Wednesday, 23 December 2015

James Winfield's Top 383 DJs List

It seems every other tin-pot organisation has a top 100 DJs poll nowadays, so I've decided to go one better...actually I've decided to go 283 better and have polled myself and only myself and here are the results.

Note that experience counts - those DJs which I've only discovered this year and have loved such as Roustam, are still fairly low down.  DJs that I may be tiring of such as Shonky, are still fairly high up.

383 Sharam Jey
382 Richie Hawtin
381 Modeselektor
380 John Digweed
379 Jamie XX
378 Dubfire
377 Behrouz
376 Wata Igarashi
375 Vitalic
374 Terry Costello
373 System Of Survival
372 Svreca
371 Special Case
370 Redshape
369 Mumdance
368 Miguel Campbell
367 Deep'a & Biri
366 YATE
365 Will Saul
364 Shadee
363 Peter Van Hoesen
362 Pete Tong
361 Pelle & Roon
360 Marco Carola
359 Lee Burridge
358 Kamran Sadeghi
357 K Civ
356 Joseph Capriati
355 James Zabiela
354 Isherwood
353 Eli Verveine
352 Butch
351 Arcarsenal
350 Alin Crihan
349 Youngsta
348 Walker Bernard
347 Vonda7
346 tIJN
345 Thyladomid
344 Stacey Pullen
343 Slow Hands
342 Ramon Tapia
341 Pawas
340 Nicolas Lutz
339 Narcis
338 Mr C
337 Mike Gervais
336 Martinez
335 Marco Shuttle
334 Luciano
333 Lowris
332 Lot.te
331 Lee Foss
330 Joeski
329 Jasper James
328 Iain Taylor
327 Herodot
326 Gwenan
325 Francesco Farfa
324 Francesco De Luca
323 Florian Kupfer
322 Dusty Kid
321 CMYK
320 Youandewan
319 Weg
317 Tin Man
316 Tanner Ross
315 Sea
314 Sander Baan
313 Saboar
312 Robin Ordell
311 Pinch
310 Phil Moffa
309 Oliver Huntemann
308 Mo'Funk
307 Mind Against
306 Leisure Muffin
305 Kerri Chandler
304 John Selway
303 Job Jobse
302 Jay Lumen
301 Jan Blomqvist
300 Gunnar Haslam
299 Einzelkind
298 DJ Three
297 DJ Jus-Ed
296 Detlef
295 Deetron
294 Dasha Rush
293 Darius Syrossian
292 Daniele Baldelli
291 Chaim
290 Capulet
289 Ben Pearce
288 Barem
287 Azimute
286 Anrilov
285 Anja Schneider
284 Alejandro Vivanco
283 Agoria
282 Adam Touch
281 Tama Sumo
280 Steve Lawler
279 Solomun
278 Skream
277 Sheild
276 Rayo
275 Prins Thomas
274 Pancho Piedra
273 Olga Korol
272 Okain
271 October
270 Norman Nodge
269 Lo Shea
268 Lauhaus
267 Kode9
266 Jamie Jones
265 Italoboyz
264 Graze
263 DJ Masda
262 Dave Clarke
261 Dani Caserani
260 Cessegrain
259 Ben Nott
258 Andre Galluzzi
257 ANA
256 Ame
255 Tiger & Woods
254 SIT
253 Recondite
252 Rampa
251 Rafa Barrios
250 Omar-S
249 Nick Monaco
248 Maya Jane Coles
247 Matt John
246 Mariano Mateljan
245 Marc Houle
244 Kenneth Christiansen
243 Julio Bashmore
242 Joris Voorn
241 Jacq
240 Derrick Carter
239 David Morales
238 Dan Plume
237 Dan Lively
236 Crihan
235 Amin Ravelle
234 Vess
233 Thugfucker
232 Noir
231 Nicole Moudaber
230 Mathias Kaden
229 Martinez Brothers
228 Jimmy Edgar
227 Jay Haze
226 Jan Krueger
225 Hot Since 82
224 Tim Sharpe
223 Samantha Bond
222 Hans Bouffmyhre
221 Gus & Bonso
220 Gavin Herlihy
219 Efdemin
218 Dustin Zahn
217 D'Julz
216 DeWalta
215 Curses
214 Ben Vedren
213 2000 And One
212 STL
211 Sandrien
210 Ray Okpara
