PRESS: Muy Enteresante Magazine Pinchando Los DJs
MUY ENTERESANTE MAGAZINE Pinchando los DJs
In the summer of 2008, Welsh actor Christian Bale was filming the sci-fi movie Terminator Salvation. Bale was mid-scene when director of photography Shane Hurlbut walked through the set. This caused the star to lose his temper and vomit a torrent of insults that lasted for nearly four minutes.
After the incident everything seemed to simmer down. But, in early February, a web site publicized a video of the impropriety. Immediately, Lucian Piane a young composer and music producer that goes by the name of Revo-Lucian had the idea to remix the video. He modified the recording with his own music worthy of playtime on the hottest dance floor. He combined the frenzied artist images to his sound, called the new version Bale Out and became a viral success on YouTube. Within a few days, had more than 2.500.000 visits.
Big Words at a Rythm
More surprising than the global impact is that Piane created the project in a couple of hours from his home laptop. No schooling, musicians, recordings, or money spent.
“That week I was finalizing drag queen diva RuPaul’s album when the Christian Bale incident came out. I said ‘I don’t have time for that’. Even so, I knew that I had to do something,” Revo-Lucian says. “I gave myself two hours, but it ended up taking me almost three. Then I shared the remix with friends and loaded it up on YouTube”.
It wasn’t the first time Piane turned a celebrity antic into a dance mix: “I’ve been working with Apple Logic Studio, a pretty powerful software.” In fact, that’s how I did RuPaul’s album. I had to add some elements to perfect the sound, but we essentially recorded it in my bedroom, using the closet as vocal cabin. Whenever I said ‘this is ghetto’, RuPaul corrected me by saying: ‘It’s the future'”.
Today, anyone with a little knowledge about computers, the right programs and a good ear for rhythm can create music and reach hundreds, thousands or millions of listeners.
It’s music born from technology and through it, either through digital stores such as iTunes or Rhapsody, or free music sites such as download.com and acidplanet.com, or through pages like MySpace or YouTube, don’t require the traditional music stores or radio broadcasts to be heard. In this musical revolution, cutting-edge producers and DJs star in a phenomenon where they become international celebrities and even scholarly experts based on the sound that they invent or mix, how they make it and where they play it. That’s the case of Paul Miller, whose artistic alter ego is Spooky, That Subliminal Kid.
Spinning for 40,000 Euros a Night
Miller’s book, Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, explores the possibilities of what you can achieve with digital media in a culture that is linked more and more to various information channels. The collection of essays is published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is used as an academic text in prestigious educational institutions such as Harvard and Georgetown University. “For me, everything is connected. Sound is writing, writing is music, music is art “, says Spooky. “The idea is to overcome the mentality of the 20th century, which says all is divided into separate components, like a factory. Today, we are all factories: I burn and mix CDs and DVDs on a daily basis, all the time. The way in which we have consolidated production tools enables the metaphor of the DJ to move forward”.
This DJ that Miller refers to, has become a sort of popular arbitrator who takes samples (called sampling) from infinite sources. For Spooky, as for other DJ heroes, their profession has become art, science and language.
“There are DJs affecting the general music scene, and that cannot be ignored,” says Tony Lima, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Miami Museum of Science, and responsible for running two exhibitions on music at the same time: American Sabor, the role of Latinos in the musical history of United States, and Access All Areas, which explores the technological side. “I think people don’t see music as a science, although it is in its technological elements and composition. To make the science more universal, more for the masses, you have to look to the arts and how it’s involved. That was my motivation,” explains Lima.
“In recent years, thanks to the growth of dance music and hip hop, many DJs have taken the profession to another level. Earning over 40,000 Euros just by spinning one night in Ibiza, like the well-known guys, has also served as an incentive,” says 25-year veteran SAMA. “People see how Djs operate–winning awards, achieving success in music lists, mixing for artists, going to the best parties and making money. Who wouldn’t like that?”
Although in the 70s and 80s DJs in the U.S. were able to make a name for themselves by contributing to the development of various rhythms – disk, rap, freestyle, new wave – the international phenomenon of the DJ-celebrity took off in the 1990s. It occurred due to several factors such as raves – parties with electronic music, trance and techno-, its DJ promotions and records for their followers worldwide. Mix all this with the availability of digital portable players such as iPods and Zunes, music downloads via internet, streaming, and a generation seeking instant gratification, and you get the perfect musical cocktail. “Many musicians who still have the old-school mentality believe that things will always remain the same. The new way of thinking bets on everything changing. And that’s OK,” argues Spooky. “The creative act,” he adds, “is going to be reflected in the tools used to create music. The composer will have to learn a new language”. This has been evolving constantly, not only in this century, but since the first decades of the past, when several inventors created innovations that modernized music. Technology has transformed songs, listening, distribution and promotion.
