Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spin Class

Today I took my first "spin" class at the local gym.  My goal in taking the class was to find a new way to ease the tedium of winter cycling training.  That does not relate to this blog, but the music they played does.

Prior to today's experience I knew relatively little about the music behind spinning.  I had read once in the editor's column of Club Systems International that the music was diva trance and this afternoon when talking to a coworker he stated that he thought they turned down the lights low and blasted techno.

And the truth to be told the music did fulfill those expectations.  There were a couple of cool songs during the rest periods and the cool down, but during the actual workout it was mainstream dance / trance with every overplayed sample that you can think of.  Now I know there are some limitations to the music that they can play.  It has to be upbeat, driving, and during the peak moments of the workout pretty fast.  To add to those problems the instructor probably does not care about what is happening in the dance scene...

I can not help to think though how damaging this is to the EDM scene.  The mainstream world has very little exposure to dance music: commercials, trendy clothing stores, wedding DJs still playing Sandstorm.  This continual exposure (except for commercials) to the same cheesy pop cannot help spread the music or alleviate peoples' misconceptions.

-Charles Cushman

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


x-mas is almost over and the presents have been opened. I hope everyone had a good day and received the presents that they wanted. The big shock for me was my wife buying me an I-phone, and yes I can blog from it as I have just proven :)

Merry Christmas

-Charles Cushman

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Blue Room

Today my wife was listening to a recording that I made of the Blue Room a coupe of years ago. I had forgotten how much fun that show used to be. i was lucky enough to record a couple of episodes, but those can only go so far.

If you have not heard of the Blue Room it was a radio show on BBC 1 Saturday and Sunday morning. They played a really diverse mix of electronic, dub, and indie rock. It really highlighted what is great about BBC radio; a willingness to not just play the hits, but to play great music. 94.9 in San Diego is also that way to a certain extent, which makes radio so great here.

If anyone does stumble across any recordings of the Blue Room pleas let me know, I would love to add some more recording to my collection.

-Charles Cushman

Thursday, December 20, 2007

HighLights of 2007?

The dance blogsphere was up in arms recently due to an article published by Billboard Magazine. "DJ Tiësto and the return of house music were the highlights of the dance scene in 2007" I think that it is easy to say that for people interested in electronic music, even the fans of Tiesto and house music, that those two items were not the news for the year. Once again minimal ruled the airwaves and electro-house continued to become omnipresent. Record distributers and stores shut down. The future of clubbing in Ibiza came under fire.

I have been thinking of this from a different standpoint. Sure the items described by Billboard were old hat to us. And I agree that if they had done a little bit of journalism they might have gotten deeper into the story. We can not forget thought that for outsiders the view is completely different than from inside the club. Tiesto selling out stadiums and closing Coachella, that means more to the mainstream industry.

So, "DJ Tiësto and the return of house music were the highlights of the dance scene in 2007?"

True? Yes
False? Yes

To check out some other peoples' view visit Beatportal or Danceblogga.

-Charles Cushman

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I am not the biggest fan of Microsoft, but they do come out with some interesting ideas now and then like this one, Photosynth.

Photosynth is a program that combines thousands of snapshots to create a seamless view of a space. The program also makes it extremely easy to flip through a large collection of pictures on line. The photos shown in the clip and examples are tourist locations, but I see this application have a great affect on nightclub photos. The two things I don't like about looking at photos online are that:

a) They are a pain to go through, especially if the net is slow that day.
b) Where is my picture? Wait I found it after looking at 50 random shots.

Now imagine this program. You could flip through the photos in seconds, guests could add their pictures to the collection, and with the thousands of pictures that are taken at a nightclub over the course of a year a pretty strong virtual environment could be created.

How cool would that be?

-Charles Cushman

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Free Music

I love music. I always have something going on in the background be it rock, pop, EDM, hip-hop. i am lucky enough to live in a city that has some great radio stations, but they can't provide me with everything that I need, neither can the podcasts that I listen to. So when I find a web page that hosts some great music, gives them away for free, and is legal I am stoked.

I might be a little late on the boat, but here are two recent finds, check them out and tell me what you think:

Rcrd Lbl


-Charles Cushman

Top 5 Clubbing Experiences

So i have been lagging on the posts, I know. It is not for lack of subjects, just lack of time and I just bought iLife '08 so I might be moving the blog to the metronome server. Anyways, just to get something up here is a post that I did 12 November 2003 on my MySpace page (yes I have been a member for that long). These are still some of my top nights. Maybe tomorrow i can update this.

