dj sniff, aka Takuro Mizuta Lippit, has been a leading figure in experimental turntablism and experimental music in general. Following studies in New York and Tokyo, he’s been a key artist and curator in the scene, as well as a top practitioner of turntable technique that pushes the envelope of what the record player can do. I got to spend some time with him in the basement of STEIM, the cutting-edge “electro-instrumental” research center in Amsterdam, as he jammed on his rig.
Combining a computer running Max/MSP with interactive physical control and conventional scratching and mixing, Taku’s rig is a kind of hybrid meta-instrument, a one-man ensemble of sound. In our video, he first gives us an extended improvisation. It was literally just him messing around when I happened to flip on the camera; this flows out of him both as a soloist and with other musicians (including acoustic instrumentalists). Then, he walks us through that gear.
Some of what you’ll see, apart from the obvious turntables and a one-of-a-kind custom device of sniff’s own creation:
Cycling ’74 Max/MSP (you can’t see it, but via his custom patches, it’s doing the sampling)
Stanton SCS.3m Controller
Novation Dicer DJ Controller (the little, triangular device propped on the edge of the turntable)
The “Crossfader Trigger Sampler” is the heart of the rig, what Taku says he had to learn to play. It’s powered by a PIC18F microcontroller, though these days you might well choose a different option. (The device was designed in the pre-Arduino days.)
Take a look:
I’m listening now to dj sniff’s album, titled simply
“With every scratch, our memory of a past is suspended and we hear and here the now.”
dj sniff is curating and playing STEIM’s PATTERNS + PLEASURE festival next month. We’ll be in Amsterdam, and will be doing a Handmade Music call; more on that shortly. I just hope I can fight through jetlag and make some music down in STEIM’s bowels.
More dj sniff:
At STEIM in Tokyo, 2008: