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Tre Tuna: Evolving with Technology

..and now some words from Tre Tuna:

Hello, my name is Tre Tuna, a standing member of QSU for over a year now. I wrote and posted what you are about to read on my Facebook fan page a couple nights ago as a response to two things:

1. This article on Not Your Jukebox: Why old-school DJs are complaining

2. A good friend of mine, and amazing DJ, telling me “Boo, Traktor, boo!” (he’s a Serato/vinyl guy) when I was excited telling him about my new Maschine mapping I was working on. Shortly after posting it ADA asked if he could post it here, which of course I’m glad to oblige, but also wanted to add a few things. So first, here’s the original writing, afterwards I’ll go into it a little more...

Part 1

You know.... With all these discussions, debates, and hate between DJs over Serato, Traktor, vinyl, CDJs, beat-matching, sync buttons, controllers, etc... I've gotten to the point I'm completely over the debates and just have a few things to say:


I started with two vinyl turntables and a mixer nearly 12 years ago. The way I recommend anyone start. Now, I use Traktor in combination with 4 or more MIDI controllers, though I've never spun a single set in my career without at least one vinyl turntable to control it.

Using Traktor means I use a computer at 90% of my gigs, but it's not in front of me, it's beside me, because the audience deserves to see me, not my Mac logo.

I've used the sync button many times to quickly beat-match two songs, two songs that I've matched manually at my house 100 times before. And don't you Serato guys say anything -- in my opinion, your waveforms are just as much "cheating" as my sync button.  Thing is, I bet I use my sync button less then you use your waveforms!

I've spent days in recluse researching new methods, planning out, and programming my controllers to do exactly what I want. All for the ability to make an impromptu 8+ bar build-up/breakdown/effects combo/live remix in the middle of my set that makes the dance floor go nuts. Things I could never do on vinyl or CDJs.


Yes, I "can" use CDJs, but vinyl is my main medium of control, and if needed, I'll bring my own turntable to every single gig I play for the rest of my life.


It's not Serato, Traktor, CDJs, controllers, sync, or any of that crap that's ruining DJing. It's craptastic performances by craptastic "DJs" that think these devices can make them a superstar. It kinda reminds me of Melodyne/auto-tune... Seems like a great concept... Being able to fix something or do it faster then you could before... Until it covers up all the craptastic vocalists out there that only get top hits because they have the "image" a label wants to promote.

I don't hate on any of today's DJs because of the tools they choose to use. I hate on idiots that think that they can grab a controller, computer, Beatport's Top 100 list, and do what the true DJs do. We've worked hard over decades to cultivate this art form, and refuse to let kids ruin it because they don't understand the true culture of it, or care about it. This is not just the newest "rock-star" fad; it's a musical art form that, while still young, has deep roots that deserve to be respected. We are the ones using a combination of known and unknown tracks, breaking the music to make it popular, not playing only the tunes that already are.

It's no coincidence that the old school DJs get along really well together. We come from an era where you had to go to record stores to get your music. Record stores were where we met other DJs, promoters, and learned what was going on in our area. We're used to talking to other DJs and enjoy sharing our knowledge of this art form freely.


We just don't care to carry on conversations with people that don't care about what they are doing. And yes, those of us that have been doing this for a while know if you're a true DJ or not within 30 seconds of talking to you so don't even think you'll fool us. 

So with all that said, I'm going back to programming my Maschine and working on the new mixtape. Been brainstorming some great new effects build-ups and craziness!


P.S. Induced by this article:


...So, that is what I originally wrote at 3am as I was passing out thinking about this. Here’s the things that I wanted to include, but didn’t want to make the Facebook post into a book. Some parts might sound a little repeated, but it’s done to emphasize the points.

Part 2

In today’s world we are subjected to insane amounts of mass media. In many ways it fuels us, we try to take in as much as possible, which is both a good and a bad thing. We can keep up with the latest trends, but it’s a lot of those people that own the mass media that are trying to make the things they choose to be trendy simply so they can make money on it. (How do you think Lil’ Wayne actually got famous? They knew they could market him and make millions even though he’s not the greatest talent.) It’s like what’s happened to hip-hop over the last decade. These people don’t care about the art forms they exploit, they are businessmen, caring only about dollar signs, bottom line.

This is where our problem begins. While I think it’s amazing that DJs can get to rock star status now (hell, wish I was at that point!), and the technology we have available today allows us to do amazing things that was never possible before. It’s, once again, doing the same thing that has happened to hip-hop over the last decade.

We’re being saturated with many people who, since it’s so cheap and easy to get everything you need now, look at DJing as just a way to get famous and don’t really care about the music. Which in turn puts a lot of crap mixes out there that we, the real DJs, now have to sift through thousands of tracks to find the real gems. Promoters are now more worried about how many fan page likes or Soundcloud followers you have then the music you play. Then the people they get can’t even read a crowd properly and just spin what they want instead of what the crowd really wants or needs.

