Written intent

This is a double first for me. It is both the first time I have blogged from my phone, and my first time blogging while overnighting in a tent. I never saw the need before (and I probably still don't to be perfectly honest, but I did say I would do this every day...ish). I'm not at a festival, or on an important scientific expedition, in fact I'm right outside my house. I don't usually sleep outside the house instead of inside (intentionally), but I'm having a traditional camp out with 6 year old Ryan tonight. Traditional in the sense that there is a tent. The lack of WiFi is probably the greatest hardship we have suffered (must get that other modem out..), and the movie was great. Movie? When I was a kid we couldn't watch a movie in a tent when we were camping. We got to shine a torch a the roof (or the wall...your choice), and if you were lucky there was a ghost story, and maybe even a song about farts. But there were no movies, and if you'd told your mother you'd woken up and found your Dad blogging she would have probably have thrown him out of the house for good...

A rather peaceful end to the day, which saw a little headway made on dubbing out a bit of material for this weekend. Last time out with Irie Ireland I had just picked up a Traktor Kontrol F1, and with very little time to mess around with it I just loaded it up with a few samples. This time however there are two F1s, and we'll work a live dub in somewhere in the set if it fits. I'm loving the simplicity of Traktor's remix decks and F1s together. I'd like the luxury of a few days on Ableton making loops and samples, and I still don't have the dub siren running off the F1 yet, but soon come...

Dirty Dubsters are also running live testing this Saturday night at The Bernard Shaw, playing The Beatyard session before they head to Boomtown for two full live shows. It's a freebie so go check them out as I'm told they've a few new rockets in their arsenal. Info on the event HERE! On the left you can see people queueing to even get a look in at the boys through the window ;) Arrive early.

In other news, details are starting to emerge about another Cork weekender on the cards...a bit broader in musical terms, but in equally good taste. Check out Scandal Rankin' on as it comes.

I'm now starting to go cross-eyed typing on this little screen, so I think it's time to sign off and get some sleep before dawn chorus...



Computer says No...Traktor says wot?!

It's taken me a couple of days to get around to this...mainly because I didn't really want to do it! After a year as a "Digital" DJ, I finally met with the inevitable issues that come part and parcel with the format. Two really scary nights I gotta scary I couldn't write a blog about it, or that's the excuse I'm gonna use... There's a new mix posted at the bottom of the page...another little excursion into breakbeat, though perhaps a little more mainstream here and there. Which might be why SoundCloud refused to allow me to upload it...anyway, back to the matter at hand...

Yes, it was that horrible moment when software is crashing and hardware not behaving as it should, soft patches unpatching themselves, and all the rest...and because the chosen modus operandi is digital, there are a lot more places to look to fix the problem. I've seen it happen lots of times at gigs...far too many times to possibly think it wouldn't ever happen to me...but I kind of did all the same. And why wouldn't I think I'm invincible anyway...? Aren't I the guy usually fixing these problems for other DJs when it happens them onstage? In my other life, where I dwell in the realms of live sound and event production I have encountered just about every single technical problem that the Universe has to offer. From simple power cuts, to shit bursting into flame with sparks flying out of it. The number rule is stay cool. The problem might be fixable, or there is always a chance that it's not. From the most humble of audio cables to even the most holy of Midas consoles, stuff will break. It will fail, and even though it was working five minutes ago, it's broken now.

Thursday night's gig had to be abandoned due to repeated software failure. It Luckily there was a background music system that could be pumped...and Stretch opening his "Juke Box Selection" with Frankie Paul's "Worries In The Dance" didn't go unnoticed ;)

Some overnight agonising over software settings and swearing at pieces of hardware ensued, followed by a day testing stability. Happy enough (but with a back up plan in place), I headed off to Wicklow with Jay to wrap up the night at a wedding for some friends of mine who have an incredibly good soul/funk/disco covers band. Sometimes they give me a call for gigs where they need an engineer, or an event where a top40 jock wouldn't go down too well. Just as we leave the city I get call from the lead singer Amy wondering if we'd a couple of spare cables with us, which implied we really needed to be there asap. So we rocketed down the motorway chatting about dogs and music and festivals while I didn't have a look through my collection or make any sort of rough plan in case things got out of hand like the night before, like I had said I would when I was leaving the house.

