Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Heather – Apollo Records – (APT) Chicago’s – International – House Music – Summer Series 2018 – (Chicago) Pt.1

With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.

At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’

On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’

What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.

I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol

We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’

About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this  addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.

Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.

Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.

How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.

Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉

DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..

It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.

 

She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!) 

Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’

It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of  her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!

Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.

About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.

For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.

Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me.  In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.

She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a  formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say  for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.

I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……

Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read. 

  • Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
  • Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
  • Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop

 

What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?)  I shared with Heather  recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at  Resident Advisor and it  then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.

Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!

img_4638

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

In the Land of Windmills and Dance Music: 11 Things a House Head Should do at #ADE2017

25 years in the making and it shows! I was looking at where to visit and I chose the Netherlands (Amsterdam Dance Event) mostly because of their emphasis on technology. Amsterdam has been known to be forward thinking and many steps ahead in the way they run their society among other things…….Amsterdam Dance Event describes itself as ‘the leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres’.

I absolutely admired ADE’s strong support for all genres. They welcome all sorts of DJ culture-regardless of colour, gender and preference.What I loved the most is the way the city embraced  & all the artists,press,delegates that were participating! There were posters,stickers and promo EVERYWHERE!

I personally loved this scene so much and in several days I took in some DNB, Classic,Deep, Tech and Afro House-it was all-inclusive. It was crazy fun! I met all kinds of people-all music enthusiasts from all over the world in town for ONE thing: music! I met some of the same people at many events. Some enthusiasts from Belgium asked me where I was headed because they were so used to checking out the same artists everywhere.

Before and After a Music FestivalI truly wished I had gone a few years prior. I can’t wait until they expand even more. Jokes aside with memes depicting festival burnout, after the 6 hour flight from Toronto to Schipol Airport it was not tiring at first…… but after 48 hours………with all the excitement and party line-up-I crashed!

 

The one thing that really caught my attention was the Health and Wellness program dedicated to festival burnout and Dance Music/Club Culture. With all the networking events,panel discussions and parties-there were daily yoga and meditation sessions available for whoever needed it. Panel discussions like  [Protecting Mental & Physical Health for Fans & Professionals], and “Who is Responsible for the Mental Health of an Artist?” are very important discussions to be had in any industry.

I was floored by the holistic/health and wellness shops on every corner-shops all over the city carrying products I still have to order online lol! From sprinkles on buttered toast and fresh fruit and smoothies on Albert Cuyp Straat……the contrast was so refreshing. Everything was within walking distance-once you get the subway/streetcar line down pat-you can get anywhere within minutes. A sleek UBER from Schipol Airport takes you to the main city in a 15 min car ride!

The drivers, airport staff and city all expectedly ask you if you’re there for ADE and they have tons of information at their fingertips to help you navigate the city! (LOVE IT!) October is a bit chilly so bundle up with layers and your favourite walking shoes!

DRUGS and ADE! Everyone is aware ADE exists here and speak highly of the event. All drugs are tested before they are brought into venues to avoid injury and/or death! I highly respect this approach because Dance is often intertwined with hard drugs and this is a primary method to eradicate the misconception behind it.Total props!!!!!

Testlocaties-ADE-2017They push for body positive health awareness. I praise their drug education and push for ‘healthier’ usage instead of the ‘war on drugs’.

As drugs are often synonymous with club culture they do encourage safe usage and responsibility for fellow party-goers. It’s impressive.

All aspects of the scene are considered, and openly discussed. Room is made available to talk about the future of the industry. Panel discussions covering technology from equipment- to vinyl’s revival all had a space to showcase,teach and exchange ideas. ADE University teamed up with labels to discuss how they can improve websites, apps and ticket sales to boost revenue and allocate funds in an organized fashion.

I’m not sure if it’s organization is a Dutch thing or that it’s 25 years in the making, but whatever they are doing is beyond music for music’s sake.

I did find their app a little complicated to maneuver and also found it hard to navigate some of the workshops and networking locations around the city. However, all the flags and physical landmarks labelled everywhere made up for the app. I really wanted to attend more events but there are so many programs happening at the same time and back to back that by week’s end-I knew I’d be coming back! All these years I’d only stopped over at Schipol Airport and was finally able to visit and was  so grateful for!

The highlights of the week were the Detroit Love Party (Mirko Loko,Waajeed,Carl Craig,Kenny Larkin,Stacey Pullen,Kevin Saunderson and Moodyman) EPIC partay.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Detroit Love 2

One of the final night parties at Paradiso (Louie Vega, Joey Negro, Francois K,Space Dimension Controller,Prins Thomas,Amine K,Beesmunt Soundsystem,Jan van Kampen) was memorable!

PARADISO

Honourable mentions go to the guys over at Cuisine 020 (Bar Karakter)-DJ Migosy (Offering Recordings), DJ Andrew Foley (Deep Rooted Soul), and AMW Gill Charleston-it was a tight-knit LIVE joint! Had a great time! I’m sure by October this year………

11 things to do in Amsterdam (during ADE ) if you’re a House Head or purveyor of Dance Music

  • Go to the Amsterdam Dance Event, check out as many genres as you can……
  • Take naps in between events-you’ll wake up refreshed for your next workshop
  • Go to the artist panels/talks (they are so informative and inspirational)
  • Check out the good eats (so many amazing restaurants-if the locals are in it- it’s the shit!)
  • Buy some records, take in new music say hello to your fave and upcoming DJs (the environment is so chill out there!)
  • Club Hop, there are so MANY amazing events, all on the same night, check out all of them!
  • Purchase tickets in advance from home (they sell out FAST-months in advance), make sure you can actually attend all the events once you arrive!
  • Check out the Heineken Museum
  • Go to a local Coffee House and meet some interesting people, try out the green (if you feel like it!) It feels fabulous to be at a place where there are no issues with green treats-you’ll find many,many,many strains and flavoured paper 🙂
  • Don’t forget to browse in as many weed shops as you can-Many of the shops get most of their best strains from Canada (betcha didn’t know that!) *wink,wink
  • Link up with people who you’ll be able to work with later on-you just never know!!!!

Bravo #ADE2017 see you people at #ADE2018!

