When I first began DJing, little did I know that the beginning of a new era had already begun.  It was the year 2000 and like most kids today, I wanted to become a DJ.  It was an attainable dream and one which would lead me on many paths as a marketing professional but most importantly as an artist.

Like few entrepreneurial projects in the music industry, Traktor evolved the DJ and paid homage to the disc jockey we once knew.  It brought controllers and turntables together on stage, and many creative possibilities for producers, DJs, and artists alike.  It has sparked conversations of controversy, powerful partnerships between man and machine, but most importantly my interest into the art of DJing and the future of sound.

Prior to the addition of the laptops, there were two options for disc jockeys.  Vinyl turntables or CD Players.  While I started on vinyl, I slowly moved towards the Traktor and laptop way of performing which was powered by a Stanton soundcard at the time.  Traktor was in it’s infancy and many DJs weren’t so quick to adapt to the laptop.  Pioneer CDJ-1000’s were the standard as many artists were still using CD formats.  While many were spending thousands on tabletop multi format players, I decided to create the Traktor hybrid setup since it cost less, and allowed me to make use of my Stanton vinyl turntables.  It was at this time when I realized how the future of DJing would come to take over my life.

Fast forward to today and you’ll see that Native Instruments have really stepped up their game.  Focusing primarily on hardware and hardware/software bundles, they are the one company that puts creativity before technological knowledge.  It is effortless to use their products which is great for all of us creatives as it allows us to lay down ideas quickly, yet advanced enough for effective customization.  But the one thing that makes them stand out the most at this point in time is their introduction to the new audio format called “Stems”.  It is probably the most important introduction to the DJ world since the unveiling of the mp3 and like their Traktor Final Scratch product revolutionized the way I play, Stems has already created buzz on how the future of DJing will look for years to come.

Stems are classified as an “open multi-channel audio file that contains a track split into four musical elements –bass, drums, vocals, and melody” .  For those of you who don’t know what it is I am talking about, i’ll try to explain it.


Imagine the image above is similar to the 100M track event at the Olympic games.  Each runner has 100M of a single lane which he/she uses to run from one end of the track, to the other.  Looking at the image above, you’ll see we have 4 runners.  the red runner is “Drums”, the purple runner is “Bass”, the turquoise runner is “FX & Synth” and the gold runner is “Vox (or vocals)”.  As each of these runners takes off, you’ll notice that the waveforms above are independent from one another much like the runners on a 100M track.  This allows for some very advanced mixing and manipulation of each audio stem which was only dreamed about when I started using Final Scratch.  It essentially allows each of the 4 elements of audio to run independently of each other so that certain pieces can be removed and replaced with another element from a track that is being played from another deck.

Stems is a very exciting piece of the pie when we talk about the art of digital DJing as it now takes the performance aspect of things to a whole new level.  While Native Instruments has been hard at work over the past few years developing this idea, they have already began to think about the future of sound by releaseing controllers to compliment the addition of Stems to Traktor which will be released this summer.  The real question is not when, but what and how will this allow artists to create more memorable experiences when performing?  It’s not just about mixing two vinyl records anymore.  That era seems to be left in the past and although it is still relevant, technology continues to push things forward.

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