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"worked on" dj mixes

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by choko, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. choko

    choko TRIBE Member

    read about this in a thread in the producers room, but thought it was general enough to make it here. hell, for a dance music board we sure seem to talk about tv a lot, so let's talk dj mixes. i did a search, and it seems it hasn't been discussed in full. so here's the place!

    you may or may not be aware that almost every mixed cd you buy goes through a production process where all sorts of things are done to make it sound better. bad mixes done over again (and over and over), levels and eq's fixed etc. in general, a polishing and re-working phase where imperfections are glossed over to give you a nice perfect cd. this way you get a stellarly mixed cd, where they can still say that it's a "live turntable mix" even if buddy bunked it up 3/4 of the way through and did a pick-up instead of starting again.

    but is there a line to be drawn which when crossed people are then misrepresenting what it is they can do as a dj? all sorts of screw ups can be fixed, good mixes pasted over bad ones, pick ups done. to paraphrase ludikris, "big problems, little problems we fix 'em all!" but then where is the line drawn? fixing levels is okay, but cutting and pasting isn't? why? would you feel cheated as a listener if you found out that someone had cut-and-pasted your fave mix? ie. it's not they're work anymore and becomes someone else's? or simply isn't what you thought it was?

    i remember an old dj friend (who i won't name - haha if you're reading this!) who once said "don't tell people that i had this done, i don't want anyone to think poorly of me." that attitude seems pretty rampant when it comes to the underground promo cd market. but why the stigma?

    and thinking poorly of people aside, what if the cd they give you sounds great, but when they get to your club they have level problems all over the place and can't pull off mixes that aren't overly practised or perfected. this could be problematic. like buddy said in the thread i linked up there, "nothing like helping people fake it to try and make it." but then again, do you as the listener even give a shit? a nice sounding cd is a nice sounding cd, right?

    how do you feel about mixes that are "touched up," or "worked on" by other people? are they duping the listener into thinking the dj is better than they are? or are they merely attempting to make the set sound as good as possible? if you're a dj, have you ever done it to your own mixes? would you have someone work a set for you? why is there a stigma surrounding this? is it only people who don't know what the process does that bitch about it?

    anyone? bueller?
  2. deep

    deep TRIBE Member

    In the end, I think what matters most is making something that is enjoyable for the listener to experience. Especially if the work is something the listener pays for. I think even if more "honest" it'd be pretty crappy for someone to pump out something that has glaring errors after people have paid money for it. If the extent of a person's ability requires that their fuckups be glossed over in Soundforge for this end, so be it.

    I also think it bears mentioning that sometimes this opens the door to musicians bringing more to the table than just what can be produced on the fly. Ultimately, recording music should express creativity, that includes exploring whatever tools are available to make something unique.

    In so far as it earning an artist street cred they don't deserve by making them sound better than they are, I think the truth comes out quickly enough when those people play a live gig.
  3. deep

    deep TRIBE Member

    One other point, while I hold technical skills in high regard myself, I still think that for 95% of listeners it's less important a consideration than emotional appeal.

    Engage someone emotionally, have them feel what you're doing, and they might still like a piece of work even if there's a technical problem. On the other hand, being technically perfect but otherwise uninteresting doesn't go quite as far I think.
  4. Big Boss

    Big Boss TRIBE Promoter

    Well, compare it to something like acting. They do several takes to "get it right". No one says anything about an actor doing so many takes to get the part right. If the movie is enjoyable and captivates you, who really cares about the extra curriculars?

    Same goes for cds, at least for me. First of all, I doubt there's any DJ that plays a live set and just records it to CD. For example, the series I like, "Live @ Roxy" is probably not recorded straight from a set and pressed to CD. A set is played on a given night that inspires the Cd.

    Hearing a CD of a DJ set, and then hearing them trainwreck live is another story...
  5. choko

    choko TRIBE Member

    i think the old addage "you can't polish a turd," applies in this case. shite glossed up is still shite.

    that being said, i remember being a little cheesed when i found out that the global underground sets weren't really recorded live at a club in the city they purported to be from. that the dudes used the city's name as cachet and did a live show there much like all the other shows that dj was playing at the time elsewhere.

    i still like what they do, but why do they feel like they need to make them worked on studio mixes and not worked on live mixes? it's not like their dj's aren't good enough.
  6. rentboy

    rentboy TRIBE Member

    good points made.

    However, i still find many DJs perform well on the live circuit. One only needs to listen to old live mixtapes that use to do the rounds.

    I have countless where the DJ mixed everything to a tee... maybe one or two minor mistakes, but nothing boots n the dryer worthy.

    e.g. with live jungle mixes you'd get all sorts of cut ups, juggling, double dropping, teasing etc...whereas a recorded mix would probably just cover a straight A to B mix or short mixes.
  7. DjCao

    DjCao TRIBE Member

    i do better live than recording....
    i hate recording!!!
  8. DJAlchemy

    DJAlchemy TRIBE Promoter

    you can't 'fix bad mixing' as easily as you think. Unless you let the computer do all the mixing for you, you can not separate a single track into its individual parts. Making a good mix has as much to do with flow, timing, and track selection as it does with technical ability.

