Strap in DJs, because you’re about to be dragged kicking and screaming into the brave new world envisioned by Native Instruments. And holding your hand through the potential head wrecker that are Traktor v2.5’s Remix Decks and the Traktor Kontrol F1 is Moldover, the Godfather of the controllerist movement.
This is all about live controllerism in its purest form – manipulating loops and individual sounds and instrument samples, which Moldover does effortlessly and seems immediately at home with this new NI gear. I like this video – partly because it’s perhaps a more suitable method for showing the remix decks, but also because it offers practical examples, and also shows the little utilised live sampler on the S4. I still struggled with just how punch mode works (I get it now), but there’s still a lot of explaining to do of this new workflow.
Unless I’m very much mistaken, “DJ” isn’t mentioned once. I don’t know if it’s deliberate, but for me it underlines the differences in mindsets when approaching the Remix Decks. Controllerist is a term bandied around and is more often than not generically tagged onto DJs who use controllers for DJing, rather than musicians and producers who use controllers for live performance.
But this inspiring demo shows us that DJs can be performers too. While Moldover uses the F1s and S4 as instruments rather than players to make a clever live performance, DJs can take cues from this type of thing and incorporate more performance elements into their sets too.
My concern right from seeing it back in January was that it’s a very complex proposition to get across to DJs. The Serato/Ableton Bridge mashup has suffered because of the simple fact that DJs don’t get Ableton Live. It’s not so much a learning curve as a learning wall that has to be scaled for DJs, who are used to working largely in a simple 2 deck setup.
The success of this way of working will be down entirely to explaining it properly. Technology is moving at a breathtaking speed right now, and it’s easy to forget that there’a a lot of DJs out there who are still getting used to using loops in their sets, let alone cramming a semi-DAW into their headspace. Generally, we know deck A and deck B playing long tracks, and to be confronted with a 4×4 pad doing so much more than we’re used to is daunting to say the least.
So software vendors – please do not expect us to run towards an entirely new way of working without showing us the way first. And use music we recognise too – that’ll bring understanding on leaps and bounds. Dig deep for that sample clearance for your promo videos and you’ll reap the benefit later.
Thus I urge NI to break the Remix Decks down idiot style so that people can see the real potential. It would be a shame to see a possible game changer fall by the wayside because the potential audience simply didn’t get it.
Incidentally, Moldover has a full free album to download – grab it here.