Archive | December, 2009

Fake DJ Says “What?”: W Magazine on the DJ Authenticity Wars

31 Dec

I’ve said it many times, but an ipod on shuffle or a mac computer does not a DJ make. The key to DJing is song choice, followed closely by one’s ability to smoothly transition one track into the other. Many other factors go into the skills one needs to possess in order to be a good DJ and, in my opinion, celebutante fame and notoriety for dating Mr. X, dumping Ms. Y, or doing Drug Z are not indicative of one’s DJing proficiency. However, as technology advances and music equipment becomes cheaper, the DJ profession has become more accessible, for better and for worse. W Magazine (in that issue with the creepy, warped pic of Demi Moore on the cover in the gladiatress outfit on) does a good job at portraying the rising contention between DJs who prefer to work in a more “old school” form with vinyl, turntables, a really good ear for music, and amazing motor skills vs. those rely more on their computers (and/or their last names) to propel them to fame. Here is the original piece by Haven Thompson:

From left: Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Harley Viera-Newton, Nick Cohen and Alexandra Richards at the Standard Hotel in New York.

Invasion of the Dilettante DJs

What does it take to call oneself a DJ these days? At New York’s hottest clubs and parties, socialites and celebrities are manning the turntables (er, iPods). And not everybody is happy about it.

By Haven Thompson
Photograph by Sean Donnola

December 2009

On a chilly night in New York’s East Village, DJ Harley Viera-Newton strides through Lit Lounge, where she is spinning tonight. Flannel-­clad, hirsute young men lean over one another to greet the 21-year-old New York University student, her slender figure poured into a black minidress, her long hair unkempt. Since she began booking gigs three years ago, Viera-Newton has signed with Elite models, starred in campaigns for Uniqlo and DKNY and become Dior Beauty’s house DJ, playing her favorite pop and punk tracks at its events and inspiring an on-the-go makeup palette clutch. “I’ll do some crazy event uptown for Dior, in a gown, overlooking Central Park,” she says in her charmingly ambiguous accent (the daughter of a record exec and a Brazilian model, she grew up in London, then moved to L.A. at age 10). “And the next day I’ll be here with all my friends. It’s a fun mix.”

Viera-Newton is part of a youth tide hitting the turntables of Manhattan, armed with style, social cachet and, ideally, a modicum of musical taste. DJing—and the visibility that goes with it—has replaced handbag designing as the go-to profession for It girls and boys. The flock of hobbyist DJs for hire includes A-list models Jessica Stam and Agyness Deyn, actor Leo Fitzpatrick, artist Nate Lowman and rock-royalty spawn Alexandra Richards. They work fashion shows and store openings and have residencies, or regular gigs, at nightclubs—often based on the fact that a promotable name brings press and the right crowd to a venue.

Unsurprisingly, New York’s more venerable DJs are not pleased with the influx of pretty-young-thing competitors. Until recently the field had a high barrier to entry: DJs had to buy expensive turntables, amass a huge record collection and spend years learning sophisticated scratch-and-mix techniques. But now anyone with a laptop or an iPod can download hundreds of songs in minutes and “spin” a set with a mere click of a button. “Being a DJ used to take a lot of dedication—now all it requires is a little computer savvy,” says Jahi Sundance, 30, who began DJing in New York 15 years ago. Adds fellow full-time DJ Jesse Felluss, 31, “Do I think there is animosity there? Absolutely. It’s good for filling the crowd to have names, but the party suffers because they aren’t as good as guys who do this for a living.”

But backlash from the professional community clearly hasn’t lessened the appetite for this new strain of DJ. Mandie Erickson, director of public relations firm Seventh House, has hired Deyn and fashion designer Benjamin Cho, among others, to spin at her clients’ events. Part of the attraction, she says, is proximity to gossip-column fixtures. “We’re all voyeurs—everyone wants to get into someone’s head, and music is such a personal way [to do that],” says Erickson. “You realize that they love the Smiths like you love the Smiths.” Even more valuable may be the DJ’s pals: Samantha Ronson’s fees spiked to more than $25,000 after Lindsay Lohan started accompanying her to gigs (a source says that Ronson’s rate has dropped to $15,000 postbreakup).