Top 5 Clubbing Experiences

I want to hear them, every ones top 5 clubbing/ raving nights. Here are mine:

5) Groove Armada at Bridge and Tunnel, London: London by myself, trying to find the places to go. Looking through Night Out magazine see that GA will be spinning at some club. Don’t know anything about it, but I call find out that there is no dress code and I am on my way. I got a little lost, but eventually arrived waaayyyy to early. Turns out Bridge and Tunnel is just a little bar. So I hole myself up in a corner and drink and watch. The crowd slowly fills in, the DJ starts up, I make some new friends. After a while they open up the basement (they have a basement?! and GA take to the decks for one of the best house sets ever. Turns out the crowd is mostly made up of their friends from University ( A lot of people wondered who the hell I was) and all very friendly. The best part it was free!

4) Unknown at Dre’s, Las Vegas: This one was with my friend Scottie. We had found Dre’s one night when we were not ready to go home and this was our second visit. There were two firsts though, first time hearing breaks, awesome ones at that, and the first time I saw B-Girls dancing. It was so cool to see some girls really into the music that could go off. Ended up talking to them and hanging out the next night also. One downside to the entire experience, when I told one of them that I had a girlfriend they never talked to us again (Let the record show though I did nothing wrong!) Nikki and Erin where are you?

3) Donald Glaude at 4th and B in San Diego, NYE 2002-3: This was the first night I saw D, and the best one. He owned the crowd completely and fully, and the place was packed to the gills. For the people who have never been to 4th and B, it is one of the largest clubs that I have been to, comparable to Circus, larger than 1015, Ministry of Sound, or anything in Vegas. They even had the stage open that night, pure madness.

2) Tall Paul at Montage, San Diego: Another one of those shows that I went to early and by myself. I definitely miss Montage and the parties that used to go down there. That night, along with great music, the vibe was epic, smiles all around and I had the perfect mix of caffeine and alcohol in me. When I finally got home I would not shut up about this to my parents, they just think I ma crazy.

1) DJ Tiesto at Spundae, LA: I saw Tiesto in London two weeks prior at the Gallery, the place was packed, but the crowd was quite and I was forced into a corner (I did meet my friend Jet though) So I was anxious to hear him again. This time I did not have a pre-sale ticket so I got to Circus 2-3? hours early (7ish ?) and stood in line, and waited, waited, and waited. Finally around 11 I got into the club, a little pissed off, swearing to myself that I would never do that again. Once inside drop a yellow jacket and guzzle some vodka and step onto the floor. I felt better instantly. After an hour on the floor I finally meet up with my friends (Jhoana, Ian, and crew) and the night is fantastic. I never had gone out with so many people at once who were all cool. Plenty of room to move. To top it off Tiesto took over and made us go crazy. I danced harder than I have ever done, hell I danced on a go-go booth! I was so exhausted that I had to sleep on the way home.

-Charles Cushman

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can Vinyl be Saved?

I am not sure where I saw it, either at slate or beatportal, but recently I read about how some independent record companies are letting people download digital copies of the albums that they buy on vinyl. What a great idea. You get the best of both worlds, the quality of vinyl for home usage, and a copy to take on the road.

As a DJ I am sad that my turntables are slowly gathering dust. Although Ableton is my primary DJ vehicle now days, I miss the tactile feeling of vinyl. When friends come over for our monthly Second Saturdays party I often forsake the computer to play on my CDJs and TTs. The only problem is that my vinyl collection is becoming dated and I need to go record shopping. But I don't want to buy vinyl, because lets face it, ripping vinyl to DJ with is a pain in the butt. Especially for us people who have a limited time.

However, if I could buy a track, either from the local record store, or from an online store and get both a digital copy and the physical copy I would go back to buying records. Sure it is more expensive, but to have a physical copy for the archives, or random parties where they will only have TTs and I don't feel like hauling a computer would be worth it. Also, limitations also drive innovation. Sure I could only buy one record for the price of four downloads, but I would make sure that that track is essential.

Could this idea work, unfortunately probably not, but a boy can always dream...

-Charles Cushman

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mel Cheren

I learned today that Mel Cheren had passed away due to HIV. If you have not heard of Mel, he was one of the founders of West End Records label and was heavily involved with the Paradise Garage, a venue that has defined most of New York City's Disc Jockeys.