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, New Jersey, New York, promoters, theshineprjct

Honeycomb Music – Josh Milan :Two Time Grammy Nominated, One For The Team (January 2018)

Photo Josh Milan

I enjoy writing spiritual lyrics, conscious lyrics that touch your very soul. I love writing lyrics like that-just because I love it so much!  …..and in rolls anotha one *cue DJ Khaled

The journey to the Grammys is not quite as straight a path as it appears and as this article is being published mid–January 2018, Honeycomb Music Label Owner Josh Milan is a certified two-time Grammy nominee. To see someone in the community reppin’ a music genre that is marginally recognized by the greater music industry-is amazing!

shine – I’m thinking there’s no way that he’s not going to take home a trophy. No way. Not this year…..

House/Dance Music-singled out and officially categorized in and around the main ‘streams’ is a BIG deal. Not that it makes it any less underground or exclusive but it keeps the culture alive and well. Good music, good lyrics and great instrumentation are definitely a BIG deal in the Land of Josh Milan. I was surprised; not that he shouldn’t be a contender on that list, but mostly that the Dance category was added to the newer category list! Again, right next to Louie Vega!

Milan feels that things need to change (with respect to the Grammy Nominations Review Committee)he says, ‘there are some excellent recording artists, producers and musicians coming out of the scene/community from all over and it’s something that needs to be recognized. This is how the culture needs to be kept alive. ‘Something needs to change in the industry’

I asked him how he felt about the Grammys transitioning into a more digital judging process-he felt that the decision-making process, as advanced as it has become, indeed makes voting easier and more inclusive of all artists-but life still remains modest as a recording artist.

Milan fully understands that many still may not know who Louie Vega or Josh Milan are but he does feel that, ‘it would still be our position whether we win or not; to teach and direct our people through music…..it’s challenging he says, ‘because there’s no money in it, NO MONEY chinedu!!!!’ lol

(I had to laugh about the way he said this BUT he really emphasized that there is STILL no money in music.)

The second surprising transition on top of the 3 new musical categories is that key players contributing to an album now include (Producers, Songwriters, Sound Engineers and Mixers!)

According to Billboard.com, any supporting roles ‘credited with at least 33 percent or more playing time on the winning album will be eligible to receive a Grammy in the Album Of The Year category’.  The biggest and most groundbreaking move is that full albums from the Classical, Jazz and Dance categories will now be included. This is a subtle but very successful way to pull the ‘Underground’ to the forefront and keep the culture alive.

It’s sad that the Grammy Association took so long to wholly recognize other genres but exciting that these genres can be introduced to broader audiences to build and sustain the scene. With the ‘best’ artists embraced by the Academy its’ a great starting platform for vast audiences to focus on strong artists in each category. With Canada and Canadian Artists making waves globally in other genres-especially at this year’s Grammy Awards Show, this huge path widening for Dance Music lends exponential opportunities here up north. Especially those artists known to us.(Yay, Canada!)

Dance is broad but Dance encompasses so much and that’s the beautiful thing about this move! Milan feels that it’s truly an honour to be acknowledged by his peers and it may enhance the types of projects he’s going to work on from here onwards. It might even expand his artists network. But no matter what-He is focused on doing more music.

Being in the scene,working in the industry, loving the industry doesn’t have to be solely about the money if you have a clear idea of what you want to do.

Milan has left a huge imprint on the music scene over the last three decades. His participation has spurred musical movements and global scenes.That picture is BIGGER than money right? We talked about his career and the future of Honeycomb Music:

shine – Congratulations on your first and second Grammy Nomination!

JM- Thanks so much!It’s a great thing to say that I’m a Grammy nominated guy-it would be nice to say Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist Josh Milan….BUT mostly it feels good because I’m being acknowledged by my peers!

shine – How passionate are you about this music?

JM – I enjoy writing spiritual lyrics, conscious lyrics that touch the soul. I just love it so much! I know as artists that ‘we outta know better because when people approach me and tell me that the sounds and lyrics really resonated with their spirit, it makes it all worth it. We’re still gonna be doing what we do. What do we call ourselves? Musical heroes? Yeah, we try to save the world with our lyrics’. That’s what I’m tryna do. I’m still gonna do that! I’ll be that guy forever!

shine – Where would you like your career to go now?

JM – I want my music to be the kind of music that people are going to remember 20 years from now. I think at this point that’s where I’d like my career to head-in that direction. I’d like to have the kind of music that lasts forever, not so much what’s hot in the club right now. I want my nieces and nephews to listen to my music and be able to remember the lyrics. Longevity and all of that. I’m going for that timeless sound.

shine – When did your journey with music start?

JM – Back in the day, I started playing the organ in church. As I discovered my musicality I was unaware of my family’s church rules on playing instruments. You’re chosen to play. And with me being so young, I begged my cousin to show me everything and he showed me and I kept at it everyday, all the time. It was a natural thing at the time, and so I jumped on the organ and figured it out…… I started playing TV shows and anything I could remember in my head. I played it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned I had a gift. I knew I could play- but I didn’t think it was a miraculous thing to play by ear.’ (yes, it is JM!)

shine – Studying piano is hard. I appreciate those who do what they do musically. It’s mostly hard when you’re taught and it’s not your learning style, its a lot harder when you’re older than school age. It’s not impossible but IT’s challenging.

JM – I don’t know how to read music, but I tried once. It was sooo hard…it just boxed me in so thoroughly. IT turned me off and I couldn’t do it. I know what it’s like for something that comes to you naturally.

After his revelation it made me wonder about school and how it turns kids off of learning….all it takes is just one person all it takes is a good teacher that’s able to recognize that a kid has a talent.He mentions one of his favourite writers and greatest Nobel Laureates of contemporary American literature (James Baldwin) who was given tools (books by classic authors) at such an early stage by his teachers at a time when African-Americans were given very little opportunities-this story inspires him.

JM – Kids have so many tools available to them these days due to technology. Kids can maneuver all that (tech) with ease and this is a huge step forward especially with very specific things like music and music production

Milan noted that nothing about the music business and musical content is intended to create inspiration or direction because music is sold and made for profit. That’s why he enjoys making and playing the music so much. This is the main reason he decided to make and distribute all his music on private label Honey Comb Music. At Honeycomb he says,’we keep it nice and clean’.

Honeycomb Logo

shine – Transitioning from a recording artist in the early 80s to an independent label owner and artist today-what are some of the biggest changes?

JM – One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the steady decline in content and talent. The entire industry and record labels particularly has taken a complete turn/change. The excitement of good music has turned into the excitement of a lot of money. The good music suffers, y’know? Rarely do you find a great full album anymore. Back in the day you’d find just every song is like ‘ahhh man I love this’ its a rarity now. And of course, artists aren’t making the kinda money they are making today. Another is the cash grab.

