Thursday, 19 December 2013

Dare You Trance It Again?

Trance has been a dirty word in the underground world for some time.  Not any more.

In a way that reminds me of the resurgence of techno and more recently garage, trance is back.  But thankfully, not as you remember it.

A deeper, more intelligently structured form, taking on the learning’s of minimal – just as house music has done in recent years.  But keeping the dreamy emotions and melodies that trance suits times of new hope – befitting the economic recovery in the UK (just as in 1992, 1998 and 2003/04 – other economic boom times – always matching peaks in trance output).

This mix took me out of my house-orientated comfort zone.  It is clearly more difficult to choose, order and mix 12 tracks each with differing melodies – one can more easily get away with an imperfectly timed mix of minimal/house – this doesn’t apply so easily with this sound I call deep trance.

I needed a few attempts to get it to a point where it was acceptable to me – there are still one or two minor imperfections and one track in particular I did not EQ very well – it was 12 minutes long so I went to sort out my washing and came back realising it didn’t sound too good.

But I had to move on to more important DJ projects (you know who you are!).  In the grand scheme of DJing I am still a beginner and imperfections are part of my human nature of continually improving and progressing.

Don’t worry, it is unlikely I will be warming up for Armin Van Buuren any time soon.  I am an underground house kid at heart, that is what I want to play, but always have looked for ways to push the boundaries of acceptability and it is likely that you will hear more of these sounds in my sets going forwards.

Would I play for a trance night?  Never say never.

I hope your enjoyed it and maybe found it enlightening enough to share.  And see some of you at Zeus on Saturday 21stDecember.  Or 28th December.

Much love x

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Digital Detox & My Ever-Inflated Ego

No don’t worry, I haven’t gone on a detox.  It was (part of) the name of a night I played for on Friday, at the invite of my favourite fellow-Bracknell credit-controller, myself not included.

I played the warm-up set.  I love warm-ups because I can play some of the deeper and more underground music I love without telling the respective promoter to fuck off as I am playing what I want to play.

Thankfully promoters seem to trust me – 25 years of listening to music, 15 years of clubbing, 11 Ibiza trips, 1000’s of hours on the dancefloor, 15 hours listening to new tracks every week and a massive 100 hours practice DJing means that I have some background experience to put to use.

My set went well, despite the lack of recent practice.  I did play quite a few tracks that I played in my last set, they are all really nice underground house tracks by the likes of Ittetsu, for example, and I don’t have that many of that particular style, then I progressed onto different territory – mixing up house, deep house, minimal and a track with an 80’s sound to it but always keeping it underground and groovy.

Just one mixing error by experimenting with a slightly odd Villalobos track as I needed a pee, at a much lower tempo which didn’t really work when mixing it out (possibly the first time ever that a Villalobos track was played in Reading, and will definitely not be the last!) – oh and I came ever so close to one track running out when I realised that my desired track wouldn’t work, just 40 seconds to go and I had to very quickly change the incoming CD and blindly play the first track.  Somehow I got away with it! I do feel ready to step up to playing something closer to a peak-time set.

I kept the mixing fairly straight-forward – I have started practicing mixing tracks backwards by flipping reverse on the incumbent track but a touch on the experimental side at the moment to say the least.

Plenty of compliments from friends, randoms, the promoters and a rather attractive barmaid.  So much so that I have been promised a bongo player over my next set.  If anyone knows where I can get some horse tranquilizer from that would be appreciated.  I wouldn’t normally advocate spiking someone’s drink but bongo players (and especially saxophonists) are deserved exceptions and according to Newsnight I believe that it doesn’t last long – it is for a very good cause.

The outcome of such love is not only my ever-inflated ego but it also looks like two further bookings, to be confirmed of course my horse.  Still no blow job offers – that is about 15 sets now FFS.  DJing is not everything they promise in the movies.

My next set is Saturday 22nd December, again at Zeus, time unknown but will be in the garden.  A perfect excuse for a pre-Christmas piss-up and I will endeavour to squeeze in at least one Christmas song.  It will be a big night.  I might even play the odd request as long as I like it enough.  Ho ho ho.

Monday, 18 November 2013

2 Sets Of Headphones & 2...Sets

Dear thieving bastard, you cannot keep the next superstar DJ down for long through your jealously of my supreme talent and exceptional music taste.

Not only do I have one pair of headphones but I now have two.