From left: Nate Lowman; Agyness Deyn.

For the past year, Richards, 23, daughter of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, has been charging upwards of $10,000 per party (the going rate for a nonceleb DJ is between $250 and $400 for a club engagement, and about $1,000 for corporate events). “I grew up in a very musical home—it was symphony in the morning, and when I got home from school it was reggae, and then rock ’n’ roll at night,” she recalls in a gravelly voice, explaining that she’s recovering from a cold. In a restaurant near her SoHo apartment, she’s dressed in black skinny jeans and a leather jacket over a sweatshirt, nursing a double Jack Daniel’s and a bowl of butternut squash soup. (Her illness has, she triumphantly mentions, helped her finally quit smoking—though a few months later she’s sneaking cigarettes alongside the DJ booth at now defunct nightclub Mr. West.) Despite her success—events for Audi and Hugo Boss, residencies at nightclubs—Richards insists DJing is a sideline. “I’m considered a model, you know, to me at least,” she muses, noting that she paints and is working on a jewelry line. “I [DJ] for fun.” Unlike most hobbyists, however, she uses Serato, a program favored by serious DJs that connects a laptop to turntables, mimicking the feel of spinning with vinyl records.

Richards is honing her new skills with a little help. Her manager is Rachid Kallamni, 25, who, after working as a nightlife promoter, started his own company, Rachid Kallamni Management (RKM), to capitalize on the demand for stylish young DJs. Most of the talent he represents are under age 25; his roster includes Chris Jones, son of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones; Jamie Biden, nephew of Vice President Joe Biden; Artem Emelianov, a Latvian-born male model with razor-sharp cheekbones; and Kallamni’s childhood friend Nick Cohen, who launched a line of “shoewelry” (sneakers laced up with gold chains). Cohen is tiring of his grueling schedule—he often has four gigs a week and is scheduled to fly to Moscow with Richards to spin at Fashion Week there—but DJing has been a boon to his shoe business. “Nightclubs are the best places to meet people,” he says.

Kallamni uses his connections to land his DJs at exclusive Manhattan venues—1OAK, Avenue, Southside, Butter, GoldBar—and provide a support system for them. “Rachid’s guys actually would come with me to an event and make sure that I was working [Serato] correctly,” Richards says. A fellow RKM talent, DJ Equal, gave her private lessons.

Another neophyte, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of romantic-comedy director Nancy Meyers and screenwriter Charles Shyer, and an aspiring writer herself, is less preoccupied with the technical aspects of the trade. “When they ask us to DJ, it’s, like, to bring a certain amount of people and a certain kind of crowd,” the baby-faced 22-year-old blond says, taking a sip of her drink on a Thursday night at the SubMercer in SoHo. Behind her, two white iPods glisten unattended on the turntables as “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem blares. A foot from the booth, Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford perches on an ottoman, chatting with a raven-haired publicist. “I’m not a DJ by profession; I just want to do it as a hobby, for fun,” Meyers-Shyer explains. “I don’t want to discredit that a lot of people do this as their job.” She adds with a sly smile, “It all comes out as the same thing, really.”

From left: Matt Creed; Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan.

The mere existence of such amateurs is exasperating enough to the “real” DJs who are losing gigs to them. So when Paper magazine nominated Kirsten Dunst’s ex Matt Creed—whose modus operandi is alternating tracks between two iPods—for the Best DJ category in its annual nightlife awards, the nod irked many. “My DJ friends were all really upset,” says Kallamni, who maintains that his brood, even Richards, veers toward the side of real DJs. “I’m not trying to say [Creed’s] not a great guy, but to sit there and just press buttons—it’s not [being] an actual DJ.”

