Episode 036 – Mailbag

Today we answer some of your questions!

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Hey guys, loving the site. I was wondering if you can do a video on different mixing techniques. I am somewhat a beginner stuck in a rut with the same old blending routine. Do you guys have any tips to help me mix like they do in the mixtapes. Thanks.
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My question: For those of us who are spinning full time with residencies and out of town gigs here and there, what is the best way of going about the legal issues?

Is it best for me to actually establish my dj name as a “business”? How do dj’s go about taxes, write off’s etc..?

I imagine the big name djs are well aware of this process, but for us who are doing this as a living in our local and surrounding scenes, How do we do this?

I hope could share some info on this subject. Thanks again guys

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I have a bit of a head scratcher.  I have befriended a local DJ that does it full time here in __ and I am a little concerned.  On one hand, I want to learn all that I can, we both have the same equip (M5G’s, 57s, and Macbooks), so I could potentially learn a lot. But he always is trying to get my edits I get off crooklyn or dms.  He wanted all my rock and I gave it to him, you know, I didn’t want to say no due to the fact that I’ve never had a “friend DJ.”  Sounds gay but I think you know what I mean.  Well, I almost immediately regretted giving him all those tracks.  He has been giving all my tracks to his “idol” local DJ.  I have come to the conclusion that I’m done giving out tracks or even discussing them.  I DON’T want to sound like any other DJ or vice versa.  I mean, I know we are competitors, even though it isn’t said out loud, but it’s true.  I want to get gigs and so does he.  I know you guys are friends/roomates/whatever, so I was wondering if you had any insight?

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I’ve got thousands of mixes, remixes, and edits and I want to share them with the world. Of course, I don’t want to give em out for free, how can a DJ like myself get himself on a website such as crack4djs.com?

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I’m really loving your videos, great pointers.  What are some specific pointers you could give me about a college crowd, and what you think is different.   For me I feel like I have to play some more girly pop like party in the usa like right after peak time.   Anything would be greatly appreciated.

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what advice can u give other than practice 2 set me apart from the “general” club dj all djs in my town only play top40

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First, I’ve been editing and remixing on ableton for a little over a year now and a problem I keep running into is when I create the break before the track starts the samples tend to peek my levels. I turn the vol down on the sample but I can only turn it down so much before it sounds too low so I’ll turn the master down but then the track is significantly lower that other tracks I spin with. I know compression has something to do with it but not sure and if so where do I set my levels??

Second, I’ve managed to get by ok with using the actual instrumental to the original track when creating a party break but how do I redrum a track?? I’ve tried to lay a drum loop over the original track but when I do I peek the hell out of my master volume and it sounds like I’m mixing two tracks live and sounds like shit.

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If you have a question Leave a comment or email us at remixreport@gmail.com

2 comments

  1. Spring touched on a VERY IMPORTANT key issue: You as a DJ in this technological driven world today do sometimes question if up and coming DJs using the same technology will easily be able to compete with you. (His example, I believe was with Serato)Not because you think they will surpass you in expierience, because obviously if they are just starting out, thier skill level is not on your level of skill yet. Its the problem with the “Made for home DJ gear” these companies have been putting out in the past 5 years or so. These DJ gear companies target and sloganize the DJ market with “Now anybody can be a DJ” “The gear does everything for you, all you have to do is put it on.” These are some advertising techniques they use in order to cash in on a wider range of people in the DIY DJ market. And you know, Im fine with DJs starting out with what ever they can afford, being able to have access to a plethora of DJ Gear, however if you take these companies “catch phrases” to heart” and rely soley on having a machine do “all” of the work for you, then there is no “You” or “Your Creativity” within your DJ sets when it comes to your crossfade techniques or any automation that helps you not be able to do what DJing was set in place to do in the first place,”Physically mix”.

    The trade off always comes down to Creativity, and knowing how to make what you have work for you, and your own personal creative flow has to be one of the most important things that I feel you never have to worry about someone else stealing from you. I use to worry about, what if a certain piece of DJ gear breaks down, and is discontinued, and thats what I perform all my signature DJ tricks on. It really use to keep me up at night, however as I got older and more into DJing, it hit me instantly and I never turned back from that point. Its not about my gear so much as my Creativity. Yes I agree that gear plays a major role in getting you ideas out to the crowd, especially with serato and other DJ programs. Never was there a more better time this past decade, where a DJ could say, Man I loved what I did in that studio production remix at home or in the studio, but how am I going to duplicate that live with only 2 turntables and my pr-recorded vinyl. Thats where I believe todays serato and computer hard drive systems compliment are turntable skills, however now we can literally instantly re create our imaginations live on the fly, and that adds to the DJs skills, not takes away. Tomarrows gear might leave off a certain feature, however who cares, If you become a master at using your creativity to compensate for the missing physical component.