I bought some American Audio headphones for the bargain price of £12.00 - just 7.7% of the price of those rather fine Sennheisers that I didn't treasure well enough.

They are not the quality of Sennheisers but they do the job.  However this gift to myself has been usurped by a gift from a good friend of his unwanted Sennheisers - they need a little repair work but they will be good to go soon.

Thanks Kevin.

So I know you are all desperate to know when you can next catch me DJing and you do not have long to wait as I will be back at Zeus this coming Friday for Digital Detox presents Lifted.  I will be DJing the main room 10pm to 11pm, it is £5 to get in.  I will buy a drink for the first guest to come up to me on the night and tell me they love my blog.  Or if you thought my blog was shit but read it anyway.

And then I am DJing in the garden on Saturday 21st December for Luna - I will be in the garden, time unknown at present, I am forecasting milder weather for the second half of December so shouldn't be too cold outside and is a perfect opportunity for some pre-Christmas shenanigans.

I would be delighted if any of my friends, stalkers or randoms came for a dance, a drink and to admire my growing mullet - the hairstyle for the most handsome DJs.

Two pairs of headphones.  Two good nights.  One mullet.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Beauty & The Bullshit of DJing

On Saturday I had my third DJ set in just a month.

I normally come away quite critical of myself, especially due to my usual lack of practice and my uncertainty as to what to play.  I had one hour’s reasonably decent practice on Thursday evening.  And then tried to practice early Saturday evening but just could not focus and quickly became frustrated and worried that I would make an idiot of myself.  Nerves got the better of me and I froze.  Unusually for someone generally quite calm and confident in life.  Thankfully this was only in my bedroom.

I went for a walk and a strawberry cider with friends, and then headed to Zeusmango.  I became my usual calm and confident self and felt at home as soon as the first mix was done.

I didn’t have much of a plan in place, a few tracks in my head.  The garden was pretty quiet upon arrival so I immediately slowed the pace from the previous DJ (128 to 124bpm) and put on some underground house tracks.

I slowly built it up as the crowd built up, playing some increasingly groovy but always underground house, with deeper basslines, and the occasional vocal before sending it twisted, disturbed and rather dark such as the below track.

I then switched to something more hands-in-the-air towards then end – you could call it deep trance.

I do.

I don’t think I had played any of these tracks out, and certainly not heard any other DJ play them out and about.  I had plenty of compliments and for want of a non-chavvy saying, I was proper buzzing after innit.  I think it was my favourite set, unusually I have no self-criticism, one mix was slightly miss-timed (beats in but just didn’t flow nicely) but I was so pleased for myself.  I immediately headed onto the dancefloor to dance the night away.

But what goes up come down.  I rather prophetically joked on Facebook before-hand that this would be my last DJ set of 2013.

I came to pick my stuff up towards the end of the night from the DJ booth, however my rather expensive Sennheiser headphones were missing from my bag.  I have to apportion half of the blame to myself as I should have put my bag in the cloakroom or taken it home straight after and gone back.

They may of course turn up.  It was dark with about 259 people in the DJ booth so I may simply not have seen them.  Or maybe someone picked them up by mistake and will return them.  But I wasn’t born yesterday.

In my fledgling DJ career I so far have earnings of £20, a handful of drinks and one sexual offer that I declined.  But I do not do it for money.  Like most DJs I do it for the passion and the love of music.  I spend 10-20 hours a week looking for new music and truly believe that I have something special and unique to offer in terms of music.

But it certainly should not cost me money.  £160 headphones are not the kind of thing I can replace overnight.  I probably won’t be able to replace them until annual bonus time next March/April (assuming a bonus of course).

So just as I was getting into it and starting to do well, I am enforced to take a 6-month break.  No DJing, no mixing, no new mixes.  You could say I am rather gutted.  I was really starting to love it, especially as more friends were coming each time.

Karma is a bitch though.  Assuming, of course that they were stolen.  Miracles do occur.  I could make a guess at who was the scumbag but I have no proof whatsoever so making such allegations would not be helpful especially as there is more chance I am wrong than right.

Every cloud has a silver lining, especially when the cloud produces rain, and this enforced pause will only make me more determined.  I will not give up and I will not be beaten.

