Hello to you all from 36,000 feet somewhere between Miami and London. I am writing to you today as I fly across the Atlantic whilst preparing for my residency night at Ministry of Sound, London. I have to apologise to you all for not having the time to post a new blog over the past couple of weeks. As you can imagine, Winter Music Conference week is always so hectic between gigs, meetings and parties, and last week I was on the road pretty early, because I had gigs on Wednesday through Saturday. So, a little XXL sized version for you this week to make amends; and to catch up on everything that has happened over the past three weeks or so, beginning with the Toronto ’09 Release Party at The Guvernment.
It’s very difficult for me to put into words how important and special this night was. A lot of fans worldwide probably don’t understand the unique vibe that Toronto brings. All the clubbers there are like a tightly-knit extended family. Everybody is your best friend, and any time I have played there in the past, they have always welcomed me as one of their own.
I got to The Guvernment a little early to hang out backstage and catch up with some of my peeps. Armin was already going strong at the Koohaus, but we managed a quick champaigne toast before I headed over to the Guvernment main room for my set. I got to bump into Toronto native Arnej, who has two tracks on my Toronto ’09 compilation (both of which are massive!) and also Blake Jarrell, my little tour buddy from last summer. We spent a lot of time together on the road, travelling together and playing at the same gigs. He even stayed at my apartment in Berlin for a couple of days in between playing in Glasgow and the beginning of the Ibiza season.
One of the fascinating things about travelling with the likes of Blake is that you literally get to see him develop and grow as a DJ first-hand. He is continually learning and developing his sound, and I hope he keeps working hard to reach his goals, because the potential is definitely there. He has a new album coming out on Armada this week called Concentrate, which is a mixed compilation made up entirely of tracks or remixes done by Blake himself. There are a couple of tunes on the CD which will be familiar to Coldharbour followers, as he has remixed Bittersweet Nightshade, and also the Khaz & Boris M.D. track, Eliana; the original of course featured on the Toronto ’09 album.
Another Toronto native and an up and coming DJ I have a lot of time for, Glenn Morrison, was warming the crowd up very nicely as I made my way to the booth. The first hour of my set featured quite a few of the Dakota tracks. What a great testing ground to try out some of the tunes in front of a live audience for the first time. For the rest of the set, we took it up a notch and played a few stompers, and many tracks from the Toronto ’09 compilation of course. The crowd were, as expected, fantastic. So much fun interacting with everyone. We joined together in the hope of a celebration, and I think we achieved it.
A huge, huge thanks to everyone who made it to the party. I can’t wait to get back there to the Toronto audience again. Great people and a city that has a special place in my heart.
After flying back home and taking it easy on the Sunday, I started my WMC preparations on Monday. There are so many memories that come back when thinking about previous conferences. In many ways, the most special one was that seven short years ago, a little show called Global DJ Broadcast was born, originally as a one-off special to cover the activities in Miami that week. The good old days of Party 93.1, where my Sunday nights were spent in their studios mixing live and talking on the microphone while the vinyls were spinning. I will be forever grateful to those days, because thanks to the growth of the internet and online communities, lots of doors opened for me internationally due to the success of the show. It is the reason why I make a point of doing a special WMC edition every year – the signification of how the show started.
Winter Music Conference officially kicked off in Miami on the Tuesday night. I played a gig at a club named Aerobar, along with Glenn Morrison and Noel Sanger. This would turn out to be my highlight of the entire WMC week – very intimate with an incredible vibe, and a lot of producers, DJs, media and scene members scattered around the venue. The bigger parties were to follow at the weekend, but this gig had a special feeling in the air and it was great to see a lot of old friends out enjoying themselves.
One of the cool things about Aerobar is that it is right next door to the where Groovejet used to be. That was where I first heard Danny Tenaglia play. These were special nights that I have so many memories and inspiration from. I hope next year we can do another party at Aerobar to kick things off, because I think that could be something very special. My only concern was the sound system there. It was harsh – not very warm at all. Hopefully they improve the sound over the next year so we don’t all blow out our eardrums on the first night of the conference.
After some brief rest on Wednesday morning, I grabbed my CD cases and headed over to South Beach to participate in the Remixer and Producer panel forum at WMC and then to the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach, which is where the annual WMC party is held for Sirius XM Radio. There were a ton of DJs hanging out and enjoying the vibes – such as Lee Burridge, Nic Fanciulli, Todd Terry, hometown hero Oscar G, and Miss Nine. I did a little interview with host Emily Tan, and then began preparing for a 1 hour set.
