If you’re a Traktor user, taking the first step towards using the Remix Decks can be a daunting one. They look complicated and seem to taunt you; like how the naughty school boy at the back of class taunts the teacher. But there’s an easy way to take control of those unruly, mystery decks. Let me explain.
All too often we talk ourselves out of becoming great. We put things off that challenge us and move them lower down the list, to tackle when the conditions are better for us. Sometimes this works perfectly, as allowing life to unfold organically can be very beneficial to us. But there are times when we put things off for all the wrong reasons.
The first step of the process is to get your passion priorities straight. As you’re reading ‘Traktor Tips’, I’m pretty confident that one of your priorities is DJ’ing. Correct me if I’m wrong, it could be DJ equipment? In which case you might find you have an addiction, not a passion.
So with your priorities in order and DJ’ing firmly at the top, it’s time understand why you have moved certain aspects of DJ’ing down that list, one of them being, learning the remix decks.
Before I get into the crooks of this post, I need to impart a side note. A little philosophy and science on what makes us tick as humans.
What Makes us Tick?
It’s important to understand the value of what resonates with you?
Certain things make us feel good, these are things that resonate with us. By choosing a path that gives us most joy, we are choosing things that resonate with us and create a better life for ourselves.
But the confusion comes when we begin resisting things. Resistance is just another form of resonating, yet it is disguised as something we feel difficult to move towards. It shouts at us so loudly that we are scared of moving toward it, yet it’s on the same vibration as what resonates. We are so passionate about it that it has created an energetic tie that must be investigated. We try to suppress it, but it keeps coming back to haunt us. We owe it to ourselves to investigate these things.
For things that simply just don’t resonate with us, we basically pay no attention to them. We understand that it doesn’t align with our values (or our vibration) and so we never pay it attention. We simply move away.
By understanding these concepts you can learn to navigate your life more effectively and choose what’s right for you.
Are the Remix Decks For You?
So now you’re equipped with the skills to decipher what you should and shouldn’t move towards, you can decide if the Remix decks are calling to you or not.
As a vinyl DJ in the 90’s, a CD DJ through the millennia and a Traktor DJ in the 2010’s, I have ‘resisted’ the Remix Decks. There’s been this underlying urge to use them, but it took me forever to dig into them.
Despite buying a kontrol F1 when it first came out, the remix decks sat dormant and the F1 unused. I just couldn’t bring myself to take the plunge. Finally, the timing was right and things came together. I taught myself the remix decks and even created a course too.
How I Learned the Remix Decks
The key to anything you learn, is perseverance. In an age where everything is instantly accessible, we feel it should be how it is in the film, the Matrix:
“Load me up with Carl Cox’s skills, I’m going in!“
We don’t live in this kind of Matrix. You gotta put in the work and can’t expect someone to just load you up with “Superstar DJ” programme.
Starting off Small
Native Instruments thought of everything when they built Traktor. They already programmed in a bunch of buttons on the keyboard that controls the top row of the remix decks and even the loop recorder! Wow, who’d have thought?!
They even included a pretty picture that shows you what those keys do. Well that’s helpful.
So what’s your excuse?
Perhaps you’ve moved ‘learning the remix decks’ down your priorities list because you want to buy a controller; an F1, a launchpad, or some other well marketed piece of plastic?
Whilst these are excellent controllers, you can lower the purchase of the controller further down the list, placing it after the item ‘learn to use the remix decks’.
It’s like buying a pizza stone and cutter before you’ve even tasted pizza. Who knows if you’re gonna like it!?
You currently own all the equipment you need to start using the remix decks. No excuses. Once you’ve mastered it, which I’m sure you will, then you can at least have greater insight into how you want to incorporate the remix decks into your DJ performance, if at all?
At that point, you can make an informed decision on what equipment you need to buy. And how nice does it feel to take responsibility for your own decisions, instead of relying on other’s opinions to advise you on what you should buy?
More Fun than you Realise
“But the keyboard’s boring!” I hear you groan.
Maybe from a performance perspective, using the keyboard appears dull. You look nothing like your DJ idol and the girls will think you’re a geek. Well, aside from the fact that geeks are hot, you’re not at that level yet, you don’t even know how to use the remix decks. So get over yourself, learn how to use the keyboard to control the remix decks and have that edge over others that don’t.
If a controller goes down, or you forget your USB chord at a gig, you’ll still have full control over Traktor with your keyboard; ‘cos I hope you didn’t forget your laptop too!?
Learning to use the keyboard takes about an hour. There’s only 40 or so keys to learn and most of those are duplicates for each deck. Learn one track deck and one remix deck and then transfer those keys to the other decks. So really there’s only around 20 keys to learn.
Finding the Keyboard Shortcuts
Whilst in Traktor, head to the ‘Help’ button in the menu. From there you you’ll see an option, “Open Manual…”
That will take you to a folder containing a bunch of different things. One of those things is a folder called, “Keyboard Shortcuts”. Open it up and you’re halfway there.
Position this keyboard crib sheet in a small window underneath Traktor and get cracking. If you’re operating on a small screen and you’re in no way concerned about the environment, then perhaps print it out (It’s a ton of black ink).
You’ll have the basics down in no time and will be able to easily achieve a similar mix to the one in the demo video below.
The demo video is taken from my Remix Deck Course and shows you what is possible with the keyboard and mouse.
The video is not some high powered over-marketed piece of promotional material paid for by an international corporation. It’s a 13 minute mini mix intended to show the realities of DJ’ing with the keyboard. This is something you can achieve after an hour of learning the default keyboard mapping. I recommend watching it all the way through just so you can get a complete idea of what’s possible.
It’s very easy to take control of those remix decks. When you have the skills to create a few mixes in this way, you will begin to expand as a DJ and will see things in a different light. It’s at this point that you will discover how you want to progress from your own intuition and creativity.
You might decide that the remix decks are not for you, but at least you gave it a shot and figured it out for yourself, rather than allowing the beliefs of others to dictate your reality.
Whatever path you choose as a DJ, make it your own. Dig deep inside yourself to realise your passions. Do what feels right, for you! Ignore the critics, yet listen to the feedback. Have fun and forge your own unique path to success, however that may look for you.
Al Churchill has been DJ’ing since 1994 and created traktortips.com in 2011. The video above is taken from his latest Remix Deck Course which is open for public registration until the end of March 2015.