5 Questions with @RanaJune, iPad DJ

→ by Sean Percival < @percival >
at 8:27pm Apr 20, 2010

Rana June Sobhany is unique.

She’s someone I’ve been lucky enough to met and get to know recently. I guess first you should understand that @ranajune embodies a lot of things that make our industry so amazing. I’m talking about things like drive, creativity and of course a passion for the craft.

That craft (which previously included work with master composer @bt) is something totally new. Actually she’s probably the first iPad DJ out there using nothing but two jesustables and a mixer. Gizmodo recently caught up with her and I was also able ask her a few questions.

Here is what she had to share:

A lot of people bought iPads during the launch – you bought several. What are you up to with all those magical devices?

I was one of those crazy people in line overnight to pick up my iPad, even though I had a reservation!

The inspiration for Destroy the Silence came from my research the night before the launch of the iPad as I scoured the App Store for the coolest iPad apps available pre-launch. I kept finding these amazing apps and for some reason, I decided to download them, even before I even had the iPad! I suppose I thought there was a chance that the App Store would go down or something ridiculous like that, leaving me with this magical iPad and no apps to play with.

So here I was, $200 later (that’s a lot of apps, by the way), with a ton of cool iPad apps I couldn’t use, and I realized that most of them were music creation apps. Fortunately, the IK Multimedia apps, the Groovemaker series, were also available on the iPhone, so I spent about 4 hours of my time in line waiting for the iPad to go on sale doing beat-matching with these apps. I was instantly hooked. I checked out the screenshots of the apps I’d downloaded and it seemed that they made the process of live music sequencing pretty easy. I purchased my iPad and got to work that day.

How does it work?

The first 10 days of my experiment were spent getting accustomed to the sound libraries that are currently available on the App Store and within the apps. It was really important to me to only use apps that are readily available on the App Store. I wanted to showcase the capabilities of these devices, so importing my own sounds and other plug-ins seemed like it was defeating the purpose of the experiment. I got pretty comfortable with the loops and drum machines and sequencers on iPad by day 10.

I purchased my second iPad on day 11, along with the set-up I currently have. I wanted to make it as simple as humanly possible. I’m using three audio splitters from RCA to 1/8th inch jack – two for the iPads and one for the output – and one very basic DJ mixer. All I needed was a crossfader, really. I have no effects on the mixer. I would eliminate that entirely if I could but the reality is that without a USB connection on the iPad (for now) and the fact that the apps are still pretty buggy, I needed a hedge in case something went wrong during a live performance. So for now, that’s my set-up! I also use a pre-amp/audio interface for recording, but I am adamant about not using any laptops or synths for the performance – just two iPads, that’s it.

What apps are you using to make this happen?

I really like Looptastic HD. I’d say that’s my favorite to use for this project because I can morph beats from hip-hop to breakbeats to progressive house seamlessly. I use all of the IK Multimedia apps, as well as the Korg iElectribe app. iDaft has become a favorite for throwing people off during the set. Pianist Pro is fantastic and I open the set using Beatwave. All of these apps were deployed before the iPad even launched, so I know that the capabilities and sound libraries are only going to get better and better and better. I can’t wait!

You recently had your first iPad gig, how did it go?

It went much better than I expected, to be honest. I was not sure what people were going to think seeing this simply set-up with so many crazy sounds and effects and loops going on, but I ended up playing for almost an hour! It had only been 4 days since I’d created the set-up I’m currently using, so I expected some glitches and hiccups, but all in all, it was a great set. I’m planning some amazing surprises for my shows this summer.

What’s next for the iPad as a music platform?

Now that a fair number of people have seen the iPad, played with it, and thought carefully about the modality of creating music apps on it, I’m sure that the next generation of apps that will be developed will really push the boundaries of what’s possible on not just iPad, but mobile platforms in general. I am really fascinated by the implications of moving from hardware devices to software. The ease of pulling out two iPads, plugging in a few cords and playing makes me wonder about the fate of these complicated and ornate audio systems that are currently the standard. When DJs moved to Serato from turntables, it ruffled features but eventually the industry grew to adopt the new protocol and I think that’s what’s going to happen with the iPad. I think a lot of bands are going to start including iPad elements into their live sets, particularly when multitasking comes into play. I’d love to be able to record audio from the iPad as well. All of this will come, it’s just a matter of time. I’m just glad to be able to watch the growth of mobile computing from the driver’s seat. It’s a great time to be alive.

It certainly is, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

For more:

Catch the video @scobleizer did early today.

Follow the rest of the story at www.destroythesilence.com and on Twitter @ranajune.

About the Author: Sean Percival

"Did you know HTML stands for How To Make Love?"