Big Apple Mix Vol. One: what inspired me to edit and produce music

Back in the day, there were these special bootleg records called DJ Mixers, and they were done basically for 2 reasons:

ONE: to give the DJ in the club a much needed coffee break or trip to the restroom, and,

TWO: To create a seamless mastermix or medley to entertain the dancers on the floor and sell copies at the local record store

What started out as a simple cut and paste exercise soon turned into a highly skilled feat in transitional editing that literally started the trend of beat splicing, which made old-skool mastermix DJs like The Latin Rascals famous for their late night super-duper “mastermixes” on the radio.  Beat splicing was better known as multiple-edits in DJ circles, and it allowed the DJs to obtain work as editors within the remix process of many big hit singles.  One of the most famous of these jobs was actually done by the Latin Rascals on the Hall & Oats “Out of Touch” single.  The song was remixed by Arthur Baker and he pulled the Latin Rascals into the studio to chop up certain parts of the beats and breaks.  These parts were so effective that they actually made it to the mainstream radio edit of the song.  From then on, a lot of popular songs, mainly in the freestyle and early hip-hop genre, were in the hands of these talented muti-edit DJs.

It was all done on those old reel-to-reel tape machines with nothing more than a wax pen and a razor blade.  The most popular and expensive was made by a company called Otari -not to be confused with Atari the video game company.

The “Bits and Pieces” series was the most popular of these bootleg disco mixer medleys starting around 1978, and then the Big Apple Mix series took over in popularity.  This trend eventually led to the release of re-edits of songs that gave way to DJ subscription services like Disconet and Hot Tracks.  Every month, they would release a volume featuring re-edited songs by other DJs that were supposedly more DJ friendlier and better suited for the dance floor.

The art of re-editing allowed the DJ to have a foot in the door in the production process. It also gave them a whole new persona in the music business, which went from being called an editor to producer.  Multi-editing beats is an art form that needs to be respected and treasured in the evolution of electronic music.

The Big Apple Mix Vol. One still sounds amazing to this day, and it influenced me to learn the amazing art form of splicing music, and it allowed me to release a few mixer medleys of my own that helped me buy my very first studio gear.  Just remember one thing as you listen:  It was made before sampling technology was available, and it was all done without a production studio.  Just a tape machine, records, and some ideas!

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