The atmosphere was nice and relaxed, and I tried to reflect that in how my set sounded. No need to bang it out. Just play some cool groovy tunes to relax on a rooftop. Despite the temptations of an open bar, I had to resist the urge and head over to the Pacha hotel for a quick interview in their suite and then home to spend a late night in the studio, working on the GDJB WMC Special. In hindsight, it was probably a good idea to stay in on Wednesday night, because the rest of the week was complete chaos.
Thursday was my busy day. I got a hotel down in South Beach so I could easily attend all of my events during that day, evening and night without having to drive in rush hour. The day started with another panel appearance, this one about the architecture of a DJ set, which was a lot of fun to do because everyone really had great questions and everyone seemed very interested in the answers the panelists and I were giving. Afterwards some lunch and meetings with the guys from Armada and David Lewis Productions, and to the hotel for a nap and a shower before getting ready to attend the IDMA ceremony that evening. Little did I know that it would be an event I will remember for the rest of my life.
I have to be honest with you guys and say how humbled I was to receive the award for Best American DJ, and I still feel that way two weeks later. I felt very nervous going up to accept the accolade and having to make a speech in front of so many friends, peers and industry members. You could put me in an arena to perform in front of 40,000 people, and I still would have been less nervous than that Thursday night. So once again, I want to sincerely thank you all for the support. To me, winning the award doesn’t mean that I’m the best at something or that I’m better than the other people who were nominated. All it does is show me that there are many of you out there who share the same vision of trance that I do, and that is a very special feeling indeed. Like I always say, we are growing and sharing this journey all together.
The night continued into the small hours at Parkwest for another fun gig, and once that was done, I went back to the hotel to pack my things and drive home. I prefer waking up in my own bed every chance I get since I spend so many nights in a hotel as it is.
The focus then shifted to Saturday, and to the Ultra Music Festival. I was faced with quite a difficult task there, because it was only a 1 hour set, and it was at 1 in the afternoon. You have to prepare differently for festival sets, because your set is almost like a shop window advertising what you are about in such a short space of time. In saying that, I had a lot of fun because the crowd got there early and were really eager from the get-go.
We wrapped up the Conference week on Sunday with a little get-together at my house. The guys from Cosmic Gate (Bossi and Claus) came over along with Mike (Elevation) and his girlfriend. We grilled, hung out by the pool, and even managed a little battle of the Germans in a game of fussball!
From Sunday until Tuesday of last week, my time was dedicated to rest and recovery, and going to the gym. I didn’t even want to power up the studio, just take a little break and prepare for the gigs that lay ahead. A few minor basketball injuries to report this week – I got an elbow to the side of the head going for the rebound in a pickup game and saw stars most of the day on Monday, and on Tuesday I got a huge bruise on my wrist from when we lowered the basketball hoop in my driveway and decided to have a slam dunk contest.
On Wednesday morning, I got the GDJB World Tour show compiled together and headed off to the airport, to fly to my old home town of so many years, Phoenix. When I landed, I met up with my brother and headed immediately to the US Airways Center to catch the Phoenix Suns hosting the Houston Rockets. We made it there at halftime. It was fun getting to see the battle between Shaq and Yao Ming. Any Suns win always brightens my mood, and they delivered on Wednesday. Unfortunately, they got blown out on Sunday in Dallas and last night officially eliminated from the playoffs. A very disappointing year for my Suns.
After the game I had just enough time to go to the hotel, get cleaned up and head out to Cream Stereo Lounge for the first time. It’s a brand new venue that only opened in January, and it is run by my friend Thomas Turner and the Giant guys who take care of me for all of my Southern California club gigs. The gig was so much fun because so many people who used to go to The Works, which is a club I was resident at for 7 years in Arizona, came out. Even some of the bouncers from back in the day came out.
Every time I go back to Arizona, there are always so many nostalgic moments. Last time I played out there, I rented a car and drove to my old house in Chandler. As you guys will have read in the last blog, the Dakota alias is based on the street I used to live on. Just like Miami, it is like a homecoming for me when I play in Arizona, and I really enjoyed playing for so many familiar faces.
Thursday was a trip east to North Carolina and to the Charlotte Forum nightclub. My brother was joining me on this round of trips, so it was great to have someone to hang with during the travel. I played in Charlotte last September and it was really fun, but Thursday night was even better. It was a very intimate experience. The DJ booth was so close to the crowd; everyone could shake your hand and show their cellphone where they had written song requests. Charlotte may not have the international recognition for clubbing worldwide compared to other US cities, but their enthusiasm for the scene always makes it a very welcome visit in my tour schedule. Plus, there is nothing like southern hospitality. Not much I remember about the rest of the night in Charlotte, but I do remember someone inviting me over to their house to cook me some real southern grits. I love grits, but from what I remember, I just went back to my hotel room, raided the minibar and ate all of the dried fruit and nuts.
