The Greatest Prince

Posted: April 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

I don’t know how else to express my grief and joy regarding the level up of the greatest musician of my generation: Prince.

Here’s some freshly ripped DJ-Only vinyl for the celebration. Megamixes made of Diamonds and Pearls and Raspberry Berets. UPDATE: Added the best Prince mix I ever did hear; DJ Lurk fans can find it on Volume 4, Disc 2, Track 12.

This is for the real Prince fans; his #1 is Summer Rose, without question.

Music is my Project Management

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have a vendor / trusted advisor who casually mentioned the context of “rhythm” when it comes to communication. I had an epiphany; this was the word I was looking for to solve problems. The rhythm of comm — either you WILL dance or you won’t — it is your choice. The rhythm of communication is the key to successful business, but you have to be open to all types of music. Slavery Gets Shit Done - T-Shirt Hell

Music is a form of project management. BPM, lyrics, style, tone, flavor, genre, presence — if you are conditioned to rhythm to comprehend urgency, and focused on what to get done, you will move the ball forward. Music is a universal language that gets shit done. Slave to the music, as Grace Jones would advise.

Everyone does this naturally, but it still needs to be said: tune your music towards what you want to get accomplished. Halt your habit of just throwing on your latest favorite and then adjusting to that composition: DJ for yourself and then turn it up; put your headphones on and then get to work. Wave people off — get in your zone and get that shit accomplished. Then come up for air by taking your cans or earplugs off and breathe deep.

Grace-and-Arnold-ConanCommunication has a rhythm — make sure that your musical tastes influences those beats and melodies and lyrics. And then get shit done. Pull out your inspirational, high intensity favorites; put them in a playlist, and then focus on what you need to get done right now. Play it loud and ignore all of those distractions that are hovering around you like no-see-ums. I expect you’ll see immediate results once you get into the groove and then come up for air. Slave yourself to the music.

Governor Schwartzenegger and Ms Jones would agree, goofing around on the set of Conan the Destroyer — one of my favorite flicks — almost 30 years ago. Or, as Snap! would say from the early 90’s: “Rhythm is a Dancer“. Or take the same riff and get current in 2015 with Jeremih – Don’t Tell ‘Em. The upshot is this: make your music work for you; don’t just work for the music.

I am currently “under-employed” and consequently, I am in a state of amusement because I want to be productive. The last time I was in this situation almost seven years ago, I pumped hundreds of poems that I had written into this WordPress blawg because I am a poet. Present tense, I wanted to make the best use of all of this free time, so I spent countless idle hours getting all of my DJ Lurk’s MP3 mixes online, because I am also a DJ. I clearly remember when I dropped poetry as an expression mechanism and graduated to recording sequences of songs because these sonic paintings expressed my headspace much better than writing in spiral-ring notebooks. It’s been a while since I captured the creative expression of my DJ Lurk persona, but it is humbling that I have almost seven straight days of mixes if you play them start-to-finish.

DJLurkLogo

Providing these sounds to the public is a cathartic, selfish action. As a human being that is capable of influencing the world around me, I find it to be of the utmost importance to provide a measurable value: this time, it is DJ Lurk, my army-of-one alter ego that mixes music instead of writing poetry. The technology has caught up to where it is simple to post an MP3 recording that captures a shitload of hard work. I have already spit about how important it is to Press Record and capture your own efforts. This is because you are the product.

Brother-and-Mallory-Battlemat

DJ Lurk’s biggest fans: Brother and Mallory.

There are three types of people: past tense, present tense, and future tense. Everyone can operate within those categories to a certain level of competence, but everyone defaults to their most comfortable worldview. Typically, I am a creature of present tense; however, when I am faced with my own musical selections recorded in the infinitely replicatable format of digital MP3s, they are messages to yourself from the past. No one is a better subject matter expert on this media than I am: what was I thinking? Where is my mind?

