Alex Grover: Why I Prefer Playing a Vinyl Set

Vinyl Set DJingWhy I Prefer Playing a Vinyl Set
By Alex Grover

1. Selecting Tracks

If you were to select tracks for a digital set, you would probably spend a few hours in front of your computer listening through Beatport and Traxsource charts or possibly sifting through some promo’s. For me this isn’t the most exciting way of finding new music and I can get bored or distracted quite quickly. For me nothing beats heading down to your favourite record store for half a day and trying to find some belters to play out in your next set. I like finding five or six tracks, taking them up to the decks and having a listen through the records. Once I have listened through the tracks several times I select the ones I want to keep, when selecting vinyl I don't just buy anything I kind of like, I have to love it and want to hear it in a club and I find that because you are spending more money you have to be more selective and occasionally more cut-throat with your tastes. I can spend hours in a record shop to only find one record I like enough to buy, but that record might be from a limited 200 press and you know that not many people will have it which makes it all the more valuable to me. Also there are a lot of tracks on vinyl that wouldn’t necessarily of been released digitally.

2. Getting to know the tracks.

Once home, its about getting the new vinyl and having a mix. Working out how the tracks are structured and really learning the songs is important because you have no waveforms or beat grids to show you the structure and track movement. Although you can tell how far through the track you are by the needle positioning on vinyl thats about it. It's nice to know your music when you are in the mix so you don’t get any surprises half way through like a lead vocal or big synth line for example that could possibly ruin it. I would recommend keeping your vinyl in an order you know works; for example you can categorise it through a build in energy from one genre to another or though how you would want to time it in a set.

3. The pressure

It is obviously easier to mix on digital players due to all the technology one can use, such as the cue and play buttons, hot cues, looping features, on screen BPM, quantising, the jog wheel and easily being able to search through hundreds of tracks. What I enjoy about vinyl is the pressure of having to get it perfect and the limitations to what you can do with the tracks, for example, none of the above (on digital) are available apart from the play button so it really makes you work the records and your full attention has to be on what is happening with the tracks. If I were to line the tracks up on a CDJ at 124.0 and 124.0 I know they aren’t going to slip out but it is hard to get it as perfect as this on vinyl, you are always having to listen to, and feel the mix as well as nudge the tracks in line every now and then. I always feel like I’m working the mix more on vinyl which makes me feel as if I am part of the set up.

For me as a DJ there is no better feeling than getting two tracks on vinyl mixed perfectly together and keeping them in the mix for a long period and seeing the crowd enjoy what you are doing with the music. As a Techno DJ it's all about long mixing with nice bass switches and smooth transitions. In my opinion the sound on vinyl is perfect for Techno as it produces a warm low end and a nice gritty high end which enhances the vibe of the genre.

When I play vinyl it always reminds be how powerful the “medium can be, and how its limitations can help to get the best out of you as an artist.” - Joris Voorn, and I totally agree.

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