It goes back to what I was saying in my first write-up about kids thinking all they need is a computer, Traktor/Serato, and the Beatport Top 100 or a DJ pool to saturate their music libraries and they can rock parties. Kids think they can grab a few tracks and be the next David Guetta or Deadmau5 and don’t realize the hundreds, hell, thousands of hours, that the real guys put in. Looking for tracks, organizing sets, learning tricks of the trade like reading crowds, programming controllers, repairing a 1200, etc. How, as DJs, a lot of our sets are found and perfected from being recluses, locking ourselves in our rooms/studios and mixing for hours on end.

Even at most shows we are thrown in the back corner of a club where no one can actually see us, though our presence is felt nonetheless. I’ve had people call me anti-social because of the amount of time I spend on my decks and not out in public!

To people like us, it’s not about getting famous, meeting girls, and making that paycheck… it’s about bringing music to the masses and making them shake their asses! It’s about having the right track at the right time (and knowing when the time is to play it!) that makes the party go nuts. It’s about creating something new, right there on the spot, out of something already done, recorded, and otherwise set in stone. It’s about bringing tracks out that no one has heard before but need to. It’s about educating people on the great music that’s out there, new or old.


About a year or so ago I was talking to one of my teachers from college. I took her class while attending Full Sail University for Audio Engineering, and at the time of this discussion, she was working at the LA Recording School. We were speaking about the music of today, and how most of the kids getting into it just don’t understand the roots of the art forms they are pursuing, or much care to learn them. She told me that she asked her current students at the time a couple questions, and I was shocked when she told me the result. Out of a class of around 30 students that want to go into the music industry she asked the following:

How many of you know who the Steve Miller Band is?  5 people raise their hand.

Ok, How many of you know who Led Zeppelin is?  9 People.

Now, mind you, these were most likely a lot of kids going into more urban and EDM styles of music, but really? Only 9 people knew who Led Zeppelin was? Needless to say that was a sad day in my mind for our industry.

In my opinion, it’s this lack of will to learn an art form’s history and culture that’s killing music today. Which is why, while EDM breaks are my bread and butter, I try to use a little bit of everything in my sets when I can. When people ask me what do I spin I’m infamous for saying one of two things:

“Breaks mainly, but I’ll throw anything in there… I’ll mix Duke Ellington into Dr. Dre into dub step… If it’s what the party needs, that’s what I’m playing!”

Or simply: “No genres, just good music!”


This is how I’ve been for years, but it didn’t really hit home until I spoke with my teacher that day. It’s not only our job as DJs to bring the bangers that everyone knows to the club; it’s also our job to educate the masses on good music they don’t know or forgot about. I doesn’t have to be the newest release, it can be something decades old, as long as it works.


So here are the challenges I put out to anyone that is an aspiring DJ:

Realize this is NOT something you do by just picking up some tracks and pressing play.

Research your art form, not only through music, but read about the history of it. (I highly recommend the book On The Record: The Scratch DJ Academy Guide as a good starting point!)

Respect where this art form came from and the elders that would be willing to help you if have the right mindset.

Bring something new to the table, but bring it in the music, not in some gimmicky stage show. Music first, stage shows later!

If this is truly your passion, put in the effort to do something DJ related every single day. Practice, research, sorting out playlists, learning new tricks, programming your controllers, etc…

Only use pre-recorded mixes if you absolutely have to, like bathroom breaks during a 3 hour set! Just don’t be like Swedish House Mafia in that, while they produce some amazing tracks, a lot of the time they put on a production mix and act like they are doing it live.

Get your laptop out of your face! It’s music, an audio form, use your ears not your eyes! Besides, your crowd will appreciate being able to see that sweet little face of yours.

Don’t just be a human jukebox! Don’t just hit play and wait around until time to mix the next track, do something! Scratch, play with effects, beat/cue point juggle, something other then stand there and try to look cool.

Oh, can we cut the Jesus pose out already? I mean come on! You probably didn’t have anything to do with the track you’re playing.

So, to conclude all of this I just have to say this: we’ve got to stop bickering about sync buttons, controllers vs. vinyl vs. CDs, Traktor vs. Serato vs. Ableton, and generally just all this crap about one person’s setup vs. another’s.

Embrace the different technologies and the distinctions between them all. You think every producer uses the same setup? Hell no, they choose their tools based on what they wish to accomplish and the workflow they want to use.

This is an art form, and art is something where every single person has a different expression or outlook on the outcome and how to get there. As a new or old DJ you have to learn to respect that factor. It’s a very exciting time in our world. DJing has never been bigger, and we’re just barely starting to scratch the surface of what DJing can be.

This is why I love QSU, it’s a family like none other, where we can learn and progress our art form together and I thank every one of you for your contributions, big or small.

- Tré Tuna

  DJ - Turntablist - Audio Engineer


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