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.


So, after much hibernation, I’m starting a new DJ thing.  I call it “thing” because it’s a strange animal in a unique location – the T.E.S.L.A. space at 97D Webster Street in Worcester, MA (my hometown!).

This will be nice because many moons ago I did a weekly downtempo/leftfield gig at the old Java Hut location in Webster Square and met a lot of wonderful people who are still good friends.  There was a vibe about those old gigs that I haven’t had since, and I think this could be the place to get something like that going again.

This is still very fluid, but it’s going to happen on Wednesday nights, shooting for a start around 7:30pm or so (did I mention this is very new and still not all nailed down yet?).  Come on down to hang out and listen to some music that you might not have heard before and learn about what the people running this wonderful resource are up to – you might be amazed at what we’ve got right here in our own backyard.

Drop me a line if you want more info.

I’m still here.  I’m just working on stuff.  House stuff, mostly.  But I’ve also been working in the studio from time to time, and also arranging my computer environment (I’m becoming less platform-agnostic as I go along).  It’s tough, though, because you invest money in software that runs on a certain platform and it’s cheaper to upgrade than to try and change to a different OS, so it looks like my music will be Mac based for the forseeable future.  But I’m integrating the others, slowly.

The CD encoding is never-ending.  The record encoding is nowhere in my future.  Well, amend that – the only record encoding is on a sporadic basis.  It’s mostly a case of “I have this on vinyl and I want to listen to/use it on my digital devices so I will encode it.”  So it continues.

Today’s CD encoding observation – Ministry’s “With Sympathy” is like finding out your mother was a hooker before you were born.  You still love her, but you’re a little bit embarrassed – and you think yeah, she actually looked hot back then.   Also, Ministry is next to Mister Scruff in my CD collection – I think that’s a lovely statement about my musical taste.

How are things in your neck of the woods?  *kisses*

When I updated the gigs page today, I realized how much I’d slipped on the web page lately.

To be fair, my life has been pretty busy in the last six months or so, and especially in the last two.  I met a wonderful guy who has become a huge part of my life.  I adopted another dog (a rescued Westie) which brings the pack to four dogs (I think I’ve reached my limit, just because I want to make sure they all get good attention).  So I’m busy at home.

Musically, I upgraded my DJ software to Traktor Pro 2 (the upgrade price was ridiculously low) and now I’ve got four virtual decks which includes all kinds of options for those decks (looped samples, midi) that I haven’t even scratched the surface of yet.  With the new software I decided I had to have the Korg Zero 8 mixer to control all those decks (my old interface could only handle two decks).  Now there’s a lot less wires on my tables at the Cantab and so many options that weren’t available before.

Now, I’m trying to find the time to make some mixes before the National Poetry Slam comes to Cambridge in August.  I’m really excited about this, and hope to have new mixes for people when they get here.  I love my poetry friends and look forward to seeing them here this summer.

So that’s what’s up in my world.  Drop me a message and let me know what’s up in yours.  🙂  Have a great summer!

I realize now that my take on making a mix has totally changed over the years. It used to be I was so concerned with my mixing skills (which are better than ever) and making the mix just so, the transitions thought out and perfectly choreographed into a tight, 60-something minute audio CD. Painstakingly tracked out and given to friends, I envisioned it as a sweep that had to be taken all at once.

But over the years, I’ve realized how people actually listen to music isn’t always conducive to this school of thought. People will have songs they like (and don’t like) and will skip forward or loop back. It doesn’t always get listened to the way I imagined it.

So now, I get to the point where I’m making mixes of songs I enjoy for their own sake. I sometimes come across songs that I haven’t played in years and remember how much I loved it to distraction (over and over, on repeat) back in the day and feel that thrill all over again. I find obscure versions of songs that better suit my mood, and savor the idea that someone will be surprised and entertained by what they find. The mix becomes a vehicle of discovery and sharing music, and if some of the songs aren’t loved by someone who listens, I know that most of them will (hopefully all, of course). So with that in mind, I’ve made what is probably my own version of “Another Late Night” or “Back To Mine.” I decided to go with MP3 since I’m not wedded to transitions (although I did put a lot of thought into sequencing) and I can put well over 60 minutes of music on a single disc.

My main goal with this is to share music with people who are friends. I have an idea of who’s going to get a copy, and there’s a mix of people who will probably be familiar with every song and some who haven’t heard over half of what’s there. But my friends are cool, and like-minded musically (I’m old enough now to know they’re not necessarily the same thing) and I think they’ll enjoy most of what’s there. Hopefully every person who listens will get something new for them, and more songs they listen to than skip. If nothing else, there will be some new songs in your MP3 collection, some of which are really obscure or out of print. I’m not sure if they’ll be as cool as “Roadrunner” (from Fatboy Slim’s “Late Night Tales” compilation, which is excellent, and heavily used by me at the Cantab on a regular basis), but they might be. Maybe.

If you’ve already given me a message with your address, I’ll be sending a copy on to you. Some people will get other things in their package that I think they might like. In every case, there’s a lot of love in every package, and it’s all for you, baby.

