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Rant and Rave

9 Apr

It’s over a week now since my DJ debut at Palookaville. It was such a big night (and a busy work week after that) that only now – after a couple of very lazy food-fuelled Easter days off – am I getting a chance to reflect on it properly.

It really was something else. My set started off a little shaky – the decks on the night were a bit different to the ones I’d been learning on & just as the doors were due to open, I managed to completely kill the sound as I was queuing up my second track. After a mini meltdown, I was back on track (literally) as the throngs started to filter into the Oh Yeah Music Centre. The club was full and sold-out in a record 20 minutes. With the Faithful Palook crowd suitably limbered up and ready to party, I had to think on my feet a little & mix things up with my track selection.

Whilst I’d agonised over my set list for weeks and thought I had it pretty much confirmed in my head, there’s nothing quite like the pressure of 300 faces in front of you to make you think fast and change things around if it’s not creating the right vibe. And it seemed to work – 30 minutes in, there was a full dance floor & people were (shock, horror) dancing. It really was quite unlike any other feeling I’ve ever felt before – and such a buzz.

Here’s a taster of what I played in roughly the right order:

She’s in Fashion, Suede
This Charming Man, The Smiths
No Diggity, Klaxons
Sexy Motherfucker, Prince
Down in Mexico, The Coasters
Don’t Play No Game You Can’t Win (feat. Santigold), Beastie Boys
Used to Love You, John Legend
Power, Kanye West
Shutterbug, Big Boi,
Money (That’s What I Want), Barrett Strong
Gold on The Ceiling, The Black Keys
Señorita, Justin Timberlake
Toxic, Mark Ronson
Happy Slap, Ashok
I Touch Myself, Divynls (blame my friend, Lois for this one)
One Way or Another, Blondie
Kiss, Prince

I pretty much just played tunes I like to listen to/dance to & it was amazing to see people dancing to the tunes I’d chosen.

At the end of my set my mentor, teacher & all-round great guy, Joe Lindsay & fellow Palookaville DJ/mastermind, Kenny Mathieson appeared behind me and started dancing with two 6ft inflatable T-Rexs, prompting the crowd to start clapping. In that moment, I honestly felt like a superstar DJ (the medicinal vodka may have aided this feeling) – it was utterly surreal. But amazing. I must say a very public thank you to Joe for all of his support, help & for giving me the opportunity to play at his club. Hopefully he’ll have me back someday.

Which leads me on nicely to tonight’s adventure. Having gotten the taste for life as a DJ, tonight I’m off for my first experience of mega Belfast club night, Shine where legendary international techno/house DJ, Carl Cox is heading up the bill.

I’m not a big raver. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was in a club that was’t playing some variation of the types of tunes I played myself last weekend. That said, I’m intrigued & think it’ll be amazing to see DJs that tour the world in action right here in Belfast.

I’ve been told by many that going to a Shine party is right of passage. And seeing as I’ve lived here for six years now and have never been, I think it’s about time I ticked this one off my list. Now, where’s my glow sticks?

P.s. here’s a pic of my serious concentration of the beginning of my set last weekend. The pictures from the end are better left alone. Sorry about the T-Rex, Joe…

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D[J]-Day Has Arrived

31 Mar

It seems like yesterday that DJ supremo, Joe Lindsay challenged me to take on life as a DJ for one of my 29 Lives. A couple of months on and several lessons later, the day of my DJ debut has finally arrived. Tonight Matthew, I will be DJ NotBadForaGirlLike.

I’m a little nervy. But excited too. Under Joe’s watchful eye, I’ve already played two half hour sets in front of actual real live people. But tonight’s a different animal.

I might just be playing the first hour but having frequented Joe’s Palookaville parties at the Oh Yeah Music Centre over the last few years, I know how quickly it fills up (the last club night sold out within 35 minutes of doors opening-so get down early if you want to get in).

I’m pretty confident with my track selection [still needs a tiny bit of fine tuning but I’m getting there], so hopefully it’ll all be alright on the night. I’ll post my set list tomorrow but suffice to say it’s in line with Palookaville’s friendly-funky-c’mon down to the coolest house party ever vibe.