Actually, Creed doesn’t disagree. “It’s not fair,” he admits, adding with a defensive edge in his voice, “I didn’t ask to be nominated.” On a Friday afternoon the actor and filmmaker is hanging out at downtown bistro the Smile, where he has been working on the budget for his new movie. Two years ago Creed, 26, started DJing at the Beatrice Inn (which has been closed since April due to building-code violations, much to the chagrin of the chic, celeb-heavy set that frequented it); soon the nightclub’s patrons began booking him for corporate events and benefits, occasionally for as much as $4,000. “I do feel guilty when I get paid a lot of money, showing up with two iPods,” he says. “But I love music, and my knowledge of music has gotten me to where I am now.” Creed took up DJing for the same reason many of his creative friends, including Lowman, did: the money. “It paid for one of my first short films, and it’s given me the freedom to have my days to write,” he says.

As more dilettantes turn their hobby into a paycheck (count Madonna’s boy toy Jesus Luz among them—she reportedly footed the bill for his lessons), the recession is increasing the tension between the pros and the dabblers. “You have more DJs fighting for fewer nights,” says Tim Martell, 30, a New York–based professional DJ. “It’s not how good of a musician you are; it’s how much money you can bring to the bar.” Felluss concurs: “There are a lot of guys infinitely better than these people who get paid $5,000 a night.” Nevertheless, Paul Sevigny, co-owner of the Beatrice Inn and a skilled vinyl DJ himself, hired hobbyists—even those of the iPod ilk—for his club, claiming they fit with its intimate atmosphere. “There’s not some guy 15 yards above the crowd, sending down music like the hand of God,” he says. “If there is a pause here or there, a couple seconds between a song, it sounds a little more personal.” But, Sevigny admits with a laugh, “DJs do so little to begin with. To not use records seems, you know…. Maybe you can do a little bit more.”

original post (check out the comments as well…interesting feedback)

For those of you who may be interested in seeing old school djs in action, check out the “I Love Vinyl” Party at Le Poisson Rouge. Click this link for more information.

Here’s a sampling of some of the possessors of musical mastery at work:
I Love Vinyl July ’09 by scribelove

Download (Right Click, Save Target As)

– Retail DJ

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Get Dressed to This: Primary Colors

31 Dec

Red, yellow, and blue remind me of kindergarten. These three colors are the first ones we learn and, sadly, the ones we avoid putting together in our clothing choice as adults. Despite the peanut butter and jelly nostalgia these typically evoke, there’s a way to make sure the colors look all grown up.

With that said, I give you the first official “Get Dressed to This,” beginning with the colors we know best (music: “Plant House Mix” by La Fleur; tracklist below):

La Fleur – Plant House Mix by lafleur
Download Here (Right Click, Save Target As)

1. Vintage Marco Polo Navy Blue Stewardess Dress, eBay, $25 USD

2. Campana Favela Flocada Flat in Burgundy by Melissa (various: gilt.com, ebay, lojamelissa.com.br, prices will vary)

3. Mustard Yellow Opaque Hose, American Apparel, $14 USD

4. Vintage Chunky Costume Gold Star Clip-On Earrings, Esty, $3 USD

6. Off White Leather Convertible Clutch Purse, Esty, $16 USD

7. “Rusty” Ring, Naughty Secretary Club, $14 USD

                                           

La Fleur Plant House Mix Tracklist:

40 Thieves – Don’t turn it off /Chinatown
Unknown – We See Us (Original mix) /We See Us
Lauhaus – Give It Up (Ray Ok Paralysedit) /Remote Areas
Alex Niggemann – Black Rose /Supernature
And i.d. – First Talk /Mobilee records
Dan Curtin – Other /Mobilee Records
Blagger – Strange Behaviour (Dj Koze aka Swahimi remix) /Perspectiv Records
The Runners – Woman Pleaser (Jay Shepheard remix) /Dirt Crew
Falko Brocksieper – Adobe (Original mix) /Contexterrior
Oxia – Whole Life (Original mix) /8 Bit
Mendo – Everybody I got him /Clarisse Records

– Retail DJ

Did I Throw Away My Water and Take Off My Shoes for This?

