Tuesday, June 01, 2004

the bench sequencing part 2

by J. Phoenix ~ Images captures from Propellerhead's Reason ~ Hello again! Some of you may have noticed my absence last month. Despite my last article's promise of moving on to Synthesis, that series within this series has been difficult to complete. Synthesis is such a wide ranging subject, involving not only musical ideas, but also physics and mathematics that it is taking far longer to finish than I originally thought it was.

There are many different ways to sequence a pattern as we have seen from my previous article on sequencing. In this article, I'll try to dig deeper into sequencing rhythms having demonstrated some of the lay-outs for different types of sequencers. This article will focus on tips on sequencing basic patterns for beginners; for anyone out there who's already past this point, please bear with me. Soon we will be getting into intermediate techniques in production in this series. Again, we will be using screen shots from Propellerhead's software, Reason, to demonstrate.

In general there are three ways to sequence a pattern of notes or a rhythm loop: step-sequencing, which is done measure by measure and beat by beat, sequencing by recording notes played on a keyboard or pads, and sequencing using a 16-step sequencer.

The first two ways to sequence that we will discuss in this article are recording yourself playing the notes that will be sequenced and step recording. To assist with both of these options, a brief discussion of music theory about duration of notes is necessary. 16 step sequencers use the same applications of music theory, but they visually simplify the duration of notes. In recording or step recording this visual simplification isn't present.

In music, all notes each have their own specified duration. There are many different types of notes, each being a different way of designating how long a note lasts. The first thing to define a note's duration is the time signature of the piece. While there is electronic music that is in altered time signatures, just like most traditional music, most electronic music is usually in 4/4 time. This means each measure or bar = four quarter notes, and the beat is on the quarter notes. To demonstrate a contrast, 2/4 time means that each measure or bar has 2 quarter notes, and the beat is still on the quarter notes.

In 4/4 time, the divisions equate something like this:

A whole note = one note that lasts four quarter notes time, or an entire measure in 4/4 time. (1 whole note per measure)



A half note = one note that lasts two quarter notes time, or a half a measure in 4/4 time. (2 half notes per measure)



A quarter note = two eighth notes time, or one quarter of a measure in 4/4 time. (4 quarter notes per measure)



An eighth note = two sixteen notes, or one eighth of a measure in 4/4 time. (8 eighth notes per measure)



A sixteen note = two 32nd notes, or one sixteenth of a measure in 4/4 time. (16 sixteenth notes per measure)



A 32nd note = two 64th notes, or one thirty-secondth of a measure in 4/4 time (32 32nd notes per measure)



and there are sixty four 64th notes in one measure in 4/4 time.

To put things into perpective again, one quarter note = 16-64th notes



You'll notice that the notes themselves are written in such a way to show their form. A whole note has no line, and is an open circle. A half note is an open circle w/ a line, a quarter note is a closed circle with a line, and an eighth note has a closed circle w/ a line and flag. The flags increase as the divisions get smaller as well, so that a 64th note has four flags.

Now, while in traditional music we rarely see 32nd notes or 64th notes outside of snare rolls or very brief sections of music (they're somewhat difficult to play, especially for long periods of time), in electronic music we do see these notes used somewhat more frequently, because a machine can play them more easily. In addition, these divisions allow for very detailed arrangement of notes because they are so small.

The reason I throw this music theory at you is because knowing the divisions of notes becomes really helpful in relation to recording sequences or in using step-sequencing because of quantization.

Quantization basically "snaps" notes to their specified divisions. In recording this means if you hit a note slightly off from where it should be in the measure, it will snap to the right placement. In step sequencing quantization is used to specify how long a note will play or how long a note will not play.

Step Sequencing

Step sequencing refers to sequencing beat by beat using a numeric system. This is something you'll rarely encounter using software, but frequently encounter when using keyboards and other hardware sequencers, especially in the eighties/late 90's. Step sequencing allows you to select the duration of the note (or rest/silence) beat by beat, measure by measure numerically.

Usually this is displayed in a format like this:


Measure indicates the measure you are working within, beat indicates the beat you are on at the moment, and click designates where in the beat you are. Click goes up to 096. Through quantization you select what note step you'll be creating a note or a rest with. So using this system, to create a four to the floor rhythm you would select quarter notes in quantization, and press the key the thump is on four times. As you do so the numbers will change with each beat played, 001.01.001 to 001.02.001 to 001.03.001 to 001.04.001 and finally ending with 002.01.001 When playing smaller note durations, such as eighth notes or sixteenth notes, you will see where you are at in a beat through looking at the click section.

Learning how to program in step sequence was one of the more difficult things I learned to do, and was the first way I learned how to sequence. It is my least favorite means to sequence with, however, learning it certainly helped me out--and certainly made me appreciate the other types of sequencing that are possible.

Recording Sequences

Recording a sequence can be a useful way to sequence a rhythm in relation to what has already been sequenced by simply playing exactly what you want to hear. It is useful for playing melodies and for sequencing rhythm. Your ability to record sequences if you use software will be dependent on what other equipment you have, such as a midi keyboard, or other midi-equipped gear and your ability to use midi with your software. The good news is that midi equipment to control software programs is becoming increasingly available and cheap to purchase as well. Most hardware since the late 80's has the ability to record played sequences as well.

Recording a sequence can easier than recording audio; the process is quite the same. Most often there is a record button, and the option for quantization should be visible as well. If quantization is enabled, it will snap notes to the closest specified division within the measure. Some sequencer's quantization system will also limit the duration of the notes to the quantization setting, meaning if quantization is set to eighth notes, not only will the played notes snap to eighth note divisions within the measure, but they will also only last an eighth note long. This is important to know, because if you are trying to play a quarter note duration, but want the note to hit on an eighth note in the measure you may run into difficulties.

In recording sequences, you'll be able to specify a loop duration (usually 1 to 4 measures) and be able to repeatedly add more notes to the sequence as it loops. This allows you to hear what you've already played (or what you're recording along with), and you should be able to change your quantiztion settings as well, meaning you can record one part in quarter notes and then switch to sixteenth notes. I find the fact that you can record in a loop format most useful personally.

Another advantage of recording notes in a sequencer vs. recording audio itself is that it is easier to edit than audio, as you will be editing note information itself, and not the sound of the notes. The sound of the notes remains relative to what you assign it to be. In audio recording/editing the sound of the notes is fixed, so to speak.

16 Step Sequencing

We covered what 16-step sequencers look like in my last article on sequencing. Remembering that each of the 16-steps on the sequencer = one 16th note is very helpful; placing a note every four steps will equal four quarter notes, placing a note every two steps will equal eight eighth notes and so on. Because of the visual simplicity of 16 step sequencing, it can sometimes be one of the easiest ways to sequence out a rhythm (it can also make sequencing out a melody quite difficult; there are always disadvantages to any system).

I'd like to quickly demonstrate a few simple progressions in 16 step sequencers for rhythm patterns.

Bass Drum/Thumps

A hallmark in House, Techno, and Trance forms is the "four to the floor" bass kick beat. In 4/4 time this means a kick will happen every quarter note in every measure.

On a sixteen step sequencer this is easily written like so:



Because a beat is played every four 16th notes, the bass kick will come in on the quarter notes.

Some additional patterns I can suggest for bass kicks/thump:

Breakbeats can be sequenced like so:



Break beats by nature are still usually using a 4/4 time signature, but instead of using a four to the floor bass beat, they omit a bass beat or two or rearrange the way the bass hits. Hence the name breakbeat.

Another example of a breakbeat thump pattern:



In the above example, only the first and last thumps fall on the first and fourth beat, the second thump is sitting between the second and third beat.

You may find breakbeat patterns initially difficult to master as a beginner, however with practice and time, it becomes easier. Some people prefer to record themselves playing the patterns in breakbeat or DnB and use that method to sequence, because it can allow you to capture a more human rhythm. There will be more on recording sequences later in this article. Many breakbeat and dnb producers work with recorded loops as the basis for their rhythms, avoiding using a sequencer completely; some of the best however still sequence their own out. It is useful to know how to do both.

Claps, Fingersnaps, Snares

Claps, fingersnaps, and sometimes snare hits usually happen every other beat (quarter note), on the 2nd and 4th beats, and this can be sequenced like so:



For writing breakbeat/DnB snare rolls and patterns, it is useful to note that the primary hits or the most often accented hits are still on the 2's & 4's, as in this example below. There is a snare roll involved, and you may notice the roll carries over at the beginning of the pattern if this is looped. Another tip for people writing snare hits for breaks and dnb: usually, you will want to deal with a two-measure progression, with your emphasis roll in the snare coming in the 2nd measure. The below example would actually be the 2nd measure of such a pattern. To keep your snares from sounding too robotic or stiff, use "accent"/velocity changes, or volume changes in the pattern to create dynamics in the snare. This will keep it from sounding inhuman. In the below example, you will notice there are three different colors on the sequenced hits. In Reason's Redrum sequencer you can select 3 different accents or velocities, Red being Hard, Orange being Medium, and Yellow being Soft. This makes for dynamic changes in volume in the pattern. You may notice I kept the hardest accents on the 2's & 4's.


