Sunday, April 20, 2008

Record Store Day = The Future of Turntablism?

For those of you who don't know, Record Store Day was a simultaneous celebration of independent record store culture that took place in stores across the nation and the UK. Here in Los Angeles that meant the place to be yesterday was Amoeba Records, where promotions, giveaways and celebrity DJ sets were on tap for their appreciative customers. So, naturally me and my brother, dedicated vinyl junkies that we are, decided to venture over to Hollywood to check out the festivities.

While we both spent over four hours searching for records (one of my favorite pastimes), we were also treated to DJ performances from the likes of Daniel Ash and David J (of Bauhaus/Love and Rockets fame), the Donnas (who basically put as little effort and enthusiasm into their set as possible) and Stones Throw co-founder/producer extraordinarie/beat magician Peanut Butter Wolf. I'll give you five seconds to guess which of the DJ's made a lasting impression. . .ready?

Rather than throw down a set full of vinyl goodness (which would've been fine by me, since PB Wolf can spin wax with the best of them), PB decided to kick it up a notch and do an all video set. What this means is he used a computer program (my guess is Virtual DJ) that interfaced with his mixer and allowed him to mix video clips as if they were records. It was pretty cool to watch and it was a pretty ingenious way of forcing the audience to focus their attention towards the stage, rather than nonchalantly listening to the music while flipping through the record racks.

As I watched PB Wolf do his thing, I kept thinking to myself "is this what the future looks like?" That is, will DJ-ing eventually turn into as much a visual experience as it is a musical one? I have no idea, but it's obvious that the synthesis of old (turntables, vinyl) technology and new (software, computer hardware) is creating more opportunities for the DJ to expand their artistic craft. It's fun to watch and I can't wait to see what else they'll come up with next.

[Photo courtesy of flickr user beaucolburn]

Peanut Butter Wolf @ Amobea Records, Hollywood from Ivan Juarez-Mrazek on Vimeo.

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