Many local DJs including Adam ’DJ 1-AD’ DaSilva have switched from vinyl to turntables that play MP3’s through a laptop.
Many local DJs including Adam 'DJ 1-AD' DaSilva have switched from vinyl to turntables that play MP3's through a laptop. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)
Adam DaSilva grew up watching Run-DMC crossfade rock with rap.

Things didn't go so well when he tried to do the same thing.

"I ended up breaking my mom's record needles," he said.

But that didn't stop him.

DaSilva, aka DJ 1-AD, bought a turntable and records. He started spinning electronic dance music known as drum and bass at parties and underground clubs in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

But to DJ at bars in York like 4-B's Tavern and Granfalloons, DaSilva said he had to switch his style to Top 40. Of the 29,000 songs in his music collection, some are requested more than others.

"Listening to 4,000 remixes of 'A Milli' by Lil Wayne gets old," he said.

York is a little behind the curve when it comes to new music, John Stump, aka DJ Stumpy, admitted.

Adam DaSilva, aka DJ 1-AD, spins at Granfalloons in York on a recent Thursday. DaSilva grew up listening to Run-DMC.
Adam DaSilva, aka DJ 1-AD, spins at Granfalloons in York on a recent Thursday. DaSilva grew up listening to Run-DMC. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)

Luckily, DJs can share cuts, samples and music online with digital downloading pools. Programs like Sony Acid allows DJs to remix songs easily. MySpace is another great tool for networking, Stump said.

As a kid, Stump spent a lot of time in basements trying re-create flows from Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and 2 Live Crew cassettes. Like DaSilva, Stump learned that vinyl gives DJs the best sound.

But when he recently got back into DJing, Stump, 36, realized times had changed and so had costs. He bought a turntable that hooks up to a laptop. Programs, including Serato Scratch LIVE by Rane, play MP3s from a turntable using vinyl control records. It saves DJs from carting around cases of music, but costs $1,000.

Any old laptop won't do, either.

It has to have a beefed-up hard drive to hold up to 500 gigs worth of songs. It has to be fast, so it can read songs quickly without skipping. It has to last all night in a club without burning out.

Getting a custom-built computer is an option for some DJs, but it can cost thousands. Add in a mixer, headphones, needles and other equipment and Stump said that starting out can cost a DJ anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.

For DaSilva and Stump, who have full-time jobs, that adds up to an expensive hobby.

A few York DJs, including Tommy Davis, have to look beyond clubs to make it a career. Davis is usually booked three to four months in advance for weddings, 30th anniversary parties and birthday bashes for ages 16 to 75.

The best thing an event DJ can do is to go to an FYE or other music store, Davis said."Learn everything inside," he said. From Rat Packers to Rihanna, it's crucial to have what people request. Davis, whose been DJing for about a decade, said he still prefers to use CDs.

Any way they spin it, the challenge for DJs is still the same.

"The hardest part is initially getting people out on the dance floor," DaSilva said. "You've got to figure out . . . how to keep them there."

Davis learned to be flexible and read the crowd.

"I call it the human jukebox," he said. "It always tells you what to play."


More tips

"Always bring your own needles and get to the gig early enough to sound check."

-- DJ Labrynth of Paradise Movement from York


"Never skimp on a good mixer, needles and a good pair of headphones. Give yourself plenty of time to sit in a room and beat match."

-- Adam DaSilva,
aka DJ 1-AD, 31, of York


"Do your research. (I've) read tons of forms and research, and there is some important stuff to know about computers and DJing gear."

-- John Stump, aka DJ
Stumpy, 36, of Hanover