The idea of DJing with stems – separate vocal, music and drum parts of a track – is coming of age right now. Powerful software can separate any tracks into these elements for you (Neural Mix Pro, Xtrax Stems), and DJ software can even do it for you in real time (djay Pro AI, Virtual DJ).
But while new technology like this is amazing and clearly opens up all kinds of possibilities, it can also be confusing: With so many potential things you can do now when mixing two songs with such a feature enables, what should you be trying?
One man who has kept himself at the front of technology as it has developed for DJs is Jazzy Jeff. From being an original turntablist pioneer, to putting his name to features in DJ controllers that help beginners get started in scratching, and now to stems, Jeff has always looked forward as a DJ.
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So when we saw him endorsing Algoriddim’s Neural Mix Pro app, we were keen to speak to him on this subject. In this video interview, Jeff reveals his three tips for using stems in DJing. It’s great info for DJs wondering what they should be doing with the stems features in their DJ software, or with standalone stems apps.
Jazzy Jeff’s 3 tips for DJing with stems
Here is a summary of the three tips Jeff talks us through in the video:
- Extracting hard-to-find acapellas – Some tracks just don’t have acapellas available anywhere, and so in the past if you wanted to DJ with them – tough. But now, you can instantly create an acapella of anything, and even do so on the fly. No more hanging around dodgy sites that your browser warns you to back out of, just in the hope of finding that elusive acapella!
- Creating never-before-heard instrumentals of tracks – Most DJs think of instrumentals as one half of a mashup: Get the instrumental of one track, and add something (usually an acapella) from another. But as you’ll hear Jeff discussing in the video, instrumentals can be beautiful things on their own, allowing the music to “breathe”
- Changing the feel of tracks by “replacing” the drums – With these apps, you can just as easily remove the drums from a track, giving you the chance to add in a drum track on another deck from a totally different track – whether that is a drum loop or a longer section. As Jeff discusses (he names an example) in the video, this can completely change the feel of a track, and works especially well if you use two well-known tracks
If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you do watch the video – Jeff gives lots of background and brings these ideas to life in the interview.
• Thanks to Jazzy Jeff for taking the time to talk to us about this. To find out more about what Jeff is up to and to follow his livestreams, go to his website.