Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions is soon arriving and my internal excitement is arising. Breakfast of Champions has a lot of meaning for me. My first year in San Francisco I didn't go to BOC. People told me it was cool but nobody grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "NO, IT'S REALLY FUCKING COOL!" Which was my impression upon going the next year.

I pretty much geared up my talking to Andrea about wanting to play for the Space Cowboys around 2008 Breakfast of Champions coming up. She told me a lot of people came out of the wordwork around the same time I did. We talked about the music scene in SF and I told her I really liked and respected what the Cowboys did. They embodied the spirit I really liked about throwing parties in SF. Underground, badass music, sarcastic sense of humor. What's not to love?

I didn't play at BOC that year but they did ask me to play in 2009. I prepared big time for the gig. I put together an opening intro, I edited multiple songs specifically for this show, and I scoured my collection for hidden gems I could bring back and play. I found an old Finger Lickin' track from 2000 that I was especially happy to play.

The cool thing is that not only is BOC the best party I went to strictly as an attendee but also as a DJ. Well, maybe tied to Burning Man. Decompression is pretty up there too but I digress.

I'm really stoked to be playing at this year's edition. Opening a show like BOC can present present fun challenges. Even in an up-for-it crowd like BOC you still have to work the song flow and monitor the energy of the crowd as you build. So many different directions musically to take.

Maybe some tech-house & techno to start? Stick with electro and move to breaks? I'm still deciding. I'll come prepared to go whatever direction I think works for the crowd. I like to go on the fly and see what happens. Maybe take some left turns in new directions and hope it goes over.

BOC Lineup:
Main Room (6am*): Deckard, Shizzla, Sh00ey, 8Ball, Mancub, Ernie, Kirk, Soul of Man (2 hour set), Tamo, J9, Bassben, Larry, Icon
Downstairs (6am*): Bam, Aaron Jae, Mozaic, Mace, Benchun, Ding Dong, Felix, Jive, JoeJoe, Robb G, Kramer, Bob V, Sol, Erik Hz
Outside (10am): Trav, Zach, Brad Robinson, Rrrus, Manny, Murphstar, Clarkie, Aaron Pope, Mopo

* Hoping for 5:30 opening
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History of Rap music in one mix

Ordinarily I'm not a huge fan of megamixes. You know the style, you hear bits and pieces of songs thrown together rapid fire. Typically there isn't much flow and it gets boring quickly.

In the case of The Diary we have something a little different. Chris Read, self-appointed Mixtape Champion of the World, has condensed over 800 rap songs into one 80 minute mix. Spanning the years 1979 to 2007 it is a veritable rap history lesson. Enjoy.

Download

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The art of the opening DJ

Just passing along an excellent article on the art of being an opening DJ. Like most other DJs I have had my share of time spent opening a night for other DJs. Sometimes you feel torn between wanting to show what you can do and playing what is appropriate for that time slot.

When I moved to SF I had been a DJ for 5 years. I had played any number of gigs both small and large and I had established myself in Seattle. Moving to a new city required patience. Lots and lots of patience.

When I did get a gig often it was a warm-up slot. My philosophy is always to play appropriate for the time and environment. Maybe 10pm with only a few people on the dancefloor isn't the best time to prove I can play all my hard driving breaks. Not that I'm perfect. There were times for sure I played where I cringed after seeing the dancefloor clear.

I bided my time. Eventually after putting out a series of DJ mixes and playing some house parties that went over well (does anyone remember the afterparty at Ron Nike's house where I played and then Lee Coombs came on afterwards?) I started getting opportunities to play prime time slots.

The bottom line is look at your watch, look at the environment you're in and take in the mood of your crowd.

I once watched Josh Wink pull a reset at a party in Whistler that perfectly demonstrated how a DJ should NOT warm up a crowd. The DJ before was playing big breaks and hardly anyone was dancing. There was no warmth to the music, nothing to draw you in. Just big loud brash beats. Wink pulled it back and started playing music that had a little more melody and hooks to it. Within 15 minutes he had people's attention. At the 30 minute mark people started dancing in earnest. At the hour mark the party was going off.

