The birth of great things often go unnoticed until many years later when those great things are held responsible for changing history. March 31st, 2008 was the birth of one such great thing that has, from the start, changed the digital DJ community forever. That great thing is the DJ TechTools forum, which celebrated it’s third birthday on Thursday. Today the forum hosts over 35,000 members that are constantly breaking important DJ news and helping other members get more out of their journey through DJing. To commemorate this special day, we are looking back at the past and the people that helped make the forum what it is today.
Going through the post archives we can find several threads with the 3/31/2008 as their birth date with the very first post being a poll created by Ean asking what software people were using so they could better focus what kind of tutorials they should have on the blog.
This serves as a testament to the fact that the blog was developed to further the digital DJ community and that the forum was a tremendously beneficial side effect to that. To celebrate the special day I did some quick interviews with a few of the original members turned moderators. Bellow you’ll find a little bit of who they are, their history and some interesting facts about the forum.
BentoSan was the 9th person to sign up on the forum and only a month later was asked to chip in with moderator duties. He’s been taking a much needed break lately and due to the quick deadline of this story I wasn’t able to get his answers back in time. I have however gone through the forum in my best stalker mode and collected some interesting information.
One of Bento’s first post was a poll asking what people preferred to be called as digital DJ’s.
Even though he’s a producer at heart, like many of the other original members, Bento found the forum by searching for information on the VCI-100s. Inspired by Ean’s controllerism and armed with a new appreciation for digital mixing he started to develop his own style. Bento wrote several articles on Smart Mixing which have helped many Ableton and Traktor DJs alike over the years.
Some time in 2008 Bento became the very first employee of Dj TechTools (we now have about 10), responsible for growing and maintaining the forum which he helped build.
You can check out Bento’s 2009 Drum & Bass mix which has already passed 6,000 downloads here.
Michael Mitchell aka Midifidler found the forum searching for information on the VCI. He was the 6th member of the forum, joining on the first day along with Bentosan. One of his first posts was a poll asking if people wanted an inexpensive cable to do the VCI-100 firmware upgrade. This became the first internally developed product that DJTT offered for sale and helped thousands of people add incredible functionality to their VCI-100’s. This collaborative medium of ideas born in a community forum, then realized on the blog and sold in the store would become the template for how Dj TechTool’s unique business continues to grow today.
Pre DJTT set up
- Behringer BCR2000, but soon added a VCI.
- Midi Fighter (More on that below).
- After using Serato and a pair of dicers for about a year Midifidler’s back on Traktor 2.
- Midi Fighter (More on that below).
Four days after joining the forum Michael started a thread called custom controllers where he showed off a box shaped creation he made after being inspired by Ean’s arcade modded VCI-100. Some of you may recognize the controller as the first Midi Fighter.
The first time Michael met Ean was after an unplanned trip with Bento to the Kharma Kandara resort where Ean invited the two on a little vacation with the DJTT mix competition winner, Beeson. It was on that trip that the 2 DJs decided to bring the Midi Fighter to life in a commercial project as a DIY kit . With limited resources and a shoe string budget, Michael, Ean and Robin (below) developed the product from scratch with absolutely no funding and a whole lot of passion. Today the Midi Fighter is a major part of Dj TechTools culture and provides the funding that we re-invest into new ideas being hatched up right now!
In January, Michael moved to San Francisco from New Zealand to work full time for DJTT (5th employee?), an opportunity he says that has “allowed him to combine his passion for engineering and design, with his love of DJing and music. “ The fact that he gets to work with a great team who all share the same interests is just icing on the cake.
Fatlimey AKA Robin Green was the 48th person to sign up in the forum, but has been a major contributor ever since. One of his first posts goes into details about things like multiplexers, bits, breadboards and a whole slew of other things that are frankly way over my head. You can read one such post here. Years later he’s still banging on about how simple it is to use the 4051 multiplexer as can be seen in this thread.
Pre DJTT setup
- Started Digital DJ’ing 10 years before Traktor came out with Carrotsoft’s Virtual Turntables (VTT)
- X-Session Pro which he still highly recommends for beginners.
- Bought one of the second runs of the VCI-100 SE which he recently saw converted to an arcade mod with the 1.4 firmware
- Also works on the many incarnations of the Midi Fighter they have in the office.
Robin says he knew from the early days of using the VTT software that digital DJing was the beginning of a new style of music manipulation and bugged industry contacts for an introduction to Ean. It was around the time of that meeting he says he got roped into making the software for the Midi Fighter.
To give everybody an idea about what kind of hands our precious Midi Fighter is in, a quick glimpse at Robin’s resumé reveals design work at Sony on the PlayStation 3, a brief stint at Google, credits in four movies from Dreamworks and future work with the guys behind the Xbox Kinect. Even with all that Robin says “Coding the Midi Fighter has been just about the most intense programming job I have ever done, because there’s no precedent. Nobody’s done the things we’ll be showing in the near future so we’ve had a few mis-starts as we try and invent the future in real time.”
