I've been in the goth community for a long long time. Maybe I haven't been around as long as some of the others like EternalDarkness or Joe Virus, but I've seen quite a bit. I've watched various factions within the Goth subculture rise and fall. I remember what I consider to be the height of the Goth movement being the mid to late 90s when the clubs were often packed, even the small underground lesser known venues would pull in quite a few people.
I remember a lot. The drama, the fun, the posers (I was one of them or so I was told over and over again), the hardcore scenesters, and everything in between. I remember only though what happened around me, so maybe my experience is a bit limited. Regardless I've called the goth community home for well over a decade now. It's hard to wrap my head around that it's quickly approaching TWO decades since I first hung out with kids that would be considered goth. It's been fifteen years since I set foot in a self proclaimed "goth" or "fetish" club.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of me I consider myself an old Goth kid. I was at one point a Goth Dj. I no longer consider myself a Goth dj as I really enjoy the old music and even the new EDM , IDM, and synthpop but I play a lot more events that feature the electronica that falls so far out of anything that remotely has its roots in the old movement that I just don't feel right qualifying myself as that anymore.
Honestly, often I don't really consider myself a DJ at all anymore as much as I consider myself a booking agent and organizer.
Anyway, back to the original reason for my having started this post. Many of you who read this blog (and even if no one does I write this to myself to keep record) have seen my career transform from hole in the wall dive bar promoter, to Dj, to traveling Dj, to convention Dj and organizer, to Entertainment coordinator for some of the best damned events in my region from Tokyo in Tulsa to A-Kon. I am truly blessed and happy in my music career.
I've leveraged my talents, money, and time to further the artists I love. I do not regret it. It has been wonderful. However...
I have invested much (as have some of my friends) into the event known as Neo Victorian which was started and perpetuated to give the Fayetteville local Goths a place to hang out on occasion. I ran an event to the same end known as Ravenwood Festival for two years with many promises of assistance and very VERY little delivery save for a few precious people who saved my ass over and over again while I fought the good fight and lost and suffered for it along with my closest friends.
So many times in so many ways I hear from so many scene driven types of many stripes "It's all about the music. It can't be about the money." How incredibly sad, disheartening, and utterly painfully I have learned that if you're going to organize events that is so incredibly utterly NOT F'ING TRUE.
If you're a Dj and JUST a Dj who is not financially invested in an event in any major way then Ok. Sure. Bands? Yeah, they can get away with that as well. The promoter? If the promoter does their job then no one but him or her gets their ass handed to them at the end of the night if things go wrong.
I wish I could say I had a perfect record there, but As Captain Mal said, "things never go smooth. How come they never go smooth?"
Anyway, I may run one last Neo Vic this year. It mostly depends on how GlitchCon goes. I know I shouldn't say this, but you can expect if Glitch train wrecks (it certainly looks to be HEAVILY on track to do VERY well) that I'll retire. I've always been candid here about where I'm at and what I think. I just can't see being all PC online just because I'm suddenly the owner of a convention.
If it goes well I'll probably throw a year end NV. Beyond that? Don't hold your breath because if I do it ever again it'll be once a year. I'm just too busy. I really hope someone with more free time will pick up and open a night. I wouldn't hold my breath for that either though.
Anyway. I hope those who know me very well understand. Everyone else? Read my blog over the last four years. If you don't get it after that then really there's no way anyone can explain it to you.
It's been real.
It is worth noting that hanging out online at a few forums and websites where DJs who produce electronic music come together has completely redefined how I understand djing from the ground up.
Everything I ever thought I understood about DJing is definitely changing.
Let the spice flow. You can't stop the signal, Mal.
A few quick pointers for start up con chairs (in the spirit of Sephi's TL/DR format)
It's fair to say that this year GlitchCon will be my very first and ONLY convention I've ever built. I don't claim to know everything or really a whole lot. I do know a few things though, and it occurs to me that the mistakes people make when building a convention OR event are common and obvious if you've been around the convention circuit for more than a couple of years.
