesn't have too much time for the new digital breed of DJ. Pic: Cut Loose club

There's an interesting interview with Theo Parrish on the Scion Audio Visual website, where he eloquently explains why he's continued to play on vinyl instead of embracing laptop DJing. He describes how, in his view, there's no way any laptop DJ can compete with "a guy who's been playing for years and knows his records," arguing that such a a DJ would "burn you every time." Kind of writes off digital DJing as a waste of time, doesn't it?

The video

First things first. I'd like you to watch the interview (it's only a few minutes long), and then come back to this page. (Note that you may have to turn off the host site's radio station by clicking the pause/play button top right before watching the video.)

Click the video to view it on the original site:

Theo Parrish Video

OK. Here at Digital DJ Tips, our manifesto is simple, and it's stated clearly at the top of this page: "How to DJ properly with portable digital DJ gear". The key is in that word: "Properly".

You see, as a DJ of 25 years, I found myself nodding vigorously at much of what Theo said, while ultimately disagreeing with his conclusions.

Why Theo Parrish is wrong

Theo's attitude is a good example of that you will come across from some vinyl DJs. He speaks of "tradition" and it is clear that he is also a passionate lover of music. He argues his case well, and is an engaging guy. But he's wrong. Here's why:

1. Theo thinks that the designers of digital DJ software have missed an important part of what it means to be a DJ
What, by allowing you to have as many records as you want in your "crate"? It's up to you how many tunes you constrain yourself to in your collection and in your DJ sets.

He's absolutely right that you HAVE to know your records well, and you HAVE to have a philosophy behind what you're doing. Plus, practise does indeed make perfect.

But once you have that, you control the software - not the other way around!

It's ridiculously easy to have playlist and setlists in digital DJing, and to tag your music so you have a collection of tunes you choose to know well and "take" with you to your gigs. Easy, easy, easy. We talked about it here: Why Packing a Good Box of Tunes is More Important Than Ever.

2. Theo thinks that you need to spend 5 years practising fitting things together, then the next 10 years practising programming music
He's right in that you need to know how to weave records into each other, and you also need both good musical knowledge and, crucially, the ability to fit that music together to say something.

With digital, you make the transitions in a different way, and some things take a second that used to take 6 months to learn - great, I say! You still have to learn to make your transitions sound good, whatever kit you're using. And as far as programming goes, you can spend a lifetime learning to programme music correctly. But you can play it on cassette decks, on iPods, on vinyl, on CD, and yes, on digital, and still curate a fantastic night.

The argument breaks down when you try and say that vinyl is intrinsically more suited to programming a great night's music than any other medium, or that you can't get to the point of being an expert in it via a digital route.

3. Theo thinks there's no performance in laptop performances
Personalities magnetise crowds, equipment doesn't. You can be boring behind any set-up, and equally you can be engaging and exciting.

Girl Talk

Girl Talk, whose performances transcend DJing entirely, is a great example of how performance and laptops can live quite happily together. Pic: DCist

If you're passionate about the music, you can't help but dance, you feel that music is a language and it's the best way you can express yourself, if you've immersed yourself in club culture, had dancefloor epiphanies, listened to and learned from the greats - if you've done all of these things, it is totally wrong to tell you that because you aren't using vinyl, you can't put in an exiciting performance.

Performing is about interaction with the crowd, programming (absolutely, Theo, agree) and engagement. It is about feeling at one with the dancefloor you're DJing to. If you can master your kit and your music so it can take you and your crowd on a journey together, you can play on anything you want.

Don't let vinyl jocks tell you otherwise. It's all DJing. And yes, it will still take you years to perfect it. And it's still there to be learned, for you just like it was for Theo.

4. Jimi Hendrix wasn't a DJ
Just sayin'. 😉

Why you should try to ignore this attitude

Theo Parrish is a passionate DJ who has earned the right to his view - he has nothing to prove. It is, moreover, a view shared by many vinyl DJs. You need to respect these guys: They know what they're doing with the tools they've got.

But that's just the point: There are more tools now. The cat's out of the bag. As Abraham Maslow said: "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

You've got a full toolkit! And as a new DJ you don't have to think you are inferior in any way to the vinyl DJs just because they have "tradition" on their side. Remember, there is nothing intrinsically better about vinyl.

You can benefit from all the plusses of digital DJing while still showing due respect to those who have come before you.

What's important as ever is to realise that the skills are mainly musical, not technological. More than anything, you have to know your tunes, engage with your crowds, and remember that yes, what you're doing IS a performance.

If you can do all these things, there's no reason why as a digital DJ you can't help take this club culture game we love so much to higher, more exciting levels over the coming years. Here at Digital DJ Tips we're right behind you!

What do you think of the points Theo makes in his video? Are you a vinyl DJ who agrees with him? Or do you think it's an outdated attitude? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Bon Bagay says:

    Theo Made some very interesting points. I wont say he is absolutely correct but i wont say he is absolutely incorrect. What I think it is is a Generation Gap. Just like when your parents hear you listening to your music and they criticize it by saying this is not music. When I grew up that was true music. lol we all heard it before. Its just the lack of communication between the generations. Theo is old fashion and this laptop scene now may seem very easy. But like he said u must know your music. And to say because you use a laptop you don't know your crates is a little bit on the stubborn old folks side. Yes a lot of laptop Dj's concentrate on beat matching. But as a DJ if u rock the crowd u doing your Job. Vinyl or not! And C'mon with setting your 2000 dollar laptop that on fire! Lol! I hope he does not start a horrible trend with that. Or Apples sales will drastically increase in then next couple of years. lol

  2. Bianca Diaz says:

    Recently, after viewing a couple pictures from a hot superclub here in Manila, I came across a photo with a DJ on-deck using a Torq Xponent and...a not-so-new VAIO. He is Patrick Hagenaar--a worldwide known DJ. I didn't know what to feel, but to be excited! Push on, digital DJs, this is the future of DJing.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Good to see DJs embacing controllerism... it's got to be the best way to bring your tunes AND kit from country to country with you :)

      • Bianca Diaz says:

        Yeah man, you said so. The greatest thing was when I saw him play at MinOfSound and he said so himself, "I always get great reactions as I don't think lots of professional dj's play with it, which makes it quite unique." So uplifting!

        • StrangeMatter says:

          What about Pete Tong rocking Wonderland @ Eden, Ibiza, every Friday with Traktor Pro and custom KX1s? I don't care who you are Theo, you're trying to tell me that Tongy's not a real DJ? Behave!

  3. Todd Oddity says:

    You know, I remember years ago when I switched over to CD’s from vinyl and heard the exact same argument over and over again – oh, that ‘machine’ tells you how much time is left in a track so you don’t actually ‘feel’ your music – oh, you’re just pushing buttons so you don’t ‘feel’ your music – blah, blah, blah...

    What people have to remember is that a big part of this business is showmanship, and as such dj’s will always be looking for a reason why they are better than another dj and should get booked instead. New technology makes an easy target to pick on, and until widely deployed, very easy to play the ‘cheaters’ or ‘us vs. them’ card. Once the new technology (in my example, CD decks) are widely accepted the tables turn and suddenly you aren’t a real dj * unless * you know how to use them.

    The simple fact is, in the end it’s all just chatter and trash-talking. Put on a wild show and you’ll get all the respect you deserve from the people that actually matter.

  4. It's different strokes for different folks. The problem with Theo's logic is that those "missing" things and skills one must learn are things that ANY DJ SHOULD KNOW.

    All the software did was rid us of heavy crates, add on some more creative elements, and make it so one didn't have to know beatmatching...which doesn't always work out anyway.

    I've said it over and over on message board and blog after the next, NO SOFTWARE WILL DO IT ALL. I use Torq even here at my office to make mixes when I have free time. I use the beatmatching, but it doesn't always go right. Yesterday I had a tune that was 1 beat off because the producer didn't make his track into perfect mathematical divisions.

    None of these programs will tweak the EQs and do the things I do to make a blend smooth.

    None of them will tell me what I should play next.

    None of them will tell me the crowd isn't feeling it and I should change it up.

    Theo also has the luxury of getting four hour sets where he can play anything he wants. I know digital saved my butt so many times when I was booked to play house or trance, but walked in and ended up having to play rap, pop, etc. I know in the days of vinyl or CDs, I would simply say I have none of that with me. With digital I can bring it all.

    Showmanship can happen, and it's not with "dramatic knob twists", but just with interaction. What needs to happen more is DJs need to be ALLOWED TO BE EXPRESSIVE. Too many venues, spots, and gigs in the club scene are locked into a DJ being a human jukebox. One can't drop a wondrous variety because they have a pack of girls asking for Katy Perry or the manager frowning that you're not playing Journey or something like that.

    I know from when I got into house music back in 1987 all the way up until 2002 the DJ was in control. Mainstream or Underground, he decided what happens and how it happens. Even from 1987 until 1995 most DJs at any event were given AT LEAST an hour to play, and were given freedom. Now we hear about "you are the opener, play deeper", or "stop playing that crap and stick with the hits", or "I booked you and 30 other DJs. You're each playing 30 minutes apiece." that no one can really be creative.

    This is why the scene is such a mess. Don't blame the technology. It's because DJs are so caged and restrained by "rules". It's why everything is about ADHD and "instant gratification". Why it seems a lot of the new music is just rehashing the hit records of the recent past. We've made things so much about numbers, money, heads through the door, etc...that we turned DJing into a machine thing. Just pop a quarter in and select songs.

    • As a younger DJ it might not seem fitting to claim that I feel what you are saying, but damn, you hit the nail on the head. It seems that the crowd is taking over - in fact, I am scared shitless for my first gigs in London (just moved) and I'm happy I now have Traktor Scratch on my side to a. fully express myself and b. please at every kind of event.

      I started playing (more collecting, really) vinyl when I was 15/16, that was roughly 5 years ago - exactly the time that the idea of DVS systems started becoming more and more popular.

      But now I saw Larry Heard in an East London basement and he simply tore the place apart by nothing but smooth mixing. Never even smiled or moved... Made me rethink the relationship between crowd and performer and more important, music and listener. In the end, I think Theo has a point because vinyl FORCES you to know, feel, and control your records back to back - I caught myself scrolling through beatport, buying tracks and sometimes playing them without having truly experienced their effect on a big system or in a packed club, or even in my own living room.

      I think I'm going to spend a bit more time with my trusty old vinyl before I start mastering Traktor. Get Traktor/SSL with a bunch of dicers and a monkey could play with vinyl, but I don't think that's what DJ's really aspire to be.. A jukebox monkey

      • Mr. Fingers never disappoints. :)

        I agree that DJs don't want to be a jukebox, but they are more and more being pushed there.

        I was a vinyl DJ as well up until the mid 2000s. I just think that digital hasn't removed anything in my eyes with it all.

        Key point though is that I think if more DJs were allowed to be more creative and not pressured into just "playing the hits", we would see way more creativity come out. I never see wedding DJs make comments like Theo's...and yet they are a massive chunk of this industry.

      • Amir_Alexander says:

        Great perspective Sova. Learning how to use all of the technology is the key. I applaud your attitude.

