Also, proudly presenting a 20+ song exclusive soundtrack by Wes Smith & Friends including art-work designed by Sumofish. These funk fueled beats, bass and vocals are the perfect racing companion. Taking your racing experience up a notch, this soundtrack will keep you on the tip of your wheels and in the TTR World Tour zone.
And now...wrapping up the IWSY Remixed Volume 2 interview series...some of the baddest and funniest bass makers on the planet...from the land down under, the one, the only Beatslappaz;) Interview by Kelly Ross/Agent 137
Tell us ... who are you?
A: We’re the Beatslappaz, a duo that’s been writing music and playing shows together for the last 10 years.
A: We first got together after being brought onto a radio show as guests that ran from Midnight till 6am on a Sunday morning. We had similar tastes and goals and decided to form up into the duo we are now.
We had our first release on vinyl way back in 2007, then went quiet for a bit until we reformed a few years back to start producing again - and here we are! Tell us which remix you did for the IWSY remix album:
A: Wes Smith - Hands Up!
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What made you choose this particular song?
A: We generally only remix songs where the song title tells you what activity you should be doing while you’re listening to it. What is your Wes Smith connection?
A: When you see a man with mutton chops that you respect, you don’t just throw him a life-jacket. You swim one out to him. I hit him up over Facebook to let him know that I loved his work and we bonded over fish tacos. While we haven’t met yet, I can tell the guy is one of the nicest guys in the business and lord knows he works hard for it.
A: Our homies at Punks Music have us locked in for a few projects. “The Drop” is our next original that’s going to hit shelves soon, along with a remix for Wuki and the Stanton Warriors. Big things! We really want to head back to the states and play a few shows there, so look for that later this year as well.
Any last thoughts?
A: I would like to ask you a question - Would you rather have hiccups for the rest of your life, or would you rather permanently feel like you’re going to sneeze but never do?
Next up in the Agent 137 interview series for It's Wes Smith Yo - The Album Remixed Volume 2... Interview by Kelly Ross.
Tell us - who are you?
I am Diego , from the South of Spain , but I have lived in Ibiza since 2014.
Please give me a brief background on your dj/production experience:
I have been mixing since 2000 and producing since 2008. I have played alongside artists like the Stanton Warriors, Deekline, Lady Waks etc.
Tell us which remix you did for the IWSY remix album:
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What made you choose this particular song?
Because I liked the funky touch with that sax. Its a fun song that makes you dance.
What is your Wes Smith connection?
Wes and I met via Facebook . Wes liked my remix productions and he suggested me do a remix of one of the songs from his album "Its Wes Smith , The Album Vol 1". We connected quickly and we have a very cordial relationship.
What’s next on next for you after this? Do you have any upcoming projects/remixes you would like to mention?
I'm working on 2 new songs for the label Selecta Breaks (Spain) and have recently recorded a guestmix for Anonyms radioshow , Record breaks (Russia ).Thank you for this opportunity. The treatment I have received has been great, I'm impressed by the professionalism of Wes's whole team. I hope work again with Wes on new tracks!
Yo yo friends...the Remix Album interviews keep rolling...next up, one of my most random connections and a good pal to roam the country with...DJ, Producer, Turntablist; DJ Skip, from India. Interview by Kelly Ross/Agent 137.
You are in India, how in the world do you know Wes Smith?
Wes is a common friend of another friend of mine. He was in India in 2011 for the Red Bull 3 Style as a judge and he came across as a really cool guy. I met him again this year.
Tell us what the Red Bull 3 Style is:
The Red Bull 3 Style is a competition that takes 15 min of time where you choose three music styles that rock the party. You are judges on body language, music selection and skills. It’s a body rocking competition built for the party scene. Wes was the judge - and I came in second and in 2012 I won the National Championship and represented my country in the world championship in Chicago. It was my first foreign trip ever.
Wow - the pressure! How do you prepare for this type that type of show?
I would watch post sets online so I knew what is happening around the world. I assessed the competition and paid attention. I also knew my weakness and my strengths. Doing edits and mashups on the fly in a way to beat the competition was key. I opened the whole competition out of the 7 day competition so it was interesting to see how the week played out.
What are some of your titles:
2013 IDA #3 in the world 2014 IDA and DMC National Champion
That’s amazing. how did you start out to get to this level?
I have been a DJ for 12 years now. I was in small club that happened to have a pair of dusty turntables they were willing to let me use, so I bought needles for them. I didn’t even have slipmats for three years, I would use a thin t-shirt and cut a hole in it. I got some old Bollywood music which usually have dialogues before the track starts, so used one of those as my scratch sample for years. Everything was self taught after the basics were taught by a friend, videos, etc. I also joined QSU (Qbert Scratch University) but was unable to attend for too long due to gigs and shows I was being booked.
Do you have any advice to the new Dj or someone starting out?
Sure, when you are first starting out I recommend you join a school and learn from the pros. After joining QSU, I found things I was definitely doing wrong. Very small things like finger placement etc. can be done in a hundred diff ways. It’s very physical our bodies are different, sounds are very different and everyone has their own style. it will give you a proper edge to know if you are doing something wrong because it’s all muscle memory at the end of the day. This is one of the reasons why I thought opening a school would be a good idea.
I watched the DMC National video from this year and I thought that you were the clear winner. However, they announced the winner and the reason was his set was all analogue. You started out on turntables, what do you think about the analogue vs digital debate?
I switched to Traktor back in 2002/2003 and now I am endorsed by Native Instruments as a product specialist - things are going really well. In my sets I can do stuff I couldn’t do on techs. I use Maschine and do a lot of finger drumming and the game is changing to a whole other level. Do what works for you.
What’s next for DJ Skip?
Life is a journey to become better at what you do and Chicago was the turning point of the turntablist side of me. I’m practicing every day and have some new things up my sleeve that I have been working on for my live act. The remix I did for Wes (Turntable Sax) is coming out soon and I am really excited about it. I completely twisted and created a fully different version with scratching elements.
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Happy Thursday...next up in the interview series...repeat Juice Remixer, B-Phreak from Germany. Interview by Kelly Ross/Agent 137.
Tell us - who are you?
Please give me a brief background on your dj/production experience:
Tell us which remix you did for the IWSY remix album:
What made you choose this particular song?
What is your Wes Smith connection? Do you have any weird/funny stories when you met him? Anything else to say?
What’s next on next for you after this? Do you have any upcoming projects/remixes you would like to mention?
A new EP on Juice Recordings is planned in near future. I’ve already released a 4 track EP (Take Me High) on Martin Flex’s "Let’s Go!" label“. I also have a project with my homie Philly Blunt running and our next release will be on Rump Shaker Records in March called "Get Ya Head“ with upcoming remixes from Bradley Drop and Beatslappaz. Phil and I have planed to release some more tunes later this year as well.
Hello friends...off to a great start, first up in the interview series, my good pals Mutantbreakz from Spain. Interview by Kelly Ross/Agent 137.
Tell us - who are you?
We are Ruben & Angel aka MutantBreakz - both DJs & Producers from the South of Spain.
Please give me a brief background on your dj/production experience:
It's the most beautiful experience to be able to play with your own creations in different parts of the world and meet good friends at the same time.
Tell us which remix you did for the IWSY remix album:
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What made you choose this particular song?
We thought the song had the same ingredients as our style. In this remix we tried to recreate it with some funky breaks that sounded fresh and fun for the dance floor. We are always trying to do something different.