Sometimes the hits are laid down differently, adding a beat, &/or omitting a beat. Frequently breakbeat will employ a laid back snare hit before the hit on the 4th beat. In this example, I've omitted the hit on the 4th beat, but I am still implying the emphasis on the 4th by placing 2 snare hits around it. This causes a syncopation as well.


Toms/Percussion

Programming toms or percussion comes down to a matter of taste, of course. This makes it difficult to suggest anything in this area.

Personally I tend to write one of two types of patterns in toms, either very spare tom hits:



or very complex patterns, involving many 16th notes in a pattern. Again, the same suggestion of changing dynamics comes into play for adding variance to a pattern.



I can say that I find frequently in writing tom patterns that less is often more...that the less notes I sequence or the further I spread them out makes for a better sound. However, sometimes I seek more density in the programming, and in cases like that, I tend to take one tom sound and program it with a lot of complexity. Paying careful attention to the syncopation of a pattern, and to the rests (or silences) in a pattern are important tips for you as well. Remember that rests are the breathing time, and these silences can create a groove of their own. Writing conga/bongo parts work just like sequencing tom patterns. Remember that with both toms and percussion the pitches of the different toms/bongos/congos are important to keep in mind, because frequently these rhythms become their own melodies within the composition.

Hi Hats/Cymbals

Creating good hi hats is always a sticky point for me, unlike Toms/Percussion which seems to come easily. I always want to make it sound like something a human could play or would play...but I also hear the really pleasing results from people that don't even pay attention to how human a pattern may be. Because I don't feel I do well yet on sequencing hi-hats, I'm only going to offer one helpful hint in this area. The common open hihat hits you always hear after the thump (again, common to house, techno, and trance) can be sequenced thus:



The open hi hat is placed on every third step, causing the Tsh you hear in "Boom Tsh Boom Tsh Boom Tsh Boom Tsh" when this pattern is combined with a bass kick.

Of course, there are more things that can be sequenced that I am not going to cover here, such as ride cymbals, shakers, and other percussion parts.

One last mention before I go: frequently you will have a "Swing" option on your sequencing system or software. "Swing" is a system which attempts to make sequenced patterns more human sounding by "swinging" notes slightly out of being dead on accurate, playing the notes very slightly early or slightly late. Because the notes don't hit with exact accuracy, they can sound less robotic, and may present more groove into a pattern. How far away from dead-on accuracy the Swing in a pattern will be is controlled by the amount of swing specified. Just to reassure you, Swing will not throw a pattern out of rhythm if it is applied; the variance it causes is very slight. Some systems using Swing are extremely detailed, allowing you to control what note divisions themselves will swing and by how far. House makes frequent use of this feature, especially in hi-hat patterns.

The best general suggestion I can make for sequencing rhythm patterns is simply to keep yourself organized, start with one sound and move to the next, making sure everything sounds good together bit by bit.

chris wren

Interview by Staci Morgan ~ Photos by ChadWick Cipiti & ChrisWren.com ~ He's artist in an environment prone to "crazes". Yet his ability to create amazing sounds is matched only by his enthusiasm. From coast to coast, Chris Wren has shared his zest for everything from naughtie beats to club classics. Chris' style is so diverse that to categorize him as "loungy" or "main hall" is impossible. His music mirrors his life with passions that are creative and diverse enough in nature to keep him exactly where he wants to be...all over the place.

Springtime in Washington means Cherry! While the line-up was packed with circuit superstars, rising star DJs offer a glimpse to the future. Anxiously awaiting his arrival, I wanted to have Chris share his thoughts on opening Cherry and his DC debut before the big weekend….which is where we begin…

Chris, I know this is your first time spinning in Washington, DC. You're opening for Chad Jack, and clearly your styles are very different which should make for an amazing party. Are there any nerves or added pressure knowing that you're setting the tone for the weekend event? (I suspected but had no proof until we met that he; indeed, never stop smiling when he talks)

Of course there is a bit of pressure, because there are many ways to go... do I start with some classic Chicago house track, do I do something really easy and laid back, do I start it up with a dramatic tribal track? Each of those can set a very different tone... but rest assured, whatever the starting point... the night will be full of twists! I Iike to know at least the first four or so tracks I’m going to throw down before I start the night. It’s kind of like my own anchor, I’m usually pretty psyched up when I start, so its nice to have a launching point laid out so I can relax a bit and get a feel for what the night wants to be. Oh, and I always talk to Miss Cleo and Dionne Warwick and all the psychic friends before every gig.

Okay, During this year’s Winter Party (Winter Music Conference - Miami), you played the Lime Bar at Maze. So, Cherry will be your second circuit party of the year. Do you feel that playing for circuit events provides a healthy environment to showcase your talents? As in, compared to playing clubs, what draws you to events like these?

I love charity events. I love knowing that people are coming together to create a fun weekend with the mindset of supporting charities within a city. For me, it just feels good knowing that the weekend has an overriding purpose of helping people who really need our help. I think any event geared towards helping people is an event that is healthy to be associated with. Names like Cherry, Motorball, The Winter Party, White Party Miami, Freedom Party South Carolina, Black and Blue, Purple Party, Blue Ball... those names mean something I think because of the quality of people involved in putting on the events.

You have only been DJing for only four years, yet you already are part of a production team with veteran Kio Kio, produced a wildly successful remix for Disney with Scotty K, and have an impressive and diverse event calendar. Are you ready to settle in to the aspects of the business that make you the happiest?

I love to play live for people. I say this a lot, but I am just as happy spinning for someone alone in my apartment, as I am spinning for 3000 people at a massive. (laughs) Okay, maybe a little happier with throngs of people screaming. But really they are both the same thing: Me sharing wonderful tracks I have found, with people who have come together with their friends, to hear something, and experience something they can't at home or in their car. Part of that is just the environment of the club, but part of that is me too. Knowing that people come to hear what I have to play is a truly amazing feeling. There will always be growing pains, hopefully! This industry is so diverse, that styles and tastes and trends evolve so quickly. The day this becomes "work" is the day I think I’ll stop.

On your website, you mention that you don't think your parents know how much you appreciate them making you practice the piano all the time as a child. Back then, when you were playing classical music, did you one day think you would be writing for dancefloors instead of concert halls?

HAHA, no I did not. I don’t think I know what I thought back then. I probably had a mindset towards film scoring, as back then I hadn’t really acquired a taste for modern classical music. There are many similarities as the music is generally structured in layers and patterns. Having all that training behind me, plus actually working everyday in a studio, gave me a leg up in transitioning into electronic music production.

When you go to a new city, you, no doubt, intend on bringing something new to the crowd. Are you more excited to be in front of a new crowd?

Oh I am looking forward to the crowd at Cherry. Of course I've got some new stuff to bring to the crowd. I think a major trend in dance music production is going to see the incorporation of 80's and electroclash elements laid over a house tempo and groove. I have been hearing the big mainstream global DJs playing with this kind of stuff like Roger Sanchez and Henry Romero, so I am going to have some of that mixed in there. Of course, along with some other stuff!

Okay, in the most Chris Wren way possible, can you describe your music and what you love about music in general and your particular tastes?

My tastes in music tend to skew towards inventive and creative production. i love percussion, new and interesting sounds... especially those indefinable sounds that kind of come out of nowhere. Despite the rumors, I love a little vocal sample every now and then too. I do like kind of more intense tracks, maybe a little on the dark side of things... but not in a spooky way, just kind of in a deeper emotional sense. But every once in a while I cross into the light!

And come in the light he did during Cherry! Meeting Chris was incredible, and realizing that he really does smile all the time and witnessing his gracious spirit all weekend long made the rest of the interview a breeze. Once Chris had a chance to recuperate back in Los Angeles, we caught up…

You were like a ball of energy from the moment you stepped off the plane. Can you describe what it was like when you finally had the "all systems go" cue and you started the evening?

I had been playing some fun filtered disco Kid Creme type stuff prior to the club opening, just to give everyone something to groove too while putting the finishing touches on the space, and to get me comfortable with the way they had the equipment setup, and had kept reminding people to let me know when we were "on" because I did not plan to play a funky classic house type of set... so when they have me the green light, I was very much ready to go. I get very anxious prior to the start of a show. I have been that way since I was a child -- and I love that feeling, kind of like getting ready to jump, unlike a studio set or session, playing live means once you start, there's no stopping it and no do-overs! I am a huge fan of Bjork -- and decided to launch the night off by playing "Big Time Sensuality" which is a mood I hope and try to create wherever I play... which can be summed up by her delicious and evocative lyrics, "I don't know my future after this weekend, And I don't want to. It takes courage to enjoy it, the hardcore and the gentle, Big time sensuality".

