Free Download // Nadastrom – The Life and Times of Raphael De La Ghetto

Hot off the heels of their 2015 full-length effort, Nadastrom, the LA-via-DC duo yet again find themselves shedding the skin of yesterday.  Don’t expect to hear much moombahton from them anymore.  It’s a new day and they’re breaking new ground.  While Nadastrom explored rich house music territory, The Life and Times of Raphael De La Ghetto keeps it light and funky.

You might remember Raphael De La Ghetto from a classic episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air where Will Smith freestyled a poem in high school and attributed it to Raphael De La Ghetto, who was played by Geoffrey, the family’s butler.  Samples from the episode tie the whole mixtape together as it moves us with classic breakbeats and hip-hop instrumentals.

7 Mixes to Vibe With All Week Long

Fracture

This is one hell of a drum & bass and jungle demonstration right here, yall.  London-based DJ, Fracture, takes it over the fucking top here on his RinseFM mix with cuts from Sam Binga, Deft, and Testube (to name a few).  Clocking in at two hours, this mix will bounce, wobble, and churn that dark and twisty soul of yours in such a violently good way that you’ll be coming back for more again and again.  Good thing it’s posted for a free download!

Cold Plunge

LA’s DJ Morse Code and (Thee) Mike B have joined forces to become POOLS and if that sounds cool and refreshing, that’s because it is.  Case in point: take a listen to their latest mix, “Cold Plunge” in which they expertly stitch together a super chill sonic tapestry of 90s hip-hop instrumentals from artists like Gang Starr, Goodie Mob, and Reflection Eternal.  It’s absolutely incredible.  Some windows down, summer breeze kinda music.  Listen to it now and keep it around until Summer 2015 because you’re gonna need it.

Dim Neon Sum

If you liked the mix I posted above from POOLS, you’re gonna love “Nostalgia 1717” by DimNeonSum.  Same idea but different coast – here’s an hour’s worth of classic hip-hop and instrumentals that have traveled through time to make you long for the days when the sun stayed up later, nights felt longer, and everything was just a bit more easy breezy.  The sounds of A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, and Common are gonna get you right.  Also, if you’re into turntablism, you wanna keep an eye on Baltimore’s DimNeonSum.  Full disclosure – he’s a good friend of mine – but there’s absolutely no bias here.  Dude is a beast behind the decks.  (In fact, you can check him out locally here in Baltimore on Friday 1/30 at Red Maple for Wave Theory.)

Philco

So lately I’ve been having this urge to go out and just be left alone to dance all night long, which isn’t very much like me as I’m usually a pretty solid wallflower.  And sometimes house music can be kind of a snoozefest for me but here Philco made me realize this is the music you can really groove to all night long.  The whole vibe on his mix for Blisspop moves so seamlessly that it’s really hard not to get a little groove goin’ here!  And with tunes from Cajmere, Marquis Hawkes, and even one of Philco’s own remixes, how could you even resist?!

fadetomind

So as it turns out, the Fade To Mind crew has a slot on RinseFM every second Thursday of the month (6pm EST/3pm PST to be exact) and their mix from earlier this month is finally up for a free download.  This month you can hear Kingdom and MA NGUZU (aka July 10) go head-t0-head, flexin’ their signature future club sounds from start to finish.  And listen up for their special appreciation for Baltimore club music.  As long as these cats are around, club music will never die. <3

Nadastrom

We’re less than a month out from Nadastrom’s full-length album debut on Friends of Friends!  GET PUMPED, GET PUMPED!  Nadastrom drops on 2/23 and you can hear a bunch of cuts from the album on their latest mix for Diplo & Friends, which recently aired on BBC Radio 1.  Lately, Nadastrom (Matt Nordstrom & Dave Nada) has been known for pioneering the moombahton movement and while you can hear a bit of that vibe in their new sounds, it’s also got this very sexy, late night house music vibe to it.  If you’ve ever stayed late at a Moombahton Massive party in DC or just caught them on an after hours tip, you’ll know this is the music that really gets them groovin’.

Spooky

So apparently there’s this pretty massive UKGFest poppin’ off in London in April.  COLOR ME JEALOUS.  I wanna be there!  But luckily there’s always this UK Garage mix from Spooky that will get me by, right?  And besides, Spooky always comes correct with the best grime and UK garage tracks.  Enjoy sounds from DJ Q, Wookie, and Spooky himself for almost an entire hour.  You’re gonna love it.

Q&A: Nadastrom!

One day you’re slowing down the tempo of Afrojack’s “Moombah Remix” so you don’t get the fur torn off of ya for playing music that’s too fast at your cousin’s skipping party and the next day you’re playing that very same style of music at some of the greatest venues in the world, spawning a whole new genre of music tailored for the dance floor.  So the story goes for Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom of the DC-bred, LA-based DJ and production duo, Nadastrom, who have godfathered a brand new style of dance music – moombahton.

Groovin’ at a 108 bpm pace and inspired by reggaeton, Dutch House, and pure kismet, moombahton is rockin’ every dance floor from DC to London and everything in between.  What was once a “happy accident” now has countless producers demonstrating their take on the original sound of moombahton and exploring new sub genres, like smooth, sexy moombahsoul and the moombahton-dubstep hybrid, moombahcore.  Nadastrom even started their own moombahton record label, Diabluma Sound, which kicked off this year with fresh releases from Steve Starks, JWLS, and Boyfriend.  Because of all its success across the board, moombahton has become a destination event at major festivals and has sold out parties around the world, including its monthly Moombahton Massive celebration at the infamous U Street Music Hall in its homebase of DC.

Much like the curious hybrid that it is, moombahton is a family affair – it has a particular way of bringing people together and welcoming new party people and DJs alike to dance music with open arms.  From Dave Nada’s early days of edits, like “Riverside”, to Nadastrom’s official remixes, like Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, Dave and Matt have been guiding the moombahton missle straight to the top, with their original productions serving as the ultimate creative guidance.

But Nadastrom has been slaying the scene long before moombahton – since before I knew anything about anything.  I remember my first introduction to dance music in action was seeing them play Baltimore club, tech house, and everything else they could get their hands on at TaxLo parties here in Baltimore.  They have been the real deal since the first night I danced to their soundtrack and with a deep knowledge of how Baltimore really gets down (spoiler alert: down and fucking dirty), they rose to the top like the cream of the crop.  Enamored with their intuitive selections and the ease with which they control the floor, I’ve been following Nadastrom ever since.  So of course, years later and with a rack of parties stored neatly in my memory bank, I’m so pleased and honored to have interviewed Dave and Matt. It’s their unwavering passion for music, their free-spirits which make every performance a great time for everybody involved, and their constant demonstration of forward-thinking creativity and innovation that sets the standard of excellence in this game.