Everybody is fighting for pennies whereas in the past people were chasing larger sums of cash. From 1989-2017 numbers/dollars/publishing and royalties have dipped a considerable amount. That’s a DRASTIC change. People (accomplished musicians even) hold extra regular gigs just trying to keep a roof over their heads. And finally, label ownership. Don’t come in thinking you’re gonna be making all this money.

It’s just not gonna happen. Everything’s rented. From women to vehicles. That’s why I have my own label. If money is gonna be shrunken and swallowed up-I’d like to be the one in control of it at least. That’s my position. I would politely decline any label offers-especially with creative direction and control. I’d like to have that. They (big music companies) need to make money.

shine – At what point did you decide you wanted to become a recording artist? 

JM – I wasn’t.  got looped into this thing, it was an accident. I was enjoying my musicality and I met a guy at church. I was playing and doing my music thing. Chris, lead singer of Blaze told me about a DJ that could make beats. We had no idea what a record deal was. We had no idea what a record label was-we would make tapes. We’d play music against record beats and come up with songs. Those recorded tapes we handed over to a guy in the neighbourhood who had just started a record label.

At that time in 1984, a record label was a real BIG deal. We had no idea about studios. IT was unbelievable. We made $500 for that and eventually Kevin sold his tables and we gathered $1000 and recorded something in the studio. We became recording artists after that. The 2nd label we signed with was Quark Records.

We got on the radio. 1987 was the last time you could hear a House record on regular rotation on major radio. Then the 90s came-that’s what ended it all. Those were the last days….. it was the end of commercial House as I knew it. The other genres started to take over. The New Jack Swing and Hip Hop was becoming the future. We were slowly fading away. Shortly after that we were signed to Motown. That was HUGE.

shine – Did you meet Berry Gordy?

JM – Yes, I got to meet my heroes. I met Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. I’ve seen major things!!! I wouldn’t trade my independent for any of that.

shine – What happened at Motown?

JM – We were (Blaze) was dropped from Motown. They looked at us as the next Earth, Wind and Fire. A fully planned Marketing strategy was set up…….it was a big plan. Motown signed Boyz II Men and included them on very many promotions with the other big Motown artists at the time. Heavy D being one of them……Boyz II Men would go on to be one of the biggest acts for mainstream Adult/Contemporary but Josh Milan remained connected to the people.

After Boyz II Men’s debut- Blaze was dropped. They didn’t start anything or develop anything with us. House was seen as a bad idea and all projects related to Blaze were dropped. We were fortunate to have huge records in the scene. Many artists were supported by the masses. We had a good run. We got gigs. (this is possibly birth of the Underground maybe?) We had a good run……I realized very quickly that I had to create Underground sounding House Music.

That’s the only way I could survive. At the same time-commercial acts Robin S,Cece Peniston,Black Box,Neneh Cherry,Martha Wash and Technotronic were dominating the charts. I decided to go hardcore. My lyrics have been consistent to this day-but the sound was almost more dark and club-definitely not a place for the radio anymore.

shine – Who’s Alexander Hope?

JM – I used the name Alexander Hope. I did a bunch of songs under that name. Blaze made a few hits at the time too-I Found Love, Consequences and a song called Saturday (it was huge). We (Blaze) survived the 90s!

img_3407

shine – What was it like trying to make it in NY then?

JM – At times like those are when I loved the industry the most- any scene is supported by the locals in NY-you could be part of any scene in NY and make a living. Of course it would be a modest living. But you can survive.

shine – What are you working on right now?

JM – I try to find artists that make noise vocally. Reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire style music [loud with horns] I’m looking for loud music with horns and good lyrics. I look for strong instrumentation and solid production are key components I strive to re-create a 70s for 2018 sound. I’m currently working on a few singles with artists Ramona, Dawn Tallman and New York based Afro Latin group Ritmo Y Tumbao (percussionists who embrace African and Latin Rhythms) I add vocals and more rhythm to their music.

shine – Are there any favourite artists you’ve met over the years?

JM – Over the years I’ve met so many greats-from Phyllis Hyman to Bobby McFerrin but really, I would like to work with Chaka Khan. (Even accomplished individuals have people they admire!) I’m not sure if she’d work with me though. She’s my shero. I channel my inner Chaka Khan for #inspiration. I feel that maybe she wouldn’t take me seriously. I’ve wanted to work with her my whole career! (Ahem Ms. Khan are you reading this???)

img_3401

shine – What are some of the new rules to learn about the good ole’ music biz?

JM – It’s really important for artists to learn the rules of this biz, don’t come into the studio thinking that you’d like to work on music wanting it to sound a certain way. If you don’t know the rules, how can you win? Learn about publishing which is extremely important. (One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.) Publishing rights for music and lyrics are even bigger than gigs. Keep all rights to your publishing. It IS a business. Treat it as a business first and foremost. Louie Vega is someone who has taught me about the business first. He taught me a lot. We both took different routes towards our careers. Louie to DJ’ing and myself to the studio.

I’m sharing this kind of advice so no one has to go through this walking into the industry. Many singers and vocalists arrive to the studio with no conversation or agreement and talk nothing about being paid. Many artists passionately want to perform and sing but this forewarning is solid. Lofty and dreamy ideas are great but before entering the studio, there should be some discussion about what you’re doing and how it looks financially.

Producers reading this might not like the candid advice I’m giving but it’s truth. Artists, don’t get burned! It’s rare that all-encompassing details are so direct-with these financial times we’re all really fighting for the dollars and if you don’t know something; nobody’s gonna try to tell you-be forewarned from here! You gotta get what you need for yourself. It’s an ugly business. Get it? Got it!

Stay Tuned

Every year he holds a birthday boat ride in NYC. Louie Vega, Jihad Mohammed hosted a House Music cruise on the Atlantic last year with guest DJ Mike Dunn (Chicago) and he brought it! This cruise happens every year!

The shine prjct wishes Josh Milan and Louie Vega all the best this month at the Grammy’s. Take one home for the Global House Team! 

-shine

Credits: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/grammys/7832881/grammy-awards-changes-online-voting-album-rap-categories

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters

Ralf Gum-GO GO Music-International-House Music Series-Creative Connection

ralf-gum-sofa-01

When I meet artists with an extensive and accomplished body of work….I’m not sure where to start and what to ask….I’d love to ask about IT all. He’s released a slew of hits year after year over the last 6-7 years. He’s one of many really good German Soulful/Deep House talents with a production career spanning many decades! In the 90s he played at Studio Lounge (Wuertzberg, Germany) and Club Airport in his own town. On his first visit to NYC in 1991 he said ‘it was then that I decided that House Music was IT…..He became more focused on it after hearing people like Louie Vega and Ron Trent playing pure House all in one night- ‘I remembered how I had been so used to playing all genres at home and it blew him away.’

