Following the first Califunkya Dreamin’ release, we bring you Califournya Dreamin’ 01! Enjoy the Califournya mixdowns of “Nothing To Say” and “Bubble Yummy”.
Following the first Califunkya Dreamin’ release, we bring you Califournya Dreamin’ 01! Enjoy the Califournya mixdowns of “Nothing To Say” and “Bubble Yummy”.
It’s here, the first release in the Califunkya Dreamin’ series. “Nothing To Say” is an absolute smasher, switching up grimy lead sounds on the main melody and redropping into utter synth madness. On the flip side, “Bubble Yummy” wubs its way into the mix, stacked with pitched vocal chops and a truly unique energy.
Next up on the road to the remix album release…the one and only Rob-E based out of Orlando, Florida. While a few minutes of rave culture have passed for both of us, we most recently linked up this year at the Revelation party in Tampa. Bass heads throughout Florida and beyond need no introduction, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
What is the Wes Smith connection?
Wes and I have known each other since the 1990’s, the original Juice days. I met him at Simons back in the day, He and I lost contact for a while, he popped back up a few years ago and has been totally been putting in work. Everywhere you look you see Wes Smith!
Which tune did you remix off the album and why did you pick it?
I picked “Do You Want To Get Funky” I got to choose which one and it was the vocals that really caught me, full of soul!
What were your challenges with the remix and what were the good points?
It’s an old C&C Music Factory track and her vocals are absolutely amazing so that excited me to use them. I got the vocals dry at 118 bpm and there was a snap that was throwing me off and I had to write around it. It took some creativity to get around but it flowed fast after the snap and we were able to finish the remix in 6 hours.
I’ve known the Rob-E Name now for a long time. Tell me what has changed since the “back in the day” times for you?
Everything in life changes, it evolves, especially music. But back then it was a lot more exclusive to be a DJ. I would walk into Vinyl Frontier and I would have test pressings and dub plates from Icey, amongst other breaks artists. I had a flightcase full of white labels and dub plates, super exclusive. But now it’s a totally different game. With Mp3’s as our main format of music, it’s not so exclusive anymore. It’s real easy to share media these days, so the days of being super exclusive are far-gone.
I try to keep it true to the old school, if someone gives me music and asks me not to share – I don’t. I try to keep my shows exclusive now a day as well. There’s only a hand full of promoters that I will play for – I’m also a full time father of 2 [daughter 11 and son 10] Music was my first love, but now that I’m a father, my children get my full attention first and foremost.
Who is your biggest influence?
My Influences come from many different genres of electronic music. I get a lot of influence form my partner in crime Carl(DJ Security) – My mentors are Andy Hughes, D-Xtreme and DJ Orlando (All the Old skoolers in O-Town will know this name!) Kimball Collins also had a big part in molding my sound, but when it comes to break beat, thank heaven for Icey, I have known him since the Edge days. He has kept the breaks scene alive and moving for a long time, if it wasn’t for that guy it may have died. The breaks scene has been up and down like a roller coaster, but he has been there in the valleys and he is the one that has kept it going. Hands down he is the pioneer of the U.S. break beat scene.
Where would you like to see the future of breaks go?
Right now I am teaching my daughter how to DJ. She is really into it and digs the music. It’s cool to see some of the newer generation that is into break beat, and where they will be taking it. Pauly [Fixx], Keith [MacKenzie], Wes [Smith] are the ones really putting in work right now, I’m proud of Pauly – he is a machine and living the dream. The breaks guys (and gals) in Europe are taking break beat to a whole other level now. It reminds me of the USA back in the 90’s’ Also, Sharaz is producing some new stuff that is totally different, it’s retro but nothing like you have heard it’s a super fresh sound.
Thank you for your insight, Rob-E. We look forward to your remix on December 14th. Bless.
Next up in the interview series is DJ Hero. I’ve always enjoyed the variety in his sounds and was pumped to have him jump in on the remix project. While we have not met in person, we’ve connected through mutual friends over at XeroTribe and chat in bits and pieces over the last year. I’ve found his perspective on music refreshing and worldly insights fun to follow.
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Where does the name “DJ Hero” come from?
When I was young, I used to draw comic books. One day, when I was 19, I was sitting at my house with my roommate, doodling. I had just recently started DJ’ing. I wouldn’t even consider myself a DJ that point. I sat there, at the table drawing, while my roommate sat across from me reading. I had set my drawing pad down, and gotten up to go refill our coffee cups. When I returned to the table, my roommate had drawn the Superman “S” on the chest of the little DJ character I had been drawing. Before I could say anything, he said “that’s you, you’re DJ Hero”. I erased the “S” from the shield, and added a DJ. It just sort of stuck. To me a hero is someone that sets an example and is an inspiration for people. If I was the normal guy, then DJ Hero would be my muse to be more than I was; to be a better person. I hope that over time, as DJ Hero, I’ve inspired other people to be and do more with their own lives through my music and hopefully the example I’ve tried to set.