Cool Breezy:  We all know the story of how you accidentally created moombahton over three years ago and started releasing those classic edits like “Riverside” and “Moombahton”. Did you ever expect the genre to blow up the way that it has? What do you think of its evolution so far?

Dave Nada:  Nah, I really did not expect it at all.  I did, however, think the concept was cool and fun.  I saw it work first hand since the start, so I already knew it was something that would translate well in the club.  The evolution of it all is pretty crazy too!  It’s come a long way in just three years and now there’s a moombahton vibe that exists in music and club culture.  The production of the sound has gotten better as well.  I feel like it continues to refine itself and new influences are popping up from all over the world.

CB:  Since moombahton’s genesis, you have hosted successful Moombahton Massives in its mecca of DC and all around the world. Most recently, hosted a stage entirely dedicated to moombahton at Hard’s Day of the Dead festival in LA. Did you have any say in choosing the talent for the moombahton stage? Also, how does it make you feel to be the godfather of such a wildly successful movement?

DN:  Yup!  Me and my Moombahton Massive partners, Matt Nordstrom and Sabo, help curate the lineups for all of the Massives.  When we work with Hard, we combine our forces with them.  I feel like HARD are at the top of the game and they ALWAYS kill it with the lineups and tours for their events.  I feel humbled and grateful when it comes to moombahton and how far it’s come, from the artists to the music lovers around the world.  [I’m] very proud of what we’ve built with the Massives and the music.

CB:  I know first-hand how uniquely wild moombahton parties can get. I’m sure there are many memorable and unmemorable nights for you, but describe one of your favorites.

DN:  I’m biased here, but my favorite moment was at Moombahton Massive Thanksgiving 2011 when I proposed to my fiancé, Jen Lasher, in front of hundreds people at the end of her set!  Not only was the moombah fam there, but a lot of our relatives as well.  What a special night!

Matt Nordstrom:  Man…they are all pretty special.  It’s really hard to pick one, so I’m gonna say three.  The night we had Toddla T for the Two Year Anniversary of [U Street Music Hall]; the night we had Thee Mike B who said, with quite an epic resume of parties played, that that was one of the best gigs and parties he has ever done; and of course last thanksgiving when Dave purposed to Jen, which, for the record, NO ONE knew he was going to do.

CB:  Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

MN:  It was either “Thriller” by Michael Jackson or “Future Shock” by Herbie Hancock.

DN:  [The] first record I ever bought was Doug E. Fresh “Keep Risin’ To The Top” 12″ single.  B-side was “Guess Who”, which got me fired up every time I listened to it.  I also remember being mad confused as to why there was an acapella track and instrumental version.  I didn’t understand the DJ side of things at the time, haha.

CB: While you have embarked on an entirely new maginificent journey through moombahton, Nadastrom’s nights of spinning club music in Baltimore have still remained the stuff of legends. How have those past experiences influenced the way you feel about music in the present? Any chance we’ll hear some new Baltimore club sounds from you in the future?

DN:  They still influence us to this day.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been playing tons of Bmore and Bmore inspired club music in our sets lately.  We’re also getting a rep for playing longer sets these days, so this has given us more opportunities to play different styles in one night!

MN:  It definitely still influences us – the stripped back approach, the loops, and probably most important is the impact of a kick drum.  Pretty much sums up Nadastrom, haha!  We recently did a remix for our new label, Diabluma Sound, reworking Boyfriend’s “Vodka House” into a 130 club joint.  We have some more in the works as well but can’t really speak on them just yet.

CB:  This year you’ve greatly advanced moombahton through major events, impeccable productions, and even the launch of Nadastrom’s very own moombahton label, Diabluma Sound. So, what’s next?

MN:  We are currently working on our debut artist album, which is something we have toyed with in the past but got really serious about the past few months.

DN:  Yup, we think it’s about time now!

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #10 – Sazon Booya

sazon booya

What the fuck is a SAZON BOOYA?!  Hint: It’s not a chicken seasoning.  Nor is it a Spanish war cry.  It’s more like the NYC-based DJ and production duo consisting of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV.  But the musical output of Sazon Booya is just as tasty as the finest adobo and just as powerful as the toughest Spanish army.

The Sazon Booya project doesn’t have as extensive of a history as the individual DJ careers of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV, but you would never be able to tell if you just looked at their list of accomplishments this year.  In fact, they’re on pace to become one of the most successful artists in the game.

Sazon Booya released their first EP, La Bomba, on Beatport this summer via their label, Rot10 Musik.  La Bomba is classic Sazon Booya – hardcore, energetic, and danceable tunes infused with global flair.  But to hype up the release, they created the first moombahton video ever to the title track, “La Bomba”.  This was a huge landmark for the moombahton as it legitimized genre by bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream.  Since the debut of “La Bomba”, some of the genre’s greats have proceeded to create innovative music videos for their own tracks, including Tittsworth and Alvin Risk for their summer hit, “Pendejas”, and Nadastrom for their latest single, “i!!”

But don’t get it twisted.  Sazon Booya knows how to create a big room banger, but they’re definitely not scared to show their softer side.  They’ve produced some super suave tracks for David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul compilations and kept it really sexy during their Midnight Moombah Sessions, but they really nailed it on the head with their Moonlight EP.  They released Moonlight in November of 2011 and by that time, it’s obvious they perfected a unique sound combination of hardcore energy harnessed by smooth vocals.  And come this release, Sazon Booya stepped it up a notch.  There was no moombahton video to accompany the Moonlight EP (yet) but instead a US tour that spanned twelve cities from the East Coast to the West Coast with guests like Nadastrom, Billy the Gent, Cam Jus, and Benzona, to name a few.  With the Moonlight release and promo tour, it’s become clear that Sazon Booya is wiser beyond its years.  They seriously handle business with prompt releases, music videos, country-wide tours.  Sazon Booya is headed straight to the top and they’re taking moombahton with them.

Hard-working moombahton artists will always find success by honing and maintaining a unique, flavorful sound.  With mentors like Skrillex and Dave Nada, there’s no way that Sazon Booya will fall to the middle of the pack.  They’re a standout duo, through and through.  It’s even better to know that these dudes are some rad individuals who made time to answer some questions for Cool Breezy.  Read up!

