Tag Archives: DJ

Turntabling at OhNo!Doom Gallery Friday April 13th 6PM

OhNo!Doom Gallery in Chicago hosts A Walk Through The Dark, an opening featuring artwork of the macabre, strange and bizarre. It also features Turntabling.net–I’ll be creating the sinister ambience and playing appropriately creepy music by Morricone, Goblin, Riz Ortolani, Bruno Nicolai, Coil, Nurse With Wound, Skinny Puppy and various other sounds. DJ Paisley Babylon in the haunted house!

The event is from 6 to 10PM on Friday, April 13th at OhNo!Doom Gallery at 1800 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Join me for a night of amazing sights and sounds, plus exclusive beer brewed to debut at the event by Lowdive.

–Joe Wallace


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 USB DJ Controller

by Joe Wallace

I use Traktor in my studio as a sort of hybrid recording tool as well as DJ mixer. I like to pull samples from my own music, mash them up, resample and resequence them to create freakish new music out of my back catalog of weirdness.

I have a Numark Total DJ USB controller that I could use in all this, but I’m lazy and just mash the buttons on the Mac instead. But this Traktor controller could get me back off the laptop keyboard. I don’t own one…yet.

The Traktor Kontrol X1 USB DJ controller is right up my alley for one important reason–there are NO SCRATCHING CONTROLS on this thing. It’s purely for controlling the effects, the settings, the triggers, volume, etc.

This is bewildering to some of my DJ friends. But I cut my DJ teeth in FM radio where controls set up like this were in wide use–it’s a familiar configuration that has the linear approach the Numark Total DJ setup doesn’t.

Maybe it’s MY DAMAGE–I just like that vertical configuration better. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Numark…but it doesn’t make sense to my FM radio-trained DJ hands the way this one would.

Call me a wingnut. After all, you can get used to any gear setup if you play with it long enough. This just appeals to my aesthetics more, that’s all. I will say this though—I still don’t DJ exclusively in the digital realm. That’s one of the reasons why I like this configuration–I’m using three technologies at once, and the setup on the Traktor Kontrol conforms to the other stuff in my setup. When I buy this, rest assured there will be a test-drive here…


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Numark Total Control MIDI DJ Mixer

I purchased the Numark Total Control MIDI DJ mixer to see whether MIDI would work for me in my studio setup. Turntabling is all about the vinyl, but I had some ideas for some bizarre dub experiments with high quality MP3s and lots of echo/reverb effects…and I must say, in spite of my early reservations, the Numark Total Control mixer did the trick, and then some.

According to the Numark hype for this DJ control surface, the unit’s 31 buttons, 20 knobs and 5 faders, “send MIDI data from the controller to your DJ software of choice” which in my case was an upgraded version of the included Numark Cue LE. If you purchase the Numark Total Control DJ mixer, I strongly suggest getting the CUE upgrade or better yet, paying for the upgraded Traktor software (a lite version comes with the Numark Total Control).

For new DJs, the most valuable thing about the Numark, aside from the tricks you can pull with the effects that are found in the upgraded versions of Traktor or Numark Cue software packages, is the fact that this DJ mixer is USB powered.

No, you can’t plug your iPhone into it, and you need the laptop and software to make the mixer work. But if you have a collection of high-quality MP3s (hopefully that you ripped from your vinyl collection, heh) encoded at good rates, this makes for a nice compact setup.

In the studio, I personally prefer a combination of vinyl, CD, and digital files, plus the hardware to run in case my computer setup chooses to crap out on me that day. I don’t gig with the Numark Total Control–there’s nothing at all wrong with it, just my personal preference. I’m a bit more old-school, I suppose, and I like the reliability of hardware….but if you want to go all-digital on a budget you could do a HELL of a lot worse than this. It’s a great starter kit for new DJs learning the ins and outs of spinning and earning money from it.

Paisley Babylon DJ Mixes

It’s been a while since I posted any new DJ Paisley Babylon mixes and the gigs have been coming from all sides as of late…it was high time to get some more up here! These MP3s were recorded live in-studio and at events including the infamous Horror Society Zombie Disco. Feast your ears on a wide range of extremely danceable sounds from around the world. I’m always available to talk bookings, feel free to drop me an e-mail to jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net. Have gear, will travel.

DJ Paisley Babylon Zombie Disco 2 set @ Lucky Number Grill Chicago July 24 2010

Paisley Babylon Soundcheck Set for Music Box Massacre @The Music Box Theater Chicago, October 8 2010 (This isn’t your typical DJ set–it was a mixed media sound collage presentation featuring music, video, turntablism, live mashups and vinyl manipulation. More of an audio art installation…)

Post-Punk/New Romantic Mixup (live in-studio)

Paisley Babylon mixes include a healthy pile of vinyl records from around the globe. I spin post-punk, funk, disco, dub, fun  psychedelia singles, reggae, retro, new wave, electronica, chillout/lounge, bossa nova, and unclassifiable sounds from Italy, Japan, Germany, Iceland and elsewhere. I’m not a latest-hits club kid DJ and I’d rather keep a party or event fun and danceable than stay married to a particular genre. Gigs should be fun and memorable. Get in touch with me about yours and we’ll plan a great time. (312) 504-1264 or jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Weekend of Holiday Horror Fun

It was a very busy time last week prepping for the Holiday of Horror show at the Portage Theater here in Chicago–the last Horror Society blowout for 2009. Thanks to all who came out, it was a fantastic time! Turntabling debuted scary tees from StrangerTees.com, and sold plenty of Goblin albums and other fun stuff.

The updates start rolling around here as per usual now that we’re no longer scrambling to get things prepped for the show. There’s a whole new year of craziness coming, and Turntabling is ready. Brace yourself! We’ve got new titles rolling onto the site this week, and we’ll have a few other fun announcements too.

How To Start a Mobile DJ Business

The Mobile DJ handbook how to start and run a profitable mobile DJ business

Has anyone read this? It seems like the sort of thing we should be selling or at least discussing here on Turntabling, since the turntable is still a big part of DJing even if you’re running time code vinyl. Truth be told, I’ve never read The Mobile DJ Handbook, and would be very interested to know what experienced pros think of it before I took the leap. Sure, I could buy a copy and read for myself, but I know SOMEBODY out there has to have picked this up at some point.

What I CAN do is to dispense a bit of advice from my own experiences as a DJ–mobile and otherwise. Thinking about taking the plunge? Read on. Continue reading How To Start a Mobile DJ Business

How to DJ Advice

technics-sl-dz1200-digital-turntable

Turntabling (the blog) is all about vinyl–everything connected to the collecting, playing, archiving and culture associated with vinyl.

I know the drive-in culture thing I am so obsessed with in these pages seems a bit of a stretch, but since I cut my teeth with vinyl when these things were growing up right alongside in 70s and 80s culture, it seems a natural to me.

But some days, it’s all about the act of mixing together the tunes and keeping people interested in your mix. The DJ aspect doesn’t get nearly as much face time here, but I do like to dispense a bit of my insider knowledge from time to time.

Today I stumbled across another one of those How To DJ sites, but this one actually had some decent information. Sound advice there, especially when it comes to trying to feel out an audience and know what works and what doesn’t.

My main gripe with how-to-DJ advice is that you can’t really learn how to spin music without DOING it. And then there’s only so far you can go before you need to have an actual audience. Want to see how fast you can clear a dance floor? How about how long it takes to bring those feet back onto that floor? You have to learn by doing. Continue reading How to DJ Advice

DJ Skills: Mixing and Scratching

dj-skills-mixing-and-scratching-book

As much as I believe you can’t really impart what it takes to be a good DJ from a book, there are some people who insist that books like DJ Skils: Mixing and Scratching are helpful and useful to beginners. So while I can recommend a book like this to newcomers, I do so with the caveat that you really need to get some time behind the decks to learn the basics in practice, not just theory.

