Hi, Doctor Nick! - Buying a Proper DJ Set-Up and the Value of Making Good Content

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Nick Hook can't be stopped. Once again, the good doctor is on the road, yet he still made sure to sit down, scrape his brain for knowledge, and put together some advice for the XLR8R massive. For the uninitiated, Doctor Nick does this every Thursday, answering questions about music, life, love, DJing, production, travel, studio gear, and more. He can help you, so send your questions—seriously, we always need more questions—to doctornick@xlr8r.com and let the wisdom flow.


Hope everyone is well. I'm back in LA. I went home to New York for eight hours and got called back to work in LA the next morning. Life. Ride the wave. Check out Kilo Kish's mixtape that came out today. Shout out to Salva for a dope day of Japanese food and listening to new beats. His new record is sick. Shout out to Philly and its amazing art museum. I played this warehouse party in the hood and it was amazing. Ummm.... yeah. Just send in more questions. Haha. :)

Hi Doctor Nick,
I'm just finishing a stretch of traveling that's lasted almost a year, and it's been rad, to say the least. I've had the chance to DJ at a few house parties using a super basic mixer (one that can fit in a tiny suitcase), but I'm moving to San Francisco in a few weeks and want to get a bit more serious about playing at bars, warehouse parties, wherever. There's no doubt that I'll be mad broke when I land in SF, but I was hoping you might have some advice on what a solid "entry level" set-up would be if I could scrape together a couple hundred dollars. You've mentioned that Serato is a solid program for DJing, but what kind of mixers should I go for? Also, with my limited experience in a city that breeds killer DJs, what would be your advice to get going without coming on too strong? No one wants to be that guy who annoys the shit out of every venue or booking guy. Thanks a ton in advance, your wisdom helps get me through every Thursday in Thailand.

Thailand. Awesome. It's humbling to me that people around the world read this.

This is my advice, but I come from the school of get the right shit, especially when it comes to DJ stuff. Eat ramen and work a few extra days so you buy it once and never have to buy it again. If you want CDJs, try and get the Pioneer 2000s or 900s, and if you want turntables, buy Technics 1200s. If you don't, you're gonna end up buying some bullshit that's gonna make you a worse DJ, and at some point, you'll just end up buying the good stuff anyways. I had belt-drive Geminis and a Scratchmaster mixer at first. I don't think I really learned to beatmatch 'til i got 1200s.

To be honest, I've been on the USB/CDJ wave lately. I'm kinda burnt on computers and the USB stick brings you back to listening and not looking like a secretary. Plus, it kinda helps you prepare for each gig and you don't get lost in your iTunes and keep reverting to your old tricks.

I have a Novation Twitch at the crib, which I really love for parties and bringing around when there is no set-up. We leave it on the kitchen table and DJ chopped-and-screwed and get nuts with it when we are hanging around. If you wanna get into contraptions, I really dig that.

As far as a mixer, I'd advise a cheap mixer first alongside the right decks. Upgrade it later. Again, the usual standard is the Pioneer 800 or that Allen + Heath Xone:92 joint. But you could get something for 100 bucks and still be ok.

For finding gigs and stuff, I don't wanna sound like a broken horse, so I think we could look at old columns for answers. Also, once you get to SF, maybe you'll see my editor Shawn in the streets and you can give him a mixtape.

Hi Doctor Nick,
My question isn't so much regarding music production, but rather it has to do with writing about music and sharing it. I want to know if anyone cares about editorial content anymore. I have a Tumblr blog and I feel like I get more hits from posting a stupid picture than I do from a well-written piece about some music that I actually care about. People want instant satisfaction and it almost gives the impression that nobody takes the time to read a post or cares enough to find out more about an artist. What do you think?

We live in the land of ADD. You are absolutely right. If a video is over 13 seconds long, we are prone to switch it. I spilled a beer on my laptop a few weeks ago and almost on purpose, I didn't buy a new one 'til the last possible second. It ended up being a month, but I found myself sitting on my bed, taking out old Wax Poetics magazines with 13-page articles, reading books, and listening to whole records. It felt amazing, and then, literally the second I got my laptop back, I was back to watching YouTubes of John Legend getting boners on stage and turtles fucking. It sucks. I hate it.

That said, if you actually care about writing good articles, please do it. I love reading the New York Times cuz they still care. You might as well be the one fighting the good fight. I'm looking ahead, but I actually do see a backlash to the internet coming. It's fun to stay dumb, but at some point, don't we gotta say that content matters?

I'm so bored of the internet, and trying to break the addiction is the hardest part. Maybe the key is writing like five paragraphs, then putting a stupid picture so we can have ADD for 10 seconds before getting back to the meat and potatoes.

On the real, my favorite sites right now are ones that are pushing through and trying to provide information, documentaries, etc. It's inspiring to find people that still care. As a producer, I have the same problem where the full-length LP format is dead. It's something that means so much to me, and all I care about is paying attention to that format and keeping it alive. Yeah, you can barrage us with a million singles and endless content, but when you make a record that's gonna last forever, that means something. It tells an amazing story and it's such a payoff when it's done right.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.