      • Sova.I really like what you said Quote"I think Theo has a point because vinyl FORCES you to know, feel, and control your records back to back – I caught myself scrolling through beatport, buying tracks and sometimes playing them without having truly experienced their effect on a big system or in a packed club, or even in my own living room. " I feel,there is a disconnect between the tracks people buy and the way one felt when they found that one hard to find track @ the record store,they've been looking for.Buying downloads just seems boring and clinical,imo.I remember when & where I was when I picked up that one great track digging for vinyl.

    • Amir_Alexander says:

      Yes D-Jam,
      this supports what I'm saying about the whole money based, instant gratification, lack of historical perspective situation we find ourselves in. It is perpetuated by ignorance and laziness. We must boycott the types of places you've written about. They stay open because the masses don't demand anything better. Leave them for the shit heads and return to the true underground. For the most part you will not find it in your average bar/club.
      If you really love the culture steal it back from the machine. Throw a quality party and go out of your way to talk to newbies in the scene. They need guidance and direction. (just like we did). If not, in ten years we'll have a bunch of ignorant people claiming to represent a dead art form..... and we'll only haqve ourselves to blame. It's time for the veterans to step up. Lokk how off track things are. Give back!

    • THis is totally true, so much constraints and restrictions these days, we can't just play in freedom and control the party, it's one of the main duties as a DJ, i thought at least

      • Thank you, Amir!

        And, D-Jam... Yes, I think it does all come down to a question of patience (on the audience's side). Nevertheless, this is a very dangerous argument because if you follow this 'instant gratification is for dumb masses' line of reasoning, a lot of DJ's will start saying 'oh, I'm good, sure enough, the audience just doesn't understand me'.

        I was a resident at a college bar for 3 years (one hell of an opportunity to practice and explore techniques), and some of my more purist friends refused to play anything but their own favorite IDM. Amazing stuff, but blank shots for a mixed crowd.

        How do we 'keep it real' yet prevent ourselves from getting too engrossed in our own style and forgetting about being able to please any audience? I mean I'm sure we've all had situations in which it was just extremely hard to express ourselves without messing up the vibe. Getting a bit offtopic, but it is still in line with the purist, old school,'hardcore' DJ'ing vs. the 'shortcut to mixing' digital crowdpleasing argument..

  5. Love Theo, but can't for the life of me figure out how my laptop is an impedance to knowing my tracks backwards and forwards.

    • Marshall Jefferson says:

      Who is the producer? Who are the writers? Who are the publishers? What is the label?

      If Sean Parker is to be believed and illegal downloads outnumber legal downloads 1000 to 1 then this information is all missing. We'll see the artist and the title of the track and that's it.

      Gone is the excitement and expectation of that latest Dennis Ferrer production because he's not the artist on it. Any innovative new labels will also get lost.

      Not to mention if you're lucky enough to get your mix placed on a legal radio station where publisher/writer information is mandatory (so the writers and artists can get paid) you'll have no idea.

      • Illegal downloads exist but the context is still there, at least I hope so! I still get excited about producers and labels regardless of the medium. I can't tell you how pumped I was when Omar S released the entire FXHE catalog digitally. Tracklists to podcasts/mixes are really valuable to me. I always want to listen to and learn about new artists. Discogs, resident advisor, myspace are all valuable tools to connect. For me, the context is the most important thing about music.

        • I dont illegally download. I buy mp3s. Vinyl is expensive. I'm broke.

        • Absolutely. I don't just stumble across tunes; if anything, technology has made it easier to keep track of (and yes, PURCHASE) what my favorite labels and artists are putting out, and because of social media, to find other sources that I might like as well.

  6. Oh bloody hell

    The same old story again and again.
    But this time the guy really thought about that what he said.

    Here are my thoughts

    1. First i want to say i am a geek - or even you can call me nerd. Yeah i don't mind - it's cool nowadays :)

    Back in the days there were some folks who loved to DJ with the stuff that was there - mostly vinyl or cdjs. Some of were also geeks and wanted to combine the two things they loved. So this is how digital DJing started. Final Scratch was developed for BeOS at first - you really need to love what you do if you program software for BeOS :)
    First Traktor Versions had no support for Windows! Only Linux and MacOS - so the people who developed the early versions of DJ software really had not the money thing in their heads!

    The only thing they did is (in the modern versions of their programs) to eliminate the learning process of beatmatching nearly completely.
    But DJing is way more than beatmatching or am i wrong on this one?

    So Theo - no they don't missed anything - they were DJs with a passion for music and DJing

    2. Well
    Software does in no way shorten this time you need to learn al the stuff you need to except for one thing - you don't need to learn how to beatmatch.
    So there are 4,5 years left for step one if you calculate like Phil 6 months for this.
    Everything else you need to learn.
    No difference at all

    There is no performance in laptop performances
    There is performance in vinyl perfomances

    So the difference here is NOT the DJ but the vinyl
    I think you need no DJ at all then
    Just throw a bunch of vinyl on the stage and the party goes on - try it Theo. We'll see how this will work out 😉

    The other ones say they can touch the music with vinyl. What? This is BS? You can touch a piece of plastic - like i do it when i touch my controller. It is in no way more realistic music or the "true" way to play music.
    It is different - completely agree on that one. But nothing more.

    4. Right Phil but he was a genious! A frickin musical genious! I love this guy AND i would love to burn my equipment at the end of a gig - i would do this EVERY time if i had the money to buy a new set of equipment for every gig - hell YEAH >)

    To come to an end - i played on vinyl for about 7 years. So i've learned all the stuff the traditional way, but digital is kick ass

  7. sameoldsong says:

    This guy is an excellent DJ and even better producer so I don't mind him having a bit of an attitude... (In principle, you have some valid points, though, Phil.)

    • Phil Morse says:

      It's not just Theo, whom I respect very much too. It's a whole swathe of DJs who think that just because the vinyl days & culture were as good as they were, there no room for innovation. I don't want the new breed of DJs who are genuinely interested in their inherited culture and want to learn "right" to think they need to spend 15 years doing exactly the same thing as DJs 20 years ago did... it's crazy to even begin to think that way nowadays.

  8. I'm new to the digital dj scene because the available technology never really fit what I wanted to do musically. I always figured I wasn't cut out for it, until the last year or so when these new technologies have begun to fit exactly what I was trying to acheive. Again, what I was trying to acheive musically.

    This topic is identical to the photography transition from film to digital. I mean how could you possibly be a photographer if you don't develop your own film? Technology reduces the things that don't matter (mechanics) and allows artists to focus on what does- expression.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Interesting. I actually transitioned like this: Nearly gave up DJing through boredom with the scene I was in. Discovered digital. Fell in love with the idea and the potential. Tried using all kinds of DJ controllers including Midi keyboards etc, nothing gave me anything substantial over what I could get from simple shortcut keys. Ended up programming my laptop keyboard to control Virtual DJ with all the shortcuts I wanted for my DJing - a completely custom mapping that I used in clubs etc for 5 whole years from then on. Only bought a DJ controller in the last 12 months, when one finally "felt" right and I felt I could achieve what I wanted to on an external piece of kit again. I bypassed DVS and CDs, going straight from vinyl to pure digital, yet my passion for music, programming and DJing has remained bright and true throughout.

      • Hey, Phil, here's an idea for a new post: describe the custom mapping you used for 5 years.

        I'm currently using mostly my keyboard as my controller for Traktor, I customized the mapping for the numeric pad, which is unused by default.

        I'm not entirely happy with it yet, but I'm lacking ideas on what I could do better.

        So: bring it on!

  9. Disclaimer: I'm going to keep it real

    Much respect to DJ's like him who have paved the way and mastered the craft but technology will always be around and it is going to change rapidly. DJ with your laptop, phone, whatever but do it with class and be great and no one can say a thing.


    My thing is with guys like him are if you're good with vinyl you'll be great with digital since you have the concept/skill of DJ'ing down already. The only reason that you think laptop DJ's are no good is because it's easier to get started. The barriers to entry are reduced. Well these DJs (myself included) still have to learn the same way you did when you started on vinyl two decades ago to be great as well.

    I could care less what anyone says about my kit. I'm doing it because I love it and why should I touch vinyl when labels don't even make them anymore? DVS is backwards thinking and exist because of tactile for previous generations of DJ's who started on vinyl BUT makes no sense to hold on.

    • Chris Argueta says:

      You said it perfectly.

      It's just that "Vinyl DJs" had it harder than someone starting out now. And "they" don't like it. It's that simple.

      I started out about 20 years ago with turntables and a mixer. I have collected over the years (and continue collecting) a large vinyl collection.

      I didn't throw my records, turntables and mixer away the day I bought my laptop and controller!

      My three turntable, custom made coffin and Bozak mixer is in my living room. My Denon DN-HC4500 and Rane MP 2016A are in the garage (for my mobile gigs).

      I don't consider myself a "Vinyl DJ" or a "Digital DJ".

      I'm just a DJ, who's been doing it longer. That's it.

  10. Bryan Singleton says:


  11. One word: dubplates.

    As a vinyl only DJ and producer for years, I had to deal with expensive, fragile and irreplaceable dubplates to play my own work.

    So get around that I had to go digital, and i never looked back.

    I paid my dues hauling record crates, waiting outside a record store for it to opne to get the *ONE* copy of a record my city would get in stock, breaking needles during a set, cleaning vinyl, marking it with cue point stickers to scratch.... BLAH!

    Going to Traktor had stepped up my own DJ game exponentially. Anyone still clinging to the "its not real" trope sounds like the same people who complained Bob Dylan went electric: dinosaurs.

    • Marshall Jefferson says:

      I hear you Biz. I resisted the move to CD's with everything I had for years because I've always felt (and still do) that the fidelity was lacking. Mp3's are even worse.

      But the wear and tear my irreplaceable classics were going through from weekly baggage claim soon changed my mind.

      Not wanting to lose fidelity, I took to remastering each and every song. I still believe that 16bits(CDs) is not enough to accurately represent a lot of musical works, but i can get close approximations a lot of times and sometimes make it sound even better than vinyl on certain systems.

      That said, DJ'ing to me is not only in the skillset, but in the natural ability to feel your crowd and what's going to move them from song to song.

  12. I had my share with vinyl too. And while i still beleive it's one of the best sources when it comes to quality, i could never be able to bring all that music with me. Why? because i actually started djing in nowdays! And i found my self in trouble the first time i went to friend's engagement to play music, and kept messing around all night trying to put my cd's in order while i could be doing something better on the decks, and enjoying it at the same time.
    The same way, i can't say to any of these guys starting today, "you should go through vinyls first". It's their time anyway, more than it is mine, and let's just don't forget, that as tech goes on and on, our rhythms and routine does the same.. That said, i don't think nowdays gives someone the luxury (time) to get involved with the vinyls and learn from it....
    Lastly, come on. If someone is in the vinyl, would stay on that. There is no room on his setup, even for a cd-player, right?

