INTERVIEW // Stephane Clavel: VirtualDJ Will Change Digital DJing Forever
This year, the latest version, VirtualDJ 2021, promises to forever change the way DJs mix using advanced mathematics and the power of today’s computers, it allows DJs to work on the fly with the various components of their tracks; such as Vocals, Instruments, Kicks, Hi-Hats, in real-time to create new mash-ups, remixes, and transitions.
These new developments mark a significant advancement to DJ technology that opens the door to new ways of mixing and mashing tracks that were simply not possible before without prior preparation. The industry standard software is used by pro DJs, bedroom DJs, and music enthusiasts all around the world to mix whatever music they see fit. With more than 150 million downloads to date, it is the most popular DJ software on the planet and is famous for its numerous technical innovations.
VirtualDJ has already been praised by plenty of world famous DJs such as legendary DJ champ Qbert, Grammy Award winning superstar David Guetta, and industry bible DJ Mag, who all love the ease with which they can “try” new remix ideas with this new technology. Not to that, both regular club and bedroom DJs can also perform much more interesting transitions and mixes than ever before thanks to VirtualDJ 2021.
Wanting to find out more about the new updates and how the ground breaking technology works to aid DJs with fresh and innovative ways to play their music, we had a chat with boss man Stephane Clavel. Stephane is not only the CEO of Atomix Productions (Virtual DJ) but also still writes code for the software, making him the best person to speak to about the new developments.
How does Stem extraction work? Does it use principles such as phasing or is there a more complex method at work?
Stem extraction in VirtualDJ is using a much more complex method than phasing. It's actually based on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Neural Networks. Without going into the technical detail, it's like we created a big artificial silicon brain, and trained it to recognize the frequencies associations that are usually found in vocal, versus melody, kicks, hats, bass, etc.
Is this done upon the upload of a track or would it be done manually to each track? Is any preparation required for this feature?
It's all done instantly in real-time, while the song is loading on a deck. Users just need to load a track as usual, and the stems will be available automatically.
How do the new features integrate with DJ Controllers?
Depending on the DJ's preference, and the controller they’re working with, the stems can be accessed either through the EQs, or the Pads. With the EQs, VirtualDJ offers 3 modes, also depending on the DJ's preference.
EZRemix, simple and playful, replaces the high/mid/low EQs of the controller, by Vocal/Instru/Beat, to let beginners quickly play with stems.
ModernEQ, working more like a drop-in replacement of traditional EQs, gives access to HiHat / Vocal-Instru / Kick, and will feel intuitive and more powerful to experienced DJs.
FullStems take over all 5 knobs of the mixer (including gain and filter) to give precise access to all 5 stems. And all these modes can be set on the decks 3&4 lanes of the mixer, so that the DJ still has access to traditional frequencies EQs on the usual knobs on deck 1&2, and simultaneous access to the new stems on the knobs of deck 3&4, providing they are not in use to play tracks.
Finally, if the DJ prefers to use the Pads for quick kill and/or isolation of stems, VirtualDJ lets you easily reassign any Pads mode of your controller that you're not using to another Pads Page from the hundreds available in VirtualDJ, including of course the Stems page.
How do you see the future of DJing with this new technology, do you expect to see a fresh rise in creative mixing and high skill sets?
The last time that a technology introduced something truly new in the DJing world, that was not possible before, was when CD players introduced HotCue and Loop buttons. That was not possible on turntables, and it opened a whole new world of possibilities for DJs. And most DJs couldn't mix without now.
So today, with computers introducing stem separation that is not possible on CDs, we are seeing the same leap. And we're already hearing from many DJs, who tried stems in VirtualDJ, that they feel limited when they have to perform on another platform that doesn't have this.
So yes, of course, stems mixing is going to bring a lot of new creativity in the DJ sphere, and will help see DJs from all skillsets produce more interesting mixes. But it looks like it's going to become the new normal, and that soon many DJs will rely on this on their day to day mixes.
Well, it's clear to see that VirtualDJ is set to change the game for DJs both new and old. With stem extraction happening upon the upload of a track and reducing prep time, leaving more room for creative mixing and innovative ways in which we hear music, much like the introduction of HotCues and Loops. What makes this even more accessible is the option for stems to be on either the EQ pots or Beat pads, depending on your preferred mixing style.
We love the new features within VirtualDJ 2021 and believe this is the start of the next generation of DJing and creative mixing. But what are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.
The software is plug & play compatible with all DJ controllers and mixers on the market and supports a multitude of audio, video, and karaoke formats.
VirtualDJ is free to use for non-commercial use and costs $19/month for professional use. More information on www.virtualdj.com
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