Over the weekend we brought our passports and traveled all the way to Red Hook, Brooklyn to see A-Trak DJ the Monster Children issue #43 launch party. There were food trucks and lots of art since it was located at an ‘art factory’ called Pioneer Works. The scene of the crowd was between fashion and Brooklyn-indie-band with people like Sydney Reising and Andrew VanWyngarden (whose knee is pictured in the end as the last photo before my film ran out) in the same circle. Here are some photos I took of the event.
Chateau Cherbuliez officially opened in that old church on 6th Ave. known affectionately by all, well many as Limelight. A much better idea than that mall that shares the space and doesn’t seem to have many good ideas, Chateau will class up the building that once was a very classy place. I’m not talking about the Gatien-nightclub incarnation, but more so the time when it was a real church with parishioners that included names like Astor and other NYC-society types. Chateau, with marketing geniuses Derek and Daniel Koch, figures to be a winner. Famous chef Todd English will consult while executive chef Peter Larsen will do the cooking. Managing partner Olivier Bondon of St. Barts lore will preside over a main dining room, a private secret dining room, and when weather permits, a garden. Photos of the Limelight heyday by Patrick McMullan will adorn the walls.
At the official opening Wednesday, that champagne that I proudly affiliate with, Beau Joie, was the official sponsor. It was opened as Daniel and Derek opened Toy just a few weeks ago. The place has operated, and when the time was right and the kinks all un-kinked, they make it official. Good idea. The old building has been a place to gather since the 1840s, and I for one am happy that good people will be returning to have a good time.
Next Tuesday the 30th, Scratch DJ Academy celebrates its 10th year with over 100,000 students from all 50 states and 35 different countries. It’s a major force in developing young talent. Tuesday’s anniversary party honors some not-so-young talent; DJ Kool Herc, DJ QBert, and A-Trak will be the focus of attention while various young studs strut their stuff. It’s an RSVP thing so if you wanna go, do some hustling. I caught up with Rob Principe, CEO and co-founder of Scratch DJ Academy, and he told me all about it.
In the past 10 years, what have been the major changes in DJ culture? The biggest change has come from technology and the democratization of the art form. Technology has now empowered the broader culture to not only become a DJ, but to do so with a very low barrier to entry in terms of cost and equipment.
What do you predict the next 10 years will be like? Technology will continue to fuel change, and the art form will continue to evolve accordingly. Music will also continue to become more personalized in its delivery and consumption, and the experience will continue to become more social.
Tell us about the 10-year anniversary event. The ten-year anniversary event will celebrate the Scratch DJ Academy’s amazing milestone, and the legacy of Jam Master Jay and the broader DJ community who have impacted, affected, and shaped the art form over the years.
What can we expect? What will happen? There will be some great performances, and we’ll also be honoring some awesome DJs like A-Trak, Kool Herc, and QBert. DMC from Run DMC will also be performing along with DJ Dasmatic (Jam Master Jay’s son).
Do you think the public is actually becoming more educated with the art of DJing or are clubs just programming pop? I do believe that the public’s music IQ is definitely increasing. Clubs will always program what they need to drive their revenue, but overall, people are much smarter about music than ever before.
VIBE has joined forces with NYC’s legendary LAVO NYC doorman/fashion designer, Richard Wheeler, to create a limited edition HOUS shirt that will be sold exclusively at our first-ever V-Mix concert starring A-Trak and A$AP Mob, this Thursday Nov 29. (TICKETS HERE). Wheeler sat down to give us the skinny of secrets to passing his coveted red rope, the 411 on the VIBE collabo and more.
Why is the Vibe V-Mix concert important? The answer is simple: VIBE nailed it, a leader in hip-hop youth culture that has created an event that solidifies what is happening today. Electronic Dance Music, becoming the most exciting genre of music today, literally exploding on the dance floors across the globe, top ten charts, TV and advertising. The truth is, within this explosion of EDM it was greatly helped by hip-hop and it’s collaboration with EDM. Today they dominate together. This event is a reflection of this. Let’s celebrate!
Name some of the most stylish celebs that have passed the red rope at LAVO: Mariah Carey, Michael Jordan, John Legend, Black Eyed Peas, Leo DiCaprio, Steve Aoki, Ciara, Jay Sean, Lennox Lewis, to name a few. We have seen nearly Every Victoria’s Secret Model on many occasions – a preference, naturally. Justin Beiber has some style (surprisingly!). My Zenith was reached when I lifted the rope for Stevie Wonder.
