DJ Disasters: Russ Chimes

When it all goes wrong...
Russ Chimes

Every DJ has one.

A night when everything that can possibly go wrong does - and it does so in spectacular fashion. ClashMusic brings you DJ Disasters, featuring some of the most respected figures in the dance world reminiscing about those moments when it all went badly wrong.

Russ Chimes has enjoyed a meteoric rise. Bolting a pop edge onto his myriad of house, electro and tech influences, the English producer has become a sought after remixer working with the likes of Mark Ronson, Booka Shade, Kelis and Ellie Goulding.

It's his own material, though, which makes the biggest impact. Certifiable chart bangers, Russ Chimes seems able to pack an incredible amount of energy into each track.

New single 'Turn Me Out' is rapidly developing into an anthem, pulling the producer a long way from his origins. However it wasn't always this easy...

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Up until about a year ago, I used to DJ using a laptop running Ableton Live, it was a hangover from the live shows I did and it was great, l loved the freedom of being able to fire an infinite amount of clips and not having to stick to one track mixing into another etc… It did have it's drawbacks, however.

After a year or two playing shows, carrying laptops, chargers, interfaces and controllers around clubs, jealousy started creeping in - watching other DJs rock up with USB sticks, no heavy bags, no set-up time, no rude clambering behind the mixer to plug in whilst the other DJ is finishing his set. The seeds of doubt were planted but undeterred I carried on with what was familiar since my Macbook and its software had been reliable for years, it was familiar and fun.

Around the same time I was playing up in Edinburgh, and for some reason the day before the gig I decided to upgrade to the new version of Ableton. I installed it, launched it up and had a play around on the train up and everything worked perfectly. No glitches, totally solid.

What I forgot to check was whether or not it still worked with the audio interface box I used… didn't even cross my mind. Ten minutes before I was due on, I started setting up as the DJ before me came to the end of his set - I'd done all the rude clambering to plug in jacks around the back of the mixer and fired up the laptop, just in time to do a quick signal check on the unused mixer channels… something wasn't right.

A quick check on some headphones revealed that the only thing coming out of the interface was fierce blasts of white noise, which was slightly worrying as it had never happened before, so I re-started the laptop trying to keep calm. Four minutes later the DJ before me is starting to get a little bit flustered putting on extra track after extra track… fire everything up after the restart - still white noise. SHIT! At this point it came clear that the new version of Ableton required a new driver for the interface so they would play nice together… So then came the mad dash off the stage to find the promoter, ask him if there was a WIFI in the club, chase down 3 different people to get the access code, then crouch nervously behind the DJ booth on a Native Instruments user forum downloading an 'untested' beta version the newest driver whilst sweating buckets… utterly ridiculous.

Luckily (and to this day I've no idea why) it worked! The gig went on and it was actually one of the most fun shows ever… perhaps the switch from pant-shitting fear to euphoria was so intense that made it all the gig all the more exhilarating. Shortly after, I decided to ditch the laptop and Ableton, returned to CDJ's after 3 years and sorted myself out on USB sticks rather than CD's. To be honest, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made: Ableton is fantastic, but I think it suits live shows a lot more where you have decent set -up time / soundcheck when that's not always viable or possible in a club.

Saying that on my first show on my new USB sticks one of the bastard CDJs died during the first track! Moral of the story is that you just can't trust anything I guess!

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'Turn Me Out' is out now.

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