What is your Wes Smith connection?
Our first connection Wes was on the internet and we worked on his previous remix album. After our US tour I (Angel) had the pleasure of meeting him in person, he is a fun and friendly with a touch of madness. A story to tell as to say that the first night I met him in Miami he took us to a karaoke but did not have the pleasure of seeing him sing.
What's next for MutantBreakz?
We dedicated our time to our tour in Florida and now we are back in Spain. We have already begun to finish new projects for our label and also another big label. We think it's best not to reveal anything at the moment, it isn't it better to get surprises?
Is there anything you would like to talk about that has not already been mentioned?
We loved to see Wes on the Red Bull tour and those Wes Smith sideburns!!!
What an amazing year. The best thing I can say about 2015 is thank YOU for making my life awesome. And now I have a story to tell.
It's late 2014, I'm back stage with The Crystal Method. They've just blown up Avalon Nightclub to a massive Los Angeles crowd including Storm Troopers to celebrate the occasion. I had met them earlier in the year and become a bit of a study. I was lucky enough to open for them that night.
The day before this I had driven back from Burning Man. Earlier that day I made the trip from San Diego with my good pals Brian Millar of Omega Squad and Adia Break. 6 hours later I had played one of my best sets ever and witnessed first hand how legends rock a party and drop mind altering bass. Then I found myself back stage about to sink a shot of tequila with Ken Jordan, Scott Kirkland and friends. Gulp.
People who drink Tequila generally have lots of advice, sometimes even good advice. I got some great advice from The Crystal Method that night.
This inspired me to get busy planning 2015. My notes said things like "release album", "go on tour", "stay focused", "get paid", "meet fans", "support others", "collaborate", "be humble", "mutual respect", "create first, talk later" and so on...
So the year began and flew by...on top of a mind blowing album tour [mad props to all the promoters and believers listed here] and releases on so many great labels like Diablo Loco, Tech D, Pooty Club and more....check out the top ten things I can remember that made the bass drop for me! Thanks to all of YOU, mentioned or not, for making this all possible. If I missed anyone, kick me in this shins on the 2016 tour;)
Ten...Beatport Positions. Calendar year #2 breaks artist [link] and label [link], multiple #1's in multiple genres, multiple top slots on the global chart, top releases on the top 5 breaks labels and 8 tracks in the annual top 100 [link]. It's all sales, and all fans that make that happen. Big ups to everyone that supports music and the people that make it. It takes money to make quality, original music and without your support there will be no music and that would be bad:)
Nine...Juice Recordings Team. My man Pauly Fixx laid down some of the best remixes of his career and continues to support and inspire me along with other label mates including Omega Squad, DubAxFace, B-Phreak, Breaking News, F-Word and more. Kelly Ross was the boss on more interviews, articles and road trips than I can count. Jen Holmes took the release management and promo next level. EmDubz, Sumo Fish and Juan Carlos on the marketing genius duties. Robert, Brad and the Jamvana crew working miracles on the distribution tip. And to wrap it all up a HUGE Remix album with stellar performances from Colombo, Phatkidz, Omega Squad, and more...Massive shout outs.
Eight...San Diego Family Support. Contrary to many people's belief, I am based in San Diego, California where things have been heating up for a long time time before I arrived not to mention one of the top spots in the country to visit, party and chill. Our local/regional scene has given myself and Omega Squad massive support as we have each other. Big ups to all the Wigglers, Brians and the one and only Skandar, yes that's his real name.
Seven...Dub Pistols Support. Capping an already insane year of remixes, the Killa Sound shot, resulted in one of my best remixes to date. Big ups Barry Ashworth and the Sunday Best crew. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.
Six...Burning Man and Desert Things. Support from Camp Charlie went from 10 to 100. Thanks to Danielle, Mindy, Sarah, Travis & all the Unis. They had a massive breaks night @ the burn [Catch the full video of my set here]; Slut Garden let the bass kick, big ups Dot Diggler and team; Dusty Rhino got dirty on the stormiest night ever, props to NUGZ for driving slow; and Dusty Poon Saloon, ya had to be there;) big ups Wheelers. Last but certainly not least, Space Cowboys off playa support was massive. So many to mention but Jen "ShOOey" Shu, Keith Deckard and Zach Moore have shined through. And we smashed Public Works in San Francisco...boom.
Five...Miami Music Week 2015. Not only did I make it there but playing prime slots at FSOB, Gimme A Break, and a fun Thump interview with The Crystal Method...bam. Respect to Glyn Morgan and Geo Lopez.
Four...My First UK Trip. I finally made it to Breakspoll, met James "Mixmag" Glenton and the Headset Heroes among so many awesome people. Thank you Jimmy Brayks and friends. When in Rome....or Liverpool...meet up with Playrise Digital. They make cool games for you to play. I met them in Liverpool and can't wait for the Tabletop Racing World Tour project to drop on PS4. Big shout to Nick Burcombe & team. Sup Sehyun;)
Three...Lady Waks & IBWT Support. Waks gave me a slot on her podcast to promote the album, featured me numerous times in her sets, licensed multiple tracks for her Hot Cakes project with Deekline, Martin Flex & friends...then to top it all brought me to Russia to play IBWT @ Kosmonaut. Her IBWT crew put my head on a bus, like a public bus driving around St. Petersburg;) This opened my eyes to a new level of work ethic and unity among crews. Massive shout to the hardest working lady, no scratch that person, in bass.
Two...Stanton Warriors support. I got the call from Dom & Mark early in the year and they gave me a shot on Punks Music. My Cali Cuts EP went to number 1 on Beatport. I also played King King LA with them and was featured on some mixes and their social empire;). Big shout to the boys and Olly G for keeping it smooth. Ding ding ding.
One...The Crystal Method Support. These guys are among a unique group of professionals at the top of the EDM game. Their positive, welcoming, no bullshit attitude is apparent at first and grows on the keen observer as time goes on. Aside from general advice, inclusion @ Avalon and massive support for Bring Back That Funk, I was given an hour takeover slot to premiere the album on their wildly popular #CommunityService show.
I was then featured on the show 10+ more times throughout the year and also included in their top ten tracks of 2015 along with label mates Omega Squad. As if that wasn't insane enough, they gave me the opportunity to remix Difference, Grace and Over It. But wait, their's more...I got to work with vocals from Dia Frampton, Franky Perez and LeAnn Rimes. Oh, and a Billboard Magazine premiere and Thump interview...and for all that, it's clear why they are #1.
What else can I say, but thank YOU!
Barreling down the line with funtastic interviews, next up is Chris Bad Habit, of Bad Habit Muzik. I met him through various music discussions online and a phone call or two sold me on his positive, nice guy status. Kelly Ross | Agent 137 managed to wrangle him across time zones and his globetrotting life for this super informative story from across the pond;) What is Bad Habit Music about?
Bad Habit Muzik was started in 2000 as a party for all my DJ friends and went on to becoming a successful night in London and the North West of the UK. I had been in music and producing, DJing and working alongside top artists for many years and then I semi retired in the South of France for 10 years. I returned to music by way of a themed VIP chateau party weekender with all my oldskool DJ friends and the Ministry of Sound with my French Events company "Nouveaux Vintage Events". Having put on another successful party we launched the label to work hand in hand with artists, djs and producers to form the brand we have today that covers all genres of music.
