Learning to Love Streaming DJ Sets

I didn’t watch any football on Thanksgiving this year. Not a single play. This year, while prepping dinner with my roomie, I propped up my iPad and streamed over two hours of Marc Ribellet’s ‘Stanksgiving’ performance.

Live, unfiltered, spontaneous, dangerous, sexy – you name it.

Marc had all his year stolen a month or so ago, so he was working his way through some new sounds, new equipment. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t always “100% funk jams,” it was raw and real, and we loved it.

During the pandemic I came across HOR Berlin, which is a bunch of live streamed DJ sets from Berlin, in what looks like a tiled-bathroom, but it’s seriously been so good for my soul.

I mean, I kind of didn’t even know I liked techno, but I guess I do now! Dark wave is a thing too, I guess? There’s just so many fun jams, which partially inspired me to start my ‘Goodnight, Metal Friend‘ mix project.

For me part of the appeal of all these sorts of entertainment is just being a part of something live, as it’s happening. Without being able to go to live shows, or take a bus into NYC and walk around and be surprised, these live streams are just doing it for me at the moment.

It’s weird in a sense, though, as these aren’t really recorded works. Well, they are, as you see from the videos embedded above, but there’s just so many good mixes coming out all the time, and this doesn’t even factor in NTS streaming radio, or what’s on SoundCloud.

Perhaps it’s that each of these moments is hand-curated in the moment, by real humans. It’s a performance, but it’s also something that can happen in the background. Music as a utility, as a backdrop, a live person performing in real time, on my computer, adding a bit of humanity to an otherwise repetitive and boring life at the moment!

Goodnight, Metal Friend – Mix 4

My 4th Goodnight, Metal Friend mix, featuring Killanova, GubbiAnn, Oranssi Pazuzu, and more.

Not quite ambient, but a little darker, a little more spooky. The ambient stuff can be a little airy, I just want something with a little bit more weight.

This means lots of digging on Bandcamp to find tracks without drums, without screams, without too much high end. It’s some work, but I enjoy it.

Things and Apps Change

In this post from 2019, I list a few things I use like Spark for email, Todoist, and Bear.

Now, in late 2020, there’s been some changes.

I ditched Spark and just use the web-interface for personal email in Fastmail. My Close Mondays work email is all handled via Front, which handles the group inbox thing really well.

I use Todoist mostly for reminders to post Instagram stories for clients, since it let’s me upload the image and URL really well, and that’s about it. All my work related stuff is now sitting in Basecamp and I love it so much.

And Bear? Eh, I do some journal stuff in there, but mostly whenever I open it back up I find something that I end up throwing in Basecamp.

This Is The Way

I don’t really know much about Ahsoka Tano, save for a few episodes the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series (which I just couldn’t get into). I don’t really know much about Bo-Katan Kryze either, but I sort of new she was a big deal.

The neat thing about The Mandalorian is the story telling and production and writing and everything just works so well together that these characters just feel important, all without knowing the full back story.

And, oh my goodness, did I really just write two posts about The Mandalorian?


From Kottke:

Many think some people are special but usually those people just put a lot more time in it than others. This applies to sports, arts, almost everything. It’s worth doing something for a long time, even if the benefits are not always clear. Good surprising things come out of it. You also learn about yourself in the process.

Reacting to Reactions

I’ve never quite got “reaction videos,” but when I break it down, all the music writing I’ve done since 2001 were “reactions.” It’s the same idea, different format.

The generation before me had magazines.
We had music blogs.
Today its video.

I can’t really watch someone “reacting” to an album that I love, but did I search for “Mandalorian The Siege” after I watched the new episode for “reaction” articles? Oh, you bet I did.

For years I listened to albums and wrote reviews. I wrote my reaction. People read them. Now you can watch people react in real-time to hearing an album.

Same idea, different delivery. It’s okay if it’s not for me.

I Don’t Want to Be a Rock Star Anymore

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a mega star in a rock band. I mean, the B-roll of the members of Guns N’ Roses walking in midtown Manhattan and going to Manny’s Music, all loose and carefree – that’s the life for me!

Some of my earliest memories are watching my dad play guitar in a country-rock band at the ski-resorts in the summer time, the smell of Genesee cream-ale in the air.