You played a set that was unlike any other last weekend. You were the ONLY DJ who did not play either "Cha Cha Heels" or “Heart Attack". Did you sense that it was hard to keep a "vocal-circuit" crowd on the dancefloor?

Saying my set was unlike any other during the weekend is such a fine compliment, so I thank you and others for taking notice. I was unusually apprehensive about opening up the Cherry weekend, because I knew my set would be a harder, darker, more percussive sound than I have typically heard, at least in the earlier hours of a weekend event. I was worried at first, and for about the first 45 minutes (grins) after the lovely Bjork! I had trouble starting the story, because I kept thinking, "they’re going to hate me for not playing Vocals!" So I found another fave vocal of mine "Who is he and what is he to you?", and it brought me back to the type of sound that makes me stand out.

I did find my own pair of Cha Cha Heels this weekend. What a fun song that is! In my observation, the "vocal-circuit" crowd isn’t so different from the mainstream crowd -- they are looking for a story and an experience. Yes, I don’t think Ferry Corsten would go over too well at the White Party -- the trance is too hard. But there are plenty of boys who spend an afternoon shaking their biscuits at a fun pool party with Lydia Prim, who also do back flips to see DJs like Steve Lawler, Danny Tenaglia, Chus & Ceballos, Creamer & Stephane K, and that is just the top of a very long list of people. So, I think the kind of set I played had a much better chance of acceptance than it would have several years ago, and I'm very much relieved to know they enjoyed it! I had such a great time.

Personally, what was the best moment of your set?

That's tough. I think I was so relieved when I punched in a CD, and because I’m a bit on the short side – read: Hobbit! (laughs) I had trouble seeing the CD players. I had received this remix of "The Drill" by Greg O., and the Vinyl pressing somehow got all fucked up, so they had to send me a CD. I first heard the mix in November while in New York, and flipped for it. I hardly ever use the CD's, and don’t have the best experience in operating them, which is really silly, I need to remedy that, since most of my samples are on CD. Anyway, I did one of those "close your eyes and hope for the best" and it worked, and I was able to play just a big bomby track and the crowd responded very well to that track.

You arrived with a case full of vinyl and less than 10 CDs, and you were so in to your set that it was impossible not to watch you. Though when it was over, you looked like you just finished a triathlon. What is going thru your mind when you're so intense like that? Does time fly by or are you very aware of every second?

I do get very focused. I even forget to pee or drink or anything, especially when it is going really well! The booth was very hot, and because the equipment was not an installation (as with a typical nightclub) the gear was in racks and cases, which isn’t the most ergonomically way to do things, and it was probably the most physical set I’ve ever done, I had to keep jumping around and standing on my tippitoes to see things, or to watch one turntable while sampling from a cd... I laughed so hard about that. When I’m in super-concentration mode, I’m just trying to hear everything that is happening. I can hardly put a record on anymore without trying to tweak it someway, laying additional percussion, throwing a sample or two, maybe making it better, sometimes a little worse. Each night is totally different, but that’s how it should be.

You spent the whole weekend going from party to party and taking in everything on the other side of the booth. What was the most memorable part of Cherry for you as a spectator?

I know many of the DJs, and they are all phenomenal. Most memorable? Well musically speaking, Eddie X played a haunting vocal harmony track that arrested me right in the middle of his floor, and it was dark and mysterious, and then busted into some sexy Latin-tribal stomper that blew my mind sideways. Then again, Eddie X is one of the most amazing DJs I have ever heard. I'd watch him spin old Disney records with my sister’s old Fisher-Price toy record player.

What stands out in a vocal that would make you want to take the acapella and produce your own mix?

I like vocals that people don’t expect. I like them to have a lot of strength but I rarely like a big belter, with a big chorus and super-fast words. I like moods that are mysterious, sexy, determined and passionate. And I rarely want it to feel like the vocal is satisfied or has resolution; I like it when the vocal draws you into the lyrics, because it needs you. That for me creates magnetism on the dancefloor that goes beyond that hottie standing one foot away from you.... I'll take both please.

Speaking of mysterious vocals…tell me the story of your most recent original production O Som...

Well somehow this bell-tree pattern got into my head, and it had a Latin flavor to it, kind of cha cha, so I built this track with Brazil in mind. I don’t speak Portuguese but I think it is one of the most lyrical languages, almost like Castilian Spanish and Italian with lyrical embellishments (did i just say that?), and using a Brazillian-Portugese vocalist to read the samples came out perfectly. "O Som" in Portuguese means "the sound". I was going to use Spanish but the translation to Portuguese sounded so much more exotic and sexy than it did in Spanish.

When you tell a story thru your music, is it easier to tell the story of falling in love or the story o heartbreak?

I think it is easy for me to tell a story of desire. Maybe its desire as in pursuing someone and falling in love, maybe its desire for a feeling you used to have as in heartbreak. Either way its that force that pulls you in and pushes you away that I like to play with. The forces of desire I think are a powerful emotional center with me, and I could hear "desire" in my sets where someone else might hear "sleaze" Maybe I desire sleaze? Oh wow, I think I need my therapist for this one.

If you could work with any producer on a dream project, who would you work with?

That's tough to say. There are so many dream projects. It would be a hard tossup between Chus, Satoshi Tomiie, Armin van Buuren, Stephane K, and maybe Berhouz from San Francisco. Even though I am a huge fan of Danny Tenaglia -- I might find myself in a perpetual state of jaw-dropping.

How do you see the evolution of DJ from “club necessity" to “SUPERSTAR"? Meaning...DJs now have publicity photos that accompany their promos and recording artists request certain remixers exclusively. Do you think this is a positive direction for the industry or does it detract from the art?

I think the superstar age is in a bit of a contraction. We built so many clubs, or repurposed them for dance music, that I think things are going to get smaller or more concentrated in the future. It is very difficult in mainstream clubland to book gigs unless you are a producer with label credits and affiliations. You can't really be a superstar these days, unless your stuff is being picked up and played all over the world. That’s where the public appeal and publicity comes from. I think it is great mainstream pop artists are looking to DJs to expand their sound, and sometimes collaborate on new stuff. It is just more interpretations from which to choose. I think overall it is a positive direction for the industry. Music production has never been easier or cheaper to do than it is today, which is why so many people are doing it, and why turntables now outsell guitars across the country. At the same time, it raises the bar... people become more educated and sophisticated in their exposure to electronic music, and that forces those of us who do this, to push further and harder, and take chances in order to keep the element of surprise in our live shows.

It sounds like exciting times, what is the single biggest obstacle facing nightlife right now?

I think general public opinion is not leaning in our favor. Cities are examining tighter restrictions on liquor licenses, times clubs must close, if after-hours is officially authorized, perhaps even having uniformed officers patrolling dancefloors, to supplement that nonuniformed officers already in our clubs. They are looking for even the tiniest reason to close our clubs down one by one, and for no other reason then we are easy to put blame on. Not everyone does drugs in clubs, but there are many who do. I think now more than ever discretion is a must. If you want to get so messy you can’t walk around, you should stay at home and put on XM radio. Your brain might even think you’re at a club. If you want to come hear amazing music and spend time with your friends, and are capable of handling your shit.... then you are welcome on my dancefloor anytime.

What is next on your plate? Any new production projects or big events you're working on?

I open a new after-hours in Vancouver at the end of May. It is called "SCANDAL" and is to be held at Gorgomish which is an outstanding club with one of the best sound systems in Canada. As far as new productions, my remix partner DJ Kio Kio and I are getting our shit together to commence work on an aggressive new track. In this business you can’t think about tomorrow or next week, you've already got to be forecasting what people will be playing a year from now. You would be amazed how long it takes some tracks to finally get pressed to vinyl.

What is the one piece of advice that you are thankful someone gave you when you were starting out?

Patti Razetto once complimented me on being "old school" and she told me to stay that way. I hope that I have.

Finally, Music and DJing aside, what would people reading this be shocked to know about you?

Classical Pipe Organ Music is my favorite type of music.

From his beaming personality to his style and grace as a composer turned DJ, his dedication and passion is endless. Chris lives in West Hollywood. To find out where you can hear Chris spin, check his website.

More information about Cherry can be found at their web site www.cherryfund.org.

symmetry

interview by todd ~ photos by todd & various friends of Symmetry ~ This girl blew me away in Miami and I didn't even hear her play until I got back. She restored my faith in DnB and I've been telling just about everyone I know since then. Not only that, her CD has been in the same slot of the changer in my car since the middle of March. Needless to say, I was so impressed with what this girl had to say musically, that I thought I mights just as well interview her and find out a little bit of who she was and where she got her start.

Initially, Symmetry and I were going to meet at a party that she recently played at, Queens of the Underground in Omaha, NE. A late start from her home town, as well as a late start from Kansas City, mixed in with weird weather and it never really happened. We did catch up to one another by eMail just last week and had a little verbal volley.

