Thursday, 1 December 2016

2016 Resident Advisor DJ Poll - My Top 5

I like polls.  I like voting.  I also like DJs.

These are my top 5:

Julietta never lets me down.  I haven't seen her in years but her sets just get better and better.

Barac encapsulates the sound that I am most into right now, that hypnotic, Romanian minimal sound that is really growing.  His productions are amazing and his DJ sets - triptastic.

It should be no surprise that Craig Richards features as he does every year.  Utterly reliable and utterly underground.

Sonja Moonear keeps impressing - I have seen her a couple of times this year, one minimal and one techno set.  Both thoroughly excellent.

Finally, Dana Ruh was the highlight at Cocoon in Ibiza for me, such well-constructed sets.

No Ricardo.  Well, he couldn't be bothered to turn up the one time I tried to go see him.  First time I have not voted him in a DJ poll since I discovered who he was.

At some point I shall release my top 500 DJs list.  Yeah, I have a spreadsheet.

Monday, 14 November 2016

My First Vinyl

Only 6 or so months since I bought some Technics (vinyl decks to those of you reading out of politeness), I have finally bought my first vinyls.

Why did it take me so long?  Kind of something to do with changing careers and moving to London - I had other priorities, plus I am far from perfect on my CDJs so the minimal amount of time that I could allocate was spent on practicing for upcoming DJ sets.

Now that I am settled in London, and I have two months where I am not playing (and possibly more - not entirely sure how the refurbishment of the Purple Turtle is going to affect us, which starts in January), this is an opportune moment, bar the ridiculous amount I still have to learn for my job.

You may also question my choice of vinyl - Ride On Time by Black Box.  Hardly the most underground of selections, however I credit it with being the track that first got me into house music, although my memory from last week is sketchy, let alone from when I was 9.

So it felt right to be my first purchase - and it sounded great over my speakers - such fullness and warmth, ahhhh.

I bought the longer 12" version, of which I could only find on Discogs in Germany, so to make the €9.90 postage more worthwhile, I also bought two further vinyls from his on sale cheap collection - Bahia by Italoboyz, and Le Bateau Ivre by Chelonis R Jones.  The total cost for 3 vinyls was €5.00.  Bargain.

My initial plan is to buy 20-30 vinyls all around the £1.00 to £2.00 mark from Discogs, finding sellers with multiple tracks that I want, to save money on postage - most sellers will sell 1 to 4 vinyls with postage of £4.00, so I may as well buy 4 at a time when they are so cheap.

There are plenty of cheap vinyls out there, though mostly early house stuff, or minimal tracks from circa 2008.  Once I have a nice little collection then I can concentrate on practicing, with the hope of being good enough to play out on vinyl in a year or so - though I'm not quite sure how realistic that will be.

Yes, my attempts at mixing on Saturday morning, on vinyl, for the first time ever, were dreadful.

There is a lot to learn away from the comforts of CDJs - no cue button, no time left counter, no BPM counter - tactile instead of numeric.  I'm not going to crack mixing on vinyl after a couple of practices.

But the theory, of course, is exactly the same.

The accompanying vinyls were perhaps not the best choice of purchase as they had a good chunk of the track without a beat.  I do need to choose more carefully next time, tracks with easy mixing structures - though I already have my eye on some old Dinky and Peace Division records, once I have been paid (if I have any money left).

Not to mention my awful cheap headphones.

So the collection obsession has started - I made it to nearly 2,000 CDs.  I wonder how long it will take to reach that many vinyls?

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Problems And Solutions

This Friday gone was almost definitely the last time that I will be DJing this year.

So it had to be a good one.

And it was set up as so, lots of friends up for the night out - mainly thanks to the inclusion of Tim Weymouth on the bill.  As much as I'd love to take the credit myself.

No hip-hop thing before us so we could get straight into the music.  I was on warm-up duty though Martin started before I got there.  I successfully confused the cd function for the memory stick function and managed to mix the same track in that was already playing.  Seamlessly, though.  Well, Ron Hardy would do it so why not me?  Yeah, I just compared myself to Ron Hardy, yeah it was ironic.  Yeah you probably haven't heard of him, have you?

