MOOD: Madonna, lots of Madonna
The high holidays are upon us; October lives up to it's nickname here in my tiny plot on the planet. Highlight reel:
*DJing for a sweet wedding at the Haw River Ballroom. This room sounds GREAT and i'm happy to have a met my new bff, Matt the sound tech. The wedding party was mellow and so eager to dance. *Highlight within a highlight: when one of the dads requested Devo. Yes, please. [Note: I rarely DJ for weddings of people I do not know. It's a pretty stressful gig, being someone's BIG DAY and all. However, something about Allison and Will just vibed me right and I'm so happy I got to be a part of their party.]
*Getting the weekly Disco Brunches going at The Durham Hotel. Each week, a different DJ plays an all-vinyl set from noon-3. We have some wicked-good turntablists and selectors in the area and I'm excited about this chill gig for our community of DJs.
*Let's Go Crazy 80s Dance Party at Arcana was SO FUN. I love how serious we get about our 80s jams. Sharing the decks with my friend 20th Century Boy is always a pleasure and I appreciate his proclivity toward lists. ;) AND THE COSTUMES!
*Halloween weekend looms: I'll be at Disco Brunch, ROCKY HORROR EDITION (!!!!) with my main DJ partner, Mike D. Just look for the twin Frank N Furters. That's us. After a quick nap, Mike D and I are headed to our regular haunt, OCSC in Carrboro, for the main event on Monday evening. All the songs, all the costumes. Always a free party.
Sometimes all the elements fall in place. My mood is good, I'm pumped, my DJ partner is pumped (in this case, Mac McCaughan/DJ Bug Spray), people are pumped and ready to dance, and the crew at Bowbarr (amazing bar staff and owners) are pumped. We're all pumped, in that Hans and Franz way, ready to do it and do it well. Mac started out with a killer reggae hour and then we got deep into 80s and new wave, with some 90s throwback in there a bit. We went back to back with hip hop for the last hour. The Wig Crew showed up and brought the most positive vibes to the bar. (They danced and looked adorable and my friend, Clark, suggested that we devise a Bat Signal to send whenever a party is dying -- these women show up and blow it out! Save the world!) It was 2:15 and the people on the dance floor were still acting like it was midnight (just with more spilled beverages/slightly sloppier). I was like, "Mac, let's take this down." He responded with, "Like New Order?" Which made me crack up!! I think we would have played another 2 hours of music, easily. These are the nights that keep me doing the DJ thing, when I feel the direct communication of shared love of music and movement with the people in our community. Thanks for the fun night, Carrboro.
P.S. Here's a pic of Mac doing his thing on the Bowbarr decks!
Jonsi - Go Do (Klive Remix)
at: Bowbarr for the Earth to Carrboro Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale
plant art-pot by Amanda Barr.
This here is my ass, very early in 2014. Like 1am, right after i tripped over my headphones cord (my engineer bf consoles me nearby, "Again??") and broke my headphones jack.
No more record cuing for the rest of the night.
Luckily, i've been bringing my old white apple to gigs lately and supplementing the vinyl with mad remixes unavailable to me previously.
So i cued by sight for the rest of the evening. But it was new year's eve at 1am. And look at everyone...totally toasted! Cross-fader, i bow to you.
2013 FIFI HI-FI SUPERLATIVES
Most requested artist of 2013: R Kelly, tied with Robin Thicke
Most requested artist of 2013 who i refused to play: R Kelly, tied with Robin Thicke
Artist i played the most in 2013: Prince. And every other year.
Best request of the year: Africa by Toto
Best gig of the year: Halloween at OCSC, people makin babies on the dancefloor. (Eahw.) tied with WAUMISS at Hopscotch
Best record find of the year: Ginuwine 12" single at Cheapo in Minneapolis: When Doves Cry cover
NEXT GIG: Jan 18 at Pinhook for the ILLEGAL January party.
WHAT!? Ecstatic to be representing female DJs on the Independent's Best of the Triangle list for 2013. I'm sending love to my fellow finalist, the incomparable mixologist and mashologist, DJ Pancakes over in Raleighwood, too.
And congrats to one of my most fave Triangle DJs, DJ Joey, who has caused me to stomp around in large boots on a dark dancefloor ever since I moved here in 1999.
More dancing, less hating!
