Blare two songs at the same time and chances are it will sound like trash being dumped into a garbage truck. But sometimes it creates a pleasant surprise, like late at night in a Castro bar where Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” mixes perfectly with Iyaz’s song “Replay.”
It takes a well-trained ear to match two independent tracks into something audible, but there is now an app to make the process easier. Bay Area entrepreneur Seth Goldstein’s latest project involves a group of fourteen developers and audiophiles creating an interactive DJ platform for smartphones.
The app is called Crossfader, and it might sound intimidating, but it is not really — all it takes is tilting your phone to achieve the perfect remix.
The app divides a smartphone screen into two audio tracks. Leaning it one way increases the volume of the song on that side. DJs have categorized the music into packs of complementary beats that are played on a loop.
Each pack contains a dozen of these loops for the user to mix into rhythmic perfection. A quick scroll through two packs will blend artists like Lil’ Wayne and The Clash into an unexpectedly catchy remix. Lean the phone one way for a heavier rock vibe, or tilt it the other way for more rap.
The developers went to Amsterdam on October 14th to test Crossfader Live. This latest version of the app broadcasts users’ live remix sessions, which can be organized into sets for future playback.
One of the team members, Hannah Fouasnon, says she is pleased with how the app has done since its launch a year ago.
“The curation of the music has been very well received,” Fouasnon says. “A lot of people use the app for music discovery.”
While the app contains mostly remixes of electronic dance music, or EDM, there are also packs for other genres such as reggae, metal, and funk. Users have the freedom to match up Bob Marley against Slayer, but just because they can does not mean they should.
The app is most popular among males ages sixteen to twenty-four years old, and of these, the vast majority are EDM lovers.
“We’re trying to create a DJ community,” Fouasnon says.
If, however, Crossfader wants to expand its demographic, it will have to start promoting its other genres. Hailey Ackermann, a twenty-three-year-old student, felt she could not relate to the app.
“It’s fun, but I don’t know if I would ever actually use it,” Ackermann says. “I guess because it’s not the music I typically listen to.”
Crossfader has also had some glitches on the iPhone’s new operating system, iOS 8. Some users have tried opening it only to find it closes immediately. But for those who genuinely appreciate electronic remixes and want more control of the beat, this free app is still worth a try.