Awesome Twitter Trend: #ThingstoNeverAskaDJ

#ThingstoNeverAskaDJ has been trending on Twitter all day in L.A. today. That makes me happy because a lot of people don’t have a good grasp of club etiquette. What can you say? A lot of people don’t know that you’re supposed to read the story before you fire off angry comments either.

I can’t explain the idiosyncrasies of humanity, but I can tell you what annoys DJs. Certainly, many non-DJs on Twitter can too. It’s all too appropriate that nearly all of the tweets I saw had to do with requests. Asking a DJ to play your jam is a weird thing. Some people don’t take requests. Others do, but there is a certain level of selectivity in what they will play. Also, how you ask for a request is as important as the song itself. The moral of #ThingstoNeverAskaDJ is don’t be a jerk.

I’ve spent a lot of time working in clubs, mostly as a DJ, sometimes as a promoter. I’ve played at parties that hit capacity by 10:30 p.m. and spun at clubs where there were, maybe, 20 people in attendance. Clubs are tricky business. Even when a party is a running success, it’s not predictable. You’ll have nights where everyone shows up early and leaves by 1 a.m., nights where no one arrives before 1 a.m. There are times when all your friends flake on you and people you barely know are dropping your name at the door to try to avoid the cover charge. There will be parties where the crowd will dance to anything. Those are always the best. There are other nights, though, where people only want to dance to songs that came out before they were born. Then there are nights when no one wants to hear anything more than five years old.

Any club that’s a success takes a lot of work. Even the failures take some serious effort. Whether you’re a DJ or a promoter, you know that you spend most of your time promoting. You never attend an event without at least a small handful of flyers on you. There are probably more in your car. When you’re record shopping, you leave stacks with your friends at the store. You tweet and blog and update your Facebook page. You do this knowing full well that hardly anyone is paying attention to you, but you have to give it a shot. You do this on top of things like booking talent, finding a venue, creating the aesthetic of the event and practicing your technique.
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Anime and Music Fans Aren’t That Different

For more from AM2, read the latest installment of my Cult Stars column for L.A. Weekly, “Top 5 Things You’ll Find in an Anime Convention Exhibit Hall as Seen at AM2.”

Last weekend, I went to AM2, an anime convention out in Orange County. While I was there, I stopped by a panel hosted by the team behind the fan-centric website Ani.me. Their talk had to do “10 Commandments” for anime fans. It was funny, insightful and further proof to me that anime fans and music fans are more similar than they will acknowledge.

I grew up a hardcore music collector. I bought import albums and import music magazines, hunted down rarities, carefully made mixed tapes for my friends, studied the ones they made me. I became a DJ, the nerdiest job that people think is cool.

Though I have been watching anime since I was a kid, it was just a passing interest until grad school, when I got hooked on Fullmetal Alchemist and went to my first convention. Anime cons fascinate me for a lot of reasons, particularly in how much anime fans remind me of the lives my friends and I led as music obsessives.
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Want to Freelance? Find a Silent Partner

When you work freelance, you’re going to have to handle the creative and business end of your project. You need to keep track of your finances, get the clients, build the audience and, at the same time, produce the work that will define your career. It’s a near-impossible task. You’re going to need a silent partner.

When I say silent partner, I don’t mean a patron or assistant.  You need someone who will be there to push you to do your best, someone who will keep you going when all you want to do is quit. Pick someone who is close to you– a significant other, family member or close friend– someone who knows your faults and someone who won’t actually be silent. For me, that person is my boyfriend, Carlos.
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You Don’t Need Connections to Start Freelancing

Yesterday, someone asked me on Facebook if I had connections when I started freelancing. The simple answer is that I had absolutely no connections when I started.

I think this is a really interesting question because, when you read a lot of bios for well-known writers, you’ll tend to notice that they often attend the same schools. In the journalism world, these are often the big J-schools or Ivy League institutions. When you didn’t go to schools like these, when you don’t have the kinds of contacts that this particular realm of higher education offers, it’s really easy to feel intimidated. I do all the time.

I actually went to a pretty amazing university– Loyola Marymount– but it didn’t have a journalism school and, frankly, I didn’t think I would be doing what I am now. I also went through a really good graduate program at CSUN, but it’s not a “name” school, so, connection-wise, it didn’t help much. But, what I learned at both of these schools helped me tremendously. Thanks to working at LMU’s awesome radio station, KXLU, and taking a handful of alternative media-minded courses from Dr. Melissa Wall at CSUN, I learned that there’s a way around the establishment.

Maybe we should call this Freelancing the Indie Way.
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Freelancing: What Do I Do Next?

It’s been eight months since I rejoined the freelance world and finally, things aren’t looking quite as grim. Or, at least, they aren’t quite as grim today.

I was no stranger to freelancing, in fact, I’ve only had one full-time, writing-based job in my life. That lasted two years and, in that time, I got used to getting paychecks regularly. I liked not having to remember to submit invoices and then wait thirty days for the check. I loved not having to scramble to get together money for those ever increasing health insurance premiums.  It’s really easy to be seduced by the allure of benefits, so much so that you forget all the lessons you learned in Office Space.
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Shelf Life Season 3 Is Here


SHELF LIFE – S3 E1 – “Sic Semper Tyrannosaur” by ShelfLifeSeries

Season 3 of Shelf Life starts now.

Shelf Life is the tale of action figures stuck on the shelf of a young boy’s room who pass the time riffing on hot topics and getting into sticky situations. Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal, two L.A.-based actors well-known for their voice acting work, conceived the series and star in it as Hero Lass and Bug Boy. I talked to Tara and Yuri about the show earlier this year for L.A. Weekly.

This is one of my favorite shows on the web and the season premiere did not disappoint. Go watch it now.

Read Shelf Life: Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt Bring Action Figures to Life in Web Series.”

Catch up on Shelf Life via YouTube.

When You Head Back to the Decks and Realize Everything Has Changed

I’ve spent the past few months relearning how to DJ. On a technical level, it’s not that hard. Once you know how to match beats, you don’t forget. The hard part is relearning how to read the crowd.

Just to back up a bit, I started DJing in college and I spent the bulk of the early ’00s playing anywhere from three to seven nights a week. Then I went to grad school and dropped down to one gig a month. After that, I got a full-time job at an alternative weekly and quit DJing altogether. Two years later, I left said job and figured I might as well start playing with records again. I played my own birthday bash at Underground in December and my friends, Larry and Diana, asked me to join the crew. Now I join them at the Grand Star every other Friday night. I spin vinyl, even though my back hates me for it, because I despise CDs and am still saving up for Serato.

I’ve spent the past six months back on the turntables and it’s been a blast. It’s helped me with my writing, if for no other reason than the fact that it clears my mind. It’s helped me emotionally because, after feeling like a failure for a lot of reasons, I remembered that there is something I can do pretty well. But, throughout this whole process of reaquainting myself with a world that I thought was lost forever, I learned something important. A lot changes in two years.
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This Week’s Published Work: 6/04/12-6/08/12

I wish I had time to play my Game Boy.

 

When I started this blog, it was intended to be an actual thing with updates, regular ones, and such. Instead, I got caught up in other stuff, so I had to step away for a while. But, there’s always time to come back to my own blog, right?

A lot of stuff has happened in the past few weeks. I went to San Francisco. That was fun. There are photos that I’ve been meaning to post, but haven’t yet. Maybe that will happen. I DJed at Ming & Ping and Nvr-Ndr’s show at the Grand Star, but I forgot to write down the set list. No biggie, you’ve probably heard me play those songs somewhere else before that night.

More importantly, there were a lot of stories that were published. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track, so here are a few from the past week.
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