Why Music?

In response to the question: "What made you wanna become a DJ? What's changed, what kind of goals do you have, why did you pick the style(s) of music you mix/create, etc. And for those who do want to DJ and don't know how to go about it, what kind of advice could you give them?"

Technically I'm not really a DJ anymore (even though my card says otherwise); still, I'll answer from my perspective of "back in the day" when I was doing house parties, and also from my perspective today (as a "producer," which I'm interpreting as someone that "makes electronic music").

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DJing - when I was touring around the country for my first album (piano music), I noticed that it was a lot easier to get gigs/meet randoms/find places to crash by playing top 40/pop song mashups for parties instead of random piano music at "alternate venues." Early on, it was also a rush to just hit a button on a laptop and see a party crowd get all excited and happy... not to mention all the appreciation you get when people see/hear you mixing and think you're doing real magic just because you pick songs for people to listen to. It was a combination of attention whoring and a genuine belief at the time that "this seems to be so much easier than actually playing piano" - I feel differently now, but that's what I felt back then.

Stylistically, I always loved stringing together multiple songs on piano (i.e. put together the main riff of "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)" and the melody to "With or Without You"), but listening to Girl Talk got me into just mashing up the actual songs - as opposed to learning/arranging them on piano.

Mashup-wise, I used a lot of beats from early 90s East Coast hip-hop (A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Premier, Pete Rock). For faster music I'd use the drum beats from the intro bars of random trance tunes (like "BT's Somnambulist - Burufunk's remix" or "Probspot's Blow My Mind - Hammer & Funabashi remix"). I didn't even listen to trance at this time; seriously I had no idea what the names of any of the tunes were... I just had this random smattering of trance tunes that someone had downloaded to my computer. When I would do gigs, I had about 30 or so 32-bar intros from all these random trance songs ready to be cued up because I thought the drums sounded good. Never even listened to the songs beyond 2 minutes. Anyways, I'd layer these beats underneath rap acapellas or just combine them with other songs. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world - there were so few people I knew who were doing this! Of course, that was just ignorance but it worked at the time.

I noticed this whole mashup music scene seemed to be popular in random pockets around the country, and honestly I thought I could do better than most DJs as far as mixing multiple songs during a set (since I was using my laptop and was putting in 4-6 tunes at once). I thought that the more random tunes I could mix into a set, the more awesome that set would be. This was definitely not the case - people often want to hear music they recognize, and not everyone listens to a super-diverse spectrum of music... so I'd end up using a lot of the same songs to get a crowd reaction, and eventually my patience for listening to the same pop music of the day wore down on my interest in DJing. Plus, I was still playing piano, realizing how much more time I'd spent into developing that skill, and I was also getting into making experimental electronic music...

Firstly, I'd still be playing music if I had never produced anything, or never stumbled upon an old version of Cubase in 2001 and recorded a 4-track demo with my old rock band... Ultimately, it was technology developing to the point of consumer-friendliness which enabled and encouraged me to record and refine things beyond one-take performances (this I essentially see as producing music).

Musically, I feel like I produce whatever... I'm not trying to satisfy anyone consciously (except myself) when I start working on a new tune. I want to "create" something I enjoy listening to - something that I don't feel like I've ever heard before.

From an influence standpoint, I have a decent-sized and fairly diverse music collection, and I think every single song has some usable material for constructing new music (sampling, essentially). I think it would be amazing if someone could continuously pick randomly from a library of 100,000 songs and manage to mix the incoming song somehow into a set.

Also, I love recording a live looping session with soft synths and then going back and constructing a tune from those sessions. This form of composition takes care of my desire to give an "organic" feel to my electronic music too.

Just performing music is deeply self-gratifying, and that's mainly the reason why I play music... but going beyond that and into production - I think it's also about sharing something with people.

I'm deeply interested in merging the improvisational aspect of jazz/other acoustic music (essentially music theory) along with the less-pronounced improvisational aspects of electronic music/DJ'ing (essentially sound theory with a little music theory).

At this point in time, I envision the whole "improvisational" mixture concept as being somewhat new... now, having followed the evolution of classical music and music history in general, I've gathered that there are always people making avant-garde or "cutting edge" music, people making pop music, and people trying to take the cutting edge and "bring it to the masses."

Now, I'll share my music with people, but I'm not really trying to please anyone except myself. If other people dig what I make, that's great, but I don't really aim to please everyone...

With that mind, I've decided that I'd rather contribute to the constantly bubbling mass of awkward and quirky "experimental music" out there, and let other people try to make sense of it. That's not say that I think experimental music is necessarily "better" than pop music; it's not what I'd really try to create though.

It probably stems from being impatient with performing a lot of pop/commercial music... or just sucking at making pop music.

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