Along with production, remixes and mastering in our studios we are working with artists to bring a new flavor to 140 breaks, deep house, garage, breakbeat, electro, dubstep, dnb and hip hop. We are really pushing the future jungle scene and although it hasn’t taken off as quickly as I had hoped, we want it done well and we are willing to be both persistent and realistic to get the movement up and running. I’m all about supporting the smaller artist because I am in it for the future. We believe in what we do here I have a great team helping Bad Habit Muzik be internationally known. In the UK we have - Lee, Rob, Alex, Rich, Ross, Kris and Tariq and in USA- Curious, Tasha and Sharham take care of business. We work as a team as well as being players in our own field so together we bring a unique sound to the table with many years of experience collectively.. I manage the promotion , remixes, socuial media marketing, pr, artists schedules for shows and do all of the event organization. I am really concentrating on pushing all of their talent combined in many genres as i believe with our collective experience is really putting this label on the map in the UK, USA ,France and now I am expanding more into the Spain. we have become the most successful multi genres label the past 3 years with over 44 #1 Hits on Trackitdown Charts as well as 13 DJ Mag reviews this year. Muzik is in our Blood!
How are you doing that so far from the US?
People are most familiar with us in the UK because we have been on TrackItdown for 3 years now with a lot of success. But in the U.S. our popularity started because of contact with George aka DJ Curious one of the original dj's/ L.A rave organizers. His love for the UK sound - especially the 140 Future Jungle Breaks linked us together and ever since then, Curious has been representing Bad Habit Muzik. We created our first west coast tour in 2013 - taking in Las Vegas, San Diego and L.A showcasing this unique sound.. it’s really all about networking. I feel Americans are team players and are really in it for the good of the music so it’s somewhat easier to network and gain/give opportunities. I am a real believer in pushing new talent and am all about the “break”. Having good people around you makes you push forward and a lot of people support our sound. I have to see things from all sides to be fair to everyone around me. Even if it’s not what they want to hear, but I always try to give good advice to help push talent further.honesty being the best policy..its a tuff game the music industry..30 years has taught me that!
Speaking of networking in the U.S., that is how I met Wes. The “It’s Wes Smith Yo!" tour has been legendary for the last 8 months or so and it really reminded me of how we used to do this back in the day - the tour has really put him on the map. As a company, Juice is so well established and while we really noticed the tour, it wasn’t just on Facebook but also by word of mouth. I pay attention when persistency and determination come through. Promotion is promotion and what Wes is doing on the promotion side, he is doing very well. The Playstation deal he struck for the game soundtrack is going to be incredible, it’s a tremendously successful brand and they have a great marketing team. Royalty wise this is going to accelerate him even further into the next tier. He has earned the respect with his talent as well and deserves the amount he is charging for his DJ gigs. I like to work with like-minded people because I only work with who I consider, good people. He has our full support because all we see from Wes is positive and that is very appreciated in this day and in this industry.
Tell me about the remix:
It’s a Strange Rollers & Bad Habit collaboration. We worked in the studio in London on Wes’s “Hands Up” which had about 4 different sounds. We added 20 more sounds that we thought worked and reworked it many times to get it right. It’s a funky, but also has a heavy old skool anthem feel to it. We are very excited to be a part of the collaboration and to put our spin on this tune.
While we are waiting for this to come out, I want to congratulate you and The Strange Rollers on the remix of Otter's original "Funk It Up" now both #1/#2 on TrackItDown. It's a banger and I know you had said you thought Otter was really going places, so congrats to you all! I look forward to the "Hands Up" release and meeting you in the future.
Hello friends, it's time for the "phattest" interview ever...featuring the always awesome Phat Kidz. I met them a couple years back at Miami Music Week. I've enjoyed listening to their DJ Mixes and worked many of their jams into my live sets over the years including my most recent MTG mix. We were booked by Rob Analyze for a festival this year which got us talking about the remix project. Incredibly excited to have them on board;) Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
How did you two meet?
Nikki: We met at a house party, I had gone with a friend and saw a crate of vinyl sitting there and I kept asking whose it was ... finally JT says it was his but he didn’t play much anymore. I told him that he would be starting again if I could help it.
JT: She peer pressured me into it.
N: We basically started hanging out after that and Josh started playing again.
JT: Eventually we played a couple local shows together and when Nikki moved to Ocala we started Ableton production with two other people as Shoot2Ill.
How did you begin writing as a duo?
N: We first did a track together titled "You Can't Hide" released under Tommy Who Records, then 3 years ago did a Remix competition for Deekline...after that we decided to start our duo as Phat Kidz. Since we became a duo, we have played every show together except two ... JT has not been to WMC yet due to family obligations, we hope to get him there soon.
What advice to you give to aspiring dj’s and producers?
JT: HAVE FUN! Djing, producing, etc are not about the fame or money, if you are not having fun doing it, you are doing it wrong. Push the envelope and have fun with it.
N: Never give up, if you produce something and you do not like it, there is an audience for it that may love it. Don’t be too hard on yourself and create your own sound instead of trying to sound like particular artists.
What producers are out there right now that you are really digging?
N- Wuki - he just has a different style of breaks and is really changing the sound.
JT- I am digging anyone that pushes the envelope. Wuki is redesigning the sound by not sticking to a certain style from funky riffs to a baseline that blows the speakers. DJ Hero as well. John sends us a lot of stuff and he is on point - so clear and clean.
Both- Also, Jauz, The Beatslappaz, Chris Lorenzo, Cause & Affect and Icey (of course)!
What made you decide to start a podcast?
N: I saw link through Podomatic that linked to iTunes so we thought of venturing out and have other people do guest mixes. We wanted to work with people from the US, Spain, and the UK (etc).
JT: It was a mix between helping us cross promote our name with all the talent out there and provide a platform for some of the artists that aren't as well recognized but with great talent. It's a tight knit community and we want to help the artists within it.
What are the upsides and the challenges of being part of a team?
JT: The energy we feed off each other is outstanding. Some days I will be in sitting in the studio and here comes Nikki all bubbly, it's infectious... We create off positive vibes!
N: If you get to know JT - JT is me in a mans body and I am JT in a woman's body. We are very much alike, he is one of my best friends and we always said we would never let the music separate our friendship. The challenge is that I moved away 4 hours away so we do a lot of sending back and forth. We do try to get our bookings together, JT has a busy job and a commitment to his family . He is a dedicated family man and puts family first . We don’t play for bar tabs and do free work anymore. We do it for the love of the music, however, we have put in our time and can tell who is dedicated to it as well.
What’s the Wes Smith connection?
N: I met Wes in Miami the year before and he had mentioned doing a remix for him. I saw him this past year and listened to the album after. We want to thank him for the opportunity, this is pretty huge for us and we are very excited for the release.
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Thank you for your time, Nikki and JT, I look forward to the release and everything Phat Kidz has to offer. I am a personal fan and wish you all the best!
Next up on the road to the remix album release...the one and only Rob-E based out of Orlando, Florida. While a few minutes of rave culture have passed for both of us, we most recently linked up this year at the Revelation party in Tampa. Bass heads throughout Florida and beyond need no introduction, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
What is the Wes Smith connection?
Wes and I have known each other since the 1990’s, the original Juice days. I met him at Simons back in the day, He and I lost contact for a while, he popped back up a few years ago and has been totally been putting in work. Everywhere you look you see Wes Smith!
Which tune did you remix off the album and why did you pick it?
