• Working DJ Blog: Where do I get my music?

    People often ask me how many songs I have in my library. Honestly I couldn’t tell you an exact number, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 individual tracks. I know it adds up to roughly 150 GB of hard drive space on my Mac. Compared to other working DJs this number is probably low. When I first started out, I gigged with roughly 77,000 songs on an external hard drive, which actually proved to be more troublesome than I originally thought it’d be. Too many options sometimes can be a limiting factor to creativity.  It’s not about having a ton of records, it’s about having the right ones and knowing the right time to play them. You also need to know where to find them in the dredges of Serato (more on that another time).

    My music library is a living, breathing thing. I’m constantly grabbing new tracks, edits, and remixes, but I’m also purging things that don’t hold up anymore, or never really saw that light of day to begin with. There’s no need to be a music hoarder, especially in the digital age when pretty much anything can be found somewhere online. I like to keep my performance laptop as lean as possible.

    80% of the music I currently spin comes from DJ pools. For the unwashed, those are online subscription services geared toward working DJs.  These sites charge a monthly fee and you get access to unlimited downloads from their collection. My current workhorse is Direct Music Service. I couldn’t imagine being an open-format DJ in 2018 without it. It has everything you’d need for a wide variety of gigs: clubs, weddings, corporate parties, etc and is always evolving with the times. The DJs curating the selection of 50,000+ records are all highly-respected and know what works.  You can find an 8 bar intro edit of pretty much any song that’s charted for the past few decades. When I need a particular track, I go to Direct Music Service First, and more often than not they will have it.

    The Beat Junkies Music Pool has been incredibly useful too, especially for the more lounge-y gigs in my rotation. Their selection of funk, soul, boogie, and golden-era hip hop is incredible. I feel like this is the go-to pool to grab tracks that’ll impress other DJs (and educate the crowd … only when the time is right).  I also like that not every record has an intro edit. Sometimes tracks are made to “slam in” on the one as is, especially those harder hip-hop joints.

    I’ve dabbled with other pools over the years. I was big on DJ City for a while, which is one of the most popular options amongst club DJs. I got great use out of it for a few months, but eventually found the edits/selection to be a little too aggressive for the types of gigs I usually do. If I had a need for more 128 BPM Big Room tracks, I’d get back on there for sure.

    When I want to get a  little more out there I check Soundcloud, usually with the help of a chart site like Hype Edit. This takes a lot more time and sorting, but it’s always worth it. Some of my best gems come from here (like this one below), and I’ve learned about some incredible remix artists this way too.

    Next place I’ll check is Beatport. I feel like they are way better for house DJs, but I’ve scored some dope stuff on there, especially in the nu-disco/indie dance genres.

    The absolute last place I’ll check is iTunes. I’ve never been too pleased with the file quality/bit rate. Most sites I use are at least 320 kbps. iTunes is 256. Granted you won’t hear it on the average sound system (you may feel it and not even realize it), but on bigger systems it makes a HUGE difference. I’ve even had to throw out MP3s after playing on good systems.

    And no I don’t use any streaming services to DJ. I think there’s a common misconception that because we DJ on a laptop, we have access to any song ever recorded. Not true … everything you’re hearing is on my hard drive. The only exception would be if the person paying me demands a song not in my library and there’s no WIFI to download it. The only way to solved that problem would be the Aux Cord/iPhone combo. Thankfully I can count on one hand that amount of times I’ve needed to resort that that in the past five years (and one of those times someone called me in the middle of a track).

    Working DJs (and non DJs too), let me know what you think! Feel free to send me a message via my contact page, or DM me on my Instagram page

    seratoscreenshotDJ

     

     

     

     

     

  • Another New Mix: Indie Summer Boogie

    Every mix comes together differently. Indie Summer Boogie organically came to life as a continuation of the Sunday Vibes mix I dropped last month. On that one I left off in the 98 BPM boogie world after climbing from 74 BPM over the course of an hour. I figured it’d be a good point to cut because a new groove was starting to form, and I wanted a separate canvas to let it all marinate. Less two days after recording Sunday Vibes, I did Indie Summer in one take. I had an hour free before heading to a gig and the turntables were ready, so I hit record. After about 30 listens, I still really like what I’m hearing, so that means I should probably put it out.