In 2001 he started label GOGO Music and used it as a platform to keep his style of music consistent and real. With such exceptional production he brings absolute harmony, soul and groove to the music! UK Blues & Soul Magazine says about DJ Ralf Gum: ‘He emphatically demonstrated his ability to orchestrate Soul House goodness on the grandest possible scale’ (And he does this well!) His productions have become more lush and full-bodied over the years. They’re deeper. I can identify a RALF GUM production anywhere!

In 2008 Gum released a very impressive debut project titles ‘Uniting Music’. It was unique in that it was one continuous connected piece of music-like a mix CD but seamless. With this production he pushed traditional DJ mixing boundaries. I wondered if he created a piece like this for creativity’s sake or for the sake of being able to mix for a long period of time-I realized he enjoyed both. We talked extensively about his connection to creativity…..

When he first arrived to Pretoria he really missed playing long sets and wanted to create a journey where he could play some obscure music and because there was more time, he could be left to create what he callsed an up and down of moods. That was one of his many main goals when looking for the right venue. The night would be split into two sets and everybody played 4 hour sets. With a open venue, it was easier to showcase more sounds. It’s not possible to pack all that into 1 hour sets. ‘It’s a lot of fun, I love this style especially when the venue has an amazing sound system. It’s just one of the ventures I ventured in when I first arrived here.’ (That was for him.) For the House Head, he says ‘it’s incredible-the real House Heads will hear old,new,known and unknown and this is just to keep House culture alive.’

Ralf visited South Africa for the first time in 2008 and during many of those visits he conducted DJ workshops. Those trips then became every two-three months. On his later visits he brought his wife. He loved that national SA radio plays sounded like a bunch of well crafted mix-tapes on air and at the time it was Osunlade’s latest playing on a taxi radio-like top 40 plays everywhere else. All media outlets promote and cover all aspects of House music unlike Germany where he comes from-national or local broadcasters would hardly play Deep House and National TV didn’t report about House either. It was never treated like other popular genres like Hip Hop for example-this is one of the reasons why he chose to change locales……

You’re not the first producer/DJ to talk about South Africa’s support of good House Music. South Africa REALLY supports the artists and now you’ve moved there-how’s it been? 

‘It opened up the possibility for a different way of life for me to be honest. I used to travel a lot for gigs and like many other DJs do today  for example I’d play in Europe one day and then tomorrow be in Asia or whatever.’ He emphasized that South Africa changed his life in many ways because the need to travel far was no longer necessary. He realized that over time he found much better gigs because this country has the highest consuming House Music fans in the world. He boldly sums it up that ‘wherever you go-you find educated crowds who are really into the sound which makes it a pleasure for a DJ like me to play for them.’ (I just love that he calls real House Music fans educated crowds! )

His move South reduced his time on the road and he could still play the same amount of gigs or more. He honestly says, ‘I obtain income and I can still do my music and most importantly I’m being appreciated as a white person of all places like South Africa…….. considering the history with apartheid….. which only ended 23 years ago…’ I paused for a second before continuing our conversation to let that sink in-that he even considered if he would or would not be embraced in a country with such a tense political history and that he would even speak about this as an artist. This was another topic that further broke the ice in our conversation. He matter-of-factly stated,”My race has a lot of implications… because people still don’t really trust the white man here……and this is very understandable and truthfully my luck is the music. Music is my connection with the people and through the music I’m very much accepted here…..with confidence.’

In 2012 Ralf emigrated to SA with his wife and kids. And dropped hit after hit, remix after remix with : All This Love For You, Complicated, Fly Free, Little W.12th St., Free Is All I Wanna Be, Take Me To My Love, The Pap and SO many more!

What was it like throwing your first conference/event at WMC (2006)? Did any opportunities come out of there? How were you received by fans? What was your expectation?

RALF: Tons of preparation, organization and very exciting to have an event in a space where you are not located. Many factors depend on the outcome of the event than if you were in your home town. I’d been to Winter Music Conference a few times before I organized the event with the label. So I didn’t completely tap into something I didn’t know. I’d been there for some years. It’s a challenge. It was a vehicle to promote the label. Over the years I’ve held 3 or 4 events with partners at different locations. We had great parties we had an impressive line up. So yes, I loved doing it. I stopped doing them because I felt that Miami didn’t have the relevance anymore which it used to have for me. In addition-it’s far away for Europeans. Its easy to reach for Americans but the costs involved in doing an event there just didn’t justify the fun and promotion. I eventually stopped doing them. It’s a great occasion to make contacts.To meet people. It’s especially great if you are new in the industry. Its important in case you’re starting a label and wanna get its name out there but it lost relevance for myself because I felt I had the contacts already. The only reason to continue is to take advantage of a nice and warm holiday!

 

 

GOGO-Music-Logo.jpg

 

What are you working on today? This year? Who would you like to work with? Multi-genre?

I loved every collaboration to be honest. Most people I worked with again usually because it’s a mutual pleasure. What sticks out though is working with Monique Bingham. We go back a long time and everything we do REALLY has an impact so I feel we are a special match when we work together. Maybe Monique Bingham sticks out the most but I always find it a bit unfair because working with other artists who have a musical mindset and who love working with and creating music like I do……are very important.  I usually have a good feeling to pick who I should work with before I start working on a project. Sometimes even understanding why they are in the industry helps a project along…..if creation is the actual reason…it (the idea) usually works out perfectly with me… and to put out quality work is the spirit of creation.

Ralf-GUM-feat.-Monique-Bingham

You’ve been to Toronto? You mentioned at the beginning that you’ve been to Toronto once? Yes. In the Winter. It might have been 2009. Or 2010. I had a great, great night. He wasn’t sure what to expect. He was told (by the promoter) that Hip Hop was to be played and later on that night move on to House. He said ‘I was like oh shhhhh…..it could’ve be one of the nights that the crowd would maybe expect something a little bit more commercial. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was an amazing party! I can’t wait to come back at some point……’ (That’s Toronto!)

