There aren’t any dance floors to play music for at the moment, but I still have the desire to mix records together. That’s something you can never take away from me! So here are four mixes I’ve put out since the Covid-19 lockdown hit us here in Boston. I’ll keep adding to this page!
I’ll be regularly streaming DJ sets during the Covid-19 lockdown via my Twitch, Facebook, and Instagram Live accounts. The most dependable platform to catch me on is Twitch, and my channel is embedded in the player below.
Somehow live-streaming DJ sets in the year 2020 isn’t as straight-forward as it should be. Facebook and Instagram have incredible reach, but as a regular everyday working DJ it’s tough to beat the copyright algorithms to avoid getting shut down. I’m still working through the kinks, but for the time being Twitch will be my streaming platform of choice.
I’ve been hearing reports that Mixcloud has just launched a solid platform, so I’ll be checking that out too.
Stay safe and stay home!
I am excited to announce that I’ll be DJing on Saturday afternoon (May 23) at the Boston Calling Music Festival. My set will be from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM on the arena stage, which will be a roller disco vibe.
If you told my 16-year-old self that my name would be on the same festival poster on the same day as Rage Against the Machine, I would have said you’re f-ing crazy. Well, here we are.
The lineup is full of heavy hitters (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run The Jewels, The 1975, Liam Gallagher, and dozens more). I am also really excited for the strong representation from the local DJ community. DJ Frank White, Ryan Brown, Knife, Joshua Carl, 7L, Yvg Pavl/Big Bear and a handful of other working DJs will also be playing sets in the arena.
As a working DJ, it is an honor to get a chance to play alongside a bunch of DJs I respect on a lineup of amazing bands, many of which I’ve been listening to since I’ve been a kid.
For more info and ticket packages, check out Boston Calling’s Page on Front Gate Tickets.
Here are some of my favorite Indie Dance and Nu Disco remixes, covers, edits, and originals mixed in with some classics. Usually this is the type of vibe I love to lay down when given free reign to play anything. This mix was actually recorded live during the first hour from a recent open-format set I did at Brass Union.
As a working DJ, moments like this can be few and far between, so I am very happy that I hit the record button.
Full track list to come soon. Please DM me if you’d like a downloadable version.
August 13, 2016 … That was the day I left my bartending job to pursue DJing full time. More than three years later, I am happy to say I am still at it and business is steadily growing.
It’s been a grind, even when times are good … especially when times are good. The working DJ life doesn’t stop. I check my email every two minutes. If you contact me about a gig I’ll respond right away, even if I’m at the gym or trying to take a nap. And social media … um, let’s table that discussion for another day because it’s a full-time job in its own right. I knew all of this going in, and there’s no time to complain. I probably could use a vacation, but even when I’m on vacation I try to seek out the DJs in that area.
At this point it’s safe to say I wasn’t cut out for the 9 to 5 lifestyle. And that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t know what to do with all of that free time anyway.
A mix of patience and persistence has served me the most. There’s no substitute for real experience, and that just doesn’t happen overnight as a DJ. Yeah, you can sit at home and practice for hours, but how do you learn how to turn on a dime when the crowd isn’t feeling your set? I’ve fallen on my face more times than I can count, and I’m sure I will again soon, but that’s just part of the thrill of it. I have butterflies in my stomach as I think about it. Some of my biggest milestones as a DJ have been how I’ve recovered from a “bad” set, an “off” moment, or a “weird” vibe. They are tough to swallow, but each one has made me ten times better.
Of course some nights are effortless. When everything is going right, my mind is totally clear and new pathways open up. I can somehow be thinking both in the moment and ten steps ahead. Four hours will just melt away like that.
It’s a beautiful thing to take a room on a journey and have them follow willingly. This makes all of the other noise that comes with the job totally worth it. After nights like this I may even drive home in silence.
I once heard a famous DJ say if you haven’t totally freaked out at some point, then you’re not working hard enough. I continue to push beyond my point of comfort. My goal with each new challenge is to be stronger for the next one. What’s amazing about this life, is you never know what opportunity could come tomorrow.
I want to be ready for anything.
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).
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.
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
I am looking forward to another solid month of DJs at Brass Union and especially excited for DJ Knife and 7L’s Friday appearance on 5/18. It’s always on honor to be able to book my heroes. I’ll get my shot at the controls on Saturday the 12th, and Brass is always one of my favorite places to spin. The crowd is way more open-minded that most spots, which allows me to weave in and out of unexpected genres (like ’90s alt rock) without loosing the room. The last few sets I’ve done here have been wild … and I expect nothing less this time around. As always there’s never a cover.
The fine folks at Thirst Boston know how throw a damn good party. The cocktail festival, which takes place over the last weekend in April, celebrates all things stirred, shaken, and blended. The day is all about education: there are dozens of seminars centered on various cocktail trends. Year’s ago I attended a seminar on the relationship between music and the history of the cocktail taught by the legend Brother Cleve. I took way more notes there than most of my senior year of college combined. I hope to make it out to a couple of classes this weekend.
I’m beyond excited to be DJing the official closing party, the Blender Bender, for the third straight year. This is a double bonus for me. Not only do I get to see a ton of awesome bartenders (including a lot of old friends) get down with some friendly competition, I also get to spin pretty much whatever I want at one of Boston’s best clubs, Whisky Saigon. I’m like a kid in a candy shop when I get to work a sound system like this. I love how you can not only hear, but feel even the slightest adjustments in EQ.
Each year the Thirst crew concocts a fun theme for the night. This year it’s Welcome to the Blenderdome, which is all about Mad Max. I have my Tina Turner prepped and ready. Costumes are encouraged. It WILL get weird.
On the bar side of things, twelve teams of three bartenders compete to make the best blended drink. The audience votes for the winner. Tickets $65 and include samples of competition drinks and snacks. Beer will be available for purchase and proceeds will be donated to charity. Click here for more info.
THE THIRST BOSTON BLENDER BENDER – Sunday, April 29 – 8 PM to 11 PM – Whisky Saigon (Boston, MA)
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