209 Pedro
208 Los Soruba
207 Kashawar
206 Ion Ludwig
205 David Labeij
204 Chevel
203 Call Super
202 Boddika
201 Blond:Ish
200 Ben UFO
199 Andrew James Gustav
198 Sasha
197 Rui Da Silva
196 Prosumer
195 Molly
194 M.A.N.D.Y
193 Kollectiv Turmstrasse
192 K.atou
191 Jane Fitz
190 DJ Sneak
189 C.Love
188 Brodinski
187 Anthony Parasole
186 Ali Tillett
185 Vera
184 Ralf Kollmann
183 Primarie
182 Martin Buttrich
181 Luke VB & Tim Red
180 Gary Beck
179 Droog
178 DJ T
177 Bowler
176 Andrey Pushkarev
175 Yuka
174 Simon Baker
173 Ryan Crosson
172 Perc
171 Loquace
170 Konstantin
169 Jackmaster
168 Ian F
167 Hold Youth
166 Dorian Paic
165 Click Box
164 Alex Under
163 Voigtmann
162 Sucui
161 Sarah Myers
160 Monika Ross
159 Louie Fresco
158 Hermanez
157 Fumiya Tanaka
156 Esther Duijn
155 Dario D'Attis
154 Conforce
153 Chris Tietjen
152 Zev
151 Visionquest
150 Terry Francis
149 Ralph Lawson
148 Mr G
147 Mirko Loko
146 Michael Mayer
145 Kate Simko
144 Kabale Und Liebe
143 Huxley
142 Eddie Fowkes
141 Dixon
140 Detroit Swindle
139 Anthony Naples
138 Alexkid
137 The Mole
136 Steffi
135 Sleeparchive
134 Robert James
133 Richy Ahmed
132 Midland
131 Matthew Dear
130 Andy Knowles
129 Tobi Neumann
128 Stephan Bodzin
127 Roger Gerressen
126 Mano Le Tough
125 Cap
124 Piticu
123 Matt Powell
122 Archie Hamilton
121 Scuba
120 Muzzy
119 Laurent Garnier
118 Chris Liebing
117 Shoon
116 Roustam
115 Dark Matter
114 Cirillo
113 Art Department
112 Miss Jools
111 Miss I
110 Le Loup
109 Haruka
108 Ellen Allien
107 William Kouam Djoko
106 Shaun Reeves
105 RAHA
104 Nu Zau
103 Laurine Frost
102 Ferro
101 Emi
100 Danny Tenaglia
99 Catz n Dogz
98 Sascha Dive
97 Nicolas Jaar
96 Mosca
95 Posh
94 Matthias Tanzmann
93 Giorfio Gigli
92 Andrew Weatherall
91 Seuil
90 Rick Maia
89 Eats Everything
88 DVS1
87 Cabanne
86 Azari & III
85 Tiefschwarz
84 Dubtil
83 Damian Lazarus
82 Nyno & J.P. Sievert
81 Luc Ringeisen
80 Frank & Tony
79 Robag Wruhme
78 Ernesto Ferreyra
77 Cesar Merveille
76 Franco Cinelli
75 Troy Pierce
74 Rich NXT
73 Julien Chaptal
72 Ivan Smagghe
71 Guti
70 Cuartero
69 Mathew Jonson
68 Matei Tulbure
67 Black Coffee
66 Apollonia
65 Iain Kemz
64 Davide Squillace
63 Subb-an
62 Laura Jones
61 Cera Alba
60 Timo Maas
59 The Black Madonna
58 Petre Inspirescu
57 Heidi
56 Nick Curly
55 Dana Ruh
54 Mihai Popoviciu
53 Ben Klock
52 Dan Ghenacia
51 Chris Lattner
50 Andrew Grant
49 Mark Henning
48 Melon
47 Danny Daze
46 Bill Patrick
45 Zip
44 Luna City Express
43 Shlomi Aber
42 Bruno Pronsato
41 Rossko
40 Magda
39 Loco Dice
38 Julian Perez
37 Carl Craig
36 Rodhad
35 DJ Koze
34 Alexandra
33 Julietta
32 Tale Of Us
31 Margaret Dygas
30 Shonky
29 Levon Vincent
28 Konrad Black
27 Maayan Nidam
26 Rhadoo
25 Raresh
24 Guy Gerber
23 Cassy
22 Wolf & Lamb
21 Len Faki
20 Move D
19 Priku
18 Cristi Cons
17 Adam Shelton
16 Maceo Plex
15 Bella Sarris
14 Marcel Dettmann
13 Soul Clap
12 Seth Troxler
11 Sonja Moonear
10 Dinky
9 Steve Bug
8 Sven Vath
7 Seb Zito
6 Nina Kraviz
5 tINI
4 Enzo Siragusa
3 Barac
2 Craig Richards
1 Ricardo Villalobos


