Artist Gear Setup: James Zabiela

Today we have an extra special artist gear setup for the DJTT community featuring technical jedi, James Zabiela. It’s been a few years since DJTT first spoke with James Zabiela about what’s in his bag. He packs an incredible amount in his bag and for anyone that’s ever seen him perform he takes full advantage of his gear. Keep reading to learn about his performance gear, the book he’s reading that he’s called a “game changer”, and why there’s a lego Darth Vader in his bag.

Performance Gear

  • Tuna Knobs (1) – A kickstarter funded project that allows tactile control of dials in iPad apps such as Touch OSC.
  • Vestax Pad One (2) – The best, most durable and reliable pad controller I’ve used plus with ease of editing control values on the unit itself. This controls Ableton, some of the mappings mirror those on the iPad but obviously you get more control and zero latency with this (and the DJM which is also serves as a control surface). It also doesn’t mind being sweated on. It’s main use is for my gater/reverb fx & trigger dummy envelopes but it also does more mundane tasks such pitch bend and clip view. Now Vestax has gone bankrupt I’m waiting for DJ TechTools to make a suitable replacement controller.
  • Korg Kaossilator (3) – The Kaossilator 2 came out and broke in about twenty minutes after being unboxed, this baby has been going for years. I run this into the RMX-1000 to sample and loop it.  It’s fairly useless on it own if you’re wanting to add it to your DJ sets. The RMX-1000 is capable of feedback loops which you can set in Remixbox software.
  • Pioneer RMX-1000 (4) – My favourite effect is the HPF Echo, I have changed the settings so when you whip it all the way around it cuts the signal completely but leaves the tail. This makes it really fun during mix-outs, allowing you to expressively cut & echo back in bit of the previous track. I do have some of my own hits on an SD card but space wise it’s limiting so for that kind of thing I mostly use Ableton. Watch Ean’s review of the Pioneer RMX-1000.


  • MacBook Pro (5) – Filled with 1 pimpin’ TB of Flash Memory, external hard drives are for suckers.
  • MacBook Pro Power – Guaranteed to lose this every few months.
  • Spunge laptop case – This acts as a good buffer against vibration in venues where laptop stands aren’t present.

Headphones & Ear Protection

  • Pioneer HDJ-2000s (6)
  • Bose QC 20i earphones (7) – Essential travel item & unlike previous over ear models you can even use these in a loud DJ booth for last minute prep and the noise cancelling won’t wig out.
  • Custom Ear Defenders (8) – In need of a wash.


  • Ortofon Concorde Stylus (9) – In gigs where I don’t have to fly, I’ve started playing some vinyl again. I buy a lot of vinyl and there seems to be a lot more releases than in recent times that are vinyl only.

USB Flash Drives

  • USB Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 Keys – These are the best I’ve found to work Rekordbox and the CDJ2000s, other keys with exactly the same specs I’ve had in the past have had slower transfer rates.
  • UDG mini digi wallet (10) – For keeping USBs and SD Cards safe.

Cables, USB Hub, & Adapters

  • Ethernet Cable plus adaptor – For when all the USB ports on the CDJs are taken, I can network my laptop in.
  • DJ TechTools USB Chroma Cables (11) – I didn’t pay for these.
  • 1000 spare cables and jacks (12) – Stolen from a night club near you.
  • UDG USB Hub – Should my adhoc network go down, this allows me to connect the iPad into the a spare USB port. Learn more about powered and unpowered USB hubs
  • Universal Travel Adaptors – These work in every country

Personal Stuff

  • Burton Bird Feet Sock – Extra thick, acts as a protective case for my Vestax Pad One & now they’ve gone bust I have to look after them.
  • Hairbrush – Not like you’d notice
  • Sunglasses – For the day/morning after
  • Emergency Chocolate M&Ms
  • Lego Jeff Vader (13) – for good luck
  • TARDIS keychain torch (14)
  • Packet of spare batteries for the Kaossilator, which can usually last throughout 4/5 gigs.

Watch the first what’s in your bag with James Zabiela. As you’ll see his bag was just as packed:

Bag Overflow

  • Making Music 74 Creative Strategies For Electronic Music Producers – This book has been a game changer and inspired me to buy all the junk in this photo whilst on the road in Australia.
  • Roland Tricapture soundcard – Hastily bought on the road on tour in order to record the Korg. Does the job.
  • Roland Midi to Usb interface.
  • Apogee Mic – For getting quick field recordings into iPhone when out on walks.
  • Tascam DR-40 – For recording my sets with crowd noise.
  • Korg Volca Bass – Amazing sounding 303 bass vibes
  • Smelly Nikes

For more James Zabiela check him out on jameszabiela.comSoundcloudTwitterFacebookInstagram and iTunes.

Looking for more artist gear setups? See what’s in these artists bags:

What artist gear setup would you like to see?

Let us know in the comments below!

Abletonapogee imicBose QC20iDJTT chroma cablesear plugsear protectionipadjames zabielakorg kaossilatormacbook proortofonOrtofon concorde styluspioneer hdj-2000pioneer rmx-1000roland tricaptureTascam DR-40touch osctuna knobsudgUSB hubVesVestax Pad Onevinyl
Comments (15)
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  • Lucho Stanca

    zabiela how do you config your rmx 1000??

  • Svatý Clemens

    whats the name of the bag’s manufacturer?

  • brassprophet

    I remember watching that first video with this Zabiela guy. Ean came off as being star struck, and Zabiela came off as an a**hole.

    • James Zabiela

      I did? How so? Pretty sure I was the one who was star struck.

      • Tim Utomo

        James, I believe you are the greatest of all DJ!!!

        You are gifted with unbelievable ability in understanding software, hardware, and to mix them all together to create a one of a kind performance that no other DJ in the world can do. I have never had the chance too see you perform live, but I watch through youtube, and I have watch them over and over again to learn your techniques, you are a true inspiration!

      • Lucho Stanca

        zabiela how do you config your rmx 1000?

  • RolfSki

    I actually watched a gig of him in a local club. He showed up one hour late, but after arrival he connected all this gear in under 2 tracks duration and rocked the place after that like nothing happened. Quite impressive I must say.

    • James Zabiela

      Aaah! A nightmare I’ll never forget. My laptop died on the plane so I had to buy a new one at Schipol airport and set it up before the gig, which is why I was late. I actually had a few Tech teething problems in the set but mostly I got away with it! 🙂

  • JoZe

    The Vestax Pad One is my favourite peace of gear. Best built quality i have ever seen. Heavy and sturdy. If i would have to defend myself and had to choose one of my controllers, I would choose the Pad One :).

    No editor needed, simple plug and play, VERY easy to use.

    • JoZe

      And it is very cheap, at least here in Germany. It is shame that Vestax doesn´t exist anymore.

  • NeilOughton

    Great article – can we confirm the make of Laptop case? Cannot find it.

  • here_comes_the_sheik

    Now thats what I call a creative and versatile setup. Not just: USB sticks, sunglasses and hand conditioner.