INTERVIEW: James D’ley At The BPM Show For Allen & Heath
“BPM is the world’s largest event dedicated to DJing, Electronic Music Production and Entertainment Technology. Visitors include DJs, producers, performers, promoters, venue owners/managers, equipment retailers/installers, technicians, record label representatives, students and many others who simply have an interest in DJing or electronic music.
Upon James’ return we had a chat about his experience at the event. We talk about the Allen & Heath XONE equipment which he was showcasing at the event alongside some very popular names and industry heads:
Interview with James D’ley
How was this particular gig then, James? A little bit different to the stages and festival tents, was it not?
BPM was really good on loads of levels. It certainly is very different from clubs & stages. The people in attendance don’t really go to dance or “lose themselves” which is the norm at most of the places I play. BPM, is all about the technology & the users. You are on display way more than the normal club environment, and instead of people dancing away, you have crowds of stationary people watching your every move. I loved it! It presented an extra challenge of getting people bopping, which I succeeded in of course! I also felt like the flamboyant tricks and stuff I do was something that these people really wanted to see. I got to express myself more than usual technically.
You were asked by Allen & Heath to represent them at the BPM event in Birmingham. But what is it that they wanted you to do?
My relationship with Allen & Heath is pretty straight forward. As a world class mixer manufacturer, and one that has modeled itself on the House / Techno / Trance genres for years they were looking for someone to promote their products to the ever growing “bass” scene. I was lucky enough to be chosen as that representative and so far, they are really happy with my work for them. For me it’s Win-Win. I get to use the products that develop my skills daily and I get to show them off on a global level.
You had a DJ battle with Zane Lowe, is that right? And who won?
Hahaha! I wouldn’t say it was quite a “battle”. It certainly wasn’t planned. But yes, correct. On one of the days I played, the stand next to us (Pioneer) had Zane Lowe playing exactly the same time as me. I didn’t know at the time until he finished as the crowd was chocka on both our stands. He only played for 25 minutes and I was doing an hour. Throughout that 25 minutes though my stand was pretty chock and his was only slightly less busy. As soon as he finished though, they all came over. I wouldn’t like to say who won, but I’ll give it to him by default for being awesome. For now. There will be other times, I’m sure.
Were there anything in particular that you were able to do that he wasn’t being as he was using another brand of technology?
He was using CDJ’s and I was using Controllers. Not too much of a difference, other than functionality. On a basic level, my equipment allows for faster mixes, in my honest opinion. Greater control over the music in general. Regarding FX application, there isn’t a mixer on the market that even comes close to the Allen & Heath range. He probably had a fair few dubs I didn’t have mind.
Were there any nods of approval?
The biggest head nod I got whilst I was there, was from the legendary Cutmaster Swift, who live on the main stage, cited that I was one of the most energetic performers he had seen and that you don’t see that anymore. Basically, he bigged me up to the crowd which was really nice as he’s been an inspiration of mine since I was a kid.
What do you think makes the A&H gear better or more different than others tech brands?
They are designed to be a high-end user piece of kit. Their build, their design and their finish destroys Pioneer products all over the board. Allen & Heath are a bespoke piece of kit, designed to enhance and push the boundaries of your limits. In particular the XONE mixers are leagues ahead of of anyone else when it comes to what you can add to your mix.
How do you prepare for that kind of event or does the technology they (A&H) provide enable you with allow you to do more things on the fly, as it were? Did you have the set planned?
The XONE Show I did at BPM and taking it globally in a couple of weeks required a massive amount of preparation. It’s not that I plan my sets one bit, it’s more that every piece of music has to be beat gridded for Traktor, cue points put in prior, as well as choosing a map for my Controller (it comes as a blank canvas), learning it, perfecting it and becoming as comfortable with it as I was my previous format. It does however allow me to be way more creative when I’m free-styling. The music is ready, I have access to 4 channels at my finger tips and everything I need to do can be controlled within my reach in a matter of seconds. In general, the XONE set-up has allowed me to take my execution and style to the next level, which is really important. I always have to feel challenged on the decks!
Despite yourself being familiar with A&H hardware, does the tech still surprise you? Are you able to learn a lot very quickly or does it take quite a bit of time because it is some bit of kit that takes some controlling?
The whole Controller world took me a bit to get used to. At first it was really frustrating and initially I was still finding it a lot easier to mix manually on decks than use the computer based system. It took me weeks and weeks of practice and preparation. But learning anything new can be like that if you have a previous level to achieve. The beauty of this kit is it’s all about what you do with it, so yeah, it’s not for the fainthearted and you have to be prepared to go the distance with it. Like anything in life, I suppose. The level of the FX and the endless possibilities in how you can use them still boggles my mind. I was coming up with new stuff on it live as I was performing. I’m that kind of a DJ though so it’s great that it climbs with me. That’s what I love about it the most.
James was using 2 x Xone:K2 Controller – 4 Deck & FX Mix with Xone:DB2 Mixer. Check out all of the Allen & Heath products available here as James would recommend. The mix we have included is a live recording which is a cracking assortment of bass-laden beats from underground legends to commercial chart-toppers, all revolving around dubstep, DnB and breaks.
It is a free download available via the James D’ley Facebook page.
02. DJ Shadow/Irn Mnky – Gotta Rokk – Stereo:Type Refix – Free Download
03. ShockOne – Lazerbeam ft. Metrik & Kyza – SkisM Remix – Viper Recordings
04. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger – Accapella
05. Zomboy – Here To Stay ft. Lady Chann – No Tomorrow Recordings
06. Fatboy Slim – Happy – Max Sedgley Remix – IRMA
07. Virus Syndicate – Venom ft. Mark Instinct – Midication Records
08. A.Skillz & Krafty Kuts – Tricka Technolgy – 2013 Remix – Free Download
09. Specimen A – Rock Star – Funkatech Records
10. Foreign Beggars – Apex – mau5trap
11. Excision & Datsik – Deviance – Dirtyphonics remix – mau5trap
12. Cruk – Punisher – Ammunition Recordings
13. Lynx – Disco Dodo – Creative Source
14. Hamilton – Echoes – Ram Records
15. Freestylers – The Coming Storm ft. Takura – Ed Solo Remix – Rub A Duck
16. Daft Punk – Aerodynamic – Specimen A & James D’ley Refix – Free Download
17. PYRAMID – Leads To Nothing – Funkatech Records Dub – OUT SOON
18. Knife Party – Internet Friends VIP – Earstorm
18. Zomboy – Terror Squad – No Tomorrow Recordings
19. MUST DIE! & Mantis – Multiple Exits – Never Say Die Records
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