It is way too easy to take a shitload of pictures on your iPhone of your children, pets, loved ones, food plates, vistas, and your experiences — it’s now getting worse, turning into videos and Vine loops — and YOU NEVER LOOK AT THEM AGAIN. The social media drive to post unadulterated crap all of the time is horrific. 21st Century humans collect tons of media almost reflexively; it is the art and action of going back through it and framing it with times, dates, tags, and explanations that will make that media worthwhile. Otherwise it is a waste of audience time and QVC will not invite you back as a vendor. You have to manage your own brand.

With my newfound temporary freedom, I have looked back on my output of product, and I am thrilled to build out the DJ Lurk side of this WordPress blawg with all these recorded dreams of being a professional DJ — DJ Lurk, if you will. This is adding hours of product — original content, if you will — to the Virtual Lilypad, and the effort reinforces that elusive immortality sought by the Froggacuda.

At the top of the page, roll over the DJ Lurk item, and explore the madness and mayhem.

The Way It Is

Posted: August 20, 2015 in Music, Rant
Tags: , , , , ,

Pus & Zero B0y — The Way It Is

Download: PUS & Zero Boy – Adventures in Rhyme – 04 – The Way It Is

I turned this in as my final essay to a Student Colloquium at CCS / UCSB on Female African-American Literature in 1993. Last male standing in the class, this effort got me an A+. Great Depeche Mode inspired synth solo. Nothing has changed: this track holds up well today in 2015.

I was born down south San Diego
left all alone so I got switched to the home
of Mom and Dad – they’re not my real parents
but they’re the ones who loved me best, y’all.
so I made a lot of friends through trial and error.
I learned the hard way not to think or care
about foolish opinions that don’t belong to me.
I try to be happy and who I want to be,
now I’m not saying that I’m a hard lucker
and I’m certainly not a big bad motherfucker.
when I get a lot of money, I tend to share
and when I get real drunk I like to say [yeah!] – beastie boys
I’m never too busy to get busy
and a lot of my friends get busy with me.
I don’t know everything so I go collect knowledge;
I went through high school to end up in college.
I caught a cool class from my good friend Sara
she told me of the problems I should work to take care of.
things aren’t equal in the land of the free
and I know that it isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.
I live my life as best as I can;
I smile and say hello to my fellow man.
I’m not going to tell you how hard I hit,
all the women I’ve been with or any of that shit.
I don’t pride myself on being a jerk
‘cause like Kool Moe Dee [I go to work] – Kool Moe Dee
this world I’m in ain’t the perfect place to live
but I’m not going to keep it just the way it is.

Alright,
maybe I’m weak – I get beat in a fistfight
but before I get up I’ve begun to write.
I pick up my glasses and back home I go
‘cause next week I’ll dis you on the radio.
I’m not the type of guy to reply with violence
but like Bell Hooks it’s hard to keep my silence;
to tell you like it is: ignorance is hell,
so pick up a book and educate yourself.
I can’t stand to see you dismiss my sisters –
think you can rape her just ‘cause you kissed her?
listen very carefully to the words of this song –
you’re not only ignorant – you’re wrong.
now you go home and you beat your wife
and I’ll cheer my head off when you meet her knife.
you haven’t really recognized their rights yet
and you’re wondering why they seem upset?
women cross lines in all races and creeds;
a little respect is all they need.
I make sure my mother gets across on a green light
and I make sure my girlfriends get home at night.
I learn and I write, make music then preach
I’ll get a college degree to continue to teach.
I turn on my mind and mix me a drink
to write something funky to make you think.
I’m not always sure of what I can say
‘cause the PC strictures make my hair turn grey.
some stuck out of luck dumbfuck says it’s none of my biz
but you know it is, that’s the way it is.

