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Live performers how do you perform with DJs?

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:24 pm
by kennerb
I have been working with some DJs lately and have come up on the same situation almost every time.

I am not really much of a traditional DJ and haven't been for a while. I'm finding that most of the DJs I work with have an approach and style of workflow that works well for them but is hard to combine with my PA style.

I like to set things up somewhat ahead of time and then tweak elements on the fly. My DJ friends tend to start this way with me but then move into their standard mode of grabbing things out of the crate as the feeling hits. I then am constantly playing a game of catch up where as soon as I get things working and have it beatmatched they are off in another direction.

What are some of your thoughts or advice on working with this if this has been part of your experience?

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:29 pm
by v00d00ppl
i have two different modes of setup..if its an actual dj gig i treat my soundcard as if it were another mixing within the other two decks will be easier. I think of it as harmonizing.

now if you are trying to do a beat jam, just think of your soundcard as another turntable, but more focus is on live performance of the turntable. so you can even think of it as each turntable being an instrument and you just jamming out to them. its pretty abstract, but a lot of things can be done once you realize to look at bleton as it if it were another turntable that way you focus more on the mix and co ntrolling the mixer with more precision.

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:34 pm
by M. Bréqs
I've done this a few times, but mostly with turntablists rather than mix DJs. I don't bother playing with mix DJs anymore, they're too much of a pain in the butt (they want to treat YOUR music as just another track. Fnck that.)

Anyways, my advice: run the DJ's signal into Live. That is, I take the master outs from his mixer and run 'em into Live in a record enabled track.

If they balk at this option, tell them that this way you can record their mix seperate from yours, in case you fnck up (though they're more likely to trainwreck than a Live set). Arrogant DJ types will eat this up. If you get one of the 2% of DJs who aren't totally self-absorbed and still question why you want them to run into your signal (rather than you run into their mixer) then say that you're a stickler for quality, and you will only output XLR +4 db (or ADAT optical, or something else nice not featured on most DJ mixers). That should do the trick.

When they're running a signal into one of your channels, you can attenuate 'em, filter 'em, or otherwise cut 'em down.

When the DJ starts going where you don't want 'em to go, roll off all their low end and put in your own element. For instance, if the DJ is starting to go too robo-techno for your taste and you've prepped a nice jazzy break, then you can just trim him down to a narrow band in the midrange or something and he'll get the picture. You can always find SOME element in almost anything that they're playing that won't clash too harsh with what you're performing.

Also, make sure that they know that YOU are the master tempo. Demonstrate to them that there is no nudge feature on Live's tempo and they'll get it.

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:54 pm
by Needs2Know
ive always imagined myself just adding to the Dj's set. like ill be listening to a digweed set or whatever and will imagine me over there with my keyboards throwing down by just accenting the djs set. because there is only so much a mix Dj can do. i picture myself saying ok man, you just do what you do normally and ill just add to it ever so carefully. only thing is you have to anticipate breaks without knowing the djs records. so the sounds you make would all have to be "trigger" so you could stop any sound you are making in a split second by just letting go of the key or pad or peddal. if his record breaks, you're going to have to break with it or it will sound shity.

this would only work with minimal music because there is room for more sounds. try adding to a Hard House or Hard Trance record! wouldnt even try. they're maxed out.

records are pretty predictable most of the time i think my idea will work. but then what do i know? im still figuring all this stuff out!

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:59 pm
by Needs2Know
one more thought then im done,

I think the problem is who is going to lead the overall performance? are you going to take turns? all this would have to be delt with before hand. scratch djs are really flexible due to the fact they can scratch at any time really. mix djs are at the mercy of the record to a large degree. their skill comes with programming and eq-ing. thats it im done.

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:01 pm
by ChiDJ
I won't perform with anyone without rehearsal. If they refuse to work with you as a team - F*k em'!

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:15 pm
by M. Bréqs
ChiDJ wrote:I won't perform with anyone without rehearsal. If they refuse to work with you as a team - F*k em'!
Yeah, that's a lesson I learned a little too late...


Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:08 pm
by Tarekith
Wow, so negative :) I love playing with DJ's, and I've never had anything but a great time doing it. sometimes I sync manually, beatmatching Live to their records. Othertimes I use my Red Sound Microsync to do that for me, depends on the mixer.

As far as approach, I've tried them all, from just adding cool percussive elements, to switching back and forth. If it's you and your friends, loads of fun. Obviously if you and the DJ aren't seeing eye to eye and doing it for fun, not competition, then why bother? :)

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:19 am
by kennerb
Thanks for the responses.

Yeah it's the pratice to performance thing that hangs me up.

It seems like I practice with them and then when we go live they slip back into dj mode. It just seems like my dj friends have a hard time wrapping their head around planned performance. I try to meet them halfway for the sake of the show but it leaves me feeling a little schizophrenic