Why I ditched my Pioneer CDJs

Chasing what you love to do.

Short answer: Well, because it’s boring (to me)…

Long answer: (5 min read)

Looking back

A little story about my teenage years…

I was born and raised in Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean. Some friends and I started break dancing (b-boying) around 2002, but hip-hop culture on the island wasn’t all that present. In those days there were only 2 major b-boy’ing crews. The other problem was that there wasn’t really a DJ who could spin some good break beats for us to break to when we had to battle. So I thought, “F*ck it! I’ll do it myself”.

I had no experience at all with DJ’ing, so I started practicing… on a computer. I don’t even remember the name of that DJ software. But I can remember that I was super excited the first time I pressed play on deck A, then pressed play on deck B, and then click and drag the cross fader from A to B. Horrible mix obviously! Weirdly enough, that was the moment I realized that this new journey is going to be fun! (FUN… hold on to that word for later.)

The DJ Contest

So, there was this DJ contest for up and coming DJ’s where the first prize was a full DJ set; two CD players and a mixer. But what was special about the CD players was that those were Numark CDX’s, with full sized 12 inch spinning platter, with “real” vinyl on it so you could get that real vinyl feel. I have never seen something like that in my life. But this was a big deal to me, because anytime I think about DJs, I think about turntables and real vinyl and crates etc. But I never saw any DJ on the island spinning vinyl.

Numark CDX

Fast forward a few months later, I got into the contest and I won first prize. My first DJ gear were a pair a of these CDX’s and a mixer. This is what I had and this is what I got used to. The feel of real vinyl. (yeah I know it’s not really a turntable but you get my point… the FEEL of real vinyl.)

The big move to The Netherlands

In 2009, after spinning at a lot of b-boy’ing battles (that was the reason I started DJ’ing in the first place) and spinning in various clubs on the Island, I moved to The Netherlands. New life, new challenge, new weather (it sucks…), new everything.

In those years, Pioneer CDJs quickly became the club standard. Every time I get gig, I can just assume that I would have to spin on Pioneers. Having spun with CDX’s for years, I had a really big issue with the fact that the Pioneer platters didn’t spin. I remember thinking… “ There is this little display with a circle with a little notch… a notch that was spinning, trying to create an illusion that platter was spinning… but it wasn’t! Why??”. You could still scratch with the platter, but it felt awkward and unnatural. And then I made — what I later realized — was a big mistake.

I wanted to go with what everybody else was doing, because that seamed to work (for them)… so I went with the Pioneer CDJs. I eventually got me a full Pioneer set and everything, thinking it would help me with my DJ career. Then I soon realized that I was practicing less than before, I was less interested. I didn’t get the kick out of it anymore. Why? I have the BEST DJ set one could ever have. But why am I still losing interest?

One day I just stood still and asked myself “What am I really doing with this thing?”. The answer was: “Pressing buttons”... that’s it... I wasn’t in control anymore. After pressing play and mixing in a track, that was it! And yes, you could try to scratch and stuff but it all felt weird with that non-spinning platter simulation thingy… I wasn’t really having fun anymore!

Have fun!

It all comes down to having fun. At least, I believe you should do something because you love doing it. Have fun! I made the big mistake of going with what everybody else was doing, without thinking about what made me as a person happy. I like being in control of the music… holding that vinyl, pulling it back, using it as an instrument. For some reason, just pressing the play button in timing wasn’t fun enough for me.

Reloop RP-7000

This is why I recently said “F*ck it!” again, haha. I (kind of) threw my DJ career plans out the window and got me a pair of turntables. It took some getting used to in the beginning, since I never used real turntables before, but I’ve never had so much fun while spinning! It was a whole new exciting world for me and it was mad fun.

I’m sure that there are a lot of DJ’s thinking i’m crazy for doing this. But I am a strong believer of “Do what you love, the right people/crowd will come to you!”. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying that CDJ’s suck. If you are having (enough) fun with them, please proceed. But do not make the mistake of doing something you don’t like, just because everybody else is doing it or because “It’s the standard”.

Doing what you love is all about feeling good about yourself and what you do, which in turn increases your overall happiness in life.

Check out this Venn diagram. Making the switch (back) to turntables means that i’m making sure my Skills and Passion are aligned. Awesome Hobby! From there I’ll work towards the market and hit that sweet spot! Not making the switch felt more like the Skill and Market combo… a job. Meh…

So, how about you? Did you experience something like this? Maybe the other way around, ditching turntables for CDJs? I would like to know what you guys/girls went through. Doesn’t have to be about DJ’ing though. It can be anything. Leave a comment ;)


Mitch Devtiq

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