Saturday, April 26, 2008

So You Wanna Be A DJ: Part 3

So now you've got the basics and setup, you've chosen your weapon of choice. What really sets DJ's apart from one another is their production. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to mix two records together but you have to acquire real skills to become a professional DJ/Producer. What creates a fan base is your music. Look at any of the greats, pioneers if you like, [BT,Paul Van Dyk, Erick Morillo, Deep Dish, Nick Fancouli, Robbie Rivera] and you'll see that none of them are just DJ's. More or less any top DJ you look at will have a mini empire of their own. Including their own sound, their own label, in fact it takes a great team working hard to make a great DJ. So what you really need to do is start making music, this is what's gonna get you gigs. [well good ones anyway]

The first thing you should do is spend time listening to as many producers and DJs as you can and decide which direction you'd like to go in. Pay close attention to the arrangement as there is a formula to this. It really pays off spending time listening to music and learning from your heroes because it can take months to even years to really find your niche.

Because I use Logic [and Logic kicks ass], I'll be talking about how I use it to make music. This doesn't mean of course that you can't use one of the many other daws out there. There are plenty of other great platforms, some of which I have mentioned previously [ableton live, fruity loops, acid pro, reason, nuendo, cubase...] that are great for music production as well.

Choosing Sounds:
This is really up to your personal taste but starting with great sounds is key. Whether you're making them from scratch or sampling you'll want to make sure the sounds are clean, undistorted, and suit the mood you intend to create. I think less is more. One of the easy traps to fall into is using 46,000 sounds in one track because you keep finding things that you like and you get too attached to sounds to let them go. I try to keep my arrangements minimal, sometimes with as few as 10 tracks for the whole song. This gives each sound an opportunity to stake its claim on the sonic space it occupies while also pushing me to make sure that my sounds are hands-down-kick-ass every time.

For beginners, a great way to start sketching is to set a 4 bar loop in your sequencer, and run through preset sounds whether they be apple loops, fruity loops, synth presets, etc. Just getting into the groove of hearing what types of sounds compliment each other is an invaluable tool. In fact i know producers who make a great living never touching a computer, mix desk, or synth, but rather just knowing exactly the type of sound that will take a track to the next level.

Once you've got an idea for the sonic experience you want to shower your listeners with and have identified the sounds that rustle your feathers, you're ready to start laying down a groove.
I'll get into the specifics in a couple weeks when we'll discuss how to make a kick throb and what will make your synths take flight.

In the meantime head over to my website and sign up on the mailing list to get your free track I'll be sending out on the first of May.

I've also just bombed my MySpace player with fresh tracks so head over to or my website to have a taste.

luv and bass, DJ RAP

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