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #10 – Sazon Booya”

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #8: David Heartbreak

Heartbreak

He knows how to command a club full of party people and will undoubtedly melt off each of their unsuspecting faces.  I’m talkin’ about David Heartbreak, one of the most diversely creative moombahtonistas in the game right now.  His goal is simple – to make people dance.  He simply knows no boundaries and will not stop until you’re movin’.

It’s nearly impossible to peg Heartbreak’s signature sound because he jumps around from genre to genre so frequently.  From moombahsoul to moombahcore to Burial-esque ambience – he consistently produces different sounds so he never gets bored, and in turn, we don’t either.  It’s always a win-win situation with Heartbreak.  You’ll never hear him create the same tune.  Thank god for that.  He has an intense focus on becoming a well-rounded producer and aims to have a full understanding of the vibes and technicalities of many different genres so he stays in the lab trying to perfect their production processes.

His unrelenting hustle and unwavering curiosity about other genres have resulted in an impressive arsenal of tunes.  I could sit here and rattle off all of Heartbreak’s releases but by the time you looked away, we would be well into next week and I can’t have you skippin’ out on any of this week’s moombahton releases!   But seriously.  “Blaze Up (That Jeffrey)”, the collaboration between Heartbreak and Toddla T – instant moombahton anthem.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a moombahton party that doesn’t have this banger pumpin’ through the speakers.   Additionally, Heartbreak’s mini releases – M1 through M7 – display the constant evolution of his unique style.  Touting only a handful of tracks combine, the M releases created  an outlet for Heartbreak to experiment with big room bangers and push the boundaries of his creativity within moombahton.

On the other hand, Heartbreak revealed his softer side this summer as he released three volumes of Moombahsoul tracks that tossed an underhanded pitch to any guy who needed to step up their love game.  Heartbreak’s moombahsoul innovation directly catered to the ladies of moombahton with its sensual, soulful sex tunes.  With a Mad Decent cosign to the moombahsoul movement, almost every moombahtonista in the game contributed their unique sound to the three-volume compilation, including Nadastrom, Sazon Booya, Jon Kwest, and Torro Torro.  Moombahsoul added another face to the growing genre – one that oozed of an R&B revival with sexy vocals instead of hyperactive lazers, sirens, and heavy bass.  There’s a time and place for everything and luckily, Heartbreak is a man of many talents.

Heartbreak serves as the tirelessly creative catalyst for moombahton.  I’m pretty convinced he lives in the studio so his production never ceases nor does the quality ever waiver.   He constantly encourages his fellow moombahtonistas to push the boundaries of their abilities and in turn, ignite the movement towards world domination.

Heartbreak stepped away from Pro Tools just long enough for me to yoke him up for a little Q&A session with the kid, so check it out after the jump!

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #8: David Heartbreak”

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#7): Pickster One

pickster

Yesterday I raved about the talents of DJ Melo from Arizona.  I’m gonna continue the rave today with his counterpart, Pickster One.  Dude’s the dopeness!!  No, he really is.  Like I said, I didn’t really expect moombahton to thrive in Arizona.  After all, it is the desert, right?  But Pickster and Melo are really bringing sexy back with their productions.  But more importantly, they’re putting Arizona on the map as a thriving environment in which moombahton can originate and grow.

Pickster and Melo’s first collaboration came in the form of the Arizonaton EP.  I’ve fangirled about this release so much recently that you probably already know ALL about it but I’ll recap it really quick.  Arizonaton is a seven-track release that captures the essence of Pickster and Melo’s brand of sexy:  not this booty-shakin Beyonce sexy, but it feels more like this slow, seductive, gypsy sexy.  Just listen and you’ll get it.  Pickster has two solo productions on Arizonaton, “Waistline” and “Keep the Dice Rolling”, which show he dabbles more in the harder side of moombahton by blasting more wobbles and lazers than sensual vocals and baby-makin’ riddims.  But versatility is the name of the game and he’s got it like that.

As a fan of moombahton, I’m super thankful for the Pickster and Melo collaboration.  It goes right along with Chad Hugo and Pharrell (Neptunes) or more relevantly, Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada (Nadastrom).  It just feels right and not even in some regular kind of way.  I’m not too sure how it’s possible to rejuvenate a genre that’s still in the infancy stage, but with collaborative tracks like “Fat Booty” and “Sweaty Sax”, it feels like they did just that. 

But thankfully, that’s not where it ends for Pickster.  He’s just getting started in the game, yall!!  He has a track, “Don’t Go”, in Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which forms the unlikely hybrid of UK hardcore and moombahton (but what is “unlikely” anymore?).  With “Don’t Go”, Pickster’s moombahton slow-down of The Awesome 3’s UK hardcore track, he excelled at exactly what I love about his productions.  He layered these slow, desperate, yearning vocals that plead, “I cannot bear to see you leave me.  I’m begging you, don’t go…” over aggressive dubstep wobbles.  He successfully tapped into that moombahcore side of his creative genius but still kept it sexy as hell. 

Speaking of sexy, he’s also got some tunes on the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection.  He collaborated with Riot Earp on “Around”, which is a moombahsoul remix of The Spinner’s soul track “I’ll Be Around”.  He also made a moombahsoul remix of Al Green’s R&B track, “Let’s Stay Together”.  These productions are simple but effective and instant classics of the moombahsoul genre.

Recently Pickster’s been gettin’ extreme though!  He’s got two pretty hardcore tracks floating around the interwebs lately, the first being on Munchi’s Verano del Moombahton release.  “Mami Mueve” combines aggressive vocals with rave-y sirens and synths.  It’s pretty serious.  And on today’s M6 release from David Heartbreak, Pickster collaborated with Mendez on a remix of “Blaze Up”, which doesn’t skimp on the state-of-emergency sirens.  These tracks are gonna send some people through the roof. 

But one of the most unique additions to the moombahton game from Pickster came via his AZ Gunslingaz EP.  It’s a five-track release that features productions from Sluggo, Riot Earp, Mendez, Noha, Melo, and Pickster himself.  AZ Gunslingaz is all about reppin’ Arizona and the South Western vibes.  Pickster’s “Put Down De Gun” is a vicious moombahcore production that goes well soundtracking a Wild Wild West shootout.  And Pickster and Melo’s track, “El Bumper” makes me wanna get my fiesta on.  You know how you can hear the difference between east coast and west coast rap?  AZ Gunslingaz is one of the first moombahton releases we’ve heard that is truly specific to geographic location, giving us a taste of the west but still fitting into the genre as a whole.  I love that and I’d really like to hear more producers reppin’ where they’re from.

