What’s up Moosers,
It’s been five long years since I first started DJing and i’ve loved every second of it. I have always loved music, and DJing and producing has provided me an artistic outlet. There is no question that DJing has risen in popularity over the years. A couple decades ago, you would never see music festivals where the mainstage was dominated by DJs. Today it is common.
When I first started, I had no mentors and was left to figure things out for myself. This was both scary and exciting, but I managed to make it work and have been able to play at some of my favroite clubs such as Exchange in Los Angeles and Soundgarden Hall in Philadelphia.
I’ve learned some things that I wish I knew years ago, so I want to share some knowledge for those of you may be starting out as a DJ or think you want to. I made a guide called 10 Things You Should Do If You Want To Become A DJ, just follow the link for a free download. Based on my experience, you should do these things before booking your first gig. Let me know what you think in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy my friends.
AKA DJ Moose Trax
The clock strikes midnight and you’re hungry, but you’re also at the club, what do you do? That’s right, you grab some waffles at Midnight Brunch hosted by White Rabbit Group.
Let me tell you, White Rabbit Group is doing something right with their Midnight Brunch events. I never knew that mimosas and waffles pair very well with top-shelf electronic music! That was definitely the case on Friday night at Envy Lounge, but first a little about White Rabbit Group.
White Rabbit Group (WRG) was founded in 2010 and has been pumping out amazing shows in Orange County since. Some of the first events I went to were HAVOC Thursdays which were an absolute staple at the Yost Theater (RIP) for five years.
To this day, two of my favorite shows that I’ve attended have been Martin Solveig and Swanky Tunes, both of which were at the Yost and hosted by WRG. They have been bringing amazing international talent to Orange County since inception and continue to do it today by bringing out London-native, Taiki Nulight.
As soon as I saw that Taiki Nulight was playing at Midnight Brunch, I knew I had to go. It was my first time attending a show at Envy Lounge, formerly Ten Nightclub, and I was thoroughly impressed. Right when you walk in, you can tell that you are in a top-notch club accented by its 1920s speakeasy theme.
The dance floor is large and encourages people to break out all sorts of wild dance moves on it. The same can be said for the patio where Modern Disco Ambassadors had control. MDA’s own Audiostache, DJ Instagator, and Z_RO Frequency were the chosen curators for the night. They brought the house beats and even had some fun with some back to back action while the smell of waffles and syrup filled the air.
Groovy house music ruled the night on the patio, but bass house and UK garage reigned king on the inside. WRG’s own DJ Bonez, Sang Froyd, and JP b2b Dre Boogie held down the main stage leading up to Taiki Nulight. It was no small task to open for Taiki who has received praise from some of EDM’s top tastemakers such as Pete Tong and Annie Mac, but each one of the WRG DJs delivered with their own blend of bass house sounds.
Taiki took the stage at 12:30am and released an onslaught of his originals and remixes from labels including Night Bass, Cheap Thrills, Dim Mak, Black Butter Records, and Get Twisted Records. Contact, his collaboration with My Nu Leng, and My Peoples, his collaboration with AC Slater, are two of my favorites from Taiki and absolutely destroyed the dance floor on Friday. They absolutely bang so check them out.
I’m left to assume he played several unreleased tracks as Shazam failed me throughout most of the night. This makes me a very excited Moose as we probably have a lot to look forward to in 2018 from Taiki Nulight and the rest of the Night Bass crew. With Night Bass’s home being in Los Angeles, I’m sure we will find out soon enough.
Stay tuned Ambassadors.
AKA DJ Moose Trax
Thank you to Joseph Papparazzo for the pictures included in this post.
Live performances verse DJ sets are both amazing to experience, but in different ways. Seeing a musician or band express themselves through different mediums is like seeing the legendary Hugh Jackman star in a movie and then catching him on stage for a musical in a theatre. Neon Indian, likewise, a master of their craft for indie dance music, was a performance that I could not miss and being a DJ (and music lover), myself, I was excited to see what was in store for their DJ set at Exchange LA.
If you haven't been to Exchange LA or don't know what it is, here's a little background. The building began construction in 1929, just a few days before the stock market crash. It's prime location is on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1931, it opened as the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, 35 years later it became the Pacific Stock Exchange, and in 1986 the facility made a final move from the location.
That's right, the dance floor was once used for trading stocks, but now trades memories of legendary performances. The halls that once echoed of shouting numbers and figures, now chants songs and melodies, with thousands of guests dancing to the same rhythm in unison. If you stand in the middle of the dance floor, facing the main stage and look directly up and to the right, you can see where the clock used to be for the trading floor.