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Contradictions Of A DJ Ego

I was really looking forward to Friday night.  Not only did I get to DJ the last set, which was a chance to put things right after the only other time I did the last set and cleared the floor (circa February/March), it was also my first night out for a month and most important, we had booked a DJ whom I greatly admire, Iain Kemz.

Not only a really sound guy and a good friend, but musically plays what I absolutely love.

Given my floor-clearing the last time I did the last set, and the likely high imbibition’s of alcohol, I practised more than ever.  I had my first three tracks sorted and a vague plan.  I had CDs marked with tracks that I wanted to play.  I practiced my set on at least 3 occasions.  This is very unusual for me.

Not that I don’t normally want to practice, but studying comes first and as the week goes on I get more tired by time I get home.

So I felt prepared.  However I wasn’t prepared for mixing my first track into outgoing vinyl.  Suddenly I realised I had no numbers to guide me.  Those that DJ regularly will know that you can DJ by numbers when using CDs, and I do tend to when fucked, at least for the first few tracks until I'm in the groove, excuse the cliche.

I wasn’t fucked on Friday, but I certainly wasn’t sober.  And the first mix didn’t go brilliantly.

I did then settle into it and the next tracks mixed in ok – sometimes very nicely, but I was unsettled and it was a matter of time before I fucked up again.

Normally what happens is after a few mixes, I relax and smile, and feel at home.  I never felt relaxed or at home all set.

Part of my problem was the age of some of the tracks I was attempting to play – older tracks don’t always have such a consistent and reliable BPM, and call for quicker mixing.

I’d say a third of my mixes were bad, a third acceptable and a third were good.

Needless to say, the more mistakes I made, the more I didn’t enjoy it.  I’m kind of looking back on it in shame.

However the feedback was contradictory, with plenty of good feedback, plenty of people afterwards telling me I played well, plenty of people saying they loved my music.

I had also been a little spooked out before hand because it suddenly got quite a bit busier 10-15 minutes before I started, and I heard, or thought I heard people saying they were there to see, James Winfield.  It might be imagination, it might be my DJ ego, but I think people might have been there to see me.

In fact I know at least some were, as some people told me to my face, one random even messaged me during the day.  I’m not exactly sure how this can be the case.

Whether they will be back after some of my abysmal mixing I have doubts!

I did finish on the below track, which means a lot to me at the moment:

The night as a whole is clearly growing.  More friends come down each month (though this month more to do with the pulling power of Iain and Ashley), I see and speak to the same regulars every month, we have increasing amounts of Spanish it seems (one even had a haircut to rival me).

It is getting busier much earlier than normal, and stays busier longer than it used to.  This could have been a tricky night with cold weather forecast and it not quite yet being Christmas party season but it was easily another success.

There were some sound system imperfections again with it being quiet at the back and too bass-heavy at the front, but not a lot we can do about that on the night…the Turtle need to sort that themselves, one assumes someone has been twiddling with the amplifier with the wide range of events that the room hosts.

So I look back having had a really good night, having enjoyed the sequin shoes but frustrated that I really missed an opportunity then.  The last time I DJ'ed fucked I just about pulled it off, and I was way more wasted that time.

Next time will be as close to perfection as I can manage.  It will be.  It has to be.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Economics Of DJing

I’ve just ordered another box of 50 blank CDRs and it has got me thinking about how much my hobby costs.

So they were £7.50 on Ebay.  TDK.  I remember buying TDK cassettes.  I have my doubts over the quality but maybe I should put those cassettes out of my brain.

I do buy 2-3 packs a year, easily.

I seem to need new headphones every year – although lesson learnt – never ever let anyone else use them unless you 100% trust them and always keep an eye on them.  Do not trust DJs that you do not know.  Currently I have cheap headphones, and boy don’t I know it with the rattle in my ears whenever they are on anything but bedroom level volume.

I am hoping to be able to afford a new decent pair next year.  And I will paint flowers on them so nobody wants to steal them.

Of course then there is the hardware to learn the craft.  I spent £1,200 originally on a mixer and CDJs.  I intend on buying technics next year, and will need a CD stand so my CDJs can fit above them, so I’m probably talking not too far off a grand again.  Plus I’ll either need to stabilise my desk (I broke it when moving) or buy a new desk.

I know I should buy my tunes but I don’t.  However this will change next year when I start buying vinyl.

Then there is the cost of going out.  Train fares, drink, food and any extras – the cost of a normal night out except I get a few free drinks.

But whatever it costs, when I get behind the decks and I feel the satisfaction of the first mix, all my investment is worth it – in fact, my investment is inconsequential.  It’s love.

When it is something you love doing, then the amount it costs doesn't matter - though that doesn't mean I will play for free!  Unless I really like you.

I am really lucky to have the residency that I have, and not have to whore myself out for free in the hope that someone one day might take pity on me and give me two free drinks tokens.

And speaking of which (the residency), I'll see you all there on Friday 20th November.  It's going to be a big one - a bit of a Mango re-union.

But who is hosting the after-party?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Not Quite Villalobos-Esque Yet. Except In Some Ways

Friday night was messy.

At least this time I had practised.  I was well prepared.  Lots of music downloaded, new CDs burnt and I practised several times – more than I ever have done.

I still had no idea what I was playing, and certainly no order.  I didn’t even have a first track which is a fairly elementary mistake.

Anyway, I came on just before midnight and Martin had been using USB sticks much to my surprise (I think he had told me but I had declined to listen).  We always seem to have difficulties switching between USB and CDs.  So imagine my panic after a couple of minutes into my set when I realised that the track sounded like it was on loop.  I don’t actually know how to use the looping function (well I have an idea but I’ve hardly ever practised it so I wouldn’t dare use it).

