Posts Tagged ‘Turntablism’

Turntable Music Symposium 2019

January 22, 2019

turntable music symposium 2019

Through a series of talks, workshops and performances, the turntable music symposia at the University of Northampton explores the role of the DJ in contemporary music and the vinyl records impact on auditory culture. This years event includes talks by DJ Jo Burns, James Kelly and the Open Music Archive. The concert presents performances by Fugues, James Kelly and an audience participation performance of John Cage’s 33 1/3 (1969).

dj jo burns

Our first speaker of the day is DJ Jo Burns aka Madame Electrifie. Jo has amassed some 15 years on the decks, playing some of the UK’s leading venues across the years, from Ministry to Turnmills, and has graced many of the leading London warehouse parties. Fusing the best vintage beats with the best of the modern age; Madame Electrifie takes classic grooves and threads through everything from hip hop, to house, breaks and drum and bass to create a raucous dance floor focused party, all with that distinctive driving sound that’s a firm nod to her breaks and tech roots mixed with plenty of funk, fun and nonsense on the way.

James Kelly Turntablist

James Kelly will present the talk: The Turntable Music of John Cage. Cage is known for his pioneering work in experimental music. He composed works such as Imaginary Landscapes No. 1 (1939), Imaginary Landscapes No. 2 (1940) Imaginary Landscapes No. 3 (1942), Cartridge Music (1960) and 33 1/3 (1969) which utilised the turntable and playback cartridge as instruments for the creation of new music.

Open Music Archive

Our third speaker is Ben White from the Open Music Archive. Open Music Archive is a collaborative project, initiated by artists Eileen Simpson and Ben White, to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings. The archive distributes these recordings freely, forms a site of exchange, and is a vehicle for future collaborations and distributed projects. The archive is situated within the current discourse surrounding notions of authorship, ownership and distribution, reanimated by a porting of Free/Libre and Open Source software models to wider creative contexts. The focus is on the public domain and creative works which are not owned by any one individual and are held in common by society as a whole.


fugues band

FUGUES are an electronic duo featuring vocalist Shannon Kait and producer Jo Burns (Madame Electrifie). Their music takes a journey through dark brooding basslines and haunting vocal melodies, through stomping electronica, trip hop and house. Influenced by the energy of the dancefloor combined with the ambience of the after party, it’s a heavy blend taking in influence from everything from jazz to dub.


As a turntablist for the last 15 years, James Kelly’s music explores the remixing of vinyl using DJ scratch techniques for the creation of new music. The piece Vinyl Minimalism takes his compositional approach in new directions by utilising a disc cutting lathe – a machine which is traditionally used in the manufacture of records. The mechanism and limitations of the lathe itself are used as an artistic tool to shape the music. The performance is created using three turntables to mix music which Kelly has cut to vinyl using a range of experimental disc cutting techniques that alter the timbre of sound recordings. Part performance, part exhibition, the work is presented is an audio visual performance in collaboration with The Lab Visuals. Live video feeds are mixed together making the compositional process accessible to the audience.

33 1 3

John Cage’s 1969 piece instructs the arrangement of eight to twelve turntables and three hundred records to be placed in the performance space. The audience are the performers and are free to play and mix the records as they wish. This performance ‘happening’ is an example of experimental turntablism where turntables and records are used as musical instruments. 33 1/3 was presented at University of California, Davis on November 21, 1969. It was also incorporated into Address (1977). Discussing the creative us of records, Cage stated:
“The only lively thing that will happen with a record is, if somehow you would use it to make something which it isn’t. If you could for instance make another piece of music with a record, including a record and other sounds of the environment or other musical instruments, that I would find interesting.”


Thursday 7th February 2019

MB8, Avenue Campus, University of Northampton

10.00am Jo Burns
11.00am James Kelly
1.00pm Open Music Archive

7.30pm Concert

Newton Grand Hall, Avenue Campus, University of Northampton

James Kelly
John Cage 33 ⅓

Turntable Music Symposia

Now in its fourth year, the turntable music symposia at the University of Northampton explores the role of the DJ in contemporary music and the vinyl records impact on auditory culture. Previous speakers and performers at the symposium have included Shiva Fashreki, Sophy Smith, Lisa Busby, Karin Weissenbrunner, DJ NikNak, Bradley Smith and James Kelly.

Links to past symposia



Experimental Turntablism at Crackle, University of Leeds

August 24, 2017

vinyl crackle experimental turntablism nik nak james kelly

I will be performing at the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds on the 5th of November 2017. I’d like to thank DJ NikNak for the invitation to perform. Details below.. (more…)

Turntable Music Symposium 23rd January 2017, University of Northampton

January 17, 2017


I’m organising a symposium on Turntable music at The University of Northampton as part of Subject Futures Week. The talks will present unique approaches to music performance and composition using turntables, including the styles of hip hop, minimalism and experimental music.

