19363 posts since MMVI

Claude Vonstroke Tour blog week 3

Nov 26 2009

watergate

Week 3 – Berlin – Friday @ Watergate

Berlin track of the night –

DJ Marky’s drum n’ bass remix of “Aundy” from the album. What a surprise to me that this would be the track in Berlin of all places.  I would have expected this in Manchester or Bristol but not Berlin. Goes to show we had a great crowd that night.

Berlin track of the night “Aundy” DJ Marky & S.P.Y. remix (mp3 clip)

Berlin Overview –

There is something comforting to me about seeing the TV tower in Alexanderplatz and pulling into the East Berlin city center. Like many producers, I tested out the move to Berlin two summers ago and lived there for 3 months. Although i made many great friends and had an amazing time, San Francisco definitely called me back. West Coast for life!

When i got to the apartment where we were all staying, Maetrik, Tanner Ross and I discussed the value of living in Berlin. The guys seemed convinced (and quite annoyed with the idea) that US Djs have it much harder these days unless they move to Berlin. And that it was possible to make it in Berlin solely on DJing if you did drugs with all the right people and and acted cool.  My answer to this was – yeah MAYBE, but there really is no easy way to make it. Those who do not earn it the right way will quickly be discovered and replaced with real talent. It is just as valuable to be from somewhere and represent something that isn’t like what everyone else is doing. Berlin for DJs is like Los Angeles for actors. It is hard to get any perspective when you are living inside the machine. I find it much easier to sit outside of the machine and press buttons.

Even so, Berlin has it’s many many charms as a city that never sleeps. Just to show how many dance music producers live in Berlin – the early stages of our party at Watergate looked more like a producers convention than a show for fans. Sebo K, Jesse Rose, Heidi, Seth Troxler, Jay Haze, Sascha Braemer, Dan Caster, plus all of our people playing, Maetrik, Catz n Dogz, P.toile, Justin Martin, Tim Green, Voodeux – it was like a world Summit of house DJs. And then just imagine all of these people have agents and managers and friends who are also in the business. It was insane. This was the second time we had done our event with mothership on the water floor and dirtybird on the main floor. But from 12:30 to 2 am i couldn’t move an inch because i was trapped in non-stop conversations.

Justin Martin graciously took the warm-up set before me but there was nothing gracious about the music. He had it slithering and shaking in there by 2. The crowd was super primed by the time i got on.  A great set by Justin for sure. All his new bombs blew up in the right spots.  Here’s one for example…

Justin Martin – Robot Romance – dirtybird (mp3 clip)

Wishing i had a chance to see more of everyone’s sets, I went on and started housey, quickly moving through the arsenal to panty dropping bass tracks. The best part of Berlin is that the crowd is usually highly educated and can handle it if you experiment a little bit. I played some things i wouldn’t dare bring out in a place like London.  The room went off and everyone had a great time. It was like throwing a party with all your friends. How could it be bad?

RUNNING OUT ON THE PARTY

Justin and I had to run out of the club right at 5am, the minute my set finished in order to make our flights to the next gigs. I didn’t like the fact that i had to leave my own label event well before it was over and i somewhat sabotaged my own departure. My self fulfilling prophecy unfolded once I got to the airport and saw I was on Easy Jet. I never check my record bag but today i got a particularly bitchy check in attendant who wanted me to check my records AND my laptop and everything. She wanted to weigh it, measure it, and size it. Now i can usually pull some tricks and get around this but not if they are really on me about it. (see top 6 list below**) But my bags are just way to heavy if i get truly busted.

All i could think about was the main room at Watergate going insane to Maetrik while this old Easy Jet lady was telling me my DJ bag isn’t getting on the plane as a carry-on.

As she came from behind her desk to physically measure the dimensions of my hand luggage I totally cracked. Snatching up both my bags I very rudely said “fuck you, have fun with your ruler” and walked out of the airport. (maybe slightly drunk at this point and a little too rude.)  I got straight back in a cab back to Watergate. I walked back into the main room as Maetrik finished and got back on the decks for another 2 hours. Worth it…yes!