31 Dec

I call it airport blues.

This morning, I had a flight scheduled to leave from Newark International Airport in New Jersey at 9 am and arrive in Memphis, Tennessee, my hometown, around 11 am. I was all geared up to see my mother, my dog, my family, my friends, etc. Most of all, I was looking forward to avoiding the googobs of tourists here in the city who never know where they’re going, clog up the sidewalks in horizontal “row” formations, and people who get drunk and throw up on the subway.

Yes, it’s New Year’s Eve in NYC, and the ground, while fresh with light snow, is just waiting for the vomit fertilizer. But exactly because of this snow, or possibly the zillion and five terrorist threats that have occurred in the past few days, I found myself stranded for 6 hours in the Continental terminal with nowhere to go. My solution? Music.

Standing in line is rarely my favorite activity, particularly if it happens to be the 5th one I’ve stood in before getting to speak to a human being. I was frustrated, exhausted from lack of sleep, and mentally drained from the multiple times I had to practically do algebra equations and military style logistics planning to figure out how I could get home even though I was stuck in an airport with only about 10% of the flights departing. In between desperate phone calls and tears of exasperation, the music pumping through my noise cancelling headphones kept me sane and balanced for the moments I really needed to be the most.

So what was playing on my ipod, you ask? While I kept my composure in between toggles that transported me from Italy to Canada to Brazil and back, the main musical pulse was DJ Nibc’s 2  hours and 20 minute “Berlin Beats “& Tanzflache” set from 7/18/09. This set has been floating around the internet for some time now, but when it came on today, I recognized far more depth in the sound, maybe because being in line, as annoying as it was, left me in isolation – just me and my music.

Dj Nibc – “Berlin Beats & Tanzfläche” Dj-Mix 2009-07-18 by nibc

Tracklisting:

1. Pepe Bradock – Path Of Most Resistance – Atavisme 
2. Geo – The Chain – R&S
3. Claude VonStroke – Aundy – Dirty Bird
4. Gavin Herlihy – Underneath The Wind Machine – Cadenza
5. Secret Cinema – Kurzweil – Cocoon
6. Toby Tobias – Schoon (Dave Ellesmere remix) – Rekids
7. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (Kamouflage_Loves_Fred_Remix) – White
8. Culoe De Song – The Bright Forest – Innervisions
9. Ben Watt feat Julia Biel – Guinea Pig (Dj Koze Remix) – Buzzin Fly
10. Jimpster – Sleeper – Freerange
11. Dirt Crew – Rough Roads – Moodmusic
12. Dj Koze – Mrs. Bojangels – Circus Company
13. Roy Ayers – Tarzan (Âme Remix) – Ubiquity
14. &ME – F.I.R. – Keinemusik
15. Trevor Loveys & Affie Yusuf feat Spoek – Bitch Fight (Stuffa Remix, Dub edit) – Trunkfunk Records
16. Spencer Parker – The Beginning – Buzzin’ Fly
17. Tony Lionni – Found a Place – Ostgut Ton
18. Dennis Ferrer – Sinfonia Della Notte – Strictly Rhythm
19. Kenlou – The Bounce – MAW Records
20. George Morel – Let’s Groove – Strictly Rhythm
21. Logic – Blues For You (Hard Dub) – Strictly Rhythm
22. DJ Sneak – Show Me the Way – Henry Street
23. Blueboy – Sandman – Maddog
24. Cheek – Venus (Sunshine People Remix) – Versatile Records
25. Kolombo – LOL (Kolombo Remix) – Hypnotic Music
26. DJ Hell – My Definition Of House Music (Renaissance Man Bootcut) – White
27. Ralph Falcon – Whateva (Dub) – Nervous Records
28. Mixhell – Boom Da (Downtown Remix Instrumental) – New Judas
29. Stuffa feat Ram Di Dam – A Million Secrets (Club Mix, Dub Edit) – Trunkfunk Records
30. Riton & Primary 1 – Who’s There? – Phantasy
31. Jesper Dahlback – Super Connector – Turbo
32. The Touch feat Zhala – Xtra Energy (Stuffa Remix) – Trunkfunk Records
33. Deetron feat Justin Chapman – Let’s Get Over It – Music Man
34. Marek Hemmann – Inessa – Freude Am Tanzen
35. Thomas Schumacher – The Ooh – Get Physical
36. Slam – Positive Education (D’Julz Remix) – Soma
37. Federleicht – On The Streets (Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s Let Freedom Ring Remix) – Connaisseur Recordings
38. Wehbba & Ryo Peres – El Masnou – BluFin
39. James Yuill – This Sweet Love (Prins Thomas Sneaky Re-Edit) – Kitsuné