Your label is named Solitude Studios – what’s in a name?
I have been a bit of a loner all my life, and not a fan of big crowds or busy places. My studio is my place to get away from the rigors of the outside world, or packed clubs, venues, and festivals. I tend to think more clearly, and more creatively when I sit in peace. When I finally built my studio it seemed only fitting to call it “Solitude Studios”. Later, a friend of mine pointed out that Superman’s home is called the “Fortress of Solitude”, making me that much more of a nerd.
I listened to a few Solitude Studio podcasts today. Tell me how that started.
Several years ago, the podcast started as a radio show on United Breaks FM. From there, it moved to Party 95 out of Orlando. After several years on Party 95, and shortly after I started Solitude Studios, the record label, I changed the radio show to a Podcast I aired myself, once a month. Originally, the weekly radio show spotlighted the most popular breaks of the time. I tried to make the show put breaks in a good light. As my tastes evolved, I started adding other sounds and styles. Today the podcast is my way of showcasing the latest Solitude Studios release. The podcast’s sound each month, directly reflects the style of the release. As my own sound grows and expands, so will the podcast’s.
Talk to me about Denver. How you arrived, why you stay, what the music landscape is like etc.
In 2007, I was touring with Huda Hudia. The last stop on the tour was Denver, Colorado. I loved it. I loved the climate, the view, the city, and instantly clicked with the group of people we had met at that gig. At the time I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, and had been in the south for upwards of 12 years. I hated it. I was tired of the dirty south. A little over a month later, I had moved to Denver. I thought I wanted to move back to Florida in 2014. After getting there, it took me about 7 months before I was back in Denver, I missed it so much. This is my home now.
Denver is the birth place of Beatport, so the music scene has always been pretty hot. We’ve also got some pretty famous clubs, from Vinyl that over the past 20 years has hosted just about every one of the biggest DJ’s, to The Church, which is a gorgeous converted Catholic church, to Beta, which is now one of the country’s super clubs. We’ve also got some pretty successful promoters that have had their hands in some massive events.
There really isn’t much to complain about out here from a musical stand point.
When you sit down and listen for tunes to play or remix, what do you look for?
I look for originality and production quality. I look for tracks that are unique. As the use of premade and purchased sample packs increases, I’ve decided I would rather steer clear of them. I applaud the companies that have created successful businesses around selling the packs. And, I feel there is a place for good sampling, that’s what so much of my generation’s music is founded on, from hip hop, to pop music, to dance music. But I feel relying on sample packs and construction kits is lazy, and ultimately decreases sound quality. You can’t alter the effects already on the samples, so producers are limited in how much they can manipulate their sounds to specifically fit with the sounds they produce themselves. When I look for tracks for my own virtual record bag, I look for tracks that don’t sound they’ve come from those packs. When I look for tunes to remix, I try to choose tunes that I can’t use my own original production to make the remix sound top notch and unique.
Aside from that, when I’m looking for new music, I try to avoid blatant drug references and sexists or abusive lyrics. I don’t do drugs, I don’t party like that. It’s just not my thing. And, the bad lyrics and vocals are just annoying. I don’t really want to hear some MC demoralizing woman. Again, that goes back to the “DJ Hero” name sake. I just don’t think either is a good look, and doesn’t set a good example.
What’s the Hero/Wes Smith connection?
A while back I was listening to a mixed set online while hiking with my dog. In the mix was a pretty cool track that I couldn’t ID. I reached out to the DJ that posted the mix, and he said it was Wes Smith’s remix of his track. I heard a new/different remix in my head, so I asked if I could have a go at a remix. The DJ agreed, and sent me the remix pack. After going through the remix pack, I noticed it was missing one of the pieces I really liked about Wes’s remix. At that point I reached out to Wes for the part I wanted. Once Wes sent it to me, I completed the remix and sent it to the original producer of the tune, and to Wes (because he had given me a pieces from his remix of it). Wes seemed to enjoy the remix quite a bit, and, later, asked if I would remix one of the tunes on his album “It’s Wes Smith Yo!” The rest is history.
What’s some advice you would like to pass on?