Sir LSG

Currently (June 2017) he is finishing up Sir LSG’s project (Circles-cop that album it’s gorgeous!) and his own album. (We talked a few months ago!)  Sir LSG’s album dropped yesterday! This past July/August he was helping with some mixing. He was inundated with requests to mentor and assist so many artists when he first arrived to South Africa and couldn’t help everyone. He’s helped break artists like Raw Artistic Soul and Black Coffee. He’s decided to focus on one artist at a time to be more effective and also give the artist a strong platform to steady their own career. Ralf will be refocusing efforts on his own projects soon and we should expect an album from him next year!

Here’s a Carl Cox quote: Your favourite artist was once a local artist, don’t wait until they blow up to start supporting. How do you feel about what he said?

He answered me with a German quote: ‘The Prophet Doesn’t Count In His Home’ but not being understood is a great school of learning…….Unfortunately we live in times where a lot of things are based on media hype and if you’re able to travel continents with your music and so forth, you suddenly become interesting to media that might not have cared about you for a long time. Actually you might have been doing the same thing in front of them all this time.

The reason being I can’t explain. I feel like I said its wrong but I wouldn’t know how to change it. I strongly believe you have to make it to a certain point in your hometown or country before you should start venturing out to other territories and as well you grow your skills while working with smaller audiences. For me it was a great school to fight against the prejudice that Deep House received. People at home thought it (Deep House) wasn’t hard enough and people can’t party with it enough. It made me better at reading crowds and work them rhythmically and get away with playing music that certain crowds wouldn’t necessarily listen to. It took me awhile until I was able to start travelling with my music. A good DJ is a good DJ and a good artist is a good artist no matter where he comes from. Look at the artist for his craft and not where it has taken him. And of course the city pays attention to it because it makes money…..

Next to the passion which is the foundation for creating or doing anything related to the arts is patience- which is extremely important unless you have a super hit and become a star overnight–usually is a long way to popularity or whatever you wanna call it or just to be able to make a living with your art. If you keep having passion or patience it will work out for you. I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of obstacles financially and in other aspects or other but you can overcome them and at some point with enough talent it will work out. It’s the most fulfilling thing to really do what you want to do and yeah if you make it to the point where you can fully focus on your passions. Its the most fulfilling and best thing that can ever happen to you but I think patience is the key!

 

Super special thanks to DJ Ralf Gum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, Offering Recordings

House Music Series –International- Summer 2017-Migosy-Offering Recordings – AfroHouse/Future Deep

Last summer as I sifted through some of the new tracks over at Traxsource. I stumbled on one of Amsterdam’s upcoming Afrohouse DJs. The track released at the time truly ‘quietly invaded the scene’. 

Fantasma is a gorgeous tune. He’s signed to Offering Recordings and has the deeper sound usually coming from that label. Earlier this year we talked about his plans for the future with Offering Recordings. Let’s look at his discography.

He’s dropped solid tracks for the last five years. Skyline (ITH) 2012 (Defected Records), Life Takes Time 2013 (Tribe Records),Embrace You 2014 (Z Records), Loyal People 2015 (Offering Recordings), Follow Through 2016(Global Diplomacy),Fantasma 2016(Offering Recordings) Each track has built on the release from the previous year.

Before this interview I went checking for your biography and found an awesome discography. I found maybe….one interview. Is this by design?

Thank you, and good to hear you liked the interview. It kinda depends on the questions that are being asked. I try to give as much information about myself as possible without the feeling of reading a book or something. But always pure and honest.

Get to know Migosy….Migosy is based out of the Netherlands which lends a very unique sound to the Afro House style.Offering Recordings and Migosy were brought together because it was a combination of the right timing as well as his unique/rhythmic sound. Offering Recordings is always looking for something fresh and new.
Music was a strong influence from a very early age. He remembers fiddling with his Mother’s amplifier. He’d mess around with buttons and knobs. He’d turn the amplifier on/off in a rhythmic way.

He laughs ‘it would keep me busy for minutes…my mom would stop me of course because I was interrupting the music and that’s was pretty annoying for her’

As he got older at about 12; My brother (Fode) got me a PC so I could explore my musical needs a bit more. I had no idea I’d be making hits some day. He thanks his brother!!! ‘thanks bro’ It’s amazing when family can/does support your goals somehow.He grew up listening to 80’s music: Prince, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Ollie & Jerry, Rocksteady Crew, Earth, Wind & Fire which made a heavy impact on Migosy wanting to make music. I could easily fall in love with their music. One very important person in his life, his sister Aisata Blackman she taught him how to really sing!se taught him how to sing in a different tone and how to vocally harmonize. It’s so enjoyable. They used to sing along to 90s RnB-R Kelly,Shai,Jodeci (ain’t nuthin like 90s rnb!)Aisata is currently the lead performer/singer in Sister Act-The Musical (in Germany) I’d love to watch her perform if I (shine) get a chance!

You’re based out of Amsterdam-besides ADE what is the Underground House scene like over there? Is it anything like London or NY? I haven’t experienced the underground scene in London or NY yet but I can say Amsterdam is poppin’. There is so much raw talent here. That’s why myself and my good friend Deep Rooted Soul started our concept Cuisine @ Club NL, Sifa Siluvangi (Label Manager,Offering Recordings/DEPTH Music) recently played that other night was fire!!! It’s a concept where we book DJ’s who have their own sound and are not afraid to try something outside the box. Currently we’ve moved to a new spot in Amsterdam which we’ll reveal soon!

During ADE we work with many international names & labels in the scene such as my big bro N’Dinga Gaba & Global Diplomacy, Federico Luyo & Double Cheese Recordings/House of Franky, Pascal Morais & Arrecha Records, Paris Cesvette, (Ministry of House) Todd G and many more.

5) How has the Netherlands embraced your signature musical set? (What do you like to play?) I have to be honest, it took a while for people to understand what I was playing, but it didn’t take long for my sound to really stick. We as Dutch people have so many choices so you really have to come up with something good to impress us. (kinda critical yes?) lol

6) Describe your spiritual connection to music in general? What about Dance Music?Everything in life is a vibration, with music it’s the same thing. That explains why music can trigger sadness, anger, happiness or euphoria. It triggers our emotions. Now that I’m getting older I seem to understand this more and more. Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. -Plato

8) With the warm reception of ‘Fantasma’ are you working on anything new for 2017? 2018? I’m actually always working on something new so I can play exclusive music in my sets. You’ll notice on his Jan 2017 top 10 Traxsource choices. If I can surprise myself I will definitely surprise the crowd I’m playing for. I like to test my music first before I put it out. But there will definitely be some new releases coming out this year.

9) When are you visiting North America? Do you intend to visit North America? There aren’t any plans just yet but I would love to pay a visit one day!

