Cloud And Sun DJ Services Weekly Blog

Hi And Welcome to my regular blog. I will try and keep it humorous which may mean mildly colourful language at times. I hope you enjoy it and won't be offended. In order to protect the guilty; no Customers will be mentioned by name unless it's complementary and even then I may opt for anonymity. This is only because I wanted to impress you by putting in the word "anonymity."  If I can think of any other slightly more pointless and annoying rules, I will let you know in due course.


 

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  1.  

    Hi all. It's been a while ain't it? I've been busy. Have bought some new speakers. I won't bore you with numbers. you can find that out on the booking and prices page. Suffice to say they are pretty awsome sounding and have some great kick. They are so bassy that together with my subwoofers, I am getting asked to turn down the bass at nearly every gig! that's ok by me. It means I have finally after all these years reached the required "critical mass". Every DJ when he starts out, finds that volume and impact costs bucks. The bigger the impact needed the bigger the bucks you have to fork out.

    I'm not sure if there are many venue's left that I couldn't fill if you take into account that I've still got my old system intact and ready to add if needs be - 2.1 KW. Add that to my current system of 4.4 KW and not only can you see how things have progressed, but how big they could be if in fact I can actually fit it all in the van! I reckon I could, but I'd need an understanding venue owner or failing that, a roadie.

    Next purchase will be some extra uplighters so hopefully next year you will be able to hire more at once if you need to.

    I have plans to build a new page soon as I'm getting quite a few booking for children's parties. (update - Job done - Yeehaa! click here etc.) The great thing about them is that unlike adults, small people don't need 3 pints of stella to get on the dance floor and get straight into it. Some of the most rewarding parties I've done have been this type and if you check my testimonials, it seems that the clients agree in full.

     

    So self promotion aside, what makes a DJ?

    A DJ is a bit of a loner. He likes to take matters into his own hands. He was the guy that didn't know what to do with himself at those house parties you had in your younger years, but he did know he loved music and he did want to be in control of what was played on the stereo. So he did. If you had a youth club he probably did the same there with all your records/tapes/mp3 players..

    A DJ is Dissident. He was the outsider. He was the guy at the end of the street who wanted to be a musician and maybe even was for a while, but either got frustrated with his own inability or that of others. What could he do? He couldn't bare the thought of not being out there and playing - So he became a DJ. (think of grandmaster flash and all the other rappers - they were/are all DJ producers aren't/weren't they?)

    Should he wear a suit and tie and look like a sales rep at your gig? Absolutely not! Should he wear a tux and bow tie like so many do in America and end up looking like one of the waiters? Of course not. (black tie if absolutely necessary)  Smart yes, but blend in with others? Never! It goes against everything above, doesn't it?

    A DJ is different to a musician. Yes he's still an artist (there are degrees of course) and no he doesn't often get offered a free dinner and a changing room with two half hour breaks per night and a total of about two hours playing time. Nope.

    He's the guy/girl who comes in with a van load of equipment usually on his own, sets it up in front of you and proceeds to entertain the hell out of you for 4 hours plus a night, solely respnsible for everything and taking it single-handedly on the chin if it all goes wrong.

    Despite what you may think, he always under charges because you don't see the hours and hours of other work that goes on before and in part after the gig. All the admin the checking out of songs, some editing perhaps for your first dance etc., the website building and the emailing to try to persuade you to write a review so he can have some credibilty with the next customer.

    if he's good he'll have skills that you'll appreciate. He'll have rhythm and he will be able to mix without it sounding like a horse falling down stairs between each track. If he's really good he'll leave you somewhat breathless by building you up to a musical climax that you won't forget. Of course too many requests may throw him off so far that this may be impossible!

    Lastly, please don't think this can all be done for peanuts. Oh yes, there are DJ's that charge peanuts. But they have crappy equipment and and they are the one's we have to clean up after when they've let you down at the last minute - Which many of them do.

    You can't take £10,000 worth of show on the road for £150 per night. You can take cheap, horrible sounding gear out for that if you're planning not to have to replace it. A warning to all those that do or would. There's nothing quite as intimidating as a crowd of alchohol-fuelled guests that have been let down by a technical failure. I had it twice so far. Once when a CD player was had a plug which was wired on a friday afternoon (soon fixed) and once when the laptop crashed possibly due to extreme heat that day. Oh actually I forgot the drunken 18 year old at a wedding who emptied his vodka all over the laptop, but by then I had a back up system. You really need stuff to be reliable as a guest and a performer and that takes investment.

    Anyway, I didn't intend to ramble on about money. I just thought you'd like to know what type of people we are really.

    Other deejays are welcome to criticize of course. But I reserve the right to be rude if you are.

    Until next time I'll leave you with this thought from my friend and fellow entertainer Erik Jack: if everything's coming your way - you're in the wrong lane!

    Bye for now fellow music nutters.

  2.  

    Hi all,

    I was listening to a program on radio 4 today about voice correction software. The most popular brand you will have heard of is called "Auto-tune". I knew about this technology before, as I'm sure you did (They never had it when I was a Producer) but I never knew how widely it was used. Ever wondered why todays chart songs can sound so dull and characterless? Well one could give more than one reason for this: Producers not having a sound musical knowledge anymore? Doing everything too quickly on a laptop? Copying and pasting verses and choruses and ridding the song of character? Or perhaps so many great chord progressions have been written and copywrited, that there's not much fertile ground available anymore for the new blood to "harvest". Maybe it's down to a music business run by materialists and accountants who have an exact formula for making money which precludes individualism and the art that comes with it? One thing seems for sure though; Taking into account what Grace Jones said when quoting Edith Piaf: "Use your faults. They are what make you a star". Well we're in a world now it seems where faults aren't allowed anymore. The golden rule when I was a keyboard player was, if you get it wrong, play it three times and everyone will think it's deliberate (I never tried that one to be honest) Perhaps this is why Miley Cirus and Lady Gaga not only sound so dull to me, but also sound so interchangable. All Variations of vocal are wiped clean...

