Confession: I’ve been in love with Kali Uchis since I heard the Drunken Babble mixtape (free download, by the way – no excuses). Not only is she a total babe and a style icon, she absolutely owns this captivating 60s soul meets hip-hop vibe. Kali Uchis hails from Virginia via Colombia and while we haven’t heard any new sounds from her as of late, she’s finally back with this video for “Know What I Want”, in which she lets us know she’s smarter than we think and she’s onto us. Hopefully we’ll hear this one on her forthcoming EP, Por Vida, due in early 2015.
So, exciting news! My friends The Clown Prince, DJ XO, and Grom of Dirty Sweaty Nasty are celebrating their 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY this Friday night and I wanted yall to get to know them a bit before you head out this weekend and wipe your brain clean of everything you’ve ever known. DSN is more than a fun DJ collective – it’s a lifestyle. These guys live it every day and ya know, one day that lifestyle might give you alcohol poisoning once or thrice but it’s all in the name of the game. DSN is all about lightening up, having a good time, and possibly doing something you’ll regret later in life.
Join them THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at Sweet Spot in DC starting at 9PM. The whole crew will be there in all of their intoxicating glory along with our friends Billy the Gent and Denman. You probably know Billy the Gent from this summer’s hottest moombahton hit “Vibrate” from his Vibrate EP. Or maybe he’s tattooed you over at Tattoo Paradise. Basically, if you’re in DC, you know Billy. And if you don’t, you need to. He’ll be hooking you up with the very best of moombahton all night. Denman, on the other hand, is our beloved Prince of Darkness. He hates the sun and unapologetically worships Satan but he’s one of the nicest dudes on the planet. He’ll be gettin’ ya down low with all that bass-ripping dubstep and some of the grimiest, dirty souf hip hop you’ve ever heard.
In addition to all these sweet tunes you’re gonna hear, DSN has hooked ya up with drink specials all night as well as automatic guestlist if you RSVP on the Facebook invite by 6PM on Friday. Save yourself $5 and put it towards some booze.
Think you’re too old to play with toys? Think again. For the past four years, Atomic Books, Hampden’s neighborhood comic book store, has challenged artists and toy aficionados alike to design their own original toy. It can’t just be any toy – there are some rules here. It has to be one of those vinyl templates, such as Kid Robot’s rounded, monkey-like Munny dolls or Toy2R Qees Mickey Mouse lookin’ figures. Basically, the challenge here is to take a blank template – a plain, undecorated vinyl figurine – and customize it into a unique creation that represents a specific artistic point of view.
These aren’t Little Johnny’s toys though. Vinyl art toys marry the symbolism and depth found in traditional paintings and sculptures with the playful, lightheartedness found in toys. These creations are such a departure from mass-produced, Milton Bradley-esque toys, leaning towards a more fascinating, one-of-a-kind type of toy. With such complex and finite details, a small child could never comprehend or even enjoy the level of creativity that went into the conception of the piece.
Enter Vinylmore, an annual competition where artists and creators of all kinds compete to create original masterpieces out of blank templates. Last year’s winner, “Ramen Head” (see above), designed by Jim Lasher and Ayumi Yasuda, was a Munny doll with a hollowed out head filled with Ramen soup, complete with noodles, a hard boiled egg, scallions, and pork. (I’m getting really hungry just thinking about it.) Ramen Head was also holding a pair of chopsticks and a beer. He was ready to get busy!
My friend, Peter Chang, also entered several figures into the competition last year – all Munny figures with their heads chopped off at ear-level and replaced with heavy artillery. One of my faves was called “Shermanside”, an army-green Munny with a photo of General Sherman from the Civil War on its lower half. Another fave, “Hello Munny”, was a cute, white and pink Hello Kitty-themed tank. Chang is entering some more creations into Vinylmore this year and while I don’t have all the details about what’s under his sleeve for the competition, here’s a sneak preview:
I’ve always known Chang to be this all-around artistic dude, mainly getting down with paint and canvas, but he’s all over the place. He’s a co-founder of the DC artists collective, No Kings Collective, and he’s always curating events with ReadysetDC. I heard he dances too. :) Luckily, Chang had some time in his busy schedule to talk to me about Vinylmore, why he’s so into big guns, and how to not be a whack artist:
Cool Breezy: What has your creative process been like during the creation of this year’s Vinylmore submission?
Peter Chang: I actually haven’t made a custom toy in a long time and I always loved participating in Vinylmore. So Vinylmore IV gave me a chance to get back into making custom toys. It was hard getting back into the groove of things so I stuck to what I was comfortable with. I get inspiration from robots and military vehicles so I decided to mix the two. For my first toy I used an Ashley Wood Bramble for a robot and the turret to an M4A3 Calliope and created a hybrid toy. The second toy I decided to experiment and use wood and stains. I’m not so sure how I feel about it… I’ll let the people at Vinylmore decide.