So I took it back down into 10pm territory with some odd New York City sounds thanks to Ricardo Villalobos, before slowly edging it up.

It was a teaser of a first hour, there would be little groups of people, then they would disappear, and this repeated itself for a while.  Nobody really was dancing.

I prefer not to edge it away from minimal territory until I have dancers - people should have to work for the bangers (relative bangers in my case!) but in this case I decided that I would up my game and that I would start the dancefloor too.

So I put a long house track on and went for a dance.  Sure enough, people started dancing.

Solutions to problems.  I wasn't without other issues.  My £10 headphones really are shit.  Although the mixer wasn't outputting the sound to anyone's headphones without distortion.  I had to borrow Martin's to get any semblance of decency as the only way I could mix was through the monitor speaker - not ideal - the monitor sounds like it has been rinsed on super-high red-lining monsters too.

One of the cue buttons was sticky and one of the jog wheels wasn't flowing properly - needing two gentle hands to move it.  At least the Purple Turtle do get these things fixed unlike other places I have played at in the past.  Anyone remember Zeus?  *shudders*

Once I'd got people dancing, the rest of my set was an utter delight.  It kept getting busier, I was getting a good response, and I was really hoping that Tim would lose track of time and be late for his set.

Alas, handover was on time.

I finished on a classic Loco Dice track that I have recently rediscovered.

Tim played a good set - a few too many big tunes for my personal taste though interestingly he played Orbital's 'Chime', which I considered playing but never got around to it.

It was good to hear some garage to begin, and he kept up the differing styles throughout - and the crowd reacted, dancing throughout.

I didn't see enough of Martin's set to comment as I went outside to have a catch up with one or two of my more delightful friends, and then had to go get the last bus back to my spare Reading bedroom - money saving and all that business.

One of the main reasons why I had to save money was because we were donating our DJ fees to Spinal Research - a cause that my dear friend, Swen, has been raising money for.  It did really touch me to see him down there - and having a little more movement than previously.  I couldn't have asked for anything more on the night.

The whole night was a fuckload of fun - running a night and DJing are so much more fun when you have a great collection of friends there.  I thought about listing everyone who came - probably more than any other night that I've DJ'ed there but I'd miss people out.  I do offer a big warm thank-you hug to everyone who came.

And a thank you to the Purple Turtle too, who have upped their game and installed some new bass bins (or similar) - and boy do you feel it.  Not too much - but they are crisp, clean and powerful enough for the little room.

The night was recorded so if my set is good enough to release, it will be!  My standards aren't too high.

I'll see you next year.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

More Mixes Than Buses

I set myself an aim prior to the beginning of the year, and that was to record one new DJ mix every month.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had managed 2.

I came back from Ibiza, gosh nearly 4 weeks ago now, and as usual I was inspired to get behind the decks.  That and I have promised to put myself under less pressure on the studying front, and allow myself more time to do things I enjoy such as DJing and exercising.

I've got so many different mixes that I want to do - minimal (of course), house, techno, disco, bass, electro, 80's, trance - all kinds of ideas.  Plus one day I'd love to do a 12 hour mix.  Though that will take quite some planning.

In the end I decided upon a more underground house sound, mainly because I wanted to find an excuse to play Don't Let Love Pass You By (D'Julz Edit) by Master C & J, which I cannot get enough of.

I was a bit rusty, to say the least, not to mention hungover, when I got on the decks.  It took a while to get two or three starting tracks that sounded like they were flowing so there was a lot of restarting, deleting Audacity recordings and starting again.

I thought the mix flowed well, starting off understated, slowly progressing into a slightly more garage sound before hitting it with that wonderful 'Don't Let Love Pass You By' track.

I took it down and more underground again, with some quite inventive mixing at times, and a couple of recognisable tracks near the end.

Unfortunately when I later walked to Morrisons post-recording, I realised that I had really fucked up the first mix.  Enough for me to decide not to upload it.