(Analog solo a la pus and zero boy)

I light my pipe, sit back and kick back
because I know I just pumped out a fresh track.
I’ve got some homework but I know I’ll be done soon
then I pop in my tape and I [pump up the volume] – MARRS
sometimes I get drunk, bounce checks, and get high,
think about what I want to say and I sigh,
I can’t seem to get it out right through my teeth,
a sharp bladed dagger that’s stuck in its sheath.
because other people don’t let me live
I’m getting plenty of time just learning to forgive.
I guess I’m just waiting for the world to get wise:
talk to your friends and you’ll realize
that I’m not out for world peace,
just tolerance, understanding – some relief at least.
I take time to turn on and tune in,
writing white raps with a big old grin
because I’m slurring you can guess that I’m sauced
but at least my message is coming across.
I get funky on a track ‘cause I’m badder than Cheese Whiz
want to know why?
that’s just the way it is.

[inspired by Sara Seinberg — thanks to Bruce Hornsby]

It has been a hot minute since I have fired up the ol’ WordPress blawg and wrote myself a letter. This effort has an audience of one: myself, and once you accept that, it gets easier. In this feed- and filter-driven 24 hour news cycle of technology, when you are staring at a blank page, it is asking you to be creative and say something. Say anything. It is much better on a cosmic, spiritual scale to create content than to passively watch the social network feeds go by.

I used to write poetry and stories to capture what I was feeling. This “blog” is full of it; when I was unemployed I kept busy (because ADHD) by pumping tons of those “witless driblets” into this online database called WordPress from a stack of hand-written journals that I subsequently burned in the mountains and the deserts in campfires. They’re all now indexed Internet content and ashes. Ribbit. Fuck you. Enjoy.

Once upon a time I built pages for music I composed, wrote, played, produced, rapped and sang on. Labored over, instead of going to class or doing homework, I caught them on magnetic tape and transferred them to a computer. I figured out how to embed those songs here with a play button. I still have a couple of handwritten cassette tapes I can refer to for source material and memories. That includes a page for M0nster Zer0, a band I was instrumental in–ha, ha–when I was in high school.

I remember making DJ Lurk compilations every year for 15 years, many times multiple disc sets, of my favorite music and giving them out by the dozens for free. Custom, handmade printed paperboard CD case insets, printed on an inkjet, and CD-Stomping labels on them. Those comps keep me grounded, and company, because you should always make your own mix tapes.

I used to record two hour sessions of vinyl-spinning to capture all of my music collection the way that I heard it blending and surfing together. That’s how it was on Pete Tong’s Essential Mix program on Radio One: a two-hour uncensored journey. I made this effort because the Woodweaver gave me a Sony DAT recorder that could do two hours per tape; that was hot tech at the time, and I wanted to use it. There are 12 Essential Mix @ Mordenkainen’s Parlour tracks, labelled with exact dates. They have incredible power to return me to years ago.

More recently, with a MacBook Pro and a shitty pair of USB controllers attached to Traktor, I would record DJing live at the Edgemont Compound, the Isle of Lesbos, Below the Chateau, or at a Dirty Little Mansion. This content has names and maybe rough dates, but I was asked to show up and spin, so I did. I get to wonder who this particular character is, because I can’t believe that I produced that. But it is undeniably The Froggacuda.

So there it is as evidence: a poem, a mixtape, an occasion: captured somehow so that I have to go back and verify that it actually happened for my audience of me. Memories that are fleeting ghosts. Content that is hard and unrelenting to experience again and try to put into perspective in the present tense.

Is this thing still on…?

You Betta Recognize

You Betta Recognize

I used to rock a Kermit the Frogg icon that had some iron-on 80’s T-shirt lettering at the top that simply said “you betta recognize”. No exclamation point or nothing. Kermit has some sort of Muppet hand-gesture going on, and it’s just delightful. Recognition: think about it. I’d like to recognize this phenomenon called Dubstep. It is–apparently–a relatively new and popular type of electronic music that has made its way into commercials and Hot Topic and youth culture in a way that I have not witnessed in a while. Little does the average Dubstep fanatic (or Skrillex-only brostep lover) know that this style of music has been around since the mid-1990’s. Vanity Fair is bemoaning that culture has been stuck in a rut for the last two decades, but I think that they are just not looking hard enough for novelty in this sea of multimedia we all swim in.

