Swerzenski's look at six local turntablists to watch
Published: April 3, 2013
When it comes to DJing, vinyl is not what it used to be. Except for staunch old-schoolers like JJ. López, DJ Plata, and Ras Gilbert, most vinyl DJs today use a combination of digital means (via laptop) and special blank timecode vinyls such as those put out by Serato since 2004. This allows the DJs to scratch on music not available on vinyl, to use duplicates without having to buy the same record twice, and to mix more styles in a faster way, without changing records. Needless to say, DJs today don’t have the need to carry thousands of vinyls in a box.
“I prefer vinyl, and I’m the type of guy who thinks even a cassette tape sounds better than a CD,” said Donnie Dee (see page 57 for more on Dee). “But I thank digital, because it has made my life much easier.”
“Technology is moving and you have to keep up, or else you’re going to be left behind,” said DJ Tone. “[Serato] allows us to be more creative and brings lots more music.”
J.D. Swerzenski interviews some of the hottest local DJS about their vinyl fetish. — E.L.
Style: Heavyweight dub and roots reggae
Years spinning: 15*
Turning point: I took a trip out to Holland and the UK, where I was exposed to a whole different brand of reggae music, stuff that wasn’t happening in the States or even in Jamaica. I started paying these extravagant overseas shipping costs to get those records back to SA and expose that sound.
Regular gig: Fourth Friday* at Black Note Gallery
Why vinyl: I just love vinyl. I love the way it feels, how I can work and connect with it. I do own Serato (digital mixing software), but I’ve never opened it.
DJ SMARTYPANTS (CHRISTOPHER SMART)
Style: Soul, surf, swing & rockabilly, spy-movie soundtracks
Years spinning: 9
Regular gig: Voodoo Vinyl Mon at the Mix.
Other gigs: Bassist for Chrysta Bell and local band Masters of Love
Turning point: I would keep going to these shows with a bunch of punk rock bands on the bill, and the DJ would be playing house [music] in between sets. And I was like, “What would make you think that a bunch of garage rockers want to listen to house?” I wanted to do something about that, because DJs need to pay attention to who they’re playing music for.
Why vinyl: Unlike a lot of younger DJs, I was buying vinyl back when that’s all there was. And I’ve got a lot of stuff on vinyl that you’re not going to find online or on CD, stuff like Chester the Hamster Tours the Holy Land. Where would you find stupid stuff like that? Nobody is putting that on CD any time soon.