I played my first show when I was about 17, and told the sound-man “fuck you” at one point (lesson learned). I’ve played shows in several states, alongside young riff-raff like me who went on to be just a handful of notable names in music.

If you would have told me in those teen years that someday I’d have the ability to record digitally, in pristine CD-quality sound, with nearly an unlimited number of tracks, midi-instruments, and effects, I would have fainted.

Here I am now, in the year 2020, in my 44th year on this planet, and that spirit, the craving for music making just comes and goes.

I know I’m supposed to respect the muse (see Steve Pressfield’s ‘Turning Pro‘), which is what I did today. The bass line in the clip above came to me as I was making coffee, as they do every morning I make coffee, or do the dishes, take out the compost, or whatever. Little droplets of music fall into my dumb head, I sing them to myself a little bit, laugh at myself, and then go on with my day.

Today, though, I was like, “what if I just do something with this?”

It’s not a complete song. It’s not a master piece. There’s no hook, chorus, or bridge. It’s a loop, some drums, some midi notes arranged to be a passable piano “ditty.” Nothing more.

But nothing is complete.

I had a few phone calls this week, and most were unplanned. They came, magic filled the void, and then on with the day. None were complete, there was no agenda, no planning, just… riffing.

So I don’t want to ever discount those random bits of magic, so I need to stop discounting random bits of music I make, too. We all do, even if your thing isn’t music, but maybe it’s photography, yoga, or whatever else that brings you joy.

Just because something isn’t complete, or a full-fledged album roll out, doesn’t mean it should stay hidden on my hard drive, never to be heard from.

Our ideas don’t need to be final, our blog posts don’t need to be perfect, our videos can be rough, our audio low quality, and our conversations all over the place, and that’s what makes us human. We don’t exist to be perfect, we imperfectly exist, make it through today and hope tomorrow is tolerable.

Pennsylvania Breaks 7000 COVID-19 Cases

On November 12th, seven days ago, I wrote this:

It was just 10 days ago when PA reported 2,500 new cases of COVID in a day. Today we broke 4,700.

From ‘Lowering the Bar

Today, November 19th, Pennsylvania we hit 7,126 cases.

I am absolutely stress eating. Taking time away from work when I need it. Going for walks. Going for runs (I went on two today). Scrolling through social media, news sites, texting friends, and playing Mario Kart 8.

No Thanksgiving for me this year, just staying home with my roommate. Running locally.

Been talking about the stress with some friends, about how the work we get to do remotely consumes us. Before all this we could at least go out to the movies, meet some friends for drinks, go to a race on the weekend, see a show – all these events that broke up the monotony of working.

It’ll be nice to get back to that someday.

I Read Your Xanga

“Yeah, I know, I read your Xanga.”

That’s what a friend said to me way back in like 2000 or so, when I told him about something going on, but I already blogged about it.

Now here we are 20 years later, and I sometimes know what friends eat for breakfast, or what television episode they’re watching, screenshooting the show in real time, adding text, and uploading.

As all the social media outlets fight to get and keep our attention, how much more can we possibly know? And in the end, it doesn’t feel like it brings us all that much closer.

Instead of Tweeting something out that maybe 14% of my followers will see, I’ll shoot someone a text instead. Or come here and write a draft, and let it simmer. Or usually I’ll forget all of it and go back to working on something work-adjacent, spending a few bits of energy tonight to make tomorrow morning a little easier.

A large portion of my energy goes to just getting through the days work, which during a nationwide health crisis is struggle enough. Then, if I haven’t eaten my stress and emotions all day I’ll feel fueled enough to get out for a run, which honestly has been a struggle because of said… stress.

Everything is energy, and my tolerance is brittle right now. I just feel like there’s not much to spare. It took everything to get through the week of the election without eating a bag of cookies every night, and now with COVID-19 cases surpassing 6,000 in a day here in PA, I don’t know… looking at a website filled with turmoil, “gotcha!” content, despair, and everything else is not top of mind.

“Are you okay,” mom would ask, 20 some years ago.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, I read what you put on Xanga.”

And here we are, in the year 2020. I write this here, at this hour, with the thought of friends letting down parents by cancelling Thanksgiving plans because, you know, less people will die that way, and tomorrow? Who knows? Energy will flow in the opposite direction and the next post will be more positive!