Friday, November 21, 2008

11.20.08 The record collector

I could go and change the names on all of you but honestly the names in this story are to good to pass up.

So as many of you have gauged from the annex collection, I LOVE MUSIC. More importantly, music that is impressed on to vinyl. Now I'm not such a purest that I can't appreciate other forms of musical data delivery. I enjoy my MP3 player, and mixtapes I adore. But when it comes to playing music for others in a DJ setting I appreciate being able to physically manipulate the audio. I commonly refer to this as touching the music. This selection, application, then manipulation of the music allows me to feel like I'm doing my part to provide the audience with a performance.

With this in mind let me regale you with a little story about a man from Fort Wayne IN. Kodiak is his name, honestly when looking at him on the street now a days you would never guess the epic vinyl collection this man had stashed away. This tall, youthful man, fit the bill for your average american. However once inside his moddest home he reveiled to us years of musical prouis. Kodiak was a collector of dance music from roughly the early to mid 1990's to... eeeh. Lets just say present.

So how did I met this man? Craigslist! Of coarse. (laughing mentally)

Kodiak was selling off his collection. Thus I found his post "House Techno DnB Jungle Trance vinyl, over 650ish records." This modist title and the 2 photos showing crates and crates of records did not do this collection justice. Kodiak had build up a collection of every Amen, 10LBS, Big tune that came out of the Detroit Techno House movement from the mid 1990's. Tracks that I knew of but never knew the name of. Tracks that mentally transported me back to dark warehouses, roadtrips and hours spent in my college art studio. Tracks that I had no right buying cause I could never use them in a jungle set. I found myself playing just to hear them again. The ghosts of memories filled the small back room where Kodiak kepts his records. My partener in crime Mr. Wilson and I played tracks, reminisced and absorbed all that these tracks had to offer us.

Kodiak (a master sales men I would later find out) left us alone for a chunk of time then came back in to join our musical adventures. Wilson took a break to just let it all sink in, while I dug through stacks, and discussed music, memories, and life.

This is the life of a digger... I would love to tell you that these are the way I fill my days, milling the back stacks of records stores or meeting new friends to dig through their prized record collection. One day... I will open my record store online. hahahaha

PS- if anyone is interested in buying the records described I've linked Kodiak's name for easy contactablity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

08.21.08 Cutting and Scratching

After taking my first DVD lesson in scratching I know 2 things.

First this shit is hard to make it sound good.

Second this kids is amazing.

DJ Kentaro with his DMC 2003 Prize

08.20.08 Nice video on DJ looping/ Turntablism

08.20.08 Goals for the Future

1) create a DJ community or find one again.

2) start releasing DJ mixes at least once a month

3) convert all my bloody records to MP3 / Aif

4) get invited to teach another DJ class

5) ... repeat number one

08.20.08 Resources from my Annex to yours

I've been around for a bit and over the years I've found a few sources that I've really enjoyed.

WEB SITE Tutorial Training:

Most recently I've discovered a web site called DJ Tutor. Now by no means am I a wedding DJ but Brian Redd is a refreshing human, teacher and promoter. "Refreshing" in that he is a normal guy that tells it how it is, and has created a small empire on helping other DJs better their craft. Hats off to you mate. PS- Great source for DeskTop DJing- check out the micro mixes on his site.

WEB SITE Record Stores:

Hometown favorite, I have to admit. But with shipping prices going through the roof from the UK. DJ Hut continues to surprise me with the selection they provide. Especially in the genera of Jungle & Drum and Bass. Wicked Props to the DJ's that keep that place up and running. The site is great place to review what they have in stock and listen to mp3 audio samples of the track.
If your looking for Jungle, Drum and Bass, or Speed Garage... this is your best bet. Juno is single handily the best online record store, period. Everything is well organized, the site is easy to use and search and all the records, CDs and MP3 are complete with mp3 audio samples. Thank you Juno for setting the standard for everyone else to be measured against.

Satellite Record Store
... long time NYC record hot spot. Currently site is down but if your a club DJ this is the place to do for multiple house generas, trance, techno. But they usually have shit for Jungle & Drum and Bass... plus if you ever have to talk to then to correct an order they really suck. Sorry to say but this is why I wrote then off in the mid 90's

Planet X USA
When I wrote them off I moved on to Planet X, a now defunked online record store. I miss my Planet X. Their Jungle selection was modest but they would bend over backwards to find me tracks I was looking for. RIP.

WEB SITE Equipment:

Pro Sound & Stage Lighting
They have been around for ever. Their online store front is easy to use and if you ever have an issue with their products they are amazingly helpful on the phone. Also if you find a better price on the web they will match it.

BOOK Training / Tutorials:

How to DJ Right: The Art and Science of Playing Records
Originally I was wicked skeptical... but I was over visiting a buddy of mine and it was laying on the coffee table. I started thumbing through this booked and was totally hooked. Written by Frank Broughton in an easy and humorous manor, I given this book to a lot of friends and all of them have totally agreed that they wish they had had this book back when they started.

BOOK History:

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey
Currently I'm reading this book. I will let you all know what I think if it in the end. Currently its an interesting view on DJs through out history. I'm not fully sold on
Bill Brewster's writing style but for a bit of mental candy so far its been worth my time.