We were there in no time and within a minute the band were playing and all was good. We had a second PA in the van, with a couple of 18" subs so they came in and we rigged while the band blasted out motown classics and seriously funky numbers. Half half the crowd were from New York and The U.S. so by the time I was lining everything up to go I had a pretty comprehensive catalog of old school East Coast anthems screamed in my ear, which was all good. That's when it happened again. Total freeze of the hardware controls, audio drop out. Won't reconnect. The band are almost finish, and when I'd asked if they'd be playing an encore Amy smiled and shook her head. The pressure was on...there was at least a minute to go before everybody would find out...I could make it to the van, but I'd have to leave the gear, so on to the back-up plan. Straight out of the headphone jack and into a small Yamaha mixer that Jay uses for mixing his percussion on stage, and into the graphic EQ. Switched the soundcard option on and hey presto, there's audio. Bam! The band finish and I hit them with some Beastie Boys and eveything is good - except for the fact that I am stripped of all my DJ superpowers. Twice before I've had to get through a whole night in a club with no headphones, using the BPM readouts on cdjs, and the VDUs on the mixer, and I once mixed a radio show listening to the hi-hats sizzle off the needle in the almost silent studio. This time I fell back on the controversial "Sync" function, using loops and the small amount of credit I still had in the Bank-Of-Good-Luck. I never want to have to do that again. Ever. Had I taken my six year old to work with me things would have been a lot easier, as he knows all the keyboard shotcuts, (which he's learned as he patiently waits for Dad to pass him down a MIDI controller) but there are laws against child labour, no matter how much fun they're having.

It took me a long time to trust that newfangled CDJ technology, and a LOT longer to trust the software option, and for a moment there I was nearly going back to the old ways, for peace of mind, but I don't want this digital adventure to end here, so I just gotta get over it and move on. I have now re-installed everything and it's all working fine, but as a precaution I think it will definitely have to be Shimmy's pink laptop powering the Irie Ireland set-up for the Roots & Reggae To celebrate the successful repairs and reassert my manhood in a future of pink computers, here's a follow up to last weeks "Breakbeat Booty" mix, which was a dedicated special for DJ Mixes Now. SoundCloud has issues with it, saying it contains copyrighted material, so I've uploaded a 320 kbps MP3 to Mixcloud instead. Enjoy!



Soggy bottom story

Something happened during last night's gig, and Doyles made every national RTE TV news bulletin today...and it wasn't my fault. Honestly. And as P.T. Barnum is reputed to have said "There's no such thing as bad publicity..."

First let me paint you a background. I suppose it would be over a year now since a promoter friend of mine asked could I cover a gig in Doyles Pub in Dublin city centre. Although I'd never claim to have been a regular at any point in my life, in fact I think I could count my visits over the course of my life on two Simpson hands, I still had a fair idea what the vibe of the place was, and generally had been for years. Slap bang next to the offices of The Irish Times until a short while ago, and within spitting distance of the main gates of Trinity College, it mixed crowds from both with cops from Pearse St. Station, nurses (because of the GardaĆ­*), and of course tourists, because it's a very fine example of what people might expect an Irish Bar to be like. There is a ground floor bar, a lounge on the first floor (which hosts the Ruby Sessions), and a smaller basement bar, all housed in two (or three) old buildings which, when knocked together and joined with higgledy staircases and even more piggledy corridors, serve to enhance the drunken experience by a factor of ten. I distinctly remember getting lost in there myself years ago, and I think ordering a pint when I gave up trying to find the way out. So it works. I like having meetings with The Captain there, as it has that whole smugglers tavern vibe to it, with it's little pokey snugs (though Bagot & Hutton is the proper conspiratorial venue if I ever seen one), and the WiFi. Plus I don't have far to walk to work.