Emergency loop was on.  What the hell?

It kind of worked as my music is quite repetitive at times but I didn’t have a clue why.  In the end I just mixed the track on the other deck – the emergency loop stopped once I took the CD out and put it back in again.

Ahhh technology.  Then the left deck wouldn’t play at the same volume as the right deck.  Had I accidentally turned up to Zeus?

I then figured out I had knocked the crossfader – again I never use the crossfader so it isn’t something I immediately considered.  I managed to knock it all the way across later when trying to cut another track in so I was cutting into silence.  Great one.  But of course, it just sounded like I was playing and getting busy with my mixes – I do do quite a lot of cutting nowadays.

To me it was like a Villalobos-esque trainwreck at times – a couple of my mixes just didn’t work, one was way, way too low-key after quite a heavy track, though I was trying this out on purpose – again Villalobos-esque to flip between minimal styles and heavier house tracks.

Yeah I was wasted too.  V v v v v v v.......esque.

It was busy all night and the crowd stuck with me no matter what I did – even through the fuck-ups though most of them actually worked – and through my repetitive minimal.  I could actually feel the crowd willing me to play something with more of a beat and there I was merrily enjoying my 12-minute long minimal track.

I particularly enjoyed playing this beast of a track – a DJ Rush heavy-duty house track from many a year ago…decades in fact.

I was ready to finish close to 2pm when the next DJ turned up – he had surrounded the booth with his buddies and I had run out of ideas.  Plus I needed some fresh air, it really gets warm in that booth.

And I just want to get down to Chaka Khan.

Which annoying the next DJ cut out of half-way through.

Next time I am really looking forward to being the first DJ, and being able to do my minimal thing though I might progress into some proper deep house.  I keep meaning to do a real deep house set.

I actually feel that I am groping towards my own style, at last, both in terms of music and mixing.  I’m not there yet though.  Were it not for the fuck-ups that would have been an amazing set – and less stressful too!  Maybe I should drink less next time.

Also very much looking forward to having Tim Sharpe back next time as our headliner.

And looking ahead, I am craving the simplicity of having vinyl and vinyl decks to play on.  Though I won’t be buying any until January at the earliest.

See you on 16th October.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Just How Good Was Friday?

The last couple of Dark Matter nights had been pretty quiet, especially July.  I had put it down to the time of year – no students around, holiday/festival season and the warm weather not enticing people to basements.

All of these factors were still in place last Friday so I expected another quiet night.

I was less prepared than ever.  I had a load of boxes behind my decks so couldn’t be bothered to move them for practice, not to mention my free time was required for cleaning my old house last Friday, prior to DJing.  I had no broadband still so couldn’t download the new tunes from the last couple of months of tube-digging.

And then the warm-up DJ didn’t turn up so I went on for the first hour, except I mostly only had house music with me.  I did have a few minimal CDs but ended up playing quite a few tracks I’d played before – a couple of shaky mixes too.  I did slowly get into it and something seemed rather odd – despite having initially cleared the room of the 10 people I found upon arrival, people were coming downstairs and staying.  Despite my minimal.  And many of them were pretty young ladies too.

It isn’t a party unless you have gays, blacks and hot women.  Fact.  All boxes were ticked by 11pm.

I had quite a few people talk to me whilst DJing, including some cute eastern European girls who were in a nice way asking for something they could dance to.  I asked them in a nice way to be patient.  They left.

I also had an exceptionally pretty, tall blonde girl come up to me and ask “Can I dance with you?”.  Well, of course I mumbled in a why the fuck is she dancing with me kind of way.  I appreciate I am brilliant and beautiful but I have limits.  Then I clocked on that she was just trying to make her boyfriend jealous so I quickly high-fived him.

Towards midnight, Samantha and Bowler came on and did an unplanned back-to-back which was really quite excellent.  They crowd loved it, the cute eastern European girls came back, Sam and Bowler pushed it more in a techno direction than I think anyone else has done for us (we are not talking Surgeon/Perc kind of techno but ballsy enough) and it stayed busy.  Until it got too hot.

Ahhhh, the bain of my life.  Yes the fucking air conditioning stopped working.  After 10 minutes we eventually found a manager to come and take a look and it came back on.  The crowd was probably a third of what it was previously but it soon built back up and became busy again.

Myself and Martin then did a back-to-back to bring it to a close, with an unexpected cameo from Pete Wheeler and it remained reasonably busy, though I didn’t really have much in the way of tough music to play, and there was no way I was going to play house music at the 129pm which I inherited, so I felt that I had to bring down the pace.  Again I was unprepared and ended up playing tracks I’d played before.

It definitely wasn’t my best set, it was just good enough, but the night itself was my favourite so far, I enjoyed it a heck of a lot, and it was exciting to see how busy it was.

