* And their cats… It’s about this time of year when your family may start asking you what you want for Christmas. For a DJ this is often a minefield. What you really want is the latest and greatest piece of DJ kit (the impressive Numark NS 7II?), whereas in reality what you may end up with are a pair of comedy musical socks or a tie (who wears ties any more?) printed with tiny pictures of records.
How do you avoid those grimacing moments as you tentatively unwrap those presents? By kindly pointing your generous family in the direction of this page, of course! Time to leave your laptop open, scrolled down to the one that takes your fancy the most…
7 DJ Christmas Gift Ideas
1. Program Your 808 (artwork) by Rob Ricketts
All DJs no matter what their preferred style ought to have heard of the classic Roland TR-808 drum machine, prevalent in the 80s and responsible for spawning rigid but hypnotic drum patterns in electro, hip-hop, disco and early house music.
Rob Ricketts (a freelance graphic designer from Birmingham) has developed an enchanting series of high quality posters showing the basic drum patterns used in some of those era-defining tracks. If you want to add a touch of class to your studio or bedroom, then one of these will do the trick… who knows, it may inspire you to produce something yourself! I’m hoping there will be a TB-303 spin-off soon.
Priced at UK £12 per poster (A3 size) – unless you want the gold on black A2 poster (pictured) which is £40. You can purchase them directly here.
2. Personalised Playlist Cassette Print by Bettsy Ben
If drum machines aren’t your thing but you still want like the idea of adding some colour to the walls of your music space, then a piece of personalised artwork based on cassettes might appeal.
You might need to guide your gift-buying relative as to the artists and tracks to appear on the artwork; otherwise you could end up with their music choice or even worse what they think you listen to! Actually, in 1991, my Nan bought a white label import of a track I’d been after for ages for me – but she was definitely the exception to the rule!
So unless you share your current favourites on Spotify with your relatives, tread carefully with this gift idea: You provide 16 tracks and a playlist title for the print. Priced at £38, and available at notonthehighstreet.com. (If cassettes are your thing, then perhaps a cassette cookie cutter might be more your thing – priced at £9.50, these are also available from notonthehighstreet.com.)
3. Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession (book) by Joe Mansfield
Alright, so I’m a sucker for pictures of drum machines. If I had a coffee table (ideally a fancy Daft Punk designed disco table from Habitat) it would have this book on it. Full of glossy photos of drum machines and probably with some useful facts in there as well, it has been compiled and written by Joe Mansfield, with some considerable love and attention throughout, making it more than just a technical manual.
Of course, many families see books as a more informative and educational gift to give at Christmas, so this is a good way for everyone to be happy! It’s priced at US$49.50 from Stones Throw (release date is 3 December). You’ll need to hunt down the best price and supplier elsewhere in the world.
A neat music / noise making piece of kit for DJ/producers. Patchblocks are clickable and programmable blocks featuring two rotary encoders. They can be linked together to form your own modular synth. The cool thing is that you can define how each block behaves via a simple software interface.
They also can process incoming stereo input and have a stereo audio output too, which means you could hook a bunch of these together to create your own bespoke hardware FX console. You can back the project depending on your budget via Kickstarter. Of course, this means you probably won’t have anything to open under the Christmas tree if this was your present.
Interestingly, these were announced shortly before Korg unleashed their LittleBits project which effectively deconstructs their Monotron product into tiny pieces for you to piece together in a configuration to your desire. Earlier this month we also reported on a similar approach (Palette) for a DJ setup. Modular and micro are definitely popular at the moment.
5. Scratchpad for your cat
Here’s a good idea for cool catz. You can save your couch from being scratched to pieces while at the same time bringing out the turntablist in your cat with the Cat Scratchpad. (We particularly like the stickers on this one.) This cardboard record deck-shaped cat scratching mat comes flat packed, but once you’ve folded it together it assumes the familiar deck shape, with a tone arm and a top which spins as the lucky cat paws at it. It’s priced at €16.
6. FaderFox DJ44
Getting serious again, if you are a Traktor DJ or use Ableton in your set, then the brand new FaderFox DJ44 may well appeal. It is a sleek but well-equipped Midi controller (no built in soundcard) and is USB class compliant – so you could map it to iOS software like DJ Player, for instance.
The big interest for me with the DJ44 is how well constructed it seems to be and its careful design – it is built into a neat aluminium carry case, so no need for additional flight cases. This would be perfect for the DJ who has to carry their gear from gig to gig with limited space. In my dreams, I’d be flying off to play somewhere exotic with this, a USB hub and an iPad in a small overnight bag. Price €499.
(If this particular four-deck product isn’t your thing, FaderFox have discounted a number of their products recently. The UC3, DS3, DJ3 and DX3 are all now €169 each, so if you’ve always fancied one, now’s your chance.)
7. Your own record shop
Admittedly, unlikely any of us are going to get this for Christmas, but worth checking down the back of the sofa just in case. For £300,000 or thereabouts, you could own the oldest record shop (On The Beat Records) in central London. I fully appreciate the irony of a digital DJ website posting a recommendation to buy a vinyl record shop, but some of us come from a vinyl background and still cherish those days merrily picking through crates of records in similar shops.
I used to hit the record shops in Soho frequently in the early 90s and it’s a sad fate when one gets turned into a mobile phone or coffee shop. Maybe one of us will get lucky on the lottery? Price £300,000 (offers considered) via eBay.
What would you like for Christmas? Which piece of DJ gear would be top of your wishlist? Have you ever had any DJ related but dreadful presents? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.