DJ software now provides DJs with the opportunity to manipulate audio in ways that vinyl DJs could only ever have dreamed of. Pre-digital however, if a DJ wanted to extend a section of a tune or do any kind of re-editing, then they would get two copies and do it live, mixing between the two copies, selecting their favourite sections – usually intros, breaks or instrumental passages – and looping them by going from one deck to the other.
These techniques developed pretty much concurrently in the hip hop scene and disco clubs of the early – mid-1970s and carried on until digital DJing arrived and made the whole thing a lot easier.
Whilst technology has moved on enough to make these kinds of techniques much easier for DJs, there are still a few fun things that you can with two copies of the same tune. It’s still super cool to do a live re-edit using two copies, especially if you’re working on a mixer with FX. Even if you’re not, extending sections, using the EQ and filters to tease your audience with two copies of a well-known track, really working it to build the tension, can be an extremely effective technique to up the energy in the room.
The CDJ loop section is so easy to use, and looping within software is fabulously simple, you can loop the intro of one copy, then use the high pass filter and delay on the other copy, drop little sections of it over the beats, and before you know it, you’re doing a live dub mix.
One of the favourite old school tricks which you can still do on CDJs is to play two identical tunes, at identical pitch and tempo, at the same place in the track – then touch the platter very lightly – and as one of the tunes goes very slightly out of time with the other, a fantastic phasing effect is produced that you can kind of modulate by touching the jog wheels and bringing the tunes further out of time and then back into time.
Lots of mixers feature effect sections of course but not all so this can be a nice little trick to bring out. Once. Don’t over do it with the phaser, its one of those things which is hugely effective occasionally, and very annoying when done to excess.
Something else which is fun to try is an extremely basic introduction to the art of turntablism – this is a basic trick that you can do with a track that either has a simple riff or a repeated vocal sample and it works on beats too. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to use an example that most people will have heard of, Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ – get two copies, play one, then bring the other copy in exactly 1 beat behind the first – now when you move the crossfader back and forth between the two, you’ll get a repeat effect: ‘EatEatSleepSleepRaveRaveRepeat’.
Then pull back the second copy so that it’s two beats behind – now it’ll go “Eat, Sleep, Eat Sleep, Eat Sleep!” There are lots of variations on this basic technique, depending on the length of the vocal sample and how many beats you pull it out of time, and it works just as well on a great big tech house synth riff or a breakbeat too.
Again, it’s a technique that benefits from being used sparingly, but when dropped at the correct moment, an impromptu live remix of one of the current big tunes or a well-known classic can take the roof off. Give it a go, and have fun with your double copies!