    To have a sustainable career as a working DJ I need to stay on top of a lot of different formats. My favorite style is what you hear on this mix. It’s my interpretation of new meeting old. With the vastness of the internet, there are no shortage of remixes that’ll freshen up a classic and make it workable in unlikely spots. There are also remixes of new tracks that’ll totally soften that predictable pop sensibility and make it feel “cool” again.

    All of this goodness loosely fits in the category of nu-disco or indie dance, I’m told. The best part is that it brings a seemingly endless amount of genres under one umbrella. It makes it a lot easier to go from Biggie to Moby in one move without totally changing the vibe. Or Chromeo to the Rolling Stones.

    Indie Summer Boogie is currently streaming right here on my site and on Mixcloud too. If you’d like a download link, please send me a direct message!

    The full tracklist is below. I want to give a huge shoutout to all of the amazing remixers and editors. Without you my sets wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. You all are inspiring me to get working on my own edits, too.

    “Ready Or Not!/I’ve Got 5 On It” (Casual Connection Mash Up) – The Fugees

    “Stayin Alive” (Papa Skunk Remix) –  Bee Gees

    “Wild Thoughts” (Bee’s Knees Remix) – DJ Khaled ft Rihanna & Bryson Tiller

    “Sorry” (Soulboss Soulbounce Remix)  – Justin Bieber

    “Sexual Healing” (Kygo Remix) – Marvin Gaye

    “99 Red Balloons” (Nena Cover) – Oliver Nelson & Tobtok ft River

    “Sprawl II” (Soulwax Remix – VM EDIT) – Arcade Fire

    “Electrify” – Oliver

    “Natural Blues” (The Niceguys Remix) – Moby

    “Sky’s The Limit” (Rad Stereo Remix) – Notorious BIG

    “Just The Two Of Us” (Artiq Remix) – Bill Withers

    “My Cherie Amour” (Doc Adam Dub Blend) – Stevie Wonder & The Harry J Allstars

    “Dang!” (AZ DJ Melo Short Edit) – Mac Miller Ft. Anderson Paak

    “Juice”  – Chromeo

    “Miss You” (Dr Dre Remix)  – The Rolling Stones

    “Midnight City” (GRIZART DRUM REFIX) –  M83

    “Psychic City” (Classixx Remix) – Yacht

    “Hold You Tight” (Fitz Lauder Rework) – Tara Kemp

    “Weak” (Dennis Blaze 4AM Remix) – S.W.V.

    “Pleasure Principle” (Classixx Recovery Mix) – Janet Jackson

    “Careless Whisper” (DJ Pantelis Soulful Mix) – George Michael

    “Smooth Operator” – Sade

    “Dreams” (Gigamesh Edit) –  Fleetwood Mac

    “Need U”  (Skream RMX/SINcere Re-Edit) –  Duke Dumont

    “Sweet Dreams” (Jeyone Dreamin’ Edit) – Eurythmics

    “Just Can’t Get Enough” – Depeche Mode

    “Good Time” – Brazilian Girls

  • New Mix on Mixcloud: Sunday Vibes Volume #1

    It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally put out a new mix. This one came to me on a quiet Sunday afternoon while I was nursing a nasty hangover (rum drinks at 4 AM will do that to you every time). Inspiration can come out of the most unlikely places.

    Despite the hangover, I was still riding high from a slammed Fresh Produce at Good Life the night before, and my Friday was just as wild too. After doing a surprisingly rowdy all-’90s party in the early evening at NBPT Brewing Co, I rushed back to Somerville to join my homie DJ ABD. He was holding down my Friday residency at Foundry on Elm. I ended up playing a lot of soulful indie disco/house records that I rarely get a chance to play out on the weekends. That was an unexpected bonus.

