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RE: Scratch - the movie/DJ's and Echoplexes
I'm on another list (DJ Shadow) that's been talking a lot about this movie.
It's been a long time in the making and I know that a lot of folks in the
scratch community are pretty excited about it.
In regards to the echoplex in DJ use, I have a setup that looks a little
2 Vestax PDX-2000 Direct Drive Turntables
1 Vestax PMC-07 2 Channel Mixer
1 Gibson Echoplex (With foot pedal)
The echoplex is an integral part of my sets, it's what allows me to
myself from other DJ's, by way of being able to create music rather than
just play/mix it. It allows me to do more finger-painting, making a mess
and trying to say "Oh yeah, that was a very deep theme that I was running
with, it was making a statement about the socio-political climate in North
Korea right now, and the plight of the worker......uh yeah."
The setup that I have right now is not the way that I would like it, but it
works and it has a lot of "functional nuances" (Jerry Rigging) that I've
grown accustomed to, actually just trying to squeeze the plex into my mixer
has been the problem, I wish that my mixer had effects sends, that would
make my life easier....look at me I'm digressing.
The turntables are the two inputs into the two-channel mixer.
The echoplex is fed it's input from one of the master outputs of the mixer
(the other going into the amp) using rca-->1/4" cables.
I use the main mic input on the mixer as the input from the echoplex, since
I'm limited in channels, I had to get creative.
I control the volume of the plex, using the mic volume on the mixer.
In order to overdub, I have to pan the mic channel, on the mixer, over to
one side (Either right or left pan), to prevent it from overdubbing itself
and coming up with a nasty hiss that eventually washes the original loop
out. So, by using the glorious mono feature, I am able to overdub cleanly.
Here's how I use the turntables with the echoplex:
I use the plex to help me create a 'break beat' that I can work with and
scratch on top of.
I find a suitable 'drum kit' (A passage on a record that has a few
kick/snare/symbol licks that are clean and free of other instruments) and
scratch out a beat using those 2 or 3 sounds, scratching whatever pattern I
feel like with the kick and snare and coming back through and letting a
symbol sizzle through and over the beats that I just scratched out. (This
is the foundation for about 2-3 other "songs" that I roll through and by
undoing and then changing my bass lines/hooks or doing reverse work, I can
make a whole different song.)
Once I have the drum kit that I want, I loop it, multiply it to around 8 or
16 bars and then off to find the bass line, hook or phrase to match the
rhythm. I do this for about 4 or 5 different beats (in different loops) at
around the same bpm, so that I can flow around between different rhythms
beats for variety and flow seamlessly with the press of the 'next loop'
I generally like to find or make a bass line that will span across the bars
and can be very modular (easily replaced with the next bass line or hook.).
That's one thing that I LOVE about the echoplex, it's ability to make
modular components that can be easily switched around for dynamics. If you
don't like the horns here, just undo 'em and throw in a vocal or scratch or
whatever you want.
Once I bring in a horn or a piano tinkling along, I like to let it run for
few cycles and feel it out, then come back in a start to work with it and
scratch (or let a spoken word passage go) on top of that. If there's a
scratch that fits, I just overdub it in and keep it there, until it's time
to undo it.
This is the best way (for me) to remix a song, locking it's beat in (just 1
bar or so, something in between lyrics or hooks) mixing around the vocals
even bringing in another artist that has covered this tune and making them
sing together over one unifying beat, trading 4 bars with each other.
Singer1 on Turntable1 (preferrably an acapella version), song beat on
Echoplex looping away into infinity, Singer2 on Turntable2 (preferrably
acapella version of song). Mix at will.
