DJ Chronicles – 6: Once A DJ…

…always a DJ.

I could no more quit DJing than I could quit breathing. I was supremely depressed about bombing hard at Soundset 2009 (even though I’m probably the only person who still remembers it), but I wasn’t in any hurry to dump all my equipment and records, and retreat into a cave in some nearby national park. I still wanted to DJ. I went from thinking that upgrading my system was impossible, to thinking it was almost kind of slightly doable.

I’m absolutely terrible at saving money; If I put aside a few bucks, some bill or other unexpected expense will come along and suck it right up. Either that, or I’ll want a pizza. However, when I’d suddenly found myself with a few hundred bucks, I’d decided that if I didn’t buy that Serato software right then, that I’d never have another opportunity in my lifetime. So, I went out and bought the software, got myself a cheap used laptop a few weeks later, and entered the brave new world of digital DJing.

I got right back into the rotation at RSE Radio which, by this time, had been asking their DJ’s to pre-record mixes to air on the show. Sweet! Now, I could fulfill one of my DJ fantasies, and start doing mixes just like the type of mixes I grew up listening to by my DJ idols like Frank-Ski, The Numarx, and the KDAY Mixmasters. I used my newly-acquired Serato knowledge, and my 4-track recording skills that I had been perfecting since the late 1990s, and churned out some of my best and most satisfying DJ work of all my career. I also got back into playing out at clubs; still didn’t have a residency, but I was enjoying myself.

RSE Radio shut down in the summer of 2013, so that was that for my radio career, but I’d managed to churn out about 40 master mixes (You can still listen to my RSE Radio mixes over on the TuneIn app. Just look for shows with J. Love The Soundsmith, hit the Play button and commence with the head noddin’.) in about three years’ time. As I approached my mid 40’s, I began to lean more towards old school jams, because I just wasn’t feeling a lot of the new stuff that was coming out. In 2015, my 45th birthday was gonna be on a Friday, so I got the bright idea to have a combination birthday/retirement party, and end my professional DJ career on a high note.

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The flyer I designed for my party at Honey. I borrowed a screenshot from the horror flick As Above, So Below.

I wasn’t retiring from DJing, I was just no longer going to focus on getting gigs. It was my way of coping with the fact that my phone wasn’t ringing nearly as much as it used to.

The birthday/retirement party took place on a rainy Friday evening; maybe that was the reason why the club was only half as full as it usually was. I tried not to take it personally. I was still planning on just doing occasional mixes here and there, and the occasional wedding or house party for family and friends, and not concentrating on getting club gigs, but the hunger to play out was still there. A little bit after my “retirement,” Eduardo, one of my DJ associates, called me personally to ask if I wanted to share a residency playing 4th Fridays at a well-known club. Hell yeah I did!

We started sharing DJ duties on a club night we called Doowatchyalike (sic) at Clubhouse Jager. It was going strong up until the owner of the club started skimming too much money off the top, forcing us to move locations. The other spot was not as well-known or centrally-located, so it didn’t last more than a month before we had no choice but to put our club night on indefinite hiatus. And that’s kind of where everything stands as of this writing.

Even if Doowatchyalike never starts up again, I’ll still never stop having the urge to play with records, be they digital or not. I still have my turntables, and now, I even have a snazzy digital DJ controller (Numark NVII, it’s pretty sweet) to play with. DJing is, and always will be, a part of me.

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