Thursday, 29 September 2011

Late Summer ..

What can I do but talk about the weather. Just when I thought the whole of 2011 was gunna be various shades of grey, there was a break in the clouds on Tuesday. I mean literally! The weather has been pretty good without a cloud in the sky.

At high noon on Tuesday I set up my booth in the back yard and did a good 3 hours of practice mixing under the sun. It's the first time I've set the gear up in the middle of the garden and cranked it up, but I really went for it and it brought with it a new feel for dropping a mix.

I didn't want to make a complete mess of it because I was in ear shot for a good 100m radius, possible tapering out over another 75-100m. That's potentially a lot of ears of my neighbours and passers by so I treated the situation with respect :)

When I retired from the great outdoors I reconfigured the set up and laid down a recorded mix since I hadn't recorded any of my out door efforts.

I went through similar motions on Wednesday and my immediate neighbours we out in their gardens. I did't ask if they enjoyed it. I simply assumed they didn't mind; I know them well enough for them to shout across for me to turn it down.

Today I got busy with a Drum and Bass mix. I'm quite please with it. My D&B collection is getting the same clean-up treatment as my Electro House at the moment. It's showing. No outdoor mix today though, wasn't time on top of other duties and labour but here's what happened.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Tapping Out .. But not KO'd

Feels like it's been months since I last recorded and uploaded a mix and made a dedicated blog entry. I tried to play some D&B and Jungle but I wasn't quite getting into the tempo. Maybe next time I hit record I'll be in the 170-180bpm zone, who knows?. I can't force these things lol. I'm either there or I'm not unfortunately.

I ought to spend more time with my D&B and Jungle tracks to be fair. I loved Jungle as a teenager but I don't seem to play much of it while mixing, which is a shame because I actually favour it more than these dance/clubby beats. I think the reason I don't dig into the up tempo box much is mainly due to me learning how to mix and blend with relatively slow music of which I have a fairly large amount. I've accumulated quite a lot of it.

Also, the DJs that a first had the opportunity to play back to back with played mainly Techno, Tech House, Breakbeats and Funky Breaks which was all around the same tempo. I wouldn't have been popular ruining their live streaming if I constantly increased the bpm by 30 or 40 every time it was my turn to spin a hand full of tracks. So there was an element of compromise. It's not at all bad because playing back to back has formed a major part of my intense learning. It also forced me, quite early on, to move away from pressing sync. The pressure was certainly on to manually beat match which I've gradually picked up having been forced to synchronise with vinylists and CDJ DJs. It's been good practice needless to say.

So onto today's mix. Eleven (and a half) tracks of some beats I haven't really included in any previous mixes. While the BCD controller was out of use I attempted rearranging my Electro collection and discarded quite a few tracks that I thought needed to be rejected. So this mix consists of those Electro beats that I decided to keep. Admittedly, I haven't had the chance to play some of them in a mix before so much of this was on the fly. I didn't see a point in playing the same old tunes that must be sounding quite familiar in my mixes now. This is not to say I've discarded those gems that I love to play, however the rearrangements have enabled me to better categorise what I've got.

I should endeavour to somehow separate my vocal tunes a little better. The voice clashing doesn't sound good in most cases. Also, I should start to consider the 'key' of the tracks I'm playing. Any how, that's enough rambling for now. I leave you with 'Tap Out v.1' - I think it sounds ok, or as good as I can expect having not put the headphones on for weeks [a little dubious about the kutting at the start but I calmed my pants eventually]

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Out of Action ...

A whole month without a blog entry :( I must be slipping. I started typing this last week but for one reason or another I've only just gotten back into the authoring seat. Here we go ..

There is a better clip on youtube showing the disassembly of a BCD2000 but embedding is disabled [here:]

NEW BCD2000 Upper Front Top

What's been going on then? The most notable event was Saturday 27th August where after a few too many beers I wasn't careful and pulled the BCD2000 midi controller off the surface it was sat on via a cord wrapped around my foot. All I remember is getting up from my pew and yanking a cable with my foot and the crashing sound of a controller hitting a hard surface. So my DDJing has been out of action since then until today (15th Sept).

NEW BCD2000 Upper Front Bottom

When the controller first hit the floor all that went through my mind was "it's fucked" .. It couldn't have been very fucked though because it was still plugged into my netbook and tunes were still playing. After placing it in a recovery position I tried a few controls and things still worked but then I noticed the Master Volume and Headphone pots had had their bezels pushed in which meant they probably got hit pretty hard on impact.

BCD Upper Front Top (2011[1])

I carried out the cosmetics immediately even though it was around 1, maybe 2 a.m. at the 4HF Studio. Cheers for the tools shotty, even if there was an element of reluctance on yor part. Unfortunately the problems were beyond cosmetic. The impact of the potentiometers hitting the ground caused component damage :( Turning the Master resulted in an extremely loud crackle which was totally unacceptible. Likewise, the Headphones volume control also delivered a very loud crackle to the cans which was very annoying. I don't think it's possible to DJ a set without using these controls at all, so the problem had to be solved.

BCD Upper Front Top (2011[2])
I left it a week before attempting the intricate desolder job and dismantling of the faulty components. Friday the 2nd of September was where it all went skewed. I removed, repaired and re-inserted the Master Volume pot successfully but after testing I found that the Headphones pot was still faulty. This was a bit of a bummer because the soldering job that I did was a mess considering I've worked in the field of electronics in a previous life which demanded a high level of soldering skills. Removing the component a second time might have damaged the copper track and this was what I was dreading. I got to work with my huge shovel tip soldering iron which admitedly in hindsight was the totally wrong iron tip for the job. The damage I anticipated happening, happened. This was not a good sign.

BCD Upper Front Top (2011[3])

To cut a lengthy story short, I've had to improvise and attach jumper leads to the component in question (2011[3]). With a little bit of tweaking I've been able to get the controller working to a satisfactory level. I was on the verge of fully replacing the controller and still have it in my mind to acquire some new kit. It would be nice to get another 9 months of play out of this BCD before giving it back to it's owner. Oh, by the way, I told the owner exactly what happened and how I planned on fixing it and/or replacing it. Seems there are no hard feelings and there's an acceptance that accidents do happen, even involving me.

I'm now in position to churn out a mix. I've spent some time refining my track collection while the controller has been out of use. I've moved a lot of tracks around and have arranged for some to be deleted. I'd like to bring the amount of tracks down to a managable 1000 or so, but the varying genres is what keeps the numbers high. This will take much more work as it's not easy deciding what to keep and what to kick.