Or extend that break that keeps the people bobbing their heads. It's also
great for bringing in a intro or bass line from one song into another, or
keeping a Mahalia Jackson soul moan revolving around a deep grumbly beat
bringing her back in every 32 bars of each song, however you prefer to work
Beat juggling with one-two records and a loop of the beat is another
favorite application, it's like getting 3 drummers playing the same thing,
slightly offset or together. By this I mean that I get 2 bars of a beat,
then mix in from record 1 the same 2 bars, but either doubling up the
rhythm, or accenting snares or kicks, or flamming the snares back and
or even offsetting record 1 a beat so that I can get all snare or kicks. I
cut out the sound on the plex by using either a quick press of the mute
button (starts the sample at the start at the next press, so I have to
more) or doing a long press to subtract the beat that runs while the button
is pressed, then releasing to have the beat continue. This process can be
further confused by adding record 2 (same beat) and now you have 3
sources running the same beat. All of this is kept in synchronicity by 2
things, the echoplex looping and my hands back spinning (rewinding) the two
records back to the start of the bars and fading in with the mixer. It's
just a way to reshape a beat and get a little more personalization out of
it. Making a very straight rock tune get a little more funky with more of
lag or swing in it, making a singer triple echo with a slower then faster
(pitched) echo, etc.
If any of this DJ/Sampler hoo ha sounds interesting, I would offer up some
of the better names of DJ's who use a sampler with natural proficiency:
DJ Radar (www.djradar.com) He works with 1 turntable, a mixer and an
echoplex and makes the most fantastic scratch based music as a one-man
DJ Shadow (www.djshadow.com) Much more produced and edited sampling, but
DJ Z-Trip (www.djztrip.com)
> I'm also
> curious about some of the more advanced DJ mixers that include
> sampling functions.
In regards to Other products that sample, etc. I upgraded from this to the
vestax mixer and echoplex about 2 years ago.
1 Numark EM-360 Mixer with KAOSS Pad (This was replaced by the vestax mixer
and the echoplex) The kaoss pad was the sampler, but it didn't have enough
time on it (5 second max) and you couldn't overdub =(~ But it did have a
gang of effects on it that were controlled by a touch pad (great feature)
you could slide the effects' effect's on an x and y axis in order to
the desired sound, and the sampler could be time stretched, chopped,
reversed, etc. I recommend this as a fun mixer with a good deal of inputs
(3 channels) and it will work well with an echoplex, tweaking a sound or
beat with the effects processor, then looping that in the plex, then
chopping it back up in the kaoss pad, then looping that in the plex again,
so it's a pretty processed piece of meat by the time you're done with it.
Things I wish I could do with my turntables and echoplex:
I wish I could stutter. I still haven't figured out how to do it with a
Alright, I am going to cut this boring diatribe short now.
Thanks for listening.
From: Andre LaFosse [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 3:04 AM
Subject: Re: Scratch - the movie
A big part of my current view on using the EDP actually comes from what
I'd call a post-DJ mentality.
The idea is that the EDP is like the mixer, and the input signal
(guitar, in my case) is the record that's spun. And a lot of the things
I do with the EDP (glitchy insert replacements, stuttery retriggerings,
the infamous remultiply + undo trick, and such) are the equivalent of
"scratching" the input source.
So the EDP is being used to actually sculpt and shape the sound itself,
rather than just playing back the original sound that goes into it. I
sort of think of some of my EDP tricks as a looping equivalent of
Richard Zvonar wrote:
> I caught an early show of the documentary film "Scratch" at the Nuart
> in Santa Monica. It's (I think) a fairly comprehensive look at DJ and
> turntablist scene. Although it didn't make me want to wear my hat
> backwards, I was impressed by some of artists profiled, such as Mix
> Master Mike and DJ Qbert.
> I've been looking at some of the DJ technology, and some of it really
> is remarkable. For those who really need to get their mitts on vinyl
> but want to push the envelope there are disk cutters and even a
> system that allows you to control a computer playback system from a
> special vinyl record. There are also a number of very advanced CD
> players that allow most or all of the vinyl spinning techniques, an
> then some. I wonder if anyone on the list is familiar with these
> systems, such as the Pioneer CDJ-1000 and Numark Axis 8. I'm also
> curious about some of the more advanced DJ mixers that include
> sampling functions.
> Richard Zvonar, PhD
> (818) 788-2202