I did the gig, it went fine and here we are, (with thanks of course to my kind friend for the introduction). It's a big student crowd for a sizable amount of the year, with a leaning to the left musically, and retro vibes go down well, so it's settled into a mix of alt/rock running with reggae/ska, old school hip-hop, soul, funk and electronic...a ghetto funky, genre clashing kinda thing. Always keepin' it fun... Right now during the Summer months the upstairs lounge is shut due to a lack of the aforementioned students, so the management have moved DJs into the ground floor bar, bringing in a crew from Phantom FM at the weekends to supplement the already fervently followed residents. That's where I was yesterday, runnin' tunes when the rains came. We've had a relatively long spell of dry weather here in Ireland (for Ireland). In fact we've been calling it a heatwave, which is kinda cute. So that ended last night for Dublin, with a bit of a bang. There was a thunderstorm and it pissed down like there was no tomorrow for about an hour. Which was grand, because everybody ran into the pub. Not a single person with even a jacket...except for one. There was a girl sitting there in a pair of wellington boots and a shiny red raincoat, with a matching shiny plastic umbrella, impeccably dry, while most were like sodden beer mats. I have to say I got caught up in the emotional upheaval of it having rained, and I jumped straight to the conclusion that she was a witch. When questioned on HOW she was able to predict this she apologetically said that she had "looked it up this morning on the computer...". Just as well I didn't just burn her.

So anyway, there's mass hysteria in the bar because of the rain and nobody knows whether to be happy or sad, and it's still warm and we're stuck here now we can't go out so fuck it let's keep drinking kind of vibe, and this lad asks me for some AC/DC so I drop the Thunderstruck into over a Blur remix and the bar lights up on cue with lightning and people were goin mental and making love in the toilets in case it was there last chance and...and...and you can see how easily we get wound up about minor weather events here. Except for one man. Bar Manager, "Stretch" as he's know, saunters over...
"How you gettin' on?"
"Grand", says I, "not turning out too bad for a rainy night, is it"
"Yeah Man, not too bad..." (a pause) "...I've about 3 feet a fuckin' water in the basement though..."
Sure enough, a look down the open stairwells from the bar to the basement clearly showed a large body of water climbing slowly upwards. When I looked down at the water I was at once reminded of two things...Wallace Hartley and his musicians on the Titanic, playing on as the water crept relentlessly upwards, and the floor leaning evermore side wards (as I stick another beer mat underneath the front wheels Dj Box), and on observing the customers, the strange behavior of Irish crowds in most threatening situations. We once ran a show where a breakdown in communication resulted in somebody firing up some poi, loaded with parafin and setting off all the fire alarms in the building, which resulted in the evacuation of a hotel full of irate guests. Beautiful experience. Myself and Shimmy were standing outside the main door when the alarm went off, and no word of a lie, people ran back into the venue to finish their drinks... Yep, the flooding bothered absolutely nobody, they used the toilets upstairs, nobody went downstairs, everyone had a great time and that was the end of that. Yet people were ringing and messaging me today telling me they saw the news, and that was terrible and hope I didn't die etc. The first caller had sent me to the RTE Player where they were running a few lines and some shots of Doyles being pumped out by the fire truck, and I think a shot of Peggy being chatted up by some firemen, along with other affected buildings and areas.

It's still charming in a way that small incidents like a bar cellar flooding, or a few Aran Jumpers getting wet in Clery's makes front line news, and it reminds me of simpler times I suppose. And it's big news if it happens to you. I passed the bar earlier this evening, took a look inside, and yet, as the government are systematically dismantling the country, people at least had the time to pop down and check if Doyles was was even busier than usual.

We Will Rebuild
I hope I've given this rather run of the mill thunderstorm the dramatic lift it needed, as I though "I did a gig in a bar last night, and it rained." wasn't standing up too well on it's own. ;)

Love &bless :-)




Roots, Revelation, and a Traktor trip down the country

A blog written before midnight! That'll be a first. Juggling a few things today including a logo redesign for Trenchtown and some stuff for the new website. Also it's Wednesday which means a midweek gig in Doyles in Dublin tonight. Nice spot, you'll have to come...

Right now though, to help me focus, I'm playing a few tracks Shimmy has brought to the table for a session we're going to be playing this coming August bank holiday weekend in Cork, which I did say I'd tell you about today, but the tunes are rockin', so not helping with the focusing. Better that I turn the music off for a few minutes...grrr

Reggae one offs are great. Three day sessions are even better. Enter the "Irieland Roots & Reggae Festival" which is taking place in Cork City  on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of August. Yes I, Irie Ireland are leaving babylon for the weekend! This massive event has been put together by the (very) good people of Revelation Sound (via Revelation Promotions), and the hosting venue, The Pavillion. The line-up is stunning, and while I'm reading it here again I realise that I've probably got another blog post here, purely profiling the artists. Dis a BIG sound ting Massive... Jah Shaka, Iration Steppas, Alpha & Omega...and a lot of local crews represented too, from the wholesome homeboys Revelation Sound in command, to the mighty Rootical, the dancehall champions Worries Outernational, and the legendary Firehouse Skand Soundsystem. Vocal talent will flow, with Fyahred, Ras Tinny and Cian Finn being three deserving special mention. Sunday sees an all day Jamdown (we fit in there somewhere as far as I know), with a soundclash that night to wrap up the weekend in top rankin' fashion. Dance a run red!

