G E Real - Multi Deck Mixing - Interview 1993
At times mixing on two decks at a venue can be quite a task, whether the problem is poor monitoring, equipment or simply fighting to overcome a bad set. So why should someone want to take conventional DJ’ing one, if not two, steps further by performing multi deck mixing, using four decks to give an audio and visual display of organised chaos. Not a new thing, as multi deck mixing has been around for many years, and has been picked up by some of the jocks in today’s scene. One person that leads the way in this multi madness feat and has proved how it is possible is Birmingham’s G E Real. After battling through the city centre traffic we met up with the man himself and the chat began. G’s musical mixing past hasn’t always been on Technics decks, so how did it all start?
“I’d say that I got to multi-mixing through sheer progression. I was inspired when I played side by side with Sparrow, who was the DMC mixing champion, to see him perform was pure inspiration. I was always motivated by people in the hip-hop scene, Jazzy Jeff, Jam Master Crew, CutMaster Swift, when I heard these I not only thought their sound was good, but I thought how did they make it? For example transformer scratching, I was too ignorant to ask how it was done and I found out by mistake whilst scratching on a Vestax. I started mixing on two tape decks due to a low finance situation! I’d just experiment with different sounds. I went from two decks with no pitch control, tape decks, CD players but obviously if you take mixing seriously you need Technics”.
“When I started mixing on decks I learnt how to monitor my mixing via head phones, and in return learnt how to synchronise mix very quickly. Some people think when more than two inputs are added things just start to get complicated, but this isn’t true, it all depends on the medium you’re mixing through”.
A good mixer, obviously a necessity, and DJ G E Real assured us he’d run through stacks of different mixers, some as quick as a few months. He believes a mixer is there to be used, and with this he’s had everything from a Realistic to a Groove Sample Station 2, but current swears by his Vestax… with multi function sampler. Being very technically minded, G, when mixing or producing a tape, likes to mix and perform in a way that leaves the listener unsure about what’s being heard. He’s a big fan of sampling when mixing, and one of his many tricks include using a delay to give a two record sound.
“A sampler with a delay circuit can be used as a third deck. With a delay I record the sample, engineer its replay to the exact tempo of the record being played, and re-play it slightly out of faze or a few seconds behind, to give a sound of more than one record being played. This saves money not having to buy two of the same track to create this effect. I get great pleasure from telling people how I’ve made a certain mix, but even more when showing them. That’s what four deck mixing is about, it’s more of a visual thing than an audio thing”.
True this is, G gave a small sampling demonstration using only one deck, but showing amazing speed and accuracy with his hands, displaying how important to his performance a well set out put mixer and deck set up is.
“I played at Venue 44 for Vibelite, and their set up was perfect. There I purposely performed on stage with around a hundred people looking over my shoulder! I wanted this to show people what four deck mixing was all about and that it was possible. I wanted to demonstrate the concept of four deck mixing, which a lot of people are still very confused over”.
“Four deck mixing is not simultaneously mixing four different records at one time. This is possible but very hard. If you imagine sometimes two mixed tracks clash, piano, vocals or strings sections. So if you had four it would be hard keeping all the tempo’s spot on and the result would be in danger of sounding a total musical jumble. My concept like that of DJ Sparrow, is quick mixing, which even through I say so myself, is that I am one of the quickest in the UK”.
“Rather than saying ‘Yea I played wicked’ when I play I rather people say this to me. I never tell myself or anybody else how good or bad I play. I remember I played at The Edge in Coventry for Dreamscape in March, the decks were jumping, the technician was everywhere, I was pissed off big time. I was so mad I finished and walked out to the car park. But when I listened to the tape afterwards I thought it was the best live tape I’ve ever done”.
The concept of four decks does bring problems for promoters. G says its hard to get a promoter to set up (correctly) four decks and the appropriate mixer, at his cost. Then there is the problem of having to perform in often humid conditions. Certain things that may work at home may not work live, or the equipment may simply be of poor quality. So how is the problem of setting up 4 decks correctly, overcome?
“The first time I did four decks live was at Dreamscape 6. Murray was worrying and slightly doubted the concept of me on four decks. I managed to assure him and sent a diagram of the lay out I wanted which is what I always do. However, I didn’t do a sound check, and when I got there on the night the set up was slightly wrong. The decks were still in the flight cases, which was almost the same height as the decks platter, and with fast movement meant I kept scratching my hand on the case. When I do four decks I always insist on certain equipment and set up”.
G’s self described quick neat and discreet multi deck concept did however recently strike upon a bit of bad press, which did blow out of proportion, putting G.E. Real and Carl Cox (also with multi deck fame) head to head.
“My management at the time really thought it was over for me when this overnight feud broke out. But when people read about me, my bookings really shot up with people asking me to perform on four decks. It really did help and turned around to my advantage”.
“What happened was, Mike Scott who was with Elevation then, booked me to perform on four decks. Every time Elevation have an event they like to do something different, so they billed me and also spoke to Carl Cox and booked him to also play on four decks, which at the time he didn’t even do! Come the event I played, and MC Chickaboo MC’d over me, the crowd were great and loved it. Carl then came on and did his set”.
“A few days later Elevation phoned me and said Mixmag were looking for me and wanted my number, to interview me for an apparent “Battle” me and Carl had. Mixmag totally took it the wrong way, on the flyer for the night we were billed as a four deck show, not battle. I did speak to Mixmag, but not in a way that would start any argument. But Mixmag obviously also spoke to Carl and in the update interview, when I gave a comment they printed one of Carl’s comments. They really blew the situation up and made me out to be a villain! Certain people read this and presumed I was out to take the place of Carl Cox, which is totally untrue. If people want to compare me to other DJ’s, fair enough. I do my own thing and Mixmag and Carl Cox seemed to think I was out to tax a little of his status. I think whenever Carl’s asked about me he gets a little upset regarding multi deck mixing. For my four deck concept to be understood it really does need to be seen. When Carl Cox spoke to another certain magazine better known as the ravers comic, he said, quote “I think G E Real should do the leg work first and start off with two decks”. If Carl knew about my mixing past, i.e. on tape decks with no head phones, he wouldn’t have said this. I’ve been mixing for a long time and I feel the ground work has been done, the knowledge has been gained”.
G E Real is thankful to Mixmag (rare!) for the coverage, and to Carl, as since this he’s had work every weekend. G puts his success down to good promotional sense, good influential backing, and a good musical past. To him the sad thing regarding the rave scene is a DJ could be terrible, but with the right people could really get far. His self taught musical skills have gained him the ability to mix a record within four seconds, and the knowledge to use the four decks with the same ease as using two.
With this he’s gone from a one off play at Galactica last year, to playing for Fantazia and Dreamscape, and insists you don’t always need years of experience, just good knowledge and determination, he however has been mixing for 8 years but not always on turn tables!
He’s set to take his career further in ’94 and judging by the way he took ’93 by storm. G E Real is going to reign highly in multi deck mixing for a long time.
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