Those of you who have been to the Man-Cave known as Mordenkainen’s Parlour in person know that I have a lot of loudspeakers. And I have full control over the effects and equalization that eminates from these units. Kleptus, as I write this, is sanding the Saltillo tiles he laid upstairs at Edgemont as I write. Without playing music, the grinding sounds coming from through my roof sounded way too much like these 60 BPM Hybrid-esque breaks that have rocketed to public consciousness.

I am going to embed the video that I think was the springboard to Dubstep for me. I am a music fanatic; a DJ, even. I still marvel at these Video Disc Jockeys that can real-time juggle slices of video as they are mixing good tracks together–it is beyond me. However, I subscribe to the four elements of hip hop so fundamentally that I apply that litmus test to things I listen to when I detect an entire subculture developing in front of my ears. When I saw the dedication of Marquise Smith to a performance of a single track that he loved so much he believed in it, then you can understand why Dubstep is here to stay. Witness this. Recognize.

This reminds me of Mr Fantastic,  Robert Muraine out of LA who auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance? and was subsequently featured on an Ikea commercial. I really think that the expression of dance actually adds the appropriate video element to an audio element that I already am entranced with. As a DJ, I always ask myself this question: how would I dance to this? It’s a fundamental concept if you are running a dance floor. It’s actually where all good DJ decisions come from. I remember in the phenomenal documentary SCRATCH, Africa Bambaatta would just hand unknown records to his DJ and say “the break is about two thirds from the start”. Boom. Play it. Trust. Recognize.

That is musical teamwork. Think Run DMC or Beastie Boys and how fast they can trade rhymes back and forth. Have you ever witnessed freestyling rappers beyond, say, Eminem in 8 Mile? Switch gears to DJs. Now shift again to (break) dancing. If I can extend you one more time, here is the least represented of the four elements of hip hop: (graffiti) artists. Speak, Mix, Dance, Art. This is how I judge musical culture.

Tyler Rae--PEACE!

Tyler Rae--PEACE!

I am getting older–I turned 40 in 2011–and I am trying not to become calcified as an “old guy”. I shamelessly use my godchildren–Tyler, Taylor, and Bélen–as Soundwave’s “little friends” to get a real idea of what is going on in their lives as a present tense report of what they are facing in this minute in America, and like all the brilliant young minds I have seen lately, are NOT CONCERNED about the future. Because they have not lost faith in their elders yet.

Tyler Rae has a buddy who makes Dubstep music, and frankly, he is pretty damn good; I am encouraging her to use her formidable skills to manage this artist.

Taylor has been crushing it in both his schoolwork and on the basketball court.

Taylor--LAKERS!

Taylor--LAKERS!

Bélen earned $10 from me by selling me a cat scratcher that she proved that my über-kitty Brother would actually use and love–after I stepped her through the process of selling product at outrageous prices and then applying a “family discount”. Kleptus and I then showed her the Marquise Smith video and gave her an impromptu (albeit poorly demonstrated) lesson in dancing to Dubstep in my living room.

My lovely niece Michaela just brought my first “blood” nephew into the world: Breslin Franklin Geddes, who is by all pictures and reports a bundle of joy. I asked when I could start sending video games and Lego kits.