So on the following Tuesday evening, I tried to record it again. The first mix was fine, but I missed a couple of tracks that I really wanted in, and some of the mixing sounded too forced - like I was trying to be too clever.  So I scrapped that one.

I spent a good couple of days then trying to decide which one was better, because I wanted to upload a mix.  In the end I chose the first one as the lesser of two evils.  I do like the track selection, some of the mixing is excellent, it is a good representation of what I'm into - but there are enough mistakes on it too.

This weekend just gone I then decided that it really wasn't a good enough showcase of my DJing 'talents' and decided that I would make a better mix, though a different one.

This time I concentrated on modern minimal styles, particularly the new wave of Romanian minimal, though without any of the more hypnotic tracks as I have a separate mix for them coming up.

Artists such as Zendid (3 tracks!), iO (Mulen), S.A.M., Priku, Melodie and others, that I am really into at the moment.  Most tracks are from this year - unlike most mixes where I mix up the years quite a lot.

I tried to do some longer mixes on here - 2 to 3 minutes long, mostly they worked, or at least kind of worked.  Though occasionally cutting tracks in (my preferred mixing style).

I did kind of kill the mix towards the end - the third from last track didn't work at all.  It sounded ok over my naff £10 headphones, but clearly not when I heard it coming out of my speakers and it was too late by then.

My headphones may be the source of some problems - they are ok but I do find them harder to mix with - particularly picking out the elements - a problem which I did not have with Sennheisers.  I may one day buy some more Sennheisers - but I just know I will end up losing them!

I'm happy with the mix, it has its flaws but is an improvement from Coal.

Next Friday I am DJing at the Turtle and we are doing it in support of Spinal Research for a very good friend who is trying to raise money for them.  Said friend is hoping to make it down, despite the fairly exceptional logistical challenges it offers him so there is no excuse for you not to.

Oh yeah and I am giving up my DJ fee (less train fare otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford to get there!).

In fact we have quite a good group of people all up for it - you could even call it a little Reading reunion.

It also might be the last time I play this year.

Firstly we have given up our November night to Cubed.  I am sure Pete and Chris will be returning the favour by booking us as festival headliners wherever they are organising events for next year.  I'd definitely be up for DJing at Lovebox, hint hint.

And the month after our night is apparently a DNB special.  Our night has been moved to 23rd December which is pretty crap when one has to get back to Hull for Christmas.  It was billed to be a residents night (ie me and Martin) - but it is quite possible neither of us can make it.

Realistically, I might not be DJing for 3 months after next Friday.  I best make it a special one.

Monday, 26 September 2016

How To Clear A Dancefloor

Prior to the other Friday, I was yet to master the last set, the 2am to close set.  I'm not the only one - 75% of nights do see a drift away towards the end.

This time I prepared more, I practised more, I had a vague plan and I had some excellent ideas for tracks to play.

It was also the first time that I had travelled from London to do the set - not helped by a stonking hangover from the night before and just a few hours sleep.  I set off around 9pm, it took around 1.5 hours to get there - miraculously with total chaos at Paddington not long before, one tube strike and the other line with severe delays.  Somehow, it was totally smooth for me.

£2.99 I paid at the Whistlestop shop in Paddington station for a can of warm beer.  £2.99.  Fuck me.

Anyway, all was going well when I arrived - the warm-up set was anything but, however I guess it was a warm-up for the standards of JP and Tim Sharpe - an unsurprisingly excellent set - JP had a slightly floppy semi too (well if you are going to show me your nob then expect me to blog about it).

Chloe Mae, our headliner came next, I had pre-warned her about the likely antics of one of our stars - her presence behind the decks was a much more composed style - the tempo came down a notch yet the dancefloor continued to grow, becoming very busy at times, within the usual ebb and flow of the Turtle basement.

Interestingly for someone so young, she seemed to have mastered the idea of flow within a DJ set, with peaks and troughs - tougher spells and more melodic spells.

One compliment that I am particularly proud of from Chloe is how friendly and welcoming we made her feel, in terms of being welcomed as a DJ.  That is something we pride ourselves on with our night - making sure that the DJs are made to feel welcome - righting all the bullshit that can go on when you are a DJ.