A few things you wouldn’t expect to find in a New Jersey nightclub on a Wednesday night: Little people go-go dancing on the bars, animal mascots wandering through the crowd, actual firefighters, and last but not least, superstar DJ, A-Trak.
Mister East, a new nightclub in Roselle, New Jersey, created a night straight out of SNL character Stefon’s imagination last week when they brought the massive headliner A-Trak out to promote the club’s recent opening. As the EDM trend grows more and more mainstream, it seems like almost no venue is beyond booking one of the scene’s top talents in order to fill the dance floor.
Despite the fire alarm going off several times throughout the night (either a prankster was having a hay day or the sparklers from the champagne were proving to be a little much for the club’s ventilation), A-Trak (aka Alain Mackiovitch) played through his two-hour set un-phased, skillfully transitioning from his opening bangers which included his remix of Zedd’s “Spectrum,” to a lower-tempo top 40 mix to please the crowd. Patrons who packed the club got to hear first-hand why the man has won a whopping five World DJ championships.
My one piece of advice for clubs looking to book superstar talent in the future: if you book a DJ renowned for his spinning skills, avoid placing him where his tables are removed from the sight of the crowd or where a large majority of patrons can’t see him display his craft. Put up a video feed or place the stage elsewhere, because the fans aren’t just there to dance, they’re there to see a show, and it’s not from dancing little people—it’s from the superstar DJ on stage.
Australia is an interesting place to go for gigs, not just because it’s on the other side of the world and they have great oysters, but because they have festivals that travel across the country with the same line-up. They usually cover two consecutive weekends, so you end up spending a week and a half with all these great bands and DJs. It’s like summer camp, and remember, it is actually summer in the Southern hemisphere right now. The festival that I did earlier in the month was called Parklife, and I went there with my group Duck Sauce.
We were the headliners, and were there with Santigold, the Gossip, Diplo, Sebastien Tellier, Death From Above 1979, and a bunch of other great acts. I’ve been going to Australia for over ten years, and I’ve got some lovely friends that I get to catch up with every time I go back. A couple of them manage a program called Heaps Decent that encourages underprivileged teenagers to make music and helps nurture their talent, and on one of my days off I went to help them out for the second time. It was a very fulfilling trip that also bookended an action-packed summer spent zig-zagging across continents.
The Duck Sauce show is basically Armand Van Helden and I DJing in front of a giant duck with some lights. We play all our own music, it’s all smiles. A pair of fans were showing off their Fool’s Gold t-shirts (my record label). We were playing on the main stage, about 10,000 people in every city. Even more in Sydney.
This was the funniest part of the trip: to promote the Sydney show the organizers put our duck on a boat and made it enter Sydney Harbor. Here is the duck passing by the famous Sydney Opera House. I played there once, back when I was DJing for Kanye.
This was at the Heaps Decent workshop, I was giving tips to an up-and-coming producer. Also at the Heaps Decent workshop, this rapper Icey was practicing in front of the class for his first big show and I gave him some pointers on performance.
We threw thousands of duck bill masks into the crowds, so were basically DJing for a flock of ducks.
Some more fans got the "Barbra Streisand" tees at the shows.
Towards the end of the tour we were all dead tired. Everyone was laid out on the floor at the airport waiting for a delayed flight.
At all the shows we dedicated a segment of our set to DJ Mehdi, our close friend who passed away in September.
How to Make It in America, HBO’s hip, snappy dramedy, could easily be re-titled How to Make It in New York. Given that its two lead characters, best friends Cam and Ben, are hustling to get their clothing label off the ground, the show couldn’t really be set anywhere else other than this fashion-happy, hard-scrabble town. To show off the series’ downtown New York-ness ahead of Season Two’s October 2 premiere, HBO has released a mini-documentary about three New Yorkers who actually did make it in America. Check it out after the jump.
As a touring DJ, I spend most of my time traveling the world to play gigs that other people organize. I just show up and do the best job I can, and I rack up some air miles in the process. But once in a while I organize my own events, especially in the context of my record label Fool’s Gold. Last month we had a big show in Paris at a venue called La Grande Halle De La Villette. It was a pretty ambitious choice because that venue is huge. It fits 3,000 people, and is not our home turf. It’s bigger than Terminal 5 in New York.
This is where the Pitchfork Festival is taking place this fall, for instance. An entire festival. And we chose to do an event there by ourselves. It’s a bit crazy, now that I think about it. But I brought on my brother’s terrific band Chromeo for extra oomph, and we covered the city in posters. In the end it worked out, because we sold the place out! It was definitely the highest point for us in Paris, and when you consider the fact that I’ve been touring for something like 14 years, it feels great to still reach new benchmarks like this. Although now I just look back at it and think, “How are we supposed to top that?” Let’s check out some highlights of the event.