*If you’d like the links to the individual tracks of this mix, email me! retaildj@gmail.com

– Retail DJ

Oldies But Goodies: 1999

31 Dec

2010 is a day away, but it’s hard to believe. We witnessed the realization of Prince’s “Party Like It’s 1999.” A decade has passed since the Y2K scare, and while no one’s bank account dissolved as the clock struck 12, America’s recession took care of that for us on its own. Within bold shifts, fashion reverted to its early 80s and 90s roots, leaving even the best of bodies and purveyors of taste grasping at straws to put together a decent look sans gimmicks. CDs went from flying off music store shelves, to serving as coffee table coasters.

Tonight, when getting off the subway, I found myself thinking of DJ duo Cassius’ WMC mix from 1999. As it’s impossible to find in mp3 form these days online, I thank my lucky stars that I burned it way back in the day and have it as a nameless track on an “unknown album” in my ipod. Sure, it’s a precarious state I’ve left one of my favorite mixes in, but I like to live dangerously.

So with 1999 in mind, I’ve included some oldies but goodies that came out when French house was finding its footing in the States and people barely knew what electronica was beyond old Prodigy tracks and a few tv car commercials. Enjoy!

1. Cassius – 1999 [radio edit] (album: 1999)

2. Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be (album: Surrender)

3. Basement Jaxx – You Can’t Stop Me (album: Remedy)

4. Les Rythmes Digitales –  (Hey You) What’s That Sound? (album: Darkdancer)

5. Armand Van Helden – You Don’t Know Me (album: 2 Future 4 U)

6. Lexicon Avenue – Here I Am (Rutabaga Mix) (album: featured in 1999 on Deep Dish’s Yoshiesque LP)

and some music for you hip hop heads…

7. Mos Def – Ms. Fat Booty (album: Black on Both Sides)

8. Blackalicious – Rock the Spot (album: A2G [single EP])

9. Jurassic 5 – Action Satisfaction (album: Jurassic 5 EP)

– Retail DJ

Throwback Post: Flying Down to Rio

30 Dec

While I was living in Sao Paulo, Brazil recently, I created a temporary blog about music and fashion (which ended up being the baby for Retail DJ). Here’s a post that I thought was appropriate to include about an awesome little boutique in Rio and a few throwback tracks worth giving a listen as you check out their wares.

– Retail DJ

——

 i recently bought a gigantic purse from the galeria melissa (huge melissa shoe store in sao paulo) that, while out of my usual price range for purposes, is amazing. it’s big enough for me to sit in, meaning it’s perfect for me, the average new yorker who carries around half of her fridge, closet, and desk drawer in her purse. it’s much cuter in person, but here’s a pic for the hell of it:

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the bag “goes both ways,” meaning it has straps on both sides. via the shorter leather straps, it’s more of a bucket shape. via the side clothes draped straps, it’s more of a teardrop shape. the fabric: canvas. the print: handpainted images of people working along with random splotches of color, trees,and other miscellaneous items. the designer: muggia

muggia is a rio-based boutique located in one of rio’s most upscale neighborhoods, botafogo. the store, whose owners twin sisters Ana Beatriz e Juliana Suassuna have always had a pension for design, opened in 2005 to a brazil hungry for original wares. they make clothes, jewelry, and other accessories, but are best known for their jewelry and bags, which they distribute throughout brazil.