I came on at 2am as planned.  All went well for the first 40 minutes or so, I played good quality underground house, a shade lower in tempo than Chloe though not too much, such as Holywell by Seb Zito.

But I have this in-built risk-taking desire throughout my life, and decided to play Join In The Chant, by Nitzer Ebb - an 80's EBM track.

When cutting it, the crowd approved - so I went for it and mixed it in.  The crowd soon disapproved and left.

I then went into crowd-pleasing mode, playing tracks that have worked for me before, but nothing worked, whatever I did just fell flat.  It was approaching 3am, and it is the Turtle - not a nightclub, but still I am disappointed not to have kept them there.

The odd thing was, that last time I played, I also played a risky track (I normally do one or two), and I had never had such a positive reaction from DJing.  This time I took a risk, they walked out and never returned.

Maybe the lesson is to play less risks towards the end of the night?

Next up I'll be doing my beloved warm-up again!

Tim Weymouth is the headliner, Martin will be closing (I assume).  And I will probably be getting the 4:15am train home.

Getting the first train home actually worked out ok.  I was more sober than usual, no real weirdos on the train at 4:15am - I made it home at around 6:30am, it would have been sooner had I not had to play an information-free game of stationary tube-train hopping at Edgware Road, trying to work out which one was leaving first.  3rd time lucky.

I even just about broke even for the night - miraculous given my propensity to spend money on a night out.

So I learnt two things - that I can do a night in another city very cheaply, and that I should not play Nitzer Ebb at a house/techno night.

Roll on 21st October.  Cannot wait to DJ again.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Heaven To Hell

Christ, last time DJing was hell.

At least to start with.  It’s so annoying to start after a hip-hop party.  Originally I was supposed to do the last set but I changed it to the first set so I could go home early and get some sleep before I went to fabric the next night.

Anyway, I turned up, had a beer and headed down to the basement to find it busy with live and loud hip-hop (though for a change they were keeping the levels intact and not distorting the sound), they were videoing a live hip-hop performance.

They had a good thing going on but I wanted to DJ.  We had our night due to start.  But at the same time, I didn’t want to stop 50+ people having a great time just so I could play a repetitive minimal track that not one of them wanted to hear.

I negotiated an extra 20 minutes for them.

But this absolutely should not be happening.

I was a bit flustered, and not happy at all when I finally started – people all around disconnecting things and tidying up and after 20 minutes or so I was wondering why the fuck I was still doing the Purple Turtle nights.

I settled down and played to our headline DJ and the bar staff – all 50 of the hip-hop crowd had left.  Nobody else turned up.

But towards the last 30 minutes there was a steady flow of people – our crowd – people there for our music.  And I switched up towards more of a house beat, playing Desire by Enzo Siragusa – as close to a regular track as I have.

Then this:

And the crowd went wild.  Don’t get me wrong, there was still only 30-40 people in there but I’ve never had a reaction like it.  A proper DJing buzz.

By which time, I knew why I was still DJing at the Turtle.  We aim to be the most underground house/techno night in Reading – we want to give people something different, something that they would normally have to travel for.  I like to think that we achieve it.

The set went from hell to heaven, and I was buzzing so much that I postponed my taxi home (DJ Carz - of course - very friendly with competitive pricing) to stay and enjoy the excellent set from our headliner, Ben Zagorski, who took it into techno territory but not too far, and possibly a bit of Martin’s set but I was too drunk by that point to notice!

I’m not playing in August, and given my move to London, I might end up playing less often – we’ll see how it goes.  I love it but it costs money and money will be tight going forwards.

Instead there is a boat party in August and there are still a reasonable amount of tickets left but thankfully they are selling well.

Apparently despite being the 22,187th most popular DJ in the world (officially), I am still not popular enough to play the boat party – let’s be frank, I’m sure I would sell a few tickets, maybe as many as 10, but unlikely as many as the other DJs that are booked.  And the boat party costs serious money to put on.  One year it will happen.