So, I have good news for you.  Pickster and Melo are flying into DC today, so stay in town to catch these fools live and in action.  Tonight they’ll be playing at the Looking Glass Lounge as part of a Moombahton Massive Pregame event.  Then, tomorrow they’ll be playing the main event – Moombahton Massive VI.  Sunday, they’ll be back in their side of the country in Vegas for the Moombahton Massive Pool Party.  So you’ve got plenty of chances to see them do their thing. 

Til then, read this in-depth interview I had with Pickster where we talk about his early days as a bboy (yup!), how he got into moombahton, and what it’s like working with Melo:

 

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and what were you playing before moombahton?

Pickster:  I have been DJing since the late 90’s.  [I’ve] been into hip-hop since I was a little kid.  I was in a break dancing crew when I was eight years old called Rock Steady crew, too.  Haha.  Ahh, man. Little fat kid trying to spin on his back and shit.  I used to be a MC for years.  Then one of my homies got a set of turntables in high school and I fell in love.  [I] started buying vinyl for the next three years till I could afford my own set-up.  [Then I] moved to Arizona to go to culinary school and got my degree in Culinary Arts. I was running a kitchen at a big resort here in Arizona, [but I] slowly started to realize I could make the same amount of money hustling DJ gigs in clubs as I could busting my ass all week in a HOT Arizona kitchen.  It was a no brainer.

[Before moombahton,] I was a hip-hop club DJ.  I’ve been in a couple hip-hop bands.  That was what really taught me how to write a song, structure a song, and how to bring an idea all the way to a physical CD in your hand.  That whole process is not easy at all!

CB:  What about moombahton and its community inspired you to get involved?

P:  When I first started working with Melo on some edits and remixes last summer.  It was a real small community.  It still is really.  And I thought it was cool that the dudes making the music and creating it would actually email me back, give me feedback on SoundCloud, and respond to me on Twitter.  Haha, I know that sounds cheesy, but being able to have that interaction and even if my track sucked, they would be like, “Yo.  You need to work on that before you put it out.  Maybe change this up..,blah blah…” – that’s priceless.  But it wasn’t until I had my First Moombahton Moment when I actually got bit by the Moombahton Bug.  I was playing edits, trying to mix a few tunes into my sets, and I thought that’s all moombahton would ever be.  But one day I was playing a set and I got into some Moombahton.  I saw my dance floor go from “yeah, this is cool.   I’m having fun…” to straight fr33ky!  Guys and girls dry humping, getting sweaty, and yelling when the next tune dropped.  I was floored and amazed at what just happened.  Then I tried to do it again at my next gig and I cleared the dance floor and almost lost my job!  I didn’t know what I was doing with that style of music at the time.  But after some good trial-and-error, finding out what works and more importantly, what doesn’t work, I have been lucky enough to incorporate that learning process into my tunes and get me going in the right direction.

CB:  What’s the moombahton scene like in Arizona?  Do people respond to it well?

P:  It’s actually budding pretty damn nice now.  We did an interview about two months ago with a local paper when Melo and I were about to drop Arizonaton.  At that time we still were not sure how Moombahton was gonna do in our home town.  But since then people have been catching on and a lot of local producers, DJs, and promoters are slowly starting to see what’s happening.  We have been getting more and more support and people coming out to our nights.  I have a Wednesday night here called Scenario.  It’s a rooftop party in Downtown Phoenix.  It’s a global Bass night, real heavy on the moombahton, and we have been playing moombahton real heavy the last nine or ten months.  Now people are showing up just to hear that style of music.  We had Dave Nada there for our release party.  We have David Heartbreak there this past Wednesday for our AZ Gunslingaz EP release party.  And we have Doc Adam, the Moombahtista from Portland, on the books for September.  I’m really happy where Moombahton is right now in Arizona.

CB:  You and Melo seem to have really great chemistry as a production team.  What was your creative process like for Arizonaton?

P:  We have a real raw approach to making music, haha.  We probably do a lot of things wrong if somebody was to watch us make a song.  But whatever, ya know.  I’ll tell any producers starting out, “whatever works best for you and whatever software, program or environment works best for you to be creative, run with it.”  I made some of my best tunes on shitty out-dated software, but it sounded good!  But one of us would have an idea, concept, or just start a song, then we would send files over the internet and work on them at our own houses on our own time.  We actually never sat in the studio together at all for Arizonaton.  We do now and we are using similar gear to make the tunes now which makes it easier for us to work in the studio together.  But Melo and I grew up with the same musical backgrounds – hip-hop-based but willing to play anything that is good.

CB:  Who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

P:  You know, that’s a hard one.  I have a few favorites right now but they really span over different styles of moombahton.  I think different producers are finding their niche and are really shining in their respective areas.  I’m really feeling all the Texas kids stuff – Sonora, Orion, and all the Peligrosa kids.  Bro Safari doin’ it.  He’s from Texas, too, but a different camp.  I’m feelin Billy the Gent, & Long Jawns stuff.  I’m feeling JWLS from Miami.  The Tactic bro’s.  There is so much good stuff out there it’s really hard to say one person. 

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#6): DJ Melo

melo

Alright, look guys.  I’m gonna try not to fangirl too much in this piece but I can’t help myself.  DJ Melo from Arizona is undoubtedly one of my favorite moombahton producers right now.  To be completely honest, I never really thought of Arizona to be that kind of a happenin’ spot.  But then Pickster and Melo’s Arizonaton EP came out and I was like, “WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!”  So I had to find out.  I present to you…the first installment of Who Are These Guys From Arizona and What Makes Their Music So Sexy, featuring DJ Melo.  Read on!

I keep tellin’ yall, Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date.  It changed the game for the better and put Arizona on the map as a legitimate moombahton hotspot.  Melo’s productions fit right into the thriving genre, offering the standard, but well-executed sounds like heavy synths and tropical vibes as seen in “Don’t Make Me Wait” and that unmistakable Hispanic influence seen in “Es Dificil”.  But the fated collaboration between Melo and Pickster has provided an undeniably incredible chemistry, a certain feeling of “EUREKA!” I haven’t felt since Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada combined to form Nadastrom.  Their collaborated sounds add something new to the moombahton conversation – this old world, sexy gypsy style (see: “Sweaty Sax”, a remix of a track from a local Arizona band, Dry River Yacht Club).  I’ve felt the tropical vibes and the reggaeton influence in the original moombahton tracks, the dubstep wobbles in moombahcore, and the smooth R&B vocals in moombahsoul, but I hadn’t heard anything like this before Arizonaton.   They create this unique style of yearning and seduction in their tunes.  It just totally brings a brand new type of sexy to the table.  I need more of it.

