Music History

If You Hate Laptop DJs, Then You’d Better Read This

For some people, the only way to DJ is with two turntables a microphone, none of this Serato-on-a-laptop shit. It’s all about fast hands, quick reflexes, clever scratches and creating loops in real time to keep the beat going.

Nice, but maybe it’s time to move on. I was one of the greatest audio tape editors ever–no one was better with a razor blade, a grease pencil and and editing block than me–but now no one cares. All editing is done digitally. I had to embrace the future. Maybe the same goes for DJs. Check out what DJ Rob Swift has to say in this article called “The Day I Learned to Stop Hating Laptop DJs.”

The first time I saw someone using a laptop to DJ was around 2001 at a DJ school. The X-Ecutioners had been invited as guests and already the idea of going to a DJ school and people paying to be taught how to DJ tripped me out, because I learned this art form organically on vinyl and turntables.

I learned to DJ by watching my brother and his friends use our dad’s equipment in my living room. There were times when my brother would take me to hooky parties, friends’ birthdays or park jams and I’d watch other people DJ. I was exposed to this very, very organically.

So, there I am at the DJ school where I see a student on a laptop, scratching on a piece of software — the Serato-predecessor called Final Scratch. To me, it was an abomination! It looked all wrong. I felt offended that this student, someone learning how to DJ, was learning on a laptop and not records. I was so offended that I didn’t touch it. I remember thinking that I didn’t even want it near me. I went into another room feeling annoyed.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38308 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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