Recap of Burning Man

Burning Man was tremendous as usual. The cowboy saloon (complete with a bull's skull adornment) was a welcome addition. Beware what you're drinking in our bar though (see below). Simon, Chip and Andrew were superstar chefs and of course I can't thank enough everybody who helps make the Mog and the sound work. It was a pleasure and I consider it an honor to a Space Cowboy.

Getting to DJ on the Garage Mahal car is always a treat and while I never did get to DJ at the Deep End when it was around I did get a good spot at Distrikt (sorry for those who showed up at my original 11am slot) which brought a welcome return of the day party to the 9pm section of the map to go along with Pink Mammoth. Thanks to all who were a part of those camps. I consider those to be my home away from home on the playa and I'm always appreciative of the hospitality.

I got to play a couple of times on the Garage Mahal art car along with the aforementioned Distrikt set. That along with the Space Cowboy gigs had me feeling very content. I'm not going to lie, I like playing for big crowds, but more important to me is the vibe and energy of whatever gig I'm playing and many of my best experiences have been with smaller crowds. All 3 camps had different size crowds and each was awesome in their own way. One of the beautiful things about Burning Man.

The Hoe Down was a new experience. I started out my set playing for about 30 people in a complete white out. All I could see outside the Mog were dark lumps where the speaker stacks were and disembodied glow sticks on the dance floor. Knowing that everybody that was there really had to work for it given the visibility and lack of landmarks put a perspective on the night that I had been missing before. I realized whether it was 30 or 300 or 600 people those who made it out to the Temple wanted to rock out. They were ready. And it hit me. It was a party. It was on. No half assing it. So I got down to business and laid out a long set of driving techno and booty shaking breaks and had a blast doing it.

Around 11:30 the dust eased up and people started arriving en masse. The wind eventually died down almost completely and we had a consistently full dance floor all night up through sunrise. It was my favorite Hoe Down so far. A great capper to my Burning Man.

Along the way I had some great conversations with DJs I respect. Ali B has been a big inspiration in the past year and I got to pass along my appreciation in person as well as DJ before him on Garage Mahal. Can't beat that. Andrew, whom you might know as Myagi, proved to be someone you would want in your camp. Not only is he an all around good guy and rockstar producer and DJ but he is also not to be fucked with in the kitchen either. Respect. Nick Thayer, Lee Burridge, Scumfrog, Elite Force and Dylan Rhymes all provided quality Burning Man moments.

I missed Sharon to death and had a few moments where I felt ready to head home early but in the end I managed through the difficult parts and felt myself feeling once again that maybe I won't be able to skip next year after all.

Check out my video slideshow of my pics & video I took on the playa below.

cowboy saloon moonshine

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.


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

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

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).

Pasted Graphic