But Melo is definitely not a one-trick-moombahtonista.  He’s got his hands in all sorts of creations.  One of his productions made the cut for Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which created yet another moombah-hybrid, this time between moombahton and UK hardcore – an unlikely pair on to see paper but its execution is spot-on.  Melo’s track, “Rocking Down the House” is one of the standout tracks for me on Dust Mask, with its energetic synths and hypnotic glitching vocals.

Melo also teamed up with Kwest on an unforgettable track for the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection.  Kwest and Melo combined efforts to create a sweet, sensual moombahsoul track, “Ecstasy”, which sampled vocals from a track of the same name by a 70s funk band called the Ohio Players.

Switching it up a bit, Melo collaborated with Pickster again on Pickster’s latest release, the AZ Gunslingaz EP.  This release was all about reppin’ Arizona and the southwestern culture and Melo did exactly that with his two tracks, layering Spanish vocals over haunting ghost town whistles (see: “Pijama” with Noha and Mendez) and sexy fiesta handclaps (see: “El Bumper” with Pickster).

Word on the streets is that Melo’s got his own EP called Star Time coming out soon via Think 2wice Records.  There’s no specific release date but I do know that it’s another sweet collaboration with Pickster (thank the moombahgodz!) featuring remixes by Boyfriend and Fellow.  It’ll be available on Beatport and iTunes but keep your eyes here because you know I gotchu!  I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got up their sleeves.  Until then, we wait…

If you need more Melo in your life, which you do, here’s how I can help you.  First, read the Q&A I had with him below, where we talk about his early days as a DJ, how he found Pickster, and what kind of advice he can give for future producers.  After you’re done reading that, make sure you get that ass to DC this week to check him out in real life.  He and Melo are flying across the country to be with us!  Tomorrow night, Wednesday August 17th, he’ll be playing with a rack of dope moombahtonistas for a Moombahton Massive Pregame event at The Looking Glass Lounge in DC.  Then, on Thursday night, August 18th, is the main event – Moombahton Massive VI at U Hall!!!!  Everybody you know will be there.  Then, on Sunday they’ll be back in their neck of the woods for the Moombahton Massive pool party in VEGAS!!  So there are lots of opportunities to catch him playing.  Don’t sleep!

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing?  Who are some of your influences?

Melo:  I started DJing house parties back in the early 90’s here in Phoenix, [around] ‘92, ‘93 or so.  I’ve been doing clubs since 2000.  I’ve been producing a little over a year now.  Early influences range from Grandmaster Flash, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Masters at Work, the KDAY Mixmasters from LA, and the Hotmix 5 from Chicago among others.  Production wise I would say I’ve been influenced by Dave Nada for setting it off, Munchi for making it legit, David Heartbreak for the constant encouragement, Sabo for the clean polished sound and Dillon Francis for just taking the sound a lot further.

CB:  How’d you hear about moombahton out in Arizona and what inspired you to get involved?

M:  My boy DJ Adikshun sent me Dave Nada’s Moombahton back in March of 2010 and asked if had any other tunes like that.  I had heard some of the raverton stuff Toy Selectah had made before that and some of the Bersa Discos stuff.  I have been spinning reggaeton, house & hip-hop for years now, so I thought Moombahton was tailor made for me, haha.  I used to DJ and produce for local Phoenix hip-hop group Ill Phonix in the late 90’s, but it wasn’t till I heard moombahton that I got inspired to make a couple edits and put them on SoundCloud.

CB:  Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date.  What was it like working with Pickster on the EP?

M:  I’ve tried working with other producers before but something about working with Pickster just clicked.  He has a great ear and his beats are just dope!  We made Arizonaton over the Internet.  I would send him stuff or he’d send me ideas and the other would pretty much finish it.  He did all the mastering and would test out the songs at Bar Smith on the soundsystem.  I like how that EP came out.

 CB:  Who is your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

M:  I wouldn’t say I have a favorite.  All the guys I mentioned before I like for different reasons.  I like JWLS’ stuff, J-Trick, the El Cuco homies, Jon Kwest…I could go on and on. [There are] too many others to narrow it down to a favorite.

CB:  Do you have any advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers?

M:  Hmmmm advice?  Do work, I guess.  DJs – learn the craft.  Pay dues.  Producers – make some edits?  Just make music you like is probably the best advice I can give…

Gettin’ Fr33ky with Steve Starks

starks

As a certified party rocker and one-third of DC’s party crew, Nouveau Riche, Steve Starks is quite the force to be reckoned with here in the DC EDM scene.  He maintains a heavy presence in the city by frequently collaborating on productions and live-appearances with Nacey, releasing original tunes on T&A Records, and playing for all different kinds of party people.  Last Friday, he played for a rooftop of glowing ravers and moombahtonistas at Ibiza for Steez Promo’s MEGA event with Boys Noize.  Next Saturday, he’ll be playing with Craze at U Street Music Hall.  But if you need more evidence that he’s got the dopeness factor on lock, see below:

Exhibit A:  “Fr33ky in the Club” – Starks’ utilized DC’s hometown advantage in the moombahton scene by releasing an original production, “Fr33ky in the Club”.  This track turned out to be a moombahton anthem from the jump, as it encouraged party people to enthusiastically lose their shit in the club.  Girls, you know what I’m talkin’ about.  “Fr33ky in the Club” received some major love from Mad Decent and was also featured on many early moombahton mixes, including Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton.  Because of this song, all of us moombahton-lovers are now known as “fr33ks” and for damn good reason too.

Exhibit B:  “Problem” – Most recently, Starks dropped a banger, “Problem”, for free download!  “Problem” is most definitely one of my favorite Starks productions so far.  It’s a classic dance track, full of bass and a touch of Baltimore club, all the while sampling an unlikely throwback, The Cardigans “Love Fool”.  (RIGHT?!)  With “Problem”, Starks not only rescued and revived “Love Fool” but also transformed it into a massive dance tune that totally bangs.

Exhibit C:  KIDS – Starks was one of the originators of DC’s old-school hip-hop dance party, KIDS.  For a few years on the first Saturday of every month, Starks joined his friends Nacey, DJ Jackie O, and DJ Lil Elle at DC9 to take you back to the old school by playing all the throwback hip-hop jams you could handle.  KIDS was inspired by the 90s cult classic film of the same name and embraced city culture the best way they knew how.  KIDS ran for a few years until they collectively agreed to end that chapter a few months ago.  But in its time, it was a rager for sure, usually packed wall-to-wall with sweaty party people gettin’ busy to Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”.