**These views are mine and mine alone. I invite you to go out and explore for your own, change my own and comment away.

08.20.08 Blowing windows with my sound...

LOL. Well that's sort of the case. More like I just did not pack my speakers well enough thus it cost me roughly 500 quid to have my back windshield replaced. Needless to say this did not start my Sunday morning off well.

On the flip side, I have been in the business for 9+ years and this is my first car casualty. I guess that's just the way life rolls some time.

Now why I was hauling speakers around? The day before I was playing a gig at my local climbing gym chain. Sport Rock Sterling, has an annual climbing comp called Beat The Heat. This is the forth year and thinking back on it this may have been the 4th year I've spun. I'm not willing to be held to that statement but I know I can vouch for the last three years. :)

Anyways playing for Beat the Heat is always inserting. As a DJ, I pull my inspiration and my feedback from the crowd. If the crowd is jamming then it gets me excited and I start really jamming. But at a climbing comp besides the few bobbing heads and Scott K randomly breaking into liquid dance... there is not much feed back. In this cause I turn inward and if I'm having to play live music for 8 hours I make it the best 8 hour practice sessions I can make it.

When it was all said and done I got a lot of positive feed back and a few interested people in my next mix cd. The only draw back is all my gear is now coated in chalk dust... so canned air and some long hours in the Annex for me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

08.11.08: The Unexpected Annex Move

DJ's from here to kingdom come will understand this statement. DO NOT MOVE MY RECORDS. (please). However when your landlord is doing you a favor by removing all the mold ridden carpeting in the basement... yea you just sort of have to roll with it.

9am Sunday morning, half awake and really not in the mood for this sort of action. Mind you I did have help Amelia my better half was totting records up from the basement and placing them in piles all over the dinning room. Now normally my OCD would not mind this so much... ok thats a down right lie. Even while I was moving them from point A to point B I was mentally triping out. I have a show in one weeks time, I have not started my record pull for the show, and now my basement recording studio looks like a dusty war zone.

While the contractors hammered and clanged around in my basement I kicked on NPR and started to organize my collection. Roughly speaking its around 2,000 records. 3 quarters of that number is dedicated to dance music and roughly 3 quarters of that is Jungle / Drum & Bass.

As the dust tarnishes my fingers, memories of tunes, events and past relationships come back to me. This is not a High Fidelity moment, I'm not about to start organizing my records by past lovers... I've done that before its a royal pain to find records you need in a pinch. Instead I'm recalling the dimly lite record stores, the thrift store finds and the many vinyl donations I've received over the years. One such donation really defined my Junglist career.

It was 2000, the rough climatic downfall of rave culture in the USA. I was a newly reborn Jungle head making the switch from Hard Disco House to Ragga Jungle...(I may explain that later). At the time my crate consisted of about 12 classic tracks all acquired from Juno, Satellite Records, & the now defunked Planet X. It was a good set but slow going because only Juno actually carried a decent Jungle selection.

One fall afternoon, Karen B., Nick Pierce and I were visiting Douglas Black & Bettsy B. in Columbus Ohio. Setting the scene Karen B is good friend of Douglas, and at that time my long time girlfriend & Nick Pierce was a one time DJ partner with Douglas was my partner in DJ crime. Upon our arrival we were ushered up stairs to stash our bags and start getting ready for the evening activities.

Small talk with people I admired was never my strong point. Douglas Black was to Athens, Ohio is like Scott Henery is to DC... a flipping local legend. Mind you he was not local to Ohio but the impact he left on the party scene in Ohio made him an honerary local. (laughing) Needless to say he intimaded me for a long time, that and he was like a big brother to Karen so I sort of had the decks stacked against me. Eventually over the evening I got over my timidness and started to ask about Jungle tracks and producers I needed to be on the look out for.

Douglas Black who used to go by the DJ name Morphious was an old jungle head. Infact when I think back to it, he was a large part of my exposure to Jungle when I was living in the Mid West. Douglas with that winning smile started pulling tracks for me to listen to, then more or less left me with an open set of decks and his jungle collection.

He had so many classic rolling jungle tracks: 6 million ways to die, Pink Panther, Let me clear my throat, Jungle Brothers, The Hitman... and loads of other classic tracks. It was my own mini heaven. I was franticly taking down notes of tracks, Albums, Labels. Eventually it was time to roll out for the evening activities. We all had a blast that evening, Douglas was spinning at Dragon Fly and I always enjoyed his Deep House sets.

However, it was the next day after as we all lounged about that Douglas suprised me. He said he was selling a bounch of his vinly and if there were any Jungle tracks I wanted I should go up and take them before he sold them off. Now I don't think he expected me to snag as many as I did but I high talled it up and took about a create full of vinly. Thinking back on it now it was totally oppertunist, and a little shitty of me. But ever since then I've always have tryied to book him whenever I was running DJ nights and have always sung his praises... I may never be fully paid up with him but his Karma levels must be through the roof for letting me get away with that.

Thats how I got my base foundation level of records as a Junglist. Now flipping through them all they make me smile. Rememberance of those days, hours spent standing curb side handing out flyers, praticing in small dank apartments, and hours upon hours spent with the Headroom Crew.

Five hours later I sat back and surveyed my rows of well organized records. There is something like the proud feeling of a mother hen looking over her chicks.

Amelia comes back from her job and finds me out front taking in the afternoon sun. "How was your afternoon?" She enquirers. "Fantastic" I said with a smile