Johnny "Juice" Rosado
A turntable traditionalist embraces the future of DJ technology
Raised in the Bronx, DJ/producer and master turntablist Johnny “Juice” Rosado participated in the inner-city revolution that brought urban music to mainstream culture. A true progenitor of modern hip-hop, Rosado collaborated with legendary rap group Public Enemy, cutting wax on the classic albums Yo! Bum Rush the Show and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Johnny Juice has earned a reputation for rock-solid studio production and beat making, consistently turning to M-Audio for innovative products like Torq DJ software.
Between remix collaborations with top hip-hop artists and scoring sessions for TV/film productions like the Emmy-nominated Ali Rap documentary, Juice continues to perform live with Chuck D and Public Enemy. Each night, Juice holds down the decks with the help of M-Audio’s Torq Conectiv software/hardware performance system. As a hip-hop traditionalist, Juice initially used Torq software strictly for vinyl replacement. However, after exploring the VST effects, looping tools, and sampling engine, Juice realized that Torq could take his live performances in exciting new directions.
"Torq allows me to have complete tactile control using vinyl, which is important," explains Juice. "I’ve tried Serato, and while it was real good at emulating vinyl, its feature set was so limited that I might as well just stick to strictly vinyl. It’s pretty much the same with Final Scratch and Traktor. It’s not just about response—you have to look at the workflow and user interface. Torq brings everything together into a single workspace, and the features it provides are incredible. It’s made for you to really dig in there and get busy.
"It’s great having tools to perform tricks other DJs can’t pull off," he continues. "Other programs make it necessary to set up everything in advance. But instead of going through all 20,000 songs and marking cue points, I can pull out a track I haven’t played in six months and Torq remembers my cues. I can even change and assign cue points live while the song is playing. It’s really conducive to experimentation."
The X Factor
At the 2007 International DJ Expo in Atlanta, Juice had the opportunity to test drive a new breed of DJ tool—M-Audio’s Xponent CDJ-style MIDI control surface/audio interface. "I’ve always been into turntables and vinyl, so Xponent was a new direction for me," relates Juice. "Xponent is an excellent physical representation of Torq software—perfect for gigs where space is tight. You just need Xponent and a laptop. It’s a great piece of hardware and integrates really well with Torq."
Juice’s DJ performances are well known for bass-thumping mixes that run the gamut of musical versatility. Torq Xponent helps him to get down and really freak it. "I might throw on a song like ‘Planet Rock’ by Afrika Bambaataa, and the crowd really gets going," describes Juice. "I can set QuickCue points on Xponent while the track is playing. Sometimes I’ll even cue the kick, snare, hi-hat, and remake the beat right there. People think I’m spinning pre-produced remixes, but I’m not. It’s all on the fly."
Bridging the Gap Between Studio and Stage
For a hands-on producer like Johnny Juice, there is no substitute for live interaction with the beat. "I was sampling an old record and found sections that sounded great, but they were micro loops," remembers Juice. "I had to trigger three or four of them to get a bar. I could have pieced them together on my drum machine, but instead I decided to ReWire Torq to my Sonar session and trigger the stuff live. That gave it more feeling and allowed me to switch up the sequence."
Check out how Juice uses Torq on the soon-to-be-released remix of "Fencewalk." For more information on his other upcoming projects, check out myspace.com/djjohnnyjuice.