Exhibit D:  Nouveau Riche – On the second Saturday of every month, find Starks at his second home at U Street Music Hall for Nouveau Riche, a monthly dance party/shit show run by him and his friends Nacey and Gavin Holland.  As one of my favorite monthlies in DC, you never know what to expect at this one.  These self-proclaimed “party hunks” (I’m not arguing) play everything from dubstep to Baltimore club to electro to their very own productions.  Anything goes at this party and the unpredictability of it all is extremely exhilarating.  The only element you can truly rely on is everybody having an amazing time.  Hands down.  Starks and the rest of the Nouveau Riche boys rock that party like it’s their J-O-Bs (I guess it kind of is…) and they do a damn good job of it.  If everyone is crawlin’ out the club lookin’ like a hot mess, I’d say it was a successful night.

Keep watch for new tracks from Steve Starks comin’ atcha at random times via the innerwebz.  Unpredictable, but it’s happening.  Trust me.  It’s easier if you just stay ready.  In the meantime, if you wanna see him live in action, catch him and the rest of the Nouveau Riche crew at U Street Music Hall this Saturday starting at 10PM.  It’s bound to get totally w3ird so bring your favorite fr33k flag and let it fly high.

I recently caught up with Steve Starks to talk about his new tune, “Problem”, his favorite memory from Nouveau Riche, and what kind of goodies we can expect in the near future.

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and producing?

Steve Starks:  I first started messing with production on an old demo program that I installed on my parents computer.  I would just make weirdo beats all day until that computer crashed.  I got one of my own in college and my homie, Nacey, showed me how to use Fruity Loops.  I learned all the basics on that program and have been making music since.  Along the way, I figured I should learn how to DJ so I could do the performance part.  I saved up and got some turntables and started playing parties here and there.  After school I moved to DC and linked up with Gavin Holland and started doing Nouveau Riche with him and Nacey and have been doing it ever since.

CB:  You just released “Problem”, which is a total monster of a track.  What’s next?  What are you working on now?

SS:  I got a new EP in the works for T&A Records and my Fr33ky in tha Club (moombahton) EP will be out shortly.  In the meantime, I wanna keep putting tracks out on my soundcloud.

CB:  Who are some of your influences as a DJ and producer?  Is there anybody you’re trying to work with in the future?

SS:  I grew up on hip-hop.  When I young I was really inspired by old Missy (Elliot) and Timberland tracks.  Being from Maryland, I also listened to a lot of Baltimore Club music on the radio [and at] house parties and school dances.  Once I got turned on to dance music, I found a place to tie together all my influences.  Blaqstarr and Green Velvet are still two of my favorite DJ/producers.

Right now I’m working on some collaborations with my hometown heroes Nadastrom and Tittsworth.  I’m also hoping to get up with Baltimore’s DJ Pierre in the near future.

CB:  What tunes are in your iPod rotation right now?

 

SS:  I’ve been real into Lex Lugar and Juicy J’s mixtape. Brodinski, Brenmar, Movado, Munchi, The Dream, Eric Rincon, Tittsworth and Alvin Risk are in heavy rotation. Lots of hip-hop old and new and the most random tunes from Dolly Parton to Pantera to Jodeci.

 CB:  Got a favorite memory from one of those crazy ass Nouveau Riche parties?

 

SS:  One that stands out is when the music cut one time.  Some one had kicked the plug out, but the vibe was so strong that people were clapping to the beat for like a minute straight.  Once the music cut back on it was pandemonium.  People lost their minds!  Also, our first time playing at U Street Music hall was really special.  I still can get over what a good job they’ve done with that club. I’m so happy to call it home.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#5): Jon Kwest

kwest

A man of true diversity and versatility, Jon Kwest soars under the radar.  It’s not his style to be out in the limelight, flaunting his creativity.  He’s more of a “behind the scenes” type guy, and while that’s extremely humble of him, unfortunately it often leads to him being quite underrated.  Currently a resident of Philly, Kwest hails from my charming city of Baltimore.  He produces amazing Baltimore club music and despite my selfish desire to see him perform a club set in Baltimore, he is fully submerged in the moombahton scene.  I’m not mad at that at all.  He’s one of the most productive and meticulous moombahton producers in the game right now, only releasing tunes that are top of the line productions.  You won’t see any throw-away tracks coming from this guy.

While his moombahton productions vary in vibe from time to time, he’s known for creating this particularly smooth, soulful sound by replacing sirens and rave horns with house grooves and R&B vocals.  One of my favorite moombahton productions of his is “Dreamin’”, which samples vocals from that Christopher Williams’ tune, “I’m Dreamin’”.  Not exactly the standard moombahton rage tune, Kwest’s “Dreamin’” has this morning glory vibe to it.  He excels at producing tracks that are just outright super soulful, straddling the line between moombahton and moombahsoul, the hybrid of moombahton and R&B, which explains his heavy involvement with David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Compilation releases.  Kwest has seen his own productions featured on Heartbreak’s moombahsoul releases, as well as tracks he’s collaborated on with Heartbreak and DJ Melo.  This is where he thrives.  Don’t get me wrong – dude can rage.  But he stands out when he makes moombahton for the ladies.

As far as the subgenres of moombahton go, so far we’ve heard moombahcore, the hybrid of moombahton and dubstep, and moombahsoul.  But last week, Jon Kwest extended his creative reach by releasing Dust Mask, a compilation of new tunes that present a brand new hybrid of moombahton and UK hardcore (listen above).  Despite the lack of an official moombahname, Kwest found enough parallels between the two genres to be able to form a fresh and energetic hybrid, funneling the heavy synths of UK hardcore and the familiar dubstep wobble into moombahton zone at 108bpm.  On Dust Mask, Kwest slows down UK hardcore and revives these classic rave tunes by adding the sexiness of moombahton, reeling in all sorts of party people by appealing to both new school moombahton heads and old school ravers.  With these types of musical innovations, the moombahfamily just gets bigger and bigger by the day.

As a fan of moombahton, you owe it to yourself to see Jon Kwest live and in action.  He played a killer set at Moombahton Massive Tres in April.  And two weeks ago at the Artscape festival in Baltimore, he performed a set that was so heavily saturated in moombahton exclusives.  Tonight, he’ll be at Red Maple in Baltimore for Serious Dynamite’s first ever moombahton showcase.  Admittedly, the party people in Baltimore haven’t latched onto the moombahteet as well as its DC counterparts, but who better to open the floodgates than Jon Kwest himself?  And finally, if you can’t make it to Baltimore tonight, you better make plans to see him at U Hall on August 18th for Moombahton Massive VI.  It’s gonna be the biggest problem DC’s seen since Marion Barry.