So, you're from Minneapolis and you play some really fine DnB. How is the DnB scene in the twin cities?

It's thriving as much as a lot of sub genres are in this city. I wish it were a little bigger, but that's what we're (bassheadz) here for: to keep this music accessible in Minneapolis and to give people their fix of out of town drum & bass producers as well. We and another group, Sound in Motion, bring in a lot of out-of-town headliners. Bassheadz most recently brought John B, Mason from Philly, and J Majik. Sound In Motion and Plush recently brought Fresh (formerly of Bad Company) and the Planet of the Drums tour. The Advanced Dance crew throws parties on occasion, and most of our weeklies are not genre exclusive, so some drum & bass gets played in the bars and small clubs. Altogether, there's no shortage of people involved in throwing drum & bass events, even though there's sometimes a shortage on the audience's side of things. The attendance fluctuates from event to event: sometimes it's packed and rowdy, and sometimes it's so scattered. That goes for a lot Minneapolis events, though.

When did you start playin? Did you start off with DnB?

I started playing in 1998, but it wasn't with drum & bass records. I decided to buy trance then house and then added breaks too, and I also started buying drum & bass at that time. When I finally decided to invest in a drum & bass collection though, I was already tagged with the label of trance/house/breaks DJ in Boston (where I was going to college) and I liked where things were going so I didn't want to change my style. It wasn't until I got back to Minneapolis in 2002 that I started playing the drum & bass records I'd bought, and promoting myself as a drum & bass DJ. It was nice to start over without anyone expecting to hear a certain style during my sets. I still love breaks, but drum & bass is just so entertaining to mix.

Is there a story behind the DJ name (Symmetry)?

I was playing out for a little while without any name at all, so people would throw names like "DJ-licious" on the flyer for me, which was a cue for some friends to play this DJ name game. They'd think up these really inane DJ names (some are a little vulgar so I won't mention them.) At one point someone called me DJ Symmetry for a shirt I was wearing or something like that, and I thought, "Hey, I could live with that." It's not the most profound Dj name story, although since then I've come to like it because it signifies balance and consistency.

What's a couple of your favorite DnB producers?

Pendulum is my new favorite. Ed Rush and Optical are making a comeback for me. Ram Trilogy. ArQer, Mason, Karl K, Kaos and Robby T are all awesome and all from the US too. Evol Intent is just fun and crazy. lot's more..

Anything in particular that inspired you to start DJing?

I always loved electronic music like Deee-lite, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and old school compilations. When I was old enough to go out to clubs, it was fun to hear that type of sound live, and I wanted to mix for myself. I was inspired by the live element.

Anything in particular that inspired you to start playing DnB?

The Rinse weekly in Boston exposed me to drum & bass superstars. Their sets were really kind of evil and fun to me. It gave me something to aspire to. I also have to thank this crew, Powersurge Productions, because they always encouraged me in playing drum & bass and taught me a lot.

The CD you gave me down in Miami... is that a pretty recent demo?

That CD was made a few weeks before WMC 2004, so yes :)

Do you have anything that you're working on?

There are some preliminary and tentative plans to throw a Hardstepsistaz showcase in the Midwest. I've been working with the Bassheadz part of the Blueshift campout (Aug 6-8.) Planning for upcoming Bassheadz shows keeps me busy. As for production, I'm going to school for sound engineering and just want to get anchored in production in the next year. I've made a few tracks, but they're for personal listening at this point :)

How did you like Miami? Did you happen to make it by Lounge 16 or "The World of Drum & Bass"?

Miami was pretty fun. I got spoiled talking to and listening to every favorite drum & bass DJ of mine. It was almost too overwhelming. For example, the "World of Drum & Bass" had so many headliners, each DJ only had 45 minute slots. Twisted Individual only played for 45 minutes. Bassline Smith too...what? That show also had terrible sound. But I was amazed at the amount of kids who knew all the tracks and the artists. That was cool to see.

When you are looking for new tracks, what grabs your attention first?

Really clear mastering, complicated, layered and clean drum patterns, sub-bass, mood tracks: the ones that aren't dancefloor destroyers but just make you want to freak out for the way they make you feel. "Wasteground" by Kingdom is an example of this for me.

Are there any particular tracks that say... "Buy me.... NOW!"?

These tracks aren't out yet, but Robby T's and Brandon Ivers' "Loon of Doom," and Mason's "My Sound." Released tracks that said that to me not in particular order: Danny C "Never Mine," Konsta "Free Your Body," Pendulum "Voyager," ArQer "Get a Little Closer," Kryptic Minds "Remember," Karl K and Kaos "Vice" and "Studio 54," Shimon "Mysterons," Klute "Gluesniffer." I could do this for a while...

Do you have any upcoming dates?

Bassheadz is organizing a lineup for one of the tents at the Blueshift campout party, August 6-8 in Wisconsin. Other than that, I play out pretty regularly at clubs and sometimes on radio stations in Minneapolis. We've got a rockin' weekly scene here there are a lot of opportunities for local DJs.


For more information about DJ Symmetry and BassHeadz, you can get in touch with her through BassHeadz at www.bassheadz.com.

solaris

interview & photos by todd ~ Solaris is a one-of-a-kind DJ hailing from Kansas City. He plays a style of Techno that is rarely heard in the Central MidWest, but can be found pounding out of the speakers in many of the larger cities around the United States. He plays Hard Techno, has always played Hard Techno and will probably continue to play Techno until the day that falls over dead on top of his turntables. While many DJs flip flop and delve in to other genre's of electronic music, his continued dedication and devotion to this particular genre led me to seek him out for a few random questions.

When did you start playing?

I got my start in 96, got some turntables and records and doing the bedroom-DJ thing. I taught myself, really and didn't start playing out until 97 or 98.

What do you call your specific genre of Techno?

Hard Techno. Some in the Goth/Industrial compare it to what they call PowerNoise. However, I can and sometimes do play other less brutal variations of Techno.

Solaris? Where did you get that name?

My name sort of relates to the Kansas City stigma. I was playing house parties in '96 and the two throwing it kept placing me dead last when the sun was coming up. It was at a small gathering at Infinite Sun with Shalon 6 months later that I chose Solaris. It seemed to fit the situation, and after a bit it stuck. Funny thing when I gave one of those guys, who always put me on last, a mix tape a year or so later. He cam up to me and told me this story about how his friend showed him a dead body at the morgue. (First time seeing a dead body) and he was shaken up on his way home and poped my tape in. He came to tell me how that it fit the situation and his feelings perfectly....You have to love showing someone that music doesn't always have to house-y or cheerful to be good. Sometimes everyone needs a little abrasion.

What sucked you in?

Of all things, heh, a party. It was a party in St Louis, called Eonia, I believe it was. It was thrown by Superstars. It wasn't my first party, but I had gotten a gig to Repo a car in St Louis. (I was a Repo man at the time). So, I got my trip paid for and went down to this New Years party and went there and heard DRC play before she started playing everything. She was playing Hard Techno and it convinced me that was what I wanted to do.

What was the first party you played at?

The first party I remember playing at was actually a party that I helped throw with Mike Bradshaw, called ReBirthday. I met Offtrack at this party and I played after him. He seemed kind of surprised and appreciated what I could play and we later got together to form the TJL - Techno Justice League.

When did the TJL start up?

97 or 98. It started off with Offtrack and myself. Basically, we were on eGroups and joking around and talking about Techno. At one point, Offtrack threw the name out there and it kind of stuck. N.9, Andrew Boie, then Konsept and Zack Smith came in shortly after.

It seems like everyone formerly involved in the TJL has kind of split off and gone their own direction in the last couple of years. Everyone still plays Techno in one flavor or another, but there doesn't seem to be that cohesiveness you guys once had. Is it from lack of support or just the natural course of things?

Yea. Everyone has just kind of evolved to other things. Offtrack moved to Chicago, Andrew is currently working with another site on their roster, n.9 is still producing out in Manhattan doing his thing there and Konsept became more involved with promoting events in Lawrence. We just all sort of moved away from collaboration in favor of independent projects.

On the surface, Kansas City doesn't appear to have a huge Techno following. There almost seems to be a stigma attached to it because it was the generic name given to all dance music. What are you thoughts on that?

That has definitely been a sore spot for a lot of people that know what real Techno is. That stigma carries over to the promoters, who seem to have gotten it in to their head that nobody likes Techno and consequently think that nobody will come. Those that do understand though, such as Cicada Rhythm have continually done successful Techno events. I even brought DDR to do a live PA here and it was crazy! So, I know that Techno is alive. I mean even Woody McBride, the last time he was here, played Techno and everybody loved it. The newer promoters just don't seem to have as much respect for Techno as they do House or Jungle, or maybe they just don't understand.

So, what are you up to these days?

