Tuesday, 4 April 2017

3 Sets of 2017

So far I've had 3 sets - all warm-up sets, and I've tried to do something different with all of them.  Although I don't think there is anyone that is there during every one of my sets, I still want each of them to be unique, for my own sanity, if nothing else.

For January I tried planning my set.  Literally from the first track to the last, I planned it at home, made sure all the tracks sounded like they should be mixed into each other, and made sure all the tracks I desperately wanted to play were in there.

It sounded good.  It worked.  But I didn't enjoy it as much.  It kind felt that I had taken my creative freedom away and turned my DJ set into a factory line assembly job - do part 1, then do part 2, etc, etc.

February was my sober DJing month.  Normally the most difficult set, but with being unemployed and hence not having done a full week of work beforehand, there was no need for alcohol to help me power through.  In fact, I stayed an hour longer after my set than I did in January.

We had quite a cosmopolitan, European crowd that night and I was stood at the front after, feeling very proud of what has been created.  It was a busy night, and the crowd were loving the music - even my minimal techno.

March started disastrously by leaving my suitcase with music and headphones on the train when I arrived into Reading.  Thankfully First Great Western managed to return my suitcase and it was game on.  Except by this point I was pretty damn drunk, and slightly internally raging - never a bad thing to have emotion going on when you are doing some form of musical expression.

Myself and Martin were going to attempt a back-to-back, but we decided against it after just two tracks each as our styles were way too far apart for a warm-up.  I think it might have worked were we doing the last set - or if we had practiced and found a common groove.

So instead, I did an hour or so, Martin did an hour or so, then I came on and did 20-30 minutes before our headliner - though it could have been longer as I didn't really have too much concept of time by then.  Apart from one mix, somehow I held it together despite my insobriety.

I also eschewed my normal minimal and played a more underground house sound instead, a bit like this track by Unknown Artist:

I miss playing house music.  I suspect that next time I do the warm-up, it might be more house-orientated than minimal.  Not that I have any intention of planning it!

Unfortunately we have booked two headliners next month so I will not be DJing (or maybe that is fortunate depending on your view) - you'll have to wait until 19th May to catch me next.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

New Mix: Brexit

You would have thought that with being unemployed that I would be behind my decks every day and night.


I've been practicing less.  And it isn't exactly as if I am the perfect DJ, and don't need any practice.  It isn't exactly as if I don't have the inspiration - there are too many mixes that I want to do.  It isn't exactly as if I don't have the time - though I don't actually have the time - or I don't make the time.

But then I just had to get this mix out of me.  A beastly, dark techno mix that represents my feelings on a subject close to my heart - Brexit.

Lots of anger, lots of darkness - some pretty tough techno inside - not one for a jolly, sunshine-filled Sunday morning.

There are a few, hmmm, different tracks in there, something uplifting, something unusual and a couple of older tracks to finish.  Though there is also a rather gnarly track halfway through which I think is quite a challenge to listen to.

Some of the mixing could be better, but hey, I don't practice enough so what do you expect?  Though I definitely hit the sweet spot in the second half for a while and I bloody well enjoyed that part.

Hopefully, despite the intentional darkness, it will provide more satisfaction than Brexit itself.

I've also created a new look for my 'brand' (sigh) - at least for the DJ mix covers anyway - combining obscure street art with a more caring, artistic font.  Maybe I'll replicate it onto my website too one day.

Feedback always welcomed, even if you think it is shit.

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.