Hi, Doctor Nick! - The Doctor Recommends More Bits of Gear and Discusses Whether DJ Schools Are Worth It

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We've said it before, but there really is no stopping Nick Hook. Whether he's fresh off a long overseas flight or in the midst of whatever other craziness his daily life entails, our resident advice columnist finds the time each week to answer our readers' questions and dole out some knowledge. There's no topic that's out of bounds, whether it's music, DJing, gear, travel, romance, production, or any other thing the XLR8R faithful needs to know about. So drop the good doctor a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com and watch the knowledge flow.

Ayeeee. It's like 1:20 a.m on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I'm riled up from the basketball game, but also it feels like 7 a.m. cuz I just got back from Sónar. Hopefully I can sleep tonight.

Sónar was so amazing. I loved it so much. Everyone should go next year, or sometime at some point. It's such a good vibe. I love Barcelona. I would shout out like 7 million people but that's probably boring. My favorite set of the festival was Bambounou. He was so good.

Also, we are running out of questions again. Everyone send them to doctornick@xlr8r.com. EVERYONE.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I was wondering what your thoughts were on DJ schools like Dubspot and Scratch Academy. My friend wants to start DJing and is hell bent on signing up for classes, whereas I feel like you could learn all that stuff on your own with practice, like I did.

I know you've talked about production schools before, but I'm curious if you feel the same about DJ schools.

To be honest, I'm into anything that works for said person. I have a yoga mat at home, which I never really use, but when I go to a class at my gym, I always get that full hour of enjoyment and focus. I know sometimes the perception is out there that you aren't keeping it real if you don't do it yourself, but I wouldn't worry about that. I know some guys that teach at Dubspot that are not only amazing teachers, but amazing people and you know I'm all about meeting people outside of your ecosystem. So maybe the beauty just comes in that fact, that while you are learning how to scratch like A-Trak you will be also maybe meeting some new peers that you can make beats with, throw parties with, and so on down the line.

Hi Doctor Nick,
First up, I really love your articles. There's some nice stuff to learn, especially for a youngster like me. :)

During my vacation, I'm going to work on an assembly line and make a few thousand dollars. I'm going to spend the first money I make on gear and not on my first car.

I know you already listed some of your favorite gear, but you also said that you could go on forever—could you maybe go on a little more for me? :D That would be dope.

Awesome man. Shout out to the youth. We need you guys. Gear over cars always. Ride a bike. When I was a kid, I only started to get into trouble once cars came along. Also, I'm still mad at that dude who got held back a grade when we were younger and ended up getting all the girls when he had a car first just cuz he was older than us. Not fair.

In terms of gear, I can't remember where we left off, but right now:

1. It's not quite analog, but Ableton Push has completely blown my mind. The fact that I can turn the screen dim on the computer and make music is one of the best feelings I've felt in a long time. Combining step sequencing and "MPC"-style drumming at the same time is incredible, and the way they have used the pads with the scale structures has made me start to see the piano the right way for the first time in my life. It's also been really useful to start practicing and helping with my theory. I really can't say enough good things about it. And I have it as a hub controlling all my MIDI stuff.

2. Did we talk about the new Korg MS-20 last time? I think so, but I've had a chance to play with it more, and for the price, it's really great. It's fully analog, there's USB MIDI, and MIDI in. I'm really actually not mad about the little keys and it sounds pretty spot-on for an MS-20. The filter is amazing to run audio through, so you kind of get a dual usage from it. I haven't played with them yet, but I'm also eager to mess with the Vulca series stuff. Korg is killing it right now. Respect.

3. Random guitar pedals. Keep your eyes out for cheap, used guitar pedals. Run your stuff out of the computer through them. Putting hats through the purple Boss Flanger sounds amazing. Taking your kicks through RAT pedals sounds great, and any Electro Harmonix is going to be pretty tite.

4. Shure SM7 microphone. Great mic and it's not that expensive.

5. FMR Really Nice Compressor. Like the name says, it's a really dope compressor for a cheap price. Stereo. Highly recommended.

6. They're a little more expensive, but save your money and fill up a lunch box with 500 Series modules. Stereo Pre/EQ/Compressor and you can take them anywhere you go. API is what I got my eye on next, but there are a million little companies doing amazing things. Matched with an Apogee Duet, you have about the highest quality stereo chain you can get and anything you do is 100% record quality. Look at Vintage King and start salivating over all the cool stuff.

7. MFB-522. It's an 808 clone that's super dope and super cheap. It's perfect to sequence with Push, it works with MIDI. I want all of their products to be honest, but I don't have any yet. Bok Bok and Nehuen both have this thing and it's always dope every time I get to mess with it.

That's a little more for now, but here are some bonus websites to waste time on…

www.tapeop.com (A free subscription to the mag is highly recommended)

Okay. See y'all soon. xxxx

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.