I'm always mixing something or working on tracks, between school and work and everything else. I do have a mix CD out called Syntax Error. An hour plus of Hard Techno. I also have a CD with 4 of my own original tracks that I have been distributing to various people during and since our trip to Miami. Techno can stand alone, but the structure I like to develop within my tracks and mixing are a piece of myself and how I feel. This keeps me working and thinking as I evolve.

You don't seem to play a lot here in the MidWest, but you seem to get gigs just about everywhere else. What's up with that?

In the last couple of years, I have played outside of KC more than I've played here. I've played in Omaha, Des Moines, Lawrence, Topeka, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood (FL), Austin, St Louis, Springfield, Joplin, South of Chicago in Illinois, Madison, South Dakota, Warrensburg, Columbia, St Joseph, Smithville, Ohio.

The demand is there, but I think it kind of goes back to that Stigma, which is really bad here in the MidWest. The promoters in KC don't seem to pay as much attention when people tell them, "I love this stuff. You should book this guy." They seem to prefer to "Stick with the Safe Bet". Other cities seem to be a little more ahead of the game on this one and when their people ask for Techno, they get it.

It was great tagging along with you to your gig in Springfield, Hex. You opened up for an Industrial band, The Lonely. Things were fairly normal when we got there, but I noticed when you started playing... I think you shocked and surprised everyone (in a good way). You definitely had their attention. I saw heads bobbin and some even decided to get up and dance. Several that I talked to really were pleasantly surprised. Any thoughts on that night?

HEX was great! I can only say positive things about the night. These promoters enjoy their work as much as I love playing. I mean when a promoter spends 3-4 hours setting up a club night beforehand and then tear it down, you know they are committed to throwing a quality event. You have to love it when people who never heard techno realize what they were missing. Combine that with the headz coming to support and you cant go wrong. I just have to remember to watch out for this crazy girl who ran around all night calling me a super hero... Also, Congrats to Large Marge and Shagee for thier engagement!

What is your Top Ten Techno that you are currently playing?


  • Fak Records – Tuomas Rantanen – FAK015
  • AR - Testosterone Inc. - AR005
  • Fresh Grind – Glen Wilson – FRESHGRIND03
  • CLR – Hardcell – CLR11
  • Lifeform Recordings – Andreas Kremer – LFR15
  • Blacklisted - Chris McCormack – YESH001
  • Lifeform Recordings – Andreas Kremer – LFR11
  • CLR – Chris Liebing – CLR14
  • Skull Tunes – Boris S. – SKT0006
  • Sheep Records – Mark Broom – SH029A

Do you have a personal favorite?

That has got to be the hardest question when you have played over a hundred events...I can tell you one of my first favorites that I played was Plastikmans Recycled Plastik EP. My personal favortie mix of all time is Ritchie Hawtin - Mix Mag Live.

What dates do you have coming up?

Maybe another party in Springfield. Those guys love Techno! The harder the better.

Learn more about DJ Solaris, keep up with his travels and download some mixes at his web site, www.djsolaris.com.

kid kameleon and ripley

Interview by phelyne ~ Photo courtesty of Mashit Recordings  ~ Both Kid Kameleon and Ripley are outstanding djs who are modern day story tellers with their track selection and mixing skills which consist of everything from raggabreaks, dubcore, speedbeats, genreblends, wreckstep, soundclashes, beatresearch, rewinds, basshits, boomsounds, strategic experimental sampling, and intellegent trick placement. Niether have put out tracks on vinyl yet but plan to in the near future. Kid Kameleon has been djing since 1997 after becoming a jungle fan in 1996 while enjoying some of T Power's Mutant Jazz. Ripley became a jungle enthusiest during the height of ragga in 1994-1995 and began djing in 1996. Together these two DJs are currently on tour in Europe. Upon their return from their 2004 Mashit European Tour, they will be making a stop in Kansas City, then will be heading west for relocation to California around the end of July. I recently had an opportunity to talk with them and here's what they had to say.

How would you describe the music you create?

Kid Kameleon: hmmmm ... breakbeat-centric? I call myself a breakbeat strategist, and chose the name chameleon because I never wanted to focus on only one thing. While my ear does go towards certain types of sounds, no doors are entirely closed.

Ripley: It's always a challenge. I prefer to describe what I do, the action, rather than what comes out, a product. My favorite description these days is what Simon Reynolds called it when he saw me play: "Rhythmic danger in overdrive... Rootical rally-cry uproar." There's lots of slicing and layering and chopping, but in a pretty muscular, kinetic, dancefloor way rather than an atmospheric way. I like to combine sounds and beats from all over the spectrum, although I stay ragga influenced, with some middle eastern/south asian sounds as well. For bpms I stay around the 170-190, with a lot of half-tempo stuff too. I've been branching out into grime/sublow/UK garage and dancehall at bpms that mix with it, recently.

What made you decide to go in this musical direction?

Kid Kameleon: Not being closed minded. Not rejecting anything out of hand. Specifically, I got into Jungle because I saw it as the most wide-ranging genre imaginable. In 97 there was such a wide range of sounds going on in jungle, ragga from a few years before, very minimal Photek-style productions, goofy Aphrodite tracks, fun stuff from Shy FX, dark and heavy stuff Ed Rush/Optical and crew, and new hip-hop/experimental fusions from people like Wally in New York.

Ripley: My musical incubator was the Toneburst crew in Boston, which helped bring up a whole range of brilliant, eclectic artists like Hrvatski, dj c, /rupture, dj flack.. They were a special group, both in terms of throwing total multimedia experiences/parties, but also having a concept, having some kind of social mission, engaging musically and materially in current events and issues, and also organizing responsibly, treating everyone involved with dignity. They were very eclectic, musically, and nobody felt like they had to stay within any particulary musical boundaries, it was only to make sense with what you were doing.. It was a pretty total package, and it also focused on action, on doing things well on all levels. People weren't focused as much on a particular sound, as much as the messages you could send with sound and rhythm. bass, dub, ragga, breaks and jungle could always be found at those events. I think Bass is a great communicator, and I've always found breakbeats more stimulating, more physical. I also am usually moved by reggae and dancehall syncopation, so there tends to be a ragga flavor in what I do.

How do you feel about your recent success?

Kid Kameleon: Couldn't be happier. It's not a breeze, but it is amazing to go to foreign countries I might not have really thought about 3 or 4 years ago and have people excited to hear what it is I get excited to do.

Ripley: I feel pretty lucky.. 5 european tours so far and hopefully more to come.. I'm happy too, because I have not had to compromise much on how I work - either in terms of what I play, or in terms of sucking up to people I don't care for, or who don't respect me. I haven't had to waste a lot of energy on negativity, and keep meeting more and more fascinating people doing exciting stuff all over the world.

What encouraged you to take your talent this far?

Kid Kameleon: Other people/musicians/DJ that are on the same eclectic path as I am, and promoters out there (like the group Soundlab that I work with) who are willing to throw parties that encouraged experimentation.

Ripley: It never occurred to me to stop!

What was the most inspirational moment you have had as a musician?

Kid Kameleon: I've been trying to think about this for awhile now. I can't do one, but I can rattle off a little list. 1. Shy FX at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne, October of 99. First big entirely Jungle party I went to. 2. Meeting Mad Professor, also in Melbourne. 3. All Radiohead concerts 4. DJ sets by Guillermo Brown, now a jazz drummer with Matthew Ship among others. 5. DJ Aura at the Frying Pan, NYC in 2001 and seeing people go berserk for a Boards of Canada Track. Squarepusher that same night too.

Ripley: In November 2001 I played a benefit party for the Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association. A month after 9/11, all of us were re-connecting in this warehouse in bushwick.. crusty ragga kids, lean freetekno heads, local hiphop heads, older activist types...it was a cool mixed crowd,and everyone was on a dancefloor together. tearing it up for a good cause. I noticed that different djs who played mostly one style of music would get basically one segment of the audience on the dancefloor. I was the only dj who got everyone to represent at once. That made me feel pretty good! The vibe was intense anyway, we were all happy to see each other, for some of us it was the first time we had laid eyes on all the familiar faces since the disaster. A few weeks later I played in Rennes, France. I was at the decks, my friend the MC had come up for a while. Another guy came up to ask for the mic - he said to me: "You're american? I'm Iraqi. We should play together" and then he freestyled some amazing shit. It meant something to him, not just the sounds, but what we were doing, what we could do together, and what it meant that we were performing it publicly. Made me feel hopeful about music in the world. I'm inspired a lot by artists I've met and worked with. Donna Summer (Jason Forrest), Parasite (he runs Death$sucker records), Peter Trash (Peace Off, Rennes), Eiterherd (he runs this website called widerstand.org out of Austria), Doily and Criterion running Broklyn Beats records (broklynbeats.net). There are so many people doing truly creative stuff, and fostering other people to do it, purely out of love for music and for the message. That's pretty inspiring.