  13. Jaysfordays says:

    There is one thing I will admit... for some reason, whether it is my own brain or some unconscious way I learn, I have a hard time learning my laptop tracks backward and forward like I know my vinyl. It's weird! I think that it is because you amass a collection much slower buying vinyl piece by piece than buying/downloading tracks en mass from the interweb. You handle each piece of vinyl, look at it, think about it when you put it away etc every time you pull it out/put it away. You become really "in tune" with your collection. But the same can happen with your laptop music collection... it just takes time! I think that that is the most important thing about the interview. Before, if you couldn't beatmatch, you would be called out pronto and pulled off stage for trainwrecking. Thus if you hadn't spent some time learning the trade and finding music at the same time you had no chance. Now, because music is free, and beatmatching is for the most part taken care of for you, any joe blow can call himself a DJ once he has purchased the equipment and downloaded a bunch of music from the net. In the long run though these people need to learn some real skills or they will be called out too, and this takes practise!
    I will never get rid of my vinyl and, until it just isn't produced anymore, I will buy it too. I will always have a mixer that can just be a mixer. But I am excited about all the possibilities now with software and contollers (I really need a contoller that is a mixer too! please please some company do this properly!)! In the end it is all about the music and the people who love it and I hope Theo, as great as he is (and he truly is an epic producer/DJ), will give props to a laptop DJ who is loving what he is doing, keeping a flow and entertaining the crap out of music lovers on a dancefloor... even if he isn't burning his kit at the end!

    • Phil Morse says:

      Yup, taking the time for learning is key. I advocate having a weekly tune-discovery programme (ie a routine you always follow to locate and get your new music), and also doing a regular mix, whether for an online radio show, for your own pleasure or to distribute among your friends. These things - structured buying and the discipline of producing a mix (monthly, say) - will help you to get some basic skills of programming and mixing down, whether you're doing it analogue or digital, and whether you've got gigs or not. It will also help you to develop a critical ear for your own work.

    • Amir_Alexander says:


  14. "Berlin record store Hard Wax [June 22nd] posted two new releases from Theo Parrish for sale on its website.

    Sketches is an album-length release featuring eight new tracks. Limited to 150 copies and individually hand-painted, Hard Wax sold out of the 3×12″ in a matter of hours, despite a hefty price tag of 85 Euros. It was a similar story for new two-sided 12″ ‘Something’/'Invocation’, also hand-painted and limited to 150, and priced at 30 Euros.

    We have no idea whether these releases are exclusive to Hard Wax, or whether they’re simply the first to have stocked them. At the time of writing they’re unavailable from the other usual outlets (Dope Jams, Clone, etc)." Source: http://www.factmag.com/

    Let's face it: it's pretty usual, that DJs and producers who are going down the ladder are starting to blame and hate other things than their own lack of creativity.
    It's not important, Theo, on what you try to release your music - if it's good music. Sure. From collector's point of view hand painted releases might be something interesting and desirable. But from musical point of view - there's nothing new and revolutionary in your new tracks. So blaming either digital DJs or the market or anything else because you feel being an "endangered species" simply isn't fair.

    That's why I will be listening to what Sven Väth is saying to defend his love to vinyl in his 30 years career and why he won't be moving to digital any time soon... Because he isn't attacking anyone and he never tried to blame anything for his choices. That's what I call honesty. When someone's saying "I simply like it the way it is for me" without some theatrical gestures. And backing it up with some serious progress both in productions and selection of tunes during his DJ sets.
    Sorry Theo, but with all due respect - it's more than 5 years since you've made anything substantial for the music. Face it, think about it and either change it or live your legend without spilling ton of crap on everybody around.

    Even better. Have a chat with Ritchie Hawtin. He will politely explain to you what digital DJing is all about these days... 😉


    • just because theo's music is not your taste you shouldn't judge about the substantiality of his music. for many people, he's done (played & released) way more important stuff than ritchie these past years.

      i see you are more with the digital djs like ritchie - which is fine, it's your point of view.

      but just because you don't feel theo's music doesn't mean it is no good. it's quite opposite for me, for example.

      • Not really. You've clearly missed the point.
        I'm 31, started from vinyl, loving it and hating it at the same time.

        I haven't said that Theo never did anything important in music. I definitely agree that he did... Just not recently.

        When someone is releasing stuff which is nothing more than same old, worn off ideas, packing it in "collectors edition", upping the price and at the same time blaming either digital world or "state of clubbing" - it's pretty clear for me: he's fading away.

        Richie Hawtin example was put forward because I never heard him blaming anyone for anything. Same with Vath. While both of them are at an opposite "fronts" of the art of DJing they still can not only DJ together, but also be very firm about their philosophy of making and playing music.

        To put things short: it is extremely sad for me to see great "milestones" of modern music to fell so low, that they have to blame anything to defend their position.
        Great music can defend itself despite of genre, technology or any other "evil forces" you can imagine...

  15. i think Theo's been seeing the wrong laptop Djz..
    a lot of times the laptop djz that are out-there ruining it for us are the "force-riped" ones that just made his first 20 min mix

  16. PLUS! - Screw him for thinking that i dont know my music as well as he knows his..

    and question - wat happns when the audience requests a track that you left at home? or is he passed the point of taking request?

    • At some point you just don't take requests. What's more - people don't come to you to ask for anything.

      People come to the party for YOUR selection - knowing what kind of stuff you're playing.

      Gig in the club is not the wedding anyway...

    • And that was my point. Theo has the luxury of walking into an event and totally dictating what's played. He doesn't have to take requests.

      The rest of us aren't as fortunate.

      Not to mention that things like sampling and looping with hot cues can allow a DJ to play with music not known as "DJ friendly".

      • François Kevorkian says:

        I think you may have this wrong. Through his hard work and dedication, he has EARNED the luxury of dictating what's played, which is the very reason why he gets booked because he is an expert at certain things.

        While this "rest of us" you refer to are possibly still in dire need of learning the ropes, and to work their way up that ladder... so since he has taken years himself to get there, he may well be entitled to harbor the opinion that somehow someone taking all of the shortcuts made possible by all of this fancy new technology might be missing on the very essence of what differentiates a gifted musical story-teller from a knob-twiddler that could (and will, eventually) be replaced by any beat-matching algorithm.

        Even if the technology has proven how incredibly tantalizing some of the possible creative accomplishments can be, it should however be noted by anyone with enough historical perspective that there is a disturbing parallel between the crucial picture-perfect nature of what is possible today with these fancy software tools, and the eerie emptiness of ACTUAL MEANING that most of their users would appear to be able to create with them, when compared to the glorious recordings and emotional performances of yesteryear, which only involved extremely skilled human beings... yet these far more imperfect ones would seem to have managed to affect people (and continue to do so today) far, far more than a great majority of the endless wallpapers of here-today-gone-tomorrow musical continuity the new ones are generating now. Utterly forgettable but picture-perfect may not be such a great solution.

        The deeper question is not whether one is better than the other, rather is a majority of those who have adopted these new methods capable of generating the same emotional response from their audiences without having taken the time to grow themselves into learning how it truly works?

        Technology for its own sake might put sparkle in our eyes for a few moments when we first discover it, but it would appear that many are confusing this with the real skills and very special gifts that are needed in order to then truly use them in a inspired and memorable manner.

        In a similar fashion as to why there are a thousand skilled Jazz players with the most amazing saxophones today, which could only be a dream back in the 50's, it's really strange to note that someone like Charlie Parker with his $10 plastic sax still hasn't been bested by any of them. Not because of the technical side of the equipment used, but because of the incredible stories he told with it.

        I think that while these new trends are obviously fantastic for the software designers and gear manufacturers' business, it hasn't so far led us to an area of musical enlightenment, certain people people would argue quite the opposite, that it had made possible a new form of musical idiocracy, and allowed many who previously had no no business doing it to sound passable enough that they might fool people for a gig or two. In the long run, it may also mean that the audiences themselves are becoming accustomed to this dumbed-down presentation as the norm, and even though this is veering far from the original topic, it may also well be what many people such as Theo are experiencing, even if they do not quite know how to articulate it clearly.

      • an that's why you'll never get beyond the point where you take requests at wedding parties. you're a jukebox yourself without being aware of it. theo has never been a jukebox no matter under which circumstances. and that's the point: vinyl jocks are no jukeboxes. but most digital djs are.

        • I've actually only done one wedding in my life. My life as a DJ (since 1992) has been mainly in clubs and raves.

          My disdain now at the politics is mostly because in most places one would go and play, you're bombarded with requests. Bars, clubs, etc. It amazes me even when some trixie has the nerve to go make a stupid request to a big headliner.

          I'm in agreement with Theo on the creative portions of DJing, and no software can give someone that...but I'm also sharing how much of the DJ scene now is controlled by non-DJs. Promoters and managers who pressure on DJs to play the hits over playing creatively.

          I still believe if they would back off and let these guys do their thing natually, they could wow even a college frat party crowd and make them want more. The best DJs in my book are the ones who are given that freedom to play as they see fit.

          Even then that freedom will separate the skilled and talented folk from the rest. You give someone total freedom and they clear the floor, then you know he's not as good as the guy who can creatively make people get up and enjoy it all...especially when they're not deep in the whole scene.

          My beef with Theo's comments are the same as with anyone knocking digital. Going laptop doesn't mean you are devoid of the creative talent of DJing. If you're not playing well and sounding good, it's because of the person, not the tools.

    • Amir_Alexander says:

      Fuck a request. This is an art form! In an educated scene, the "Heads" know better than to make a request. What happened to going out to be exposed to incredible music you've never head before?

  17. The thing that annoys me about people defending vinyl DJing (and I'm one of them) is that no one asks the simple question: How many digital DJ's play lossless or mp3? You can say all you want about paying your dues and carrying your crates but the sound of an mp3 vs the original cd or vinyl on a proper system is discernible. It's the music that matters the most.

    • "...on a proper system is discernible"

      And for the handful of DJs playing in venues where the system is custom-built, tuned often, and designed for the style of music you are playing, yeah, you sure can tell.

      But for the vast majority of clubs, playing in venues where the system hasn't been touched since it was installed, where the system doubles for the Battle of the Bands on Wednesday night, and where the speakers are probably wired mono... you can't tell if it is vinyl, CD, or a 256kb MP3.

      This isn't the thread for it, but science (as opposed to vibe, feel, 'I know that...' or 'My mate told me') shows that the difference that so many people claim exists, just isn't there.

      One thing vinyl fans don't realise is that the 'awesome warm feel' they hear in that 12" they play every night, is from the grooves wearing flat. Every-time you play vinyl, you are destroying it.

      Not to mention your hearing is shot enough that you can't even hear the frequencies that you claim are there. Sure, at 15 you can hear those awesome highs on that brand-new pressing, but at 30, not only can't your ears hear the frequency, they no longer even exist on that pressing.

      Make all the claims you want, but don't expect anyone to listen to you unless you can back it up with fact.

  18. I absolutely love Theo Parrish tracks. That's a disclaimer.

    But I''m tired of hearing the same old story, over and over again. No one is forcing Theo to be a laptop DJ. He can still play (and afford) as much vinyl as he wants.

    To express such dismay about the choices of other DJs when it comes to their method is a reflection of insecurity and ego. Hands down.

    This argument has become an endless swinging dick competition. It's tired and offers nothing of value.

    Who cares or supports his argument? Other vinyl DJs. Us vs. Them.

    Notice I never mentioned anything about the music. If it was always "about the music" then this argument wouldn't exist.

    Think about it.

    • Amir_Alexander says:

      The music is a manifestation of the movement. Without the movement we wouldn't have the music. History is essential. It's about the preservation of an artistic culture.
      Look at the big picture.