I assume that I’ll be playing next on Friday 16th September.  Another ‘sensible’ one as I will be going to Ibiza the next night.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Now A Vinyl DJ

I am now a vinyl DJ.

Actually, I should rephrase that.  I now have vinyl decks – Technics, of course.

I bought them a couple of months back and yes, they have pretty much sat there since then.  It was too good a deal to turn down, though unfortunately one of the needles seems to need replacing – and that is where I am stuck.

There is one other rather sizable problem – I have no vinyl.

Again, not strictly true as I have a large box of old vinyls that has apparently done the rounds of the old BOA group in Reading (gosh that’s a blast from the past) – think mostly slightly cheesy funky house circa 2003/2004.

I've had a look through and out of those with recognisable artist/label names, there might be one that I'll keep.  As you can imagine, I am unlikely to be the last destination for that box of old vinyls!

The main reason I haven't had much of a play with them is that I have had to concentrate all of my spare time recently on looking for my first ever web developer role.  Which not only meant all the time and effort that job hunting itself entails, but designing/coding a portfolio and half a dozen websites to go along with it.  Not to mention that my social life has been pretty hectic too.

Come July payday, I will treat myself to a replacement needle and then start to work out how the hell you mix on vinyl.  One suspects Youtube will be my friend, but I always like to try to work out how to do it myself.  I know the theory, I know what I need to do, but actually doing it will be another matter until I've had plenty of practice.

Though it won’t be until I have my own record collection that I will really start to get into it and truly be able to call myself a vinyl DJ.

Which is the next problem.  Though some old records are around the £1 mark, most new vinyl is towards £10 and some records on my wishlist are of astronomical value.

Speaking of my wishlist, I am also currently going through my 8,500 tracks on iTunes and deciding which ones I need to have on vinyl.  I have a systematic approach – all the tunes I have given 4/5 stars to (maybe bar any Ten Walls records or similarly embarrassing ex-favourites!), all 80’s/early 90’s house tracks that I have given 3+ stars too (they tend to be super cheap and a good way to boost a collection and get that practice I need) and as many disco tracks as possible as I have a long-standing dream of doing a disco night.

Oh and I will definitely buy every track that has helped me get where I am – ie those I have put on my DJ mixes, and those I can recall playing out.  I estimate I will have 1,000 tracks on my wish-list once it is composed.  Hmmm.

The priority for now will be getting, say, 20 of the cheapest vinyls I can, all of which must be tracks I adore, so I can start practicing.

I reckon it will be two years until you see me out, DJing on vinyl.  It is coming and I'll have a whole load of new things to moan about!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Lesbians & Lost Property

Sometimes I have an introductory sentence.  Sometimes I don’t.

I was in the mood to get smashed on Friday and certainly endeavoured to sink a few beers.

For the 158th month in a row I was on warm-up duty.  For the first hour, anyway.  I was in quite a bad mood, albeit tempered somewhat by the reliable beauty of beer, so I wanted to play 138bpm evil techno.  I knew I shouldn’t so tried to play some plodding darkish dub techno instead.

I then veered into minimal and finished on Enzo Siragusa’s Desire.  It didn’t feel like it flowed well enough, though I haven’t been able to listen back to it yet.

I’ve been craving the opportunity to do the midnight until 2am set for months, but I’ve been craving the opportunity to do a B2B with my very good friend, JP, for several years.  We do occasionally have a mix together, and it always goes well – we both have slightly differing tastes in house music but we tend to compliment and challenge each other well.

We decided to plan a set, which isn’t my preferred way to go about things as you cannot tell in advance what the crowd are going to be enjoying, nor what you feel they need next – I’m not keen on the rigidity of a set plan.

That said, it does help when it comes to mixing quality, if you have actually practiced the mix and have confidence that the tracks work well together – but I kind of get off on the danger of not knowing if something is going to work – the excitement of something new working outweighs the disappointment of something not working.  For me, anyway.

The set went well enough (as far as I can remember!), though it probably went better than I thought, my mood was making me doubt myself and still is.

