Sunday, January 13, 2008

Too Much Too Young

Well my foray back into live DJ-mix recording has had mixed results.

I had gotten a home-stereo system based CD burner- which is great. The sound is incredible and the base sounds better that most CDs. The 2 mixes so far are from vinyl records, mostly 12"s and they are thick and chunky, not tinny like store-bought CDs- with too much 'high'.

The trick to this process is that you need to track the songs so they are registered on the final CD as individual songs- a number of songs instead of one long track. Not such a bad thing, you just have to reach over and hit the little red record button every time you start a new song. Well, the tricky part is when you are attempting to mix out of one song and simultaneously fading into the next. See, the pan slider doesn't work on my mixing board so you have to fade one song up as you are fading the other song down, at the same time you have to reach over to hit the button and track it! And since I have been doing this myself, I have to, hopefully, have the next few songs picked out, all the while scratching down the song titles on a scrap of paper. (I could really use an 'engineer' to help me with this process!)

The appeal of the live mix is the spontaneity and the mistakes (as long as there are not too many!). The final CD represents a moment in time. I have boxes and boxes of cassette tapes that are the same thing. The dated ones help to explain a bit about what was happening at the time of the mix- putting it in context. These live mix CDs are what it sounds like when you are DJing at an event. When you are out DJing live you can't stop a song you don't like and play another one. If you make a 'bad' choice you usually are stuck playing it through, maybe fading it out early if the song lets you. It is different when I make a mix on the computer, I put in a bunch of songs, fool around with the order, burn a copy, listen to it in the car (the best place to listen to any mix is in the car, ask anybody...), swap around the songs, burn another copy, listen to it, etc. etc. You get the picture.

The live mix is a real 'what you get is what you get' it is an 'as is' mix; warts and all. So far I have made 2 mixes, and they are a bit rough. Now do I take these CDs and use them as a guide, remix them them by doing it again and trying to clean it up? The both have a 'dog' or two- these are songs that sounded like a good idea at the time, but after listening in on the final mix, don't seem to fit in. The 'dogs' sometimes appear when a track is short and I don't have time to look for another, so I grab the closet record (see The Selector) , which may have been an 'on deck-maybe' song and toss it in to keep the flow going. Do I re-record the mixes using these versions as a guide and replace the 'dogs' on them? Don't get me wrong, there are some highlights where the mix is perfect-- is it possible to recreate the good spots exactly the same the second time? Or do I leave the mixes as is as is, and except them for what they are; live and rough- like doing in in the niteclub/house party.

Do I go ahead and make cool cover art and hand them out to all my friends? I have to listen to them a few more times and see.

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