      • Keep hanging on to your idealized notion of the culture. Whatever makes you feel better.

      • Amir, you keep mentioning history, but refuse to accept that vinyl DJs like Theo (and yourself) are not the start of DJing, but a few generations in.

        DJing started a long time ago. Two turntables, no speed/pitch-control, no slipmats, no mixing. Hell, there were no mixers. Then came the basic mixers. Then came mixers with EQ. And turntables with speed/pitch adjustment. Editing was still done with tape, and this wasn't that long ago.

        The DJing you are holding as such a relic, would be spat upon by the traditionalists of the past, while seen as a huge technological advancement by others.

        The movement, the culture, it has always been advancing, it always will.

        Dinosaurs who want it to stop at the point they are comfortable with, need to realise that it won't stop.

  19. future glue says:

    Well, I saw Theo last year at the MEG. He had such a buggy beginning, trainwreaking, feedback. Man, it was bad.

    He walked off stage & came back it was a bit better, but the mixing was nothing to write home about. after about 45 minutes I had enough and was too tired, so decided to leave, some say it got better afterwords. who knows.

    I personally find vinyl dj kinda boring these days (unless you're derrick may), they don't really do much, do they? (too busy beatmatching i guess)and the key clashing, ouch!

    On the other hand, I saw Seth Troxler last night at the Igloofest (killer set) and for his last song...he crashed traktor and was panicking on stage banging his sound card for 5 minutes;)

    "put on a damn vinyl!"

    Just gotta know your gear inside out I guess.

    oh yeah, me likes the jimi-hendrix-setting-a-laptop-on-fire-idea

  20. To each its own. A
    nd to think that a vinyl DJ can't or has not in their early days been a jukebox is totally false. Everyone is susceptible to that and it's up to you as the DJ to abide or deny to take them. I'm a digital DJ, and personally I try to take the minimal request because I've programmed my set and will not deviate unless I feel the need to. I'm your entertainer of the evening and you wouldn't ask Talib Kweli to perform a different song would you?

    The consumer has no idea or care what you're using to NOT ask you to play a record because you are using vinyl especially if you are using a DVS system. What really seperates you from the completely Digital DJ? Not much.

    If I asked my retired DJ friends who only "know" of vinyl they would tell that people surely did ask for requests. And they were by no means a wedding DJ.

  21. The point about not knowing your music when using a laptop is wrong IMO. I've found that having the waveforms in Traktor up on the screen help me remember the structure of my tunes better. When I'm browsing for something to play, I see the name of the song and have an instant image in my mind of the waveform. I beatmatch the old fashioned way, but there's so many drunk and pilled-up vinyl DJs up and down the land playing God-awful train wreck sets that auto sync can only be a good thing in my eyes. As far as Theo Parrish goes I really fail to see what all the fuss is about. His idea of Djing is dancing about like an idiot, with lots of brash EQing...whoopty doo!

    • Amir_Alexander says:

      My friend,
      Please don't be mistaken. Vinyl does not cause a person to train wreck. Inexperience can though. Every one can have a bad set. As for the Drunk and piled up vinyl jocks train wrecking, that's the promoters fault for booking a shit Dj. If you've heard a lot of this, maybe your scene is unhealthy. Low, or no quality standards are often the culprit.
      I'm struck by the contradiction in your comment. First you say that you are a traditional beat matcher. Then you say that the sync button is a good thing. It is not a good thing. It just fills the Dj. pool with a bunch of people who spend a little time reading a manual, and illegally pirating music who present themselves as Disc Jocks.

      • Manually beatmatching isn't some magical process.

      • Its just a misconception that there are loads more rubbish DJs around than there used to be. There have always been loads of rubbish DJs around... I'm just saying that technology can make them a little more bearable... As far as the manual beatmatching goes I still enjoy the physicality of DJing that way, and I just use two decks in traktor, as I think that a big part of being a DJ is still playing music more or less as it was made rather than deconstructing it completely. I wouldn't begrudge people the latter however and I don't think that the two are incompatible. I particularly find the idea of the Ableton-Serato bridge and the forthcoming loop decks in Traktor appealing in this regard, as it makes it easier to have the best of both worlds. I can beatmatch normally and throw in some synced loops now and then. Each to his own though as far as vinyl and digital technology goes.

        • I'm just pointing out how defensive you are about something so easy. To try and differentiate based on something fundamentally required for DJs is hysterical. Even sync has to be used properly. It's not an instant DJ button.

        • Phil Morse says:

          I agree.. If a computer algorithm can beatmatch in a split second, is it really such an artistic skill in the first place? No. It's important for all types of reasons, but it isn't what DJing is about.

  22. OldManVinyl says:

    Diclaimer: My whole 19+ years of mixing/DJing has been with vinyl. Im new to the controller scene and look forward to buying one realy soon (That NS6 looks like the winner).

    Theo is not entirely wrong in my opinion. This is my take.

    I bought a DVS a long time ago (the original- Final Skratch) and I thought, "Wow this is amazing" I can rock double copies of everything and never have to worry about my wax getting damaged and even better, I can download MP3's off the web for free!

    Thus, my MP3 collection grew and is now huge and still growing. Still, I didn't really ever use Final Skratch all that much. I actually had a hard time organizing music on my PC because I had so much of it and found the task daunting. I also noticed that with all the digital format music, I never got as acquianted with it as I did with vinyl..

    I think this lack of connection had to do with the amount of music I was gathering because it was so easy to thanks to the web. With vinyl,I'd go to the record store every week and pick up a few 12" singles where with the web I could be downloading 20 full albums a week + some singles.

    This is where I see Theo's point but think he didn't argue it well. You can't label a dj "a laptop dj" and assume he has no skills or doesn't know his music. In my case, I would say I became worse as a DJ in my first foray into the digital realm but thats my fault. I got worse because of the way I started to consume music. I started to treat music like it was disposable because I was going through it so fast. Always getting something new.

    As long as you slowdown, continue to listen, enjoy and get well acquianted with the music, you're going to be good. I dont think technology makes you good or bad, but I do think that the different user groups have some different tendencies.

  23. Amir_Alexander says:

    It seems like this is a forum for people to reassure each other that laptop dj's don't suck, and that if enough of you tell each other that it's ok. then it is ok. FAIL!
    You cat's are missing the point. If enthusiasts like the idea of being a Disc jock, but don't want to put in the work that's ok with me. Just don't call yourselves Dj's Call yourselves file clicker's. No one seems to give a shit about tradition. That's why shit is so fucked up. I guess that many clubbers these days just don't have the wisdom to know any better. Anyone who will tell you that things today are not completely fucked up is in it for the wrong reasons. (or completely ignorant)
    I've used cd.s and time coded discs and found them utterly boring. No fucking Challenge at all. Good music is good music.... and good music will move people. Don't mistake people reacting to the music to mean that you are on point as a Disc Jock. Yes, you may be a good enthusiast/selector with a hard drive full of the latest hits, but you people are killing the essence of the movement. Not everyone is cut out to be a true disc Jock. If you are unwilling to put in the work it takes to be proficient on all formats maybe being a Disc jock is not for you.
    I am not afraid of technology. I am afraid that kids who grew up hearing and seeing over payed former (meaning they sold vinyl out),disc jocks cut corners for over 10 years and have no real examples of how things should be. Excuses like_______ uses a laptop and is famous and makes lot of money, so why shouldnt I? I'll tell you why.... because this is a cultural movement, not a cash cow, a popularity contest, or an ego inflator.
    In truly underground scenes, we don't encounter this debate very often. I wonder why......
    Convenience and commercialism kill artistic movements. Those of you under 25, do yourselves a favor and atleast learn how to beat match on 1200's. You owe it to yourselves if you really love this music/culture. Also, please do some research and learn some history? You owe it to the movement as well. If not it will die with my generation because those who have no idea of the history will be unable to advance the culture. 65-75% of what's available to the average clubber is not it. The global scene is a watered down money/glory based adulteration of something beautiful and pure. This is what we vinyl "purists" are talking about. Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.

    • Amir_Alexander says:

      I've heard some really shitty Dj's play good music, and that's what I mean by the music moving people. Even when someone is presenting a horrible set people will still react to a good tune. Whether it's a laptop clicker with a sync button, an ipod on shuffle, or a jukebox.....
      There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Just keep your intentions pure and know your history. When this happens, the outcome will always be a good one.

    • TLDR cool story, bro.

      • Amir_Alexander says:

        that attitude is part of the problem. closed minds learn nothing.

        • I'm not closed minded actually. The poster is. It's all a bunch of blah blah "tradition" lerp derp "respect". Typical defensive and worthless commentary.

        • Amir_Alexander says:

          what are you doing to improve the culture my friend? also, how long have you been mixing? do you have any mixes posted? I have the skills to back up what I talk about. I am also active in trying to improve our culture. Do you have anything useful I might be able to take away from this? I really am trying to understand your thought process.

    • OldManVinyl says:

      When people pay somebody to DJ, do you think their priority is if the DJ cares for tradition and culture?

      I dont think so. First, its their name and ability to make money off it and a close second is the djs ability to rock a party.

      While im an old school guy who understands the importance of tradition and culture and who only uses 1200s to this day (until i get a controller) i dont think its something that is mandatory in order to be regarded as a dj but thats my opinion.

      just live and let live and try not to be a bitter elitist who frowns about newbies that didnt walk the path you did.

      • Even your logic is poor. You think: DJs who use a computer = someone who knows nothing. That's foolish.

      • Amir_Alexander says:

        That's why I don't support the money based system. I am an artist. A little money is fine but, that's not why I'm in it.

        • Phil Morse says:

          Amir, just because you've found coded vinyl and CDs boring (I agree, they are) doesn't mean you have to conclude that everyone else does or will, or that there's no artistry to be had from them.

          This is a controllerism forum, we support novel ways of composing and performing music, and CDs and timecoded vinyl are just way of hanging on to the old way of doing it is some aspects, not a way of really breaking free from it.

          You're confusing people's skills, integrity, intentions and even musical choice with the way they choose to play their music, and such generalisations are a little dangerous.

    • Amir, when you used CDJs and time-coded vinyl, were you playing the same set you usually do? If so, then yes, it might have been boring.

      Moving to the next step in DJing allows the last step to be simplified and opens up the next step. It allows you to start doing more, instead of doing the same thing in an easier fashion.

      If you learn a little about DJ history, you will see that the 'original' DJs had it hard. No pitch-control, no mixers, none of the fancy gear that came along later. None of the gear you, as a vinyl DJ, have. You have it easy, and they would be bored using your gear.

      Each step along the line with DJ gear is about making the old easy, and the new interesting. It is about innovation. It is about waking up and thinking "What can I do next?".

      DJing, like everything, is all about evolution. Those who fail to evolve will eventually die out, those who evolve will continue to survive. Forever.

  24. Sam Ben-David says:

    Great Post.

    And ok....I can see why Theo feels so strongly against DJ technology and laptops etc....

    1....its because he is from the old era that spent years and years learning and feels cheated by people who have spent less time learning via technology and are maybe more successful than he is.

    2.....Theo is 39 years old and...He is probably set in his ways and is not willing to adapt to new technology. He is like a parent who doesnt use Facebook.

