Sunday, May 2, 2021
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
I reckon I’m not an a-typical DJ (or human for that matter). Never conformed to what I was supposed to do (hello college football, life in the states and lack of home ownership for better or worse). I can’t really peg it. I do remember hanging with my friends in primary school and if they all got up to go somewhere at lunch or recess, I’d purposely wait 2min to get up and follow or not follow. For some reason, I could never bring myself to “go with the flow”.
Coming to the end of university, I was actually well-placed to get my bachelors degree, a teaching credential and live and work near my home town of San Jose, which is what my family expected of me. But then I met this girl (yeah, we know how that turned out).
Anyways, this lack of conformity has translated well to my DJ life as I have never listened (or currently listen) to what people tell me I’m supposed to play. I do my own thing. That said, I always nod politely when punters request tunes and always agree to styles the venue wants (knowing full well I’m going to do my own thing anyways and that it will work — it always does). I always nod politely and tell every punter, “yeah, I’ll totally fit that in...great idea”; knowing full well it won’t be played. Unless, I feel like playing it later (it always has to be much later).
It’s not that I’m a dick, I just like being in control when DJ’ing and trust those instincts. Not a chin striker either. I’ll just as easily drop Whitney Houston as I would some groovy number from Roy Ayers; I don’t give a fuck. I either like it or I don’t.
I’m only saying this because although we hit that moment where punters want every and any song they can think of because, “hey, anyone can DJ now”, they are now getting ruder and ruder about it. Self-entitlement is at an all-time high.
It’s now an expectation the DJ will play YOUR song and when YOU want it played, I.e. “wait 10min, I’m going to the toilet before we leave and want to walk out singing along to Stevie Nicks.” FFS!
This leads to many verbal confrontations with punters these days because not only do I NOT play their songs, but I’ve usually forgotten the shit request the moment they walk away expecting to hear it. When they return (they always return) demanding the song, I just say it’s not the right time or, “my bad, that songs on my other laptop. I brought my wrong laptop tonight.” And that usually works.
People actually believe this shit...like I have multiple laptops for different nights.
Regardless, due to their obvious anger which I realize I have had some part in creating (cuz I can be a dick), the next step in this charade is when they always go to, “but I have it on my phone”.
Which leads to...
“Yeah, this program doesn’t work like that. Really sorry, anything else you may like? If I got it, I’ll play it.” Which is really another lie.
Or this old chestnut...
“I’ve only got these 45’s tonight and that song was never released on a 45.” Not a lie.
Which then results in...
“Wow, CD’s. How old are YOU? Ok, let me go have a think about it.”
Hook. Line. Sinker.
3 hours later (long after they were supposed to leave), she or he will be losing their shit to something I chose, not them. Usually, it’s something polar opposite to what they wanted in the first place, too.
DJ mental warfare usually goes a bit like this:
Shania Twain? No thanks, but thanks for making me think of System Of A Down because I saw some Shania interview in SF whilst channel surfing back in 2003 when she toured there. Of course, this memory just so happened to remind me of an old mate of mine who managed my friends Bay Area band Salmon (Gary Avila) and he hyped me to SOAD way back when as I think they opened for them at The Edge in Palo Alto (near enough to SF) but I didn’t go and now regret it.
So I’ll play SOAD instead and it will work for a sizable chunk of the crowd. The rest will walk off, grab a drink and will probably be back on the floor 2 songs later when I play Shania Twain after the initial requester has probably left.
I really do think like this. I’m also a dick!
See, I don’t see music for genres. I either like it or I don’t. Pop music: if it’s catchy and I can sing/hum along to it, I generally think, “this will work on a dance floor”. So I play it. It can be any genre because I don’t see music for genres.
Oftentimes, I make genre specific mixes for Mixcloud, cuz that’s for “listening”, not “dancing”. I actually have gotten to the stage in my life where I like to listen to particular genres for long stretches as it calms me down (you can probably tell I’m a bit all over the shop).
But all bets are off when I play gigs, because genre hopping is what it’s all about (for me). But I want catchy tunes when I play out; there’s gotta be a hook.
