ferries and television

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Darren Barefoot mentioned he has broken his television habit. I have to admit, we don’t even own a television, and I have never owned one myself. Also I have never owned a car. Am I a complete minority, or is television as boring and uninteractive as I think it is? And are cars as bad for the earth as they appear to be? Anyway, I think it’s unfair for me to also claim that I have broken a habit that I don’t have. It would be like saying I quit smoking after trying it once.
All that being said, there are a few shows I actually like, but I don’t think I’d ever want cable. Such a broad selection of programming seems really odd to me – like subscribing to a music service and getting tons of music you don’t like, maybe 95% of it you think is garbage. And ads. Would it be cheaper because of the ads? Right, that’s called radio.
Despite how my tone might have sounded in that last paragraph, I think there is a lot of value in authoritative broadcasting – that is, to say, that someone with some semblance in taste or quality is in control of what gets aired. The only problems are that this is such a subjective notion to begin with, and that there are other objectives at play – such as pleasing the broadest demographic to capture those large advertising contracts, yadda yadda – I could go on. There are still gems on television and in radio.
The other reason to get a television is obviously gaming. I don’t have a lot of time for that.
What I really want to say is that I was considering cable for similar notions to Darren – specifically, hockey. Well, it was pretty clear this year that the Canucks didn’t warrant their own television in my living room and $32.95 a month for the service to watch (some) of their games. At this point, on-demand hockey is only partially available online. If they’re doing good, I’ll see you at the pub.
Another item of interest from Darren’s post was television on the spirit class BC Ferries. The first time I saw these TV’s I was thinking that it is completely ridiculous to have televisions on the ferries when there is so much to look at all around you – the scenery is amazing. I understand some people have children they want sedate or make hyperactive, so the televisions are there. Usually they’re tuned to a random channel – celebrity news or other garbage media. One time – in the “quiet” area – it was tuned to some subtitled news item on CBC about the sexual relationship between teachers and students.
I should mention that the “quiet” area is right beside the “noisy” area which the family stuff is. It’s actually somewhat quiet there believe it or not. Maybe even quiet enough to hear things rattle in the ceiling. Not a bad problem to have.
The idea that they have something called the Seawest Lounge where you can essentially purchase “quiet” is pretty telling of the way BC ferries is run. Does installing televisions and toys in the family area drive up demand for quiet, adult areas? I’d imagine so. They say you can look at newspapers and have unlimited coffee and muffins in the Lounge, but it’s ridiculous. As Darren pointed out, there is no WIFI in there. Headphones win over the Lounge every time.
What else do you find a bit odd about the ferry?

sasha + john digweed at plush

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On Wednesday night we went over to meet up with Craig and Erica for dinner in Vancouver. We went to a stylish place in downtown Vancouver called Chambar – it’s a Belgian Restaurant. Anand and his friend happened to also be hanging out there by complete fluke so we exchanged some wit (?) and ate a fine dinner. It was very good and even though the service was weak at best, I’d recommend it for the food and atmosphere. And by way of some good fortune and hard work, we were all going to go see Sasha, John Digweed and Kazell. So off to Plush we went..
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This is Kazell pictured above. He played a really good opening set – stoked the fires well and was a pleasure to talk to after his set. Nice to put a face to a name of course – and he gave me a CD that I’m looking forward to listening to.
For the most part the lighting was too poor to take photos without a flash, so I did a few with the flash but I didn’t like them – it washed out the atmosphere of the club and the visuals which had been imported from Québec. I saw a lot of people I knew there – but I didn’t manage to get very many people shots. Nonetheless I am happy with the ones below.
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At 11 PM, John Digweed came on to take over the decks. He moved things up several notches before Sasha came along to join in. This part was somewhat disappointing as Sasha seemed to be intent on playing the same song over and over again. It seemed like he had found a white noise patch, a filter, a sidechain compressor and some tribal loops, and that was going to be his performance for the night. I was not particularly impressed with what Sasha played, but John Digweed more than made up for it. I enjoyed the show but I do feel like Sasha is capable of much more than what we saw last night. In any case it was enjoyable to see a well-attended show in a big club with a big sound system and music that was made to suit.
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We left Vancouver this morning – so it was a quick trip and a rather unusual one since it was in the middle of the week. There’s something a bit surreal about being on the PCL in the middle of the day, watching everyone else do their daily thing as you relax inside the tinted windows of the coach, slightly sleep deprived but utterly satisfied from the whole experience that left you this way. Even though there were disappointments at the restaurant and club we went to, it was not such a big deal. To me, the important part was to be with some friends that shared a common interest – we were all where we wanted to be last night. It was great.