I was actually quite touched at the end when a very cute Polish girl came up to me and said how surprised she was that we played that kind of music here, that she hardly ever gets to go out and how much it meant to her.  That is why I love DJing.

I cannot wait for the next one – I hope you are going to join us.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Things That Can Be Done Whilst Mixing

My hero, Ricardo Villalobos got a slating whilst DJing at Cocoon In The Park, mostly by the Carl Cox fan-boys for not doing enough on the decks - for doing his camp little dance, for not constantly twiddling the mixer knobs and for having the temerity to pour himself a drink rather than have a skivvy do it for him.

I am of the school that you should let the music tell the story - who cares if you can crab-scratch on 3 decks whilst doing a handstand?  Not that I am suggesting Carl Cox does many handstands.  It is of course, horses for courses - I prefer Ricardo's style from Carl's by a country length - but I wouldn't boo Carl Cox for his preferred style.

So it got me thinking, what else can I do whilst DJing?

I recently recorded a minimal techno mix (cheap plug alert) - 3.5 hours long with several of the songs being of the 10 or so minute-long variety.

Firstly I had a shower.  The track was mixed in, the next track was cue'd up and I had 8 minutes left.  It wasn't the longest shower ever but enough to clean myself and my mullet.

I also brushed my teeth and had a shave, but these don't take too long.

I later then had opportunity to make myself a bacon and egg sandwich whilst one of the tracks was playing.  I did have to rush upstairs once the food was ready for the next mix (I had a timer on my phone), and by time I came down, the pitta bread that was under the recently switched-off but still-warm grill had got slightly burnt, but it was a pretty good breakfast.

It did take a couple more mixes until I finished eating it.

I mistakenly took a phone call with just 3 minutes of a track left, and had to call back the person on the pretence that someone was at the door.  I then had 6 minutes before the next mix to discuss the room that I was looking to rent.

Later on I then started cleaning my kitchen.  This wasn't so successful as I would lay the spray and then go upstairs to mix, then come downstairs and scrub - I cleaned about half of the work surfaces and also did the washing up - two loads.

I did manage to arrange going out for lunch and a few other bits and bobs.  I had intending on doing my ironing but I unfortunately plugged my decks to the only plug socket where the iron and board can fit in the room.

And I think it is my best-ever DJ mix.

I would be interested to know what you can do whilst having a mix.  Apart from the obvious like drugs and blow jobs.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Not Enough Friends On The Dancefloor

Friday night DJing was fun, as always, but there was one thing missing:


I don’t like hassling friends to come and see me DJ – I know most are not that interested in my music, though sometimes they are interested in a night out.

It was a quiet night in general – the Turtle was never that busy even in the garden, which you’d normally expect to be very busy on a reasonably warm night.  It is a tricky time of year – students have mostly gone, it was Royal Ascot week and of course festival and holiday season.

I had that slightly sinking feeling that all promoters get when it looks like it is going to be a quiet night, though for us without any financial outlay to recoup, it is only a matter of personal pride and wanting the night to be busy for our own personal enjoyment and that of our guests.

It did still get reasonably busy, particularly for when I was DJing and I feel that I was much better this time, back on form – one totally cocked up mix but plenty of good mixes to compensate.  Musically I had absolutely no plan, not even the first track, but I did play a fair few tracks from my latest mix, which went down particularly well.  I did kind of run out of ideas towards the end though - the problem of taking roughly 1 million tracks with me.

In fact, one thing that I noticed which really pleased me was that the more underground I played things, the more reaction I seemed to get.  When I played something verging on crowd-pleasing (for my standards!) or something rather tough, I’d lose people.  I still think I am a long way from being able to read a crowd properly.

The main difference between this night and others was the lack of that little group of friends – even having 4 or so makes all the difference, as they tend to be close to the dancefloor, which encourages others to stick around and helps build a dancing crowd that little bit easier.

Oh and not to mention – no Ian Hills.

There are a couple of regulars though, including a young lady from Syria who spoke to English who danced for 4 or so hours solid, along with another young lady who seems to barge into me on a regular basis, especially when there are any other girls near me.   Hmmm.  We also had quite a group of Spanish people down there.

Next time we have one of my really close friends DJing, Ben Zagorski, which I am really looking forward to.  I always say that, of course, but I am.

I assume I will be doing a minimal-laden warm-up, hopefully with a few friends in support this time.  Or at least a few friends hassled/guilt-tripped/blackmailed into coming.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

I Cannot Think Of A Title For This Superstar DJ Update

I was back in my favoured warm-up slot on Friday night.  Why is it favoured?

Because I can play my favourite music.

So I started off which some melancholic dub techno, at quite a slow BPM, I think it was around 118bpm.  Far too underground for most people but considering there were about 6 people there, it seemed mood-settingly appropriate.

30 minutes later, despite there being just a couple of dozen people there, one lady kept asking me if I could play something banging, just for her.  Or some jungle.  I deflected her requests but I did relent and progressed smoothly into deep house – the gorgeous sunshine-filled deep house, not the anti-deep house of the charts.