I picked “Do You Want To Get Funky” I got to choose which one and it was the vocals that really caught me, full of soul!
What were your challenges with the remix and what were the good points?
It’s an old C&C Music Factory track and her vocals are absolutely amazing so that excited me to use them. I got the vocals dry at 118 bpm and there was a snap that was throwing me off and I had to write around it. It took some creativity to get around but it flowed fast after the snap and we were able to finish the remix in 6 hours.
I’ve known the Rob-E Name now for a long time. Tell me what has changed since the “back in the day” times for you?
Everything in life changes, it evolves, especially music. But back then it was a lot more exclusive to be a DJ. I would walk into Vinyl Frontier and I would have test pressings and dub plates from Icey, amongst other breaks artists. I had a flightcase full of white labels and dub plates, super exclusive. But now it’s a totally different game. With Mp3’s as our main format of music, it’s not so exclusive anymore. It’s real easy to share media these days, so the days of being super exclusive are far-gone.
I try to keep it true to the old school, if someone gives me music and asks me not to share – I don’t. I try to keep my shows exclusive now a day as well. There’s only a hand full of promoters that I will play for - I’m also a full time father of 2 [daughter 11 and son 10] Music was my first love, but now that I'm a father, my children get my full attention first and foremost.
Who is your biggest influence?
My Influences come from many different genres of electronic music. I get a lot of influence form my partner in crime Carl(DJ Security) - My mentors are Andy Hughes, D-Xtreme and DJ Orlando (All the Old skoolers in O-Town will know this name!) Kimball Collins also had a big part in molding my sound, but when it comes to break beat, thank heaven for Icey, I have known him since the Edge days. He has kept the breaks scene alive and moving for a long time, if it wasn’t for that guy it may have died. The breaks scene has been up and down like a roller coaster, but he has been there in the valleys and he is the one that has kept it going. Hands down he is the pioneer of the U.S. break beat scene.
Where would you like to see the future of breaks go?
Right now I am teaching my daughter how to DJ. She is really into it and digs the music. It’s cool to see some of the newer generation that is into break beat, and where they will be taking it. Pauly [Fixx], Keith [MacKenzie], Wes [Smith] are the ones really putting in work right now, I’m proud of Pauly - he is a machine and living the dream. The breaks guys (and gals) in Europe are taking break beat to a whole other level now. It reminds me of the USA back in the 90’s’ Also, Sharaz is producing some new stuff that is totally different, it’s retro but nothing like you have heard it’s a super fresh sound.
Thank you for your insight, Rob-E. We look forward to your remix on December 14th. Bless.
Next up in the interview series is DJ Hero. I've always enjoyed the variety in his sounds and was pumped to have him jump in on the remix project. While we have not met in person, we've connected through mutual friends over at XeroTribe and chat in bits and pieces over the last year. I've found his perspective on music refreshing and worldly insights fun to follow.
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
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Where does the name “DJ Hero” come from?
When I was young, I used to draw comic books. One day, when I was 19, I was sitting at my house with my roommate, doodling. I had just recently started DJ’ing. I wouldn’t even consider myself a DJ that point. I sat there, at the table drawing, while my roommate sat across from me reading. I had set my drawing pad down, and gotten up to go refill our coffee cups. When I returned to the table, my roommate had drawn the Superman “S” on the chest of the little DJ character I had been drawing. Before I could say anything, he said “that’s you, you’re DJ Hero”. I erased the “S” from the shield, and added a DJ. It just sort of stuck. To me a hero is someone that sets an example and is an inspiration for people. If I was the normal guy, then DJ Hero would be my muse to be more than I was; to be a better person. I hope that over time, as DJ Hero, I’ve inspired other people to be and do more with their own lives through my music and hopefully the example I’ve tried to set.
Your label is named Solitude Studios - what’s in a name?
I have been a bit of a loner all my life, and not a fan of big crowds or busy places. My studio is my place to get away from the rigors of the outside world, or packed clubs, venues, and festivals. I tend to think more clearly, and more creatively when I sit in peace. When I finally built my studio it seemed only fitting to call it “Solitude Studios”. Later, a friend of mine pointed out that Superman’s home is called the “Fortress of Solitude”, making me that much more of a nerd.
I listened to a few Solitude Studio podcasts today. Tell me how that started.
Several years ago, the podcast started as a radio show on United Breaks FM. From there, it moved to Party 95 out of Orlando. After several years on Party 95, and shortly after I started Solitude Studios, the record label, I changed the radio show to a Podcast I aired myself, once a month. Originally, the weekly radio show spotlighted the most popular breaks of the time. I tried to make the show put breaks in a good light. As my tastes evolved, I started adding other sounds and styles. Today the podcast is my way of showcasing the latest Solitude Studios release. The podcast’s sound each month, directly reflects the style of the release. As my own sound grows and expands, so will the podcast’s.
Talk to me about Denver. How you arrived, why you stay, what the music landscape is like etc.
In 2007, I was touring with Huda Hudia. The last stop on the tour was Denver, Colorado. I loved it. I loved the climate, the view, the city, and instantly clicked with the group of people we had met at that gig. At the time I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, and had been in the south for upwards of 12 years. I hated it. I was tired of the dirty south. A little over a month later, I had moved to Denver. I thought I wanted to move back to Florida in 2014. After getting there, it took me about 7 months before I was back in Denver, I missed it so much. This is my home now.
Denver is the birth place of Beatport, so the music scene has always been pretty hot. We’ve also got some pretty famous clubs, from Vinyl that over the past 20 years has hosted just about every one of the biggest DJ’s, to The Church, which is a gorgeous converted Catholic church, to Beta, which is now one of the country’s super clubs. We’ve also got some pretty successful promoters that have had their hands in some massive events.
There really isn’t much to complain about out here from a musical stand point.
When you sit down and listen for tunes to play or remix, what do you look for?
I look for originality and production quality. I look for tracks that are unique. As the use of premade and purchased sample packs increases, I’ve decided I would rather steer clear of them. I applaud the companies that have created successful businesses around selling the packs. And, I feel there is a place for good sampling, that’s what so much of my generation’s music is founded on, from hip hop, to pop music, to dance music. But I feel relying on sample packs and construction kits is lazy, and ultimately decreases sound quality. You can’t alter the effects already on the samples, so producers are limited in how much they can manipulate their sounds to specifically fit with the sounds they produce themselves. When I look for tracks for my own virtual record bag, I look for tracks that don’t sound they’ve come from those packs. When I look for tunes to remix, I try to choose tunes that I can’t use my own original production to make the remix sound top notch and unique.
Aside from that, when I’m looking for new music, I try to avoid blatant drug references and sexists or abusive lyrics. I don’t do drugs, I don’t party like that. It’s just not my thing. And, the bad lyrics and vocals are just annoying. I don’t really want to hear some MC demoralizing woman. Again, that goes back to the “DJ Hero” name sake. I just don’t think either is a good look, and doesn’t set a good example.
What’s the Hero/Wes Smith connection?
A while back I was listening to a mixed set online while hiking with my dog. In the mix was a pretty cool track that I couldn’t ID. I reached out to the DJ that posted the mix, and he said it was Wes Smith’s remix of his track. I heard a new/different remix in my head, so I asked if I could have a go at a remix. The DJ agreed, and sent me the remix pack. After going through the remix pack, I noticed it was missing one of the pieces I really liked about Wes’s remix. At that point I reached out to Wes for the part I wanted. Once Wes sent it to me, I completed the remix and sent it to the original producer of the tune, and to Wes (because he had given me a pieces from his remix of it). Wes seemed to enjoy the remix quite a bit, and, later, asked if I would remix one of the tunes on his album “It’s Wes Smith Yo!” The rest is history.