(Tonight, Serious Dynamite begins at 10PM.  Get there early to enjoy $5 mojitos and boombas, and $3 Red Stripe until 11:30.  Plus, moombahton all night!  It’s a no-brainer.  Where else would you wanna be?!)

Anyway, I was really lucky to be able to catch up with Jon Kwest.  I had so many questions for him but I didn’t want to stifle his productivity so I kept it short.  We talked about the characteristics of moombahton that drew him to the genre, which producers are currently rockin’ his world, and what kind of advice he has for up and coming producers.

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing?  What came before moombahton?

JK:  [I] started DJing when I [began] high school, mostly hip-hop and some house & hardcore breaks.  My first real gig was in ‘94 playing jungle at a party in DC at that five-story “Bomb Shelter” warehouse. I remember Diesel Boy was playing too.  I was pretty hyped.

Production began around ‘98/’99, I guess.  When I started working at Music Liberated, [I] met up with Ian Carey.  Dude hooked me up with studio time here and there and that was it – I was hooked.  Around 2000 or so, Reason came out and the “room full of credit card debt” type studio wasn’t necessary.  Production became a daily thing.

CB:  What initially inspired you to start creating moombahton tunes?

JK:  The tempo is what primarily drove me to moombahton.  It was new, not just a half time snare over an existing genre.  It doesn’t mix tempo-wise with any other type of music so you have to really want to play it to play it.  I like the fact that there was pretty much every style of music represented.  It wasn’t all just noisy and hard, like it seems every new genre goes all too quickly.

I had been messing with mid-tempo type tunes for the last few years, but basically never had the balls or standing to really pursue it like Nada did.  Dude definitely went about it the right way.

CB:  Your name is at the top of many DJs’ lists of “favorite producers” right now.  How does it make you feel to be that dude?  And who are some of your favorite producers right now? 

JK:  I’m super hyped that like-minded people relate to what I do.  That’s why all of us let people hear our music.  I just do me though.  I’ve been going at this rate for a long time now.  Luckily, I found an outlet that motivated me to push myself again.

My favorites is a tough question… lotta folks.  Heartbreak, Munchi, Nadastrom, DJ Melo, Uncle Jesse, Sabo, Pickster One, Billy The Gent, Cam Jus and all the OG’s pretty much go without saying.  Tactic, Smutlee, Ckrono, Boyfriend, Neki Stranac, Sazon Booya, Soron, A-Mac, JWLS, Long Jawns, Nate Metro, DJ Theory all killin’ it right now.  Some cats I’ve only recently came across DJ DIce/Chicago Deadbeats & Habanero Posse out of Japan been sending me some nastiness lately.  I know as soon as I send this I’ll notice who I left off of this list and kick myself.

Every week I’m hearing from someone new that motivates me to go harder.

CB:  You have a lot of influence not only in the moombahton scene but also in the Baltimore club scene.  How do the two currently compare?

JK:  Current Baltimore Club is almost a grey term. It’s expanded and re-invented itself over the last few years.  Dudes like Benny Stixx, King Tutt, Murder Mark, DJ Say Wut [produce] tunes [that] can sound any number of different ways, which shows a versatility pretty much unseen since the term “Bmore Club” was termed in the early 90’s – no disrespect to anyone.

That, I believe, is the common ground.  We all wanted something new and instead of waiting for it, we made it.  We made it; expanded it; forced its evolution and made it our own voice.  That’s what makes influential music, not pandering.

It’s not supposed to be for everyone.

CB:  Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers out there?

JK:  Do you 100%.  If you half ass your ideas to make dim wits happy, you should just throw in the towel and quit muddying up the craft.

Just as important, though – be humble, be polite and give credit where credit is due, but nothing of value ever comes from ass-kissing or dick-riding.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#1): Billy the Gent

billy

Real talk:  I rarely see this dude without a smile on his face.   BillyBennett, aka Billy the Gent, has a lot to be happy about though.  He just married the love of his life, has a little baby girl on the way, and is totally killin’ it in the moombahton game right now.   You’ve probably seen him around DC, inkin’ up you and your homies at Tattoo Paradise or hanging out at U Hall or DC9.  But hopefully you’ve even seen him playing maestro at the Velvet Lounge.

Billy and Cam Jus join forces once a month at Velvet for their monthly moombahton rager called Tropixxx, and trust me – it’s triple x’d for a reason.  I came through last month for the video shoot for “Pendejas” (the Tittsworth and Alvin Risk collaboration to be released on May 31st via Mad Decent’s Blow Your Head) and it was one of the wildest parties I’ve been to in a minute.  It was a late Sunday night, the forever-dreaded Monday morning was looming on the horizon, and nobody gave a shit.  Seriously, not a single shit.  Tittsworth, Alvin Risk, and some random, victimized barstool were crowd surfing in a room that’s no bigger than your attic.  Big booties were rockin’ everywhere to moombahton classics from Nadastrom, Munchi, Dillon Francis, and more.  Everybody was shakin’ dat ass so right that not a single person in there had a dry forehead.  Even the walls were sweating.  It was only appropriate that they cooled us down with showers of Natty Boh and tequila.  Looking up at times and seeing Billy and Cam orchestrating the madness, I had to ask myself, “Is this real life?”  And indeed it was.  This was all happening in the name of moombahton and it felt so right.

Tropixxx feels like Moombahton Mini, the golden child of Moombahton Massive.  Let’s face it – we can’t have a regular Moombahton Massive because DC might implode from too much bass and we kinda need the Nation’s Capital around to run shit.  But, have no fear – Tropixxx is here!  One Sunday a month, Billy and Cam bring us all together at Velvet so we can get our moombahton fix in the same venue where Dave Nada, the godfather of moombahton, held “Moombahton Mondays”.  Together they have succeeded in keeping the regular celebration of moombahton alive and well in the DMV area.

On an individual level, Billy is constantly evolving as a moombahton producer.  His earlier tracks have this sexy, Latin vibe to them – a classic moombahton feel (see “Sillyana” and “La Mania”).  Some even have a really smooth house groove to them  (see “Home Grown” and “Latin Love Theme”).  But lately, his tracks have taken on more of an aggressive style of moombahton, incorporating elements of dubstep and often treading the line between classic moombahton and its subgenre, moombahcore (see “Munchicore VIP” and “Turn Up the Volume”).  Run through Billy’s SoundCloud and you’ll see he’s got something for every kind of moombahton fan out there.  The man knows how to take care of his people, ya know what I mean?!