“With current techniques everything is easier,” says Carlos López, from Puerto Rican DJ duo Plumpy Bitches. Along with Luigi Rodriguez, the duo is known for techno rhythms, electro and house, and after hours spinning which can extend from 4 in the morning till noon. “When we spin, I’m in charge of mixing and Luigi takes care of special effects and acappellas”, explains Lopez. “We use two laptops, where we store music, and a MIDI – an apparatus which coordinates the functions of the different controller programs from a language called MIDI. Then, we use a software that allows us to interact with the club’s equipment like turn-tables and CD players”.
Lopez would have to carry about twenty suitcases full of CDs given the number of songs stored in his computer. His files have 8,000 songs, allowing him to spin for 32 consecutive days without repeating the same tune. Buying CDs or vinyl is not something entirely from the past, but it increasingly becomes less attractive due to the convenience of digital supply. “Until not so long ago, it was standard to go to record shops”, recounts Aulden Brown, resident DJ for the Armani Exchange retail stores in South Florida. “We’ve gone from purchasing two or three remixes on vinyl for about 8 to 10 Euros, to acquiring digital master format –which reproduce the quality in which the songs were recorded – for about 2 Euros”.
Eleven years ago, Brown moved to Miami, Winter Music Conference headquarters for almost two decades. The conference is one of the most important annual DJ events and meeting place for dance and electronic music artists and industry professionals. Brown has been a DJ for ten years and has experienced the very important role played by technological advances in his career. “With the number of digital stores, can I buy all the music I want without the fear they’ll sell out, as was the case with CDs”, he says. “Now you’re going to iTunes, and for 99 cents download a song in MP3, a lower quality than the professional format we DJs use, but almost as good as the CD. I like using wav, which reproduces the song as the artist recorded, for the best possible sound”.
The scratched disc is over
Access to diverse audio formats and all kinds of musical genres allows not just the star Js to access the latest music as was the norm before. That’s what Alfredo Barrios, who studied advertising, but who had always felt a passion for music and an attraction to what DJs do, discovered two years ago. One night, a friend asked him to assume responsibility in a small but well-known club on South Beach, Miami.” That fortuitous circumstance transformed his life and drove his career as a disc jockey. Today he is known as FR8-O.” What I did was play one song after another, according to my own tastes, and people seemed pleased,” tells Barrios. “It was the first time that I worked a DJ console”.
A pop and ‘80s dance fanatic, Barrios gradually built his resume at different venues in the city. At the beginning he didn’t even charge. Today, along with other colleagues, instead of carrying a bag full of compact discs, he only carries his laptop.
The next step in the development of a nascent career such as his is producing one’s own CDs. This takes the DJ to another level, giving him prestige, followers, economic gains and the opportunity to produce for other artists.
Rocky Balboa and The Supremes, Duetting
With just a single song either remixed or original, a DJ can enter the celebrity club, as happened, for example, to Victor Calderone after remixing Madonna’s Frozen, at the end of the 1990s. A style can also become a springboard: DJ Enferno (Eric Jao), famous for using the turntable as musical instruments as if he were a one-man orchestra, received an invitation last year to join Madonna as an official member of the Sticky & Sweet tour.
Such is the singing siren that DJs-stars generate. Last September a private jet crashed in South Carolina shortly after takeoff, and the news concentrated mainly on two of the passengers: musician Travis Barker from Blink 182, and DJ Adam Goldstein, known as AM. A favorite of famous Hollywood types such as Steven Spielberg or Tom Cruise, AM became well known by a so-called style called mash up, where, for example, he would mix a classic cut of yesteryear like The Supremes Baby Love with something completely different like the Rocky movie soundtrack.
Ever the media-philes, future DJs will evolve with music and technology. Some will learn to be VJs or video jockeys, by mixing songs with videos that follow the rhythms and are exhibited in enormous television screens. Others will be magnates, the road traveled by Maximus 3000 (Alex Ferbeyre) that, not yet 30, spins and promotes at many major clubs, represents artists in the making, announces on an online radio show, manages his record label and produces his own songs.
“You have to become a brand, be professional and do everything”, says Ferbeyre. “When there is so much music out there and so many DJs, things are a bit cloudy. I am in favor of people expressing themselves musically, and technology has leveled opportunities for all. There is no longer a need to have a lot of money for large projects. The other side of the coin is that then many fans arise. I don’t get much sleep, but I love what I do. My goal is to have a global reach,” concludes Ferbeyre.