10.19.2013

I find myself wondering about the nature of communicating online. Years ago, I had a blogger account. Then I had a LiveJournal, and I actually used that fairly regularly (for a while, anyway). But this website, which I envisioned (and for a long time, used) as a DJ-centered platform for musical musings and keeping people up-to-date for gigs, has languished. I’ve also gotten away from writing on a regular basis (see: annual post).

So I’m thinking about using this space to ruminate on anything that comes to mind, fit for general consumption. Sometimes people stop in, far-flung people from the many and varied places I’ve been, and I like that. We’ve all moved on with our lives, and even though music may still be a part of it, a lot of us have gone in different directions. We don’t go out every week and dance, and that’s a shame. I don’t do a radio show every week, and I definitely miss that. Yes, it was a hassle to load up all that gear – especially in the KRSC days when I had the six-foot DJ coffin (two 1200s, the RM-100 mixer and the Denon Dual CD deck) and all those crates of records and CDs. Turn of the century, kiddos. Back in the time of the dinosaurs.

But I miss being “in” music in a scheduled way for three hours every week. It was fun – and I often think about how different it would be now, with all the ways of communicating instantaneously on the internet that are more easily accessible to any barely-tech-savvy person (as opposed to the old days of IRC and the like). At the very end of my time doing a live show at KRSC, I was “talking” online to people on the old Mid-South Raves message board, and that made it a lot of fun. These days, there are some people who do weekly internet radio shows, but the costs for bandwidth can be prohibitively expensive, it seems. I wonder about making it work, and sometimes I think I might go down that road again. Where I live, there’s a community radio station, but finding a three-hour chunk of time for a radio show is pretty much impossible unless I want to do it at the ass-crack of 3am.

So then I think about musical projects – again. The past year has been pretty much consumed time-wise with the deck/porch project, but I’m actually on the home stretch of it now. The spousal unit and I basically built a 12×14 cabin stuck to the side of our house – complete with a wood stove and ten windows. I had to learn how to do roofing (yes, I put those shingles down myself), electrical wiring (all the outlets, light fixtures and all the way back to the main breaker box by yours truly), drywall (I’m great at it now, but I will never like sanding the stuff – what a damned mess) and tiling (which I really already knew how to do, but had to add to my repertoire). Carpentry I sort of knew – but got a lot better at it – practice. There was also a lot of staining and painting, and I’ve still got to finish the surround for the stove and lay down the wood floor. But it’s almost there, a year and three months after we broke ground on the first footer (dug those suckers by hand myself, all twelve of them).

What I’m hoping for here is a start. A place to check in every so often (I won’t say every day), to mention whatever’s on my mind, and hopefully get to the music part of things. It’s been a while since I made a mix, and I’m toying with the idea of a few vinyl-only mixes. Mark Farina does that on the regular in addition to his busy touring schedule, and he seems to do okay – and I definitely miss mixing the old-fashioned way. I’m still encoding my whole CD library to my computer, and recently moved from a Mac platform in the studio to a Windows-based system. Live was surprisingly painless to cross-grade, and now I have plenty of space and computing power for a fraction of what it would have cost to buy a new G4 or whatever they’re at these days. My inner tinkering nerd won out over the cool-kid factor, I guess.

So, that’s what’s up with me. so there you have it. If you’re interested in communicating back, you know who I am – djmuse. This nice little doman, djmuse.com has email too, so you can drop me a line there if you feel so inclined. Let’s see what I can get up to, and maybe there will be some interesting mixes in our future!

07.07.2012

You know it’s bad when you’re bitching about the insane heat on Facebook one minute and the next you look at your webpage and see a message about ski season. Oh, ski season, how you utterly failed me this year.

But really, I’ve been busy. House-type busy. Finished tiling my bathroom floor, painted stuff, and I’m getting ready to build a screen porch and deck in my backyard (party at my house when it’s done!). Of course, this hasn’t left a lot of time for music.

Last month, I went to the home of the lovely and talented Rachel McKibbens for a writing get-together with over 30 other women and I got to break out all the old DJ gear again. It was the first time I’d loaded it all up in my new car, and it fit just fine. Being able to play music and listen to poetry and make people laugh and have fun, well, I’d really missed it. Being out in the beautiful weather on a deck with tiny lights hanging from all the trees – it was magical, really.

I keep having ideas for musical projects, and I keep them under my hat because I know how bad I am at following through. But I think more and more these days that there is so much amazing poetry out there and if you could add music to it, it could open up new audiences to something they mistakenly think is all stuffy, or boring, or shouty or whatever. Not songs, per se, but spoken word with music. Sort of like what Carl Hancock Rux did, but without the singing part (he’s a really talented guy). There are people who’ve never heard of Rachel, but they see something like her video for what’s referred to as “Last Love” – and are knocked out. Poetry, not in a book, but just as significant and maybe even more effective for people who don’t read poetry books. Thinking on this.

In other news, I made a mix. I called it the “Commuter Mix” because it was for my husband to listen to on a long commute (wow, creative, right? *sarcasm*). I put it together in a different way so I have to reformat it for the web, but I’ll finish that up tonight and post it in the mixes area. Go listen to some mixes now – I know you haven’t listened to them all!

12.15.2011

It also soothes my soul. There’s nothing quite like the energy of playing music for other people and seeing their reactions. That perception of a reaction from a listener is a communication, and when you open a dialogue for communication, it affects both sides of the “conversation.”

Recently I started playing over at the TESLA space in Worcester, and I’m loving the way it makes me want to create. That side of me had been in hibernation, really, and I needed to kick it back into gear. Working with other musically inclined nerds, I’ve been exploring the midi capabilities of my Traktor setup as well as just plain spinning music for an hour or more at a time. I haven’t done this literally in years, and I am reminded of how much I grew as a DJ while I was doing a radio show where I would play for five hours at a stretch on Saturday nights. I’ve always been big on playing live sets, and I know how much it helps me refine my skills as a DJ. When I’m playing from a broad array of styles (even if the tempo stays within a narrow range), I challenge myself. When I hear about other DJs being suspected of playing a CD at their “live” gigs, it’s worse to me than the concept of lip-synching for singers. Because as a DJ, I feel like my main talent is in knowing what to pick, what my audience is wanting, and how to create an environment that enhances whatever’s going on. Whether it’s a dance party, a poetry reading, or just a place for people to chill and visit, I want to put the right soundtrack underneath the action. The idea that someone is being billed as a DJ and then they’re just making the motions, especially given all the tools that are available today that make it so easy to mask tiny (or larger) mistakes or opportunities for mistakes – that seems incredibly lazy and disrespectful to your audience, not to mention an indication to me that you have no confidence in whatever skills you do have.

I’ve thought a lot about how the technology available to DJs has changed since the days when I plunked down all that money for a Denon 1200 dual CD deck back in the 90s. With all the beatmatching and looping capabilities in software like Traktor (my choice) and Serato (and all those other variants), it really has gotten almost too easy to accomplish the mechanics of what we do. But always, in the end, it’s the track selection, the way you pick the pieces to fit together, that separate those who truly know what they’re doing and those who just bought a bunch of stuff and call themselves a DJ. Even with the tools, you still can’t mix some things in a way that sounds *right* unless you know what you’re doing.

With this new gig, I’m using it as a playground to play with the equipment – to see what some of these other tools are and figuring out ways to expand the possibilities in both music making and live playing. It satisfies my creative side, and it lets me get my geek on, which I’ve needed for a long time. I’m excited to see where it all leads me, and looking forward to every step of the journey.

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