by Meridith Levinson

Two Turntables and a MacBook: IT Geeks Get Their Groove On

Jun 01, 20095 mins

By day, they work in IT- designing and developing software, building microchips, setting up servers and performing QA. But when the work day is done, these five techies hit the 1s and 2s (turntables), beat-matching, mixing and scratching, spinning tunes that will make you wanna groove.

Nicholas Maddix

Nicholas Maddix, the developer of Anagram software, in the mix at Le Souk, a restaurant and lounge in NYC.

Maddix, 33, is Le Souk’s resident DJ, and he spins house music in clubs and at venues all over the world, from Cannes to Cabo San Lucas, Manchester (England) to Tokyo. The jet-set DJ has been on the bill with house music superstars DJ Keoki and Mark Farina. A geek at heart, Maddix says that much of his attraction to DJ’ing comes from wanting to play with all the technical equipment.

For more on software developers’ attraction to DJ’ing, see the feature story, Developers by Day, DJs by Night.

Gautam Banerjee


Gautam Banerjee, a hardware engineer for an electronic components manufacturer, on the 1s and 2s (turntables) at a private party in Santa Monica, Calif.

Dissatisfied with the music he heard at bars and clubs in Los Angeles, Banerjee, 31, began DJ’ing in his mid-20s. His favorite music is hip-hop and electronic, and he says he loves being able to control a venue’s mood and energy from the DJ booth. The money isn’t so bad, either. Banerjee says he’s earned between $3,000 and $4,000 a night DJ’ing private events.

Alan Cannistraro


Alan Cannistraro (in black), a software developer for a computer manufacturer, with friend and fellow DJ Amit Kapadiya at San Francisco’s Hush Hush Lounge in 2006.

Cannistraro, 32, and Kapadiya formed RAWKSHOW after a night out in 2004. (Gautam Banerjee is also a member of the group.) “Amit and I came to the same conclusion that all DJs were doing the same thing,” says Cannistraro. “So we set out to do something different.” A multimedia extravaganza, RAWKSHOW synchronizes wild lighting and video clips with house, hip-hop, punk, disco and electronic music.

David Gallant


David Gallant, 23, beat-matching at The Amber Room, a nightclub in Nashua, N.H.

Despite the cool associated with DJ’ing, the activity is, at its core, quintessentially nerdy. Think of it as high-school AV club on ecstasy. Because DJ’ing combines technical hardware and software with the glamour of music and dance, it’s allowed many guys like Gallant, who were nerds in high school, to express their inner-cool—and earn some extra cash. Gallant, who 9-to-5s as a digital producer for a Boston, Mass.-based marketing agency, DJs school dances and weddings on weekends.

Jonathan Howard


Jonathan Howard, kickin’ it old school with vinyl.

Howard, a senior applications architect for a Boston-based online software company, sees many similarities between DJ’ing and technical work: “DJ’ing requires you to always try new things, overcome a huge barrier to entry (cost), jump into things without knowing the answer, and be OK dealing with lots of technical details and lots of wires,” he says. The bedroom DJ (Howard doesn’t spin professionally) would like to become a master turntablist, á la DJ QBert, who is known for his virtuosic scratching and beat-matching.



The advantage of being a house music DJ: Being adored by beautiful women.

Nicholas Maddix and friend at Woodfunk 2008, a private music festival outside of Manchester, U.K.

David Gallant’s Home Studio


A MacBook running Serato Scratch Live Software, Technics 1200 turntables, and a Pioneer DJM-909 touch-screen mixer (between the turntables.)

Gallant uses his studio to preview new music and to discover songs that will blend well. It’s also his escape: After a long workday, Gallant dons a pair of chunky headphones, and the thumping breakbeats transport him to another place.

Gautam Banerjee’s “Decks”


 A computer/turntable hybrid.

Banerjee DJs with MP3s using Serato Scratch Live, a DJ’ing solution that includes software and hardware. The turntables he uses require special records that interact with his computer. Instead of playing music, the records emit a time code that indicates to the computer how far into a record the needle is. The computer recognizes the time code and queues up the MP3 accordingly. This allows Banerjee to change tracks with a mouse click, instead of having to swap out vinyl.

Serato Scratch Live Software


DJs use the Scratch Live software to play MP3s as if they were records and to “scratch” MP3s using a special vinyl record. The scratch effects sound just like they’re being made on a record.

Jonathan Howard’s decks


Two Technics SL 1200 vinyl turntables, a Vestax mixer and some of the 300 LPs he’s purchased off Craigslist or dug up in record stores.

Nintendo Wii controller


Gautam Banerjee and Alan Cannistraro sometimes use a Nintendo Wii controller (pictured) to mix and change music during their shows.

The G-Love 5000


Alan Cannistraro applies his computer engineering background directly to his DJ’ing: He creates custom instruments, like the G-Love 5000, that he uses in live RAWKSHOW performances.

The G-Love 5000 is made from a P5 Glove, which was originally manufactured for 3D games. With a simple opening and closing of his G-Loved hand or a flamboyant arm movement, Cannistraro can control the music, lighting and visuals during his shows.