The beginning – How I got to take part in the Vers Libre DJ stream

I think it’s about time to tell the story of how I got included in the very first Vers Libre 48 hrs DJ-stream fundraiser. From the very beginning, back when the radio station had just started up, I had a few emails with the founder Fraser Keddie. A very nice guy, with a very cool idea. I ended up being included in the emails he would send out to the creative hosts that had their own shows at the station. It was always nice to be included, and knowing what’s going on. Later when they started the creator group on Facebook, I was invited there as well. Again, always nice to stay in the loop, even though I never had a single show at Vers Libre.


Doing my own thing, my own (libre) way

At that time I ended up with the decision to not join the radio station, hosting my own show. I had the eagerness to try to go at it on my own. That is, make music and mixes, and basically try to get some internet attention. As you can see, I have managed to set up my own web page, and started to have some presence in social media. Yes, I know that it’s not much, but hey, I’m learning as I go here. And to me, that is part of the fun.

Fast forward some months and a global pandemic, it was announced in the Vers Libre creator group on facebook that they wanted to start an event, trying to put together something that would hopefully help out keeping the decks spinning. There’s noe secret, the pandemic has struck hard for quite a lot of businesses, and Vers Libre is no exception to that. So this event came to be, and one after another signed up to be part of it.

Before I continue that story, I want to share that it’s been quite some time since I took part in any live event, mixing live for either radio or in front of live people. As you already are aware, when I have uploaded mixes to Mixcloud, yes it’s all mixed live, but in the comfort zone of my own house, where I get to choose if I’ll keep that recording or not. That is a luxury you don’t have playing live. Whatever you do, it is broadcasted live to everyone.

There is also this thing about what player and mixer to use. I haven’t used a CDJ in years. I think the last time I played live was using some old Pioneer gear (DJM 600 mixer and I believe it might have been some old CDJ 1000 or something like that). In other words, in a day of computers, we’re talking old retired gear that’s far away from DJM 900 Nexus 2 and CDJ 2000 Nexus 2, the very equipment they have in the studio at Vers Libre. The mixes I have put out have been done using Traktor Pro 2 and Traktor Pro 3. I’ve been a Traktor guy for years, and really love using that DJ software.


Here goes nothing, Vers Libre please let me join

So by the end of April, the list of DJ’s that would be part of the Vers Libre 48-hrs DJ-stream fundraiser was growing. If I remember correctly, they even had a pre-version lineup going with who would play when. So on April 27, I decided, it’s now or never. I made a post in the creators group.

Are there still available slots in the actual Vers Libre 48h livestream? If there is, and if you’ll have me, I’d like to join in on the fun and participate. If you like, you can check out my Mixcloud page to get an idea of what type of music I like to mix here: Hope you approve, and let me join.

And lucky me, it didn’t take long before I was included. My time slot was scheduled Sunday morning on May 16 at 0800, and I would be playing for one hour.

Yes I have to admit I was a bit nervous about everything. At some point I even considered if I should cancel, but in the end, I decided whatever happens, happens. I will do my best and have fun at the same time. With that settled, then the question came, how to prepare tracks for use with the CDJ’s. I know I can use the CDJ-2000 as a controller for Traktor with HID control. Problem is, I’ve never done that. At home, I have a dedicated controller for Traktor, and besides, with nearly 50 DJ’s playing, there’s really not that much time to set up a computer, with dedicated control of the CDJ’s. So the solution was simple, it had to be to put the music needed on a USB stick, and use the CDJ’s just as everyone else would.

But of course, why stop there, I do have some quepoints set up in Traktor Pro, and it would be a great benefit to bring those over to the CDJ’s without having to re-analyze the tracks.

Bring the cue points from Traktor to Recordbox and then to the CDJs

It’s kind of hilarious that something as simple as cue points have to be so difficult to convert between software and hardware. But sadly, so is the reality. Everyone is busy making their own version in their own style, and the losers are us, the users. After some searching, I found one solution was to use rekordbox. Sadly there was no easy way of bringing the already analyzed tracks over from Traktor. But then I suddenly remembered. I once used a piece of software called Mixo. In fact, I was one of many people quite some time ago who was lucky enough to do some beta tests, but at that time it kind of wasn’t completely relevant for me, since I only used Traktor. So after some digging, I found the name and the software again. To my relief, they have a free version that fits my needs perfectly.

One download later, and after some trial and error, I managed to successfully transfer all relevant tracks with cue points and loops over to Recordbox. All I had to do was make a playlist in Traktor with all the tracks I wanted to bring a long. Then export the playlist. In Mixo I import that particular Traktor playlist, and export it as a Recordbox file. In rekordbox, I set the software up to read that particular rekordbox file, and voila. Everything was ready to go in the Rekordbox. Then I inserted a newly formatted usb stick, and dragged the playlist over to the stick in Rekordbox. Then the software copied over both playlist and tracks. I could even set some parameters as to what should be displayed on the CDJ’s which was very nice. 

