Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Home again

I am finally home, after many hours traveling yesterday, connecting through Houston.  I don't understand how anybody would choose to live in such a place.  It is just horrible.

So, the gig was very frustrating for me.  There were technical problems.  It was nobody's fault, but a series of relatively minor things added up to difficulties with the night.  Without going into too much detail: they had tried to arrange the dj booth on the dance floor, to be closer to the crowd.  This would have been fantastic had it worked but it represented a timing problem for mixing, there was about a 1/4 second delay between what I was hearing in my headphones and what was coming out of the main system, which I was having to use to monitor.  Under other circumstances I would have been able to mix in the headphones, but only one channel worked on the pair I was borrowing, and it was too loud where I was positioned to try such a thing with only one channel.  The monitor speakers were also no good because the timing problem existed in them also and there was no way to overpower the main system to mix, it would only have broadcasted the timing confusion to the entire dance floor.  The monitors remained silent, unused.

So, I ended up having to mix "blind" the entire night.  This means getting the tempos of the two records lined up as best as I could, throwing the beginning mix point, adjusting the track that is going to be coming in a little bit forward to try to compensate, then bringing the mix in, using only the main speaker system as a reference.  This system's closest speaker is about 25 feet away, and I had to perform the entire mix live, unable to use headphones at all during the mixing process, having to try to figure out which record is advanced or behind based on what is coming out of the full system.  It made it nearly impossible to perform any mixes which required delicacy or sophistication.  In short, it made the mixing very blunt for the whole night, not what I would have preferred. 

Any dj reading this will know how difficult what I've described is to do.  If you ever watch a dj performing you will notice that they use their headphones quite often during the mixing process.  That is, if they are actually doing the mixing and not relying on a computer to do it for them.  It took much of the fun of dj'ing out of the process and the act became almost completely functional.  

Also, it was then only possible to play music that had been digital for its entire life, being a much better reflection of the perfectly intended tempo.  Any record that had been recorded off of vinyl would have too many slight tempo inconsistencies to perform a mix that lasted more than a few seconds, 30 or 60 or so, which would have made those tracks sound very rushed in comparison to the others, if not resulting in an outright disaster, a train-wreck, of which there were a few.  This limited my overall range of track selections, drastically.  

Afterwards I was told over and over how well I played, but I knew better, and it was impossible not to hide my disappointment and frustration.  I possess no greater scowl in my arsenal of unhappiness.  I was crushed and I never quite recovered for the rest of the night.  I was prepared to play well and have fun.  I needed everything to go right, etc.  I spent the previous night practicing and was quite comfortable with my new records and confident in my mixing.  It was heartbreaking to not be able to mix the music the way that I would have chosen to.  

No more about that.  I will hopefully return and play again in November with Rachel and (maybe) Rhys accompanying me.  We will need to decide if we want to travel with the boy or if we need some time away together more.  It will be less than a year since we've had him, so who knows if we will be ready to leave him with somebody else yet.  We will see.  

But I am quite eager to return and play.  I have tasted it again, it is like a virgin's blood to a vampire.