There are options in the meanwhile.  Amazon sell these beauties for £3.96.  I could buy a jack to use my earphones for £0.73.  I could play my tracks on itunes, memorise and write down the exact cue points and hope I press play at exactly the right time every time.  Or I could download some Disclosure tracks and prostitute myself to shit bars that pay DJs danger money for avoiding flying glass bottles.  I do still have a working microphone.

You could say that I am disheartened and angry, as well as a touch miserable.  But I always get where I want in life in the end, normally with a fair amount of difficulty, often due to my own stupidity. 

This is not the end of the story.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

My Set @ Zeus - Time 2 Groove

So for the second time in two weeks, I headed to Zeusmango for the next step on the path to DJ superstardom.

A totally different set this time, inside rather than outside, and despite being the first DJ of the night, I played up-tempo house music at 124bpm pretty much from the off.  Normally for a warm-up set I wouldn’t play as such, I would play much deeper house music, but with most of the early arrivals coming straight from a boat party, the job was to keep them on a level and not deflate them.

I have noticed that both sets recently I played lots of stand-out tunes – less progression than I would have preferred as a DJ or a dancer – I am not sure if this is because I don’t have the right sort of tunes, or if it is just because I don’t know my tunes well enough.  Anyone that knows me knows my thirst for new music – listening to a minimum of 100 new tunes a week to find that next amazing track.

(2 Groove)

I did prepare much more this time, and had a pretty good idea of what tunes I wanted to play, although unsurprisingly I changed my mind a fair bit on the night – and then run out of time with still about 7 I dearly wanted to play.  Please can I have a 2 hour set next time?!

All the preparation in the world couldn’t prepare me for one channel of the mixer being so much quieter than the other.  I thought it might have been the track I was playing – or the CD, but no it was the mixer (well maybe it was me but I don't think so!!).  Experienced DJs would have worked around it easily or fixed it, but I was flustered and my mixing was not always what it should have been.

Plus I do need more practice with Pioneer mixers – they bring the mix in much quicker than my American Audio mixer.

In general I was happy, I had plenty of compliments from a range of people, many of whom are dear friends and friendly DJs who’s opinion I value.

The party as a whole was really good, and there were many good DJ sets and lots of good music all night.

I intend this weekend, all being well, on recording a new mix featuring some of the fantastic house tracks I played, and I few I didn’t get time to.  It will be uploaded to my Mixcloud page.

My next set is Saturday 28th September, again at Zeus.  I am not sure what time.  I will be in the garden and it is free to get in before 11pm.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Time To Get An Agent?

Saturday just gone was the achievement of a long-standing goal – to DJ in the garden of Mango (or whatever it is called now) for Systematik.

I had the midnight to 1am slot which I was particularly happy with.

The lesson once again was more preparation and practice required.  Despite it being a deep house and bass night, I feared starting after a DJ playing 128bpm electro-house but thankfully the promoter knows what he is doing and is very much in tune musically so all DJs that I heard both before and after me flowed very well together.  All DJs played very good music.

Without doubt, Systematik is one of the best nights around in the local area for house music and I thoroughly recommend it.  Is that enough to get booked again?!

I was indecisive right up until the final minute as to what to play, to the point of the last track of the previous DJ nearly running out on me!  Plus I hadn’t used CDJ850’s before so had to get to grips with the slight differences from what I was used to.  I really do need to learn to plan at least the first 3 tracks of my set!  I don’t really like planning sets as I prefer to do it off the cuff, but it takes a little time to get into my groove so I must insist on myself planning and practicing the first 3 tracks going forwards.  Nobody will know, nobody will read this, just you, me and the spellchecker.

I did well, I had a few compliments - not as many as last time.  I got the girls dancing which is most important, playing deep house at 122bpm with some large basslines - which sounded good on the soundsystem of the garden.

This track in particular went down well.

I also had a request (below), a respectable one too so I played it.  I made said requester's night.  And received an interesting offer in return that I chose to decline.  Possibly unprintable, even for the standards of my blog!

For those that missed out, do not fear you have two more chances upcoming.

Firstly this Saturday, 7th September at Time 2 Groove.  I will be playing in the main room from 10pm to 11pm.  Upbeat house music to get you dancing straight off - the sound system is sounding the best it probably ever has in there.  And I know my sound systems.  Please turn up ruined and ready to dance.

And then in the garden on Saturday 28th September for Luna.  I don't know my set time yet but it is free to get in before 11pm.

Free drugs and blow jobs always accepted (with some quality control).  But I won't play shit music in exchange.