Upcoming Dates:

June 5 Gartenbaukino - Vienna, Austria
June 8 Szobadiszko - Budapest, Hungary
June 10 Mokka - Thun, Switzerland
June 11 Ebullition - Bulle, Switzerland
June 12 Le Zoo de l'Usine - Geneva, Switzerland
June 18 BASStroniK'ru - Toulouse, France
June 23 Overtoom 301 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 24 Fusion Festival - Northern Germany

You can find more information about these two, by visiting Mashit Recordings online at www.mashit.com.

alex cohen

Interview by Staci Morgan ~ photos courtesy of The Cherry Fund ~ There is no shortage of great DJs in Washington, DC. Mirroring the rest of the country, it seems everybody wants to be a DJ, with vinyl even making a comeback at mainstream record shops across the country. But before the onslaught of “wannabe DJs”, there were patient DJs, addicted to vinyl and the art of making music their own creation. Even with the guidance of a legend, and a collection of original tracks, a DJ needs a break—a moment to catch people’s attention and bring him from the easily obscure in to the light of “the next big thing”. For Alex Cohen, it was a Sunday night this past March. Spinning for Cherry 9’s Host Party at Dream. It would become an impromptu coming out party for one of Washington, DC’s best kept secrets.

As a regular club girl, I pride myself on knowing the scene fairly well, so I was befuddled that there was this amazing local DJ operating pretty much under radar. And as Alex prepares to heat Washington, DC up this summer, it’s time to finally answer “Who is that DJ?”. Don’t let the dimples and boyish good looks fool you. He’s gracious but direct and quick to let me know that he’s no new kid on the block. But it does not take long to figure out that he’s right!

Staci: Alex, to the rest of Washington, it may seem like your name is popping up more and more that you are suddenly breaking out, but you have been a DJ and producer for years now. Is it frustrating to have people just now notice you?

I have been spinning for years. The production end is newer to me. I have to say that the DC scene was difficult to break in to. I don’t think of it as frustrating, it’s more like a relief. People are not noticing, enjoying and dance to my music. It’s amazing to have people finally know who I am, asking when I’m going to spin again. It’s a welcome change. My residency at PURE in Philly has gotten my name spread there also….It’s awesome.

Every DJ has a unique path to the booth. When did you decide that DJing was the perfect fit for you?

My older brother was a bartender. One day, I asked him if he could get me in the bar to hang out with him (laughs) though I was a bit young. Well, he did. It was the first time for me to be in a club with people dancing, loving the music. Instead of dancing with everyone else, I spent the whole night watching the DJ booth. I was amazed at how the DJ moved the crowd. I knew right there, that I was mean to be a DJ. Later on in the night, my brother introduced me to the DJ. I ask him how I could do what he did- you know “how could I be a DJ?” He gave me some tapes, told me to listen to the mixes and how beats fell together. We actually became very good friends. He taught me how to not just listen, but to feel the beats. After months of learning, my friend called me. He wanted me to fill in for his friend. So there I was, 16, spinning at my first club. It was the best experience of my life.

WOW- he gave you tapes to listen to. It’s hard to imagine now days. But you have a deep respect for the “art” of spinning vinyl. With technology making it easier for anyone to splice and spin from any computer, do you feel like it has taken away from the craft?

There is nothing like the feel of vinyl. Yet, for the amount of music there is out there, and all the unreleased productions including mine, CDs are beneficial to the DJ community. To be honest, I don’t think it’s taken away from the art of DJing. A computer can’t spin the way I do. I adjust what I spin to how the crowd reacts. A computer can’t sense the crowd’s energy.

Technically speaking, how difficult was it for you to learn how to spin? Did you have a background in music? And how hard do you have to concentrate when spinning a majority vinyl set?

When I learned how to spin, I never had any background in music; everything I did till this day is from my ear. There are things I feel, but I don't know where the source of them is. I use my own imagination to reach my goals in the sound. When I started spinning I played only vinyl, I don't remember any DJ that span CDs back then, the technology we have right now didn't exist. Sometimes, I used to get kind of hectic when it skipped, but now most of the clubs have any sock trays installed in the booth, which makes it so convenient for us to still play it.

Many people will be hearing you for the first time this summer. Can you describe your style for those who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing you spin?

I usually start my set with Deep house, making my way up to tribal and anthems, at peak hour you'd hear some more progressive and Black divas laid over very aggressive beats. I also do remix of the fly at times; I like to also sample acapella, beats. I try to come up with new tricks while being in the booth, more stuff that could be done live to show my skills.

Do you feel that you are sometimes pressured in to playing a certain way or changing your style for an evening to counteract the sometimes stagnant state of clubland? In other words, when people don’t come out to eh club for whatever reason, is that forcing DJs to stray from their own creative blend and play for more of the mainstream/Top 40 crowds?

Well, it’s a fact of being a DJ. When the floor is empty, you have to do your best to fill it. Usually, the people at the club earlier will respond to more top 40 mainstream music. If the night improves, you’ll be able to put yourself out there and if it’s a good crowd, they will get it. If it’s an awesome crowd from the beginning, I stick to what makes the crowd roar. When people go see a big name DJ, they go because they know what the music will be like. Until I’m a house hold name, I have to bend to the desires of the crowd.

Who has been the biggest influence on you with regard to your DJ career? When you’re frustrated, what is the best advice and the worst advice you’ve been given?

I like lots of DJs such as Victor Calderone, Billy Carroll, Tony Moran and Ralphi Rosario. The best advice and worst advice I’ve been given is to be patient. (laughs) It was the best because it was right…I was patient and things are finally moving in my direction. Yet, it was the worst because patience is hard work! Another piece of good advice: do things the right way.

You have family in Europe and actually played a few parties in France and Spain before settling here in Washington. Since you were just starting out then, did you take those opportunities to prime yourself for your return to the states

I totally considered spinning overseas an experience that would help be build a strong background in the industry, specially the places in Madrid in Spain. I used to go visit my family in France regularly. I got into this bar where I spun a few times. The atmosphere was kind of different- especially the vibe, I played mostly classics. Even now, my memory still goes back to those days, and it feels like it was just last week or so. Those were my first days. (giggles)

You have played raver clubs, gay parties, circuit events, bars, after-hours and just about everything in between. Where do you find the best energy and what do you think makes you a good fit for those parties?

That’s easy. I find the energy from the crowd. I think I can be a good fit for most parties because I pay attention to the people. If the crowd is not feeling what I’m doing, I switch it up for them. You gotta give the crowd what they want and need to have a good time. Although, I am a much better fit for the circuit crowd!

As a DJ, what accomplishment are you most proud of? Was there a point where you almost threw in the records and said “I QUIT”?

I am really proud of the successful events I’ve spun. For example, turning a host party for Cherry in to a dance event and my residency at Pure. I have never thought of quitting. I am thankful to the people that have supported me to this day. In the past, when I was frustrated, I would focus on the support I had and on having patience.

You caught the attention of the Cherry Host Committee earlier this year, almost by accident. Even those of us who think we KNOW everyone in the business locally at least by name, were totally caught off guard by you. Did you understand the significance of playing for Cherry at Dream when you were offered the chance? Were you shocked with the crescendo of the crowd all evening that kept you spinning well after close?

Of course, I understood the significance. It was a great opportunity for me to play and have a new crowd to enjoy my music. It gave me exposure in the DC circuit community. Shocked wouldn’t be the right world. I was excited. The crescendo was the best part! The crowd’s energy invigorated me.

Almost immediately, your name was on everybody’s lips. Realizing you were just doing what you always do, how did that feel?

You know, I did expect some response. It was the first time people were given a chance to hear me spin. Yet, the actual response was more than I had anticipated. It’s amazing. I loved it!

Are you nervous about all the attention you're getting? Prior to Cherry, you played virtually without any expectations. Now, people are coming out to hear if you are really as good as people say you are.

Not really nervous, I mean I've been waiting for this to happen for a while, perhaps I am finally getting satisfied after all the hard work throughout the years. I concentrate now more about how many are coming to see me, I do everything in my possible to bring success to my events.

You are my favorite type of DJ. You’re constantly moving around in the booth, giving energy back to the crowd, and making it look effortless. At what point in a night do you feel content and think “wow…this is a perfect moment”?

Perfect moment is the peak hour. When the crowd is at it’s highest energy…that is the moment I enjoy the most.

Does your music reflect your personality? Is music your escape? When producing your own tracks, do you sometimes draw from your own emotions?

Sometimes it does, it is demanding a lot my time, at times that happens. Music is my escape, but not all the times, I do have other things too, like hobbies...... While producing music, I express feelings and things I want to feed to the audience with, Also it depends if it is a remix or a full production, as you can't take it far when it's a remix, you have to stay in that direction.

As you mentioned, you play regularly at Pure in Philadelphia, where you have higher name recognition, at least until recently, than here. Is there a difference in the crowds or the clubs, in Philly from DC?