What’s some advice you would like to pass on?
If I could say just one thing to every would-be producer looking to make music, I would say “be you”. Make the music you want to make. Don’t try to make something that sounds like the other guy. Don’t make music to be cool or successful, do it to express yourself. But, I never want to say just one thing, so let me add this; Take your time, make mistakes. Suck for a while, because you’re supposed to. Learn your craft. Prevent yourself from taking short cuts. Learn humility, because not everyone is going to like you, people are going to lie to you, blow smoke up your ass, hate on you, etc. And, that is OK….be you.
Beyond that, don’t send a label an unfinished track. That’s the fastest way to be skipped over when the label goes to listen to the demos in their in box. Label your work properly; Artist Name – Track Title (Mix Title). If the label doesn’t know who and what they are listening to, they won’t follow up and try to find you. Instead they’ll find another track. Take some pride in your work.
After Turntable Sax, what’s next for DJ Hero?
I’m going to keep making new music. After really contemplating who “DJ Hero” is over the past two years or so, I’ve come to the decision that I love far too many sounds, and too many genres to limit myself to just ‘breaks’. That said, I’m going to make whatever inspires me, be it breaks, house, trap, or anything else for that matter. The goal is to create music that can span the genres in one mixed set.
Hey hey friends, today I'm kicking off the interview series for my forthcoming remix album. First up is DJ Smooth out of Orlando. I met up with Mike about 6 months back b/w of the Funky Flavor crew who brought me out in the summer. He recently reworked "Hands Up" and then had a nice chat with our head field agent about all things BASS... Peep the interview below... Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Tell me about your start: I started the Scratch Academy in Miami about 4 years ago where I learned the basics on vinyl, etc for 6 months and then I moved to Orlando.
How did you come to do a remix for this album? I met Scotty Frazier [Funky Flavor Breakbeat Culture] and I showed Scotty a few projects so Scotty introduced me to Wes Smith and he hit me up to do a remix.
What’s the DJ Smooth spin on the remix? My style brings in electro and trap elements with a breaks flavor.
What else are you working on right now? Goldillox [Danielle Wells] and I have a new project called HYPER MONK3Y and we have about 20 tracks together already. We are looking to drop that closer to the Winter Music Conference in Miami, it’s really high energy and a lot of fun. Also, I have another collab with a friend in Tampa we just did a show together for Halloween as HardCastle & McCormick. We work really well together and have a darker trap style.
Thank you, Mike! Good luck on your new projects, the release and see you in Miami in March.
Related links: [Get Notified on the Release] [Support the Original] [Website : Wes Smith] [Facebook : DJ Smooth] [Facebook : HardkastleNMcormick] [Facebook : HyperMonkey] [Soundcloud : DJ Smooth] [Soundcloud : HardKastle&McCormick]
Aloha friends...A few days ago I made a post about Heart Break feat. Goldillox, my latest remix project to hit the streets. Here's the much anticipated full interview with Tech D label boss, Trenton Thompson. Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
I sat down with Trenton Thompson Owner/Operator/Producer/DJ at Tech D Records aka Aeon Flex to discuss their new release Heart Break EP Feat. Goldillox by Aeon Flex & Shade K, what it means to be a label owner and more.
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Why did you decide to start a label?
I started with a marketing degree, I knew I wanted to be in business but at the time I didn't go into it fro music related purposes but it seemed like a degree that would make sense. The hands on experience really helped me start the label. Also being a DJ the better part of 20 years, I realized the market was being flooded by producers. I was submitting tracks but had become sick of the bureaucracy waiting for release dates just to hope that it may get good exposure. At that point I decided to start my own label to speed up the release process myself. I started slow with 3 artists and went on a mass marketing spree, I ordered hundreds of giveaways and just gave them away. We will be 2 years old come January and we now we have 125 people on the label.
Tell us in layman’s terms what it means to be on a label. What do you do for the artists on Tech D?
It depends on the artist level, we do everything from signing aspiring artists to get a portfolio started, to catapulting established artists on world tours. Some like Noel Sanger and Shade K manage themselves but usually we manage the up and coming with artist development to prevent what I call a “failure to launch”. Developing them in ways they do not know how to do or access.
Do you have any advice for aspiring producers and djs? If we reject someone’s tune we try to do it with finesse and send out tutorials because some people take it as the end of the world. My advice is don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back, everyone is busy it may take time. You may have spent all this time on one track but ready to come back with 3-4 more tracks if the first one hits and don’t stop promoting yourself. Build up a portfolio and doing that comes with experience and confidence, just don’t expect a lot of royalties when you are building your résumé.
Let’s talk about the release how did you choose Goldillox for the vocals?
I had already been working with Shade K and Royal Blood but when I first got to Florida I saw Goldillox perform at the Old Firestone. Her stage presence was absolutely jaw dropping and I knew I wanted to work with her immediately. Once we started working with her I realized she didn't need much development at all and the rest is history.
How did you choose Wes for the remix?
I have been playing Wes’s tracks since I started playing breakbeat and I kept seeing more and more Juice shirts around. I thought it would be a great political musical move to bring him in and do a track with him. There is a reason why he is winning awards, he is versatile and has been building a tremendous status along with people of great stature giving him global support. Even so, he has great humility and doesn't have a cocky bone in his body. We even met his mom - most people need to realize we are all just people. Usually the ego is all on the DJ side but if this music machine went bankrupt tomorrow it would simply just bring everyone together - again we are all just people here.
What’s your motto? FAMILY VALUES, we are all one, it’s NOT A competition.
I want to mention that we talked about supporters and family during the interview. Trenton and I both would like to give out a special shout to Adam Butterfield (_040_) and Angel Dejournett-O'Dell:
Angel & Adam - they know to put on the game face and Tech D is indebted to them, they have definitely helped me grow and mature. All people have a role in this and they are true conduits and are just as important in that role to make connections.
You can find the Heart Break EP Feat. Goldillox (Wes Smith Remix) by Aeon Flex & Shade K here: [Buy it here: Beatport]
How cool is this? ...along with the super awesome release of my remix of Killa Sound for the Dub Pistols, we also snagged this phat premiere with Australia's Big Bass Party. They have interviewed all kinds of awesome bass music producers but for this one we flip the script and interview them. Kelly Ross | Agent 137 takes on the mission to wrangle them from the outback and find out what they are all about! Interview with Sang Pham [Sangers] by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Tell us about Big Bass Party:
Big Bass Party is a radio show on Radio Metro 105.7FM on the Gold Coast in Australia. It reaches Brisbane as well as the two cities are very close. The show airs weekly and is recorded and podcasted on iTunes. We have over 2000 subscribers to the podcast and it’s downloaded in something like 80 countries around the world, but most popular in Australia, USA, Russia and Germany. We play every kind of Bass music and focus on brand new music. We never repeat a song, unless it’s a special episode like a finale, and sometimes feature interviews with Bass artists or premiere their new music.
