Back to vinyl, A.K.A back to breaking my back..Why am I doing this again??
Flashback to the last dj gig I had before I took my 3 1/2 year break...
I was playing with Connie at a club(we'll leave the name of the venue out of this!) for my friend's birthday party. This kid that was opening for me had clearly only been a dj for a very short time, and was playing off of his laptop, unapologetically pumping the absolute WORST EDM garbage my poor ears had ever been abused with.. I was thus thrust into a reasonably bad mood before even ingesting my obligatory pre-set beer.. On top of this, this was to be my first ever dj gig using a damn USB stick. Like many other dj's I had quit playing vinyl(very reluctantly and depressingly) in 2008, and had moved on to CD's, now it was time for me to face the USB music stick revolution head on.
The story goes a little something like this...
I didn't want to play after this kid. In fact, I wanted nothing more than to run away and hide whilst sticking needles in my eyes. This was the absolute worst situation(musically) I had ever been thrown into. Anyway, when it was my turn to get in the booth, I put my little USB stick in the black hole and reluctantly, began to play......
And........... ladies and gentlemen, in THAT very moment a piece of my soul DIED.
I can't fully explain it. But suffice to say, in that moment I had come to terms with the fact that the entire art of deejaying was officially dead. It was a wrap - Done. Dusted. My poor little dj soul crumbled that night, and did not return for 3 1/2 years. I vowed to take a step away from the dj game, focus on singing and performing, and reevaluate if I could even be a part of this new and oh so thrifty USB revolution.
I mean, a fucking monkey could learn how to play a damn usb stick in a Pioneer CDJ. I could literally eat an entire 4 course meal, watch a movie, make out with someone, and paint my finger nails - all simulataneously while mixing, and STILL not wreck a mix on those things. As if CD's weren't easy enough to play! Seriously though..
But anyway, this is not to say that I didn't on some level love how easy it had become for us dj's. For years I'd yell and scream at the turntables, cut my cuticles on record sleeves, spend every red cent I had on import vinyl, curse at the needles when they'd skip(just as I'm about to bring in the most epic mix EVER!!!). And basically complain, in some manner, just like I am now.. bwahahaha.
But I digress.. point being, playing vinyl is not easy. It's a skill that you learn and hone over many years, a true creative art form and skill set that was at one point taken very seriously.
But alas, the days of the Balance Promo record pool are over. And it's been a very long time since a crate of ridiculously nasty underground promo records showed up to my house.
That is, until today(and no they're not mine unfortunately, lol).
Ohhhh sweet baby Jesus...the vinyl promo galore, the funky demos and yummy acetates, the one time vocal releases and insanely well produced white-labels, oh yeah baby, yep, it's still happening, and it's beginning to happen even more now......
And, I'm very excited to start collecting these new gems and begin rebuilding my sonic arsenal, as it were. You know, those records that have the capacity to change someone's life on the dance floor.. not the filler tracks, not the "I look cool because I play this" tracks - we're talking next-gen, next-level, over the top SICK shit here. They're out there, I know it and I intend to find them. I smelled some of them today and it made my blood boil once again(in a good way, lol). I want to be that dj again, and I will be. But, it's going to take a lot of time, perseverance, and know-how to get these golden records inside my crate once again. Luckily, I'll always have my classics, I'll always have Abagale's original arsenal of sonic love-fare and space age bombs...
But it's Amunet's world now.... and I have some pretty big shoes to fill..
Well, I successfully completed my first solo Live set up/Dj show. I'm really not even sure what to call what I'm doing. I'm glad someone posted a pic of me DJ'ing vinyl with the hashtag "OneWomanShow." I was seceretly hoping for that, or "OneWomanRave." I'll take either one of them. Perhaps I'll just completely drop the whole "Live/Dj" explanation and just refer to my show as "OneWomanRave." What do you think?
Anyway, the best part was listening to the audio recording the day after the show, now THAT'S where the learning REALLY begins, lol. So basically when you attempt to turn your house into a club there will be some challenges in the sonic department. The bass reverberating up through the turntables into the needles then back out into my monitors as well as the floor sound system was especially fun. And since I've been putting off buying IEM's (in Ear Monitors) for the past 6 years I guess I really shouldn't put buying them off anymore. If I want to sound my best as a singer/performer in the world of reverberating bass-lines and dance floor chaos, I had better come correct. So yes, I did play a couple of my songs live whilst banging on my keyboard and playing my drum machine, and I did a decent job, but it could have been a magnificent job had I been more technically savvy with the set up. But alas, the learning curve is oh so steep on the way to the top. And, my ego must be prepared to endure these hurdles one by one along the way. So be it. I'm ready. #OneWomanFuckingRave.... here we go..