We had ads all up in the Parisian subway too, or as they call it, le Métropolitain.
Running order for the night. Yes, in Europe the party starts at 11pm and ends at 6am. That’s normal.
Sound check with Chromeo’s P-Thugg and a whole lot of synths.
Backstage meeting where I explain what to do when you wear the Fool’s Gold mascot head.
My brother Dave and I, as the show begins.
Some fans brought out the Quebec flag. Yes, we’re from Montreal!
Chromeo on stage, bringing the funk.
Another shot of Chromeo on stage with the lit-up legs.
Putting on my tux before my set. Big brother helps with the collar.
Here I am on stage, in the middle of my giant “A”.
A closer look at my stage show. That thing is heavy, we had to put it on a boat to get it to Europe.
At the beginning of June, I went to Asia with my friend Congorock, an Italian DJ on my label Fool’s Gold, for our “Asian Sensation” Tour. I’ve been to Asia a bunch of times before, but this trip was particularly interesting because I went to so many countries back to back—it was like cultural speed-dating. From food and club audiences to hotels and traditional monuments, I got a quick taste of everything.
Musically, it’s changed a lot over the years. Electronic music is taking over like it is in the rest of the world, especially thanks to blogs. So it’s exciting for me to go there and not only promote my own music, but meet the DJs who are playing it. There’s a new generation that’s really keen about all of this, and it feels fresh.
The only place we had any real downtime was Bali, but that worked out great because it’s gorgeous and there’s tons to explore. Still, we tried to capture pictures everywhere we went. Check them out below to see how this continent is seen from a globetrotting DJ’s eyes.
Bali is the only non-Muslim island in Indonesia. It’s Buddhist, and everywhere we looked there were these offerings to the gods, basically incense and flowers. I even saw one on the roof of a car.
This is me bathing in the holy springs of Tirta Empul in Bali. The water is really cold, everyone is shivering. I basically looked at what everyone else was doing and did the same: ran some water on my head.
I went to see a traditional healer in Bali. I haven’t seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love but I guess there’s a similar guy in there, and my host said the one in the movie has since “gone Hollywood”. I’m not even sure what these guys do but I figured there’s no harm in trying. It ended up being essentially a massage.
This was in a great Thai restaurant in Bali. I wish I kept the name – it was delicious. I didn’t actually taste Indonesian food while I was there.
I went to visit a temple and they put some rice on my forehead in some sort of traditional ceremony. Then I walked around and someone let me hold their chickens. You can’t really say no to that.
We went to this monkey park in Bali, which is literally what the name indicates: a park with monkeys. You can buy bananas at the entrance to feed them. They’re not in cages, they’re just everywhere around you. They’re also not very nice, they’ll grab cameras and purses from people. I still love monkeys though.
This picture was taken close to the springs of Tirta Empul, in Bali. These kids were all taunting each other on the street, and when we asked for a picture, they got really calm.
These are some rice fields in Bali. Looked like something out of Apocalypse Now.
The club where I played in Bali was outdoors by the beach and had a swimming pool. One of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever played in. It’s called Potatohead.
The Petronas Towers are probably the most known landmark in Kuala Lumpur. They were the tallest buildings in the world until just a few years ago. Petronas is an oil company. KL has a big oil industry.
In Bangkok I played at a spot called Bed Supperclub, which as the name indicates is both a club and a restaurant. For reasons I don’t understand, this bear was at dinner.
This is a poster for our show in Jakarta. It was my first time there.
Yes, the Singapore Sling really is from Singapore. I went to the Raffles Hotel upon my arrival to do some shopping (I bought a nice bathing suit there) and realized that their bar is where the famous drink was invented. So I indulged.
Here I am DJing at Zouk Club in Singapore, one of my favorite clubs in Asia. The sound system is amazing, I heard parts of songs that I never noticed before.
This is the crowd at Zouk. They were a rowdy bunch.
I met a Buddhist monk at the Taipei airport. He was nice, very talkative. He asked me if I was on Facebook.
I did an ad campaign for Tommy Denim and the ads are up in a bunch of countries overseas. It was funny seeing myself on a store in Taipei.
This is me DJing in Beijing. It looks like my beard fades out but it doesn’t.
Standing on the DJ table in Beijing. People freak out when I do this and scratch but I swear it’s not difficult at all.
The club where I played in Shanghai, Bar Rouge, is on a rooftop terrace and has a great view on the city. This picture was taken around 5am after my set. Rainy day.