When asked if he had anything to add Robin said “READ THE FAQ. Read it. Live it. Don’t bother me with it. :-)”
Although Robin claims to be doomed to be an eternal bedroom hero you can hear some of his moldering mixes at http://www.soundcloud.com/fatlimey
Leslie Brohm AKA Leslie Jones AKA Tekki was the 61st person to join the forum and found DJTT like so many others did, when a friend was having a problem with his VCI-100. His first post can be found here http://djtechtools.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19 Where he asked for advise on what controller to get. He was finally brought on board as a mod after the rapid growth of the site facilitated the need to help Bento and the other mods out.
Pre DJTT setup
- Behringer BCR2000
- Audio 4
- Midi Fighter prototype (received shortly after joining the forum)
- Traktor Kontrol S4
- Same prototype Midi Fighter
It’s worth pointing out here that Les has been a long proponent of the BCR2000. He loves the controller, but recognizes the superiority of the one to one integration with the Traktor software and the S4. The combination of the S4 and a Midi Fighter is a great way to supplement the software/controller combination.
As far as life without DJTT Les says it would be a lot less adventurous. He’s had the opportunity to see a few things in advance of the crowd. Things like forum additions and some advance controllers. Plus he was able to spin at the first Midi Fight club held at Tresor in Berlin. A place he had wanted to check out for over 10 years and being able to actually play there was a dream come true that would not have happened if not for DJTT.
Les’ final bit of advise is something he’s fond of saying on the forums often “Think of what you want to do, make a (mental) sketch of it, compare this to what is already available and follow up.” Oh and if you’ve seen the picture of Corporation wearing nothing but a paper bag and his VCI while sitting in his studio please don’t post it again. Some things are better off being lost on the internet.
You can find more about Tekki at http://journal.ome-les.com
Jared AKA DvlsAdvct was the 42nd person to join the forum. He stumbled on the site via http://www.skratchworx.com after toying with digital vinyl systems but deciding he was tired of lugging all that gear around to various dive bars and questionable venues. Soon after he was on a VCI and Traktor.
Pre DJTT setup
- Turntables and CD’s
- First gen Midi Fighter
- Launchpad with Abelton plus testing a bunch of different controllers to see what works for him.
One of Jared’s first posts was a question on how to jury rig Traktor 3.4 to make his VCI-100 a four deck controller. Something he soon found was not possible. Not letting that discourage him he focused all his attention to spreading the gospel of the beatgrid. After seeing how adept Jared was at this it was decided that he would be equally adept at deleting spam so he was asked to become a moderator.
When asked what his life would be like without DJTT Jared said “I’d probably have spent a LOT less money on digital equipment and I would have wasted FAR less of my life in Bome’s. Oh dear lord, the hours I spent coding in Hex. On the other end of things, I wouldn’t have met people who have become good friends.” One of the things that appeals to Jared about the forum are the regulars that can just shoot the bull without taking everything so seriously.
In closing, Jared said “I’ve learned a LOT here. I mean a LOT. I’ve learned more about DJing as a theory and a practice from some of the people here than from most other people in my entire life. There is so much knowledge and positivity here that I can’t stress how important it can be. The blog is great, but these forums are filled with some geniuses I can only hope to aspire to be like.”
Jesse Orozco AKA JesC was the 324th person to join the forum just a few months after it’s creation. Jesse found the forum on the Native Instruments site seeing Ean talk about the VCI-100 mods he was doing.
Pre DJTT setup
- WinXPX-Session Pro
- Echo Indigo
- Pioneer DJM-700
- Serato Scratch Live
- Macbook Pro 13″
- Jesse still has #5 of 100 of the original run of VCI-100SE’s
Jesse’s first post was asking about using an Edirol MD-P1 with MD4 and how he was tired of using the keyboard. Tekki gave him his first reply and of course, recommended a BCR2000. Jesse commented on how he was a total noob, but the forum was full of people who knew a ton about MIDI and how everybody was so helpful.
After experiencing some major worldwide growth in the froums it was decided that some more US help was needed in the mod duties to better spread the spam deletion to different time zones across the world.
One of the things that was echoed by everyone I talked to was community, community, community and Jesse was no different. There’s a certain bit of camaraderie, along with a little ribbing, amongst the regulars. For example Jesse’s favorite post was when Jay who is member number 26285 justifiably told Chilly who is member number 93 to RTFM. To sum it up Jesse’s a big fan of what some call the place where nice DJs hang out.
Quick forum facts
As of 9:00 am central US time on MArch 31st, 2011 there were:
- 24,971 threads
- 251,109 posts
- 35,439 members
- 58 people joined the first day
The first 10 people to join were
- Deleted (Ean’s 2nd Profile)
- The Duelist
Birth of the Midi Fighter
First for sale thread?
First forum post.
VCI-100 SE’s sold out
The search for the patent attorney
Explanation of the Fader FX theory
The first interactive webcast
A NOTE FROM EAN
From day one it was clear that a vibrant forum was going to be important to this site’s success. It was also clear that there was no way I could manage the blog AND the forum so I turned that responsibility over to the people on this page. My instructions were simple. “Make sure it feels like the best record store ever. The one where everyone is welcome, the staff is helpful and there are no haters.” Bento and the rest of the guys did an amazing job of turning my vision into a culture that continues today. Without their help and contributions, the digital DJ world WOULD be a very different place. Congrats guys on three solid years, and here is to three even better ones!