Now he’s got something for the hip-hoppers with today’s release of the Vibrate Chick EP, a joint escapade with Virginia’s Long Jawns and Miami’s JWLS.  Imagine some serious crunk vibes and hip-hop vocals layered over moombahton beats.  If you’re imagining something like a Ludacris video with a ton of scantily clad Latinas in 1970 Chevelles with ridiculous hydraulics cruisin’ down U Street…you’re almost there.  But don’t just take my word for it – go check it out for yourself and download the free EP at moombahton.com.  You’ll be handsomely rewarded with Dirty South-meets-moombahton swag.  You’ll need it to complete your summer.  It’s lookin’ to be a hot one.  ;)  And if you like what you hear, check him out at the next Dirty Sweaty Nasty Party on May 13th in Fairfax, VA.

But before you leave me, I want you to get to know Billy on a more personal level.  Seriously, moombahton has recruited a really great dude.  He was awesome enough to answer a few questions for me about the making of the Vibrate Chick EP, the Brotherhood of Moombahton, and one of his best dudes, Dave Nada.

 

Cool Breezy:  First, just for the people who don’t know yet, when did you start DJing and producing and what inspired you to get into the scene?  What were you playing before moombahton?

Billy the Gent:  I started DJing in 2009.  My good friend DJ Tom Lim gave me a few quick turntable lessons about an hour before our first party.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I wanted to play music.  I threw a couple local parties over the next couple years and I basically learned how to mix tracks by playing live, which if you were at any of those parties, you would know that it was pretty horrible…HA!   Anyways, I made a lot of friends in the DJ community [who] helped me out along the way to try and lock down good mixing techniques and such but I think I will always feel like I could be a better DJ.  I mostly learned how to spin hip-hop and Top 40 tracks, and then moved onto the dubstep scene and now its MOOMBAHTON!

As far as producing goes, I’ve been making music in some way or another since as long as I can remember.  When I lived in Richmond, I played in countless indie bands and punk bands.  I learned to play the drums from my older brother, Champ Bennett (yes, his real name!), when we were kids and since then, I’ve been playing music.   What got me into producing music is more or less the fact that I don’t have time for a band anymore!  Hah.  I work as a full-time tattoo artist at Tattoo Paradise here in DC and it’s a major part of my life.  So because I’m so involved with tattooing, producing music off of my computer gives me the opportunity to make music whenever I feel like – there is no organizing band practices or dealing with the hassle of gear, or anything like that…just me and my studio.

CB:  What was it about moombahton that attracted you to the scene?

BTG:  I got into moombahton via one of my best pals (and creator of moombahton!) DAVID ORLANDO VILLEGAS [aka] Dave Nada.  We all know Dave’s story of how he stumbled onto this whole thing.  But I think I got into it mostly because it was more or less a fresh genre of music.  I really like the tempo and the appeal of moombahton and I think I was drawn to it by the sheer fact that there was hardly any of it around.  I mean, my first moombahton crate had about fifteen tracks in it, so I got inspired to make all these edits and stuff.  But now that the edit game is sorta flooded, I’m working more on making original stuff.

CB:  How did the Tropixxx collaboration with Cam Jus begin and what was it like being a part of Moombahton Massive Tres?

BTG:  It’s kinda funny.  Cam asked me to play this party he was doing, and I didn’t really know much about it.  I just knew I was allowed to play moombahton there, so I said “sure”…and the first one we did popped off really big, so we decided to keep it going.  Since then, every single Tropixxx has been better than the one before it and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  We had the Toronto-based duo TORRO TORRO play one of them and the party before last TITTSWORTH and ALVIN RISK filmed the video for their latest moombahton hit “PENDEJAS”.  It’s been great.

Being a part of the Moombahton Massive was amazing.  One of the cool things about this genre is the camaraderie involved in it.  For the most part, everyone is trying to help everyone, whether its sharing tracks, asking for opinions, throwing each other’s tracks on mixes or whatever it is – people are looking out for each other.  A great example of that was the whole reason behind the Moombahton Massive Tres – to help one of my favorite producers, MUNCHI.  As many of you know, Munchi had some health issues while he was traveling and needed money for bills, flights, etc. and when Dave came to me, Cam, Obeyah, Jon Kwest, DJ Ayers, and Uncle Jesse about doing a benefit for him, EVERYONE was down and that’s kinda what I’m saying.  When I was playing in bands and stuff, there was a lot of jealousy and backstabbing, but the dance music scene and in particular, the moombahton scene seems to be very supportive.  It’s really cool.

CB:  Describe the creative process for the Vibrate Chick EP and what was it like working with Long Jawns and JWLS?

BTG:  Ok, Long [Jawns] and I have been linking up and working of tracks for a while now.  We were mostly working on house tracks and stuff like that, but [during] one session we sat down for, Long had played me a moombahton track he had started.  I knew right away we had to finish it – it was really good.   I told him it reminded me of some of the tracks that I’ve heard by this dude named “JWLS” from Miami.  He gave me this look and said, “That’s funny you say that cause it was a big inspiration for this track!”  So we finished that track up and sent it over to JWLS for input and he instantly hit us back and asked if he could do a remix of it…and obviously we said “yes.”   So that explains the first two tracks of this EP.  The third one was a track that I had started working on and sort of hit a brick wall with.  I let it sit for a while and came back to it and realized that I should finish it.  I tested it out at the Massive Tres and it sounded great.  So meanwhile, me, Long and JWLS are sitting on these two tracks (“vibrate/vibrate remix”) and I thought,  “I should just hit JWLS up to help me finish this ‘Chick like me’ track and then we should put all 3 of the songs out as an EP!”   So in some way or another, we all had something to do with all the tracks – it’s pretty cool.   I don’t think many people do stuff like this, especially with moombahton.

CB:  It might be really hard to choose, but who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

BTG:  Probably Jon Kwest.  That dude puts in a lot of work, always has fresh mixes, tracks, and seems to constantly be trying to push the sound.  I think he probably holds the record for most moombahton songs finished too…hahaha.

CB:  Finally, congratulations on your marriage!  Just curious…did moombahton have a presence during your wedding?

THANKS!   Being married is awesome and believe it or not, my wife’s dad wore his MOOMBAHTON shirt to the wedding under his suit. NO lie. Dave took a picture of it and put it on his twitter, I believe.  It was pretty awesome.

This Thursday We Celebrate ST. U HALL DAY.

uhall(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.

Thanks, DC!

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! :)