*now for the technical bit*

Irie Style
We've been reviewing our set up for the next few shows, and are going to run this out in Cork for the first time live. Basically we both run through the same instance of Traktor, with Shimmy taking Decks 1&2 and me operating 3&4. We'll use a Native Instruments Kontrol S2 and there'll be extended control of loops/FX units via a Kontrol X1, and an F1 will run Decks 3&4 as remix decks. We're working a little live dubbing into the show, so the F1's come in very handy, allowing you to perform "APC style". Also, We've been using a VST Dubsiren for the last year, and my plan this week is to MIDI map an F1 to run the siren when flipped into MIDI mode. It all makes for a nice, tidy set-up that only requires one laptop. Which is where the fun starts. Shimmy has a bright pink laptop. Bright pink lads.

Irie Ireland alongside Revelation Sound
As I've said, Revelation are a great crew, and this year will be bringing their beautiful Sound and roots Rastafari vibe to Electric Picnic where they will host the Jungle Area (not a jungle style music programme!) at Trenchtown. We were lucky enough to work with them at Festival Of The Fires last year and a couple of times as an act at Electric Picnic, so really looking forward to getting down and hanging with them on their own turf. The only downside may be that Shimmy (originally from Cork herself) will have a lapse of accent withing the first day, I will lose my translator, understand nothing anybody is saying, and probably end up being nicknamed "Jah Langer" for the weekend. ;-P

Just as I finish here, I see a message from Emma, aka Fyahred, aka the talented and super-efficient matriarch and undisputed lioness of the Revelation Pride. The news is that a nice little Youtube promo for the weekender has just been delivered hot from D.I. Studios, courtesy of Mr. Dan "Taliras" Rogers. Just as well I didn't write today's blog TOO early, otherwise I'd have missed that...


From Kingston to Dublin with dub...

This is shaping up to be a late night thing...and to be honest it's been one of those days with nothing much to report on, bar one or two exciting things which if I told you, would result in me having to kill you afterwards to ensure your silence. One thing, however did happen which I'm allowed to talk about, and leads me nicely to what I believe to be a story worth keeping an eye on...

Chopping brambles up in the garden. That's what I was doing when the phone rang. I dropped the piece by which I was holding everything at bay, and the whole lot just attacked me. I fished the phone out of my pocket, negotiating the thorns which had attached themselves precariously close to my crotch, to be greeted by the soft Aussie tones of the one and only Mr. Jay Sharp (or Jason Rymer to his Mum) of Dirty Dubsters. I exchanged pleasantries through gritted teeth as I disentangled myself from the testicle threatening tentacles. Anybody who knows me knows what a massive fan and supporter I am of the lads, who are probably Ireland's biggest reggae export, whether people here know it or not. Sometimes the mind boggles at the lack of pick-up on these guys in the media...but hey, other territories definitely know what's good for them! Right now, one half of the team Barry (aka DJ Obese), is in Ontario touring the Dubsters' sound while Jay handles the business back home for their labels "Irish Moss Records" and "Dirty Dubster Digital". He's also finishing off a couple of tracks and working on some really nice additions to their live show. Anyway top geezer that he is, he offers us an opportunity to have a couple of drops done by the wonderfully talented Sista Quannastraight out of Kingston JA. Yes, yes indeed I said, count us in! Praise Jah I said.

Sista Quanna
So how did this happen? Well this is where it get's really interesting. A couple of months ago while in the process of releasing their debut album ("Fire It Up"), the guys decided to start another record label...this time in Jamaica. The Boys had been working on a track with Jamaican based Turbulence (I&I Productions) and had received another vocal from Sista Quanna on the same riddim that they liked so much they put both versions on the album. Things started to bubble and next thing Jay was mixing and mastering Quanna's album here in Dublin, the Dubsters are buying into a Kingston studio, and the parties on both sides of the Atlantic have decided to join forces and form Aya Productions, a label dedicated to conscious roots vibes. A bit of a jump from Irish Moss's dynamic and evolving dancefloor slayer style of reggae...but where would we be without roots?!