    DJing can be a solitary experience at times, so when I get a weekend to spin with other DJs, especially heavy-hitters like DJ ABD, Braun Dapper, and DJ ESQ, it’s always enlightening. Seeing how one of your respected peers react in different situations can be just as valuable as hours spent practicing cuts. It motivated me to work a little harder on Sunday.

    So rather than putting my feet up and watching golf, I set up my turntables and hit record. I didn’t have much of a plan, just a general idea that I’d play what I was feeling at the moment. I wanted to incorporate fresh remixes of classic tracks. Also, my brain was still keen on ’90s cuts, so a handful of those made it into the mix. You can stream the full set below via Mixcloud. I’ve also included the full track list below! Props to Direct Music Service for consistently having some of the most useful edits/re-drums.

    “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Donk Short Trap Remix) – Gotye                                               

    “No Rain” (VM re-drum)] – Blind Melon                                        

    “You Don’t Know How It Feels” (Drew Pierce Edit) – Tom Petty                                

    “Hey Jude” (Scott Melker RMX) – The Beatles                                        

    “Have Some Love” – Childish Gambino                                

    “Can you get to that” – Funkadelic                                  

    “Take Your Mama” – Scissor Sisters                        

    “Mr. Brightside” (Two Friends Remix) – The Killers                                    

    “Ride” – Twenty One Pilots                        

    “Human” (Kue Remix) –  Rag’n’Bone Man                 

    “The Chain” (DJ Apt One Edit) –  Fleetwood Mac          

    “Don’t Speak” –  No Doubt                           

    “Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer                                        

    “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” – Lenny Kravitz                             

    “Footsteps In the Dark, Pts. 1 & 2” – The Isley Brothers                             

    “Them Changes” – Thundercat                                                                  

    “Where Is My Mind” (Bassnectar Dubstep Remix) – Pixies                                     

    “Good Life”  (Reed Streets Remix) – Kanye West ft. T-Pain                    

    “Sexy Wonderwall” (Victor Menegaux Mashup) – Oasis vs Ray J                             

    “Royals” – Lorde                                      

    “Passin by Me” (Jazzy Jeff Remix) – Pharcyde                                      

    “Return Of The Mack” (Doc Adam Blend) – Mark Morrison & J Dilla                        

    “Cruisin” (Mr Collipark RMX) – Smokey Robinson                                

    “Fame” (LNTG Hypnotizin’ Funk Mix) – David Bowie                               

    “Whole Lotta Love” [Benny C Edit] – Led Zeppelin                                   

    “Back In Black” –  AC/DC                           

    “Oh My God” (Excel Sample Edit) – A Tribe Called Quest vs. Kool & The Gang        

    “Regulate The President” – Flipout & Nick Bike                                

    “Freedom 90” (The Reflex Edit) – George Michael   

     

  • The #theworkingDJ blog: Volume 1.0

    It’s been almost a year and a half since I left my bar-managing job and went after the DJ thing full time.  I am happy to report that I am still here, working at something I love everyday, and business is growing. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with awesome bar owners, corporate clients, brides and grooms, and general music lovers in Boston who keep me consistently busy. It helps to have a website, but word of mouth is still king. Chances are you or someone you know needs a DJ for an event … so don’t forget about your boy DJ J-Wall! 

    I am also thankful that the DJ community in Boston is rich with generous and talented professionals willing to discuss trade secrets, share music/equipment, and even trade gigs.  In this field, your coworkers are technically your competitors. I gravitate to the ones who see it as a collective effort. Together we can all raise the bar.