Crowds are different every night, no matter where you are playing. Each crowd has its unique feel and energy. As a DJ, I just try and tap in to what the crowd feels. The feel of the club also influence the crowd. I prefer a club where the emphasis is on the music and on dancing, not necessarily just the decorations. If I get to spin at a beautiful club that has people with amazing energy, then…I am in heaven.

What are you most excited about this summer? Now that people in Washington are taking notice, you’ll face higher expectations.

I am launching a web site pretty soon and I’m also currently scheduling summer gigs. This summer is filled with new opportunities. It seems like doors are opening everywhere. I am most excited for making new crowds feel my music and energy and taking them on a journey.

(Since this interview was finished, Alex Cohen has been booked to play during Pride Weekend on Sunday at Dream, Apex on June 25th, and Velvet Nation in the main hall at July 31st)

Are you currently working on any production projects that we should be on the look out for?

On the production front, I just finished a couple of originals- WORK and THE MUSIC. The exciting news is I just finalized a track featuring two of Cherry Committee members! It’s a fierce mix. I, actually, played it at my last appearance at Pure. Boy, that song rocked the house!

Where do you draw your inspiration from when either producing or spinning at a club?

I get really inspired at the club watching the crowd, especially if I’m receiving a good response. While producing, my inspiration lies in doing my best to create music that turns the whole dance-floor out. I get inspired from so many things. I don’t know where it comes from. I just know that I feel it!

In the next five years, what do you hope to accomplish that will keep you motivated to stay in this business?

Currently, I am working on opening up a bigger production space with two other DJs. The new space will continue my motivation in creating new music. I hope to continue to build my name and have people come out to hear me spin. What else can keep me motivated? …being able to turn it out!

Clubland is a high stress environment. When you're not working, or spinning...how do you relax?

It is stressful... When I'm off, I know there is always a relaxing style of music which is Jazz and lots of old Funk in my case. I enjoy reading, playing pool, cooking a variety of dishes from all over the world, learning about cultures and languages, different lifestyles.

Finally, not as a DJ, but as Alex Cohen. What's your favorite song of all time? And why?

That's gonna be "Havana Club", Rosabel did great mixes of it as well. It reminds of Spain and the good times.

More information about Cherry can be found at their web site, www.cherryfund.org.

global scene

Valencia & Ibiza ~ Story by Michael Bradshaw ~ Photos courtesy of wGuides.com ~ In the Mediterranean expanse of Eastern Iberia lays Valencia--the crown jewel of the Valencian province and the third largest population in Spain. Among rows of cypress trees and rumbling streets, the Valencian people dart through one of the most complicated and chaotic urban centers in Europe.

The Velencian people are, by nature, genuinely kind however very much in tune with their urban roots. Graffiti covers every surface including the foundations of cathedrals and national monuments. Italo-disco thumps from egg-like cars packed with young people who constantly seek the stimulation of drugs and discotheques.

Sex is very much a commodity here. Recently I witnessed a back-seat tumble which took place not only in the middle of the day, but in the middle of a busy intersection as well. It is obvious the people of Valencia learn and desire sex, drugs, music and life in the discotheque, at a very young age.

In the United States, one would equate the Italo-disco movent to that of Progressive House or UK Hard House (which, by the way, they literally call US Hard House in Europe). The differences between the two are the speed; Italo-disco resides between 150-160 BPM, the language of the lyrics; they tend to be in Italian or Spanish, and the overall tone. Proggy House in the US borrows a lot from trance—Italo-disco is all about kicking ass.

Club life is different here as well. In Valencia, it is utterly unheard of, and even more un-cool to go to a club before 2 AM. On the weekends, its typical of nightlifers to not even eat dinner before midnight. Even during the week dinner usually occurs at about 9 PM. People as young as 12 and 13 years old will stay out until the sun comes up with the full knowledge of their parents.

In the discotheques themselves, dancing and socializing takes on a life of its own. Most clubs, even in the smaller provinces, will fill to capacity by 4 AM. In the larger cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, one can expect to find most clubs to pack in more than 3,000 people every weekend. It is no wonder that Spain is able to boast the hottest nightlife scene in the world.

However, I would be incompetent if I was to discuss the nightlife in Spain without mentioning Ibiza. Ibiza is still very much the Mecca of which all club life derives. Valencia is the jumping off point for anyone wishing to visit this notorious island.

Most who make the pilgrimage to Ibiza (including both Spaniards as well as foreigners) expect to be up all weekend, well into Monday morning. It must also be mentioned that Ibiza not only drains ones physical and mental energy, but one’s bank account as well. A typical weekend in Ibiza can coast as little as $200 (not including lodging and transportation) but can soar into the tens-of-thousands.

However, it is important to note that if one were to come to Valencia only to experience Ibiza, it would be a certain waste. The gritty, graffiti, dance and music scenes and the natural chaotic beauty of the city are essential to understand what all true urban culture can be.

Even without Ibiza, Valencia and the Valencian province is a wild and beautiful nightmare of pleasure. Under blue skies, the points of medieval spires glow in the shimmering skyline of an ancient but vibrant metropolis. Cathedral bells resonate between brick and mortar apartment houses and plume over futuristic European architecture in a weird juxtaposition between new, old, and the essential right now. Between all of this lies a music and a nightlife culture unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The music, people, and nocturnal nature of Valencia (as well as Spain) is simply not to be missed by anyone in search of *the real.

For more information about Valencia, check out wGuides.com. For Ibiza, try www.ibiza-spotlight.com.

the anomaly

Chaos Theory v2.0 ~ story & photos  Photos courtesty of RichardHumpty Vission.com, NigelRichards.com, Freaky Flow by Mark Bartkiw, all others by todd

dx/dt=delta*(y-x)
dy/dt=r*x-y-x*z
dz/dt=x*y-b*z

The dictionary definition of chaos is turmoil, turbulence, primordial abyss, and undesired randomness, but scientists will tell you that chaos is something extremely sensitive to initial conditions. Chaos also refers to the question of whether or not it is possible to make good long-term predictions about how a system will act. A chaotic system can actually develop in a way that appears very smooth and ordered.

"Physicists like to think that all you have to do is say, these are the conditions, now what happens next?" -Richard P. Feynman

That is exactly what is going to happen on June 12th at the Uptown Theater. The conditions are below. What do YOU think is going to happen next?

This month's spotlight party for the Central MidWest is Chaos Theory v2.0 : The Anomaly. After the huge success of the first Chaos Theory in March of 2003 by the up-and-coming promotion group PhukBed Entertainment. According to them, last year's attendance was more than 1500 people. This was quite a mark to make on Kansas city since there had not been a party with that many people here in a couple of years or more. Once everything was said and done, they knew that there had to be another.

Over a year later, this June 12, 2004, these guys have put together a lineup just as huge as last year's party. This year definitely promises to prove Chaos Theory accurate and be an even bigger spectacle than it's predecessor. If you weren't there, or for whatever reason, don't remember, drop in to the gallery. We have re-posted the photos from the first Chaos Theory!

This all ages event will be held within the historic walls of the Uptown Theater. This beautiful piece of architecture that graces the corner of Valentine & Broadway in MidTown Kansas City, MO has played host to more superstar acts than could possibly be listed here, going all the way back to the 1920s when it was stage home to one of the entertainment industries finest comedians, Bob Hope.

There won't be many jokes floating around, but I'm sure that there will be as much of a general air of happiness. There are definitely some treats in store for those planning on attending. As PhukBed Entertainment said, "This party is about giving the kids what they want."

One of he treats is the DJ Dojo. In a unique twist, the Red Bull Music Academy has setup the DJ Dojo in the smaller bar area on the second floor, just down the hall from the Jungle Stage. The concept behind the DJ Dojo is to give everyone an opportunity to learn a little bit more about DJing through demonstration and hands on experience. There will be local DJs (refered to as Sensei) that will be there to provide various demonstrations and doing Q&As for about 45 minutes each , then people in attendance will be able to "touch and feel" what was being demonstrated. It starts at 830 pm and anyone can participate. Sensei for the evening will be Mike Scott, cQuence, SpinStyles, Sydeburnz, Atom Bryce and Johnny Treymayne. For more information, you can contact Will willc@afrodisiac.biz.

This is definitely going to be a party NOT to be missed. 6 Rooms, 4 Bars, full Lazer and Light show, massive sound system, friendly security, and over 30,000 sq ft of Chaos! Besides, you never know when there may be another this size to hit Kansas City, so don't miss out.

Tickets can be purchased directly from the Uptown Box Office at 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, MO for $21 or by calling 816.753.8665 or at DeepFix Records, just behind Gomer's at 39th & Broadway. Of course, if you don't mind paying TicketMaster's up-Charge you can always get them there as well. Those tickets won't last for long. There's only a few hundred, then the price goes to $25. If you wait too long, it is going to cost you $30 at the door.

