If you've ever owned a pair of Technics 1200/1210 series turntables, you'll know what a delight they are to mix with. Granted, today's digital mixing era has largely superseded the old-school analog way of mixing with vinyl but, back in the day, these brutes of house music could be found in practically every decent dance club throughout the world.
House Heads Radio is an online radio station. Our DJs are worldwide and they all have one thing in common (well 2 if you include their love of house music!), they play from home. I’m not sure what the rules are everywhere else in the world, but here in the UK, there are restrictions around how loud you can play your music and at what times. In addition to that – a lot of us (as a population) live on top of each other – so not only do we have laws to contend with, but also moany neighbours!
I started buying music in the late 80s, when vinyl was still a big seller. But, alas my first record was not anything related to House music, but one that was very typical of my age at the time (under 10 years old). I was extremely excited to hand over the 7” vinyl and hard-earned pocket money to the assistant in WH Smith, and I was duly handed back Bart Simpson – Do The Bartman in a crisp new bag that I clutched on to like it was a new Lego set. I played it, and played it, and played it, much to my parents' disgust. I also remember buying the re-release of Jackie Wilson – Reet Petit, and I still have this 7” to this day!
Back in 1995 I was 18 years old with party life in full swing. I was following local free parties and raves. Me and my mates used to party in the local woods most weekends. We would hire a generator and take our belt drive turntables, an old amp and some speakers into the woods, strap our hammocks to the trees, set up the DJ in the corner and light a fire in the middle. It was the perfect vibe. What often started with about 8 of our mates often turned into a party vibe of 20 to 30 local lads/girls all getting on it. One night after a year of enjoying Techno and Trance my good friend digs out a tape from his pocket. It's now the very early hours of the morning and the decks are no longer being played by anybody. So we listen to my friend Wayne's tape (DIY PEZZ 1995). I had never heard such amazing vocal and incredible sounds in such a smooth and sophisticated way, 124BPM.
In the late 1970s at the age of 20, I was introduced to an amazing after-hours gay dance club called Stages, in Toronto Canada. For the next couple of years we went every Saturday night, and the drug of choice was LSD "microdots" - they came in different pretty colours and people swore each one had different effects. The music was incredible! Songs like Katmandu, Blondie's Rapture, Funkytown, War of the Worlds... mixed on 3 turntables! While history tells us that house music originated in Chicago in the early 80's, I can remember the music at Stages being called house music.
Hosting your own radio show is great fun. It’s all yours, you play regularly to an audience and with a station like we have at HouseheadsRadio.com you get to entertain people all over the world.
The dynamics of preparing for a broadcast, however, are different to that of playing out. I’ve been DJing for nearly twenty five years and whilst I was obviously confident with mixing, I recognised when I signed up to do a show that the preparation would be different to playing out. I discovered though, that there was relatively little advice out there catering for this kind of show (though a fair amount for talk radio).
So, in the hope that I can rectify that if only a little, I’ve put together my top three tips based on what I’ve learned so far.
That dreaded button. "Push and Play", this representation on our current realities has reached into the sound booth. Gasp!! In a world, where songs drop in rapid succession in a cosmic race to cash in on the newest loops of the month. It is really no wonder that a computer generated song gets processed in an algor-rhythmic sound booth. Lets back it up to the era of vinyl... you're about to be schooled...
That Syncing Feeling
Yep, love it or loathe it, the controversial sync button is here to stay. If you've started to DJ in recent years, you'll no doubt be familiar with this innovative mixing aid. Long gone are the days when you reached into your record box, pulled out that precious piece of circular black plastic and spent what seemed like an aeon tweaking the pitch control on your turntable, trying to get the BPM just right.