1) "I'll start up a convention so all my friends can get together and we can hang out, watch anime/sci fi , game, and stay up all night partying!
A convention is NOT a social gathering for those who run it. It's a business. It has to make money. If it doesn't make money it goes under. If you want to hang out, watch anime or sci fi, dress up, and see your friends .... go to someone elses convention. Conventions usually run in the price range of 20,000 dollars and UP. Unless you don't mind blowing a small fortune on a party seriously consider NOT starting a convention.
A secondary thing to consider is that the people RUNNING the convention do not much get to hang out at it. We're usually too busy running from point A to point B putting out fires (code for taking care of problems and the needs of the convention events) rather than setting around chillen with friends.
It is fun to get to set down and hang out late when things wind down but half the time if you're realy working a convention you're way too busy to hang out most of the weekend.
2) "This con sucks. I'm going to start my own and it'll be WAY BETTER than THIS convention!"
Gathering the start up capitol for a convention is hard. Getting people to volunteer up months of their LIVES to get YOUR event off the ground is even harder. After you get the mechanics of it running THEN you get to consider how to artistically skupt it to be a thing of beauty. Sad isn't it? Something that's entirely purposed to support certain artistic movements is really more about business than the art?
Well, artists have to eat. Hotels have to pay bills, and if no one gets paid they can't continue making art. They have to spend more time at their desks or take on an extra job delivering pizzas.
This also applies to DJing. Consider it. Consider it hard.
3) "I know a guy who knows a guy who can help us get this actor/Voice actor/artist to show up! This is going to be easy!"
I've already covered the fact that it's hard to build a convention, but this is worth re-enforcing: The assets you often think you have (especially if they're people who talk a big game about knowing someone or being able to do ANYTHING that will support your convention) are often made up of smoke and mirrors. BE CERTAIN of your resources or don't even start to attempt unless you enjoy watching the floor dissipate under your feet and falling to a very gorey and painful financial death with everyone wondering what the hell you were thinking.
NO REALLY. Even with all of the resources I have after working multiple conventions for the last few years I've been djing and with the strong reputation I have with the people I have as my core staff it's NOT EASY getting things lined up on time in an orderly fashion.
I say again, Organizing a convention isn't work it's hard f'ing work. If you ever considering building a convention prepare yourself for a heavy heavy workload on top of everything else you do.
4) "Everyone will show up and we'll have a really good time."
Getting people to show up to an event is harder than you think. First off, if you experience ANY amount of success in event building SOMEONE SomEWHERE is going to find a reason to try and knee cap you. Be it a crazed ex girl friend, a competeing event organizer, or maybe that kid you pissed off when you hit on his girl friend ten years ago at some party you forgot about. Trust me. They always find a reason to turn on you and then go completley crazy starting rumors about you, your event, and maybe even your pets. It's not fun wearing a big target. Take it from me. 2009 was the year I got to wear the target and I wasn't even building the event. IT SUCKED.
5) "Those djs and those organizers? They're making money!"
*faints from laughter*
If you have any notion that you're going to make money building events the first few years you organize events please check yourself into a mental ward.
I'm not saying it's impossible as a start up, but the facts are the facts. Most start up events lose money. Many long running events lose money. We're in the middle of a recession. You are almost gauranteed to lose money. Don't kid yourself. No really.
Even if you manage to get paid for djing or organizing on some level... you'll likely have spent more on equipment, music, fees, hotels, food, and/or *insert everything else here* that you'll walk away with a hole in your pocket. If you're lucky it's a small hole. If you're unlucky...
Well... remember Ravenwood Festival? There's a reason it no longer exists. I made almost all of these mistakes running it.
DON'T follow in my foot steps. I made the mistakes. You really don't have to.
6) "Dear GAWD you've scared me away from organizing events."