How did it all start?:
We’ve had had the opportunity to run a radio show on Radio Metro for a while and we had always passed it up as we felt we were too busy with our production and shows. After I guest hosted a radio show in Perth one weekend, I realized how fun and easy it could be; there were lots of benefits, so Ra and I decided to give it a go. When the two of us started the show, there was dance music on mainstream radio (in Australia) but not as much as there is now. These days, dance music dominates the airwaves here. Australia is very isolated so our music scene has its own trends; we take leads from the UK and the states but often a genre can be more popular here. I didn’t feel Bass music was getting enough exposure on the air here and saw that as an opportunity for Big Bass Party to fill that gap.
What music works on the show?:
Genre-wise, all kinds of Bass music, from Trap to Breaks, Hip Hop to Drum and Bass – everything. As DJs, we tend to collect music that’s dance floor focused. We tend to ignore or sleep on tunes that are too chill or in the wrong key. The radio show has given us a completely different perspective on dance music as it’s an opportunity to play music that just sounds cool. Some of the best songs we’ve aired have just been very pleasing to the ears and not dance floor bangers at all. So personally, hosting the show has really expanded my musical palette.
Three seasons in, has the show evolved?:
The approach is quite the same, but the genres we play more of and the presenting cast have been through some changes. I started the show with Ra. Right now, we’re going in different directions musically. We’re still great friends, we talk heaps and we still work on projects together – we just put an original song out recently. But musically we’re on different paths. Ra stopped doing the show towards the end of Season One, so I asked Dave from Datadex, to come on board. Dave is an old friend of mine from ADICTS – an events promotion business that we started about 10 years ago here in Brisbane. Dave and I did the show for a season and a half and had Katie Karma as our interviewer / field reporter. Whenever Dave was away, Kaite would fill in. Dave moved to the US after Season Two, so we decided to swap their roles and have Katie in the studio and Dave do interviews from LA. Katie brings a different dynamic to the show with her love of Bass House and it’s always nice to have a female voice on the air.
How do you choose your tunes for the show?:
We’re always on the hunt for tunes that fit all the different sub-genres of Bass. We try to represent all the different demographics and cover the entire globe. If there are tracks that cross genre barriers, that’s a bonus. Often we’ll be inspired or excited by a new artist we’ve just discovered, we find a few of the tracks they’ve just put out and we’ll play one on each show over the next few weeks. Also promos come through from labels and sometimes an artist will hit us up directly with an opportunity to debut one of their tunes.
Tell me about your connection to Wes Smith:
It seemed that Wes came out of nowhere. As a breaks fan, I’m generally aware of who’s doing well in the scene and who’s doing well in the Beatport charts. But I only started really paying attention to him once he hit #1.
Since I’ve been exposed to him, Wes has been pretty solid in my eyes. When Barry [from the DubPistols] sent us the remix pack for their new tune, Wes’ remix was the one that really stood out. We also featured one of his tunes on the Punks Special and that episode was on track to be the most listened to on the Big Bass Party SoundCloud page, until it was taken down.
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Wes has established his position in the Breaks scene in a very short time, which is pretty hard to do these days since the Breaks scene is fairly well established now. For anyone that was at that top tier when Breaks reached its peak – like Stanton Warriors [Punks], Plump DJs, Krafty Kuts etc – they’re always going to hold position on that top rung. I can’t see anyone breaking that top tier of Breaks really. It’s all about getting on that next rung down and somehow Wes came out of the pack and very quickly established himself at that level, which is HUGE. Breaks is starting to see a bit of a revival and if it gets back to where it once was, I can definitely see Wes rising to the top along with the scene.
What advice can you give to someone breaking into the industry?:
One thing, is perhaps taking lead from Wes: he’s genuinely a great guy; he’s very approachable, great to speak to, is passionate about his music and seems genuine. It’s a small scene and everyone knows each other very well, so getting along with one another is vital. You’re not going get far if you are an asshole – being a likeable person really helps. We’re all trying to help each other and push something together and if you’re easy to be around and supportive of others in the scene, people will tend to want to be around you and want to see you succeed.
Do you have any advice for new producers?
You really have to love the music and I urge you to really consider if you really want that life. It’s going to be hard – passion is the only thing that will push you through. You have to act on every opportunities you’re given because they might not come around again. Even if you think you’re not 100% ready for an opportunity like a remix or release, do the best you can and let the label or artist you’re remixing decide if it’s not good enough. These things have a habit of spawning other opportunities. Production wise – find a balance of doing what you love but also make sure there is a market for it. In order to break into a scene, there has to be a scene to break into. You might be lucky if you’re a genius producer and are able to create a whole new genre, but in most cases, if you want to play gigs, you’re going to have to fit into gigs that other DJs are already playing. That said, don’t sell out and lose yourself and your style – it’s all about balance.
Whats next for you?
Touring the USA! I have wanted to do that for a long time. I’ve been touring Europe every year for the past four years and the gigs keep getting better and better there but I’ve realised it’s now or never to try to break into the US scene. The bass scene in the states is growing quickly right now and I really want to be a part of it in its early stages. Musically I’m going at my own pace right now. I don’t set any production deadlines for myself like I use to. I don’t put any pressure on myself to get a release out at any regularity. I just hop in the studio whenever I’m inspired by something or get an idea. I’ve learned over time that I used to overcommit and place too much pressure on myself to meet self-set goals. Learning to say no to remixes or production requests was really hard to do at first but finding that balance has made me happier and in turn made it easier to make better music. So I have a few things in the bag both by myself and with Ra but I won’t promise you’ll see anything soon, I’ll just surprise you!
My remix for G$Montana's "G-Spot" dropped this week on Gigabeat Records. The original was written by Geo Lopez aka G$Montana of Project Mayhem (Miami). Geo and I first met @ WMC 2014 when I played his Gimme A Break Pool Party. Since then we've played a few fun parties together and worked for some of the same promoters. Kelly Ross/Agent 137 recently ported herself down to Miami to talk with Geo about what it means to be a promoter-turned-DJ/producer and how he finally came up with G Spot. Check the interview below.
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Hi Geo, I know it was your birthday last week, tell me about the weekend:
It was awesome and the first time I had an really awesome birthday in a very long time because it fell on a weekend. On Friday I played the "Breaks Yo" party in Miami where I played early enough to have a good time and late enough to have a great crowd. It was a night of entertaining people and networking - it was crazy. Martin Flex ripped it the fuck up, TwoSweet of the Geishas was a beast, she just made it happen. Then on Saturday I went to Tampa for Revelation where I got to play and also watch Wes Smith absolutely crush it.
When I met you it was in Miami back in 2013, you hosted a Hotcakes/Essential Bass show that was my Miami debut. How did you get into hosting shows?
I was into throwing parties way back in the day and my birthday was coming up so i met with a club owner. I convinced the him that I could bring 100 people to the club for my birthday, so he gave me the side room. I offered to pay him and I packed it out, so eventually he gave me the other room so I put in drum & bass and breaks. People were buying bottles so I sparked it up again and then the club owner gave me all five rooms (jungle, electro breaks, house, etc). The event went on until the venue was sold. It started with a birthday party and became a real business. Then this other production company came up and saw I had drive, motivation and ambition so they asked me to do an event at a new venue. I grabbed it and said I can make it happen. I/O Lounge in the center of Miami right near Space. I did my first major party called Masters of Mayhem there with a ridiculous lineup of 45 artists, the line was down the sidewalk with 2700 people inside. From there we started Project Mayhem, a spin off of that party with Mike aka Malo to become a Miami entertainment promotions agency. Suddenly, the phone gets muffled and Geo yells out:
That’s my new track vs Neuroziz. We are putting in my flavor and he is putting in his flavor and we are shaking it up. Working together is fun to meld our sounds together. So far I am liking what I am hearing. Sorry, go ahead...
