Your Questions: Returning To DJing & Struggling With Digital Gear

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Returning to DJing Struggling with digital
Last updated 3 August, 2017

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Returning to DJing after a break can be hard, especially with the huge changes that have happened in DJ gear, but really nothing's changed that much...
Returning to DJing after a break can be hard, especially with the huge changes that have happened in DJ gear, but really nothing’s changed that much…

Forum reader Frankie writes: “I am a house music DJ coming from the 90s era in NYC. I stopped for a while but I have been getting back into it pretty seriously again. When I left the scene the CDJ-1000s just came out… so I have had a lot of catching up to do with all the new gear and software to learn.

“Problem is I hate all the beatgridding or setting up my own Remix Sets. It kills all my inspiration and I lose interest pretty fast. The other thing that’s killing my interest is all this troubleshooting with DJ gear today and dealing with bugs. It’s like I need to be a software engineer or helpdesk support to DJ today and it’s taking all the fun out of things for me. Back in my days of vinyl and CDs I never planned a set and I still don’t ever plan a set. I get inspired and pick my first tune and then just get lost for hours creating the vibe and making the songs complement each other.

“Trying to come up with the best way to approach this new game since everything went digital and now electronic music is so mainstream… and having so many other DJs and artists to compete with is definitely a challenge.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Problem is also that there is no standard any more, Frankie, so it’s hard when you’re jumping back into the game to know what’s what, or what’s best. I think the key to getting past this for you is to realise that there are people DJing in all kinds of ways out there today, and all are valid.

Of the serious DJis out there, there are cratediggin’ vinyl dudes playing strictly on Technics, there are (still the majority of) DJs simply spinning from CDJs (maybe using USBs rather than CDs nowadays), there are DJs using all-in-one, simple digital DJ controllers and manually beatmatching (so the DJ controller is used to ape what they used to do on CDJs or vinyl, nothing more) and then there are the all-singing, all-dancing, all-out digital dudes blurring the lines between production and DJing and using stuff like Traktor and its Remix Decks and so on.

I have to be honest, I hate beatgridding etc. too. I learned to beatmatch manually, and I’m quite happy dealing with mixing “on the spot”, so I’m an example of someone who has a bit of a hybrid of old and new in how I use my digital gear. One truth about me, though is that I got myself a set-up and stuck with it, and that gave me back the security of knowing all the great things, limitations, quirks and idiosyncrasies of my own gear, just like I used to be with analogue. It also let me get back to what I really care about here: Music.

I suggest you take a deep breath, get over your teething troubles, get yourself a regular gig or two and start getting lost for hours again. Your experience from the past already puts you ahead of lots of people, so use it, don’t let it hold you back. And in good time, I am sure the rest will come as this great new world of digital opens itself up to you at a pace you dictate.

Did you come back to DJing after it all went digital? How did you cope? Got any tips to share with Frankie? Please feel free top join in in the comments.

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