Upgrade your skills, not your equipment
We get a crazy amount of emails from our students daily, asking when they should upgrade their equipment, what the next step up from the controller they have now is and what they should be looking for in their next piece of kit. Many of these emails come from DJs at the early stages of their journey, if not the beginning!
Don’t get me wrong; if you are on a Hercules Starlight and want to become a scratching wizard in the DMC World Championships, you’ll need to upgrade at some point. But if you’re an aspiring club DJ who is currently on a DDJ-FLX4 and thinks they need the latest CDJ-3000s & DJM-V10 to get there, you’re mistaken.
At Crossfader HQ, we fully understand the excitement of having a brand new controller to play with; it’s exciting, and it ignites your desire to create and mix, but what most DJs get caught up in is the idea that levelling up equipment = levelling up skills. And this really isn’t always the case.
Become A Master of Your Controller
In 2011, I got the first version of the Traktor Kontrol S2. Now, this controller was not up to today’s standard of controllers. It didn’t have the luxury of 8 Hot Cues, Keyboard Mode, Sampler, Pad FX; the list goes on. But this thing took me from my bedroom to the club; I did all my first club gigs with it. I had no idea how to use CDJs then, so I made sure I knew this piece of equipment inside out and took it to every gig.
I would encourage anyone early in their DJ journey thinking of upgrading their equipment to take some time to think about what they have in front of them. Are there any features on your controller you aren’t using? Can you use some of the features differently? Can you combine different features to achieve something new? With some of the features of the current beginner controllers, you can do so much, and many people don’t realise what they are capable of.
Thinking of Upgrading?
The truth is, and I’m talking from experience here, in the world of DJing, the allure of shiny new equipment can be enticing, but let’s not forget that the true magic of the mixing comes from the DJ themself. While upgrading our gear can enhance our sound, it’s the pursuit of mastering our skills that defines our abilities! When you know your equipment well, it pushes creativity more; you’re forced to think outside the box. If you see your favourite DJ doing something cool, think of a way to recreate that on your controller. The chances are it will be possible. You just have to figure out a way to do it!
I’m not here to say, “Don’t ever upgrade your equipment.” it is equally important to move with technology and incorporate it into our setups, but take the time to really learn your equipment and use it to its full potential. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve!
If you’re struggling for some inspiration, here are some videos of performances on beginner equipment that will certainly make you think differently:
Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 (Performance DJ Mix)
Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 (Performance DJ Mix)
How PRO DJs mix on the DDJ-400!
What I’m listening to:
Pirapus, Brody Leigh – LOST WITH U
I came across Pirapus, a Drum and Bass duo from New Zealand. If this track is anything to go by, these guys will undoubtedly become a big name in the scene.
salute & Sammy Virji – Peaches
Two of my favourite producers of this year have teamed up to create this absolute slammer. One for the Garage and House heads!
Skream – My Body
Not much to say about this one… it’s Skream. When does he ever not deliver?
What I’m Watching:
Disclosure – Looking For Love (Production Breakdown)
Disclosure released an incredible new album called ‘Alchemy’ this year, if you haven’t heard it yet be sure to check it out here
Any Disclosure fans will know that during the lockdown period, they did a lot of music production streams giving an insight into their workflow and a whole bunch of other production tips.
Following this new release, they have decided to carry on their production breakdowns with a track from the album. I found so many valuable tips within this video; if you’re into music production, I can’t recommend it enough. They share some real gems!
We’re here to support you!
We hope these tips have pointed you in the right direction. Even with this knowledge, be prepared to make plenty of mistakes and fail a few times. It’s all part of the journey and will give you valuable experience that will make you a better DJ. Ultimately though, success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about putting in the time and dedication to achieve your goals.
But there are ways to speed things along! As well as our Complete DJ Package, designed to help you achieve your DJ dreams fast, we offer a range of comprehensive beginner courses to take your skills to the next level!