Our first guest of the day is  Dr Sophy Smith, Reader in Creative Technologies at De Montfort University. Smith will discuss research from her book Hip Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration, with a particular focus on compositional techniques employed by turntable teams such as the Scratch Perverts. Smith describes the scratch techniques employed by hip-hop DJ’s as the groundbreaking compositional strategies of hip-hop turntablism with incorporates sound manipulation and ‘flexible compositional processes’.


Our second guest is composer Shiva Fashreki who’s work explores concert music for turntables. Fashreki’s recent concerts include a live session for BBC Radio 3 at St John’s in Hackney, as well as the realisation of Daphne Oram’s work ‘Still Point’ for Double Orchestra, 78rpm vinyl discs and microphones at the Southbank Centre, London. Discussing her work with Turntables, Fashreki states:

“My turntabling practise can be described as a manipulation of pre-recorded sound to create new gestural movements and textures not always apparent in the record being manipulated. I often modify and prepare the turntables using sculptures that use the electricity, magnetism and circulation of the turntables to create sound and shapes.”


I will be presenting my PhD research which explores the use of a vinyl disc cutting lathe as a compositional tool for the creation of new music. My talk will discuss recent experiments cutting locked groove records to create minimalist music. In the evening I will present a performance – exhibition creating a turntablist remix of the records accompanied by live video feeds of the records.

Both the talks and concert are free.


Date: Monday 23rd January 2017

Venue: University of Northampton Avenue Campus, MY89

10am Sophy Smith
Hip Hop Turntablism, Creativity and Collaboration

11am James Kelly
Vinyl Minimalism

1pm Shiva Fashreki
Daphne Oram’s Still Point and Concert Music for Turntables

7pm Jim Frize and James Kelly Concert
Isham Dark, Avenue Campus (more…)

James Kelly Experimental Turntablism Interview with Eleven Magazine

November 15, 2016


Earlier this year I was interviewed by Northampton music magazine Eleven. In the interview I discussed my exhibition at the Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton which presented my experiments with using vinyl record cutting as part of the compositional process. Eleven started by asking about my experience as a turntablist, starting in Hip Hop and later getting into ambient music and dub. I discussed learning to cut vinyl records and why the medium interests me. Click this link to read the interview in Eleven. (more…)

Record Cutting Guest Lecture at Goldsmiths University, London 2016

October 12, 2016


I was recently invited to give a guest lecture at Goldsmiths University, London discussing my experiments with record cutting. It was great to share my work and chat to postgraduate students after the event. Thanks to Lisa Busby for inviting me!! (more…)

Performance at Audio Graft Festival Oxford

January 26, 2011

I’m performing a remixed version of my album Transformation of the Mind at the Audio Graft Festival next month. I’ve cut the stems of my tracks to 5 vinyl records and will be performing a 3 deck mix of my tracks at Modern Art Oxford on Sat the 19th of Feb.

Biscuit Tin Sound System Presents: I-Mitri Meets Pure Phase

January 26, 2011

We’re putting on a gig in Leicester on the 11th of Feb at Rockafellars. Looking forward to it!
Biscuit Tin Sound System Presents
UK Dub and Dubstep

(Counteraction, United Nations of Dub)

Pure Phase
(Full Melt/Cymbalism/Dirty Circuit Records/Filthy Digital Recordings)

Fri 11th Feb
(3 doors down from Mosh nightclub – 29 St Nicholas Place, High Street, Leicester, LE1 4LD)

£3 B4 Midnight more after

Dubstep performance with turntablism and controllerism

November 21, 2010

This video is of a recent Pure Phase live jam. The performance set up is based around a turntable and DJ mixer, but the audio is powered by one Mac Book Pro running Ableton Live, Reaktor 5 and Traktor Scratch Pro, using a Korg Zero4 as audio interface, mixer and Midi controller along with Novation’s Dicer for added control of  Traktor.


Pure Phase Live Dubstep

October 14, 2010

The Pure Phase live dubstep performance is coming along nicely. After many hours fighting to get our laptops to sync together, we decided to try both using the same laptop. We’re running Traktor Scratch Pro and Ableton live with bespoke Reaktor patches, using my midi enabled Korg Zero 4 DJ mixer to control Ableton and Reaktor. (more…)

Circuit Bending meets Turntablism at the Bathysphere Studio

May 9, 2009

I’ve been back at the Bathysphere studio with Asmo this week, working on the finishing touches to the track “The devils in the detail”. Its a duet of scratching meets circuit bent noise. (more…)