Dave Wrangler, Part 2: "I Still Do Some Sampling"

Earlier this morning, Houston DJ Dave Wrangler was kind enough to explain to Rocks Off the difference between a mashup and a remix, as well as his procedure in constructing Frankenstein-like songs such as ""Wanna Be a Big Poppa," which combines the efforts of Lil Troy and Notorious B.I.G. Into a third type Wrangler calls a "blend."

But we had a few other questions, too. Most of them are related to the equipment Wrangler uses to put together his tracks, because we're big on "How does that work?" kind of stuff. (Our dad was a science teacher.) But we also wanted to know why Wrangler wanted to do such an activity in the first place, both as a profession and a hobby, so we asked him.

"I choose to remix or mashup certain works firstly to please myself and secondly to please an audience of listeners -- there is no rhyme or reason for the most part," he says. "If someone doesn't like something you create, no big thing because you didn't make it for them in the first place.

"Any DJ would agree that if you are not playing for yourself part of the time, then you are not maximizing your experience as a DJ," adds Wrangler, who is DJing the Houston Press' " target="_blank">2012 Houston Web Awards Thursday evening at the House of Dereon Media Center near downtown. "Doing something you love for hire can quickly feel like a shitty day job when you approach this territory. Which is exponentially worse than the shitty day job."

Rocks Off: What kind of equipment do you use to do this? Or does the kind of equipment you use depend on what kind of track you're mixing?

You can use any digital audio workstation for the most part, but I have been using Ableton Live since 2004 and will swear by it. It seems to be the industry standard nowadays for bedroom producers and professionals who perform "live" EDM.

RO: How much of what you do is software-based?

Much of what I do is software-based but nine times out of ten it originated from something that happened while DJing or simply listening to chord progressions and relating them to other tunes.

Perhaps a mix or blend that I executed live triggered an idea and I would take it home and develop into a mashup or remix of some sort. A program called Mixed in Key will tell you the key and tempo of your tracks, which helps greatly on the DJ and production fronts.

RO: When you start doctoring a track, where do your ideas for changing it up usually come from?

DW: Often times I make edits of tunes that I know I want to fit into my sets but are missing an element or two that I find suitable to my taste. Often times things need to be sped up or require more aggressive drums. In that case I would sequence a drum pattern or add other sounds to the original track. This would make it an edit or a remix.

RO: Is there, like, a big vault of dance beats somewhere (like online) that DJs have access to, or does it all come from your record collection?

DW: People are still sampling vinyl and using the MPC to do it. These days it seems like most people are utilizing the inexpensive and user-friendly digital tools such as apps, software synths and loop packages for quicker turnaround time.

I still do some sampling but also use digital tools and a few hardware devices. My lab features a Korg Electribe EMX, Microkorg XL, Roland Alpha Juno 1, Roland EG-1 and Roland Poly 61.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray