Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Everyone Pray For Paul's Soul

On The Mic

I really don't like microphones. Nor do I like speaking in public very much. I have never gotten used to the sound of my voice or particularly liked the sound of it. When I DJ I never use a mic because it is totally unnecessary - I prefer to let the music "do the talking".

The closest thing that I have done to public speaking in the last 2 years is the odd conference call in work. But that is different because I can't actually see the people looking at me. Under those circumstances I am always happy to offer my two cents especially when the topic of conversation is music.

So, when I went into HMV in London last week and picked up a copy of 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' I was somewhat interested when I heard a woman ask me if I could answer a few questions for BBC Radio.

We were standing in the front of the store and she was using a mini-disc player with a microphone to record the conversation. It went something like this:

Her: So, did you come into HMV specifically today to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD?

[As soon as she placed the microphone in my face, I panicked...]

Me: Em, yes.

H: OK, and can you tell me how you heard about the band?
M: Well, they have had all of their stuff on the internet for the past year or so and it has generated an enormous amount of hype. I've only heard the singles but have been reading a lot about them and am really interested in hearing the whole album.

[Not so bad right? A fairly decent, solid answer.]

H: Great! And can you tell me what you like about them so much?
M: I think it is just the raw energy they have. They really rock and their songs are well written. There are a lot of new bands out now making this type of music but from what I have heard they seem to be head and shoulders above the rest. They are the real deal. They sound great and remind me of the Strokes about 4.5 years ago when their first album came out.

[OK, I'm starting to feel a bit more relaxed. This isn't so bad.]

H: That's great! Thanks very much for your time.

She switches off the mini disc and that's it. Except that the whole time we were talking The Chemical Brothers 'Hey Boy Hey Girl' was playing in the shop at a level that would only really be suitable in a night club. So, she says to me that she thinks the music is too loud and that maybe we should go outside and try again. I say OK, put the CD down and we walk outside onto Oxford St - where there are lots and lots of people.

The second time goes far less smoothly...

Her: So, did you come into HMV specifically today to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD?

Now, again the microphone is placed in front of my face but this time people on the street are looking at me and I completely go blank - I can't remember ANYTHING I just said 2 minutes ago.

Me: Em, yes.

H: (staring at me blankly) Do you think you could say that without me asking you?
M: Um, well, yeah, sure. Um, yes, I came here today specifically to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD.

[Awkward silence...]

H: Can you tell me how you first heard about the band?
M: Um, well the internet. And there has been a lot written about them recently.

[More awkward silence...]

H: (now staring at me like I am a total idiot) What do you like about the band so much?
M: Well, they just rock. Kind of like the Strokes. Well, what I mean is they sound like the Strokes used to. Do you know what I mean? They have lots of energy. Raw energy.

H: OK. Great. Thanks for your time.

She then starts fumbling with the discman, like there is a problem and excuses herself. Needless to say, when I checked bbc.co.uk/radio6 the next day she did not post anything I said.

Seems like I should just stick to the conference calls...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bar Cock - Gig 09 Setlist

Saturday night was my 9th gig in Bar Cock and by most accounts a very good one. Here are the tracks I played:

Dancin' In An Easy Groove - Lonnie Smith
Midnight & You - Love Unlimited Orchestra
I Say A Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin
O-o-h Child - The Five Stairsteps
Above The Clouds - Paul Weller
Hello, It's Me - John Legend
I Get The Sweetest Feeling - Jackie Wilson
Stoned Out Of My Mind - The Chi-Lites
I Just Want To Be Your Everything - Andy Gibb
Laughter In The Rain - Neil Sedaka
Thinking Of You - Sister Sledge
Fastlove (Summer Mix) - George Michael
Some Kind Of Wonderful - Joss Stone
Let's Stay Together - Tina Turner
Candy Everybody Wants - 10,000 Maniacs
More, More, More - Andrea True Connection
Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band
Get Up (I Feel Like Bein' A Sex Machine) - James Brown
Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
Stayin' Alive - Bee Gees
Life - Sly & The Family Stone
California Soul - Marlena Shaw
Lady (Acoustic Version) - Modjo
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Nouvelle Vague
Beat Goes On - All Seeing I
Be Right There - Brother Soul
LIPSTICK - Jack Herren & The Ralph Myerz Band
In My Arms - Mylo
Summer Sun (Markus Enochson Remix) - Koop
No Communication, No Love (Devastating) - Charles Schillings & Pompon F
Another Day - Kings Of Tomorrow
All I Need (Jimpster Remix) - Blue Six
Unfinished Sympathy (Perfecto Mix) - Massive Attack
I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) - Jackson 5
Sincere (Re-Cue'd) - MJ Cole
The Gift - Way Out West
Erotic City - Supafly ft Deni Hines
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - Michael Jackson
Bailando - Alaska y Los Pegamoides
Girls & Boys - Blur
Rush - BAD
Even Better Than The Real Thing - U2
Groovy Train - The Farm
Hippy Chick - Soho
Regret - New Order
There She Goes - The La's
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
This Charming Man - The Smiths
Unbearable - The Wonder Stuff
Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
Dejame - Los Secretos
Groenlandia - Zombies
White Man In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
Song Of The Faithful Departed - Radiators
That's Entertainment - The Jam
Ease Your Feet In The Sea - Belle & Sebastian
Wonderwall - Oasis
Bizarre Love Triangle - Frente!
My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains - Everything But The Girl
Listen Girl - Mic Christopher
NY (Chris Coco Remix) - Doves
La La Means I Love You - The Delfonics

A Life In Music

OK, for those of you who don't know - here is the deal: I LOVE MUSIC. Some might say I am obsessed with music. I have over 1500 CDs (although they are spread all over the world - Pa, Dublin, Madrid), a laptop with over 10,000 songs (50+ GBs), 4 iPods, and an external 300 GB hard drive that contains a lot of my CD albums in mp3 format.

With all of this music at my disposal and the fact that I think about music, listen to music, read about music and talk about music so much I decided just over 4 years ago after a trip to Ibiza to try and become a DJ.

It hasn't been easy.

I chose to do things digitally with DJ software on a laptop. I can't explain the nightmare it has been and the disasters that I have encountered trying to copy all my CDs onto a laptop but as you can see above I stuck with it.

But once I had some music on my computer, that's when things really got tough.

I quickly found out that in order to get a gig anywhere you need to have a CD. How the hell was I going to make a CD? I spent from Jun 2002 to Feb 2003 buying software, learning how to use it, choosing the tracks I wanted and then mixing & recording the CD (all on my laptop). I enlisted the help of a friend of mine with a Mac and started burning copy after copy of CDs.

Things got off to a great start when I took a copy of the CD to a DJ dude who worked in a record shop that I always went to in Dublin. He had quit the job 3 days before but his replacement had a look at the CD and loved the track listing. He gave it to a mate of his (also a DJ) on a Thurs, I got a phone call on Fri and had my first ever gig on Sun night! Could it really be this easy? Well the answer is no.

The gig was fun even though I was scared shitless. My mates came, my work colleagues came and Jennifer came. Everyone had a great time and loved the music. Two weeks later I was given the chance to play again. I shared the night with about 4 other guys and after my 60 min set the 2 dudes who organised the gig had a chat with me. They were pretty nice about things but basically said that I sucked because a) I didn't look like a DJ, b) I was using a computer, c) I didn't know how to mix, d) I looked like I was faking it & e) I didn't look like a DJ. This coming from 2 dudes who were trying really hard to present a different kind of night with a different vibe, which apparently only worked if you looked and played like everyone else in Dublin.

The next 3 months brought more gigs, more conversations like the one above, more frustration and more disappointment. But finally in July of 2003 I got my first gig in a bar called the Metropolitan. It went really well and over the next 2 months I played there every 2-3 Sundays until I was given the chance to play every week in October - my first residency!

It was great! I was having so much fun - I could play anything, I didn't have to mix or play "funky house" like everyone else and no one cared how I looked using a laptop. I played there every Sunday night for 8 months before switching to Thursday nights for an additional 3 months. But after a year things started to change: the promoter was fired, the owners didn't want to keep so many DJs and the managers started complaining about some of the stuff I was playing. Eventually, I left to move to Madrid and ALL the DJs in the bar have since been replaced by a computer and mp3 software. Pretty ironic huh? I mean, who is faking it now?

But I am now currently enjoying my second residency and the 2nd phase of my DJ career here in Madrid. I now play 2-3 Sat nights a month in a slightly famous cocktail bar named Bar Cock.

But the story behind THAT bar will be saved for another day...

Friday, January 27, 2006


Hi and welcome to Blog Rockin' Beats.

I hope you will enjoy my postings about music & life...