Towards the end of our 2 hours, Martin stepped in to do some B2B with JP, and it worked unsurprisingly well.  As it should – they are very well-versed in DJing together, and it was more off the cuff than what myself and JP had planned.  I enjoyed it more than my own set!

I did have an interesting drunken conversation in the garden with someone who loves our underground sound, as to whether we could do the party more regularly and in a proper nightclub.  I pointed out that Reading doesn’t have a suitable proper nightclub and we cannot afford to fund anything.  He reckons he can find a venue and the money.  We’ll see on that one!  The more pleasing aspect was to hear again, and again, from repeated visitors how much they appreciate what we are doing with our night.  It's almost like public service - but bloody enjoyable.

Tim came on after and played a very reliable tech-house set which had people dancing until towards the end.

But he earned a true accolade in enabling some lesbian action on the dancefloor.  Two seemingly straight girls ended up kissing another girl, all were pretty cute.  The guys they were with all night seemed pretty shocked.  Maybe we should cancel the night whilst we are on a high – can we get any better than dancefloor lesbian action?

Then again, we’ve only just started.

Sadly I was in such a state of delirious lesbian-fuelled wonder at the end that I left my headphones there.  Albeit they were shit, broken and cheap so I’m not exactly fussed.  A new pair of shit headphones has been ordered at the sum of £13.95 in the hope that I can have a mix this weekend.

Next month we have two very good DJs from the old Mango days – Sam Red and Stone Collins.  It should be well up my street, musically – and yours.  Friday 17th June.  See you there.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

An Awesome Night

After the last night that I DJ’d, I wrote a fairly miserable blog post about it.

I didn’t post it in the end, mainly as I remembered that I’m in the enviable position of co-running and being resident of a night, with no financial risk and freedom to play whatever I want.  Something I have long dreamt of.

Sometimes nights just don’t work.  I wasn’t the only one that didn’t really enjoy it.

This Friday gone was the opposite.

I was on warm-up duty and it fairly quickly built up with a fair few recognisable faces.  I did my minimal thing again although I didn’t quite have as good a flow as I desired – it was slightly jarred at times in terms of direction.

Sometimes my mixes went through a bit quickly for 12 minute minimal tracks – partly because I was talking to people at times, but I did also seem to have a touch of impatience about me.  None of the mixes were technically bad, just the occasional quickly corrected off-beat, but the timing and flow could have been better a few times.

Martin came on after me – I wasn’t sure if I was DJing until midnight or 1am given his potential jet lag (I had enough music for 3 weeks, let alone 3 hours) and played an excellent set (you might say of course I’d say so but you should know I don’t bullshit), driving it along with some nice basslines but keeping it low-key enough, albeit a fair step up from me, to allow Bunts & Bowler’s set the opportunity to breath and grow.

Being about the closest to local superstar DJs we have, they know what they are doing.  I’ve known Bowler for a couple of years and he really has come on not only in terms of DJing ability and style, but professionalism and attitude.  Tom (Bunts) I may have met at some point but you know what these things are like.

Anyway, if our headliners can keep me dancing until the end on a Friday night after a busy week at work, bar the odd sit down for my aging legs, then you know they’ve done a good job.

You can judge for yourself as the whole night has been recorded.

One moment that touched me, in particular, was when I saw people videoing the night.  Normally when I’m in a nightclub and I see people videoing I’m quite dismissive of it – but now I was like, this is partly my night and people are loving it enough to video it.  Wow.

I felt rather proud.  The dream of doing something even more special for Reading has never gone away – but it does need an appropriate venue which doesn't seem to exist.

Not every moment gave me such a proud feeling.  A fairly cute girl had been dancing away to my music for 20 minutes or so when she came up to ask me for (song name I cannot recall) by One Direction.

ONE DIRECTION.  Seriously?  Was there any element of the music that she seemed to be enjoying that suggested I could be about to switch to One Direction?

She then asked if I had any music at all by One Direction, I said that I didn’t and that I was playing minimal techno.  She asked me what that was…well you have been dancing to it for a while.  I assume she probably realised that she meant to go to Sakura.  I actually thought she was taking the piss at first but she was being serious.