CB: Seeing the progression from last year’s submission to this year’s submission, you’ve departed from crisp colors and clean design towards a more grungy, darker feel, all while holding on to this specific artillery feel. Where does that military influence come from?
PC: I was an armor modeler when I was younger. I just lean towards a more military look when I make my toys. Plus guns are cool.
CB: How did you become interested in making toys? Is this something you only explore when it’s time for Vinylmore or is this something you play around with often?
PC: It started with a show called “Say Whaaat” in Washington DC. My friend had noticed that I made armor models so he told me I should try something new out. I did and I have been doing it ever since.
CB: What have you learned about being an artist in the DMV in the past year?
PC: It’s hard trying to make it as an artist… anywhere.. period.
CB: Have any advice for up and coming artists?
PC: Just stick to what you are good [at]… experimentation is always good but make sure you always go for that professional look/presentation. 9th Wonder once said, “Do different dope… Don’t do different whack.”
CB: What’s next? Where can we see more of your work in the area?
PC: I am always involved in different projects here and there… I honestly don’t know when I’m gonna go back to making another toy. Maybe next year for Vinylmore… maybe sooner. Who knows… In the meantime you can follow some of the events I throw @ http://www.readysetdc.com.
Vinylmore IV kicks off tonight at 7PM at Atomic Books in Hampden. All in attendance will get a chance to vote for the People’s Choice and the Atomic Books judges will also be voting for the Best in Show. Added bonus: there will be booze and Curbside Café will be outside serving up burritos all night. See you there.
(photo by Kyle Gustafson)
It’s time to pay homage to my favorite club in DC. U Street Music Hall is celebrating its One Year Anniversary this THURSDAY, March 17th! My friends and I made it out last year for their grand opening party and we’ll be there on Thursday to celebrate its First Birthday. If you haven’t rolled with us to U Hall yet, here’s the scoop on the venue, followed by a quick Q&A sesh with co-owner, DJ, and producer, WILL EASTMAN.
Technically, U Hall has six owners, but Will Eastman and Tittsworth are the two main dudes and they each have their own monthly dance parties here. Will Eastman’s Bliss dance party is usually every third or fourth Saturday of the month and Tittsworth’s party is usually around the first Saturday of the month. On all other nights, they strive to bring you the newest, freshest sounds out of DC and beyond.
U Street Music Hall (or U Hall for short) is not exactly a dive bar but not exactly one of the standard, uppity clubs you find all over DC either. You almost wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it. There are no flashy lights outside – just a black canopy with the signature white “U” on it. That’s all it really needs. It almost seems to regulate the attendees, weeding out the kids who are just looking for a place to rage from the kids who are coming for a specific purpose.
Some of these higher-scale (read: pretentious) DC clubs will charge a ridiculous cover ($25-$30), make you wait in line outside just so it looks like the club is God’s gift to club-goers and everybody is dying to get in (then you finally make it inside and it’s sparse with dancers), just so you can hear some Top 40 shit they play on the radio. Oh, and don’t forget the dress code – I dunno, you gotta wear your Sunday Best or something. Seriously, the most I’ve ever paid to get into U Hall was $10 (admittedly, I would even pay more because I love it that much) and there is no dress code. Wear whatever the hell you want! I’ve gone wearing dresses and skirts and I’ve also gone wearing Jordans and a tee. And they will never make you wait outside if it isn’t necessary. They’re all about getting you in there to experience all the latest in innovative dance music that they want you to hear.
And boy, they want you to hear it loud. The only question on U Hall’s FAQ page asks, “Is the sound system at U Street Music Hall really THAT good? Yes.” I remember one specific Thursday night at U Hall with the Trouble & Bass crew, Flinch, and Canblaster. I was coolin’ out with a friend and sitting on the back stage. All of a sudden, this booming, loud-ass bass rips through my entire body, literally coursing from my toes all the way up to my head. It was electrifying. I turned to my friend and all I could say (or more like scream) was “HOLY SHIT.” It’s crisp, clean, and it really is that loud. It melts faces. It moves your insides around, I swear. It is hands down, the best sound system I’ve ever heard. You have to come hear it for yourself. It’s an epic experience to be had. Check this video, which displays what the sound is truly capable of. SPOILER: It literally rips paper and moves water. Serious.