In more current history, PAX America purchased the building in 2006 and opened doors for a new dance club, Exchange LA in 2010. However, in 2013 PAX filed for bankruptcy, which paved the way for Insomniac to take over and establish the venue that we know and love today.
In my opinion, Exchange LA is one of the best clubs in the city. Insomniac truly does an amazing job with the production. When you ascend the large marble staircase to the main stage on the second floor, it feels as though you have been teleported to a midnight set at the Neon Garden stage at EDC Las Vegas, also run by Insomniac.
The lights and lasers are always on point, and the Funktion One sound system is a force to be reckoned with. Seeing Neon Indian at such a quality venue with great support from Holy Ghost!, Gigamesh, Rambo and not to mention MDA DJs, was certainly a treat.
In the heart of Downtown, you get a true taste of life in Los Angeles, as you walk toward the venue. You can feel the bass as soon as you step onto the sidewalk surrounding Exchange LA. Immediately after walking through the door, you can spot The Gallery, a spacious side room on the first floor that typically houses lineups curated from partners. This night MDA had the pleasure of curating a stacked lineup, which included DJ Instagator, Rachel and Rozco.
On the main stage, Rambo started by perfectly building up the tasty disco beats in preparation for Holy Ghost!, who took over around 11:30 p.m. The synth-pop duo from NYC held down their set for about an hour and a half before Neon Indian took the staged, which was accompanied by a roar from the crowd.
Alex Polomo, the frontman for the four piece band, Neon Indian, was a solo act during this DJ set. They were named one of the best new bands in 2010 by Rolling Stone and have three albums to their name, so far. Polish Girl, off of their second album, Era Extrana, released in 2012, is the song that got me hooked. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend it.
Even though the rest of the band wasn't there, the unique style of Neon Indian was shown throughout the set. The chill-wave and synth-pop sound with groovy basslines drove the dance floor to a fervor.
When the clock struck 2 a.m., I wasn't sure if I could keep going after dancing nonstop for hours, but multi-platinum selling Gigamesh had different plans for me. Best known for producing Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner and for his remix of Foster The People's Pumped Up Kicks, he took over at 2 a.m. and carried the crowd masterfully with chill, groovy vibes until Exchange LA shut doors at 4 a.m.
Insomniac spoiled us with such an amazing lineup all in one night. I left the club feeling like I had just finished the world's craziest leg day at the gym. I want to say no more dancing for a few days... but you'll probably find me on the dance floor soon anyway.
Until next time. Keep those antlers up.
AKA DJ Moose Trax
Thank you to Exchange LA for the pictures included in this post
This post can also be found on the Modern Disco Ambassadors (MDA) website.
On December 15, we hosted our annual Holiday Party at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, Calif. featuring a lineup of MDA residents including Rozco, Mogli, and Torosbros, as well as Los Angeles-based DJ, Le Youth to cap it off with a two hour set. This marked the third time having Le Youth, aka Wes James on the decks at an MDA event. You could say that he is a master when it comes to the disco and RnB infused sounds that ambassadors are known to love, so it was great to have him back.
I walked into The Wayfarer on Friday night to catch Rozco (Bryan Orozco), who was the perfect pick to start the night with his groovy house vibes. He handed it over masterfully at 10 pm to Mogli (Eli Rivera) to carry on the good vibes. He played one of my personal favorite tunes at the moment, Love Stream by Mat.Joe, and some funky tracks like Hello Clouds by Justin Martin to build the energy that he received from Rozco.
Once the clock struck 11, it was Torosbros', turn to take over. To be honest I wasn’t sure where Torosbros was going to take us when he dropped Love is Strange by Mickey & Sylvia. The change of pace flipped the place on its head, but in the background of the track he was slowly mixing in the Zac Samuel remix of Say Something by Karen Harding. Once the beat dropped, he had the entire place in the palm of his hand. It stayed this way throughout his set as Torosbros delighted us with tracks such asShow Me by Zinc and the Kaytranada remix of Lady by Modjo.
As many of us expected, Le Youth’s unique style kept the party going strong for the rest of the night and the vibe was awesome. Before he went on stage, however, I sat down with Wes to talk about Le Youth and what we might see from him in 2018.
Kagan: What is the inspiration behind your name?
Wes: It’s not really a good story. It started as Youth and then I realized other people were already named that so I just kinda added a little bit of mystery with Le Youth. Its worked and served its purpose.
Kagan: Was there any reasoning behind Youth?