    He really should adapt because....without adaption you become obsolete....

    If you adapt...you rule the world :-) Which is what we will be doing!!

    • He doesn't want to adapt. He doesn't have to, either. He has a choice and will do just fine DJing and producing the way he always has (and I hope he does). It's just unfortunate to hear him politicking about something so tired. Let it be. Bitching about it will do absolutely nothing but make you look like a jerk.

      • Amir_Alexander says:

        when did I say anything about a person who uses a computer knows nothing. Please copy and re-post it?
        You should really try hard not to assume that you know anything about me. I am really trying to have a constructive debate with you. For every point I make, you try to enter a personal attack.
        My logic is hella sound. It's based in reality not idealism. If it seems a bit too esoteric to you, that's fine. Just let it fly over your head.
        Put your energies into not being a shit laptop selector, then you'll have nothing to worry about.
        What's foolish is that you have no respect for the fact that for some, this is a cultural movement. If you don't get it. That's cool. Keep living and may you be fortunate in you endeavors.

        • I'm just criticizing your bias. If you can't reasonably deduce your arguments, that's not my problem. On top of that, you continually make assumptions which speaks volumes.

  25. Amir_Alexander says:

    one last thing..........
    It weakens your point about laptop "people" being engaging performers when you include a person "clowning themselves" kneeling on the stage in their underwear. That's not performing. That's buffoonery and or a distraction to make a boring set more interesting.

    • I already understand your thought process. I don't care how you feel about mine. But your bullshit assertion about "improving our culture" is laughable.

      • Amir_Alexander says:

        you don't know me, or what it is I do obviously...
        and sadly, you don't know my thought process. If you did you would understand what I am saying. Technology is fine with me. Learn it all is what I am saying. That and nothing more. Young Lady, I walk my talk. It is you who is laughable being that you really don't give a shit about the culture obviously. Go sniff your coke and listen toy your commercial music. You are lost beyond all hope.
        It's people like you who fuck shit up for people who really care about the movement. For your type, there is no movement. Only recreation, glory, and money.

        • Your thought process has been puked all over this post. It's really sad. You're so transparent, it's boring.

        • Phil Morse says:

          Amir, you're being as closed minded as you're accusing others of being. You can't and don't know anyone on here, and they can't and don't know you, so please let's stop generalising, take a breath, and accept we're different.

          By the way, I picked a really obvious example that DJing doesn't not have to be boring when someone uses a laptop. I am not advocating DJing in underwear as the great saviour of club culture! 😉

    • TO the crowd, you, as a vinyl DJ, appear no different to a CDJ user. Hands hovering over decks/turntables, moving headphones about a bit, and selecting new music.

      That is hardly a performance.

      Anything else you do is just there to keep people entertained. No whether you jump around, wave your hands about, jump on a table or wear silly/little clothing, it is all the same thing.

      Call it what you will, but you are doing the same thing that any other DJ does, be it live, digital, CD or vinyl - you are keeping those who are interested in looking at you, looking at you.

  26. The old-school/Luddite crowd are always running this line, and I can't help but feel it is a mix of 'fear of the new' and 'retro is cool' that helps keep it going.

    When I started out DJing, a local 'name' DJ was running the "CDJs aren't real DJing, vinyl is" line. A few years down the track, when almost every club had removed the tattered and trashed turntables, forcing him to use CDJs almost everywhere, he had changed the tune to "Digital DJing isn't real, it is cheating, CDs and vinyl is real DJing".

    Sadly the same DJ rarely changes his sets, they are all just minor variations of the same basic set he plays at every club.

    Innovation - now that is REAL DJing. And if digital allows DJs to push the innovation along, then it won't take long until that last nail gets hammered into the coffin of stale, 'one perfect set is all you need' vinyl DJs.

  27. A real jock can play with every format period....

    • Radomir Vuckovic says:

      Now this is finally a real good comment!
      I am a DJ for 20 years now and yes, I was carrying about 160 records in 2 bags (my spine knows it well), and yes I was travelling for 400 miles just to spend all of my money on 15 copies of vinyl and not food (because I live in a country when there was no record shop), and I own and use for 3 years now Vestax VCI 300 which is great all in one gear and I can play whatever I like with limitations which I put!!!
      The only thing which I can complain about is many tracks which I have to listen now before I buy it. It takes working hours.
      It was always about selection and skillz no matter what you use, vinyl, CD or mp3 - these are just tools. It's you heart and soul that makes a difference.

  28. Acid Pony CLub says:

    "there is nothing intrinsically better about vinyl"
    how about the way it sounds? how about that beautiful natural compression it gives to your sound? Isn't sound important to you?
    Sorry guys but the compression that mp3 applies to music is just terrible, although i know for a fact that a whole generation is now used to it and will now recognize this white noise enhanced sound as "the sound", just like we old fart recognize the crackling and the dynamic lose of vinyl as "the sound"
    And most important, how about history? What do you reckon is gonna stay from nowadays music when all our hard drives are rusty and unreadable?
    Yeah you got it, vinyl!
    Why do i feel like Theo Parrish and Moodymann who barely even appear on Beatport are gonna be remembered in 20 years from now when i can't even remember the people who where on the Beatport top10 last week?
    As a producer i can tell you that when my tracks come out on vinyl it's a day of joy and pride, when they come out on Beatport or some Digital Shop where you can't actually hear a track in it's full version (interesting point uh?) it's like "ok, yeah, whatever."
    As a deejay i play with CDs and Vinyl and i actually know how to use traktor.
    i am shocked by the number of Files Jockey who couldn't beat match 2 records if their life depended on it. Plus i am sorry guys, but you are just so annoying with your live re-cabling, and it never works, you need to reboot, and you are being a pain in my booth while i am trying to concentrate on building a set and making these people dance. Oh yeah, why don't you unplug the mixer while you're at it...
    I was a sound engineer when the whole digital deejay thing started and i can clearly remember one thing, Back then people would come with a crate of vinyls + their freshly bought Serato or Final scratch, (which would end up not working anyway) not only so they had a solution to provide music in case of a computer crash but mostly because they were trying to enhance their performance by adding digital to their pre-existing set-up. It should have stayed like that if you ask me, back when there was this feeling that digital was a helpful addition to an analog set up. just like CDJs. Not the ultimate replacement to make your life easier. How was making your life easier ever a part of any interesting creative concept? isn't music all about always pushing yourself out of your confort zone?

    Anyway i believe what i am trying to say is that there's used to be a way of discerning a wanker from a professional, digital blurred that line and it is a real danger for this thing all love : Music.

    Oh and by the way : WHO THE F*** ARE YOU TO TRY AND PROVE THEO PARRISH WRONG??????????
    Try and walk a mile in his shoes and you'll see, off course he is pissed, and i am too. producers have became Presets Jockey, deejays have no idea what they're playing. You guys should sit down for a minute and think about what you are doing and why you are doing it, maybe rest those arms you're still holding in the air from that last thing you called a gig.
    Just give me one minute of your time and ask yourself this very simple question "who is gonna become obsolete after his hard drive crash in front or 1000 fucked up people who wanna dance?"
    And if you wake up in sweat from a nightmare where that has just happened to you, i have a very simple solution for you. Sort those files, burn them onto CDs and learn how to actually play them. Off course it means a bit of work, but, yeah, this is how things are achieved...
    You see i don't hate you that much, i am even giving you a friendly solution to make your life not easier, but more enjoyable!

  29. The age old debate!

    Being of traditional stock at the age of 33 I learnt to mix on vinyl and that journey alone of mixing vinyl together is where you learn your tracks better than ever.

    I agree with both sides that a preformance no matter how delivered can be mind blowing however, vinyl jocks i would say in general think that software makes the age old job of beat-matching non existant as it's done for you.

    That alone is a sacrilege of 'proper' djing and the learning curve of that art should not be forgotten.

  30. Phil Morse says:

    Wow, this has turned into a long post. Can we all at least try and respect each other and be nice about things, that's the first thing.

    Secondly, the laptop is not responsible for the state of the global dance scene. Indeed, there IS no global dance scene, despite the web levelling things - there are as many myriad different cultures and subcultures as there are DJ's with a passion to promote and do their own thing, and long may that live on.

    As I said right at the beginning, I understand, respect and agree with Theo... up to the point where he blames all the ills of the world on the demise of vinyl (it's happened, get over it) and new technology (ditto).

    This site exists because digital offers a whole new set of ways to compose, interact with and perform music, and the beginner needs a modern, relevant guide through them. The irony about what Theo says ("software manufacturers are missing the point") is that this music is only made possible because of software manufacturers and their electronics. It is a digital scene from the first kick drum! It's how we harness and use the technology that counts.

    Our aim here is to teach tradition, to debate what's still important and what's changed, to celebrate the new and exciting while remembering where collectively we've all come from. Remember: "How to DJ properly using digital DJ gear".

    On the sound quality debate, youth movements aren't about fidelity. We stop worrying about sound when it sounds good enough to most of us. Punk wasn't built on 24-bit/96kHz and it changed the world. The Beatles recorded in mono for many years.

    Please understand I'm not being flippant, but the warm colorations of vinyl were an accident, not a design. It's a dead end because 99% of punters don't think about it in a whole lifetime of clubbing and dancing. See things how the public does, not how other DJs and producers do and you'll get this. 320kbps MP3 is acceptable, WAVs are perfect. That's really the end of the debate as far as I'm concerned. We need to get over this one.

    To Marshall Jefferson, I think you worry too much regarding people losing the context of the music they buy on Beatport or whatever. People follow labels, producers and scenes as much as ever in my experience. Indeed, in the absence of a friendly record shop guy recommending this or that to them, they cling to such information! I think people see past the title and artist, and are well aware of the producer etc. Just my view having interacted with many digital DJs on the subject of music discovery.

    While on the subject of Marshall Jefferson (and François Kevorkian) - respected musicians who've kindly added their experience to the debate we've been having - let me also make this observation: they have done so calmly and without abusing people they don't agree with, just as Theo Parrish did in the first place. I thank them for that. Nice people get success.

    Sadly often it seems that that in this and similar debates all across the web, it is the "old school" who start swearing and getting aggressive in defending their stances. It's not necessary, guys.

    Reminds me of the Monkees: "We're too busy singing, to put anybody down!" Frankly, the best jocks on all sides are too busy having fun, playing their tunes, buzzing from the feeling that they're creating something worthwhile, drunk on possibilities, to start bitter sideswiping. Look at what YOU'RE doing, not what everyone else is.

    Digital is a broad church and highly resistant to attack, because it's so damned vibrant and exciting, and it's where the new blood is. The good thing is this: the doors are open. I just hope more old schoolers see the possibilities and dive in. No, it's not all good, by any means. but it is exciting beyond what's reasonable, even for me with two decades of playing one record after another behind me!

    • are you aware of how techno is made since the 80's??? ROLAND TR909 rhythm box is analog!!!!! and its how everythimg started!!!

    • Acid Pony CLub says:

      "It is a digital scene from the first kick drum"
      have you ever heard of 2 drum machines made by roland called TR909 and TR808?
      they are pretty cool. no really. they also happen to have both their drum kicks being generated and processed by an awesome chain of analog circuitry.
      As it so happen they are very important in the history of electronic music.