I actually receive quite a bit of passive-aggressive shit that I don’t have kids of my own; hey, I don’t need them–I have plenty of responsibilities to insure these life forms generated by my friends and family grow up happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Belen at Sheep's Canyon

Belen at Sheep's Canyon

What does this have to do with knighting Dubstep a relevant musical phenomenon that is worth paying attention to? There are a couple of reasons, but the most important is that Dubstep is the product of young people. Music is its own language, like math–although I have always been better at music than algebra or speaking Spanish–and as a language, it has dialects, is a creative endeavor, and is constantly morphing. Dance is a physical interpretation of a piece or pieces of music. Playing music, whether a live instrument (and that includes turntables, people), singing, or pre-recorded–hell, even clapping or whistling along–is an act of creation. I grew up doing yardwork with my dad, and when engrossed in a task, he would idly whistle. This is his equivalent of Michael Jordan hanging his tongue out of the side of his mouth when he was contemplating just how to dunk on an outmatched opponent. It made the chores go by faster, and fostered my personal philosophy that everyone has a soundtrack going on in their head-space. Some of us also have a laugh track and a sound effects track as well. I’m so in love with media that this is the best way that I can describe what ADHD is like. All of this is going on in my head, all of the time. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Dubstep accurately represents how gritty, slow motion, and ridiculous the present tense is. DJ Lurk firmly believes that the BPM meter has flipped: we have had enough of trying to communicate music at ever-faster beats-per-minute. 165+ BPM craziness has been around since the drum machine was distributed to the masses in a programmable and affordable unit. For crying out loud, Google “Happy Hardcore” and try to dance to that. It was a mid-1990s staple. But now we have rolled over to the bottom of the BPM spectrum. This is a stroke of genius.

Dubstep is fundamentally SLOW. As in slow down. Look at Marquise Smith: he is interpreting everyday–nay, every MOMENT–life. He ties his shoes. He’s just waiting for a friend or public transport. All the while amusing himself–and us–with an incredible display of interpretive dance. You can WORK to Dubstep. Folding laundry–a task I loathe for some reason–becomes fun when listening to Dubstep. I mentioned (and linked) Robert Muraine before; he’s a street performer from LA. Check out his audition for “So You Think You Can Dance”; spoiler: you betchya!

Muraine is not quite using Dubstep per se, but a parallel style that can sometimes be labelled as “Glitch”. Again, this is not exactly the type of club banger that you regularly hear on your normal 128-136 BPM dance circuit, yet talented dancers thrive when translating strange beat signatures, weird synthetic noises, and general wubwubwub. This stuff is not old people music; it is a blend of new, ever evolving technology with the oldest communication in the world: beats. And I find that there is almost no better way to understand the mindset of today’s youth than to figure out what they are listening to and how they dance to it.

It is possible that technology like samplers and drum machines makes our music lazy; a great 20 minute example of this is the Amen Break, which is the most popularly over-used sample in the history of music. On the other hand, I think that all of this tech allows for more freedom, more creativity, and the awesomeness of remixing and repurposing music. There is a whole movement of people who use loop pedals and effect units to do incredible things with just their voices as the only instrument they are playing, whether it is just straight beatboxing talent like Eklips or the jaw-dropping stylings of Hyperpotamus. Here’s a fan-made video set to Benny Benassi’s track Cinema remixed by the king of brostep, Skrillex, that was brought to my attention by the mighty Woodweaver.

For me, it is really all about dropping heavy-lidded into a sort of trance and almost seeing the composition; your body will then attempt to express this feeling through dance, through singing, through art, and through making your own music. Trust me, I still love the 80’s stuff I grew up on that was new and fresh and edgy, but there is no purpose in becoming trapped in your own set of oldies but goodies just because that is where you are most comfortable–and possibly nostalgic. Today’s youth culture is more vibrant than ever, and it is less frequently older generations that push the boundaries of sound. They used to say that teenagers built the original World Wide Web because they were the only ones with enough disposable time and passion to actually figure out HTML. The same thing goes with music. And art. And dance, and song. Pay attention! Recognize!

The OTHER Virtual Lilypad

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Tumblr
Tags: , , ,

…is on Tumblr. http://www.tumblr.com/blog/froggacuda