Tis the season of takin’ it easy and enjoying the balmy breezes as the last leaves jump from the trees and the smell of wood smoke hangs heartily in the air. The summer hustle has packed its bags and headed to warmer climates, replaced by the transitional calmness of autumn. For those of us lucky enough to enjoy them, the changing of the seasons remind us that life is always in motion. And it’s that time of year when more than a few of us get nostalgic and turn inward with introspection or maybe step back to evaluate the larger picture of life and the world. I don’t worry overmuch about things I can’t control, but I think it’s important we recognize the things we’ve got to be thankful for. Here’s what I’m most grateful for this year.
Not just house music, but everything. I don’t enjoy it all, but I can respect
each most of the artists and their work. I’ve been around long enough to see how one artist, one genre, or one musical movement can influence another completely unrelated sound years later.
Pictures fade. People come and go. Even the music changes. But I’ll always have my memories. I was able to experience the heyday of the rave movement, back before “rave” became a dirty word. Back when we had map-points and danced in old warehouses and the DJ booth wasn’t much more than two turntables and a mixer set up on a pyramid of cinder blocks at the front of the room. Back when musical snobbery wasn’t such a big deal and genres and sub-genres weren’t as well-defined and exclusive. Back when people wore JNCO, Adidas, fuzzy clothes and white gloves and danced all night without having to share a status update to prove they were having fun.
I‘m thankful I learned to DJ with vinyl and not a laptop. It’s given me a different perspective on DJing (and yes, it has probably made me somewhat jaded and given me a critical ear for many of today’s jocks). But it’s also taught me the true art of DJing; it’s so much harder to see it nowadays as the technology seems to be almost stripping the soul from the music.
And speaking of vinyl and the old days, I’m thankful that the progressive house sound (circa 1999) is coming back. It died off for a bit and re-emerged a decade later as melodic tech-house but seems to finally be coming full-circle in terms of both sound and structure. It’s got a modern flavor to be sure, but it makes my ears just as happy as it did all those years ago. It’s not the same sound as it was back then, but it’s how we remember it to be.
No, it’s not a contradiction. Technology is good as long as it’s not doing all the work; there’s a fine line between DJ and human jukebox. Tech has opened up so many more possibilities for the people who are willing to put in the time and maybe it’s part of the continued interest in electronic music.
Can I pick just a single album I’m thankful for? No, not really. But I do have a dozen or so favorites mixes that I listen to frequently. Early Bad Boy Bill (the Hot Mixes, his Global House Culture series and Bangin’ the Box IV) as well as his House Connection b2b sets (albums and tours both) with Richard Vission (back when he had the “Humpty” in his name); Paul Oakenfold’s Tranceport; Paolo Mojo’s Balance 009; Sasha & Digweed’s early mixes and shows (including the Northern Exposure series); and Steve Porter’s Porterhouse series. And today DJ Dan’s Stereo Damage podcast is always boppin’. I’m thankful for almost everything old or new by Hernan Cattaneo. I’ve been exposed to so much good music sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it all.
The New Generation
But it’s not just the guys I grew up with: I’m thankful there’s a new generation of artists doing their thing and keeping the music alive and underground. Lately the stuff I’m hearing from the likes of Guy J, Guy Mantzur, Eelke Kleijn and Christian Smith and others is what reminds me that I’ve made the right choice not to be swept away by the tide of EDM.
I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to meet new faces over the years. We were all brought together by the music and we were able to share the fun and excitement and experiences of those awesome shows and be a part of our own little musical movement and nightlife culture built around beats and basslines.
People are fun, but friends are forever, and one I’m thankful for is DJ Digga. We’d occasionally spend time together discussing music, DJing, the Denver nightlife scene and more. I won’t say we were best buds (actually, we didn’t really hang out much aside from an occasional lunch or a “hello” at the club), but we had one of those relationships where we could be honest with each other without being afraid of hurt feelings. I’d occasionally get a text when he needed a neutral opinion about some drama or clubland politics, and he’d be there if I ever needed to just vent. I’m thankful we got the chance to hang out, if only for a bit. RIP brother; you’ll be missed.
So what are a few of the things you’re thankful for this season? Post them up in the comments below.