What do I remember about that night? #1 that the DJ before him completely ignored the room and didn't do his job #2 Josh Wink was a stud that night for exactly the opposite reason. He gauged the room correctly and pulled everybody in and got them going. It was a shame that the crowd wasn't already warmed up though.

Check out the article
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On the road to Burning Man

Getting ready for Burning Man is always a bit of a trip for me. Sharon and I like to eat well on the playa so this year we prepped some home made chili, a couple Thai meals, 4 crates of mangos, etc. I even vacuum sealed a couple of what I hope will still be delicious slices of Escape From NY pizza. Gathering our camp supplies is not too difficult at this point, but we like to add creative flare every year. This year I took on a DIY project to create some decorative solar lights.

The real difficult part of prepping for Burning Man is getting music ready. This year I revamped my system which was not working well anymore. My old system relied on me having a giant book of CDs and having a really good idea of what is on every CD in that book. This system fails when you have about 124 CDs while in the middle of a desert riding around in a bumpy bus while flames blast out all around you.

So this year I looked over all my music from the past year and rated every song I purchased. Only 4 & 5 star songs along with a handful of 3 star songs make it to the Burning Man playlist. I now have the added benefit of creating smartlists in iTunes (even though I despise using it) where I can group together my best electro breakbeat tunes or if I’m playing a funk set I could look just at my funk music or also group in my funky breakbeat or my hip-hop flavored breakbeat.

It’s still a work in progress and I’m still looking at having to burn CDs for a few hours and print out labels but this year I feel like I know my music inside and out. That is a great place to be when you’re sleep deprived and coasting along on fumes at the end of the week.

Along with my schedule posted on the front page if you want to find me you can always look for the Space Cowboys Unimog. It looks something like this (6 year old’s Lego rendition).

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Friday Funk Day

I came across one of my favorite DJ sets of the year recently by Dave McKinney aka Flow Dynamics. Using songs, loops and acapellas he mashes it into an hour of expertly mixed funk bonanza. He uses so many different loops and snippets of songs it would be difficult to come up with a tracklist for this set. This has been in my rotation since the first listen. Highly recommended.

Grab Flow Dynamics live DJ set here
http://bit.ly/12xlEn

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Bring on the funk

As some of you may have noticed I have been getting into funk music lately. Depending on the gig I have been trying to infuse my set with more funk sound. In particular I’m fond of producers like FDEL, All Good Funk Alliance, QDUP Foundation and others who are spearheading a sound that upholds old funk sounds with modern production values.

Funk music is a bedrock for a lot of music that has come after it. The samples and influences are literally everywhere.

Today I’d like to push a new mix on you from my very good friend and DJ partner-in-crime DJ MB. He DJs all around Seattle, Canada and on down the coast here in Cali. He has been the resident DJ and music booker for the W Hotel in Seattle for going on 8 years.

It’s a mini-mix of sorts. It clocks in at under 40 minutes. If you want a really good back to back experience put this one on before my Party People mix. Similar enough tunes and vibe.

I know you’re going to enjoy it.
Grab the mix here
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One More Night

I had a frightening dream last night. I was on a plane listening to Party People when about 2/3rds of the way through this song started playing that horrified me. It was a trance song with a female vocal (think your basic cheesy trance song like would be played on commercial dance radio) saying “one more night, just one more night.”

Upon hearing the song, I immediately flipped open my laptop, opened Ableton and stared in disbelief at how I could have ever put this song in my mix. I deleted it and saved it out but there was nothing else I could do. Being on a plane I was stuck not being able to take my mix offline or upload a corrected one.

A classic anxiety dream.
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Party People finished. Now what?

When I finish a mix I always feel a combination of pride, happiness, excitement, and a little bit of sadness. I really enjoy working on mixes. In this post I talk a little about the origins of Party People and some of the process that goes into putting it together. Read More...
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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. Read More...
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