    To me this is definitely part of the problem. But it's not the entire story. I think it's partly audience driven. We live in a world where the bulk of the audience appears to demand a certain blandness in their product. Would people take to a mega band like Queen or Genesis these days? Would disco take off today? (I doubt it - people are trying all the time and are loudly ignored). What is different about prog rock and disco? Well as an ex musician I can tell you. Those bands and these types of music are arguably epic in comparison to say...Justin Beiber or most anyone else in the charts these days. Why? Simple to those in the know. Most dull samey pop tunes use the same simple "triad" chords like C, D, A, and E. these are chords that have only three notes eg: the chord of C has C (root), E (third) and G (fifth). A power chord in a Who song might include the same chord with a suspended 4th added (F). Super groups of yesteryear like the above plus people like Supertramp, Bowie etc. have songs littered with spiced up chords like this because they extend the illustrative possibilties of the song no end. A song is after all, a snapshot of a persons' mood or thoughts in a given moment right? So why limit the poetic expression to a few bland, easliy digestible, sugarless porridge-like explanation units (chords). The extreme example of chord use is jazz and old skool R&B/soul, who's menu seems to be too rich for the taste of most white people (audience driven see?), but is lapped up by many musicians who understand whats going on and the skill of both writer and player - See it's harder to use big words (chords) especially when education is being forever dumbed down to make a more controllable population - Oops! Going off topic there... But it's harder to play big chords and complex melodies, as it requires a bit of skill and practice with one's instrument even if it's one's voice that's the said item.

    There used to be a band called "Pop will eat itself". I don't know anything about them, but their proficy seems to have come true. Pop music is at the over produced stage where it's so far up it's own unskilled arse that it's becoming blind to what is and isn't good anymore (generally).

    Big producers now don't look for skilled singers. They look for good looking singers. Skill and training isn't needed. Now you know why few artists of this kind last five minutes. They're on a conveyer belt and it's a fast one.

    I know what you're thinking: how do we handle this as DJ's? Simple. If you're a club DJ, you're probably playing stuff most of the night that never gets into the main charts and who gives a crap? Everyone knows dance is dance and screw it, let's get on the club floor like we came to do and do it. Either that or your audience is happy to dance to Will.i.am type stuff all night. I don't know about you, but I can only take so much 128bpm house in one set, even if it is peppered with David guetta and Calvin harris.

    If your a mobile DJ like me, your saving grace is at most gigs (probably not 18ths) you can dip into 5-6 decades of older music to bolster up the new stuff. Works quite well if you read my reviews. Hmm... my heads aching. it must be getting too big again. Well I AM a DJ aren't I?

    I must just add that there are exeptions to the blandness of course. Some originality is allowed through from artists that don't sound like they're on prozac. Check out Disclosure for some of those juicy chords I mentioned earlier. And thankfully, some decent dance music is still making it through to mainsteam. I won't mention who. you know who they are. Then there non dance are artists like Adele, who can put some juice into their material even now and still get a recording deal. You'd think more labels would realise how well good songs sell wouldn't you? Shortage of Adele standard artists? Never! lazy or non existant A & R? Damn sure.

    finally for those that want to hear it and how Auto-tune can be used in an artistic way Here is the link to that radio 4 program

    Well I don't expect everyone to agree with me. Music is very subjective after all, but I'm just saying what I see. I'm not an old fuddy duddy either. Anything but. I'm looking at it from the point of view of an artistic person who is ever hopeful of new and fresh sounds. I hope that comes through in the above.

    Have a good one,

    Mike

  3. Hey there people! It's Christmas!!!! well Almost. Busy sesaon this year. Busiest ever I'm glad to say. Saw a headline on the front of the sun paper the other day as I went into a garage to pay my weekly mortgage for diesel: "Cold snap" or some such thing. basically they're predicting a white Chistmas (Remember that saying in the 90's: "it must be true - I read it in the Sun"). Yay! Oh hang on...I've got to get to all those gigs....Well I still recall the feeling of coming back from a gig in Chichester on Christmas Eve a few years ago with the A27 (UK South coast east to west Main route) covered in snow at 2am in the morning and the wonderful quietness of the journey, as I padded over it and home for Christmas day. I don't think I've felt that festive since i was knee high to a JLS doll. I recall looking out of the window of the hotel and saying to the punters: "Hey its snowing!"and seeing them run like school children over to the window! Ha ha! Still makes me smile.....

    Well, I've just finished downloading the last songs before the big season starts. So many processes to get your songs sounding perfect. Normalising the volume to a set level. Analysing the Beats per minute, key signiture, Adding a second file format for my other DJ software, Putting it on a flash drive. Loading it up onto the two main console drives, re-analysing the key for console search, and finally posting the updated website song catalogue. And you think this job is easy? Pah! So much back office work, you wouldn't believe it! Sometimes I think it helps to be single in this job, as there's so much time spent behind a desk of some sort.

     

    Some interesting Songs out at the moment. My tip for the number one at Christmas? well this one has to be in with a chance, all be it adult themed (what isnt these days?)

    Different, Soulful, Slow, romantic. You never know.

    Ok, enjoy your company party and remember: if you get taken out on a stretcher; don't get carried away!

     

    Have a good one!