Sadly, a gig I was due to play on Friday at El Paso in Texas was cancelled just as I was leaving to go to the airport on Wednesday. Unfortunately, due to unfortunate circumstances, the decision was made due to a shooting outside the club a week before. I feel very bad for all the people who were expecting me at the show. A lot of you had been emailing me and messaging me during the week saying how much they were looking forward to the gig. I hate missing out on events, so I hope that the situation does get resolved and the gig can be rescheduled at some point in the future. I know El Paso is going through some rough times with what is going on across the border in Juarez, but I will make every effort to make up the date as soon as everyone thinks it is safe to do so.
Because the gig on Friday was cancelled, we flew to Washington DC a day early. Unfortunately all the flights into DC were fully booked, so we flew into Baltimore and took a 1.5 hour drive to Washington DC in the middle of Friday rush hour traffic. On the long ride in, I was able to listen to President Obama’s speech being delivered live from France. I think that we can be all proud of the start he has made to his term. I am not into politics at all, but I, just like millions of other young people, are inspired by Obama. He is a real leader who provides inspiration just through the power of his voice alone. I thought it was really awesome he took time out to pick a bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament a few weeks ago – and he predicted the winner!
Since I had friday night off, I took advantage of it. We went out to dinner at a great place in DC called Lima and then out to a club that is run by my good friend Pete Mutso, called Ultra Bar. It was their anniversary party and they had Breakfast playing in the lower level and at the top level they had DJ Kay Jay, who was a Playboy bunny mixing the tunes. Now I am a big fan of Breakfast, his new track “Remember” is amazing, but come on…. I did what most guys would do and went upstairs and listened to the trainwrecks and hip hop booty music of DJ Kay Jay. I did go downstairs and hang with Breakfast for a bit though, but after his set was over it was back upstairs.
I woke up Saturday and we walked around DC checking out the usual tourist stuff. Walked to the White House, then over to the Lincoln Memorial, and then attempted to walk to the Capitol. We got about halfway and decided that enough was enough and went back to the hotel for a nap. I thought it was amazing though to stand at the Lincoln Memorial looking towards the Capitol on the exact spot that Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I Have a Dream” speeches. That for me was the highlight of the afternoon.
A nice long nap and some dinner, and I was ready for the night. I love playing at Glow, and they have moved back to their old location at Fur Nightclub, from Ibiza nightclub that they held their nights at the last 2 times I played for them. Fur reminds me of Space in Miami the way the DJ booth is set up. I like that. The funniest thing is that there is a ledge in the back of the booth, and one time I was jumping around, acting goofy and hit my head on it and had a lump for 2 days. The crowd is really up for a good time at Glow, and they are really loud.
I think it was a great night. I played Dakota style progressive tracks early on and then built it up into some melodic techy tunes. One of the top moments of the night was when I played Rafael Frost – Red, and then Lange’s remix of Floating Beyond. The crowd really went for it and it was the tipping point of the night, the moment that the party got crazy. This visit to Glow had me skipping the after parties and going back to the hotel and chill. I usually wind up in some random location in the city, not knowing where I am or how to get back to the hotel when I go there. You may have seen pictures on some of Glow’s forums. I was demonstrating my hula-hoop skills with bands of glow sticks last time and did not know there were cameras around.
Sunday I woke up and flew back to Miami, and spent the evening outside by the pool relaxing.
This week, the Coldharbour studios reopened again and I got back to business. I started work on a new remix which I’m really excited about, and all will be revealed very soon. I took some time out on Monday night to watch the NCAA Championship game, but other than that, I have been extensively spending my time in the studio preparing for the next couple of weeks on the road.
I’m really excited about what I have in store this weekend, playing at three of my favorite cities in the entire world. On Friday, we continue the Gallery residency at Ministry of Sound in London, then on Saturday I’m back in Chicago at the awesome Vision. But the main event will be this Sunday, at Bal en Blanc in Montreal.
As you guys will know from the past couple of Global DJ Broadcast shows, I was asked to remix the official theme to Bal en Blanc this year, entitled “Dressed in White”. I’m playing a 3 hour set on Sunday, and at the end of it, we are going to perform it live. Everyone knows about how much I rave about the Montreal people and the scene, so playing at my first Bal en Blanc event is going to be very special. I will share my memories with you all next week.
And with that, I think you are all caught up. They are about to serve dinner and then after I have to do this video for Armin’s ASOT 400 party and have not had the time to do it, so that is on my list of things to do on this flight. The attendents have been keeping my wine glass full, so the video may be a bit of mess, but I will do my best to keep it together. If you see the video online, of me in an airplane talking about ASOT 400, then now you have a little behind the scenes picture.
3 glasses of wine in high altitude…. Camera, Action, Roll-em! Hope you all have a great weekend!