DJ Muse

…and I’m having fun.  February means Valentine’s Day, and the Erotic Poetry Reading at the Cantab lounge.  That means the Slam Master and her DJ sidekick dress up in sexy clothes, interact with the poets more than usual and generally have an awesome time.  The erotic poetry was sometimes even erotic – but also hilarious (oh, Christopher Kain, you are a puma!) and awkward and just a great time all around.

I wanted to make a mix for the night, but with the snowmageddon that never happened, the crowd was definitely off (for the Boston Poetry Slam, that means there were chairs for everyone).  This mix is tentatively titled “Romance?” and I’ll have it to hand out next week at the reading.  Consider it my apology for leaving you for a week (I won’t be there February 24th) as I head off to ski in Colorado.

Stay tuned, and as always, thanks for listening!

The slam poetry community lost one of its own last week.  Gabrielle Bouliane was a flame-haired, loving, laughing friend to so many, and a damned fine poet.

I wanted to link to one of the last pieces she performed live, in Austin.  If it doesn’t make you think about what you’re doing with your life, you have no heart.

You will be missed, G. So much love is going out to you. Thank you for making my life better for having been even just a part of it.

So I decided to make a mix for my friends at the Cantab.  Some people have been asking me for a while now for some of the music that I play during the pre- and post-show sessions.  So when the Slam Master said she was making a mix, I thought she meant a CD, and had to jump and finally get that mix done that I’d been thinking about.  I wanted to bring something to the people who’d be there on the 23rd, and I was going to do a mix.

Of course, I had to do it in my usual, hurried manner, and I decided to make the mix on Wednesday afternoon.  From start to finish, the mixing process took less than two hours.  But since I’d done it so late in the day, I had to do the post-mix work and burn the CDs without having time to listen to a finished CD before I burned copies for everyone.  I’ve been using an add-on to Toast called CD Spin Doctor to break up the finished file into tracks, and obviously this time I fumbled something somewhere in the process.  So when I was driving to the Cantab, listening to what I’d done, I realized tracks 8 and 9 were switched around.  It was something in the Spin Doctor editing, because each track had the right name for where it was on the CD, but the audio there was the wrong track.  As I said on the open mic (and to everyone who got a copy), 8 is actually 9 and 9 is 8.  Unless you have CD-text, you won’t see those track names, though.

So, there’s a new mix for everyone.  I called it “A Few of My Favorite Things” and that’s what it is.  There are tracks that will be familiar to anyone who’s a regular at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge.  There are old tracks and new (thank you to Giant Step and SPECTRE for their continuing support, still bringing me sweet tunes after all these years), and the finished project is something I enjoy listening to – I think you will, too.

There’s a high quality version as well as a low-res version for those with slower internet connections (I know you’re still out there!).

Here’s the track listing, mostly because my obsessive nature is still smarting about those copies with the mixed up tracks.  Luckily, the tracks in question have vocals, and for that reason, you’ll easily tell where the mixup is if you have one of those CDs.  What I recommended for those who have it is to burn another copy with tracks 8 and 9 reversed, or to make a playlist in iTunes and switch them to get the correct track order.

A Few of My Favorite Things
A Holiday Mix for the Cantab Lounge Family

  1. Dark Days (Spoken For Mix) – DJ Shadow
  2. Burn Out – Cinematic Orchestra
  3. Passion – Nightmares on Wax
  4. Rabbit In Your Headlights – UNKLE
  5. Ultra Light (Sustenance Mix) – The Angel
  6. Brother Where Are You (Matthew Herbert Mix) – Oscar Brown, Jr.
  7. This Room (Best 7 Version) – Fat Freddy’s Drop
  8. All That Glitters – Death In Vegas
  9. Breakfast Club (feat Murs & Supernatural) – Z-Trip
  10. Stiff Jazz – dZihan & Kamien
  11. Foreign Bodies – Herbert
  12. Agua – DJ Food

Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Cantab in 2010!

DJ Muse

In my entire life, there has been a constant. For me, this constant is music.

No matter what good or bad things might befall me, I always have music. In the last week, things have changed for me in a substantial way, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. For the first time, though, this loss has left me feeling like in the end, I am coming out of it better off rather than worse. Usually this is the point where I’m broken up and hating myself, and I realize now that there’s no need for that. The fault lies elsewhere, and I need to accept that. I’m trying to hold on to the good things, to be who I was meant to be, and to know that there is good waiting for me out there somewhere. It just wasn’t where I was looking, that’s all.

The music related element – I’ve got a new mix in the making. I’ve finally started diving back into my records, recording them and thinking toward a new mix, and wanting to make it something happy and house-y and jazzy and perfect for someone who lost a job, or a love, or what feels like part of their life. No matter what it feels like you might have lost, you always have something to hold on to. For me, it’s music, and I’m holding on to it for all I’m worth.

Stay tuned for the results.

…and it was good.

I’ve got the sets from the Floating World AfterCare gigs up on my mixes page. I’ve got the more uptempo, fun water volleyball set from Friday night here and the more downtempo, laid-back Saturday night set here.

Enjoy…I know I did, and so did everyone else in the pool and nearby those nights. It was an amazing time and I can’t thank Skully from the NYC Fetish Tribe enough for the opportunity. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

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