12.15.2016

So, I mentioned I’m working on my studio. Actually, I think I mentioned that I was *going* to upgrade my studio, and I’m doing that.

For a few years now, we’ve been going round and round about whether we wanted to sell our house and move out to the sticks or stay here in the “big” city. There were pros and cons each way, but we both really liked the idea of having more privacy and quiet. So we could make our own noise, of course, but our quiet. It sounded like a great idea, we felt like we had the tools and skills to upgrade the house we’d probably be looking at due to our budget and where we wanted to live (western MA or VT).

But then the election happened. I remember watching the result and feeling like I was going to throw up. The world was totally thrown off its axis for me. I was scared for my friends. My privilege (white, female, housed/fed/clothed/car/income/spouse) was showing, but it’s all so tenuous. After a long discussion, we agreed (we being me and my husband) that we were going to “shelter in place” as they call it in disaster preparedness.

We’d had ideas of leaving so far as to start packing things up. We’d looked at a house out in Rowe, but didn’t jump on it for various reasons of cracks and water infiltration, especially where you don’t want it (in the electric service line). I have very mystical friends among the many I know, and they would say that was a sign. That happened not that long before the election, and then afterward we realized we were better off staying here.

So, I decided that I would finish redoing the wiring in the front room – used to be living room, soon to be studio. I took the time to re-wire everything, including the light switches, and did a new subpanel to accommodate future wiring upgrades in the rest of the house. My current studio location had three prong plugs that weren’t grounded, so I had noise problems and it sucked. Now I’ve done it myself and know it’s right.

There are now three hardwired network connections in there, so I can hook up my studio computer and anything else I need (DJ laptop, etc).

Look at all that light – and those properly grounded outlets and high speed internet drops. Sexy!

Then my carpenter (the spouse) helped me pad out and install the drywall in the wiring cutout to match the depth of the existing wall, which was drywall covered with a thick layer of plaster, making it a strange depth.  I’ve been doing all the drywall compound work for almost two weeks now (time consuming) and in the next few days I plan to begin priming and painting the walls.

The blue is old wall, the underneath white is the new drywall and leveling patching compound. Apply, let dry, sand, repeat. Did I mention time-consuming?

The new studio is going to be much larger and has a lot more light than the old studio, which was originally a dining room when I moved in here ten (!) years ago.

Daytime, blinds closed, needs flash. Also, most of my gear is packed in the closet while I do the renovation. New studio will have excellent cable management – because this nest of wires sucks.

Records and some CDs. The bulk of my CDs are packed in boxes upstairs. The packed items include all the A/V gear that was in the old living room (which will be in here when we’re finished). We really won’t use this room much, which is why I decided to move my studio into the bigger room.

This is definitely a work in progress. There’s a long way to go. But I’m making that progress, and when I’m done I’ll have a new, bright, welcoming studio. Thanks so much to my husband for being my best friend and biggest cheering section. His support (and carpentry and setbuilding skills, not to mention his ability to plan for the unexpected) is so vital to what I do. If I’ve got to survive the next four years of the orange, tiny-handed despot, I know my husband will keep me as sane as possible. Hopefully I’ll be making music at the same time.

 

08.05.2016

…and I’ve been neglecting my music.

I can’t help it – I upgraded my motorcycle to a Honda CB500X and now I’m riding everywhere – dirt roads, logging trails, twisty highways and back roads. Loving every minute of it. But I’ve been slacking on the music front.

One of my projects for the fall/winter will be to relocate and upgrade my studio at home. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I’m finally going to start on it really soon.

Of course, I’ll see what I can do about posting more often, but we all know how that goes.

01.24.2016

Technology!

by DJ Muse

For a while now, I’ve been working on encoding my music collection so it can be stored on computers. I think back to when personal computers started being a thing – when things were so much smaller in capacity (storage and processing) and so expensive in price. Moore’s Law being what it is, I recently added a computer to my home network that had two hard drives that were over a hundred thousand times bigger than my “big” hard drive in the old days (well, we’re talking 20 Meg to 3 Terabytes, so even more). The price for the whole thing was, if my memory is right, less than my entire computer cost in the old days. This allows me to do things that wouldn’t have been possible back in the day – storing my whole vinyl and CD collection on a few hard drives, in great quality. Networked so everyone in the house can get to the music. I need to play with the Raspberry Pi and make a file server/music player to get music to the kitchen side of my little house.

This tinkering with technology brings me back to what I did for years in the working world. Now, it’s just a hobby – a useful hobby in my case. I’ve got a big storage server now and can get back to encoding records to computer. I’m looking now at things that will serve me well in an environment where people can dance to what I’m playing. Why? Next month, I’ll be the DJ at the Airspray Queer Dance Party at the Electric Haze in Worcester (see next post for update). I went out to their party this month (the third Friday of the month) and scoped out the crowd to see what it was like and whether I felt like I could do what I thought that audience wanted.

Being out at a club was a strange experience, because I realized how long it had been since I did that. When I was just a sprog, I would go dancing – out, by myself. Yes, I had friends there, but I never have been one to stay home because I had to go out by myself. My standard MO is to get there early – I have to settle into the waters gradually. Being in a club as it fills up is easier for me than diving in when it’s already full of people. So I got to Electric Haze (26 Millbury Street, Worcester MA) at just after 9PM, ordered a drink and found a seat in the corner. Yes, I’m a sitting in the corner girl. I like to watch what goes on.

I wanted to see what kind of music they were used to hearing at this party. Living in Worcester and having friends who loved to go dance (and are part of the Queer community), I’d been asked to go to this with them in the past but hadn’t gone yet. What blew me away about this party was how much people were wanting to dance. If you were even remotely aware of dance crowd psychology (really, just paying attention), you could see it – people clustered in groups on the floor once the DJ got set up and started playing music. They were bobbing even when they didn’t have anything that really made them want to dance yet. That energy – I was at ground level and I just felt like this was my kind of people – the people who would go out and dance like crazy if you gave them grooves. Funky grooves. Smooth grooves. Leftfield stuff that they didn’t expect grooves. Basically the DJ Muse special, you know?

Classifying what I do is never easy. It’s so fluid and crosses genres so much – I’ve never fit in an easy box. At the “turn of the century” everyone who was a DJ seemed to be specializing like insects – you weren’t just house, but you were Progressive House, or whatever that specialty might be. Given that slots were only an hour long, that kind of made sense, I suppose. I’ve never really enjoyed that, although I learned to get better at constructing a tight set. But constructing that set kills any spontaneity, which I really believe is where the magic and connection happens. Sure, you can still connect with a crowd, but there’s something about working your way around, testing what makes people dance, what makes them holler – and then giving them more. It’s not something you do in an hour, and it takes a lot of work and attention. You can’t autopilot that, you shouldn’t phone it in. I won’t.

So, Worcester, I’m coming out to play, and we will dance. Until we’re a damned sweaty mess, we will dance. We’ll have fun. It’s something I’m going to do while the reigning DJ of Airspray is taking a month off, and I’m really grateful to the wonderful folks at Airspray for making it possible. I’m glad to be part of something creative and fun in Worcester – and even gladder that it’s such a short drive from home.

So this summer has flown by. Last night I had a wonderful party at my house with friends. The Cantab’s been wonderful fun as always, and I’m exposing people to new music every week.

In the next week I will finish a new mix – be sure to check back for your fix of warm grooves for a perfect summer afternoon with your sweetie.

Now get out there and enjoy your summer!