I have to admit. I think Serato Scratch has made me a better DJ. No it’s not just the instant doubles, looping and cue point functions. Ya, those are the bells and whistles that entice you to drop 700 or some bucks for the little magic box that turns sine waves to party favorites. No, for the very same reason a dj friend of mine, who bemoaned the headache of organizing audio files as opposed to just shelving them into record sleeves returned it, I think it’s added to the art of the dj.
Maybe I’m just lazier than most, but before what I mostly remembered about my tracks were the record covers, at times the wax colour, maybe the label. If it was a real floor ripper, I might actually look to find out who produced the thing. In the world of fly by night producers and one hit wonders, those who were in for the long haul just eventaully rose to the top of the pile in both my record crate and my memory bank. But it wasn’t until now I remember all my tracks by name, artist AND label.
It’s because I have too. Now that I can have the equivalent of a 100 crates in my laptop, I have to come up with some way to find where to drop the needle in the record stack. This requires data entry, dividing and filing. Creating as many crates as you have tracks is both a musical dream and bureaucratic nightmare. Of course you can organize things as you like by BPM, comment, mood whatever, but it seems easiest just to remember the name of the song and or artist.
The point is one has to organize. I know anal vinylphiles are patting themselves on the back right now, but the arrival of such bureaucratic measures into the mixing decks can take some of us by surprise. For the over occupied dj the record sleeve tactility traded in for typing, the vinyl flipping for mousing, has remixed the whole process. For me the end of a session is no more about collecting black wax strewn across the room, it’s sitting and filing, dividing and labeling and building my system and set at the same time. Little less romantic yes, but it pays in spades when playing out.
Seeing my entire crate cascade down the screen in an instant and knowing where things are allows as sort of euphoric efficiency that while playing out gives more time for effects, loops and just plain sinking into the rhythm. It’s added another layer of intimacy to the whole my relationship with my collection, which is no longer such a casual fly by night affair. I’ve actually read, labeled and alphabetized everything. OK serato alphabetized but from A-Z I know exactly what’ I’ve got and by who.