Friday, October 3, 2008

Adventures in DJing: Drop the Pressure at UndergroundSF

Last night I learned a very important lesson about DJing with burned CDs: don't burn your precious tracks to cheap CDs, because some CD players won't read them.

I was leading off for the premiere of Drop the Pressure at UndergroundSF last night, and I had it all figured out ahead of time; a little Heiko Voss to start off, then into some fun, loopy techno from the likes of DiFi and Thomas Brinkmann. The Voss track, "I Think About You," was on vinyl, so as the needle moved across the record I slotted my next track in to the CD player - and nothing came up on the display. I hit eject, blew on the recorded surface, and slotted it back in. This time it came up, but showed the track as being 1.59m long. I hit play, and there was nothing in the headphones. Uttering a long chain of expletives I tried another CD, same problem. Now the needle was fast approaching the dead zone just before it would start scraping against the label. I reached into my record bag, pulled out another vinyl, not even caring what it was at this point, got it cued and started it up just as the other track was ending but not, unfortunately, before everything went to dead air.

Now that's a way to start the first set of the first night of your weekly. I put the same CDs into the other CD player, and all was well. Suspecting that the first CD player, an older, probably first generation CDJ-800, didn't like MP3 CDs, I ran a test with another MP3 CD supplied by DJ Candy. All was fine. Conclusion: the CD player was being finicky about the cheap, generic brand CDs I was trying to feed it.

I made it through an hour since I had, fortunately, brought records with me, but I had planned on using those just here and there instead of as the backbone of my set. I went for the stuff that was pretty mellow and with long, easy intros, like Luciano and Melchior's "Father" and a Pig and Dan remix of Underworld's "Play Pig" (I love that spoken word opening), and in between I was able to use the one CDJ that would accept my CDs to play some of the stuff I had originally intended, but overall it was a pretty disconnected mess, made more so by my own anxiety-induced slop mixes.

Fortunately the rest of the night went really, really well, and everyone else turned in great sets - we even had a dancefloor going at the end of the night, something I wouldn't have believed possible on a Thursday night in the Lower Haight. And now, before next week, I guess I'll have to spend some time re-burning all those CDs.

Here's the Drop the Pressure myspace if you'd like to come by and be our friend, or have a drink with us one Thursday night.

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