    This has been a landmark year for me as a DJ. I’ve spun parties in new venues I could never imagine playing (Royale, Paradise Rock Club, City Hall Plaza) and have shared nights with DJs I idolize. I also feel like my musical IQ is rising and I’m more confident about bringing new genres into the mix. I’ll admit that I used to hate on some of the stuff I spin now, but once I got to see  how these tracks work for a dance floor I was hooked. I’d like to think I can find redeeming qualities in even some of the most basic of genres. At the core, to me,  it always needs to be funky and interesting to make the cut, and if the original sucks, you never know: there might just be a dope remix out there.

    All of this makes me want to double down in 2018. I am always striving to get better, both as a DJ and as a business owner. And one of my biggest goals is to start a more in-depth dialogue with you. There are so many things that go into being a working DJ. Surprisingly, a lot of those are tedious tasks that aren’t glamorous at all, but the payoff is what makes it worth it. My job is to interact with a crowd, but rarely do I get to talk about what goes into it. A lot of DJs will say the DJ booth is one of the loneliest places in the room (please don’t take that as an invite to come up and request “Despacito” or whatever pop song it is you’ve heard 15 times already that day). The silence after gigs is when a lot of thinking happens, good and bad. I am looking forward to using this blog to cultivate some of those thoughts.

    In a given week, I may DJ in front of a crowd for only 15 to 20 hours total, but so much more happens outside that window to make those hours as effective I can. Time spent practicing goes just as far as following the charts, digging for cool edits, marking cue points and loops, checking out new venues and nights, and building new business. The thought that people are giving me the power to curate the vibe of their businesses or special events is something I take seriously. 

    Music is always around me, so there’s really no turning off my working brain. My favorite DJs all tell a story when they perform. And my favorite records to play are the ones with which I associate a vivid memory. There are so many to pull from, too. Hearing that Fleetwood Mac live record on the way home from the Cape in the back of my parents’ car, for instance, all salty from hours in ocean, or that Janet cassette I “borrowed” from my sister when she was at dance class (the same one I’d never admit to liking when my hockey friends were around), or Get Rich or Die Trying on repeat through the rattle of Pontiac factory speakers on the my first day driving solo with my license. When I play records for people, my only hope is it sparks similar memories for them. – JW

    Stay tuned for more from The Working DJ! 

  • J-Wall Drops a Latin Mix to Honor sweetgreen’s Toro Bowl

    The folks at sweetgreen are partnering with Boston-based restaurateur Ken Oringer on the “Toro Bowl.” Knowing Oringer’s impressively delicious track record (heavy-hitters like Toro, Coppa, & Little Donkey), it’s safe to say this will be a winner.

    I was beyond excited to spin the launch event in early April at sweetgreen’s Ink Block location, so I put together a mix for all y’all to enjoy. It seems like a Spanish/Latin vibe would be appropriate for the occasion. Here are some of the tracks I’ve been messing around with in that world (check out the full track-list below). The Whiskey Barons really come in handy in times like these!

    TRACKLIST

    Mi Swing Es Tropical (feat. Tempo & The Candela Allstars) – Nickodemus & Quantic

    Mambo el B-Boy – Red Astaire

    I Want You Back (Daytoner Edit) – Harold Mabern

    Aqui No Sera – Ozomatli

    Baila a Tu Manera (Whiskey Barons Remix) – Nickodemus, Whiskey Barons, Sammy Ayala

    Riding High (Original Mix) – Bosq

    Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango

    Tinto Tintero – Up, Bustle & Out

    Calypso Blues (The Gaff Remix EDIT) – Nat King Cole

    Get a Move On – Mr. Scruff

    Spanish Grease (Dorfmeister Con Madrid De Los Austrias Muga Reserve Mix) – Willie Bobo

    The Music (Youri Donatz and Bright Coffee Non Vocal Mix) – Baggi Begovic & Groovenatics

    Latin Note – St Germain

    Fuego (Whiskey Barons Baile Mix) – Joe Bataan

    Oye Como Va – Tito Puente