    Also, take into consideration that when you see a DJ play live, much more will go unnoticable by way of distortion then when listening to a CD. Furthermore, a CD is a piece of material that you are going to listen to over and over and over again, you want it to be better then good.

    As far as planning mixes goes, sometimes you have a couple of tracks that just fit perfectly together, like two lovers. Who gives a shit if you like to let them play often!
  9. DJAlchemy

    DJAlchemy TRIBE Promoter

    besides all that, if hes a shitty dj you'll sure as hell find that out when you hear him play live!

    I've seen many a triber disillusioned by some big prog producers with shiney cds.
  10. JayBrain

    JayBrain TRIBE Member

    Practice makes perfect.
    If you can't mix, you can't mix.

    in the end there's a reason why some big name DJs are what they are.
  11. Humanjava

    Humanjava TRIBE Member

    Two things can make anyone a dj easy:
    Abelton Live
    Native Instruments Traktor.

    I will multitrack a mix because whatever I have jack shit to prove anymore and I think my next one will be done that way to make sure its about a good tape and nothing more. BTW I can play 3 decks or whatever no probs because I paid my dues. I am sick and tired of shit mixes that have no story or flow just because someone wants to prove they can mix. Mixing should be a given and in time the weak will faulter.
  12. Wiseman

    Wiseman TRIBE Member

    I think there is a place for multitracking a mix. It's a different approach to mixing but it is still mixing. I just hope DJs can be honest about it when they do it and not say it's live when it's not.

    When I make a "Live" mix and tell people it's live then I would definately do it live. And I would never hand a promoter a demo that wasn't done live.

    But I think you can also achieve great things and different things through multitracking a mix that maybe would be impossible performed.

    Just be honest about it.

    Tom Middleton's Cosmos is beautiful and he is a DJ with skills that did the whole mix multitracked with effects. Danny Tenaglia's "Back To Mine" is another example.
  13. Jeremy Jive

    Jeremy Jive TRIBE Member

    Here are my thoughts.

    It really depends on what you are trying to portray.

    Mixed compilation is simply a mix of tracks. Whether you perceive it to be live or not, that is your decision but a compilation can be anything and made in any way. This does not have to be a representation of what you can do live.

    Demo CD, well that should be a representation of your talents live. Simple as that. If you can't get up there and do it again time after time in front of people don't put it on a demo CD or lead people to believe you can.

    I think most people are well aware of the fact that most CDs are recorded in a studio or not even mixed on two tables. The tracks are prerecorded and laid into a multichannel recording program and mastered from there. Look at Bad Boy Bill, he's got upwards of 40 odd tracks in a 60 minute CD. Have you ever seen him do that live? No and nobody expects him to. His CDs are meant to entertain and his sets are a different experience. I don't mind people doing it, however I think that if they make that choice then they should not be out there portraying as a DEMO or a live recorded CD.

    jeremy -been going on forever- jive
  14. lok

    lok TRIBE Member

    Almost every single musician on the planet records their music in "multitrack form". Of course, when you see them live, they show you they can do it there to. Big diff? That would be 'none'.
  15. physix

    physix TRIBE Member

    Stop readin' my thoughts, asshole!

  16. zoo

    zoo TRIBE Member

    i don't have the equipment to mix live, and when i try on friends' setups, i can only pull off a non-train-wrecked beatmatch less than 50% of the time

    but "studio mixing software" makes things easier, and i can make mixes for my friends to enjoy

    i never claim to mix them live, and usually go out of my way to share how i made it :)

    piecing mixes on a computer can allow you to do things that would be very difficult on a hardware setup ... i frequently do drastic tempo shifts to ease mixing between tracks by doubling up the track going out at a lower or higher speed and fading them together ... it bumps the track up or down without the listener really noticing what happened and without the actual track being sped up/slowed down noticeably

    there are also precise effects controls you can perform, i can pull off 2+ (or unlimited) length mixes with perfect precision ... i can beatmatch later in the mix and have the intro accapella sit perfectly with no need for adjustment later .. etc

    there are advantages if you want to make a nice listening mix :)
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2004
  17. physix

    physix TRIBE Member

    would you be so inclined to do so if a promoter wanted to book you?
  18. lok

    lok TRIBE Member

    im the same as zoo. I like to arrange but not to beatmatch. And if a promoter wanted to book me id say "Yeah call me in 6 months while I practice".
  19. zoo

    zoo TRIBE Member

    would i tell the promoter i can't really mix live?

    i've done that before :)
  20. JMan

    JMan TRIBE Member

    I think for big name proven DJ's and major mix series', the touch up is expected because the listener is paying big $ for the set. However, for up-and-comers that are utilizing the set as a promo tool, I think touching up is cheating.