Week 3 – Rome – Saturday @ Goa

Track of the night – Stop Lyin

A weird one for track of the night in my sets. A super housey record, rooted in hip hop. But it has a great, classy build up and this room was all about the build ups.

Rusty James – Stop Lyin’ -  mothership (mp3 clip)

Rome – Goa Club

Luckily my agent was able to put together a connection filled flight out of Berlin to save my ass and I still made it to Rome. Needless to say i arrived in Italy dead tired. I went straight to sleep but was woken up by my phone blaring endlessly. I finally picked it up and on the other end was a National Dutch Radio live interview! Fuck! I forgot of course.

In 10 seconds I had to get my head into being cheerful and upbeat, but my voice just sounded like Froggy from the “little rascals.” Grasping for straws and knowing my interview sucked I told the deejay my music was going to make people in Holland want to have sex on the dance-floor. Then i cringed and realized what i just said. So lame! But the guy played along and actually made it funny by commenting, “the way you sound right now I really don’t want to have sex on the dance-floor.”

Oh mang…interviews.

I soon went to dinner with my driver/host, Simone. This guy was a real Italian, really funny and cool without even trying to be. He also just happened to love San Francisco so I instantly bonded with him. One of the best lines that actually left his lips during the night was… “When i was in San Francisco last summer I fucked about 20 girls. I’m not kidding.” This kind of thing would sound insane coming from most people but I actually believed him. He told me the amazing tale of traveling by himself to New York which was “much too fast for me..” and ending up in San Francisco where he rented a room in a building on Polk St. not far from my office.  He said that he knew everyone in his building within 72 hours of arrival due to a half pound bag of weed he bought. He said, “my room was like a shop.” (Imagine the thick Italian accent and the story is better.)

Simone found it completely amazing that people in America would stop and give you directions and that some girls actually would talk to you before you talked to them. This is the kind of guy you wish you knew in high school.

The sound system in Rome was fantastic and my set really worked for the most part. I have to admit i drank a little too much vodka and smoked a little too much weed so it’s a little blury. (there’s goes my presidential campaign.) I ended up out on the dance-floor dancing to who knows what, so for sure i was loaded. Simone ended up dropping me at the airport at 9am. Somehow i boarded and woke up at my connection in Washington DC. All in all, too much fun for an old man like me.

TOP 7 ways for DJs to sneak extra luggage and overweight carry-ons on a plane. Airport restrictions have become the DJs biggest nightmare because if you ever check in your music there is always a chance you will not be working that night. I find this to be an unacceptable risk so i have a strong repertoire of sneaky ways to get heavy Dj bags on the plane. It’s all about preparation and knowing the rules before you get to the desk. if you are more prepared than them you can win this war 99% of the time.

  1. Take all the records and cds out of the bag and hand them to the promoter or driver. Check into the flight with your bag weighing 3 pounds. Once you get the boarding pass, reload the bag with all the heavy stuff.
  2. Do the same thing as step one but do not even show them the bag. (have the promoter hold it for you.)
  3. Roll your bag as close to the counter while the person ahead of you is still checking in. This way, when it is your turn you only look like you have your laptop/backpack item. Since the counters are all very high at the airport the check-in people usually cannot see your bag, they can only see if you roll something up to the counter or not.
  4. Always use your status. Even if you aren’t a “premiere exec” or whatever, always make an attempt to check in the business/first class line. Usually they don’t have time to relegate you to the back of the other line and the business/first check-in people are trained to be much more lenient with the carry-on bag situation.
  5. This one requires dexterity and a cool head. Unzip the top of your Dj bag so that if they ask you to weigh it, you can lean down and quickly pull out the heaviest stack of vinyl or the huge cd wallet in one swift move. (and out of their line of sight.) Then put the bag on the scale with the one heavy bit hiding right in front of the desk. You have to be very quick and smooth but I have done this successfully.
  6. Be extremely confident and happy when checking in. No frowns our bad attitudes. You are this person’s new best friend and you would never lie to them. You are just a wholesome boy or girl from the midwest. They get so many sour faces at their job that if you are a breath of fresh air you could probably carry on a 400 pound iron anvil.