He is also known as the Godfather of Disco, so I must say thank you to him for being part of starting a movement that drives my life.

If you would like to know more about him check out his book "Keep on Dancing, my Life and the Paradise Garage." To learn more about his record label check out the excellent record compilation that Masters of Work did for West End's 25th anniversary. Several of the records featured on that compilation are in my record box, timeless classics...

Technology in the DJ Booth, Part 2

So how are clubs adapting to the changes in the DJ booth? Most of them, well, are not, but some are. The approach being taken by the forward thinking clubs largely depends on the crowd they are catering to and subsequently, the DJs that they book..

The clubs that cater to the traveling DJ, i.e. superclubs and destination clubs, work around the limitations of having a set DJ booth through several means. Some clubs customize the DJ booths for the headliner and change their setup every night. This can be typically found at clubs that have a stage for the performers and not a set DJ booth. Examples of this set-up would be Ruby Skye in San Francisco and Avalon in Los Angeles. Clubs that have a more traditional DJ set-up, such as 1015 in San Francisco, or Circus in Los Angeles have gone another route. Circus depends on DJs doing a sound check early in the night with the equipment being installed directly into the DJ mixer while 1015 has installed a patch bay accessible from above that lets people easily reroute the audio going into the mixer. These systems work at these clubs primarily due to the star power of the DJs that they bring in and the fact that the equipment is not typically plugged and un-plugged through the course of the night.

Going down a notch to the smaller club, lounge, bar arena it can be seen that a new standard has emerged. Along with the CDJs, and Technics turntables either a Serato box or a Serato certified mixer can be seen more and more often. The multi-format nature of these venues have lead DJs to rely heavily on the Serato system. Venues, tired of having their gear ripped apart night after night are providing the necessary equipment for their DJs and if they don’t want top invest in a box that might walk away they are turning to patch bays specifically setup for the Serato DJ to plug into.

The last arenas we will look at are house parties and underground raves. At these events DJs are lucky to find working mixers much less anything beyond turntables. The only positive is do to the temporary nature of the setup there is typically more than enough room to plug into the mixer prior to a time slot, just be wary of pissing off the vinyl diehards.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Easy Steps for Creating a Strong DJ Mix

Recently a member of the ALDJ forum has been having a hard time creating a DJ mix to share. What follows are the tips that I posted in how to get around the writers block. This is the basic format that I use for making all of my mixes and it helps in creating that organic feel that a Live DJ set has.


Here is what I suggest to do. Go through your tracks and pick three songs that you like that do not start with a 4/4 beat. They can start with a melody, a voice, an odd rhythm, whatever. Just something interesting. One of these songs should be on the slow end, one should be mid-tempo, and one should be a strong upbeat track. These are going to be the seed tracks for three "sketches."

Now take the first song, pick a second song that you feels goes well with it. You now have the first two songs for a mix. After these first two songs you are going to improvise, but you should have enough time with these songs to get into the groove and pick a direction and go.

As you are DJing these sets let the music flow naturally, if you feel like dropping a trance tune after a funky house track go for it. Play whatever at that moment sounds right.

Now as you get close to the end you need to start thinking about the last track. In a 30 minute mix at about 10 minutes out I think about my last song. For an hour mix at 15 minutes out and for an 80 minute mix 20 minutes out. The last track should be a punctuation point.

When you are done, listen to the mix. You might find that these are good enough to share (mine typically are and that is why I mix my podcast live). If not, critique them and edit as needed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dirty Old Apartments (Cushman's Laundry Mix)

The new podcast focusing on unsigned dance music is up.  In it the metronome project finds those hidden gems and shares them with the world. Here is the info on the first track:

Title : Dirty Old Apartments
Artist : Sean Nash
Remix Title : The Laundry Mix
Remix by : Charles Cushman
Label : none

I heard the original track on the ALDJ forum. A couple days later I realized that I was humming the melody, so I asked if i could mess with it. the result is a nice little house track. Additionally, Sean and I have been sharing a ton of ideas back and forth, so look forward to some great tracks.

You can download the mix here or subscribe to the podcast (manually) by copying this URL

and clicking "subscribe to podcast" under the advance tab in iTunes.

