DJ Unkut meets Vestax VCI-400 – turntrollerism? [Video and Interview]

Controllerism is often seen as the bastard offspring of turntablism. Both share a common cut and paste performance based mentality. So what happens when DMC champion and long time exponent of MIDI controllers DJ Unkut turns his entire attention to the controllerist friendly Vestax VCI-400? Magic happens.

We caught up with Unkut, and thought it would be a good idea to find out how he created the set, what he feels about controllers in general and how they figure in the future.

Great Set. How long did it take to put together? 

Thanks Mark. Well, this time I didn’t create the routine in one run. I had a lot of other projects going on, so I had to pause a couple of times. Altogether it took two weeks of intensive work to get it done.

Did you approach this set any differently? Did you for example deliberately spend less time on the jog wheels because it’s not vinyl? 

Yes, it was a different approach on the VCI. Not working with vinyls and turntables was something completely new for me, and therefore it was also more work. It was only partially possible for me to revert to my usual methods.

It was because of artistic reasons that I didn’t use the jogwheels more. I decided to use them in a different way, and to apply them more conscious and specifically in the routine instead of scratching an 8 bar “ahh” part for example. My intentions were to build bridges, rather than performing “classic” turntablism on a controller.

Are there cool tricks and techniques that you can do on a controller that can’t be done on a DVS setup?

I’ve never heard that it could be possible to apply fx chains onto turntables, and to adjust the intensity by just touching the turntable (0:50). On the other hand i can’t imagine to do beatkuts, or more sophisticated scratches on a controller jogwheel. I guess everything has its pros & cons.

The VCI-400 has a lot of buttons already. What does the Pad-One do in the clip? 

I needed a few more buttons 🙂 . Otherwise it would have been too complicated to realize the whole routine just on the VCI. I partially mapped some buttons in the patterns in a way that they were able to trigger the sound, and at the same time switch files for example to deck A which was not used in that moment. That put me in the position to have 8 new triggerable cuepoints to play another variation of the pattern only 1 or 2 bars later. Only like that it was possible for me to realize something that complex.

When I close my eyes and just listen, it does sound like a classic Unkut set. Can you do the same set on turntables and a mixer? 

It might vary a little due to simple fact of the different sound attributes of a controller/turntable. At bottom I could reproduce the routine with turntables & effects, I guess.

If Moldover did that exact same same set, it would be considered controllerism. When you do it, what makes it turntablism?  

What about calling it turntrollerism? =) Probably its the whole approach of this routine which reminds more of turntablism sets due to structure, composition + scratches.

A lot of turntablists are prejudiced against controllers for obvious reasons. How do you view this new technology? 

My weapons of choice will always be vinyl and turntables. Trading a turntable setup for a controller will not be up to discussion. Still I can see the possibilities controllers offer, that’s why I’m not that critical about them. I don’t think I have to limit myself because of the “realness” state of mind which makes people pretty much reproduce things that have already been done. This video also shows that it is not only about the equipment one uses, but about the ability one has to combine old and new technologies to create something special, regardless of trends, opinions or expectations.

Do you worry about how turntablists will view you now that you’re endorsing them?  

Not at all. I think what I’ve delivered over the last couple of years clearly shows who I am and what I do. I just wanted to try one of these controllers out, and flip them on a high level with a turntablistic approach. Nevertheless, it was a one time project and flipping dj controllers is nothing i would want to work on again.

Thinking as a battle DJ, do you think a controller brings anything to the battling table? 

Depends, if one day dj battles would be about dudes battling each other with controllers only, I’d say something went wrong. They should enrich dj performances, not replace them. Then again, allowing controllers like the X1, Pad-One, Dicer or Maschine in combination with turntables, is enriching and brings a fresh breeze into competitions I’d say. In the end it should always be about skills with or without controller.

I noticed that despite the anything goes policy of DMC’s online battle, almost everyone stuck to turntables and a DVS. How do you think you’d do if you created a 6 minute set for the VCI-400?  