      And to finish this post on a funny note let me tell you super funny story.
      Was playing in a very random city in china, brought a crate of some old hiphop records i wanted to play on the night and as i ask the resident dj if he can plug the actual output of the 1200 to the mixer he says very seriously "why didn't you bring some REAL vinyl instead?". at that very moment he was pointing at a serato timecode vinyl...
      your quest to education is gonna be a very long my friend, best of luck with that!

    • Marshall Jefferson says:

      Hi Phil, and thanks. I'm not worried about DJ's losing context
      of the music they buy-(I was just replying to Dave, who asked how) but I do have a slight concern about the DJ's that download it illegally-they lose all that information. It is however inevitable and although 99% of the posters on forums admit they don't do illegal downloads, somewhere 99.9% ARE illegally downloading music. I guess the posters on forums are the ones excluded from this club.

      I really hate getting into old-school vs new debates because it's pointless. There were different circumstances to deal with. And it would take an extreme effort for today's jock to duplicate what we went through.

      If all of the old school DJ's were to just start their careers today they would deal with the technology available just like everyone else. And still probably excel.

  31. frankie flowerz says:

    theo has many conservative views.
    but thats him. the only points i can agree with are
    1. knowing your records( but one can also know their cd's-so be fair-KNOW YOUR MUSIC)

    2. yes, the first few years are all about repertoire and lasting a whole night not just 1 hour; concentration in regards to beatmatching and just building up confidence and flow. then you can perform a strip show and burn your turntable after that;just make sure the vinyl isnt on it. that would be a shame.

    3. i assume theo thinks that digital djing is pushing knobs and sending text messages to the controller whilst having a drink at the bar.pushing knobs i agree, we vinyl dj's tweak knobs on the EQ's -ah well at least we all agree that knobs are our business.

    4.care for your sound-vinyl is great but not all vinyl sounds great -depends on the recording;thus good recordings also exist on CD's/WAV files.its proven that a one inch open reel tape sounds far more superior than any other format when the recording is good.

    besides, if everyone rejected progress; no-one would have invented the 808,909 and 707 or synthesizers;people would be probably smacking their friends to create new sounds..

    cut a long story short..put effort,passion and perform it as an artform; not a boxing match!-you cant go wrong.use the good sides of technology and discard what you dont like. BE HONEST with yourself. and bitch when you feel you need to:))

  32. Dj Phat Kid says:

    So I guess three of the best dj's in world using Serato is a bad thing? Dj Cashmoney, Dj Jazzy Jeff and Dj Scratch.

  33. Dj Phat Kid says:

    So I guess three of the best dj's in world using Serato is a bad thing? Dj Cashmoney, Dj Jazzy Jeff and Dj Scratch.

  34. At the risk of dragging this debate on longer than it needs to be I have a few more thoughts on this. I think some of the comments about artistry vis-a-vis vinyl miss the point. What Jeff Mills does is amazing. Is what Theo Parrish, Villalobos or Sven Vaeth do: beatmatching two record together, EQing and maybe using filters or isolators, inherently more technically skilled or artistic than what a DJ who uses Traktor or Ableton does? I think not. If were talking about turntablism a la Mills then a case can be made, but beatmatching two records together is not an especially difficult thing to do as other people have pointed out.

    The essential skill of DJing remains programming a set - creating a particular mood through the music that you play and the way that you play it. This involves an element of technical skill and experience of the ways in which people react to music. Technology can aid this process a great deal, such as through the use of looping cue points and effects, and the ability to organise music through playlists and automatically find the key of a song. These are all things that a digital DJ may take advantage of and are usually absent for the vinyl purist. This is where artistry comes into the equation. A skilled digital DJ may master his or her craft every bit as well as a turntablist, and will be more capable the more they practice. Using technology may allow you to take care of beatmatching, but it won’t provide what is really essential to DJing without the blood sweat and tears of practice and experience. It does however open up a greater array of possibilities. Remember, there is a world of difference between doing something and doing it well, and that this applies for both vinyl and digital.

    As far as using timecoded CDs or records goes, I don’t think it can be described as boring. Do the likes of Josh Wink and Steve Lawler play boring sets? Very much no. And with regards to the history and DJ culture debate I partly agree with the vinyl purists that something may well be lost from having lots of continuity and a small, close-knit scene. But, do people appreciate music less now that there is so much of it available? Perhaps in many cases the answer is yes, but there is now a vast community of forums and blogs, that stands apart from the file-sharers. 15/20 years ago could you go on Resident Advisor or Beatportal and read interviews with your favourite artists at the click of a button, and then chat with like minded people from the other side of the planet? Far from destroying the scene, the whole digital revolution has enhanced connoisseurship and appreciation of music in my eyes. I’m not restricted to buying whatever my local record store has in stock, and I can follow the artists whose music I buy in a way I never would have been able to in the past. This is something that is lost on the people who miss the old boy’s club of DJing with its system of patronage system – promos – and ‘jobs for the boys’.

    • wow, looks like i missed out on a fun debate, and some great viewpoints, its a shame people want to pollute the issue with mini arguments and people cant just accept there are advantages to both mediums, and restrictions.....and those are what make them able to sit side by side as different parts of an artistic spectrum, if people want to see vinyl dj's they will see them, and if people want to see more than syncing and loops they'll see the controllerists and digital scratchers...if they dont care about a performance and want to listen to good music they can go anywhere and not have great tunes wrecked by dodgy turntables needles and drunks bumping into them....If dj's are worried about sound quality, dj with flac or wav with traktor and audio8 or similar high end gear, spend time learning and mastering your own tracks to an appropriate volume and i defy you to tell the difference on a big system even with bass detailed dubstep or warm instrumentals jazz flute noodlyness, and with one bit recording technology the next logical step forward the gap between digital and the best analogue tape recordings gets smaller
      (http://www.korg.com/services/products/mr/Future_Proof_Recording_Explained.pdf)....Personally Im just having fun being able to mix and scratch with absolutely anything for the first time without paying a fortune and not having to tidy up afterwards..
      I love vinyl and its restrictions like a game with one set of rules, and the freedom of digital as another, and that I dont have to take a side on this debate as have the best of both worlds with what appears to be an unappreciated medium on here of DVS, and will be glad that i still have vinyl and decks when i have computer issues like the the last few weeks or someone wants me to play a vinyl only night...
      Its a shame that people, Theo included, seem to think less of my understanding of my collection just because its digital, and totally disagree, i had so much music on cd i'd accumulated and never had chance to understand and use the way i do now until I UPGRADED to digital...and now i can mess around with and re-edit stuff and play it immediately and re edit it again on the fly using cue points and scratching allowing me to do more than i ever could with vinyl only...using music from people like Leadbelly who I'd never find or afford on wax, and with freedom to scratch with it to death without worry about destroying a piece of musical history.... how is that a bad thing?
      Ive put my time in with vinyl and paid to carry 11kgs with me while travelling the world and think Ive earned the right to embrace digital as a big part of the future without feeling shunned by people i respect musically both for loving vinyl and for loving digital...
      But the thing that puzzles me most is that no one else has commented on Theo appearing to put vinyl onto a deck without slipmats at 3:56 into the vid 😉
      catch you soon....Penance 😉

  35. frankie flowerz says:

    @Penance- you wrote.."But the thing that puzzles me most is that no one else has commented on Theo appearing to put vinyl onto a deck without slipmats at 3:56 into the vid"

    look carefully , the slipmat is stuck under the record.sometimes it happens.
    static.its a vinyl dj's "phenomena"

  36. Why you should try to ignore this attitude??
    Because we have to sell out Dj gear... silly eh?

  37. First of all, Theo has his opinion, and I respect it but much of what he is saying seems to be born out of insecurity. Sure, it would be great if we could source all our tracks on vinyl and remain true to Jimmy Saville, Frankie Knuckles, Shiftee and Craze et al. But, outside of the US or UK, or unless you have your own press that is not going to be a reality. There are purists in every pursuit, activity, profession and hobby. Photographers still using film, artists and designers staying away from the digital canvas, even mountaineers climbing Everest without oxygen (endeavour in its purist form). Coupled with this predaliction towards the origins of any pursuit is resistance to change, and also fear of technological advances. Society is well known for a history of opposition to anything perceived as a risk, from coffee to microwave ovens to pesticides and nuclear power. Debate on some of these issues rages on, sections of society have embraced the risks as part of their normal lives. I think the old skool, the pure vinyl DJs believe they are the purists of the art, and that the technological explosion is both a challenge to them (the risk) and to the purist form and origins of playing records for others to dance to. But, surely they are approaching this in the wrong way. Surely its better to embrace the different approach, remain true to your methods and values and play records people like. As a vinyl DJ you have a great point of difference over CDs or Digital, you have true meaning in a historical context. If this is till relavent in the minds of the club goers then great, there will always be gigs for you. Digital music has many advantages, one being accessibility. More Djs are cropping up and in years to come its not just going to be the UK/US and a EU producing the superstars, its going to be truly global.

    • Phil Morse says:

      It's the global thing that excites me the most. If you can make and play music with a $250 laptop, that means people everywhere can do it. More talent = more great music and DJs.

  38. AntonioJohn says:

    Digital downloads cannot even be compared to vinyls because.. well.. they are digital! It's really like comparing oranges with apples. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, but you just cannot say digital is the same. Vinyl will always be a category on its own and it has its very distinctive sound that digital simply cannot recreate. In other words: digital may be cheap, practical, avant-garde, but it will always sound very different from vinyls. Also, in this article you present vinyls as old stuff that is soon going to die: this is very wrong since they will live way more than all these mp3, aac and other jungle of digital formats, simply because it's the only way to actually have an analog recording of a tune. Cheers!

    • Phil Morse says:

      Well if you look at it that way, you're absolutely right! If a tune isn't on vinyl or CD and only on digital formats, it doesn't really "exist". Thanks for contributing...

      • AntonioJohn says:

        Don't want to look like a complainer, but this still isn't the point, since there are some interesting digital-only releases (for e.g. the Kitsune Remixes Albums, available only in digital) and the new gold mine for selling singles is now iTunes.
        For me the best thing is to always keep in mind the radical difference between the two technologies: instead of thinking "vinyls will kill digital", it's better something like "vinyls will always co-exist to digital". To conlude these are my tips: 1)don't continue the flame "Analog vs Digital", 2)accept that these two worlds are different and 3) just get the best of both if possible 😉

        • Phil Morse says:

          One thing that's true is rarely do new technologies kill off old - they just alter the nature of what is done with the old. TV didn't kill radio, Kindle won't kill books, the web won't kill print. So you're right.

  39. The way i see it, if you want to be a pro, you have to be adaptive.
    If digital djing is what the market asks today, then let it be.
    If we 'll all have to use vinyl after a couple of years, then we should.
    And i would be happy for that, and so Phil, and many many others over here.
    But, this is a matter of taste, while being a pro, doesn't always meet that.

