April 1, 2009

DJ activity update 09 – Ruta Maya

Filed under: As a DJ — daz76 @ 3:39 am

A few months ago you may remember that I was on the rampage to become a professional DJ once again. You see in my DJ heyday in NYC every bar, club, coffee shop, you name it, had turntables and payed cash. It was awesome. You had to have some skills or a look or something to bring to the table and I had old school skills. I had a regular job too, four days a week at a specialty musical instrument store in downtown Manhattan. We opened at 11 AM and we would all be dragging ass until someone made the trek for Chinatown iced coffee, the best in the world.

Those were the days. I’m going to write about all that NYC stuff soon, but for now I’m just saying, as far as being a DJ goes in Austin Texas 2009 it’s not NYC 1999. BTW I played a club gig NYE 1999 and yes I did play the song. It was great.

OK yeah, I made some inroads a few months ago with the people that run a bunch of the high end clubs in downtown Austin, you know the cheesy bottle service, soulless extravagance, house music. I always believed that I could do positive things in that atmosphere. Like sneaking in a little bit of consciousness in a nice sugar coated way. I still want to bring my version of club music downtown, but for now I found something else. I’ll get back with those dance club folks soon, I have unfinished business in that realm.

About a month ago I decided to stop by Ruta Maya on South Congress to see what they had going on DJ wise and they guy behind the counter told be that they did a dub night on Mondays. I had to meet with a musician and decided to see if he could meet me there on a Monday to check out the scene. I liked what I saw and after the meeting I spoke with the sound guy about playing. He said, “Bring some records and you will probably play, bring turntables and you will definitely play”. The following week I loaded my Technics 1200 turntables (man I love those fucking things)  into the car and headed off to Ruta Maya with a bag full of ancient reggae and cutting edge dubstep. When I showed up I was introduced to Dreadbeard, the founder of the night. very nice guy who lives up to his name. he told me to hang back and that I could play a bit later. When I did get on I was nervous, shaking. There was hardly any one in the place but I was still very nervous. DJing is not like riding a bike – it’s a skill that needs to be practiced and honed, at least that’s how I see it, and I hadn’t played out in a long time.

Hmmm. I pretty much channeled my nervous energy and shot laser beams of dub into every body’s brain and the cute tattooed girl that was working the bar gave me props by suggesting I had “Mad skills”.  She immediately became my barometer behind the decks. I decided then and there that if she’s wobbling around behind the bar while I’m playing then I’m doing it right. Even when I was in New York I always played to the bartenders over the crowd. When you are a DJ the bartender can be your best friend in the world, not only for the free booze, but for the inside information about the patrons, management, money, and other potential DJ threats. That’s not an issue here, because not a whole lot of guys are clamoring to rock Ruta Maya on a Monday night. Everyone knows Monday nights suck, but Monday is where you can experiment, practice, and most importantly make connections with others who care enough about what they are doing to get out on Monday nights as if it were Friday.

I’ve been doing the gig for three weeks now and it’s been great. Dreadbeard brings the turntables and all I have to bring is my headphones,records, and needles. Dread plays a mix of dub, dance hall, and electro,  and he brings a very considered, bass heavy and experimental sound. You are as likely to hear Aphex Twin or Kraftwerk as you are King Tubby’s. Carles is the other DJ, an Italian guy well versed in minimal dub and underground techno the likes of which generally come from Berlin. He’s using a computer and a program called “Live” to mix in audio files and effects, creating a truly original dub mix. You are not going to see or hear this anywhere else in Austin on a weekly basis. It’s going down, Carles’ take is %100 unique.

Um, it’s all good, I’m a DJ again. I can’t say that I’m a professional DJ, but I can say with confidence that I’m a DJ that is very professional. Going out on Monday is strictly for the industry people or the adventurous and I like it that way. The random folks that do show up are exactly who I want to play for, people who want to hear something new, different, and on a quality sound system. On that note I have to add that there is no DJ booth at Ruta Maya. we play from the stage with full stage monitoring at volume, while the house system is kept under control of the vigilant sound man Kurt. point being that in the room the music is loud but not so much so that you have to compete for conversation, yet for us on stage it feels like being onstage at Madison Square garden it’s so loud. I love that, and in my experience it’s a rare opportunity to have that kind of monitoring.

Last night they recorded about 45 minuets of my set and I have it in my possession for distribution. I’m making copies of it now and anyone reading this who wants one I will mail it to you happily.

In the meantime you can check out my original music for a taste of what’s going down:


It’s inevitable that I’m going to be writing more about this stuff because things always happen when you are a DJ, even a Monday night DJ. I was never writing before so I will certainly be looking at this whole thing as a story unfolding, because that’s what it is. Should be interesting and here’s the info about the gig;

Dub Transistor

Every Monday night with DJ Dreadbeard, Carles, and Darren Ryan

Ruta Maya

3601 South Congress Avenue

Austin Texas 78704

No cover


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