Music Philosophy

I discuss my philosophy on DJing and how it’s changed over time from starting out in Seattle to moving to San Francisco. Becoming immersed in Burning Man culture and what the future holds.
Recently I have been talking to some of my close friends about the current state of my music philosophy as it pertains to DJing. I have spent the last few years in San Francisco trying to do things the right way. Going to parties and events of camps/promoters that I respect and letting them know I respect them.

When I got gigs I did my damn best to impress everybody. Knowing this is a Burning Man crowd I stayed away from anything I considered mainstream. Dirty and hard became the way to go. I went deep into electro music at the forefront of it’s popularity. At Burning Man I looked around and too often for my tastes I was hearing music that sounded to close to my own.

I played some gigs that required less late night music and found that I had been neglecting that side of my sound. Going up to visit my MB, my DJ partner-in-crime in Seattle, I remembered an idea I had for MB and I to DJ only with big beat tunes. Retro-style. That music was fun. Fatboy Slim style circa 1999.

Time to jump back for a second. 2008 was the year I really came to appreciate 2 Many DJs, Soulwax, Girltalk, etc. Artists who perform live with a frenetic style. Mashups, quick mixes, slamming from one song to another, etc. Big-time party DJ shit. While different in technique the idea of what Fatboy was doing in 99 is basically the same. Rock it out and make it fun.

It was time to smile again.

Music doesn’t have to all be 5am dark club with one badass tune after another. It can be happy. Moreover, it can be happy at 5am and still rock the fucking party.

So upon my trip to Seattle MB and I got into a protracted DJ session where we started throwing down all kinds of tracks. Big beat, minimal, badass, electro, and breaks. What stuck in my mind though was getting me out of my comfort zone. Digging through my tracks to find a bouncy song or old school sounding track. It was fun.

My first gig in SF after the trip was on a Saturday night for Ben Wang’s birthday party. I had a 2 hour set scheduled to warm up the party from 10 to midnight. I pulled out nothing but big beat, funky, happy, breaks mixed in with a couple house and retro sounding electro tracks (think updated 80s synthpop). The early arrivers were mostly milling about though the ones on the dancefloor were shaking it and smiling. For a small crowd I got a lot of comments that night. More importantly I had a huge smile on my face.

Maybe it was from the partying in Seattle the 2 nights before (it was a long weekend) but I felt especially emotional playing those tunes. It was the rare occasion where I felt like a light was shining on me from above telling me to pay attention. This was important.

I’ve since played several gigs since that show and I’ve been totally re-thinking my approach to DJing. Maybe I don’t have to separate my dark and hard with my bouncy and fun. Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too. I’m not saying my days of playing a dark and dirty set are through, but I think it’s time to change things up.

Obama is president. Time’s are tough. So in 2009 look for a new direction in my sound.


P.S. Let me know what you think. Always curious to hear what those on the other side of the decks are thinking.