10) Any advice for other cats in the game? For young cats starting out? We all have our own story to tell.It’s okay to be influenced by anything, but make sure you stay authentic and create your own sound.  That way you’ll stand out from everything.

Migosy on Twitter>>>https://twitter.com/migosy

Migosy on FB>>>https://www.facebook.com/Migosy/

Migosy on IG>>>www.instagram.com/migosymusic

Migosy on SoundCloud>>>www.soundcloud.com/migosy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, Gifts, House Music, Japan, Okinawa, Osaka, restaurants, Travel

Return to Japan!

#10yearslater

I remember being interviewed after applying for this teaching job and not knowing what to expect….they asked me where I wanted to work and I told them straight away Tokyo. They weren’t sure that I’d like Tokyo because it was expensive and overcrowded. Okay. I knew I wanted to be some place where the nightlife was amazing and where I’d never have a shortage of stuff to do BUT I knew then that Osaka’s where I wanted to be.

The interviewer showed me a map and pointed out the distances between cities and showed some of the main attractions of each major city. He made mention that all if not most of Osaka’s comedians, musicians, artists and entertainers came from there and I knew that was the better option. He had lived in that city he told me that they had a MASSIVE Tower Records store and that I could walk right in and lounge there like a Chapters/Indigo or Barnes & Noble. I read up about Osaka but none of the textbook info got my attention as much as the recruiter did that day!

When I returned to Toronto I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to go back and wasn’t too sure if I’d visit again. Ten years was the perfect time!

2006-2016

Special thanks to Sojourner Travel (8A-1444 Dupont St in Toronto) for the research! So many very different things I experienced the first time while I lived there. My StepMom came with me…..we had some awesome memories together. The trip to Japan was something we tried to plan for years BUT 2016 was the perfect time!!!

Finding Your Flight

This trip took a few months to plan. I started looking at flights in July for October. The air carrier options provided by the travel agent were China Eastern, Air Canada, Air China, ANA or Korean Air. Some of the rates were EXCELLENT. But after checking and browsing I saw the layovers were a day or more. China Eastern had a whole day stay so I looked into roaming the streets once we arrived to see what it was like in China but (in order to stay a day or more in China a visa is required.) Air Canada was the best option. The 13 hour flight went from Toronto–Tokyo-Osaka. Instead of booking additional travel from Toronto I decided to book within Japan. It’s so much cheaper and a little more accessible. I asked one of my good friends within Japan (Hey,Kina Jackson!Thanks so much!) and she recommended Vanilla Air and Peach Air ! Vanilla Air didn’t go to many places that I wanted and I didn’t see Okinawa on the list. The prices on Peach Air are amazing! Depending on the day,prices range anywhere from $100-$250 roundtrip! Naha, the capital city is quite small so the airport is tiny and the flights are infrequent. If you are interested in booking on Peach Air-be mindful about the way you book when you select the day of the week, location and times-the website is a little tricky.

I looked at my itinerary and realized that it was the same month and week I had left Toronto 13 years prior. (insert nostalgia here.) I really hoped I’d be able to see friends that I had contacted in such a short time. I saw so much shit I didn’t notice the first time around so it was like visiting a brand new place. There were English speaking support staff EVERYWHERE and at every info desk!! I was so concerned about my limited Japanese….I didn’t have to use it as much and when I did-I forgot how much I remembered!! Props to Google Translate for assisting us in areas where people don’t talk to tourists as much!

Japan Airlines

 

Our flight arrived into Haneda (Tokyo) Airport and after an hour we got a flight connection to Osaka (Hitami) Airport! The connecting flight was quick and the food was awesome (choice between Japanese or Western cuisine).

Book Your Accommodations From Home
At the time of the trip I forgot that Air BNBs were not legal in Japan. The Japanese government is reviewing their decision to have the business operate legally within the country. Be prepared to call ahead once you arrive to your city in Japan. The addresses listed on the website booking aren’t the same once you arrive and Taxi Drivers are not too helpful when they can’t find the address you listed. Call your Host to be sure that the address listed is the one you will be staying at. It helps you save time.

I went back to the old office building I used to work in (Downtown Namba, Osaka. The (Nova) office is no longer there but the building is still there. Lots of hustle and bustle at the OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal). In #10years Osaka has become busier, more densely populated and more tourist friendly! The underground walkways (Shotengui) are filled with flags from all over the world. This wasn’t the case before.

Osaka is one of those cities where there is ALWAYS something going on and there is ALWAYS somewhere to eat.

We visited an awesome Indian Restaurant that I used to frequent with friends. Whenever we wanted a very heavy and spicy portion of food we used to go to Asiyana. Surprisingly, Asiyana was still open! It’s not that the restaurant wasn’t good it’s that foreign food restaurants don’t always stay open for long. Asiyana doesn’t cater to the Japanese palate.It’s spicy, flavourful and authentic.

asiyana-restaurant

The Balls……

Osaka is known for it’s Tako-Yaki balls. They are battered and crepe textured with bits of Octopus, shrimp and a parsely like seasoning. In that crepy textured batter they put puffed rice, green onions, chopped octopus. This batter is poured into circular shaped grills, oiled so they don’t stick and they are rotated as they cook with little skewers. After they are removed  and drizzled with Teriyaki Sauce and fish flakes.It tastes amazing! It’s had been a long time since I had them.

 

Mobile Phone Rental/Pocket Wi-Fi

Most Air BNBs should have pocket wi-fi units. IF it does- it’s great and saves you money and time. The pocket wi-fi can be carried around the city with and you can hook your mobile phones to it to browse the net or use Google Maps. Pocket wi-fis look like old Nokia flip phones and must be charged daily. Not all airports have rental kiosks/booths so one of the first things to do is find a kiosk or station in the city. I used my phone quite a bit to find buildings, shrines, shopping malls and restaurants. My bill when I returned was HUGE! Your phone carrier may not have a great international plan especially for a country like Japan. Japanese phone carriers Docomo,Vodafone,Sofbank all have centres to set up your SIM cards and phone rentals. Find the best for the duration of your stay. I wish I knew……

Okinawa Was a Last Minute Add-On

I found some amazing Air BNBs all over the island but settled for an apartment on the main road in Naha, Wakasa-Dori Wakasa (若桜町, Wakasa-chō)  has everything on it food shops, 24 Hour Conbinis (convenience stores), clubs, the post office (where you can use your international ATM card for withdrawals) and many, many clubs, Karaoke Bars.

