Let’s cut it up and dance!
Russel Keith – The Grey Eagle Music Club – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Riley – Studio Wed and Verge Events – email@example.com
Mary Rich – Spirit Savvy Cocktail Events – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Sule – Asheville On Bikes Events – email@example.com
Christine DiBenedetto – Wink Salon – firstname.lastname@example.org
I have numerous other personal references from brides, grooms, event folks and more upon request.
So music has been an important part of my life since I was very young. Even at an early age I was intrigued by deejays and how they do their thing. I remember taking my mom’s turntable and setting up a jam box to record myself and scratching the hell out of a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves record. Yes, I ruined that record and yes, I ruined the needle on my mom’s turntable but it was a beginning. I have been writing and creating music since I was in high school and finding ways to record it – whether in an analog way or with the digital tools that emerged as I got older. I was always intrigued by hip-hop even as a white kid from a small town in the mountains. I tuned in to a nearby radio station that did live spun mixes on Saturday nights as often as I could. The grooves always grabbed me and stayed with me throughout my life and how the deejay was putting it together was so cool to me.
I also played guitar and sang in numerous bands – studied classical theory, jazz theory, arranging and composing in college and set off to create and write music for theater, movies and videos, hip-hop and more. I recorded several albums with different bands – produced a hip-hop album and made lots of beats and music.
The thing was, I never fully went into the deejay world until I was older. In my thirties actually. Not to say I didn’t put together playlists and mix CDs for parties at my house – I was also that guy at some one else’s party who put on music to get the party going, too. I had always done that. My sister had me deejay her wedding reception which I did with a CD changer – jumping to the next song in a clunky way and sometimes killing the vibe because I couldn’t make it happen smoothly. My sister still loved it and no one complained – but I wanted for it to be better. But, the idea of live mixing seemed so out of reach and in some ways complicated. I had gone full on digital and did not have an extensive vinyl collection or even a decent turn table. It seemed unreachable. Expensive. I made do with what I had, though. In using the computer technology, I was able to put together premixed dance music that transitioned as seamlessly as I could make it. I would make these mixes for parties. Hit play and walk away and hope for the best. But I still wasn’t doing it live and I wanted to do that. I wanted to feel the vibe of the crowd and be able to improvise if need be. To grab samples and loops and effects and make it a show that went beyond just picking good music. The digital world came to help again.
In many ways I was intimidated by the Deejay. They had the gear and the collection of vinyl that I did not. I could get the turntables, the mixer and PA – but accumulating all of that music on vinyl seemed like a lifetime challenge – and I wanted to spin up some music now!
Especially since I had friends asking me to Deejay parties and wedding receptions and I wanted to up my game. In searching, I found iPad apps that would allow you to spin two tracks, crossfade and even loop and add effects. These tracks were digital. Existing on my iPad or streaming from the internet. I had a world of music at my fingertips. It was how I got started. At first operating on feel and without being able to hear the cued up track until I faded it in. Needless to say – some of my transitions were absolute train wrecks, but some of them were perfect even getting me a perfunctory “Hell, yeah!” from some of the folks at the party. Anybody can crossfade two tracks and it may sound like absolute garbage as the two beats conflict and bang around like trash cans rolling down a hill. But I wanted it to be smooth, seamless and keep the groove moving. This would require more practice. At this time I must bow in honor an reverence to all those who have gone before and did it analog. It takes an extreme amount of talent and skill to do what they do and I don’t even pretend I have that acumen. I bow to them. They are the DJ ancestors who created this way of mixing music. They were the ones accumulating and hunting down vinyl. A large, costly and time consuming effort that I can’t even approach. I’m still moving forward holding all of the mastery they created in my heart and the tricks I’ve learned by watching and listening to them in my back pocket.
As time went on I figured out better techniques to mixing – better tools to use and kept getting hired to Deejay events, despite my misgivings about the smoothness of my transitions and mixing and the limitations the technology I was using gave me. Over the years I have accumulated more and better gear and with hour upon hours of practice, I have arrived where I am – not limited by the tools I have – only limited by practicing my skills and time to learn. I already know the music and am constantly seeking out new stuff. Now it’s just a matter of mixing it up and making the people move. What started as my friends enjoying the music I was picking has become clubs and other folks finding me and requesting my services. It’s been a fun journey and I’m happy to share it with you if you need somebody to get the party started and make ’em move. Weddings, dance parties, chill out sessions, laid back groovy ambience. Let’s do this. I’ll keep you moving and can easily spin in some of your favorites, too. Let’s make ’em dance, make ’em move and bring a smile to their faces!
DJ Mad Sci
Photos: (Top to bottom)
The One and Only GrandMaster Flash.
Me and my boy Jordan cutting it up at a fun Folly Beach Wedding.
DJ Day – a personal hero of mine.
Hard at work at the Grey Eagle Music Club in Asheville.