This particular challenge has been one of my favourite to date and there’s been a few happy offshoots to it too. I’ve discovered new music; learned to listen to music in a different way; and met new people that have resulted in a lot of seriously fun times of late. I might have fallen behind with some of my challenges recently but this one really has opened up a whole new world for me & really, that’s what this blog is all about.

I just want to publicly thank Joe and also my music benefactor (you know who you are) for all their support and faith in me. ‘You’re just playing tunes you like; no one is going to die,’ is the mantra I’m taking with me when I get on stage tonight.

Now, Let’s Face The Music and DANCE.

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DJ NotBadForaGirlLike

20 Feb

I read an excellent blog post recently about, well, blogging. It’s difficult to paraphrase the premise behind the fairly lengthy discourse on the commitment required for blogging (read it here on the Lake Superior Spirit blog) but the general sentiment is that it requires a lot of work and dedication.

This is a reality that’s beginning to hit home. With this particular blog, it’s not just the time required to actually sit and write but also to dream up the challenges to make up my 29 Lives; the time to negotiate and organise said challenges and then to report on them in a timely manner – the latter of which I’ve been particularly bad about of late. But I’m pledging to repent. Perhaps instead of giving up sweets and chocolate for Lent this year, I will aim to get better at blogging…

Anyway, I digress. You may be wondering why the lengthy prologue when the title of this post is about Djing, so I’ll get to the point.

Those of you that have been following my 29 Lives quest will know that I have accepted a challenge to become a DJ for a night (an hour actually) and perform a set at popular Belfast club night, Palookaville at the Oh Yeah Music Centre next month. DJ extraordinaire and organiser of the night, Joe Lindsay has taken me under his wing and is teaching me the tricks of the trade.

On Saturday past, I popped down to see Joe for an hour before his other monthly night, Rushmere at Love & Death kicked off. The idea was that I would get an hour’s practice in before the club opened. When I got there however, Joe informed me that after a quick refresher on how to use the kit, I would be playing the first 30 minutes of the set. Cue the panic!

His argument was that in six weeks time I’ll be playing to a crowd of 2-300 people, and playing to a tenth of that number to begin with is a good place to start. I protested but eventually conceded that his logic was sound and prescribed to the sink or swim mantra, swallowing the lump in my throat as people started to arrive.

Nervy, clunky and all fingers and thumbs, I plodded my way through the 30 minutes, which honestly felt like it lasted hours. There were a few touch & go moments, like when I actually forgot to press start on the next track I had cued up but all in all it was ok. No one demanded a refund, no one booed or laughed at me and Joe christened me DJ NotBadForaGirlLike, which I’m taking as a compliment!

I’ve a bit of tweaking to do on my choice of tracks for the big Palookaville debut yet but I feel a lot better about it now having gotten over the initial stage fright.

If you want to see me in my DJ glory, put the 31st March in your diary. My playing aside, Palookaville is a really great night and if you haven’t been, you really should come down.

Due to the shock of Saturday’s unexpected set, I didn’t manage to get any pics, but here’s a few from a previous lesson that I never did get round to posting. Note to Self: re-read that aforementioned blog post about blogging commitment.

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Hey DJ, Here We Go

9 Dec

This will come as little surprise to my twitter followers, who will more than likely have seen this challenge negotiated but tomorrow I am embarking on the next of my 29 Lives – as a DJ.

The one and only Mr Joe Lindsay has challenged me to learn to DJ (under his tutelage) and perform (hopefully a very short set) at Palookaville in March.

For those of you that don’t know what Palookaville is, shame on you. It’s actually my favourite club night in Belfast. Hosted on the last Saturday of the month in Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre, it’s always a sell out, which isn’t surprising as it essentially feels like a big house party with your best friends.

Atmosphere and a good crowd aside, it’s the music that makes Palookaville stand out. So, it’s with some trepidation, having never been near a set of decks, and with having a fear of people booing me off the stage, that I’ve signed up to this particular challenge.

I’ve my first DJ lesson with Joe tomorrow. Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

By the way, this is what I looked like at the last Palookaville I was at (Halloween, obviously). Perhaps I should go incognito in March too…

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