As the end of 2018 approaches, the art of DJ’ing inches closer to its 85th birthday. The term “disc jockey” itself was first coined in 1935 by New York City-born radio commentator Walter Winchell. Later, in 1943, the first official DJ dance party was curated by then DJ Jimmy Savile in Otley, England, who played Jazz records while claiming to be the first to use twin turntables for uninterrupted listening. Flash forward to the date honored as August 11, 1973, when Clive Campbell (aka DJ Kool Herc), spun his sister’s birthday party on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, now celebrated as the intrinsic and iconic moment into the birth of Hip-Hop. Using two turntables, a guitar amplifier, and speakers to mix the breakbeats, Herc chopped up his favorite records and faded them onto one another to create an all-new sound. The rest is Hip-Hop history. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.
The technological advances in music consumption, practice, and performance has drastically changed in a myriad of ways over the course of time, as problems with users current technology give life to new, intuitive, and transformative solutions. Like vinyl’s evolution to cassette, to CD, to MP3, and beyond, the equipment used to perform the music you’re hearing has morphed as well. DJs are no strangers to these industry ebbs and flows, and as DJ Jazzy Jeff can attest, “any DJ that uses turntables has a list of problems that they always have to look at, especially if you’re playing indoor or outdoor. You have to worry about sun, wind; vibration is the worst. Once there was a bunch of DJs starting to play on CDJ’s they started changing the stage. They started to make the stage less durable and started putting more speakers on the stage, which sounds great, but it creates a massive problem for me.” No matter how good the DJ is, sometimes these issues cannot be resolved given these constantly changing variables, and even though they may be unavoidable and without human error, like Jazzy says, “The crowd doesn’t care.”
Now You Can Spot Samples By Diggin’…With An App On Your Phone
To tackle this problem head-on, Jazzy Jeff visited the Music World Media team to take a look at and spin their latest product, Phase. According to the company, Phase, “thanks to a first-of-a-kind patented technology, has two remotes that capture the turntable’s rotation information and wirelessly sends this information to a receiver. The receiver then processes the information and applies it to the digital signal it generates to send it to your setup.”
This system, as Jazzy Jeff captures in real-time, entirely removes the need for needles as Phase’s technology expertly captures the most intrinsic, minute movements for veteran-like scratching and spinning. From the MWM website, “Every rotation movement, even the tiniest, is detected by the remotes and instantly sent to the software, offering a real-time audio control with an unrivaled accuracy. This technology guarantees a seamless signal quality in any situation. No more issues with damaged needles, defective turntables, or rumble from the heavy bass. Phase provides the quality and comfort of DJ controllers, keeping the feeling and accuracy of real turntables.”
Could this technology truly change the game? Or will classical DJ turntablists and OG Heads scratch it off the stages? Already, some DJs have started discourse surrounding the effects of this technology:
DJ Jazzy Jeff states his opinion, “I’ve seen people do the perfect DJ routine and somebody bumped the table. Like that, you can’t control that. To take all of the technical stuff out and make it 100% about you, is freedom I’ve never had before. Every once in a while somebody comes out with a product that changes the culture. What I just saw was the next change in the culture. Phase has done something that I’ve never seen done before that is going to change DJing forever.”