  40. Maybe in 10 years this conversation wont exist anymore, and everybody would embrace digital...but still, vinyl is so much nicer than cds and files :-)
    Just love to play them

  41. You would think that those who knock it would see the flaws in the argument... Technology brought us the phonograph of which morphed into Technics and mixers with effects... What if that technology never came along? I started learning hip hop production with FL Studio when everyone else had Tritons and MPCs. It was the same you need to get off the computer argument till folks like 9th Wonder won a grammy using it. I was told by someone somewhere that the first rule lf djaying is to respect all Djs, so I do. I grew with the birth of the scratch Dj, so I love to see it done that way... However, I think somewhere high up in the rules of Djing is "rock the the crowd." Try as I may I cant ever recall in the midst of grooving to a playing Djing saying hold up, what is he playing on...

  42. frankie flowerz says:

    for me the biggest "danger" in this whole mp3 generation is the conditioning of their ears to a medium which is horrible.
    i was out last weekend and was in a club in berlin -it was full, pretty decent audience but the soundsystem was so bad, limited and sounded like you were listening to an ipod-but it didnt bother most of the people;back in the days ( i am only glorifying the sound quality) this wasnt possible; people knew the sound;it seems as if a new generation has conformed without any resistance or even asking why and making comparisons-they dont seem to care about sound quality anymore.
    but i suppose not EVERYONE has fallen prey to this disease...

    • Phil Morse says:

      True, but the weakest link is always going to let sound quality down, and I suspect the state of the sound system is the biggest factor here, not the qaulity of the digital music.

  43. James Hamilton says:

    I can't be bothered to go into to much depth, but would like to say the following things:

    *What about the skill of beat matching? I know exactly what your going to say "Why limit yourself?". I do not see it like that, I LOVE it. It's a huge part of being a DJ for me, having music synced on a computer is not the same. (It's still not the same using traktor with sync switched off, plus how does anyone else know if you are or not?)

    *People don't steal as much vinyl as they do digital formats. (I could write endless paragraphs about this, but if you don't know why that is a good thing, I don't want to have a debate with you.)

    *You are right about no matter what format you use, it's down to you what music you play & you can play so so much more on digital. However there is so so soooo much more utter shit on digital. If something gets pressed, chances are people involved have taken more time and a lot more effort to get it out there. That tends to work as a type of quality control.

    *The same rings true for DJ's. If you put the time & effort into buying vinyl then it shows how dedicated you are. A single vinyl usually costs around £5-£10. If you pay that your really going to take your time deciding if it's worth your money or not. Once you've spent the money you want to get your money's worth, so you listen to every track on it over & over again & really, really get to know it. It get's boring after 10 listens? Probs not worth playing out then.

    *There is decades of music on vinyl that you will not find on digital. Some of the best music I've ever heard I found in old dusty record boxes in Oxfam/my Nans house/in a skip. That is how you dig through the "crates".

    *If you don't know the right people you can quite often get songs on vinyl before you can get it them via digital. On top of that record shops are a fantastic way to meet the right people. Record shopping is also great fun. It is sad to see them closing down all over the world.

    *Vinyl sounds better.

    At home I have 2 x 1210's, 2 x CDJ 1000's, Traktor Scratch, Ableton Live 8 & various Midi Controlling Devices. I have used the software a lot & will continue to do so, but I only play out with vinyl.

    With digital you might be able to have 4 decks perfectly synced with multiple effects and easy on the fly looping, but 9 times out of ten it sounds SHIT! That includes Richie Hawtin.

    I could go on & on about this, but I have a busy day.

    I've been djing since I was 12 years old & I'm now 24 years old.
    I may not have as many years experience as the person that wrote this article, but I know this:

    Music Is just personal opinion, nothing is set in stone. The vinyl vs digital argument is the same. There's pros & cons to both.

    I have my opinion & you have yours.

    Theo Parrish isn't wrong & your not wrong in what you say, but you was wrong to title the name of you thread: 4 Reasons Why Theo Parrish Is Wrong.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Some good points my friend. "how does anyone else know if you are [beatmatching] or not?" - point is, nobody cares except other DJs. We believe in beatmatching, too, nonetheless, as per the article we referenced above.

      However, having a decent hybrid set-up at home and limiting yourself to playing vinyl in public is curious to say the least. So you have to press your own compositions onto vinyl if you want to play them out? As you say though, each to their own.

      And of course the title of our article was provocative - look at the name of the website: this is a digital DJ magazine! Theo's original assertion that a vinyl jock will burn a laptop jock every time was equally provocative...

  44. One other thing, the little 5 or 6 year old who's going to be DJing 10 to 12 years from now, how will he satisfy this logic when vinyl is being phased out now?

    It's crazy to me to see people sit around with a house full, hell even pocket fulls of technological advances...everything from cordless house phones, to LED TVs, to smartphones, electic cars... you sit around with all that technology but expect DJing to sit and stay at 1982... You don't hear people say "oh that's not a rotary phone, you're not a real phone user..."

    The sad truth is that everyone wants the respect of their peers "IF" they are good at what they do... The lucky truth is that if you're good and you don't get that respect or nod from your peers, the love of a loyal crowd and income being generated from something you love is just as good.

  45. First of all, let me say that i'm not a newbie. I started out collecting,playing and later spinning on vinyl. But, I just feel this debate is so worn and tired, it borders on lunacy. For all these vinyl purists- get a grip! It's music, it's fun, we all take from it what we want or need, stop trying to make it some quasi religious experience or the I'm out to save the culture of djing kick. Some people do it for the love, others have different agendas and that is their right. Also, stop hating on the new kids they are using the new technology and doing what they feel, if they just wanna floss without real skill, they will be exposed or will just get bored and quit, if however they have the passion and dedication to further themselves they will. the dance music and dj scene has survived and will continue to survive no matter how many posers enter the scene. Lastly, IT DOESENT MAKE A DAMN DIFFERENCE WHAT YOU PLAY ON!!! A good dj is a good dj if he plays on a fisher-price toy turntable or a $3000 digital rig. Hell, I once rocked a new years eve party with one turntable. And I think someone else made this comment- Why are vinyl purists wasting time spewing venom on a digital dj site- I mean if it's such crap why bother. why not just go on vinyl sites and talk about the good old days and mind massage yourself into thinking you are the only true djs and you're out to save the culture. You people are truly sad and are really the ones destroying the scene with your negativity and one-way thinking. Stop being so elitist and insecure and embrace new technology and other peoples right to use it as they see fit.

  46. @langlang: Where is the "like" button? I need to press 10 times!!!! That's the spirit!

  47. Another heated one again Phil..!?

    But boring, boring, boring..

    Can't we all just get on with playing good music (with whichever platform) and entertaining our people..they don't care what we use..why do we!?

    I've said this before..you can teach a monkey to mix two pieces of music together. A proper DJ can deliver a good time, every time, no matter the audience. Through his experience, he's learnt how to play to the people in front of him. He can pick out a face in a crowd and play a track just for them, and then pick out another face and play a track just for them.

    Proper DJ's are willing to take risks with the music they play. They will stick on a track off an album that wasn't released in the charts, or a test pressing or unsigned recording. They know it is possible that someone in the audience might like it, or it could be someone's favorite song., it's just being brave enough to try make that connection with the listeners.

    Even if you are a genre specific DJ, the same applies. Know your music, and be brave enough to play new music.

    BPMs and BPM syncing are are the features that have neutralised the DJ's of today. No need to practice any more, or train your ear to pick out different elements in tracks. Just let the numbers do the mixing for you. I've seen some DJ's playing live not using headphones to cue..?? might as well stick on a BPM matched automix..what's the point of you being there, getting paid loads of money too!?? Disgrace.

    Change is good though. It keeps things fresh. Those of us who know what it takes to be great, keep being great!. Those that are recreating what it means to be great, keep recreating..! Everything has its time..

    • Charlie Mac says:


      "I’ve seen some DJ’s playing live not using headphones to cue..?? might as well stick on a BPM matched automix..what’s the point of you being there, getting paid loads of money too!?? Disgrace."

      have you ever seen Surgeon play? one of the best, and most consistent DJ's of the last 15 years. he has been at the top of his game and one of the most innovative DJ's/Producers during the same time! he doesnt use headphones because its all synched in Ableton, and why not? yet he will deliver incredible sets. His music taste is fantastic, his timing is impeccable and he takes risks! its not all about beatmatching two tracks together!

  48. What we're really hearing is Theo's own fears, about himself and his art. He is afraid the ghost of James Brown, or maybe Sharon Jones in the flesh will look at him and tell him he is not a real artist, since all he is doing is pressing buttons and moving sliders.
    It is all about the music. Whether you are Sharon Jones leading your Dap Kings into funky nirvana, or a vinyl DJ with no mixer hooked into a lamp post in the Bronx in 1979, or a digital jock with your whole set already sequenced but in full control of loops effects and additional sounds to drop in your Ableton work flow... it is all about the music.

  49. best of both says:

    Just throwing in my 2 cents.
    I don't think there is anything wrong with digital djing as a tool. I fully embrace progress in the technology of our scene. I learned on 1200s, and still prefer them and wax, but I enthusiastically use SSL, and CDJs (if they're available).
    The ONLY problem I see with digital, and I've seen it in person more than a few times, is the ease it gives new DJs who are trying to learn the ropes. Digital can give a false sense of skill and confidence to a new DJ, and that feeling is entirely dependent on what is ultimately un-dependable technology.
    I've got a buddy who is pretty well-off, and after regularly attending a small club night that I and some other friends put on, he decided he wanted to DJ too. So he bought Serato Itch and a controller, and put it in his basement. Then he upgraded to SSL and bought CDJs. Then he bought turntables. The best monitor speakers he could find. The most expensive headphones. Buys a TON of MP3s every week. All within months of starting. Now he can put a set together, all the while never breaking a stare from his computer screen to help him beatmatch.
    Next thing you know, he's shmoozed his way onto a flyer for a party. He can beatmatch okay, but his phrasing is TERRIBLE, his set energy is all over the place (absolutely no flow from one track to another), and he can't control volume levels.
    Then the unthinkable: his Macbook has a small hiccup, and Serato stalls on him midset.
    Any DJ worth their booking fee would be able to INSTANTLY switch to a different medium and keep the floor going, with a minimum of interruption. He, on the other hand, drowned. It gave him a heavy dose of reality.
    So that is what I see as the problem- without the learning curve that vinyl requires, the scene WILL see an influx of DJs who plain and simply don't have the experience required for a good night's performance. DJ's won't all be equipped to handle technological hiccups. They won't know their tracks as well, so their programming will suffer. They just won't have the experience and the feel for their equipment and the music they play out of that equipment that someone who has been practicing and practicing for years in their bedroom before trying to play out will have.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not talking about those who know their shit and make the switch to digital. For those, and I am most definitely in that category, it isn't hard to organize your music. It isn't a challenge to 'know' your tracks. If your computer decides to give you lemons, you probably brought a small bag of wax with you from which you can make lemonade. Also, for those who start out with digital and realize that it takes more than just pressing the sync button to make you a DJ, I salute and fully support you. Learn your tracks, learn your tracks, learn your tracks.

    But for the people who just up and decide the "DJing is cool! Wow, this software will beatmatch for me??? All I need to do is buy some cool tracks, press a button, and bask in the glory of Techno Music??? Awesome!" For THESE people, digital DJing is a crutch that can only result in sour notes for our scene

  50. There's nothing wrong with good digital DJing - the issue, as has been discussed, is that the ready availability of cheap DJ software has meant that many inexperienced DJs suddenly find they can beat match tunes with little or no effort, little realising that in fact beat matching two records is only a small component in the toolbox of skills they need to make a good DJ.

