I have been absolutely blown away by the love and respect that came back from the first Music Factory mix so thank you for all the comments. It has been a real positive push to continue the project. There is no more fitting way to start the new Live section to the blog than with my set from the 20th birthday of back to basics in Leeds on November 26th 2011. The show was called '20 year party people', and was an electric night attended by over 1000 people. It also turned out that it was the to be last ever back to basics held at the Stinkys Peephouse venue so in both ways a poignant night to record.
Live music is very important to me. Hearing a track on the radio or on a ipod is a great way to enjoy music but it can not match the power of seeing that song performed live. Live shows can be disappointing of course when performers fail to achieve the sound they create in the studio but this is made up for in abundance by the excitement of the show. It may seem weird to hear a DJ talk about live performance as we are often playing other peoples music but it's about how that music is performed. The basics of pitch, key and continuity are vital but so is timing and flow. Every DJ will have good and bad sets so it's about achieving consistency, something I have worked very hard to achieve over the years. Very early on in my DJ days I received invaluable advice from a veteran which was,"you are only as good as your last record". I always have these words echoing in my ears as I play.
There has been a huge amount of debate over the last years about format. DJing had not changed format from playing vinyl records on Technics 1210 decks for over twenty five years until the digital explosion of the late 90s introduced several new ways of mixing music. The first change was the introduction of high level CD decks from Pioneer. I remember clearly that this was greeted at the time with resistance from the vinyl faithful. However CD decks became ubiquitous in clubs fairly rapidly. Native Instruments then introduced the Final Scratch system with Stanton in 2000. This took somewhat longer than CD to establish itself, despite being pioneered by Richie Hawtin, as it involved using a laptop which many people (both DJs and clubbers) didn't like. The system developed into Traktor Scratch, which is currently extremely widely used. Pioneer then brought out CDJ2000 decks which allow a DJ to play directly from a USB card.
The release of every new format of DJ technology has met with huge debates and in-fighting between DJs, clubbers and aficionados. I myself now use Traktor Scratch Pro, which I absolutely love, but try when possibly to play vinyl alongside it. This suits my style as I enjoy mixing loops and creating drama on the dancefloor through use of effects, although it takes a while to learn not to overuse them. I also get rewarded with a nice warm glow if I play a slab of vinyl. However, I have been there through all these changes of DJ format and feel like it has been a good series of technological progressions. The versatility and control I now have at my finger tips alows me to perform in ways that would not be possible on a 100% vinyl or CD format. I do still have an aversion to using the 'sync' function. Mainly because I am so used to pitching records. I must also admit to being incredibly bored by the endless discussion about which format is right or wrong. I am also amazed that an industry that has been built on technological advances gets 'it's knickers in a twist' every time something new comes along. There is only one thing that matters when you hear a DJ and that is - 'do they sound good ?'
So back to the mix. I released my Music Factory Years 91-94 mix on November 23rd, I was surprised by the amount of people who listened to it and realised that I couldn't repeat myself again if I wanted to release a live mix from the club. So I dug yet deeper into my archives to find what represented a good selection of tracks palyed over the 20 years of the club rather than the specific time period of The Music Factory. It was hard to cram this into a two hour set so I didn't try. I could have played all night but of course everyone wanted a turn to play. In fact we couldn't get Todd Terry off the decks he was enjoying himself, so much in fact that my set is ten minutes short. Anyway without further ado, here is the mix with a full track listing below -
Ralph Lawson Live at Back to Basics 20th Birthday. 26/11/11 by ralphlawson
The Jacksons - Can You Feel It
Kano - It's a War (Serge Santiago edit)
Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (Young Edits Sophistocated Melody Version)
Fred Falk & Alan Braxe - Intro (RL edit)