Other than that the crowd were spot on.  I played Desire by Enzo Siragusa and two people came up to me who knew the name of the track and the producer.  I was suitably impressed.

I’ve always thought that Reading has enough people to sustain a proper underground house/techno scene – it simply just does not have enough support, whether that be from venues, the authorities, the ability to promote, etc.

The Purple Turtle have also put up a lighting strip.  Just the one, but it really does make a difference.  Any more would probably be overkill.

Next up on 20th May we have Tim Sharpe (I think).  We might even have a website up by then.  It's almost complete.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Tale Of Three Requests

It seems ages ago now – I had this blog written in full then I didn’t post it.  I don’t know why and I cannot remember what I did with it.

But it being my month of sobriety, I can remember the night in full, even more than two weeks later.

And not only that – I can listen to my set over and over.  Which I have done.

And you can too.

The night itself was more memorable in terms of 3 requests.  You know, the usual DJs moaning bullshit though I do actually appreciate those who make the effort to come and ask me, or just talk to me – except perhaps those that refuse to say accept the word ‘no’ and keep pestering you in the belief that annoying the fuck out of the DJ will make him see the light that an MC really would go down well over minimal techno.

The first request came before I’d even started.  There was no music – the set-up was being set up, yet these slightly kind of street girls asked what music I was going to be playing.  “Minimal techno”, I responded.

“What?  Cayynnt ya play sum bashment?”.  I have no more than a vague idea what bashment is – I explained to my future crowd of 3 that I simply didn’t have any on me.  I didn't even have any Julio Bashmore on me.  They left.

I started playing my minimal, I was a couple of tracks in when my next assailant approached, requesting that I charge up his cigarette.  Bemused, I tried to clarify that I wasn’t a cigarette charging station – “But it just needs 5 minutes”.  No.  He was quite insistent that it wouldn’t cause us any issues but eventually he accepted that I was DJing as we ushered him towards the outside bar that “would probably have somewhere to charge it”.

Then this really cute girl approached.  I smiled yet sighed internally wondering what the hell she wanted.  Rihanna?  Micky Minaj?  Madonna?

No.  She just wanted to say that she really liked my music and was surprised to hear minimal in Reading.  Yes she actually liked minimal.  And didn’t even have any requests for me.  I even spoke to her for a little bit – this is why I need business cards!!

Most of the rest of my set went smoothly, bar when my accomplice accidentally knocked the reverse button whilst trying to set up a stand for the next DJ.

The crowd filled up – a few people went a bit crazy and I really enjoyed my set.  In fact, the first hour was probably as good as I’ve ever played – the second hour I did end up playing one or two more big tunes than I should have done – well, big tunes for me anyway.

Next time up we have an actual headliner – Hannah Wild.  I’ve had a listen and she plays good tech-house – I don’t always enjoy the music of our guest DJ, being the picky sod that I am, but I reckon I will approve this time.

See you there.

Thursday, 21 January 2016


I could not be arsed to DJ on Friday.  Strange isn’t it?  Something I’d dreamed about for years, if not close to 20 years, many years assuming it was something out of my grasp, out of my abilities, way away from my total lack of confidence when I was younger.

And I have my dream in my hands yet on Friday afternoon I was simply wishing to go home and go to bed.

I think part of it might have been that nobody was coming to support me – originally it was a birthday plan but I quietly dropped that idea when the lack of interest became clear.  Plus I was doing the first hour and the last 30 minutes which are the quietest times so I wasn’t especially excited about them.

Nevertheless, I trooped on with a sneaky suspicion that I would have fun.

I arrived a little early, to find that the vinyl decks were not set up for our headliner as requested in advance.  The manager of the Turtle wasn’t amused, but thankfully set about re-arranging the whole set-up for us.  I just hoped we would make it busy enough for it to be worthwhile for him.

So my set started 30 minutes late and I started it playing minimal.  I had considered a deep house warm-up.  I’d actually practised one, but the night before when downloading tracks, I changed my mind and decided to play what I love most.

I started with a more hypnotic tip, playing the likes of Cristi Con’s Bird In Space:

As I had a couple of gangster-girl foot-shufflers, I had the genius idea of playing Seuil’s gangsta-minimal track, Al Capote:

I finished on a recent favourite by Riccardo (not Villalobos) – Lapiuta:

Everything had gone well.  All the mixes were in, I think maybe one was marginally mis-timed, the crowd were sticking, the crowd were dancing, and I handed over to Sam & Stuart, who were followed by Saphe, our headliners.

All played really good sets – and seemed to figure out after one or two early interesting selections, what the crowd likes down there.  In fact, I’d say it was the closest to having a whole night where all the music flowed, with the crowd enjoying the night as a whole, as opposed to one or two sets, and where all the DJ sets made sense together.

I managed to get rather messed-up and wasn’t sure of my surroundings at one point, so ended up having a pint of water to rescue me back into reality as I realised that I was supposed to be closing.

I didn’t particularly want to take over, more because I was enjoying the music that our headliner was playing, but I still wanted to play.  Though I had a feeling that I couldn’t.

In went my CD, I cue’d the track up and yes I mixed it in fine.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Until I realised that it was the same track I’d finished my earlier set with.  Oops.

The rest of the set went without note, I had little sense what was happening and rather blurred vision, so I ended up playing tracks that sounded right – I couldn’t read the labels so I had no idea what I was actually playing.

And I went home happy.  It had been a really good night, very busy for most of it, lots of good music – easily one of my favourite nights that I’ve DJ’d at.

Next month is my detox DJ set.  Eeek.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Vast Improvement

I don’t really get nervous before DJing but I did have two small butterflies before my last set.

Firstly I had put pressure on myself to improve from the last diabolical set.  Secondly I realised that it was that special Friday of doom – the one where it is full of absolute tossers behaving like absolute tossers.

I have practiced more in recent months prior to DJing – living in Bracknell means I do occasionally still have the energy in the evening after work to get behind the decks for an hour or two.  Normally with a glass of wine.  This month I practiced more than prior to any other DJ set – probably a good 10 hours.  It might not sound a lot but it has helped.

I had just 2 CDs worth of new tracks that I really wanted to play – a lot of bass-heavy but fairly minimal stuff.  And I also knew my previously-burnt CDs somewhat more.

We got down to the Turtle quite early and I ended up sticking the music on around 930pm, I was just going to have a beer first but they had some absolute gash over the speakers that I simply had to disembowel.

I’m loving the hypnotic grooves from Romania at the moment, so I started on those lines.  When there are few people there, I can do what I like – I don’t need to worry about having a beat for people to dance to, or a bassline for them to feel.  I can simply play 15 minute long minimal tracks whilst I find my groove.

There was one quick panic about one of the decks not working – until we realised the cross-fader was on.  Ooops.  And I did royally fuck up one mix – but one in 2.5 hours is pretty good going in my view.  I don’t always get enough time to cue up tracks perfectly as I’m there to have a good time and talk to my friends too.

I slowly progressed matters such as with this beauty from Roustam:

As the crowd built, slower than usual, I turned up the bass levels and turned up the darkness, including this new monster from Loco Dice:

I realised that I was sending things a bit too dark – I like to test people but it needed some light too.  I tended towards house music to finish – and I finished far too soon for my liking which is a sign that I am enjoying myself.  I could have quite happily carried on.

I did later on start hanging around the decks on the off-chance that Martin was bored of DJing…yeah like a DJ would just voluntarily give up some of their set.  Doh.  I just wanted to play some house music!

Bizarrely it was probably the quietest night we’ve had since the summer.  Which thinking about it makes sense – a lot of our audience are students and foreigners – many of which would have left for Christmas holidays or been about to.  On the plus side, there was a good splattering of amigos, plus some of the regulars who turn up every month.

Next up is my birthday set which I hope that you can all attend.  And my good friend Samantha’s birthday set too.

A bit of an odd one this as I’m playing the first hour, and the last hour.