Professional DJs made music magic using the standard turntable for more than 100 years, but one team dared to transform this traditional instrument for the digital age.
For Thud Rumble, a Bay Area media management company founded by Ritchie “Yogafrog” Desuasido and Richard “DJ Qbert” Quitevis, creating boogie-worthy beats is a multi-musician job.
“I feel like I’m the dreamer, and I think of the concept, and I believe one day these dreams could happen,” explained Desuasido, who credits Rich Johnson (aka DJ Hard Rich) with engineering his wild ideas to make them a reality before handing it over to his partner in crime.
“We bring all these things to our magician, which is Qbert, and he actually does the magic spell and makes wonders.”
How precisely does a professional DJ make magic? According to the Thud Rumble crew, it’s with the ultimate musical instrument: the turntable.
“We grew up during this time where [the turntable] was part of the weapons that hip-hop used to express their art form,” Desuasido said. “There was the microphone, the drum machine, but it’s the turntable that invented hip-hop … that defined the art form and the tradition, the skill set, the techniques involved in making yourself a complete DJ.”
Although Desuasido said the turntable has been around for more than a hundred years, DJs use it the same way they always have. That’s why Thud Rumble is driven to innovate using technology.
The group’s first mission: Transform the turntable setup.
“I think everyone has a relationship subconsciously with the turntable,” said Desuasido. “”That’s why we keep designing more turntables that fit the kids’ dreams of today, to update them with something that’s still fascinating about the analog record and the vinyl record, and it plays, and it can record everything that you want it to.”
By using Intel Edison technology, Thud Rumble experimented with integrating computing power into a turntable and other DJ equipment.
The result is a portable, Wi-Fi-ready turntable that enables DJs to access new sounds and make the music magic every professional is trying to achieve.
“It should run every DJ software that you could possibly imagine. It can remotely do everything in software that it’s meant for, without having to disengage from it,” Desuasido said, explaining that the technology integrates computer capabilities into the turntable’s mixer, allowing DJs to create without being attached to their laptops. This reimagined setup gives DJs a new interface for creating their work.
“We’re gonna put all the computing you need in your mixers, drum machines and synthesizer keyboards,” Desuasido continued. “Everything that you needed to just let it run standalone, you’ll be able to do it right away.”
While this is an important technological feat, these hacked experimental turntables are exactly the type of innovation that keeps music fresh and on the cutting edge. Desuasido finds this particularly humorous, pointing out the irony of a new DJ interface being the result of a technology named after a man who continually invented — and often got it wrong.
“Thomas Edison, you know, failed more times than he succeeded, and it was those gems that succeeded that really changed the shape of mankind, right?” Desuasido said. “The Intel Edison module is just an homage to the inventor himself and the more happy accidents that can occur right after this.”
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Editor’s Note: In this Experience Amazing series, iQ explores how computer technology inside is enabling incredible experiences outside. We look at how computer technology powers new experiences and discoveries in science, the maker movement, fashion, sports and entertainment. To learn more about the tech behind these stories, visit Experience Amazing.