With that in mind, this book IS getting rave reviews. You have to recognize the ambition of a book that starts off discussing the earliest record player including the 1857 French invention of the phonoautograph and Edison’s 1877 invention of the wax cylinder phonograph.
Continue reading DJ Skills: Mixing and Scratching

Surviving a Marathon DJ Gig

dj-turntable

Ever struggled to keep a DJ set tight for six hours? It’s a DJ gig hell-ride, to be sure…but there are a few things you can do to survive a very long set, whether you’re spinning in a club, doing on-air DJ work or playing a party or wedding. I’ve done extended sets in just about every one of these situations–on the air, parties, you name it.

Naturally the setting you’re doing your DJ work in dictates a lot about how you manage a very long night, but there are a few specifics I’ve found apply no matter what. This ain’t a guide to how to make your DJ segues flow or how to keep the club jumping, this is more about keeping your body feeling as close to top form as you can get in hour number four, five and beyond.

Blood Sugar is a huge factor. When you load up with a lot of carbs, sugar or alcohol, the crash is coming, believe it. Your DJ set will be much better if you’ve packed a protein bar or two and keep some kind of carb control snack on hand that’s formulated to level out your blood sugar. You WILL feela difference. The second your energy starts flagging, don’t go for the Red Bull, try eating a small carb control snack or a few bites of a protein bar. Don’t eat the whole thing, try 1/4 of a bar at first and see how you feel.

Foot Fatigue isn’t always a factor in a club or a radio station, but if you’re DJing a wedding, chances are you’re standing on concrete or flimsy tile in those rec halls and reception centers. When I’m on the decks for an extended period, I make sure to pack a small area rug in my DJ equipment box. You can laugh if you want, but it delays the onset of foot fatigue and makes your entire gig much more comfortable.

Hearing Protection seems like a no-brainer to me, but I am shocked by the number of DJs who don’t wear hearing protection during their gigs. If you play longer than two hours you need this more than ever–prolonged exposure to high SPLs is a major occupational hazard for DJs and no club DJ or party spinner should ever play long sets without safeguarding the ears. It saves you in so many ways, but for me personally, a DJ set with hearing protection is much less stressful overall–I find extended high volumes physically draining without the earplugs.

Christian Marclay and Unwanted Sound

christian-marclay-dj
by Joe Wallace

My first exposure to Christian Marclay was though my bandmates in Crevice. In 1999, some of the Crevice crew hooked up with Marclay to do an art show in San Antonio, Texas at the Art Pace gallery. The show, according to Uncle Buzz Records (the label home of Crevice, Pink Filth, Paisley Babylon, and others) to be an “audio/visual event using hundreds of Christmas records (Marclay) collected while in town.

Interesting enough to combine DJing with art galleries; moreso that the idea was to create new music from a collection of thousands of Christmas records. Ever since then I’ve been intrigued by Christian Marclay and his body of work. I don’t think DJ culture has been the same since Marclay, in the same way that tape manipulation art hasn’t been the same since John Oswald.


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Marclay has been described as a “Dadaist DJ.” He may be a DJ but is far from a club kid knob twiddler.
For starters, he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston Marclay has been involved in a number of collaborations with high-profile names in music. The term DJ or turntablist is really inadequate for Marclay–he’s gone far beyond club DJing and studio recording. His concepts involve the physical manipulation of the recorded music on vinyl as well as the aural manipulation of it.

Christian Marclay has worked with John Zorn, Sonic Youth, Otomo Yoshihide and Fred Frith. His work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York among other important galleries around the world. It’s obvious that he’s a name in the business of sound, in the same manner as Eno, John Cage, Harold Budd and other experimenters/pioneers.

Check this clip about Christian Marclay and his desire for “unwanted sound”. It’s a fascinating little glimpse into the world he inhabits. “When we play a record we don’t want to hear the surface noise,” said Marclay,”But those are the sounds I’m interested in. I’m interested in the sounds I can get out of this vinyl record.”