It’s Richie Hawtin Watch time! The latest: NI teases an upcoming DJ controller by sharing video of Richie playing it in a club. The surprise: it’s actually what he’s doing with Maschine that seems most interesting to me. And if you recall the Twitter DJ app that he promised in the spring, it’s here, ready to use so long as you have Traktor and a Mac. (If you’re reading, Richie, do let me know if I’ve gotten my facts straight…)
Native Instruments yesterday pointed me to a video they’ve posted of Richie Hawtin DJing at Berlin’s lovely Saturday Adventure Club. The point of this is, of course, to tease an upcoming DJ controller they intend to announce in detail in November. You can already tell a lot from watching the video: it’s a hardware controller (or two chained together) that focuses on the Traktor working method. That is, there appears to be an emphasis on control of multiple effects, and cue and loop points, and it seems you can control Traktor’s full four decks. (At least, that’s what I get from squinting at the video; I could be wrong.) Regular Traktor users may be able to tell more, so … um, squint away.
To me, actually, it’s what Richie is doing with Maschine that looks most cool. He’s using NI’s drum machine to program in live beats and loop those, and it appears he’s then using Traktor as a sort of software DJ mixer / DJ source / effects unit. This shouldn’t be a big deal; in an ideal world, we’d have lots of DJs getting crazy playing their own beats atop their mixes and really mixing up the stuff they’re playing. Sadly, too often what you get is people playing tracks straight, which means you could just stay home and drink and dance in your living room. Richie’s sets do a lot more than that – and of course, what a lot of us are looking forward to is a rebirth of his original Plastikman stuff on tour, expected some time in the near future. If you’re interested in what he’s doing in his live sets, and his fellow minus mates, let me know and I can find out.
Before anyone complains about his line-up of gear, Richie was involved in the development of all these products, including the Allen & Heath mixer. So I would expect him to use the stuff!
In other news, the TwitterDJ app is now freely available, for Twittering tracks live from Traktor. The bad news is, the installation and setup is pretty involved, and it’s Mac-only. I like the idea – part of the vision of TwitterDJ is getting DJs reporting tracks they’re playing, so producers get paid when their music is played. And letting clubgoers discover tracks they’re hearing is also a great thing. I suppose the advantage of it being on Twitter is that it’s accessible to people at clubs with cell phones. But you do wonder if a Web-based format wouldn’t be better, and given that underneath is the cross-platform Icecast streaming server, it seems too bad to me that the app is Mac-only. Building networked apps is a perfect application for platforms like Java and Python. But don’t get me wrong: it’s great to see someone who plays out as much as Richie does experimenting, and sharing the tool he built. I’d like to know if the tool is open enough that other people could take it and adapt the idea to other platforms and servers / communication media.