Good. If you're that thin skinned then you can't handle it. Running events is high stress low return heavy money loss and requires a lot of f'ing heart to do for more than a year. If you want to hang in the organizer crowd beyond organizing house parties put on some body armor, come with a chunk of change, and be prepared to work your ass off for the few dozen people who bother to say thank you.
Because most everyone else will come, party, go home, and then complain that they had to pay ten bucks to get in after you lost 500 dollars throwing them a party.
The artists and the core supporters are what keep an organizer going. At least, in my humble opinion based on my experience.
*The opinions in this blog are the sole opinions of this dj and organizer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his staff, friends, and or colleagues in the industry*
(Over glorified button pusher of doom)
First and foremost: GlitchCon
The convention seems to be coming along pretty well. I've nearly got my core staff lined out, and we're about a hairs breadth away from being able to write up applications for artists and vendors. We're just hammering out a few small details with the hotel before we get moving on opening up tables for sale.
We still haven't nailed down our Guest of Honor. We've narrowed the list down a bit, so it shouldn't be terribly long. Frankly, the vast majority of the responses we've received online have been about our programming as we're developing it. I am under the distinct impression that this sort of an event (Sci Fi con) is something the area is VERY hungry for, and I'm really glad I get to be the one to kick it off.
We're very close to getting our game room confirmed as far as what we'll have there. I think it's safe to say that we WILL have a stand up DDR machine. I believe if there's interest we WILL have a DDR dance off.
I really want to take a minute to thank everyone who has pushed hard to help us promote this event. This is a community oriented fandom event. We're an empty hotel with some cool guests and no party without the fans and the attendees. I believe we can safely say that GlitchCon officially has an online Hoard of raging fans.
We will likely have some big updates for the convention early next year (read: before march) which is why I'm not posting this on the convention page itself. We don't have much in the way of large-ish announcements to make ... yet.
New Tracks for the Anime Dances of 2011
I'm already working on dance material for next year. I'm having a difficult time tearing myself away from FL studio to focus on gathering tracks, but it is getting done. I'm rather excited about the new stuff I'm pulling together for next year. If you want to recommend some new artists or tracks to be added to my set lists for next year I'm always open to suggestions. Respond with those suggestions on this post.
New Original tracks released in 2011
So against the advice of a few other djs I've decided not to go the usual "don't release it till it's spit n polished" route and go the more steampunk "document your work in progress" route with the stuff I'm working on developing.
That is to say that you're going to get to see every train wreck, every lame-tastic track, and every frustrating step of me learning to make my own music. I'm going to start posting every bits of loops and tracks I'm working on as I develop them. Most of them (especially at first) are very short loops that are made using slightly modified default settings from FL studio 9. To be blunt, they're VERY beginnerish because I'm very much a beginner.
I want to be able to look back at my blog over the next three years and see my own progress, and frankly I've been told by a few of my steampunk buddies that they're interested to see how the work progresses. So anyway, yeah. I'm going that route.
I should be posting my first few bits in the next week or so.
Also: If you care to throw down some input on where I can find legal free sound samples, quality loops, and or tutorials to help my progress I'm all about accepting help. If you want to bash on the studio I'm using stow it. I'm not interested in hearing it unless you're interested in forking out the cash it'd cost to use something else. We make due with what we have, and thus far FL studio has been great as a learning tool.
Positive attitudes beget positive results. Negativity can walk.
Sound system development
For now I've stopped working on my sound set up. All of the resources that would be used to continue building the awesome that is my sound rig ... are being diverted to the construction of GlitchCon.
If you want to hear the rig in its current state I suggest you show up to TnT's Christmas party. It should be a rather good time. Oh yeah, and the Good Dr. Fitch will be DJing at the Christmas party as well. Should be a good show. :)
Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season. A very Merry Christmas to you all.
