The Controller Kings – Dj Obliveus

5 October 2020

Recently, I saw some moron (probably a bad term as the dude may be quite enlightened and intelligent) have a go at one of my heroes Andy Smith on Facebook (hence, why he’s a “moron”). 

Andy had posted a question about where to find DJ’s playing vinyl on Twitch (a good, legitimate query) as he pointed out that he saw a lot of DJ’s using controllers and auto syncing their sets. Trust me, I immediately put up links to the Forty Five Kings n Dusty Donuts Twitch pages (I got your backs). It was a semi-funny thread with numerous people poking fun at controller DJ’s because, well, it was Andy Smith. Everyone knows he loves vinyl…it’s why we follow him.

Anyways, in a later post he may have jokingly called these controller DJ’s “sync monkeys”. It was all in good jest and you’d think someone of Andy’s stature would have a “friends” list of people who know better, as he is known for great vinyl only sets. Fuck, the dude wrote the book for most of us with his Document series.


Enter the new age DJ version of Karen (there’s always gotta be one or two of these folks on any vinyl vs digital debate). The funny thing was, this wasn’t even a debate.

“It should only be about the music” or “nobody cares” are usually two of the most well known fight backs, and you know Karen came in with something similar and actually had a go at Andy Smith (of all people) for being ignorant about controller DJ’s. I think the dude even mentioned that controllers “allowed him to be more creative as he had all of his music there to be used”. 

On a regular day and in a regular conversation with just about anyone other than that, I would’ve just skimmed by and laughed it off. But for some reason this post struck a cord with me.

You see, I’m not a format purist at all. I may play a lot of 45’s sets (or I did pre-Covid times when clubs were open), but I love playing CDJ’s too and have no problem rocking a controller set for weddings or at a bar gig without any house equipment. If you want work, you gotta be adaptable.

But I sure as hell won’t be promoting that I’m playing a CDJ or controller set because what’s the point? I mean, that’s just a common occurrence these days for bar work. There’s nothing special there, right? Right!

Well, this was a thread with Andy requesting good “vinyl only” Twitch sets not a “hey, can someone give me their reasons why playing off a controller is a creative outlet for their digital expressions” thread. Hence why I had to have a go at this dude.

Seriously, what I’m loving these days (because it literally makes me laugh during my lockdown) is how so many controller DJ’s have to provide “disclaimers” when they weigh online into vinyl vs digital debates to express that it’s “more creative” or provides “more options”. It’s like their little DJ egos need the support from the other bazillion controller DJ’s out there (most of whom treat DJ’ing as a fun hobby). 

Side note: If you do treat DJ’ing as a “fun hobby” and have a controller to play music for fun, that’s all good. There is nothing wrong with that.

All jokes aside, can we call controllers what they really are, “convenience”?

I play off a controller for that reason only…well, I did before Covid screwed the industry. But it’s not like I promote it, because TBH, nobody cares and it’s not a draw card for anything.

I’ve never gotten props from someone for mixing perfectly 2 songs together at a wedding and layering in a sweet Flanger over the top. Doesn’t happen. I’m not saying I don’t get props for playing some fairly epic sets off a controller, ie massive NYE gigs and the like, but I sure as hell don’t wear that shit on my sleeve. 


Because it’s easy. E.A.S.Y!!!

On the same note, I don’t get my ego strut on for taking a king size dump in the morning, brushing my teeth or getting the right amount of Almond milk in my coffee.

Just because you can tie your shoes doesn’t mean you get a high five in life.

Why must controller/digital DJ’s even weigh into the arguments? Bottom line is that anyone in those arguments (and to be fair to all, they’re fairly stupid arguments with no real bearing on the real world — I’m feeling rather ‘High Fidelity’ today) is probably a vinyl lover who you are not going to sway to your digital argument because we already know why you’re using the fucking controller dude!

Just wear it. Like when your first real girlfriend bought you that shitty shirt and you wore it because you were having sex regularly for the first time ever but all your mates publicly and privately played you out. I’m sure there’s another side of that for the ladies reading this and stuff your boyfriends may have bought you, but in my limited experiences, girls don’t put up with that shit.

Controller DJ’s, just wear it. You’ve lost no respect here (probably never had it in the first place…I know I haven’t), but that’s OK. It’s OK to play off a controller. I get it.

I get it if you’re playing live (at a wedding or some beer barn after work gig that doesn’t supply decks but pays you mad loot), but if you’re filming yourself playing on a controller on Twitch, absolutely nobody wants to see that. There’s nothing, and I do mean this sincerely, interesting or noteworthy about what you are doing.
But I get it. 

Gigs are gigs and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Those controller gigs of mine have actually funded my very large collection of 45’s and anyone that knows me knows I put my money where my mouth is.

I’ve often played an after work gig off controller from 5-8pm for $300 (they pay well) then head straight across town to play 9-3am with nothing but 45’s for the same fee. You should see me load up my boot and my back seat in the car in the morning before work (it’s hilarious).

But please, for the sake of our collective intelligence, do not have a go at a legend like Andy Smith and try to boost up your confidence or ego by claiming a controller set is anything other than what it is.


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3 comments on “The Controller Kings – Dj Obliveus

  1. Brilliant article and so true

  2. john Blake Oct 6, 2020

    Great article. I can relate entirely.