I had been in the scene since 1997 - during that time i would always walk up to the DJ and ask them how they made it happen. I was interested in promoting and creating events but would always go to studios and ask my friends all kinds of questions on how things work.
At some point I figured I might as well start djing, all my friends I had met as a promoter, like Eddie Light and Phat Kidz, were all sending unreleased tracks, so I starting DJing 2 years ago after WMC [Winter Music Conference]. I bought my first pair CDJS and a flight case on Craigslist, I wanted to play out with the people that had become family to me and I started playing with them.
As an agency i would tell artists to create an identity but also to go beyond djing and make their own beats. Djing alone doesn’t mean you are gonna make it big and it would be critical not to produce after I told all my friends and artists they needed to produce. I realized I needed to get serious and need to make this happen so I spent months and months in the studio learning. I do my main job during the day, run into the studio all night, fall asleep and do it all over again. It took me 4 months to make the track, but I finished that original then shot it off to Wes Smith. He remixed it and here we are… Regardless, I feel like I have big shoes to fill because I have seen all these artists all my life and hung out with them, but I have to be a producer and dj well. I expect no handouts, I want to learn and get opinions to make sure I am following in the footsteps of others, I still have to prove myself.
Talk to me about G Spot:
It’s on the label Gigabeat and will release Oct 20th. Micheal Anthony Lauzardo (aka Malo aka slip 187 knew me from the start). My choice for the remix was my favorite producer Wes Smith. His style is different with a funk flavor that is just wow. I’m really excited about it’s release.
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What’s next for Geo Lopez/G$Montana? Will I be meeting up with you again in Miami for WMC?
Yes! After coming off tour in San Diego for Wiggle (thank you Wes Smith and Omega Squad) and St Louis (thank you XeroTribe) and playing in Florida, I'm back in the studio again. My goal is to have 6 finished tracks by March for the WMC events so I can play half of my own set and the other half my fav artists. One of the greatest pleasures is when an artist you look up to plays your tune it’s so humbling and such and honor, you want to run up and say thank you so much. Like Wes Smith did at the Tampa show this weekend. I got to sit back and observe from a different perspective than just djing it and the reaction was great- so very very appreciate of that.
Geo, we are all excited for you! ] It is great to learn your history, present and future in the music industry. I look forward to the track, Miami and getting down with you on a dance floor/DJ booth again soon. All the <3.
On Oct 17th I'm headed to Milwaukee for Transistor Rhythm brought to you by Dynamic Groove with support from City Air Milwaukee. I put together a call with the promoters to shoot the breeze on the Milwaukee music scene, my Magic Fugu stickers and the 411 on what they do with such love and passion. Interview by Kelly (Agent 137) Ross:
First I met up with Nic Zimmerman, aka Schwilly-Z, Wes Smith fan and birthday boy (ok maybe not a boy, but that's the term, right?).
How did you get involved in this particular show?
I have being dj'ing for about 12 years and I was searching through Soundcloud one day for tunes. I heard Lady Waks show that Wes had done and thought it was awesome. I went digging through his Soundcloud for tracks and heard "Bring Back That Funk" and thought it was a massive tune.
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I started following him Wes from there and when he posted the "Electric Love" GoPro live recording from that show, I thought it was very interesting and such a great idea. With my birthday coming up, I wanted to be able to bring him from Milwaukee somehow and spread the knowledge of what I already knew about him to others. I reached out to Natalie Bush, as I knew that her company produced quality shows and to see if she would want to do a show with him as the feature artist. Natalie obliged, she has thrown shows here, in Orlando and even Detroit in the past and was completely on board to make it happen.
Tell me about the types of shows City Air Milwaukee throws:
I spoke with Nic and he gave me some background, tell me your thoughts on this show and why you wanted to throw it:
I really want it to be about the show, Wes and good quality dj’s - the main goal is to bring some dj’s that haven’t been in the area in the past. I am really looking forward to the show myself as a breakbeat fan, I enjoy Wes's style of breaks to the booty side all the way to Adam Freeland and Meat Katie.
What were your beginnings and how did that lead up to starting your company?
My beginnings started in the Chicago house illegal warehouse days. I brought my flyers and notes to my parents to fight for my right to rave and thinking back on it now, we were nuts to be wandering around on the South side of Chicago to go to these shows, but it was magical and we loved it.
I moved to Raleigh for a bit and then to Denver where I started the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls (derby). From there I started doing shows (rock fest, dance and dj events) at the roller derby events. I was spending more time out and meeting people and that’s where I started developing a love and interest in djing. I retired from roller derby and when I started running a dj event, when I met my now husband, Marc Bush aka Markis (who is also playing at Transistor Rhythm).
How did you two meet?
I met him at a traffic light at 2 in the morning and fell in love immediately. We were battling red lights and he asked for my number at one. We kept battling and I lost him around a turn but he called and we both pulled over and started shooting the shit on the side of the road. We went to Cancun for his birthday, he played at an after hours which resulted in us moving to Mexico for 7 months. After that we spent 4 years in Lima, Peru. We met a number of promoters, both established and new with poor English and general lack if a sense of business. That was when saw an opportunity and started helping local Peruvians book talent and throw show. We went back to the states and got to know the scene and started up again...
Then one night it began in Detroit at an after party after Movement. We decided to take a further look at expansion to join forces and Chapter of City Air was born. We began to do monthlies at Studio 200 and some in-betweens such as Halloween parties. It’s the only venue in MIL that caters to an EDM forum - house, techno, drum&bass, etc.
Thank you, Nic and Natalie! The lineup is stacked on this one and I will be there in spirit. I appreciate your time and great conversations.
Get warmed up with some fresh beats from my Soundcloud.
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Costumes are encouraged to rock your favorite Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic Book, Cartoon, Original Alter Ego Anime or Superheroes costume with cash prizes for the winner!
Unicorns are not an illusive myth at Burning Man, this one is real and if you look out into the distance and see the magical Charlie horn blowing fire you will find it. You just have to believe the fugu is real. My last (but definitely not least) interviews are with our fearless leader of our camp, DivaDanielle and Sarah S. a long time unicorn and co-organizer (also with Travis Payne) of Wes Smith's Thursday event, Noodlecorns.
Tell me a little about Camp Charlie and the fabulous unicorn art car:
Danielle: This is Charlie's 5th trek to the playa. We pride ourselves on having top-notch music with a silly vibe. We like house and breaks - always with a funky twist. Charlie was originally built in 2011 and we've made some major upgrades this year including a Danley sound system (provided by ChinoSound), all new fabrics, a ton of structural upgrades and a brand spankin' new fire system.
Sarah: I was a HUGE fan of the cartoon already. When two of my best friends and roommates Adam & Niles (of Fleetwood Smack) told me that someone was bringing a Charlie the Unicorn Art Car to the playa, I just went nuts! I knew I HAD to be involved.
What is a Noodlecorn?
Sarah: Our good friends Tasty Noodles have a really fun event out in the Mojave desert a couple of times each year. So many of the Camp Charlie Unicorns go or have gone, that the lines between Unicorn and Noodler have become quite blurred. We've started referring to ourselves as NoodleCorns if we identify with both groups. Additionally, quite a few Noodlers have joined Camp Charlie, and vice versa. Both camps are now part of the Sunset Trip village on playa, so we're all quite close, literally and figuratively.
