Techno producer Justin James threw down a legendary mix at ENTER. in Los Angeles this past Halloween, and the magic was mastered by LANDR. We caught up with Justin to learn what it takes to create a great DJ set.
What’s the secret to a memorable DJ set?
The secret is music preparation, great music, an amazing atmosphere and chemistry between the DJ and the inhabitants of the dancefloor,
How do you approach curating songs for your mixes?
This is where some preparation comes in. In this era of digital DJing, we have thousands of tracks at our disposal. This seems like a luxury, but when you only have 1.5 – 2 hours to make your statement and engage with the people on the dancefloor, it’s nice to have some idea of what you are going to throw their way.
By no means do I think a DJ should pre-plan his/her set, but having a selection of 40 or so tracks for a 2 hour set will allow the DJ to find what they need to play, and not spend their time digging through thousands of files to find the music they want to play.
What’s your preferred gear set-up?
My preferred set-up is Native Instruments Traktor and Ableton Live running on my laptop. The audio from Traktor is routed out to the 4 stereo channel inputs of an Allen and Heath Xone 92 from a Native Instruments Audio 10. The other two outs of the Audio 10 send audio from Ableton to one of the auxiliary inputs of the Xone 92.
I use Ableton push to trigger live elements such as percussion and effects, to complement the tracks coming out of Traktor. I control the various parameters of Traktor and some more aspects of Ableton using two Allen and Heath Xone K2 controllers.
Name 5 of your most prized records in your collection
1. Plastikman – Spastik
2. Jay Dee – Plastic Dreams
3. Underground Resistance – Transition
4. DBX – Losing Control
5. Cajmere feat. Dajae – Brighter Days (Underground Goodies Mix)
These are 5 classic tracks that never seem to leave my playlist. They stay real close for special moments on the dancefloor, and have certainly influenced my sound and made me the artist I am today.
If you could recommend one DJ mix that’s absolutely essential for every music fan to hear, what would it be, and why?
The beauty of electronic music is that any and every set has the potential to be essential for a music fan to hear. We, as DJs, have the opportunity to present the vibrations that we love to an audience.
The DJ is a vital piece of the machine called electronic music. He or she is the curator of the evening, but the real stars of the night are the creators, the amazing music producers that have crafted these pieces that the DJ is showcasing…
Get lost in the mix:
Justin James is based in Windsor, Canada and has released records on Minus and Sci+Tech. His latest release Not The Curator is out now on his own imprint “refused”. He’s hitting the road with Richie Hawtin in Toronto on Nov. 28 and around the US, Dominican Republic and Italy throughout December. For more info visit his webstite.