AFK – Pacific Front Sessions: March 2008

Pacific Front Sessions: March 2008 starts off on a tip that has been absent for a while from my mixes.. tribal atmospheric. This first track called “Train of Thought” takes me back several years to a bar called Neptune where I used to have a residency with Brian (Seed from Ritual Sounds), Yoseff and Nigel Haze. Very moody and reminds me a lot of those good times down at the blue bar. The track is brand new on Morphosis though, and is one half of a great release. Next is a Kasey Taylor remix of a really chuggin’ tune by Avilo, “Easy 15.” It’s a bit of an usual track, which is what I like about it. The build from there is into Jay Lumen’s “Ultra,” an atmospheric progressive house track that reminds me a bit of Miami and specifically WMC. I never heard it while I was there but I could definitely see this going off in the middle of the day on any one of the dozens of huge sound systems there. Following this is a really cool track by Joel Armstrong called “Hey Hey Hey,” and the remix is by Bastards of Funk and Sonic Union. Some really cool drum fills and a fun bassline move the mix forward away from the ethereal and into some higher energy material. This provides the bridge into the third track I did with Dustin H, “Seismic,” which Shiloh does the remix on. Great bass line and synth maneuvers by Shiloh here, providing a very original and different take on the tune. This track was just released this past Monday so grab it on Beatport – also be sure to check out the other mixes because they are pretty diverse and I think there’s something for everyone there. Next up is a DJ Remy remix of David Forbes and Michael Patterson – the track is called “Teknika.” This is the kind of track I drop in the middle of a peak time set and people go mental to. Which means you may or may not like it here, but in case you don’t like it, I recommend turning the volume up. Should solve the problem. Following this is an epic piece by David West called “Suffering Island.” I have wanted to put this in a mix for a long time now but haven’t found the right spot until recently – now, in fact. David West is one of my favorite producers for his grasp on melody, progression and percussion – not to mention, his bass lines are super solid and always carry the tune in a way that I really enjoy. The transition into dramatic breaks is done here by filtering out the bottom of the bass drum from Suffering Island while the ambient intro to His Boy Elroy’s “Step Into the Light” fades in over top. We have a remix by The Emissary and Starfire here which I find very reminiscent of Hybrid – in a good way. This sets up the final blow – a tough and gritty track by Kultur called “Street Knowledge,” and none other than Stefan Anion is on remix duties. He makes complete mayhem out of this track and it is perfect for finishing off a mix with many twists and turns.

Tracklisting:

  1. Absance – Train of Thought (Original mix) [Morphosis Records]
  2. Avilo – Easy 15 (Kasey Taylor Instrumental remix) [Vapour Recordings]
  3. Jay Lumen – Ultra (Original mix) [Baroque Records]
  4. Joel Armstrong – Hey Hey Hey (Bastards of Funk and Sonic Union remix) [Dot Dot Recordings]
  5. AFK and Dustin H – Seismic (Shiloh remix) [Pacific Front Recordings]
  6. David Forbes and Michael Patterson – Teknika (DJ Remy remix) [68 Recordings]
  7. David West – Suffering Island (Original mix) [Solaris]
  8. His Boy Elroy – Step Into The Light (The Emissary and Starfire remix) [Proton Music]
  9. Kultur – Street Knowledge (Stefan Anion’s Bookworm remix) [Usaplay Ltd]
Download: AFK – Pacific Front Sessions: March 2008 (mp3)

Right click and Save As, or option-click the link on a Mac to automatically download

departure

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Over the last while I’ve contemplated what music means to me. I put a lot of time and effort into electronic music, but finally – after much thought – I have to concede that I do not know who my target audience is in marketing terms. I make music that I like: very self indulgent sounds that please my ideals of composition structure, dynamics, energy, percussion, melody, instrumentation and so forth. That is fine – I should make what I want to make. However, I am not always certain where this music should finally go, or who I should be talking to. It has been made abundantly clear that the kind of music that gets play in clubs is more or less music I have no interest in making. I had coffee with Thor / Fractal last night while taking a break from the mix of the track I am making with Formulate and Dustin H. Myself and Thor talked a fair bit about the gap between what we make and the certainty of what seems to be popular for the “dance” clubs.
I don’t make “dance music”. I generally make music that you can dance to, but “dance music” I would say it is not. It’s not “dance club” music at all. Seismic might be the exception. Speaking of Seismic, how about this? I am not particularly sold on the Flash MP3 player or the style of it but it’s more the function of the below that I am looking for feedback on. I’d like to house all previews of my music here in this sort of style:

AFK & Dustin H – Seismic (Original mix)
AFK & Dustin H – Seismic (Shiloh remix)
AFK & Dustin H – Seismic (Powerplant remix)
AFK & Dustin H – Seismic (Stefan Anion’s Running For Cover remix)

So what does this have to do with departure? Not sure exactly. I haven’t yet departed the electronic music scene obviously but I am feeling fairly disconnected from it right now. Maybe that’s because I have not been doing many shows at all lately. It is inspiring to see music connect with people on a dance level – even though, as I say, I don’t make “dance music.” I am mainly differentiating what I make from the more mainstream stuff that you might even hear on your local commercial radio station. I’m not even saying there’s anything wrong with that kind of music – I absolutely do not think there is anything wrong with it on a general level. It’s more of an accessibility issue.
Last night the topic of artist albums came up as well. I have been giving some thought to making an artist album lately and putting that in stores. This would require many things, not the least of which is time. Also, as I type this, there are signs in the front of A&B Sound in downtown Victoria saying they’ve shut down and opened another store in Langford. What’s left in downtown for music? Ditch and Lyles Place, I think. So I’m aware that there’s not much milk in that particular cow. I think what it is .. is that I want to connect with whomever it is that I am making this music for. Being able to share over the internet is great, but it is faceless and immemorable – is that even a word? Maybe amemorable – I am pretty certain that’s not a word.
The photo above is of Charles leaving the Commercial Drive skytrain station a few weeks ago. Time for me to get some fresh air!

an interview with kazell

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Who is Kazell? For one, he is someone who is traveling across North America on a spring tour, appearing at each stop with one of the most simultaneously daunting yet sought-after tasks – opening each night for Sasha and John Digweed. On another count, he is a prolific producer and owner of Influx Audio. Last week I had a chance to ask a few questions of the only person that Sasha and Digweed want opening for them on every stop of the tour..
But before I get to the interview, I have to mention that my new single, Seismic, is now out on Pacific Front Recordings and is for sale on Beatport, and rumor has it, iTunes is soon to follow. I wrote Seismic with Dustin H and remixes come from Stefan Anion, Shiloh, and Powerplant. Have a listen to Seismic. Hopefully I didn’t just break the internets with all these links.
And on to my interview with Kazell:

How long have you been DJing? How long have you been producing?
I’ve been DJing for 17 years and producing for around 5 years.
What brought you to the US from the UK? How would you compare the scenes?
I had wanted to visit the US from a young age and finally made it over in 1992, I came over with a promoter and another DJ from Manchester looking to set up some gigs in Miami. The Southern US was still developing when we arrived which was quite a contrast to what was going on in Manchester at he time. I think I was really attracted to the US scene when I arrived as it had a funkier eclectic edge.
What is your philosophy on DJing? Why do you do it, and what do you hope others will get out of it?
I think any DJ’s aim is to do something unique with their music. Although you’re mainly playing other people’s tracks its really satisfying to put a mix together that has your sound embedded. I hope that the people that come to hear me play leave ready for more!
Between your tracks that you wrote with Mike Hiratzka and your latest collaboration with Habersham, your sound appears to be very diverse. How would you describe your sound as a producer?
I like to mix things up in the studio and spend a lot of time hunting down diverse sounds to draw inspiration from. If I had to describe my sound as a producer I’d say its currently a blend of dub, funk and electronic house music but it changes all the time and I’m fine with that. I personally respect producers that keep evolving and trying out new things.
How would you compare your sound as a producer to your sound as a DJ? Do you find your DJing influences your production, and vice versa?
I think they differ quite a lot as I write lots of tracks that aren’t necessarily aimed for the dancefloor. I do sometimes come home from a good gig and try and capture a certain type of new sound i’ve come across though.
What is the focus of your label, Influx Audio?
Quality forward thinking music
How do you see MP3’s effecting the underground music scene?
I think Mp3’s have undoubtedly changed the face of underground music in a terms of easy accessibilty but illegal downloads are really killing the scene too.
CD’s or Vinyl or Serato?
CD’s and sometimes Traktor Scratch
As a DJ known for warm-up sets, you must have a different set of influences than most DJ’s who are associated with Sasha and John Digweed. Who are your influences as a DJ, and what effect have they had on your sound?
Well the warm up sets are just a part of what I do as often headline too. For the warm up sets I like to play a lot of the deeper, atmospheric music that I collect. I think Terry Francis’s “Architecture CD” was a big influence in terms of a great chilled tech house cd as well as Swayzak’s first album “Snowboarding in Argentina”. The sound has changed quite a bit since then but the mood is still alive.
What future singles do you have in the works? Any plans for an artist album?
Habersham and I are planning a follow up “Paradise Rockers” single later this year and I’m currently working on a new band project which I’m really excited about. I can’t really say much about it yet but watch this space!
Websites you’d like to plug?
Well Kazell.com of course 😉 but I’d also like to give a plug to liquified.com, they throw some amazing parties and I’ve been there resident DJ for years, and mention my PR and marketing company, Volume Communications.