So the music’s ready, what else is there to think about? Yeah, when I came to think about it, I’ve never been to the studio before. I never touched that particular mixer or CDJ before. I didn’t even know where the entrance to the radio station was. So I asked in the creator group if it was possible to have a little tour of the studio to familiarize myself with both location and the equipment before the actual live event. Thankfully the nice guys at Vers Libre were quick to schedule a visit. First, I’d like to apologize for not remembering names. It’s always been my problem, but I think at that time I met both Trym and Jay. Big shoutout for a very friendly attitude, welcoming me to the station. 

So after a quick tour, I got to try the CDJ’s for the first time. They are surely very nice players. Inserted my usb stick, the CDJ read the files flawlessly, and the track analysation together with all the cue points was transferred. Everything worked just as it was supposed to. Of course when I first got my hands on the mixer and the CDJ, what did you expect me to do? Say thank you and leave? Oh no, Some mixing had to be done. And I didn’t think this one properly through. I forgot to bring a headset. So as much mixing you can possibly do without any pre listening, every transition sounded just a little like an oversized Bell helicopter for a few moments. Well, I guess I may be exaggerating a bit, but hey, it was still fun to get to use some professional gear.

I remember I was very satisfied, and all my doubts from before were put to rest. I was confident that the event was going to work out just fine. With that, I had a little chit chat with the very nice people at the station before I left.


It’s game time at Vers Libre

Sunday morning. It’s 6.30 in the morning. Wife and kids are still sleeping. I start preparing and make myself ready. I remember it was a very nice drive, listening to the event on my phone as I drove to the radio station. Techno techno techno. Inish delivering a killer set. Then another one with some real heavy beats. I remember I was thinking, this is going to be interesting.

Looking at my watch, it’s 7.45 AM. I am right outside the main door.

Facemask on. Ringing the doorbell. Shortly after, I was greeted by a very friendly face. I’m guided to the ready room. The vibe is strong in the building. It’s like the vibe is dancing from the walls giving you an encouraging feeling of joy. The music from the studio is loud. Everyone is grooving. It’s almost time to do my part. Remembering back when I was an active DJ, I always used to get a little bit nervous before I started playing, especially if it was a new place or new event. As soon as I hit play and get the groove on, and then get going with the first transition, and getting it somewhat right, would always drive the nervousness away. That same feeling did sneak up on me this time. I haven’t played live at a gig for approximately 13 years. Focus! Image from Vers Libre on Instagram

(Photo from Vers Libre Instagram)

Finally it’s time. Enter the studio.

Headset – check.

Usb stick – check.

Everything works. And that volume in the studio. The party is definitely on! It’s loud. Very Loud. In fact, my headset was struggling hard. At times it was actually pretty difficult to hear properly. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this kind of situation.

Focus. Focus!

First song is ready. The previous DJ’s song is nearing its end. Change the tempo range to +-100%. Starting to slow it down and fade out the track. It’s crawling to a halt. Play. I’m on. The set has started. Groovy tech house song, slowing the beat down a bit. Want the feeling to be more groovy. The 2nd track is loading. Matching up the tempo. The headset is struggling hard. Focus. There, things start to look ok. I have control. I am in control. Starting to layer in a loop with some funky guitars. The groove is set.

At this time I start remembering all sorts of craziness I used to pull off behind the decks. Playing with effects, adding layers of acapellas, mixing up songs, and often making use of 3 CDJ’s at once to pull all my craziness off. Not that confident now.

I better play it safe. Not go full jamlover mode. Some transitions seem ok, some not so great, but all in all, no major hiccups as far as I can remember. I easily feel at home with both the players and the mixer. Looking out the window to the neighboring room. Yes, people are actually dancing. Fun. Now it’s just pure fun mixing from here on out! Tried to stay focused, not forgetting the time. More than once I experienced losing track of time while mixing and having fun. One hour goes by so fast! Last track is on. Make way for the next DJ. Everyone at the radio station is in a very happy and good mood, not to mention, they’re also groovin’ alot. Feeding off that kind of positive energy made the whole experience so much better.


Other experiences at the Vers Libre fundraiser

I was curious as to what some of the other DJ’s had to say, and here is a good one from Brute Lee:

I think it was a bad idea to mow the lawn earlier on the day. I had four alarms set, just in case. Still, my girlfriend woke me up from the couch fifteen minutes before gotime. The drive there got me going, and the music did the rest once I got there. What a show. The organization here was amazing, safe and sound!

I have to agree on using multiple alarms. I even had more.


Give thanks and more, so thank you Vers Libre

Just as Brute Lee said, the organization of the event was amazing. That definitely took a lot of planning to coordinate everything. It was really nice to see all the DJ’s participating, coming together to try and give something special, for a special event, for Vers Libre – to keep the decks spinning.

I would like to give a special thanks to everyone at Vers Libre for letting me join in on the 48 hour live stream fundraiser. It was a lot of fun! If something similar is ever to be done again, then you know where to find me. I’d love to join in on the fun!

And finally, I would also like to give a special thanks to you who managed to read all the way to the end here. Please visit Vers Libre radio station – both their website and their social media, and please consider giving them your support. They have all sorts of cool shows with cool people with great music.


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