DJing had been a very important part of dance culture since the 70's.
As a form of art and as a profession, DJing relies heavily on technological advancements. From the introduction of the first DJ mixer "Rosie", to the latest flagship model of Native Instruments "S8" everything has a huge impact on the DJ-world.
At first it was just two turntables and a mixer. Everything was done manually by the DJ. There was no BPM counter, nor Sync and every DJ was carrying a huge collection weighting a ton to each gig. Compared to that, today we have CDJs, programs and countless controllers with zillions of buttons and options, but the whole stuff can fit in a regular backpack (at least most of the time).
(Please note: The video is not about Funkanomics but showing the heart of the deabte that we're discussing about)
You might ask what's interesting about this as this is only evolution. The tricky part comes with the fast pace of music-related gadget evolution. This pace was so rapid that in 40 something years the industry went from turntables to laptops and tablets. The cause of the debate is more than relevant. Those who spent years learning to mix on vinyl are frequently freaked out by those who implement any kind of technology into their setup. Pre-set cue points, sync, pre-made edits and a bunch of other stuff are caught up in the crossfire of the debates.
There is no need to make rules for things like that, this just makes you an old grumblerSome say that features like these are making DJing effortless, while some are using the same features to deliver more. Knowing people from both groups spark some unavoidable questions such as, - Is there such a thing as too much technology for DJing?, - Who can be considered a DJ? – How do the DJs have to adapt to the shifting trends of music promoting and consuming? – and ultimately – What is the future of DJing?
In order to get a glimpse of the future I called in the guys from Funkanomics for an interview. Why are they the best candidates for this topic? Just read the interview and you'll see.
1. Introduce yourselves a bit please. How did you get started? Who were your main inspirations? How did you fell in love with music and what was the force that pulled the trio together? Hello, we are Funkanomics from the very south of Germany and we make funky bassline music. There are three people in this project, who were raised on sounds of the early 70s, hard-rock, hip-hop and reggae. Since then we have always tried to keep ourselves open to every other kind of music. After discovering Funk, Jazz and Soul, which as we see it are the major sources of inspiration for many upcoming genres, we started making edits and finally ended up doing originals. Two of us have been DJing together for a long time in Germany, Austria and Switzerland spinning hip-hop and breakbeat back in the 90's. The third beat-bender is a former singer of a rock band while also having a little side project, where he produced some big beats and downtempo stuff. We knew each other for a long time, but never thought about making music together. A few years back we hooked up in the studio, had some drinks and started making music. The results of this drink soaked recording session, three funky breaks tunes, were uploaded to an older social media site. Reactions were so great, that we decided to go on and Funkanomics was born.
2. Is it different being a DJ / producer compared to what it was like 10-15 years ago?
Yes, for sure. It became easier to learn DJing and producing nowadays. Back in the days you had to spend several hours every day behind the turntables to learn mixing and cutting and be good at the theory of harmony when it came to productions. Nowadays you can build your digital music crate, get a good soft with auto-beat matching and become a DJ within a very short time. Also the possibilities you get with good production software and plugins are insane and it makes things way easier. There is more good music coming out today and people are able to put their ideas into action way easier, so nothing bad about this fact.
3. How does the internet change the role of the DJ's?
Funkanomics grew through the internet. Without social media sites, we would not exist. We would not say that the internet is changing the music or the role of a DJ to the better, as there are a few not so good aspects (it's not enough being just a DJ or producer nowadays, you also have to be a promoter, graphic designer, programmer, etc. and always stay in touch with your community), but it definitely helps promoting yourself.
4. Can a DJ become successful right now without having his own productions? Can a dance music producer be successful without hitting the stage? Many friends of us are really successful without productions, but it seems necessary to hit the stage for sure. We would say back in the days acts were hitting the stage to promote their music, nowadays they make music to promote their gigs. As in many other things of life it's all about having luck, good connections and a good network.
5. Do you think that there is any rule for being considered a DJ? (many old-school DJs are hating on those who use record boxes, sync and so on) No, we try to remain in the forefront of progress and are always interested in new technologies. For us as "old-school" DJs and live act, it's always nice to see people cutting and scratching behind turntables, but it's also nice seeing people work with a good live set and controller. There is no need to make rules for things like that, this just makes you an old grumbler.
6. Is there any DJing related technology that only makes mixing easier without increasing the ways of creativity? What is the correct balance for using technology extensively but to work on your craft at the same time? When we hit the stage, two of us are DJing on four turntables and use Serato boxes plus Novation Dicers and sometimes other controllers for samples or cue points, the other one is using an APC40 Controller with an Ableton live set or two MPC 1000. There are lots of possibilities and it's not getting boring. We think with this setup, we've got a good mixture between old-school (turntables) and new-school (controllers), but everyone should figure this out for their own, there are so many possibilities.
7. Do you feel like you can stay open for any new technology that comes along in dance music industry?
Don't know what's coming up next, but so long we always tried to stay open for new technologies. You just can't stop technology and that's not a bad thing. We didn't try out everything, but always try to catch up on news when it comes to the music industry.
8. What is the next big thing that you're working on right now and what would be the ultimate prize for Funkanomics?
It's gonna be all about funky bassline musicWe are working on a great EP for Adapted Records, which is nearly finished. It's gonna be all about funky bassline music and we invited great singers for it. Definitely looking forward to release this gems. The ultimate prize is having fun at what you are doing. There is no wish list of things we want to achieve, we just live for the moment and every great feedback, every success, and every new follower gives us some feel-good-vibes. We love what we are doing and can't say, whether there is an ultimate prize for that.
There you have it. There's really not much to be added. As a conclusion I would say that technology has to go forward and creative people will always find a way to expand the horizons of DJing. Those who use new technology but don't deliver accordingly will fade away from the scene as those will raise who work harder and deliver more.
Tell us what you think in the comment section. We love vise debates :)
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