As the second hour of my set commenced, I changed track into playing minimal, but quite twisted minimal – definitely tracks you could dance to.

It was filling up nicely by time midnight approached, and I played increasingly dancefloor-friendly yet still underground tracks, and finished off on this beauty, it still sounds so good.

Musically I think it was the cleverest set I have played live.  There was little planning, as usual I had practiced my first two tracks and little else.  Though there were more slightly-off mixes than I would have preferred, and one mix that just sounded awful.  Every month I say it, I need to practice more.  I spend more time DJing live then practicing.

A wise man one said you can only become an expert at something with 10,000 hours practice.  Maybe I am at 300 hours in total.

The night itself went really well, with two masterful DJ sets that followed me.  And it stayed busy right until the end, people kept dancing.  I am hoping this is a sign that word is spreading of the night as it seemed busier than the rest of the Turtle.

Next up we have the charming Terri headlining on Friday 19th June.  Otherwise known as TAB.  There are a couple of items on the agenda in the coming months that could be very special if they come off, but you won’t hear anything from me until and if they are confirmed.

I will also be recording a house mix too.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Not My Sister's Taste In Music

I spent years trying to convert my sister to the charms of house music when we were growing up.  I even made her a couple of tapes when we were young.

I think she coped with the house music but was particularly put-off by my jungle phase, her walls being adorned with Spice Girls, Westlife and Steps.

Thankfully she made it out of manufactured music but ended up an indie kid – so we pretty much have diametrically opposed music tastes.  I failed in my childhood conversion attempts.

So a few months back, I set myself a task of trying to design a mix that could be influenced by her music tastes but yet still be music I love.

Appropriate tracks were few and far between, but eventually I collected enough track ideas – a lot of male vocals that could have been stripped from indie tracks, with guitar licks, and often deep trance melodies.

Upon the first attempt, I realised that there was a big problem.  Too many of the tracks sounded the same.

So I went back into research mode – this is a mix that was well-planned, unlike some other mixes and all of my live DJ sets that are pretty much off the cuff.

It needed to be well-planned for there really wasn’t a whole load of tracks that would fit the rather tight criteria.

Eventually I found some tech-house which fit the mood, and some more guitary kind of tracks.

The mix isn’t going to win any underground awards.  I doubt I will listen to it more than a few times.  The levels on a couple of the early mixes are slightly off, and on the last mix I clearly lost concentration.  But I didn’t fancy recording the whole mix again.

I have accomplished what I set out to achieve and I think most people will enjoy it.  As always, I would dearly like your thoughts, good or bad.  Feedback and practice are the two ways I will improve.

Next up I will be DJing at the Purple Turtle on Friday 15th May which I am looking forward to having nearly burnt down the place last time.  It was rather busy last time and there were a good few close friends there which is always touching.

Except when I cleared the dancefloor by playing heavy duty techno.  And then again when I started a small fire.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

DJ On Fire

This Friday just gone was the first time I had headlined the monthly party I play for.  I had top bill and the closing set.

We had a guest called Mr Bit, whom I was imagining to play rather tough techno, so I was planning on playing techno too.  He didn’t – his sound was closer to tech-house with some of his own productions.  Both him and Martin did really well, and had the dancefloor moving nicely.

It was rather on the busy side.  The Turtle itself didn’t seem that busy, and town was very quiet.  But our basement was busy.  Co-incidence?  Or has word spread?  I suspect more of the former, combined with good DJ sets that kept passers-by downstairs.

I came on to a busy dancefloor, and played some Maceo Plex style tracks before moving up into techno, and picking up the BPM a bit.  After 30 minutes I was playing some fairly tough techno.

It cleared the room.

At first I thought maybe people had gone for a cigarette, but they were not coming back and more were leaving, so I backtracked back into more of a tech-house/house feel and it worked.

The crowd came back, people were dancing again and all was good.  But I was rather hot behind there so switched the fan on.

It only worked for a few seconds and was a bit smelly.  So we put it on a higher setting.

At which point there was a strong burning smell, we noticed smoke starting to pour out and flames started leaping out of the fan.

Insert joke about the DJ being on fire.

My what-the-fuck-do-I-do-here reaction was to blow on it.  Which actually worked.  I did then notice the fire extinguisher but I didn’t need to use it.  However all the power behind the DJ booth cut out.

Again, I had cleared the dancefloor.

It took 10 minutes for the management to fix it and I just couldn’t get the vibe back.  People were giving me high-five’s for causing a fire but I just wanted to play music.

I was disappointed in my set overall.  I take it as part of my DJ apprenticeship.  I did learn quite a bit – I cannot get away with more than a couple of tracks of techno.  I need to prepare more.  I need to practice more.  I should take a hand-held fan.  Musically I know what works down there, but I don't yet know everything that doesn't work.

I like rating things and I wouldn’t rate my set higher than 4 out of 10.  That said, I got plenty of compliments and my very own DJ groupie for the night whom I probably should have asked for her number.  Thankfully I am much better at DJing than I am with women.