here’s an inside look at the atelier:

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one of the owners:

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OMG SHE’S WEARING TABI SHOES!!! HOW CUTE IS THAT??!?!?!

here’s a look at the bags (swoon):

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muggia:
rua real grandeza, 182, casa 8, botafogo, rio de janeiro (21) 3511-5470
***

and just an added extra…

RIO, by the bumblebeez (amazing australian band):

re-worked by Herve (amazing british dj):

and as re-worked by crookers, amazing italian dj duo (whom i had the pleasure of seeing perform live while on vacation in portugal at Lux, a club owned by john malkovich in lisbon (Random!!!)):

ahhh globalization…

Mix on Tap: Hot Chocolate for Grown-ups and an Aeroplane That Doesn’t Require Security Checks

29 Dec

For the following reasons, I’ve decided to make my first official post a “Mix on Tap.”

1. It’s really cold outside right now (at least in NYC)

2. It’s almost a new year, meaning your work life may have been a *little* stressful due to the end of the year crunch.

What better way to solve both problems than with a little hot chocolate and a little alcohol?

Combine the best of both worlds in this delicious chocolatey treat I like to call “Hot Cocoa for Grown-ups,” aka a reminder that a little liquor goes a long way.

Hot Cocoa for Grown-ups Recipe:

ingredients: Creme de Menthe (the bright green kind), Creme de Cacao, Frangelico (hazelnut liquor), any brand of milk chocolate hot cocoa powder, regular sized coffee mug

1. Boil water and prepare hot chocolate as normal (no milk, however!). Be sure to leave your cup with a little more room at the top than usual.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of creme de cacao, 2 tablespoons of creme de menthe, and 1 tablespoon of Frangelico.

3. Stir like mad. Drink. Enjoy.

While you’re busy mixing this yummy winter drink, the movitation from Aeroplane December mix, particularly the Flight Facilities track “Crave You,” will keep you grooving into the New Year (and for you working folks, “First Quarter”):

Aeroplane ” Chart Mix ” December 2009 by Aeroplane

Here is the tracklist. To download the individual tracks (the ones that say “DL”)  right click and “save target as.” The others are just for listening.

01. Pseudonimo : “Yet, I Still Want You” (DL) (full EP here)
02. Flight Facilities : “Crave You”
03. Oblong Feat Adam Parker : “Playing on My Mind” (Cloud’s Dreaming At The Disco Mix) (US iTunes link)
04. The Swiss : “Bubble Bath” (DL)
05. James Yull : “No Surpsrise” (Bostro Pesopeo Remix)
06. Hot Chip : “One Life Stand” (DL)
07. Erlkonig : “Falcon Crest” (UK Play.com link)
08. Junkie XL : “Heart Of Darkness”
09. Friendly Fires : “On Board” (Joakim Remix) (DL)
10. Fast Radio : “Under My Thumb” (DL)

Questions or comments? You know what to do.

– Retail DJ

About Retail DJ

29 Dec

My name is Wendi Muse. I am a writer, music afficionado, and everyman sartorial critic. The purpose of this blog is to help you start your weeks and weekENDs off right: with amazing music. Posts will focus on fashion and music, particularly music that is meant to be the soundtrack of your daily activities. I will also derail entirely on some days and post pieces about gender, race, sexuality, and all the other -isms that make people tick, but the main focus will be music and fashion.

Some of the weekly featured posts will include:

1. Mix on Tap: a weekend menage-a-deux of 1 music mix + 1 drink recipe

2. Oldies but Goodies: tracklists of older music that’s still worth a listen or two

3. Get Dressed to This Thursdays: a tracklist or mix that’s great for getting ready for the weekend

4. I ❤ Mondayz: tracklist or mix to make your Monday a little less blah

5. Friday Fashion Fail: a weekly round-up of the emperor’s new clothes

**If you have suggestions for posts or questions, please feel free to email me: retaildj@gmail.com

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