If I could say just one thing to every would-be producer looking to make music, I would say “be you”. Make the music you want to make. Don’t try to make something that sounds like the other guy. Don’t make music to be cool or successful, do it to express yourself. But, I never want to say just one thing, so let me add this; Take your time, make mistakes. Suck for a while, because you’re supposed to. Learn your craft. Prevent yourself from taking short cuts. Learn humility, because not everyone is going to like you, people are going to lie to you, blow smoke up your ass, hate on you, etc. And, that is OK….be you.
Beyond that, don’t send a label an unfinished track. That’s the fastest way to be skipped over when the label goes to listen to the demos in their in box. Label your work properly; Artist Name – Track Title (Mix Title). If the label doesn’t know who and what they are listening to, they won’t follow up and try to find you. Instead they’ll find another track. Take some pride in your work.
After Turntable Sax, what’s next for DJ Hero?
I’m going to keep making new music. After really contemplating who “DJ Hero” is over the past two years or so, I’ve come to the decision that I love far too many sounds, and too many genres to limit myself to just ‘breaks’. That said, I’m going to make whatever inspires me, be it breaks, house, trap, or anything else for that matter. The goal is to create music that can span the genres in one mixed set.
Hey hey friends, today I’m kicking off the interview series for my forthcoming remix album. First up is DJ Smooth out of Orlando. I met up with Mike about 6 months back b/w of the Funky Flavor crew who brought me out in the summer. He recently reworked “Hands Up” and then had a nice chat with our head field agent about all things BASS… Peep the interview below…
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Tell me about your start:
I started the Scratch Academy in Miami about 4 years ago where I learned the basics on vinyl, etc for 6 months and then I moved to Orlando.
How did you come to do a remix for this album?
I met Scotty Frazier [Funky Flavor Breakbeat Culture] and I showed Scotty a few projects so Scotty introduced me to Wes Smith and he hit me up to do a remix.
What’s the DJ Smooth spin on the remix?
My style brings in electro and trap elements with a breaks flavor.
What else are you working on right now?
Goldillox [Danielle Wells] and I have a new project called HYPER MONK3Y and we have about 20 tracks together already. We are looking to drop that closer to the Winter Music Conference in Miami, it’s really high energy and a lot of fun. Also, I have another collab with a friend in Tampa we just did a show together for Halloween as HardCastle & McCormick. We work really well together and have a darker trap style.
Thank you, Mike! Good luck on your new projects, the release and see you in Miami in March.
Related links: [Get Notified on the Release] [Support the Original] [Website : Wes Smith] [Facebook : DJ Smooth] [Facebook : HardkastleNMcormick] [Facebook : HyperMonkey] [Soundcloud : DJ Smooth] [Soundcloud : HardKastle&McCormick]
Aloha friends…A few days ago I made a post about Heart Break feat. Goldillox, my latest remix project to hit the streets. Here’s the much anticipated full interview with Tech D label boss, Trenton Thompson.
Interview by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
I sat down with Trenton Thompson Owner/Operator/Producer/DJ at Tech D Records aka Aeon Flex to discuss their new release Heart Break EP Feat. Goldillox by Aeon Flex & Shade K, what it means to be a label owner and more.
Why did you decide to start a label?
I started with a marketing degree, I knew I wanted to be in business but at the time I didn’t go into it fro music related purposes but it seemed like a degree that would make sense. The hands on experience really helped me start the label. Also being a DJ the better part of 20 years, I realized the market was being flooded by producers. I was submitting tracks but had become sick of the bureaucracy waiting for release dates just to hope that it may get good exposure. At that point I decided to start my own label to speed up the release process myself. I started slow with 3 artists and went on a mass marketing spree, I ordered hundreds of giveaways and just gave them away. We will be 2 years old come January and we now we have 125 people on the label.
Tell us in layman’s terms what it means to be on a label. What do you do for the artists on Tech D?
It depends on the artist level, we do everything from signing aspiring artists to get a portfolio started, to catapulting established artists on world tours. Some like Noel Sanger and Shade K manage themselves but usually we manage the up and coming with artist development to prevent what I call a “failure to launch”. Developing them in ways they do not know how to do or access.
Do you have any advice for aspiring producers and djs?
If we reject someone’s tune we try to do it with finesse and send out tutorials because some people take it as the end of the world. My advice is don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back, everyone is busy it may take time. You may have spent all this time on one track but ready to come back with 3-4 more tracks if the first one hits and don’t stop promoting yourself. Build up a portfolio and doing that comes with experience and confidence, just don’t expect a lot of royalties when you are building your résumé.
Let’s talk about the release how did you choose Goldillox for the vocals?
I had already been working with Shade K and Royal Blood but when I first got to Florida I saw Goldillox perform at the Old Firestone. Her stage presence was absolutely jaw dropping and I knew I wanted to work with her immediately. Once we started working with her I realized she didn’t need much development at all and the rest is history.
How did you choose Wes for the remix?
I have been playing Wes’s tracks since I started playing breakbeat and I kept seeing more and more Juice shirts around. I thought it would be a great political musical move to bring him in and do a track with him. There is a reason why he is winning awards, he is versatile and has been building a tremendous status along with people of great stature giving him global support. Even so, he has great humility and doesn’t have a cocky bone in his body. We even met his mom – most people need to realize we are all just people. Usually the ego is all on the DJ side but if this music machine went bankrupt tomorrow it would simply just bring everyone together – again we are all just people here.
What’s your motto?
FAMILY VALUES, we are all one, it’s NOT A competition.
I want to mention that we talked about supporters and family during the interview. Trenton and I both would like to give out a special shout to Adam Butterfield (_040_) and Angel Dejournett-O’Dell:
Angel & Adam – they know to put on the game face and Tech D is indebted to them, they have definitely helped me grow and mature. All people have a role in this and they are true conduits and are just as important in that role to make connections.
You can find the Heart Break EP Feat. Goldillox (Wes Smith Remix) by Aeon Flex & Shade K here: [Buy it here: Beatport]
It’s with great pleasure I announce the release of Heart Break Feat. Goldillox (Wes Smith Remix) by Aeon Flex & Shade K. I had the good fortune to meet Aeon Flex over a few irish beverages during my trip to play the Revelation party in Tampa this year. It’s always fun to meet collaborators in person and he’s a cool cat. A bit prior to that, I had the opportunity to meet Goldillox when I played for the Funky Flavor in Orlando this summer. What a sweet person and talented vocalist. So with that introduction, grab it on Beatport or check out the Soundcloud clips below including the original, my remix and the Alekay remix…enjoy!
Why yes…The Crystal Method recently dropped the Dub Pistol’s “Killa Sound (Wes Smith Remix)” on episode 141 of their #CommunityService show.
Both of these acts have been shredding up the US, UK and International electronic music scenes with their uniquely signature sounds. I’m honored to be in the same sentence with them both and thank all of you freaks for the support in helping me get to this current level of boom!
Check the entire show below with so many bangers…the Killa Sound drop is at the 46:20 mark, which coincidentally starts as the backing track to the announcement of The Crystal Method’s limited edition 20 year box set…and a big shout out to Barry…oh and a dope DJ Hero track follows up my jam…coupled up with an announcement of their gig with my XeroTribe fam on the 21st in St. Louis…all that in one sentence? Fiyah!
How cool is this? …along with the super awesome release of my remix of Killa Sound for the Dub Pistols, we also snagged this phat premiere with Australia’s Big Bass Party. They have interviewed all kinds of awesome bass music producers but for this one we flip the script and interview them. Kelly Ross | Agent 137 takes on the mission to wrangle them from the outback and find out what they are all about!
Interview with Sang Pham [Sangers] by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Tell us about Big Bass Party:
Big Bass Party is a radio show on Radio Metro 105.7FM on the Gold Coast in Australia. It reaches Brisbane as well as the two cities are very close. The show airs weekly and is recorded and podcasted on iTunes. We have over 2000 subscribers to the podcast and it’s downloaded in something like 80 countries around the world, but most popular in Australia, USA, Russia and Germany. We play every kind of Bass music and focus on brand new music. We never repeat a song, unless it’s a special episode like a finale, and sometimes feature interviews with Bass artists or premiere their new music.
How did it all start?:
We’ve had had the opportunity to run a radio show on Radio Metro for a while and we had always passed it up as we felt we were too busy with our production and shows. After I guest hosted a radio show in Perth one weekend, I realized how fun and easy it could be; there were lots of benefits, so Ra and I decided to give it a go. When the two of us started the show, there was dance music on mainstream radio (in Australia) but not as much as there is now. These days, dance music dominates the airwaves here. Australia is very isolated so our music scene has its own trends; we take leads from the UK and the states but often a genre can be more popular here. I didn’t feel Bass music was getting enough exposure on the air here and saw that as an opportunity for Big Bass Party to fill that gap.
What music works on the show?:
Genre-wise, all kinds of Bass music, from Trap to Breaks, Hip Hop to Drum and Bass – everything. As DJs, we tend to collect music that’s dance floor focused. We tend to ignore or sleep on tunes that are too chill or in the wrong key. The radio show has given us a completely different perspective on dance music as it’s an opportunity to play music that just sounds cool. Some of the best songs we’ve aired have just been very pleasing to the ears and not dance floor bangers at all. So personally, hosting the show has really expanded my musical palette.
Three seasons in, has the show evolved?:
The approach is quite the same, but the genres we play more of and the presenting cast have been through some changes. I started the show with Ra. Right now, we’re going in different directions musically. We’re still great friends, we talk heaps and we still work on projects together – we just put an original song out recently. But musically we’re on different paths. Ra stopped doing the show towards the end of Season One, so I asked Dave from Datadex, to come on board. Dave is an old friend of mine from ADICTS – an events promotion business that we started about 10 years ago here in Brisbane. Dave and I did the show for a season and a half and had Katie Karma as our interviewer / field reporter. Whenever Dave was away, Kaite would fill in. Dave moved to the US after Season Two, so we decided to swap their roles and have Katie in the studio and Dave do interviews from LA. Katie brings a different dynamic to the show with her love of Bass House and it’s always nice to have a female voice on the air.
How do you choose your tunes for the show?:
We’re always on the hunt for tunes that fit all the different sub-genres of Bass. We try to represent all the different demographics and cover the entire globe. If there are tracks that cross genre barriers, that’s a bonus. Often we’ll be inspired or excited by a new artist we’ve just discovered, we find a few of the tracks they’ve just put out and we’ll play one on each show over the next few weeks. Also promos come through from labels and sometimes an artist will hit us up directly with an opportunity to debut one of their tunes.
Tell me about your connection to Wes Smith:
It seemed that Wes came out of nowhere. As a breaks fan, I’m generally aware of who’s doing well in the scene and who’s doing well in the Beatport charts. But I only started really paying attention to him once he hit #1.
Since I’ve been exposed to him, Wes has been pretty solid in my eyes. When Barry [from the DubPistols] sent us the remix pack for their new tune, Wes’ remix was the one that really stood out. We also featured one of his tunes on the Punks Special and that episode was on track to be the most listened to on the Big Bass Party SoundCloud page, until it was taken down.
Wes has established his position in the Breaks scene in a very short time, which is pretty hard to do these days since the Breaks scene is fairly well established now. For anyone that was at that top tier when Breaks reached its peak – like Stanton Warriors [Punks], Plump DJs, Krafty Kuts etc – they’re always going to hold position on that top rung. I can’t see anyone breaking that top tier of Breaks really. It’s all about getting on that next rung down and somehow Wes came out of the pack and very quickly established himself at that level, which is HUGE. Breaks is starting to see a bit of a revival and if it gets back to where it once was, I can definitely see Wes rising to the top along with the scene.
What advice can you give to someone breaking into the industry?:
One thing, is perhaps taking lead from Wes: he’s genuinely a great guy; he’s very approachable, great to speak to, is passionate about his music and seems genuine. It’s a small scene and everyone knows each other very well, so getting along with one another is vital. You’re not going get far if you are an asshole – being a likeable person really helps. We’re all trying to help each other and push something together and if you’re easy to be around and supportive of others in the scene, people will tend to want to be around you and want to see you succeed.
Do you have any advice for new producers?
You really have to love the music and I urge you to really consider if you really want that life. It’s going to be hard – passion is the only thing that will push you through. You have to act on every opportunities you’re given because they might not come around again. Even if you think you’re not 100% ready for an opportunity like a remix or release, do the best you can and let the label or artist you’re remixing decide if it’s not good enough. These things have a habit of spawning other opportunities. Production wise – find a balance of doing what you love but also make sure there is a market for it. In order to break into a scene, there has to be a scene to break into. You might be lucky if you’re a genius producer and are able to create a whole new genre, but in most cases, if you want to play gigs, you’re going to have to fit into gigs that other DJs are already playing. That said, don’t sell out and lose yourself and your style – it’s all about balance.
Whats next for you?
Touring the USA! I have wanted to do that for a long time. I’ve been touring Europe every year for the past four years and the gigs keep getting better and better there but I’ve realised it’s now or never to try to break into the US scene. The bass scene in the states is growing quickly right now and I really want to be a part of it in its early stages. Musically I’m going at my own pace right now. I don’t set any production deadlines for myself like I use to. I don’t put any pressure on myself to get a release out at any regularity. I just hop in the studio whenever I’m inspired by something or get an idea. I’ve learned over time that I used to overcommit and place too much pressure on myself to meet self-set goals. Learning to say no to remixes or production requests was really hard to do at first but finding that balance has made me happier and in turn made it easier to make better music. So I have a few things in the bag both by myself and with Ra but I won’t promise you’ll see anything soon, I’ll just surprise you!