Wes: Yeah just kinda my fascination with youthfulness, existentialism, and youthful things.
Kagan: How old were you when you first started?
Wes: I’ve been making music my whole life but I started Le Youth about four years.
Kagan: When you produced COOL and first posted it on Soundcloud, how did you feel about the response it received?
Wes: It was cool, it was a very exciting time in my life. It kinda blew up really fast and it was just a perfect timing kind of thing it felt like. It was pretty magical.
Kagan: Did you expect that?
Wes: It was completely unexpected. I was living in a one bedroom apartment in Hollywood kind of like figuring out what I was gonna do with my life. Then I made this track and everything changed overnight.
Kagan: If someone took a peek into your DJ bag, what would they find? Anything out of the ordinary?
Wes: Probably some hair product. That’s the only time I’ll ever say that. An iPhone charger which is not out of the ordinary, and my headphones.
Kagan: Is there anywhere in the world you would like to play in 2018?
Wes: Yeah I want to play Berlin. I’ve never been and its meant to be pretty wild. I think my style of music doesn’t really fit in very well, but I think the way I party fits in well there.
Kagan: Is there any specific producer or singer/songwriter that you hope to work with in 2018?
Wes: There’s just so many amazing writers right now. To be alive in this time of music is pretty cool. There’s more songwriters now than there ever were and better songs being written every day. I could literally list a dozen writers I would want to work with. As far as contemporary artists that are in my sort of world I would love to work with the Disclosure and the Duke Dumont kind of guys. I’ve done remixes for them and played shows with them, just never gotten into the studio with them.
Kagan: You’ve been touring a lot in 2017, but what can we expect from Le Youth in 2018?
Wes: Probably more releases than I’ve done in the past in one year. I’ve said that before so we’ll see if that actually works out. I would like to have new music coming out at a more consistent rate. I travel a lot and I play a lot of shows, but it’s just the weekends. I’m usually back in the studio during the week with plenty of time. I can also do a bit when I’m on the road in hotels and such.
Kagan: What is your favorite piece of software or hardware you use for production?
Wes: I love the Juno-106, that’s my favorite piece of hardware. It’s pretty standard as far as analog synths go. I invested a lot of money into my laptop. I have this laptop that cost more money than it should have but it’s worth it. I mean I could make music with a drumstick and a phone recorder, you can do anything so to have these tools at my disposal is pretty awesome. I would say though the majority of my studio gear is in the box, its in my laptop. I’ve also been messing with the Korg Mono/poly lately. It’s one of my new favorites. Roland started making this boutique series, they’ve made kind of these miniature versions of all these synths from years past. I have one called the SE-02 which is pretty cool. They’re fun man, people kind of talk shit but they’re fun.
Kagan: Last question, you’ve been known to sample other songs in your own productions, such as Cassie’s Me & You in COOL and TLC’s No Scrub in Dance With Me. Can you give us some insight into your process when it comes to finding these samples for your own productions?
Wes: Yeah so for me its downloading as many acapellas as I possibly can whether that’s from a torrent or from people who had acapellas from back in the day when they did the remix. It’s about finding the acapellas and just trying to see what works with what. I would be lying if I said I set out to make COOL or if I set out to make Dance With Me. I didn’t, I literally just tried things and tried things and tried things until I found something I liked. In fact, COOL was actually thrown in the trash bin for like three months and a friend of mine was like hey you should put that song out I kinda liked that one. I was calling it something different at the time but that song would have never come out had someone not even told me to do it. I make so much music and I’m always working on so many different things that sometimes certain songs get past you without realizing the value in it. What’s even funnier is that Dance With Me, I’ve actually never talked about this, was written before COOL. I kinda had some reservations about putting out Dance With Me after COOLbecause I felt I had grown a little bit after Dance With Me and putting out COOL.That’s how it all played out.
Kagan: Since you had Dance With Me in your project files for a while, did it evolve over time or was it pretty much all put together?
Wes: So when I signed with Sony after COOL, I sent them some of the other songs I had been working on. I sent them Dance With Me and they were like “yo we should put this out next” and I was like “no no it’s not done not done” and they were like “no it’s great”. Then they put it out and it did really well, it hit number 8 in the UK. Pretty wild.
Kagan: Well Dance With Me is definitely one of my favorites. You’ve got just a few minutes before you go on so thanks for your time and I look forward to your set!
All in all, the evening was a night to remember. Can't wait for big things to come in 2018!
Stay tuned Ambassadors and keep those antlers up.
AKA DJ Moose Trax
The original post with pictures can be found on MDA's blog here.
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