The party may end at 3 am, but the night is still young, right? That is why Tonz-O-Fun has stepped up to provide for the official after party for those that just can't get enough beatz. Stop by for some great regional talent like RazorFM from Colorado, Brent Crampton & Lunatik from Omaha, Stan Doublin from St Louis, as well as others. Look for flyers at Chaos Theory v2.0 or for more information, call 816.223.3475 the night of the show.

After you've gotten some sleep, or even if you haven't, come on out to Loose Park, located at Wornall Road and 51st Street in Kansas City, MO for Chaos Theory v2.0 - The AfterMath, a BBQ-After-After-Party. It starts at noon and goes until whenever. BYOB and chill for the afternoon to some beatz with some old and new friends.

The owners of the venue and promoters involved in organizing the event would like you to remember that as always, smoking is limited to the NoWhere Stage and the 411 Stage. Because of restrictions in some of the artists contracts, no cameras will be allowed unless you have applied for and received press credentials. Candy jewelry will be allowed, but no edible candy, and no backpacks. Also, please leave the drama home with your mama. Respect the venue, the people and yourself.

Main Stage

The main stage, setup in the Main Theatre area, will feature a sound system used by some of the best clubs in the world, Avalon Sound System.

Playing with that sound system for the evening on the Main Stage will be:

Richard Humpty Vission (LA / System Recordings)
www.RichardHumptyVission.com
The DJ Times says that Richard Humpty Vission is "One of the most prolific American producers, remixers and DJs of his time". With nearly 20 years of music experience, Richard Humpty Vission is set to shatter the sound barrier once again with his 8th mix CD, Big Floor Funk, a 60 minute continuous mix representing Vission's latest reinvention of his signature progressive funk and bangin' house style.

Joey Beltram (NY / STX, Tresor)
This is definitely a name to be known in the international musical community for the new millennium and currently on his CD Release Tour. Drawing inspiration from the raw, electro-driven beats and kinetic energy of the 80s, this Queens born and bred DJ and producer later paved the road for the Techno and Darkstep revolution. After 7 long years this living legend has returned dropping the bass once again, you don’t want to be the only kat that missed this one!

Josh “The Funky 1” (Chicago / Funktion Recordings, IHR, Mix-Connection, Fused)
www.TheFunky1.com
This is Josh's House Funktion 5 CD Release Tour. Hailing from the home of House music, Chicago, this 12 years veteran blends a unique style of funky house, tech-house and breaks, while incorporating scratching and turntable tricks. This is the headliner that rocked the party at the original PHREAKZ!, and has returned for round 2, this time determined to level the joint.

Xan Lucero & Atom Bryce (KC / XO, Phuk Bed, Afrodisiac)
These two fabulous KC locals plan to have that dance floor packed before the headliners even see the stage with their essential brand of highly charged disco and synth-driven peak time house.
Sydeburnz (KC / Sideshow, Redbull, VitaminE)

www.DJSydeBurnz.com
This Topeka, KS DJ will start you off right combining elements of UK Hard House, NrG, UK Tech, Acid Trance and Italian Techno.

Originally, the flyer indicated that Shandi would be playing the Main Stage of this event. Unfortunately for us, because of commitments that were out of her control with her new career after finishing 3rd in the reality TV show "America's Top Model", and a recent relocation to New York City, Shandi will not be playing this event. Maybe next time. Sydeburnz was brought in to fill her time slot.

411 Stage

Located on the top floor and one of the two areas where smoking will be allowed, will feature:

Nigel Richards (Philadelphia / 611 Records, AM Only)
www.NigelRichards.com
This man is more than globetrotting DJ talent with a few Mix CD's. He is a bona fide entrepreneur, who's devotion to DJ culture has spawned one of America's most respected record labels, 611 Records. Though Nigel's talent and determination have made him one of US dance culture's most important figures, all signs indicate that Richards' best is yet to come. Check him out, this may be the night. Techno... enough said.

Chris Close (Oklahoma City / Positivenergy Music, Jedi clan, Subterranean)
Rocking the Midwest time and time again with every genre known, Chris is sure to deliver here in KC. Please welcome him on his freshman visit and prepare to be rocked like a hurricane!

Wizzo (Lincoln, NE / Phul Phunk)

Lincoln native and KC newcomer, Wizzo, is already climbing the ranks and gaining popularity. With a little more than 3 years in, WiZZo has already made a buzz locally and regionally, and now is ready to throw down at the uptown!

Johnny Tremayne & Tony Markum (KC / Phuk Bed, NORML)
Every time Johnny and Tony step behind the decks, the only thing anyone can ever say is…DAMN! These two have an uncanny ability to move the crowd like no other. City after city, party after party, these two will leave you speechless time and time again!

Matthew Brian (KC / Deepfix Records)
Spinning a beautiful mix of deep soulful house, Matthew Brian is an esteemed recent addition to the KC House scene. Come check out Matthew Brian, as he throws it down and represents for the deep house crowd.

Jungle Stage

In the Valentine room, located on the 2nd floor, has been the Main Stage at recent events such as "Awakening". Featured DJs on this stage will be:

Freaky Flow w/ MC Flipside (Toronto / Topaz Records)
www.FreakyFlow.com
Freaky Flow, Toronto's Drum n Bass Assassin, and Flipside are raw power on the stage. Freaky Flow and Flipside have quickly become the most sought after North American DnB act in the world. With such impeccable beats and rhymes that the two project, it's no wonder. With numerous projects on the horizon, Flipside will push forward with his DJ into the future creating nothing but junglistic mass destruction!

Soul Slinger (Brazil / Liquid Sky)
Born and raised in Sao Paulo Brazil, Carlos Soul Slinger now residing in the US, has been responsible for some of the most forward-thinking music to emerge from the New York City underground over the decades. As well as working in conjunction with Greenpeace, Soul Slinger organized ECOSYSTEM, the original 4-day mega music, human rights and ecology festival in the Amazon Rainforest! Don't miss his first appearance to KC for some of the craziest jungle beatz you have yet to hear!

Game (KC / Ritmo, Suburban Loops, Afrodisiac)
The two overlords of the KC Jungle scene come together to form an entity colder than ice and packed with enough explosive tracks to take out 2 city blocks of haters! Recognize!

Gaia (Wichita / Jungle Recon)
This Jungle beauty isn't playing around. She comes on strong, and isn't afraid to get dirty and seduce you with her dark and heavy beatz.

Scenario (KC / 90.1, The Loop, Afrodisiac, Tribal Gear)
The Official KC Jungle Ambassador, Scenario, has been pushing the KC jungle scene since his arrival from the West Coast. As Master of Ceremonies for the evening Scenario’s got the flow that will take you for a ride all night long!

Milo vs. DJ Blue - 2x4 set (KC / 4 Corners, Chakra)
Blowing up quickly, these two represent the next generation of Junglists in the Midwest. Coming as hard and as heavy as they can, they push the genre to its limits, pulling out every trick in the book. Don't miss an amazing set on 4 decks that is sure to raise the bar!

No Where Stage 

Located in the NoWhere Lounge which is on the ground floor of the Uptown Theater building, near the main entrance. It is one of two designated smoking areas within the building and will be throwing out some beats of it's own as well with:

Oshae (St Louis / Street Sonic Productions)
One of the founders of Street Sonic Productions, Oshae has made a splash in the underground dance scene since his arrival in St Louis. Mixing Jungle and Hip Hop, Oshae drops a newer, funkier sound that separates him from the rest!

Mike Scott & Spinstylez (KC / Billboard, Breakbotix.com, 90.1)
The concept of tandem DJs is nothing new, Mike Scott & Spinstylez have been blazing clubs and spinning everything from progressive to hip-hop, bringing their uncanny chemistry and raw musical talent to dance floors all over the Midwest.

C-Vaughn (KC / 96.5 The Buzz, Aphrodisiac.biz)
A visionary in his own right, Collin is taking Kansas City to the next level and he knows that the electronic music is the key that will open the door. So you better watch out Kansas City because it's on!!

Mike McGrath (KC / DPL United)
Mike is one of those DJs that can only be truly appreciated live. His sound is distinctly fat. Bass lines tower over the mix while tight, precise beat patterns perform polyrhythmic rituals around them. The result is an almost perfectly balanced set of some of the best 2Step!

cQuence (KC / Deepfix, The Cup & Saucer)
Kansas City's First Lady of Jungle, cQuence has been pushing the KC Jungle scene relentlessly week after week. This chic is larger than life, blending chaos and order; she takes the crowd on a wild journey into the darker side of life.

4Star (KC / Tonz-o-Fun)
The newest kat to step on the KC jungle tip, but make no mistake…he ain't scurred. He's prepared to show you what he's 'bout, 4Star is sure to blow it up!
For more information, the following info lines have been established:

Free Agent: 816.796.3348

Phuk Bed: 816.717.4014

SquareOne: 314-768-0082

Ticketmaster: 816.931.3330