Mix – Left Coast Breakfast

I made this mix back in 2006, as a tribute and homage to the West Coast and all the wonderful talent that emerged here during the early to mid 1990s. If you were even peripherally associated with the dance music scene in Los Angeles, San Francisco or any where along the Left Coast during the mid 1990s, there is no doubt that you would be familiar with some, or many of these tracks.

In late 1993, early 1994, the Los Angeles dance music scene experienced what some would consider a rebirth. A number of factors contributed to turbulence in the scene during 1993, including numerous events getting shut down, bad promoters, and even the term “rave” had fallen out of favor. The “scene” pretty much withdrew to smaller house music clubs and afterhours.

And then it happened. The rebirth. This was an awakening of sorts which brought with it a number of incredible monthly or semi-monthly events and parties. Of note, and I certainly don’t mean to leave anyone off the list, were the Dream and Parliament parties specializing in house and progressive house. Weekly club Jungle helped promote a new and exciting sound called Drum ‘n Bass. Another weekly called Magic Wednesdays brought high quality DJ talent from around the world to shine in Los Angeles. The Moontribe desert parties were spiritual events where everyone was welcome to dance under the moon and the stars. Fresh Produce emerged, promoting a series of high quality events and high quality vibes. Last, but definitely not least were two events that I had the privilege of being directly involved with. There was Insomniac, which sought to re-energize the old school techno crowd on a weekly basis and which eventually grew into a massive promotional outfit that coordinated such events as Nocturnal Wonderland, Electric Daisy Carnival and Organic. But dearest to my heart was F.A.M.I.L.Y, featuring special guests and a regular lineup consisting of DJs Trance, Fester, Oscar D.G. and me, Mojo. No one can question the vibe, the warmth and the mutual respect and kinship that the F.A.M.I.L.Y parties engendered. It was a special time for me and so many others.

Along with these new promotion crews, there was a rebirth in the music. House music became a little edgier with the new progressive house sounds emerging. Trance became a growing force to reckon with. And then there were the breaks. Super funky breaks that could loosen up even the stiffest of wall flowers. The West Coast played a prominent role in this emerging sound, with artists and labels from Los Angeles and San Francisco – as well as Portland, Seattle and Arizona – putting out a number of terrific tracks. Not only did these tracks feature great beats, but there was an intelligence and depth to them that set them apart from much of the earlier electronic dance music. The richness of the textures, the sophistication of composition, and the emotion that was woven into these tracks all provided an incredible sonic palette for the DJs of the day to paint with.

And so this mix includes songs from labels such as Michael Knapp’s (aka Xpando) Bassex Records, which featured collaboration with artists Jason Blakemore (aka DJ Trance) as Rebirth, and Eric Davenport as Metro. There is the City of Angels label. Simply Jeff’s Orbit Transmission label produced a number of great records. Exist Dance Records founded by Tom Chasteen and Michael Kandel, was a pioneer in intelligent dance music bringing a diversity and depth in their releases that I believe is unparalleled. They remain one of my favorite labels to this day. Similarly, the San Francisco Hardkiss label by the Hardkiss brothers features music that is characterized by innovative compositions that weave a plush tapestry of mood and rhythm. Finally, I would be remiss without mentioning Peter Tall’s Bassbin Twins records, whose complex, energizing beats are quite simply, second to none.

I am forever indebted to artists such as these, for helping reestablish something magical during this period in my life. They are truly an inspiration, and I am privileged to have had the pleasure of presenting their work through the prism of my mix.

Stream: Left Coast Breakfast

Download: Left Coast Breakfast

Mix – OldSkool Vinyl ThrowDown

Last week I posted about a great site devoted to oldskool techno. There are quite a few blogs, forums, youtube channels, etc, devoted to this music and the scene that emerged around it. For me, even though I stopped gigging live for the most part as I have become focused on other aspects of my life, I have continued to research and discover elements of this music. Thank you Discogs!