Even with instrumental tracks, there needs to be something memorable there that I can instantly recongnize and process as “catchy”.
I inwardly laugh when people play out pop music like it’s some tainted bastard of mediocrity. I reckon the vast majority of these people have very little idea how difficult it is to create great pop records, songs, albums; whatever. It’s an art unto itself.
Just because a song is picked up by commercials, movies, game shows, sporting events, etc doesn’t mean it’s shit. It means it’s that good. We may all hate it whilst it’s force fed to us by the minute, but it’s still a good song.
I don’t care if it took 20 songwriters to write it, a good song is a good song. Popularity does not factor into that.
Still, as a DJ, I tend to stop playing songs that are currently popular, not because they are bad, but because they are expected. I usually won’t play them again until they are forgotten and sometime will never play them again (unless it’s a wedding where all rules are off lol).
So yeah, pop music. I love it. Til it’s requested. Then it’s shit. Til it’s forgotten. Then it’s good again.
BTW Peter Andre Rocks!!!
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Friday, February 1, 2019
So they asked me to come in and do the late set, 1-4am on Friday nights for $25ph and being that I had no idea what I was doing, I happily said yes. $75 per week was a lot more than I had been raking in as 1/4 or 1/5 of a band for the past 8-9 years, so I thought ch Ching!!!!
So upon rocking up the first night for my set about midnight, I met the residents who were playing before me. One of whom was Nick Thayer (who was playing when I got there) and the other was Mark Brand (who’d already played but was most likely drinking all of our bar tabs before he went home).
Anyways, Brand and I hit it off right away. First off, he’s Canadian so I understood what he was saying easily enough. Second off, he loved Hiphop and we immediately connected on a long list of jams that we both loved. I realized through the convo he was into the “scratching” side of things but not overtly a “turntablist”. He seemed more about the culture and TBH, I was still so new to DJ’ing I didn’t know much about the culture of Hiphop other than what I had read and my experiences over my time going to Hiphop shows since I was 15.
Brand was Hiphop to me; I was (and still am) a fan.
Anyways, we talked for about 30min before I went to set up and play (meeting Thayer for the first time — we got along, too) and that led to weekly hangouts with both these legends for the next year or so.
We’d do other parties together and they played all over whilst I was getting Beats Working started with Scott, Hans and Spies. But I was like a sponge with both Nick and Brand cuz they just seemed to know what they were doing and I was a total 100% novice. Whilst both were awesome DJ’s (and Nick was just starting to get into his production — I still have about 5 early CDR versions of tracks that would one day be signed to some cool labels) it was the way Brand handled business that really taught me a lot about how to “make it” as a DJ at the time.
I mean, I was my bands manager for most of my time doing it so it’s not like I had no clue about getting myself out there, but the way Brand did it made it seem so professional and business like. I think I got my ABN through him telling me how to do it.
He opened my eyes and a lot of doors to new venues and crews. I met a lot of people through Brand during those early years, ie Nathan Flagrant, Doc Felix, Jarrod Fox (the legendary J-Red), Mexi (and by default, No Name Nathan) and we did countless gigs together at Laundry, International, Lounge and plenty of joints I forgot about. He also introduced me to this cool dude named Ben Stacey, who just quit his band and got into DJ’ing and we’d end up doing quite a few things over the years (and we still try to hang whenever I’m up Sydney way). Brand even brought down a couple of up and coming rappers to freestyle on stage with me at Brown Alley one time by the names of Bliss n Eso and I still can’t remember who was more drunk, them or Brand (who also got on the mic, I think).
Brand was family to me and still is. I’m super stoked to see him doing so well after his move back to Canada, his constant world travels supporting those that need it, his culinary skills and I’m even more stoked that he and I get to hang tomoz at The Penny Black from 2-5pm, where we’ll be going back to back with a couple of bags of Hiphop, soul, funk, boogie and assorted treats all on the 45 format.
So for those that know Brand, get down to get down. For those that don’t, come meet him...you’ll be stoked that you did.