We’re always telling you that to move forwards in DJing, you need to do something more than just playing one tune after another. At the same time, though, the whole idea of “getting into production” can be daunting and it’s no surprise that most DJs therefore, despite good intentions, put such a move off.. and off, and off.
Enter the re-edit. Simple. easy to do, and immediate, re-edits are gold for DJs who want to move past the basics, but aren’t ready for mashups, remixes or their own productions Today we’re going to give you five reason why…
What is an edit?
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to take an edit to be a new version of an existing track that you’ve made yourself using only the finished track as your starting material. That makes an edit (or re-edit – we’ll use the terms interchangeably) different from a mashup, as a mashup comprises parts of more than one track, and from a remix or production (both of these having extra parts added that didn’t exist in the original. They’re also often made from the original separate parts, or “stems”, rather than the finished recording).
Editing or re-editing is the rawest form of changing a track, and also one of the most common. Happily, on top of that it is one of the easiest to do – and that makes it a great starting point for DJs who want to move beyond on-the-fly loops and simple mixing and on to incorporating their own versions of songs into their DJ sets, where a little more time has gone into the planning of that version than just an on-the-fly live “remix”. So why do it at all?
- To make tracks mixable – Even though software can do loops for you to help you extend intros, outros or percussive middle sections to allow you to mix, there’s always the chance you’ll mess it up live. By re-editing the parts of a sing you like to mix into or out of, you can eliminate that risk. For certain types of music, where the “mixable” section is really short or doesn’t follow conventional bar structure and phrasing, this can be invaluable. It takes 10 minutes, max, when you get good at it!
- To shorten tracks – This is a good one for radio DJs and DJs that play in more commercial venues. Say there’s a track you really like that you think will work on your radio show or dancefloor, but it’s a six-minute long club version, and the label hasn’t released a shorter version or a radio mix. Well, you can do it. And re-editing the original seriously can, when you master it, be a case of 30 minutes’ work, at most
- To restructure your track – This is the closest you get to a “remix”. Don’t like the rap section? Think the chorus is too long or too short? Don’t like the poppy “middle eight” in an otherwise passable pop/club track? Wish the tune would get to the drop sooner? No problem – you can chop and change things to restructure the track using nothing more than simple editing skills on the version you don’t like, to turn it into something that you think will work best for your audience
- To “clean up” otherwise unusable version – Not all DJ controllers have a “censor” button (it’s like a slip mode that reverses the track till you take your hand off it, to “delete” swear words). What’s more, you’ve got to be on your game to catch every occurrence of swearing, every time you play a track full of it! So using editing, you can permanently omit any offensive parts of a track, the same way that radio does, without you having to find/buy the alternative radio version
- To expand your skills towards remixing and production – Doesn’t using different software sound cool? Doesn’t the idea of working on tracks away from the dancefloor give you a buzz? Doesn’t it all start to look suspiciously like production? Yup, that’s because it’s the first step. very soon you’ll find yourself incorporating bits of other tracks (great! you’re making mashups), then maybe using bought loops (wonderful, you’re remixing), or even adding your own basslines, vocal stabs etc (now you’re producing…). Do you think DJs turn into producers overnight? Nah, they start with nothing more complex than simple re-edits. You’ve got to start somewhere…
As Danny Tenaglia recently said: “If you’re a young DJ aspiring to get into the league of DJs that get to travel the world and are part of an agency, the best thing to do is to approach songs and do your own versions of them and then get the attention of the label.”
To get started, try using a program like Mixed In Key’s “Mashup” or the free “Audacity” DAW, or even just practise a routine with your favourite song on Serato, Traktor or whatever DJ software you use, and record it – next time you play the song, you use that version instead of the original. Get going – you have nothing to lose but the chains of the original version!
Have you started to edit tunes? How are you finding it? Any re-edits you’ve heard DJs playing that you love that you can’t find anywhere? Please share your thoughts in the comments!