Downtown Okinawa

Naha Port is One Straight Path (Everyone told us to go straight)

This main road runs straight through from the highway from the airport to Naha Port. Naha Port can be reached on foot in less than 15 mins. All the Ferry boats that travel to the smaller beaches and islands near Naha leave 3 times a day! Passengers can choose whether they’d like to stay overnight for a few nights or return the same day with a Travel and Tourism board of Naha. There are money booths that look like ATMS where you can check for the exchange rate for whatever currency you have and exchange it for Japanese Yen! It’s such a lifesaver-you get the exact rate for whichever country’s currency you need!

Spending a whole day there felt like a whole weekend! What can I say about it? It’s beautiful! I’m not sure why I never visited there when I lived there. It’s pretty breathtaking. It’s an island next to an island.  The ferry boat takes about an hour and 45 minutes and it’s a comfortable ride on a fully equipped mini cruise liner. The cost is about $60 CDN with a television and luxury seating. You can sit indoors (AC) and outdoors (AIR). Going from the urban city to the Tropics on one island is amazing! When the Ferry boat arrives you find your seat, secure your day bag and go to sleep or enjoy the sun!

Tokashiku Village

Shuttle vans and taxi drivers are waiting for guests to drive you to one of the 8-10 beaches across the coast. It’s not a long ride but depending how much time you have it’s an amazing experience to visit at least more than two!We stopped at the first beach and there were at least 10 people on the beach.

 

 

The Food is Amazing

My favourite restaurant was an Okinawan style place. The special thing about Okinawa is it’s island location, history and close proximity to Taiwan. The food is AMAZING. Spicy,full of variety and unique from the usual Japanese cuisine! So tasty I went there twice! Each set of tables in the restaurant were like mini Izakayas (Gastropub) with curtains (small food pubs). What an incredible culinary adventure! Look at the food! We headed over to Kokusaidori (国際通り, Kokusaidōri, literally “International Road”) All souvenirs are there! Every souvenir that you can find signature to Okinawa is on this street. You have to walk up and down the street to compare prices. You’ll find sea salt products; cakes, cookies, chopsticks,Blue Seal Ice Cream German Bundt Style Cake and all kinds of tropical destination clothing. One of Okinawa’s gifts to Japan is the Okinawan Sweet potato or ‘Imo’-it’s one of the tastiest things EVER! There are samples of those cookies EVERYWHERE!

 

 

Records/Vinyl

I set out to check out the nightlife and I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked even. Most if not all venues look like dive bars from the outside and hold at least 200+ people. While walking down Wakasa St. I stumbled on the area’s ONLY record shop. It’s cute! Naminoue Record Shop is well equipped with all genre CDs and vinyl with new shipments arriving everyday. They run most of the city’s block parties, street festivals and club nights. I went to most of their events all weekend while  I was there. Local and international talent come through all month. I was shocked and excited to sift through their selections. I went straight for their Japanese artists and production section and found VERY good stuff! I’m mostly interested in Japan only releases! The place is pretty chill with all kinds of people passing through. I returned twice to pick up goodies. The shop was a lot smaller than King Kong in Osaka but the selection was very unique. I picked up a few mix CDS of really great DJs from other cities in Japan! They are excellent at promoting their local artists around town, in other parts of Japan and to tourists…..there’s a little photography display and artwork with t-shirts; all kinds of stuff! There’s a little DJ booth for live DJs to play out the hottest tunes! One of the highlights of my vacation! I went to a great party- the guest DJ Moochy Juzu (Crosspoint Japan/Juno Records) played the stuff I loved. Four all you SOulFul and Deep House heads. He played Josh Milan, Osunlade, Vikter Duplaix and added in his own production which was interesting. It’s Tribal House but from a more Okinawan and Traditional Japanese sound. I was surprised. IT was very unique and to hear a set that spoke to Japanese Heads was refereshing. Here’s his SoundCloud if you wanted to check it out. He’s an excellent DJ/Producer!!

naminoue logo

Department Store Shopping

Visiting department stores in Japan is quite an experience. When you’ve been to one of them in Japan, you’ll never look at them the same again! It is a fully loaded one stop shop. They’ve got prepared food in the basement. All kinds of foods! All Flagship store brands are definitely available all over Japan! The best and most inexpensive things to look for are cosmetics, Body Care tools,perfume and face care!  Make sure that the day you go around any of these shops-make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and dedicate a whole day or more to look around. These department stores are enormous! One of the biggest Department Stores in the City (Yodobashi Camera) has the most products and best prices in the city! The recliner section is filled with people taking naps and ‘trying’ out the merchandise!

massage chair tokyu hands

Tourists get tax discounts at some stores and either the taxes are taken off ahead of time-and you’re given your taxes back in cash. Goods are re-packaged and prepared for your departure. If a store chain doesn’t offer the tax breaks right away, you will be given a map to locate a city tax centre. This is done so it’s easier to clear customs at the airport.There are tax-free stations at most large retailers where you can claim your taxes on some purchases. At those stations associates check them and pre-wrap them for your trip and a clearance form is stapled to your passport.  It’s a great system!

IMG_5968.JPG

 

I could go on about my trip BUT definitely it’s a country worth visiting. #10yearslater it’s still growing and still as fascinating as it was then. It’s great to visit again when you’re no longer a resident. You notice things more. Late October is an amazing time to visit. The weather is fabulous! It’s like July. Pack light, pack Summer stuff. Pack a few great sweaters and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Eat as much as you want! You’ll do a lot of walking! Have a great time!

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

House Music Series-Local-Installment 8-Ticky Ty & Miz Megs Make an Awesome Team! (Toronto)

No matter where we are there’s always a starting point…..these ladies here revisited memory lane to talk about how they started doing what they’re doing today!

Before the official interview I spoke to Ticky Ty and for some odd reason- I discovered some interesting facts. For those of you who actually know me I’d lived in Japan for a bit and after talking for a bit I learnt that she also lived there! She worked at a local franchise club/bar Sam and Dave’s. They had many locations all across the city and country and I too worked at that same location many years ago. She had lived in Fukuoka/Osaka and I lived in Osaka. Two really happening places in the Kyushu and Kansai areas- this was an awesome surprise!

Cool facts about Miz Megs:

o She met Ticky Ty at Andy Poolhall;she booked her for an all girl DJ line-up

o She just found out about the term ‘New Jack Swing’ this year! She’s loved it long time.