    They say eventually the suckaz will get found out, but that's not always the case. I'm sure everyone has heard a set from someone that did not bring the skills.
  21. lok

    lok TRIBE Member

    No no. These things let you beatmatch easily. Making creative mixes, effective selection and proper layering take practice and talent.
  22. vveerrgg

    vveerrgg TRIBE Promoter

    when i wanted to be a top rated booty dj I took their CD's as then doing it honestly. Dj Funk, Godfather, Assault.....


    In the studio they do some amazing tricks and are able to pull maybe 40% out when they are live playing at a party. Which made playing boooty alot easier......
    (i still love booty, but I couldn't do the tricks like those CD's so I passed on that whole fad)

    I've long understood and agreed that if it's on a CD there is no reason why they should have mistakes, or give anything less then a *top notch* set. Its' on CD, I want perfection, I won't settle for anything less. And if I were to buy a CD that had any mistakes on it... I would consider it a careless mistake, but not nessisary considering alittle extra time could've produced them a perfect mix.

    If it's online and just sketching out ideas, go to town..... . live at a party.... you better be able to perform well.... but on CD, it might as well be perfect, since it's something that'll be around for possibly years maybe even longer. So it better be the best it can be.
  23. zoo

    zoo TRIBE Member

    i like live party sets too

    but vverrgg is right, if you're selling a cd and it's not a live-party mix, it had better be damn well perfect
  24. [- FuNKtiOn -]

    [- FuNKtiOn -] TRIBE Member

    when making a studio mixed set, I have no problem with a person pre-selecting what track they are playing and wutnot, because when its specifically for a cd they may be trying to work a certain angle (ie: a chilled mix, a mix for driving, a pure dancefloor party-jam collection, etc, etc).
    also keep in mind when your passing around a mix for months on end you want to make sure you didnt just throw on that "track of the moment" which you'll end up not wanting to push once its completely played.

    however, I personally think its the equivalency of fraud if you re-record an individual mix during from a mixed set. once you go into recording mode, its one take or nothing. just like when you go to a gig. you only get one try at it. the only difference is that at a gig you shouldn't necesarily already know what your going to play because you should be waiting to see what the crowd wants/will react too.

    the last couple sets Ive recorded were last minute so I didnt get a chance to pre-program them, and I've actually been happier with the end result. it was the one mix I did pre-program (because I was finding a way to pack a flowing mix of all things brokenbeat without it sounding forced) actually had a mix that had about 3 or 4 off-ish beats during a mix that really bugs me because it was on a mix I had done at least a handful of times before.
  25. AshG

    AshG Member

    I think farina had it right - he said he sees dj mixes as a sort of test that allows a dj to show what they can do.

    "showing what you can do" includes all skills relevant to what the dj would be required to do in a live situation, but compressed to fit an 80 minute cd format.

    what i like about thinking of mixes in this way, is that if its done right, it'll hopefully be an enjoyable listening experience, but also engage the listener's interest in what's happening with the music.

    also, this viewpoint helps in terms of thinking about mixes as a unique creation process - how is this mix different at all from any other mix? there's lots that goes into that.

    i find that making mixes in this way allows that mix to serve 2 purposes: as an enjoyable listening/dancing experience for your avid music fan, and as a promotional tool for those who hear it and take a professional interest in what they're hearing.
    and since those 2 kinds of listener's frequently overlap, doing mixes that work well for both is how i like to do it.

    getting back to the subject, "fixing" mixes is kinda pointless to me, and i don't see why people try to do it.
    all my favourite mixes have little mistakes in them(shit, to point - every farina mix i've heard has mistakes in them!), but then i value inventiveness 100x over perfection.

    and i just don't know about the whole fixing thing...
    i figure any mix fits into 1 of 4 categories:

    1. a promotional tool

    if someone gives me a mix hoping to get a gig somehow, and its the kind of music i am familiar with, chances are i have or have heard almost most of the songs on it, and i'd know if there was some editing going on.
    that sure wouldn't make a good impression on me in that context, so its kind of self-defeating

    2. an enjoyable listening experience

    if someone gives me a mix just for home listening or something and there's the odd little mistake in there, i don't care that much, so again, why fix it?
    on the other hand, if there's trainwrecks all over the place, no one is going to find that pleasurable, so its a lot easier to just do over again, so again, why bother trying to fix it?

    3. a promotional tool and/or an enjoyable listening experience

    well for both of the reasons outlined above, in addition to the fact that all my fav. mixes already have mistakes in them... can't see why any editing would be going on.

    4. critical analysis

    i don't know how to word this, but i've been given lots of mixes before where the dj just wants my opinion as to the mix.
    what's good, what's bad, etc.
    in this context, again, i can't see any reason for fixing any hiccups as that's part of what i'd comment on anyway.

    So i dun get it - who really bothers to go into an editing program post-mix and get all up in the hizzy with some ninja chopping anyway?

    Just eqing the mix or something, sure - do that.
    But actual editing?
    Can't see it.

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