What is it about this music that has created such a committed and loyal following? Looking back through the prism of maturity (and I mean that in a variety of ways, including artistically) after all these years, there is plenty of criticism one can direct toward this music. I mean, the production values on many of these records was not very good, the music often simple or formulaic, many records clone samples, beats and riffs off one another and let’s face it, some of those sounds are just in your face and obnoxious. And you know what? It is every one of those things and more that keeps this music endearing to us. Of course, there is the sentimentality of a magic time in our youth. A time spent with friends, putting the struggles and troubles of the day away for an evening of dancing, hearing new sounds, and meeting new people… Ok, now I am just rambling.

In any event, here is a mix I did a few years back that I think encapsulates a wide variety of oldskool techno. Everything from Belgian techno to some harder edged acid, and particularly a lot of the pre-jungle UK breakbeat that I was so fond of when I first started buying these records back in 1992. Tracklisting included below.

Stream: OldSkool Vinyl ThrowDown

Download: OldSkool Vinyl ThrowDown

01. Genaside II – Narra Mine
02. Is That It? – State of Mind
03. Rocket – Straight Up
04. Rabbit City #3
05. Pied Piper – Dreamers
06. HHFD – Start the Panic
07. Cybersonik – Technarcy
08. Tribal Instincts EP – Rock Da House
09. Venom – I Need Your Love
10. Tribal Instincts EP – Coming On Strong
11. Criminal Minds – Baptized By Dub
12. Phuture Assassins – Future Sound
13. Progression – On a Rubbish Tip
14. Krome & Time – This Sound is for the Underground
15. 4 Hero – In the Shadow (Sunrise Remix)
16. 32 Troop – Papa Malaysia
17. Illuminatae – Dreamer
18. The Hypnotist – This is my House
19. Mr. Kool-Aid & Marco – 2001: A Soda Pop Odyssey
20. D.H.S. – The House of God (Pump Panel Remix)
21. Drax – Amphetamine
22. DJ Tim & Ortega – Heartbreak
23. Edge #9 – File 57
24. Flag – Dominate
25. E.Kude – Common Sensi
26. Sound Corp – Security Overload
27. Kickin Six Pack LP 5
28. Caspar Pound – Pioneers of the Warped Groove (Way Out West Remix)
29. Hyper On Experience – Lords of the Null Lines (Foul Play Remix)
30. N-Joi – Drumstruck
31. Blame – Music Takes You (2 Bad Mice Remix)
32. Urban Shakedown – Some Justice

Scratching with an Ipod? ToneTable App Review

I purchased an app for the Ipod Touch called ToneTable, which acts as a trigger control for software like Traktor or Serrato Scratch. It sends out a control pitch signal, like the timecoded vinyl records that are distributed with such mixing applications.

The app shows a virtual record and it has a pitch control to allow beatmatching as well as realtime pitch tweaking buttons. After hooking it up to my Traktor audio interface, I was indeed able to mix with it. But I really wanted to see if it was possible to scratch with it. And while it isn’t quite as precise as real vinyl; I was very impressed with the results. Below is some video I shot to compare it scratching with tradidiotnal vinyl as well as the Traktor control vinyl. It takes a bit of getting used to and finding a way to keep the Ipod in place is a bit of a challenge, but all in all this is a very impressive little app.

With a little practice, two Ipods, a mixer and a laptop, you could certainly perfrom with this amazing piece of work.

AirDeck… it lives!!!

Here is some video I shot shortly after my project presentation which demonstrates the AirDeck virtual theremin application I designed and explains some of the features. It uses the Wii remote as an input mechanism by tracking motion with Infrared LEDs. The AirDeck is written in Java with the WiiUseJ API for handling Wii remote events and the JSyn API for internal synthesis. It can control MIDI out as well as offering a simple DJ scratch interface for real-time manipulation of sound samples similar to a DJ scratching with vinyl records. After about a year of working on this project, I am very relieved that it is finished. I’ve learned a lot and am looking forward to possibly working on other similar concepts in the not too distant future.