Some cool facts about Ticky Ty:

o Used to listen to Happy Hardcore and Chill out. Did you?

o She started with a 2 channel Stanton Mixer and Battle Mixer Turntables

What struck my interest was the energy they had behind the decks. I wondered what it would be like to talk with them. I’d been to their shows a few times-Li’lys, CODA and Geary Lane. You see, sometimes it’s not so much what they play or how they play…it’s the passion they put into what they do. It shows. They keep the crowd going. I’d seen them spin separately and finally side by side at Love Buzz this past July! They absolutely make a great team. They took a bit of time to chat about how they got started. I’m truly inspired. I asked them what keeps the passion for music going and eventually we talked about how it all started …..

Me: What’s you earliest connection to music?

Megs: I remember being 6 years old, listening to Dance music, pushing the couch aside and watching my reflection in the TV while my parents played cards with their friends. I just loved Pop-you know, Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul. I would turn on the Pirate Radio Sessions (Energy 108) and listen to Chris Sheppard! (I think everyone started with that.) I also danced Ballet from ages 3-16, that was very similar to Ticky Ty!

Ticky Ty: I started dance at Toronto Dance Theatre at 3 years old. All my early music connections were dance-related. ‘I went back to visit almost 24 years later and the same pianist and drummer was still there. Rhythm came naturally to me.

One thing I loved about talking with them is that they followed each others’ cues. You can see how connected they are. It’s then that I understood that these two had one of the foundational pieces that demonstrated a deep interest in music at such an early age.

Me:Which music era speaks to you the most? For me, I really Iike the 70s……

Miz Megs: 90s Euro and New Jack Swing. ‘I never knew there was a term for it until this summer’ I offered Blackstreet as the more well known groups that was known for this style in the 90s. She spent some time on Youtube listening to songs to see more groups. She never knew there was a term for it until this summer.

Ticky Ty: She says ‘Guys don’t laugh at me, but I really love the 20s. She mentioned the movie Chicago. And the truth is the 20s sound has been sampled quite a bit in Dance music. She is hilarious because she adds ‘ I probably wouldn’t do to well in that era or even be alive then. ‘I still really like Jazz and Swing.’

Me:When did you realize you were into House?

Miz Megs: Dancing at home and thinking I was in a club….’I wanted to be a GO-Go dancer’ and Ticky cheers her on and says ‘It’s not too late girl it’s not too late’ This was the interview highlight.lol

Ticky Ty: ‘For me it would be with an old friend of mine, we used to steal her older sister’s Happy Hardcore CDS and pick raspberries in the backyard and zone out.

Me:How did you both meet? Andy Pool Hall! They were both booked for an all girl Dj line up and Flipside/Andy suggested she ask Ticky for that night. Meg booked Ticky. ‘Thanks Flipside!!’

Me: Who do you wanna work with? Any production yet? ‘We’d love to work with Duro. ‘I had a song out with Jerome….We’ve worked with Flipside. Internationally they’d love to work with Chus and Ceballos and Channo.

Me: What kinda music are you both listening to right now?

Ticky Ty:‘Stuff comin out of Brazil… Groove to Light and all that dirty and hard stuff.(Okay!!!???lol) Megs-‘ Luciano is my all-time favourite but lately I have been especially inspired by Loco Dice. I love that hip hop flavor he adds to his sets.

Me:The one thing that comes to mind ladies; in the industry doing your thing spinning- Meeting people at the party, meeting people in and around the scene. What’s it like? You know, doing business?

They break it down to two trains of thought:

You get the ‘Wow, chicks that’s hot… let’s watch it OR ‘Oh mi gawd chicks;they’re probably gonna suck’…’You get a little bit of both. It’s either you don’t get the same sort of initial responses as with a guy. You’re either a chick or you’re a commodity. Or you suck. ‘You have to prove yourself past those barriers. Every. Fucking.Time. Which is fine-because every time we do it-we show what we can do…..’

Me: You ladies take what some would consider very sexy photos…..what’s up with that? They (the pics)look good by the way…

I got in shit for that a few weeks ago…..Meg said ‘someone called them out for showing side boob and abs’ they were told that on TRC….. that no one would be attending their gig because they actively/purposely used their bodies to sexually try to get a gig’. Their comment got destroyed by people defending us because they are just press PHOTOS and anyone who has actually seen us in person knows we usually wear baggy clothes and are so not like that. The guy eventually apologized. <<<interesting, yes.

Me: Wasn’t the gig already got?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty: Yes! We didn’t make the flyer. A group discussion ensued and one of our fans supporters told the person where to go….fans are awesome that way!

Me: Where can we find you ladies?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty:Nest, CZ (Comfort Zone) and various parties across Toronto or in cities out-of-town.

What do you both like about Dj’ing? Meg-‘The music and getting to be a part of something that has to do with the music you love….‘Just being there to dance. And creating a new sound with what you love.’

Ticky Ty:‘I love the connection I have with everybody. It’s really intense. You can almost feel the energy of this group of that people or that group of people. As long as you let go you get into a meditative thing. You can just feel it. Everyone moves as one. Not over thinking it. It’s really nice to be the catalyst of something like that. Spurring a movement, its healing for me and so many others.You can go to an underground party and a CEO of Microsoft can be dancing beside someone homeless. And it doesn’t matter. No one cares what you do in the daytime. No one asks.’ What do you do in the daytime?’ Meg says ‘I hate when people ask that’ they both agree. ‘Shut your face we’re dancing right now.’

It’s a challenge for the music/entertainment scene to really delve into current issues and/or politics but very necessary so I asked anyway:

In light of everything that has happened in the last week. (Orlando shooting) How do you feel about it as a musician/artist/House enthusiast?

Ticky Ty:I wanted to take it back to pride month because the House scene did come from the Black Gay Scene. She played the night and remarked at how special it was to spin for so many.’There are no cultural and sexual boundaries. We don’t give a shit about that stuff. We’re blessed to be part of an Underground Community that embraces everything. No cops standing around at the outdoor party. No one is being searched at the door. People are enjoying the music…..it’s such a gift….……The vibe is really connected. You can’t fake it. It’s visceral. You either don’t like it  or you totally enjoy it.And beats is their gift to us.Entertainment people don’t really like to make comments about political shit but they did! So much has happened since then…..

We’re half way through the year what’s in store for 2017? At the same time they answer: Production! That’s the next step, albums will happen once we tour and produce more!!!

Alright ladies, DO YOUR THANGS! You can find them on most social platforms! @DjTickyTy @MizMegs

Thanks so much ladies!! You both rock!