(Learning the Jedi ways of sound production, promotions, and the art of pressing play with style)
I know I haven't posted a blog in forever. I'm not sure what to say, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot going on. Between my personal life, the launch of GlitchCon, and traveling to events there has been a LOT going on in my life.
Lately though, it just seems hard to put anything into words in a way that would matter. I post pretty frequently about where I'm going on my status so there's no real reason to blog about it as well. My personal life I've been a lot more private with, and GlithcCon has it's own page. There's just not much to say sometimes I guess.
Mostly this year I've been rethinking the way I dj. Originally I spent a lot of time on track selection and very little time on developing my technical skills because in the scene i was primarily playing in the music in its original form was what people wanted to hear.
I've moved on from playing small goth nights though, and it seems that lately I play a lot more electronica events. I spin more trance, electro, and industrial than much of anything else. It's a pretty powerful combination, but my mind and my aspirations are moving in a different direction than "let's hit play and match up the beats." They're moving in the direction of writing my own tracks and reworking tracks I already love.
I'm not there yet. I'm a beginner on FL studio, and I haven't even managed to get Ableton Live yet. It will take me a good long time to really learn how to remix and master track selections, but I firmly believe that if I'm ever to grow my music career beyond where it is now... that's how I'm going to do it.
So to that end this next year I won't play as many events. I had been in midstream of tapping a few more conventions to add to my roster. I'm cutting all of that loose. I'm focusing the conventions that are both beneficial and enjoyable to myself and my artistic efforts. A-Kon, Tokyo in Tulsa, Louisianime, and GlitchCon are going to be my primary focuses as far as conventions go. That doesn't mean I won't be anywhere else. It just means if I'm not anywhere else it's simply not a huge deal, and I *will* limit my events to only a couple of other conventions outside of those.
Neo Victorian will still go on as usual. That's not going to change unless the venue kicks us out which isn't likely. They like our colorful and polite crowd even if we are small.
I guess what I'm getting at is that my djing style is about to change a lot. I'm also quite serious about putting together an album. I'm very curious about where this is going to go. I never thought I'd be djing all over the place. If pressing play on the right tracks and dressing up for a show carried me this far... what's next when I start really building music?
I'm sure we'll find out.
I'm debating on starting my project with remixes or possibly with simple beat spoken word poetry. As some of you already know I'm a writer in my spare time. I write poetry, lots of it. I've always wanted my work set to music. That may very soon become a reality.
Wish me luck. I'll post bits of whatever I'm working on when I have it. My work starts this month. I'm new at this so be patient.
I've spent a few hours today kicking tracks around looking for new fresh dance music. I've come to realize something in the course of feeling my way around the music online: when you limit yourself to a genre you will eventually become obsolete. Genre's come and go, and genre specific djs are successful on the business end of music so long as their genre's are popular.
Every. Genre. Falls. No exceptions.
I've also realized that playing specifically to one genre is insanely dull. What's the point? You get the small fan base from that one genre, and nothing else. You limit yourself creatively and you stifle your arsenal of heavy beat driven tracks to a small fraction of what, other wise, you could whip out and blow your crowd away with.
What am I getting at here? A narrow vision yields a narrow path and a narrow amount of success. I'm not interested in either of those. I'll never be a goth dj, a dub step dj, a hardstyle dj, or a steapunk dj. I am... A Dj. Period. End of statement. I refuse to be tied to a genre. ... Ever.
I'm setting on my bed feeling a lot like a puddle after being in Dallas all weekend. In a couple of hours I'll be back at my day job fixing networks and helping people get stuff done. Right now I kind of want to set here and soak in the memories from this weekend. So much happened so fast. Some of it was expected and some of it was simply spur of the moment awesomeness. There were a few hiccups in the course of the weekend, but over all the weekend was simply amazing.
Thursday I loaded up the van by 11 am and headed to pick up Kringe and Dawn. We were on the road by 11:30am heading toward Dallas. Our feet the hit the pavement running hard as we were late due to traffic congestion caused by tons and tons of construction through Dallas and Tulsa.