    I have been DJing for over 15 years and learned first of all on 1200s (of which I've owned 3 pairs over the years). The beat matching is trickier that way, sure, but once you know how to do it, it becomes second nature and leave you able to focus on other parts of the mix (tune selection, eq, etc). I now DJ almost exclusively with Ableton Live/Traktor and I embrace the new technology. I don't feel it takes anything away from the mix, rather adds to it as I have more time to concentrate on other parts of the mix, more time to interact with the dancefloor and create something people can relate to/dance to.

    In summary, vinyl is a great place to cut your DJing teeth, Digital can be too - either way it's going to be a lot of learning, a lot of practice and dedication before you're a decent DJ.


    • Yes, you're right of course. I think we've nailed that it was just the tone of the criticism from Theo that got ours and other digital DJs' backs up. DJing is NOT about equipment, it's a bout music - we can agree on that.

  51. Digital DJing brings a lot of power to the craft, but it must remain a craft. Look at the depth of Theo's musical vocabulary, what he had to put in to get what he has, and look at what most people are doing with laptops and the craft. This is his life. If he wasn't getting money, he would probably be like the hordes of old school DJs who did it for the love of music and community, not for money - still DJing.

    Good art is not necessarily going to be successful art, and successful art is not necessarily good. DJing is not a business. Business people have packaged it into a business, but before that, it was a part of urban community culture, and an important part. It was a lifestyle, something of true importance to the individual because success cheaply won is cheaply valued, and DJing historically has not been cheap. I know so many kids in my generation who buy some DJ package on Amazon for however much money, download hundreds of songs that are all culturally detached from reality and therefore irrelevant to real people (as all popular culture is), and they're fabulously successful and receive recognition. This irritates me as just someone who collects for pleasure, think about someone who lived through the early days of house music in a messed up city like Detroit where music and dance got people through the hardship of American urban life. Compare that to a 20-something know-nothing who expects to be paid for every set, whose musical knowledge and appreciation extend maybe to the mid-90's, and even then the worst of that era.

    In addition, DJing is not theatre. It is not entertainment for entertainment and diversion's sake. If I wanted self-absorbed contrived theatrics, I would go to a high school play. I want MUSIC, maybe even music I've never heard before. Girl Talk is a joke. When I was at university, he gave a performance, and spent the whole time jumping around, screaming into the microphone, and performing rhythmically destitute "remixes" of the worst most obnoxious irrelevant mainstream music of past eras. As a self-referential pop culture technician, sure, he's great, just like many in this new generation, but it's still unthoughtful and self-referential.

    I must admit, I have heard some very good laptop DJs, but often these are people who started on vinyls or cd-J's. I actually have yet to hear a good hip hop or house DJ under 30 who plays on a laptop, good meaning they have something relevant to say with their "collection." The cheapness of information in this era cheapens the psychological value of it, to the point where one actually needs to be acutely aware of the tendency for the technology to promote a lazy ear and lazy taste in order to counteract it. I will say that I have encountered a handful of vinyl DJs who take vinyl's superiority for granted, and expect credit for playing vinyl and not for playing good music. The overall issue is to what extent the new generation of DJs who have been raised with cheap information have any kind of musical integrity. It isn't a generational thing, either. The actual mainstream music of this new generation can barely objectively be called music.

    I plan to start DJing and producing, not be cool or make money, but as a life project to share with other passionate DJs and producers. I have a good career and a good future, I don't need the stress of a popularity contest. I want to do it honestly, for my own fulfillment, and maybe to eventually share with people when I feel I have something relevant to say. I have absolutely no reason to compromise it as a human expression, and I don't think anyone else should either. What made Larry Levan so great isn't that he always played what people wanted to hear. He played what was being created as it was being created, and after the initial shock of being exposed to new music, a new musical reality dawned and was disseminated, and everyone was the better for it. I can't say that there is anything like a Larry Levan among young mainstream DJs, and perhaps that is why mainstream pop culture is experiencing this positive feedback loop of playing dumbed-down degraded versions of American forms (hip hop, house) that have been around for decades, and why the people love it like they love fast food.

    • Well spoken.

    • Right on man. So true, so true

    • charlie bones says:

      hey N,
      perfectly said. these guys are all missing the point, music is ours and the frequencies are not present to engage the spirit with digital but people hear clean and loud and mistake that for meaning anything deep. if u can't feel it then u won't unless u have a dj and sound system show u the light. get at me we need to stay in touch. search the do!! you !!! radio show on ntslive.co.uk and send me a msg, i'd love to hear your music. peace

  52. Mikey Four says:

    I don't understand why Theo would be so down on laptops but still use CD's. Does he have a no burned CD's rule too, then?

    His point's are valid, about knowing your tracks, etc, without any mention of laptops.

    Sadly, I think he has confused the skills of a great DJ with the tools of a DJ and it makes him sound out of touch.

  53. There is one thing Theo Parrish and Moodymann have said about the new digital revolution. It is destroying the old independent labels that started this scene and creating new sounds. Some labels have shut down. Independent labels press a limited number of records and they can trace where the records have been sold and received full payment for each record and the money goes to the producer and the label. It keeps the show on the road. That was the way it use to happen and it is how dance music survived from the late 80's so you could get to hear it and love it in the year 2012. But now for example an artist releases a limited edition 500 copies on vinyl for his dedicated fans to certain loyal record stores, where the real fans of this artist go to buy his records. This use to give a record collector a sense of owning something special and was the reason why you started DJing. Now someone converts this limited edition vinyl into Mp3 and uploads the mp3 to a sharing website. This degrades the music for the real fan and it is disrespectful of the wishes of the producer. If he wanted to release this record to 1000's of people he would have done it in the first place and he loses money because his hard work is free for everyone to download.This destroys the independent labels and it is steal money from the producer who pushes the sound to new areas. It also closes independent records store. The very place where you could only buy house records many years ago.
    Djing use to be about searching through 1000's of records and waiting for that sound that moved you in some way and created an emotional response.You get to know a record store owner he gets to know the sound you like and hands you a few records that you might like and this would expand your mind to other sounds and you developed as a DJ and you gain your own unique taste and style. It was a long and slow process. Then you get you chance to share that music at a party say and you watch the response of people to a track they never heard before, they smile and you felt good that you could given that to someone else. This experience has been lost because there is no track that is unknown or rare anymore. Yes it is hard to believe but certain records were rare and hard to find. It wasn't something cheap, instantaneous and disposable that was part of popular culture. It use to be a underground music with independent labels and music in small dark clubs. House and techno had to be release by independent label because no one else would release it and didn't want to.
    There are label now releasing on mp3 format but most of them have lost there edge because they are crating to a larger market and they have to be popular to make money due to mp3 sharing. This sound is developing a watered down version of dance music and new Dj's are playing this sound, most of which sounds the same and is easy to mix because the beat patterns are very similar.The underground dance music scene wasn't about accessible it was about breaking new boundaries in beats and soundscapes. It had to be about cutting edge because it had to be something unique and separate to other music for it to stand out for people to search it out in small clubs and record stores it was a sub-culture form of music. It must continue to be a sub-culture form of music for it to survive. For producers to be allowed to be creative there must have freedom of expression. If large labels start controlling dance music they will influence producers to copy other records because that sold well last year and dance music will not be as it was it will become pop music. I have seen it slowly happen over these passed 20 years of listening, dancing and buy records.One last point sound quality. People use to only go to a club with the best sound system it was important to hear the music you loved through a high quality sound system. So why is dance music going backwards for high quality sound and deeper fuller bass-line on vinyl to compressed lower quality Mp3 is this really progression??

    • None of which is going to matter one drop to the 16-year-old mashing up beats on an iPad and producing amazing music in a way we simply couldn't do 25 years ago. Things change, and while I'm not disputing what you say, I am questioning whether things are necessarily so bad now. I think we've gained far more than we lost, and even if we hadn't, what's to do about it? You can't put cats back in bags.

  54. It's all true, if you approach digital djing with the old-mindset to learn it well.

    But you're leaving out the other side of digital: that software does allow to automatically do things for you when you might not know what you're doing. You can choose to take the easy or the hard route, with vinyl there's only the hard route.

    So with software a good artist/dj do a good performance, and a bad dj can still do a mediocre performance. With vinyl you automatically get more separation, because lack of skill there results in bad sounding mixes. So there is a higher threshold to the point where a vinyl dj can actually perform a decent set vs the entry-level of software djing.

    It's up to the driver, not the vehicle. But a semi-automated vehicle can allow a lot of unexperienced drives on the road earlier on.

  55. Jonathan Blake says:

    Amazing how this debate is always initiated by the vinylists gushing vitriol on the controllerists, not the other way round. Got a mobile Theo? Got a (non-DJ) laptop Theo? Got a digital camera Theo? Or, still using a ring-dial phone, a typewriter and sending your film spool to the lab for processing?
    Thought not.

  56. Cool write-up.

    Im right inbetween the digi-vinyl thing. Ive DJed for 16+ years & shop in record shops, dig & find my records in the same way as Theo & buy vinyl, only I rip them as 24bit wavs to play via Traktor using vinyl timecode because I like to use the editing features available to me.

    Personally, from a learning perspective, I think that any new DJ starting out on digital media will naturally, subconsciously or not, rely on the displays & information in front of them rather than use their ears in quite the same way as a DJ using vinyl would. I say this because its human nature. If its there, we look at it! I also know so many who are used to CDs etc actually struggle when using vinyl.

    I dont think there is a right/wrong way. Its each to their own. Ultimately, the punters dont know if its vinyl, CD or a laptop so long as you do your job right, but the one thing I totally agree with him on is sound quality. Too many people want to bang out poor quality mp3s in big systems & thats pretty amateur, in my opinion.

    The only thing vinyl has an advantage with is if you are ONLY mp3, wav or whatever, you miss out on a lot of music released earlier or as limited pressings if digital is the only way that you shop for your tunes.

  57. Parrish is right, Traktor and co slowly kills deejaying. Easy way is not always the good way: buy turntables and vinyls, spend a lot of time trying to make your mix just "not so bad", buy more vinyl, change your turntable and mixer for a better one, become crazy trying to find the "must-have but so rare" EP... That's the only way to be a DJ !

  58. Robert Wulfman says:

    The video link does not work anymore but you can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYkxs2ENOng

  59. Hilarious thread. "Even sync has to be used properly. It’s not an instant DJ button." Yeah it was really tough learning how to use the sync button, took me almost 5 seconds.

    I believe this is the point vinyl DJs are trying to make: Yes, there are good DJs/performers who use digital technology. And we're cool with that. What isn't cool is the influx of untalented and untested self-proclaimed 'DJs' who solely use the sync button in addition to their song selection consisting of the Beatport top 100. It's diluting the art (of both vinyl *and* digital DJing), diluting the music, and diluting the scene.

    When a DJ writes something shitting on digital, it's probably because all of the great digital DJs are overshadowed by all of the dudes at your local bar playing the dubstep charts on their laptops, pausing from their fistpumping every 5 minutes to change the track. And they get the privilege of being called a DJ. It's embarrassing.

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