The controllerist corners of the DJ world were agog when Native Instruments introduced the Remix Decks back in 2012. Heralded as the next revolution in DJing, it’s fair to say that as a workflow, it was definitively revolutionary from a DJ perspective, but despite this it hasn’t really impacted on the wider DJ scene. Perhaps a look at NI’s new Remix Deck video might help you understand what’s going on.
Mad Zach is one again on hand to abuse the Kontrol F1s in a bid to show the potential of the Remix Decks. Sandwiching a Z2 betwixt a brace of F1s does give better context for how the F1s and Remix Decks can be viewed, which in this case is replacing decks with a pair of advanced loop and sample controllers. So in this respect, the setup is very DJ oriented.
But at its core and certainly the way Mad Zach uses them, Remix Decks are very much about performing more in an Ableton Live way than playing one track to another in a DJ style. So you can see how the majority of DJs might steer clear as it really doesn’t fit in with the established two or even four deck workflow.
Not now, but the future?
NI has been very quiet, playing its cards closer to its chest than ever. But given that they’re pushing the Remix Decks again, this suggests to me that they’re still very active in this area, and may well be playing a part in what we assume to be a big update to Traktor Pro 3.
Given that DJs are increasingly expected to be producers and performers as well as chatter increasing around stems i.e. individual elements of a track being made available, one could theorise that the Remix Decks are about to get a serious upgrade, and along with it will possibly come new hardware.
It’s about accessibility
When launched, I advised NI to do as many tutorials as possible, because as a workflow it’s a bit of a head-scratcher for most DJs. Those accustomed to years of conventional DJing struggle with the concept, nor can most people be arsed to make Remix Sets. Like Ableton Live, there’s a very steep learning curve to take an A to B jockey into using bits of sounds.
For me, the adoption of the Remix Deck workflow will depend on the content that’s available for it, and making it a tad easier to understand and use. If people can readily lay their hands on music that they and their audience knows, and can easily smash to pieces, then it’ll be adopted. It’s great that NI offers gigabytes of free homemade Remix Sets, but that’s not DJing — that’s production. DJs need to play things the crowd knows if Remix Decks are to get wide acceptance. But give them stems from popular music and an easy to use Remix Set construction kit and the game is changed.
Wouldn’t it be nice if…
Kicking around the principle of making Remix Decks easier in the Worlxlab, Dan came up with the idea of an app that scans a track and makes a best guess at creating a Remix Set automatically, and be able to fine tune as necessary. Given Traktor’s ability to scan music and create heat based waveforms and beat grids, it shouldn’t be too hard to add to this feature set to automatically grab sections of tracks. We’re not saying it would be perfect from the start, but it would give people the immediate ability to get to grips with Remix Decks.
Do you use Remix Decks? If so how? If not, why not? Let’s give NI some solid feedback.