I need to practice both more.

Next up I shall be doing the warm-up on Friday 15th May.  I’m thinking dub techno.

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Lesson In DJing With One Deck

I was ridiculously busy on Saturday.  Housework, studying, watching football, 2 hours of ironing, 2 hours helping my best friend move her stuff – lots of heavy lifting.  It got to 7pm and I was shattered, and still hadn’t had a practice mix.  I had no idea what I was going to play.  And then I fell asleep.

When I awoke, post disco-nap, I did my usual slightly nervous thing, finding any excuse not to go anywhere near my decks until I eventually forced myself, poured myself a glass of wine and pressed play.  I was absolutely on fire.  That practice hour was probably the best I have ever mixed – I was playing quite tough, kind of tech-house but tracks with personality.  My mixing was really good and my timing was spot on every time – plenty of invention too.

Then I arrived at the club and it was dead.  It soon became apparent that one of the decks outside was not working.  I resigned myself to not playing, got a drink and chatted to a few friends.

The DJ before me had given up but I decided to give it a crack anyway.  The right-side deck in the garden has long had problems of a sticky play button – but now it was totally unplayable.

So all I could do was play a few tracks and fade them in and out.  I tried a few different things before settling on disco – it made more sense as disco music is not quite so designed for mixing, and it has good musicality.

It didn’t really get much busier and the night ended early.  I waived my 4-figure DJ fee.  I doubt the headliner did.

Why was the night so quiet?

I don’t think it was the music.  Eli & Fur were a good booking, they should have appealed to those in Reading that go out clubbing.  There was no lack of effort in promoting the event.  External factors may not have helped – the Annie Mac night is possibly overshadowing other events in the town at the moment, the weather was cold and it was Mother’s Day the next day.  Town did seem quieter than other Saturdays.

However I think the problem itself is, I’m afraid to say, Zeus.

Personally I quite like the club.  It is one of the few places in Reading where promoters can run events that are not common-denominator banality music-wise.  Indoor has one of the better sound systems in Reading.  The garden is a good place to be during the summer.  I always have fun there.

But most of my friends don’t like it.  When I tell people that I’m playing at the Purple Turtle, they are interested and persuadable.  Tell people that I’m playing Zeus and they turn their noses up.  There isn’t much I can do to persuade people to come and see me DJ at Zeus.

Zeus does now have a lot of competition in the area from venues that people might go to instead – RYND, Purple Turtle, Sub89 (at least for Cubed nights), Coconut, Oakford, Milk, you could probably add Matchbox, Revolution and the new place, Treehouse, to that list too.  Several of those are new places, or newly refurbished places, and people always like the feeling of going somewhere new.  And clean.  Even the Oakford is rumoured to be getting a refurbishment this year.

Those places also look a lot better than Zeus.  To me, how a club looks is the least important factor.  But I’ve lived in Reading long enough, to know that people in this area like things that look nice.  Zeus looks tacky inside and a cross between a sauna and a bin shed outside.

Without a refurbishment and a relaunch, I don’t see how the house music type of crowd will start flowing back.  Zeus could concentrate on the drum’n’bass kind of side which is popular in the town and not very well catered for.

Or it could have a proper re-design, take out all the tacky elements in the main room, lower the DJ booth to the ground so the crowd can interact with the DJs without straining their necks, paint the outside, remove the weeds from the roof, perhaps expose the brickwork inside like RYND have done – you could even have some eye-catching edgy art on the outside – make it talked about.  The garden should be turned back into a welcoming garden – with the heaters switched on during winter, a clear and crisp soundsystem and decks that work.  And the name needs to change – who the hell dreamt up the name “Zeus”?

The space itself has plenty of potential – those of us that have been around for a while know that it was “the place” during the Mango days.  It might seem that I am being overly critical but it is only because I care and I want to see that venue do well.

Next up for me is the Purple Turtle on Friday night.

I’m playing midnight until 130am and will be playing good quality house music.  Perhaps getting a little techier towards the end.  And all the equipment works there.  It feels good, there will be a good little crowd of us and if you hate the music I play then you can always go in the garden or upstairs.

Come down and join us.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Knowing Your DJ Set Times In Advance

There are some annoying things about DJing.

Actually.  Let's get this right, there are some annoying things about promoters.

Firstly, I want to know what my set time is in advance.  I can perhaps understand if you are booking several international jet-setting DJs and are juggling around flight times, etc or their agents are being a pain in the arse, but if you are doing a local night in Reading there is no excuse for telling your DJs the night before, what time they are playing.

Of course some DJs will just play the same set no matter what time they are booked.  Some DJs have their pre-planned and practiced set that they will not change no matter what.

I like to think about my sets well in advance.  I am sat here at my desk all day, listening to music and constantly coming up with ideas of tracks to play.  This applies to all of my life as I am rarely without music.  I am always thinking about what to play.