This my friends must be a historic moment in Ireland's musical timeline. As a reggae fan I find it incredibly exciting to know that there is a studio in Kingston pumping sweet reggae directly into our back yard! A point I have always admired about the Dirty Dubsters was their decision very early on to go out and hit up the right vocalists from around the world to work on their tracks. From their first 7" release back on Bula Beats with Bass Nacho, through the list of artists like Whandah The Dainty Queen, Danny Red, YT, Top Cat, Blend Mishkin through to this latest venture, the Dirty Duo have never been afraid to look just that little bit harder and further than most. Watch this and see what happens, and if anybody in the music media is looking for a scoop on the Irish-Jamaican link up here it is...

Personally I'm looking forward to a couple of nice bits of original audio to work with, especially in the Irie Ireland show which myself and Shimmy (that's Aunty Shimmy to you!;P ) are tightening up the nuts and bolts on right now. The mention of this, and all this talk of Concious Roots Rastafari vibes has turned my mind to the gig in Cork at the start of next month, The Irieland Roots & Reggae Festival. I'll tell you a bit more about that tomorrow perhaps...

You can check out some tracks from "Voices", Sista Quanna's debut album on Aya Productions here, and below you can check the vid for Dirty Dubsters current release "Real Bad Boyz".



Then and now, and not now and again....with the help of The Universe.

It's strange, but I remember this feeling, if not the same at least very similar. Standing in the studio at Dublin pirate Q95 and opening the mic...not knowing if a thousand critical skanger ears were intently tuned to the radio, or possible nobody at all. Not one. So kind of like talking to yourself like a gobshite. That went away, so I'm sure this will begin to feel less weird as the days go by... ;)

This is my first attempt at committing to a daily or somewhat daily blog relating to DJing, and particularly to myself as a DJ, so it's a challenge, but hell I used to enjoy writing so maybe I'll enjoy it again. The first few posts will be a little bit about introducing myself, if you don't already know my megastar ass. Only the universe itself knows where things shall depart from there on.

DJing has become a larger part of my life again, and I think it's because I'm starting to feel a little bit of the vibe online that you used to get hanging around in record shops for hours listening to and swapping tunes, banter was good and everybody was working their gig. There aren't really too many record shops around these days here in Dublin where I live, and a lot has changed in the DJ business too since me record-store-hanging-around days. I've fairly recently made the move to the dark side and digitized. I'm now using Traktor DJ software and a couple of Native Instruments MIDI controllers, and having used Serato Scratch for a while prior toTrakto,r I might swerve down the scratch set-up, I'm not sure as I'm not bored with the controllers yet :-)

 The move to digital
Maybe it's the challenge of changing how I think of the "limits" of DJing, the now very blurred lines between DJing and music production, or the buzz that certain musical styles are creating online, but I'm enjoying the whole process a lot more again...from digging for tunes to posting mixes and playing out. I'm also dabbling in producing again and enjoying that too. Again it's in digital format, with not an analogue synth in sight this time.

So I am sharing the experience... (might be therapeutic at the very least, the men in the white coats tell me.)

I know this is going to be a killer though - I've just about disciplined myself enough to upload a half hour mix to Soundcloud once a fortnight, with extreme difficulty, and more than a single failure I can assure you, so I'm certain daily blogging is going to be most excellent fun too... The Soundcloud page has been up and running for about three months so there are already a few mixes there, ranging from reggae and ghetto funk to tougher bass breaks etc. Feel free to pop over, check out some sounds, share them around, download them, and leave some feedback if you like. I will endeavor to eat my bran flakes and be a regular a blogger and mix poster (*not post-mixer) as I can, for all the readers who may take the time out to read my ramblings, or indeed there could be readers at all. Yes Doctors it's going to take a few days for this feeling to wear off!  ;)

 Here's a recent Summer Jamz Mix brought on by the sunshine. Enjoy!



The First Post

Welcome to my brand new, never been attempted before blog! :)

I'm going to launch it with this mix which is a little special for the guys over at DJ Mixes Now who are cool ;)