Phew, doing a 6 minute routine on a the VCI would be exhausting. I would’ve have to be a lunatic or getting paid damn well to endure something like that 🙂 . It would probably cause controversy among a lot of people because it doesn’t fit into their image of a battling dj. Still, I think at the end of the day you cant deny skills with or without controller. Hard to say, but I probably would do good on it in a battle.

As a working DJ, do controllers figure strongly in your DJ future? 

No. I do use controllers as a compliment in a showcase or in a club, but  as i said before my preferred medium is vinyl.

Huge thanks to Unkut and Rob at KORG&MORE for organising this.
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  • Deejay ORKUT

    routine is boring, the device is great, this is better vci 300 !

    • Monro3

      I have always been fond of this one. The one Mark posted is good though. DJ Kutsi on VCI-300 with a VFX-1

      • Deejay ORKUT

        NICE!!! GREAT DJS

      • Deejay ORKUT


  • vcikila

    the vci 300 routine is quite bad, just using a couple of cue points in an exhausting way and boring newbie scratch patterns. a monkey could do that

    • Deejay ORKUT

    • Deejay Orkut

      put something you ! you have???

    • Deejay Orkut

  • Deejay Orkut

    retire and dedicate to deliver pizzas unkut, very boring routine, a waste of money this guy

    • pedro

      if all you have to say is negative stuff, why do you even bother watching or commenting? do your work and let others go on with their own! I can assure you you’re the one that looks bad in the picture! Take your jelousy elsewhere dude!

      • Gem

        Orkut – I’ll never understand people only commenting to complain. Music is creative, and about expressing yourself. Every single musician/artist/DJ is different. We all hear things differently, like different things thankfully…if you have nothing nice to say, why bother?Music isn’t black and white, right or wrong..there is no wrong, just different taste’s. Bitching is for the school yard. Unless you are capable of recreating this short demonstration, how can you slate it? It’s not a club routine, it’s something to demonstrate the controller. He’s a vinyl jock, demonstrating a short routine on something he’s not accustomed too – and doing it well.It’s not my style music at all, but i think the routine rocked. Don’t troll and judge and waste your time, spend your time working on your own creativity. Gawd the music world can be so bloody bitchy! No need imo 🙂

    • Ragman

      I got an idea. Why don’t you post your set and show unkut how it’s suppose to be done by a real top-notch dj?

  • TOOLtablism.

    • Haha… I knew you’d say that.

      • To me Babu was half wrong limiting tablism only to turntables and I’m not talking about controllers… I’m arguing about MPCs and stuff related. Said that, I didn’t believe in labels because they are partial (Bruce Lee dixit) and separate humans ones against others.
        Babu said: I use my turntable as a guitar so I’m a turntablist.
        Moldover said: I use my controller as a turntablist use a turntable so I’m a controllerist
        I said: I use every tool I can afford in the most expressive way I can afford. I’m a Free Creative Human using tools for my performs. Do you need a label for that…? Uhm, ok… call me Tooltablist but never forget it is only a name. Not the Gospel truth, not my full identity… just a word to talk about. A frozen water concept which try to become the living fluidity of my human being. 😉

  • DJ Orkut – it’s fine to post other examples of controller based turntablism videos, but it is most definitely not OK to start disrespecting other people. The set Unkut posted is amazing – cleaner and considerably more complex and varied than the others you posted.

    • Deejay ORKUT

      yep, apologies, should put other djs too, not just the usual suspects, if they would have the support of djs marks, could do as well or better! ,

  • When I see these videos i’m always massively impressed by the skills and clearly here a lot of time and effort has gone into this. I’m a vinyl and Technics man myself, but I can see that turntablism is possible on any device whether it be CDJs (I have seen some incredible turntalism on CDJs from various DJ’s over the years), or these new midi controllers.
    My only question is this….why do they have to play such hateful, god awful noises (sorry I can’t call it “music”!).
    Can nobody rock a midi-controller using soulful/funky music!?

    • I can only assume that it must be illegal to play soul/funk on anything but vinyl.

      • I’m no vinyl purist and I actually own a Traktor X1 to complement my system at home. I just want to hear someone rock a digital set utilising some nice music.
        The technology is marvelous….the sounds emitting from it on most of these demo videos is horrendous!
        Just my opinion like.

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