I don't plan my sets in detail but I do like to have a pool of tracks in my head that excite me, that I want to play and that I think might fit the moments.

The second thing that annoys me is short DJ sets.

It was fine when I was first starting out and nervous to be playing, to be playing just an hour.  But unless you are just bashing out the big tunes, then an hour isn't enough with the kind of music I play.

I have seen some promoters, two particular ones who are two individuals that I really like as people, offer 45 minute DJ sets.  How the hell can you create and perform your musical vision in just 45 minutes?  What do the crowd think about having such a schizophrenic line-up?

We all know why they do it, I am not exactly letting go of a secret here but the more DJs you book, the more people you have in the club as they will all do your promoting for you, at minimum by bringing their friends.  At least that is the theory.  I'm not sure it works - I promote more when I feel special.

I am a DJ.  Not a promoter.

I now refuse to play for less than an hour and a half.  If I am going to DJ then it has to be something special - I'm not interested in the merry-go-round.  I have to be able to do create something artistic - at least in my brain.

Thankfully I am working on a regular basis for two promoters that are well-organised and running decent nights with set times advised well in advance and where I can play for longer than an hour.

This coming Saturday 14th March, and then Friday 20th March.

Please come.

I think that is my promoting duty done.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

DJing Sober

I was a little bit concerned about DJing totally sober on a Friday night straight after a long week at work, without even a red bull allowed.

So I took a flexible half-day so I could sleep in and then have a disco nap in the afternoon.

I slept in until 7am and had a 15 minute afternoon nap.

As has become my new plan, I practiced the first two tracks only, though I had an idea of what else I wanted to play.  It was quiet when I started – the downstairs bar had only just opened but it gradually started to become busy.

I played a lot of minimal to start – in fact someone told me that everything I played was minimal – though I like to think that I finished on underground house.  It was an opportunity to play tracks that I love that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to play.

I did get some good feedback, though one German guy questioned me on why I would play minimal.  I didn't see him again.  My good friend JP told me that he actually liked it - kind of hypnotic I think he said.  Especially this track by Cristi Cons - one of my favourites from 2014.

Fairly quickly I have worked out what the crowd there like – and that is punchy kickdrums – and basslines.

And when I played this monster by Enzo Sirasuga & Alexkid, people flooded in, and it was already quite busy.

I handed over a reasonably busy dancefloor to my hosts to take the tempo up a notch and then danced for as long as my tired, sober self managed, which was about 45 minutes.

So what was it like DJing totally sober?

Well pretty much the same.  I was still a little nervous beforehand and my love of the music carried me through any tiredness with a dose of adrenaline too.  I don't recall any mistakes, one or two mixes could have been tighter and I had less confidence when it came to being adventurous in my mixing style so there was more blending than I had planned.

I enjoyed it just as much as DJing drunk and managed to resist all temptations - and there were a lot of temptations.

Next up I am DJing at the Eli and Fur night on 14th March at Zeus, in the garden from 230am until 4am.

I won't be sober and I won't be playing minimal.  Well, maybe a little to bring it down at the end.

And I'll be back at the Purple Turtle every 3rd Friday until I get barred.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Exciting News!

I have exciting news.  I have a DJ residency!

I will be playing on a monthly basis at the Dark Matter Presents night, on the 3rd Friday of every month in the basement of the Purple Turtle.

This is like a dream for me, to have my own residency, once a month, where I can play to a crowd of regulars, playing new and old music that I spend several hours every day discovering and hopefully being an integral part of what I believe will be a successful night.

It means I have opportunity to play all the types of music that I enjoy – from minimal/underground house, to full-on techno, chunky house, deep trance, proper deep house, disco and electro.  Different set times should give me the chance to try different music styles, and hopefully some back-to-backs with Martin & JP.  It's going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

To be a part of something is far more rewarding than just playing an hour for a random promoter.  I really do feel the night will be a success, and will be talked about.  It does have a really good feel down there and of course, is delightfully free to get into.

It means when someone asks me when I am next DJing, I can say “3rd Friday of the month – come down, it’s free entry!”.  I have something to sell to people.

The first one is Friday 20th February.

I said that I wanted to do one set a month this year and this suits me perfectly.  I don’t want to be doing random hour-long sets in the garden of Zeus in the middle of winter for 2 drink tokens where I subsequently end up spending £50, not to mention the time spent downloading music, burning CDs and the fuckers that stole my headphones – twice.

I am going to be much more choosy in the sets I accept.  I don’t need to do the two drink token sets any more – I will still occasionally do one but only if there is something really appealing about it.

On that basis I agreed to play for AudioEdge on 14th March.  I think I have the last set in the garden – and will be playing for more than an hour.  Which I like – hour sets are pointless – how can you build an atmosphere in an hour?  Other than playing big tunes – which I don’t always want to do.

Plus the night has good headliners in Eli & Fur, it should be busy and I simply think I will enjoy the night.

See you on 20th February.  You know it makes sense.