So says Karim Morsy, CEO at Algoriddim, the company behind djay, the Mac-only DJ software. We quiz him further in this exclusive interview…
Mac users are a funny bunch. They like their apps and programs to be just-so: software for Mac users has to look right, and have a certain professional edge, while being simple to use and, well, just kind of elegant.
All of which pretty much perfectly describes djay, the DJing software for Mac that opens the world of DJing up to everyone with $49 to spare. No wonder the vinyl purists – with their difficult-to-use kit worth thousands – can’t help but scoff when they see it.
We’ll publish our review the software tomorrow, but meanwhile here’s the interview. I caught up with him at their base in Munich, and began by asking him to explain how djay came about:
“The first release of djay was actually free, and some colleagues and I and launched it while we were still at university, back in summer 2006. Demand was that strong that we quickly got engrossed in development and began charging for it. It all developed from there really – and here we are, four years later, with version 3 flying off the shelves.”
So Karim, it’s a crowded world out there with big names like Traktor and Virtual DJ carving up the market quite aggressively. Where does djay fit in?
“The thing with djay, the big thing, is the user interface. It’s simple and obvious. You see two turntables and a basic mixer – just like the purest form of real DJing. The turntables respond and react like real turntables, and look like them too. ‘It just works’ is a cliché but its true – that’s the brilliance of djay to us. Even from the very start, with the 1.0 version back in 1996, which to look at now is very different, that polished simplicity is still there.”
What are the unique features that mark djay out from the crowd?
“The user interface is the big one – it can’t be overstated how easy people find it to DJ with. But there are other features that mean it is different from other DJ software.For instance, there’s what we call auto-cut scratching. That’s our system whereby the software takes rhythmic patterns from the currently playing record and allows the user, just by using two fingers instead of one on the Mac trackpad, to perform scratches that sound professional.”
“Then there’s the fact that it works well with iTunes. You open the software, and the iTunes files, folders, playlists and smart playlists are just there. There’s no importing, setting up crates, synchronising, database searching… it just works. Also we’ve got really good auto-mix. By analysing the BPMs of tracks, the software will allow you to have the tunes mixed for you. This is useful for early doors, or times when the music needs to be mixed but doesn’t warrant a DJ stood there doing it. It basically takes the tunes you pick and mixes them like a professional DJ.”
So who actually uses it? What kind of DJ would be interested in these features?
“Our main goal is to make software of professional quality, but that’s usable by anyone. We have people who’ve never DJed before tweeting us to say how after half an hour they’re playing great DJ sets. But there are professionals who love it too, and who enthuse to us about how well it works for them.”
I’ve looked on your website at some of your users, and it’s apparent that as well as DJs, all kinds of other people have found uses for djay – from professional photographers providing soundtracks to DVDs, to composers and rappers…
“Yes, true. djay is designed to make DJing technology more approachable for everyone. I mean, for $49 you get a LOT of professional-sounding software here, stuff that were you to do it with hardware would cost thousands. It’s the real deal, as our professional users show.”
“But we feel we are introducing more people to DJing, people who otherwise might not have had a go. We see djay as the ‘gateway drug’ into DJing, but also as software that many types of professional can find much value in.”
So are many people using djay without even a hardware controller?
“Yes! While you can use it with the specially released Vestax controller, the Vestax Spin, the software has been designed to take full advantage of the Mac – with the aforementioned multi-gesture scratching, for instance. There’s also a whole range of keyboard layouts available form one of our partners, KB Covers, that turn just about any Mac laptop into a customised djay player.”
“Of course, it works with all popular controllers as well. Buy yes, many people just use it from the keyboard. It’s very flexible in that way.”
Having multiple decks on DJ software is all the rage at the moment. Are you guys planning on moving in that direction?
“We stay tight-lipped about our plans, so anything’s possible in the future!”
I noticed you also have an iPhone version. What’s that about?
“It’s not a version, more an iPhone remote control for the Mac version that works over WiFi. It allows you to head out into your crowd and scratch and mix from the phone.
“It’s great fun – like the rest of our software, people just seem to ‘get it’, which is great for us and show’s we’ve hopefully got a bright future with this software.”
Digital DJ tips publishes a full review of djay 3.0 tomorrow. What did you think of what Karim has to say? Is such software the saviour of modern DJing or destroying it? Have you used djay, and if so, how does it compare to other DJing solutions? Let us know in the comments.