    A very, very good analagie, that a lot of mastering house engineers will tell you, when it comes time to master your recordings with compression for example, you have to rely on a certain outline of how the process is done(i.e. starting with low ratios, knowing how different attack and release ratios affect acoustical vs electronic instruments..etc)Lets say you give a good mastering engineer a $20 mastering program. Because of his know how, general rule of thumb in mastering technique, and of course in this case, “I need to have this cheap program Sound close to my $10,000 plug ins. He can pull it off to some level.If your creative more in mind on how to blend certain songs with others and having them work for you via crowd response, then rest assured you wont have to worry about another DJ. yes maybe some DJs will eventualy cross paths with you that have the same talents or skill level as you, and sometimes we all think, “will this guy, if the gig owners get a hold of his talents” will that adversly effect my job. I say absolutly not. There is only one you, and adding to what the guys said on the vid, you can have the same music as your peers, however the chances of them playing the same exact songs are very minimal. add to that is even hypothetically if a dj did play the same remixes, hes not going to play the same exact playlist as you in any given night, there are so many combinations and intertwinings of mixes from one Dj to the next. And the most important thing is most DJs that really know what there doing always try to Key mix anyway, weather they know music theory, or just by ear, knowing what goes together. We all hear other DJs play songs that beat match just fine, or make a remix where production wise everything is lined up correctly on measures, acapella stays on beat, however the key is wrong, and even the crowd feels that discomfort within the mix. I would love to see a blog about When technology consumes DJs Creativity, and how DJs feel about new technology taking away versus adding creativity. And using gear to compliment your skilss versus using gear to do tmost of the work for you.I know DJs embrace the technology, because they are using the technology to further and make a bigger production of thier dj sets, however at the same time I know Djs that just use the gear to beat mix anything with anything, no pre thought or planning on what goes with what, purely because they think its cool to press sync and watch the computer go to town all by it self!(i.e. most can learn to use the beatmapper in acid, and get a remix to line up, however, are they aware of what key the acapella versus the beat are in..

    As a house painter many years back, one of the guys told me, “In this job your only as good as your tools”, and that might be true, however, especially in DJing and remixing I feel that phrase should be changed to “Your only as good as your creativity” You as a DJ can have the best of the best in gear ,and not know a Damn thing when it comes to using it. The next guy could have next to nothing in gear, and he may use his creativity, work-around techniques, and tricks of the trade to fill in the gaps of what he is “physically” missing in gear. So in my mind when it comes to me respecting DJs for them consistently being on thier A game, Im always looking for consistency, blending style and skill, thier “staying on beat” skills, and stuff like that. I would never knock a DJ for his set up, if his creativity made him the “sickest” DJ and he or she is that good, who am I to say, you need to use this or that.

  2. Clipping track issue:
    An easy fix in Ableton 8 is using the ‘limiter’ effect. It works the same way an external audio effect limiter works (usually used on club systems to keep the DJ from tearing the sound system a new one when they raise the volumes too high) ill usually stick one limiter on the master track and then EQ all my other channels till it sounds right. Good monitors are key for any production though, otherwise you’ll never be able to hear what its really going to sound like live/ at a club. I used to use pioneer headphones for production and then would play the track early at a club to test it out and it would never sound like i wanted it to until i bought monitors and could really hear what i was doing while i was EQing the track. (I have Mackie MR8’s) As for EQing channels, that helps a ton to get the exact sound you want from your sample. I would argue that the EQ8 is one of the most powerful tools in Ableton so get to know that.
    You can also use compressors to limit, but Ableton 8 made an easier way to do it with the limiter. On compressors, those are great to help get your kicks to kick harder especially when you are starting to combine a lot of channels together and this start sounding ‘muddy’. Sometimes i’ll sidechain a compressor to my kick samples and limit other other tracks (EX: limit areas that have heavy synth, rock tracks that have a lot of loud continuous guitar backing etc.) you sidechain those channels to the kick compressor and it will automatically take off the volume a bit each time the kicks hit (making the beat sound a lot crisper.) The key to that is messing around with the settings and learning the different areas a compressor can effect and its parameters.
    I could ramble on for waaay too long about this so ill leave it at that, but get to know the effects in whatever processing programs your using. It takes a while to learn what every knob in every effect does, but once you learn all that its awesome because when you think in your head, “i want to make this sound out of this sample” you can just draw from your memory what effects can help achieve the sound or mastering your trying to accomplish. Also ive been looking to figure out how to make inverb for ages and learned from a tutorial video from remixreport.com so there’s a lot of great info to be learned here. Great site guys!

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