U Hall is so hospitable to its patrons, always taking care of us the best way they know how. The drinks are moderately priced, around $4 for a beer and up to $8 for a mixed drink. And with Tittsworth being the adventurous eater he is, it doesn’t come as a surprise that U Hall opened a kitchen for its hungry dancers and inebriates, serving exotic twists on traditional street food. It’s a small menu, ranging from the classic grilled cheese on Texas toast to Blisspop Bratwurst (Bratwurst stuffed with raspberry preserves, Swiss cheese, and hot sauce) to the infamous Pho Dog (an all-beef hot dog simmered in tasty pho broth, topped with bahn mi slaw, fresh cilantro, thai basil, hoisin sauce, and sriracha). Yummy, right?
Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:
- Located at 1115 U Street NW between 11th and 12th Sts; 300-person capacity, 1200 ft. hardwood dance floor over a cork cushion (they’re lookin’ out for your jointz), and 20,000-watt sound system. Two fully stocked bars (one near the entrance and one perpendicular to the DJ booth). There’s also a cheap coat check for the cold winter months.
- Some live bands have performed here (Ninja Sonik, OFWGKTA, Holy Ghost!) but U Hall primarily caters to the hip-hop and dance music crowd. Live shows happen early from 7-11pm and DJ party nights happen from 10-2 on weeknights and 10-3 on weekends.
- They recently changed their 18-and-over policy due to some douche-baggery, but it’s something that needed to happen. Basically, if you’re between 18-20 years old, you need to pre-purchase your tickets before the night of the event.
So anyway, I chatted with WILL EASTMAN and here’s what he had to say about keepin’ it real at U Hall, bringing you the newest sounds, and moshing to Nadastrom:
Cool Breezy: Opening a club is such an ambitious endeavor. What were the beginnings of U Hall like? Where did the inspiration come from?
Will Eastman: We wanted to create a space that would be our ideal spot to DJ and hang out. We spent a lot of time talking about the details, and still do. It’s a work in progress. Our inspiration came from playing at a lot of different clubs and keeping a mental check list of things we liked and disliked.
CB: What has been one of your greatest challenges with running the club in the past year?
WE: Definitely finding time to respond to all the inquiries I receive from people whowant to play at the club. As a DJ, I’ve long liked to listen to every bit of music I receive. I’ve discovered some real gems that way. I still take time to listen to musicpeople send me, but it’s getting harder and harder to find time for all of it.
CB: What do you think contributes to the success that U Hall has experienced so far?
WE: I think the number one thing is the tremendous support we’ve received from DC music fans and the electronic music community. We’re extremely grateful. Wecouldn’t have imagined any of this when we were planning U Hall.
From a booking and operations stand point, I think the thing that contributesmost to our success is that our core team of owners and staff spends a lot of timetalking about and considering ideas for the club. And when we’re done we start allover again the next day. It’s like becoming a good DJ. One spends 1,000 hourspreparing for every minute in front of a crowd. It takes time and preparation.
CB: Just this year you’ve had some pretty big events so far. Moombahton Massive 2 was in January, Odd Future came through in February, Nadastrom is spinning at your one-year party, and you just booked A-Trak for April. Yall are doin’ big thangz! What’s next? What do you see U Hall doing a year from now?
WE: Nadastrom are good friends and we’re fortunate to have them as residents at theclub. They’re welcomed to play whenever they want. There was no way to predictsome of the shows we’ve been fortunate to host over the past year. I’m still amazed to think Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Arthur Baker, Michael Mayer,Jellybean Benitez, Francois K, Simian Mobile Disco, and Afrika Bambaataa haveplayed the club. I hope we can host even more in the coming year and be thespot where next year’s heroes played their first DC show. That’s what it’s allabout. Supporting new, forward-thinking music.
CB: I know I’ve had a ton of CRAZY nights at U Hall this year. Wanna share any memorable moments of your own?
WE: Oh damn, there have been a LOT. The look on the Aeroplane guy’s faces whenthey turned up the bass our opening night. Breaking my toe at the soft openingmoshing to Nadastrom. Michael Mayer giving me a hug after his performance.He’s German. They don’t hug a lot. Classixx dropping DC Go-Go. The MartinBrothers completely blowing my mind with their set. Getting schooled on amazingold house stories by Sam Burns and Jellybean Benitez. Tittsworth dumping a hugebirthday cake on me on my birthday and me DJing with frosting all over my handsand face. Pantha Du Prince performing in a monk’s hood. Trouble Funk’s specialsecret show. Dancing like crazy about 100 nights.
If you wanna make it out celebrate to their One-Year-Anniversary Party this Thursday, March 17th, you missed the deadline for the RSVP for free admission, but come anyway!! It’s only $10 and they’ll be serving free Natty Bohs from 9-10PM. Nadastrom, Jesse Rose, and Justin Martin will be running the party. I’ll be there all night so hopefully I’ll see yall there! :)