My "dj Mom" aka Lady Factual, aka Dr. Dakar, aka published author Ali Neff, generously taught me how to dj in the style of the Bay area turntablist group, The Red Wine Society. I started a bi-monthly gig at The Federal in Durham which was set up by my friend Amy. I got to play tons of records there during my sets and I was able to try mixing random genres together. It was during the great Journey revival. I was trying to bring it back the the arena rock at every chance, half ironically and half in seriousness; the lyrics to "Separate Ways" are really quite ressonant to anyone who has had to let go of love. And who hasn't? At bar gigs, a dj is not expected to keep a dance party moving. One can explore songs for what they are lyrically or musically. I honed, or "Honered," many of my mixing skills during my stint at The Federal. And the 2am whiskey-induced, metal-dude Jane Fonda workouts were divine.
Last weekend, I tried out getting back to my Durham bar roots at Bull McCabes, again hooked up by Amy. (Thanks buddy!) I packed new wave, indie/electronic, and old school hip-hop. They set up the dj on the end of the bar and the super-cool manager came out to tell me to unleash the hounds of hell on anyone who messed with my equipment. I didn't have to unchain the dogs, with one exception. Amy, sitting next to me for much of my set, had intercepted some questions from 2 middle-aged white men at the corner of the bar. Amy relayed to me, "This guy wants to know what you are doing when you are moving the records around. He says he can't hear what you are doing and why aren't you just using a computer....I think he's talking shit." I told her to tell him I was beatmatching. He proceeded to tap his finger on the bar near me while I transitioned...a cross-fade, and not beatmatched. "It wasn't beatmatched," he shouted, "Why is she doing it?" I put my headphones down and asked if HE would like to try. He shied under my confrontation and continued to speak loudly to his friends about how he had "pissed off the dj." And yes, he had, and now he even has a blog dedicated to his d-bagginess.
1. Bull McCabes has a regular set of dudes who dj. Was this guy speaking up because of my gender and his uneasiness about a woman in a typically male position?
2. I'm used to fielding comments as I dj, and of course ridiculous requests (Dixie Chicks, Wilson Phillips) -- sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, sometimes inspiring -- but i had forgotten about this particular kind of confrontation based largely on my gender.
3. If you put Baby in a Corner, she's gonna fight back, and with beats! I felt like i had to prove myself (really???), my beatmatching ability (to some dude who is clueless about dj culture), and my initial anger faded into challenging myself to make matches I hadn't before. So, i extend gratitude to you, d-baggy dude. I hope you find something to make you happy in life so you don't keep negging out your bartenders and bar-folk.
4. The negative can either bring you down, or it makes all the other nice people in the world shine a little brighter. I'm aiming for the latter.
It was good to be back in Durham. Special thanks to the guy who knew all the lyrics to "Flava in ya ear." I'm looking forward to 4th Saturdays on the decks/on the bar.
I can't get everything on vinyl.
My bf, a long-time proponent of Native Instuments, suggested that I learn Traktor. He installed it on my computer for me. 2 years ago. I largely ignored it for most of that time. I started to play with it after my DJ "Wonder Twin," Scotty Rock (of the World Famous Butta Team) literally threw me onto his Serrato Scratch Live setup at the beginning of one of his gigs. I took to it quickly and he just left me there weeding through his massive mp3 collection. It finally made sense to me since I had the visceral experience of touching the record to control the digital information. I made a jump.
Since then, I've re-realized my passion for making beats. I have a bunch of sketches on iMaschine from industrial beats to booty beats.
Now for the next hurdle: learning Traktor. I've got the beat matching part down and have accused it of being "beat matching for babies." But the draw is that I CAN'T get everything on vinyl.
My formative DJ culture experiences were back in the 90s...
*at the weekly Buzz parties in DC and the random Ultraworld parties
*at the weekly goth/industrial Thursdays at SE DC's Tracks with the epically grouchy DJ Mohawk Adam
*at my hometown's local gay bar/dance club/drag review, The Park
*observing my friend, Xist, the first female DJ I ever encountered.
Largely because of 90s rave culture, I have an affinity for big beats, deep bass, and the art of mixing and performing: I love creating an atmosphere for the crowd. I know that by incorporating some software to my sets, I can bring in this element to my mixes. My current mission is to set up loops and my own beats to sample into my sets. I know this is remedial for experienced digital DJs, but for this insistent vinyl DJ, I'm either going to turntablism hell or opening a can of worms made of a gigillions zeros and ones. Probably both.
I'm happiest when I'm playing records and blending seamlessly from track to track....and I won't be letting go of one of my favorite visceral experiences.
We do the dive