Thanks to Craig and Ali for setting up this interview, and of course to Kazell for sharing his thoughts.

balloons

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Submitted my remix of John Morgan and Kevin Shiu last night for approval. Waiting to hear back on that. In the mean time I am moving on to the unnamed track that myself, Justin and Dustin are working on. We have a deadline of next Wednesday to be done, so given that we started this track a couple years ago I think that’s fair time to finish it up and send it off to the stores.
Speaking of the stores, Beatport has Seismic listed with the wrong song names and has wrong genre for the Powerplant remix and even has the wrong preview clip for it. That’s pretty disappointing stuff but it isn’t the first time I’ve seen this done. No good. Once the proper release is listed I’ll link to it.
Update: Turns out we messed up the submission. DOH!
In other news, Google launched something rather significant last night – Google App Engine – this is basically an online application development platform. Will be interesting to see what people come up with when they have access to some of the tremendous resources of Google. And of course there are all sorts of implications here, and I think some of the most insightful ones are suggesting that this will (at a very high level) make the acquisition of a company very fluid for Google if the company has developed on Google’s platform already. Clever..
Just ate lunch but feel empty. Perhaps its time to go out for a walk!

goodbye

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The image above has something to do with this post. Give me a moment and I’ll tell you how.

I think a lot about songwriting. The fact is though, that I write very few songs, but many more tracks. What I mean by this is that the music I compose is not songwriting. To me, a songwriter writes something that you can sing. You can’t sing my songs, but I’d like to see you try if you disagree with me.

There are gifted songwriters out there. One of them, in my opinion, is Patty Griffin. Let me preface this by saying that most of those out there who think you know my musical tastes will probably not expect me to like PG or even live in the same universe as her. But I do, and musical influence is a strange animal that knows no boundaries. Not in the same way that tastes impose boundaries.

Artistic influence is about what is on the outside and hasn’t completely made it in yet. That’s the only way it stands a chance to inspire – to be different, to contrast and to show a different way of doing things. In the case of Patty Griffin, there was never much of a chance that we are remotely similar. But there is something in her songwriting that strikes a chord with me, and indeed one of her songs, “Goodbye,” is one of the few songs by anyone to have achieved a 10/10 rating on my Radio Paradise account.

Part of songwriting, to me, is writing good lyrics. This might sound obvious to many of you but I have spoken to a lot of people who do not take lyrics into consideration when they judge whether or not they like a song. If I think I like a song, I immediately look up the lyrics – this is to see if I like the message behind it all. If the lyrics turn out to be garbage, then it sours the song for me. However, in the case where the lyrics are very good, it can turn an already good song into a meaningfully good song. That is another category altogether – this is the kind of music that now has lasting power for me. I’m not going to get into what I consider to be good songwriting itself or what good lyrics are. That is far too subjective – I’d rather just say that you know when something has been written with purpose, and you also know when something was just written. And finally I’d like to give you an example of the good songwriting I am talking about.

The example I’ve chosen is a lo-fi video of a PG doing a performance of the song “Goodbye” with an acoustic guitar. This is pretty raw and in this environment I think this really shows the talent involved. Here it is:

And here are the lyrics. Maybe follow along while watching the video:

Occured to me the other day
You’ve been gone now a couple years
Well, I guess it takes while
For someone to really disappear
And I remember where I was
When the word came about you
It was a day much like today
The sky was bright, and wide, and blue
And I wonder where you are
And if the pain ends when you die
And I wonder if there was
Some better way to say goodbye
Today my heart is big and sore
Its tryin’ to push right through my skin
I wont see you anymore
I guess thats finally sinkin’ in
Cause you cant make somebody see
By the simple words you say
All their beauty from within
Sometimes they just look away
But I wonder where you are
And if the pain ends when you die
And I wonder if there was
Some better way to say goodbye

If you liked that song I’d recommend you find the studio version because it’s simply gutting with full sound – ie: bass and a bit more instrumentation, and of course you get PG’s full vocals. So what does that all have to do with the image above? Well the lyrics remind me of a couple friends I’ve lost over the years and the image above – the weightless woman – reminds me of some dreams I’ve had where I’ve died and started floating over a room. So it’s a pretty loose connection, but from where I stand that is all that’s required.

Somewhat unrelated:
How many of you out there use iTunes? If not, what do you use? Does it have the ability to subscribe to podcasts?