Despite being just 24, DJ Tay James has accomplished a lot in his field. In addition to being Justin Bieber’s tour DJ, he’s been the go-to-jock for events like the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll and the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. He still finds time to offer his services to those interested in pursuing a career as a DJ with one-on-one lessons he provides during his downtime.
Although he honed his skills via the traditional method of two turntables, a mic, a mixer, headphones and a few speakers, James is no stranger to the digital age. There’s no way any DJ worth his or her weight in vinyl could ignore the advent of CDJs and the revolutionary Serato. While the advancement of technology is scary to most DJs in the industry nowadays, James couples it with the traditional to use it to his advantage. So aside from headphones and speakers, what tops James’ must-have list of gadgets and apps for the digital age DJ? BlackEnterprise.com picked the hi-tech jock’s brain for the answers. —Amy Andrieux
“I saw a DJ friend of mine, DJ Baby Dru—Chris Brown’s DJ—practicing and he pulled out an iPad, and starting scratching, hitting drops and relooping,” recalls James. “I was like, ‘Whoa! What is that right there!?’ When I saw that I bought an iPad.” Since then the device has become an integral part of his DJ set. “[I immediately] downloaded a mini deck application and it connects directly through my Serato via Wi-Fi.”
For those concerned about being unable to pick up the nearest Wi-Fi feed on your iPad, James says, “Create your own network on your laptop, [then] you connect your iPad to that network and it connects [online] through that. It just depends on how far you are from your laptop. It [works] sort of like Bluetooth.”
By the way, DJ’s can use one or two iPads to get the effect they’re looking for, but one may not be suffice. “It’s really crazy because you can have one iPad and DJ a party,” James adds. “I don’t know how good you’ll be at it, but I’ve seen it happen.”
The Serato ITCH by Vestax
“Technology has gotten so crazy where you don’t even need two turntables nowadays,” James says. “There are so many different programs where you can make loops of songs, reloop songs, make live remixes on your computer and have everything come in on time.”
However, he does suggest investing in one dynamic program that makes blending and mixing that much easier. “They have the [Serato] ITCH now, the all-in-one Serato, two platters and mixer combination [program],” he shares. It features a mixer and two little turntable patters that connect directly to the DJ’s iTunes list to make song selection easy. “All you need is this ITCH program and it connects right to your laptop,” James continues. “You don’t even need a power cord; it’s powered by USB.”
An External Hard Drive
The more space on your hard drive, the better, otherwise, where are you going to store all of that music when you’re not carrying around records in crates anymore? James says jokingly, “I had five crates of records I was carrying [back in the day] and I was driving a little [Mazda] Miata. Tell me how I was able to do all that?” He continues, “I know the pain, I know the struggle and I’m happy where it is right now.”
While record labels used to send out bulky vinyl, most music in record pools is now sent in mp3 format and CD versions. Not only does that save time and space, but money in a financially strapped industry. However, storing music on your laptop is a no-no as it takes too much space. Consider the 1TB G-Drive external hard drive from G-Tech, which promises high-speed and high-performance. For more intensive storage devices, G-Tech offers drives with up to 3TB (that’s three terabytes, which equals 3,000 gigabytes) of storage space for your tunes.