The moment we arrived at the hotel we unloaded the gear which was no small feat considering the elevators broke down. We hauled the sound to registration first, and then Kringe hauled everything else while I was getting dressed for my first performance. That boy is a hoss.
As soon as I was done getting ready I dashed down to registration where the previous dj had extended his set to cover for me. Thank God for small favors. I djed for about an hour and then packed up my decks and headed down to the Lizard Lounge to play a spot there as well.
Virus and I kicked some tracks around and then about ... 1:30am he informs me that he and I should and WILL do a tag team dj battle set. Oh. Crap. LoL. I'd had a few and I was feeling a bit brave so of course I said "you're ON." I went and rounded up some of the people I knew around the club to come up and hear Virus and I do our tag team set. That particular off the cuff set was incredibly fun. Doing a tag team set with Virus is a lot like having a personal trainer. His track selection forces you to reach for something a little harder, a little better, and entirely different from what you normally play.
To be short and to the point it was extremely memorable.
Friday I had a dj panel with Void and Johnny Violence. In a very short period of time I gained an immense amount of respect for these two guys and their passion for music. The conversation had in the course of the panel was a real eye opener for me as I don't really know either of these djs very well, and I am relatively new to Djing and conventions compared to them. Their insight on music and events was profound.
After the panel I mostly wandered around until it was time to set up for the Steampunk ball. We started set up around 3:30pm. The tea social was packed. I really think we need a bigger room next year. You could barely walk through the room for all the people who were there in full Steampunk gear to hang out.
Once we kicked of the dance it filled up even more. Did I mention we need a bigger room? :) Thank you to Dj Soren, Lokye, and Hard Sector Error who came out to perform for our crowd. We finally finished up breaking down the event around 3am. Talk about your 12 hour day. LoL.
Saturday I scraped myself off the floor and immediately started getting ready for the formal ball. I worked and reworked the set for that event until I thought my eyes were going to bleed. Finally it was time to go down and start getting ready. Where as I have no issues getting my suits on those hair falls are seriously difficult at times to put in. Thank you to Kristie Davis who not only helped me get my falls in straight but spent ALL DAY working on them, and thanks to AllyKatt who helped me keep myself and my stuff together while I was so focused on getting my music ready that I could barely remember my name much less remember to pick up after myself.
Everything came together rather well for the formal. I remember looking out over the crowd hoping I had done well with the formal ball, and seeing an ocean of formal dresses, tuxedos, and various suits. I remember seeing most everyone dancing and realizing that we had actually pulled off a classy and wonderful event.
Note to self: Apparently at a formals about the only formal dance anyone knows is a waltz. While there are dozens of dances for formals... the waltz is the only one everyone knows. More waltz if I ever play another formal. Yeesh. Broaden your dance horizons. Seriously people. Swing dance and formal ball room has far more to offer than the waltz. Seriously.
Sunday I spent pretty much the entire day recovering and hanging out with old friends. A-Kon for me is far more than just an event I show up to in order to Dj. It's a time to catch up with old friends and of course, make new ones. I did a lot of that.
Monday we headed home. The van had a mechanical failure, and we ended up in Van Alstyne Texas at a shop called "Adams Automotive." The long and short of it: these guys rocked. The van is working much better now and they got everything fixed in a VERY short period of time.
So I'm home now. I'm rather exhausted. I've learned a lot this weekend. I've learned that steampunks do dance to electronic tunes as well as waltzes and gypsy punk. I've learned that dub step is in fact a big deal. I've learned that formal dances are rather popular, and finally I learned that no matter how much you try someone (usually a group of someones) will always complain online. Enjoy the people who support you, and appreciate their kind words. Not everyone is so considerate.
All in all I had an amazing time at A-Kon. I really hope to be back again next year.
And now I must get back to getting ready for my day job. Oh that convention djing were my day job. ;)