Wow, I can't believe the time is finally here. I've pondered over how on earth I'd put my own solo show together for years, and I mean years... And, just as I hypothesized it has proven to be the most challenging and gut wrenching thing I've ever had the pleasure to throw myself into. The insanity of merging so many skill sets into one interactive show has been completely and utterly maddening, not to mention emotionally and mentally draining. On a positive note, the shear fact that I see light at the end of this tunnel keeps me going. I'm finally figuring out a way to leverage my DJ career in a way that works for me.. all of those crazy drug addled years being stuck in the DJ booth when I knew I belonged on stage definitely stoked the fire within. And now, rather than being a slave to my DJ career, my DJ career is becoming a slave to me.
I know many people know Amunet Shah, just as the singer/songwriter. Most of these people didn't know me when I was traveling abroad under my former name. They don't know that I toured as a professional DJ before ever even arriving to this burgeoning cancer we call The Big Apple. I do love NYC. But I've been through hell here, beginning with the image crisis that ensued the day I arrived and realized I'd be starting from zero, regardless of signing autographs in a foreign country and headlining the same clubs as Sasha and Digweed. I always wondered why I didn't just hightail it straight to Berlin or Ibiza, that would've been the next logical step for me but I was always hell bent on NYC, and I had two of my closest friends here so I suppose that helped seal the deal.
Anyway, preparing for this show has brought up every emotion I ever had, and tapped into all of the hurt, pain and anger that has accumulated over the years of selling myself short. The biggest challenge has been honing the power of it all so it doesn't completely explode in my hands.
On the technical front, it's literally been one thing after another. My midi controller breaks one week before the show, the sound system my friend lent me wasn't going to cut it, records I want to play have scratches and need to be replaced, my roommate's turntables needed repair so I had to get mine out of storage, then I had to buy brand new needles..etc etc..
But honestly none of this compares to the fact that I wrote 3 new songs in 4 weeks to perform at this event. 8 hours of rehearsal every day for 2 weeks straight and I'm so exhausted... right now I have an unreal headache, I'm 12 hours deep so far today and I still have notes to study - microphone effect settings, how am I getting out of the drum machine and keyboard riff seamlessly into my next track, etc etc.. the list goes on..
All I know is this diamond is being polished.. and soon I plan on blinding anyone who dares to look at it.. Goodnight world. <3
...Our half dead souls commuting to work on the subway every day... Fitting, considering I actually walked right past a dead body in my old neighborhood in Crown Heights one morning on my way to work. A woman had fallen from the overpass to her death. No one had found her there yet.
That was actually the day I decided to leave New York(the first time).
Or the time when the person I was madly in love with, a.k.a my supposed future husband, threatened to slit my throat, wrap me in a blanket and store my body in the ceiling. Hmm.. yep, that was the weekend all the angels in the world came together at once to rescue me. But that's a very long story... We'll save that for another day.
But, what I do know is he's a big part of the reason why I'm where I am today, which is better than yesterday, and I thank him for that...
Or the time I stood up on the seats in the subway and yelled back at the man whose barbaric religious babbling was slowly driving the work-worn subway riders' minds into an angry oblivion. Everybody secretly wanted to say something.. so as usual I had to speak our minds for us. This occurrence led me to flee NYC for the second time....
Of course I quickly ran back here once again once I realized it was far too late to leave. After that second time I knew I'd never try to leave again, even if killed me, just like that woman I found in the road that day...
....And then I had to remember who I was before I became so angry.. before all those wasted years sitting behind some desk pretending to be something other than what I was - the singer, the dancer, the person everyone looked up to. I had to go back deep inside my mind and relive all of the love and happiness I once experienced in the past and tap into that inexplicable tribal force that runs beneath my skin like an electrical current.
....I'm just another speck of dust in the proverbial mountain of dirt, just another starving artist trying to pave their way, just another musician trying to desperately gain the recognition of those who matter, steadily wrapped up in this fuc*** up hopeless oblivion we call the music industry. I'm just like everybody else....
Or am I?