Tell me about the Noodlecorn event:
Who is your team for Thursday Night?
Sarah: Travis (Payne) and I go back about 17 years. We both worked for Buzz in Washington, D.C., I was heading up promotion for Buzz, Fever, and Ultraworld, and Travis was doing design work for Buzz. I lived in Baltimore but came down to Buzz every Friday to run my promotion team and handle anything else that needed doing. Working for such an amazing club with a multi-decade run and working for Scott Henry, one of the best promoters and DJs I know, was an incredible learning experience. Travis and I both threw solo events off the heels of Buzz, and Travis was becoming a pretty amazing DJ. Travis moved to LA 5 years ago, went to burning man, and joined Camp Charlie. Travis and I co-hosted the March 2015 Camp Charlie fundraiser at King King with Adam Rowe of Fleetwood Smack. Travis and I have similar tastes in music, so doing a night on the car together was a natural progression. We're really excited to bring this lineup together on playa. It's just the right amount of funky and driving beats, we think this night is going to be pretty special.
How did Wes Smith became involved in Camp Charlie?
Sarah: Wes and I go way back from the DC/Baltimore days. At some point I realized he moved to San Diego and messaged him. I'm pretty sure I asked him if he had been to burning man, and he hadn't yet. At that point I think as-per-usual I wouldn't shut up about it and he got really excited. Wes ended up going with us last year and his Tuesday night set on Charlie was for lack of a better word, EPIC. There were people holding their heads in confusion, they couldn't figure out how those breaks just kept coming. Wes proved himself as a valuable member of our work team as well, so we were thrilled he was coming back for 2015.
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What led you to Camp Charlie?
Danielle: Wellllllll, I had this obsession with unicorns. Before Charlie was built, the original creator, Ken Feldman (who is now building the 747) ran a Kickstarter campaign. In one day, about 5 people posted it to my Facebook page. So I emailed him the following:
Hello my name is Diva. I think we need to meet.
1) I love unicorns
2) I am a DJ with loads of shameless self promotion skills.
I think I can help you.
Sarah: The Charlie the Unicorn Art Car of course! Haha, but also the amazing DJ talent we bring each year, and the amazing work ethic of the talented camp organizers and campers. Our camp is built and our Unicorn is improved mostly through the ingenuity and sweat of the amazing people in our camp. We don't do Sparkle Ponies (they're pretty but useless) but we DO sparkle!
What keeps you coming back year after year?
Danielle: I keep telling myself I am gonna take a year off but then something comes up and I just am saying to go. Once I got a unicorn to ride around on, I pretty much gave up on taking a year off. I feel like it's not very common that you get complete freedom to do whatever you want on a creative endeavor. I came from a career as a video editor, constantly working with clients. Burning Man and this crazy unicorn, gave me a creative outlet and then the courage and confidence to change my life and my career (now I'm making music and touring as a DJ full-time).
Sarah: The fun, the work, the sense of community. Being part of something greater than yourself and seeing your hard work come to life. This amazing and talented group of people. Being a part of an Art Car, and especially Charlie is just an incredible feeling. Everyone LOVES Charlie. People see him and come running. It just brings a huge smile to my face.
Thank you, Ladies. I look forward to joining you both at Camp Charlie and experiencing all of this first hand. Where can the rest of Burning Man find Charlie?
Camp Charlie is located in the Sunset Trip Village with Tasty Noodles and Dirty Beetles at 8:30 and Ersatz. Nights, Charlie can be found out and about on the open playa, so if you see a really bright unicorn with his head sticking out of Candy Mountain with flames shooting from his horn and some pretty incredible beats being played, you know you're in the right place.
Burn baby burn! Next stop on the clock for the magical buggin' fugu brought me to Brian Nuggets Cox (aka Nugz, Nuggets and B. Nugz) and our discussion about the fiery one they call Dusty Rhino. Tell me about the Dusty Rhino camp and art car:
There is fire button to smash on in the DJ booth and driver has a fire button as well. With a 165 gallon propane tank, it’s a large rhino barreling through the desert with a horn that shoots FIRE - there really is nothing like it.
Let’s talk about the Wes Smith connection/show with the Rhino:
Sure- we try to get producers, friends and people who are crushing it in breaks to bring out a well-rounded roster. We saw Eric Riggsbee (of San Fransisco’s “Faultline") brought him out here and we hit Wes up on Facebook. I handle bookings and am also on the Dusty Board of Directors. There are 3 guys doing the music programming and we all came to a general consensus. He is playing 3-430am Tuesday/Wed morning and we have confirmed DJ DAN same night.
Tell me how you first made it to Burning Man:
What led you to a Dusty Rhino?
Brian has been a DJ for 20 years and he plays house, breaks and drum&bass - this is the mix I have been grindin on this week while writing up this article , check out his soundcloud for this and other genres for a sneak peak to your burn. If you are not going- go outside grab some dust and bugs, grab a neighbor to dance with, hit play and make believe!
What keeps you coming back year after year?
We do 3-4 fundraisers a year to get it out there. We did pride this year the picture below includes 4 of our resident DJs; myself (NUGZ), and Clarkie, Alvaro Bravo and DJ Dane.
Where can we find you when you are not barreling through the desert shooting fire?
Brian, thank you so much for the sit down, for sharing your music with us and for all that Dusty Rhino does during the year and at the burn. We will be looking for the Rhino on the horizon to come get our dusty hugs and boogie to great music. Check out Wes Smith mashing fire and que buttons 3-430am Wednesday morning on the Dusty Rhino art car.
Wes Smith kicks off his broken beat tour of Burning Man 2015 @ the Dusty Poon Saloon. When Chuck Wheeler (of the Dusty Poon Saloon) and and I finally caught up, he was just getting back from fishing with a big yellowtail catch in his cooler for dinner. With Burning Man coming up soon, the buzz and excitement was clear in his voice. We sat down and talked about Burning Man, Wes Smith and what makes a Dusty Poon.
Tell me about your history with Burning Man camp "Dusty Poon Saloon"?
What is the camp about?
How did you meet Wes Smith and decide to include him for Poon shenanigans?
We went to Electric Poncho in Mexico and Dusty Poon put together a renegade camp on the side of a cliff that overlooked the whole canyon. We brought down an bunch of booze and put up our saloon doors and threw a RAGER all night with DJs playing. My buddy Ben met Wes and they hung out together and got along well. I also ran into him at Kava Lounge (San Diego) at a event and we hit it off there. He showed a lot of interest and we consider our camp a breakbeat camp. His style really fits with what we like so we invited him to play this year at the saloon.
Tell me about the events you are throwing at the Dusty Poon:
We have 2-3 parties throughout the week and our big blow out feature party with Wes is called "The Poon at Noon" on Wednesday from noon-6pm. We are going to have a giant cactus that blows fire out of the top and this year we are going to try to do a ghost pepper Russian roulette wheel...spin the wheel with one ghost pepper shot. Anyone who wants to step up though we have ghost pepper bourbon or vodka all week. It gives you a euphoric feeling once you get past your mouth burning but then the endorphins come out that gives you a natural high.
Well I can't wait to meet you on the playa and get down and dusty at the Poon, Chuck!
Come join the crew all week and especially Wednesday for the Poon at Noon and Thursday at 9pm for Chuck's birthday. Happy Birthday!
Playa placement: 4th & C