Technology in the DJ Booth, Part 1

It used to be easy.  If you owned a club and wanted to have DJ perform you only had to provide two turntables and a mixer.  To make it even easier there really were no choices.  The turntables were technics, and depending on the era the mixer was Rane, Pioneer, or Xone.  as time progressed the only new choice was cd players, and once again a dominant player came in to being, the Pioneer CDJ-1000.

As a bedroom DJ, if you had dreams of playing in the clubs you bought what they had.  If you did not have the money you might go cheap on the mixer, but in the end we all wanted to have what would be in the club so that there would be no surprises.  Some of us who were a little crazy would buy accessories, such as samplers, drum machines, or effects boxes.  But the people that used those in the DJ booth were so few and far between no special allowances have been made for them.

Now days things are different.  While there are still DJs that use only vinyl or CDs, there is a growing number of users who use alternate systems such as serato, final scratch, traktor, or Abelton Live.  To go with these programs are specialized hardware, soundcards, DJ mixers, and controllers.  

How is this advanced in technology, coupled with the multiplicity of choices going to effect the DJ booth, and conversely the bedroom DJs choices?  In part two of this blog I will examine how clubs, bars, and Rave owners / promoters are addressing (or ignoring) the situation and in part three buying options for the bedroom DJ will be looked at.

Monday, December 3, 2007

IDJ2 v. Pacemaker

Last year, in 2006, my wife pre-ordered me an iDJ2 for my birthday. It had only been recently announced and appeared to be a great device for those events where you want to DJ, but don’t want to bring turntables or CDJs. After waiting several months I soon grew tired of the delays and started focusing my attention on Ableton Live.

Now, over a year later, the iDJ2 has been released. However this release has been completely overshadowed by the Pacemaker, a device that has been labeled as the ultimate portable mixer. What affect will these two devices have?

Although I have not had an opportunity to play with either one of these, I do have some first impressions that can be summed up as: Pocket DJ, why? iDJ2, I want.

The pacemaker in its simplest sense is an iPod with DJ controls. It is ultra portable and battery powered. Unfortunately, to make a device so small the users had to compromise on the ability to control the parameters. The user is left with a screen to monitor what is going on and a circular input device to control pitch, EQ, song selection, etc. While this appears to complicated, I am hoping that in practice it is easier than it sounds.

However, no matter how easy it is I don’t think it will be able to compare with the iDJ2’s ease of use. It is based around the concept of combining the controls of a 2-channel DJ mixer and two CDJs into one small package. The parameters are controlled by physical knobs that people are used to and it has a color LCD for song selection. The biggest thing that the iDJ2 has going against it is the iDJ (a device that was really a toy) and the lost of positive hype due to the delays in its release.

So why would you buy a pacemaker? Well, as the ads say, you can DJ on the bus! Although I am not sure when I would be interested in doing that. What does the iDJ2 have going for it? It is an entire DJ package based around the device everyone has, an iPod (with all the ease of use that that device entails).

At roughly the same price which device will be more successful?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

metronome podcast 003

This podcast was supposed to be seeded by a progressive house track, but looking through my recent records I saw that I am lacking on that end.  I was going to buy some new tracks (and will) but I was inspired by the rain and went into the studio at midnight.  The end result is a dark and dirty late night techno mix.

You can download this mix here or subscribe to the podcast (manually) by copying this URL 

and clicking "subscribe to podcast" under the advance tab in iTunes.

Track : Artist : Album
Sexy Fuck (Steve Angello Edit) : Who's Who : Sexy Fuck
Uptown (Original Mix) : Daniel Steinberg : Don't Be Leftout Sampler One
Superlicious : Swoop : Afterhours 3
Spastik (Dubfire Rework) : Plastikman : Nostalgik 3
Blacklight Sleaze (Radio Slave Vocal Mix) : Peace Division : NRK: 10
Let No Man Jack (Abe Duque Mix) : DJ Hell : Monotonie Durch Automation (NY Muscle Interpretation)
Here (Original Mix) : Raudive : Here
shift_it : Squatter : cdr
Refill (Original Mix) : Scandall : Beatport 3 Year Anniversary
Rollin' & Scratchin' : Daft Punk : Musique Vol.1 1993-2005
R U OK (A Cappella) : Ambivalent : R U OK
Quibble (Original Mix) : Staffan Linzatti : The Timber Owls EP
Air Conditionne (Original Mix) : Julian Jeweil : Air Conditionne EP