Want to catch me in the DJ booth this week? Here’s where you can do just that.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Disco Heat @ Songbird
900 N. Broadway, #1050, Chinatown 90012
10 p.m., No Cover, 21+
This Thursday night, Disco Heat launches its now-weekly residency at Songbird. Joining me this week is Jus’ B, who you may have caught at the past three installments of Disco Heat at Songbird. We have a broad mix of what’s considered disco in the queue for you, from classic ‘70s jams to ‘80s Italo to ‘90s disco-influenced house to 21st century nu-disco. Jus’ B and I both made Spotify playlists of what has been in our sets, so check those out and get ready to hit the dance floor on March 2 and 10 p.m.
I just posted this month’s Beatique mix, which you can listen to either on Mixcloud or on this page. It’s composed of two eclectic sets, with the second set being a club-style mix, that includes indie dance, disco, soul, psychedelic and weird electronic tunes. Give it a listen and check out the full track list below.
In 1972, the concept of a music television show designed to keep people glued to their television sets in the middle of the night was novel. In fact, it was so unusual that, according to various interviews with the Burt Sugarman, the veteran TV producer funded The Midnight Special himself to get the pilot on the air. That initial episode aired at 1 a.m. and featured performances from War, Linda Ronstadt, The Isley Brothers and more. The format was a hit and The Midnight Special ran until 1981. Today, there is plenty of footage to watch online and multiple DVD sets available, all of which serve as a 1970s time capsule. If you watch enough clips from The Midnight Special— and, trust me, I have— you’ll see the decade evolve from funky hippies to disco to new wave.
Disco Heat is rising, friends. Beginning March 2, I’ll be dropping classic and modern disco alongside some of my favorite L.A. DJs every Thursday night at Songbird in Chinatown. The party will now start at 10 p.m. and go until last call. There’s still no cover. RSVPs are recommended, just head over to Eventbrite and click on the date that you want to attend.
Jus’ B, who has been playing with me at Songbird since Disco Heat launched in December, will be back monthly, and you can catch him next on March 2. For the rest of the month, we have an eclectic mix of top notch DJs. Each has a distinct style, so you’ll hear something different every week. I’m excited to play with Fluency, Marcus, Don French and Rose Knows.
In case you haven’t already heard, there’s talk about raising visa fees for musicians, amongst others. It’s a significant increase too. Resident Advisor reported that the P visa, which is for touring artists, would skyrocket from $460 to $1615, while the O visa would go from $460 to $1655.
I sent in a comment expressing my concerns over this fee hike. If you’re opposed to this, you should do the same and have until March 6 to submit one.
This isn’t the comment that I submitted, but it’s why I’m opposed to the fee hike. Feel free to adapt the info as you wish when you submit yours.
Obtaining a visa to tour in the United States has long been a complicated and expensive process. Those of you who go to a lot of shows can probably recall at least a few instances where a band dropped off the bill at the last minute citing visa issues. On top of that, touring has grown increasingly expensive for everyone. Raising the visa fees is going to create a barrier of entry so great that only those artists with major financial backing will be able to do it.
U.S. artists benefit international artists touring here. It’s often U.S. artists who are the support acts on the road, plus local bands and DJs open at specific shows. These can be amazing opportunities to raise the profile of lesser-known or emerging artists here.
International touring artists are often big draws for local venues. Particularly in the case of indie clubs, these shows can both provide necessary revenue and raise the overall profile of the venue. This is all very important given that nightlife is still struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdown of 2020/21.
A rise in visa fees means a rise in the costs related to international artists playing any gig in the U.S., which could mean that corporate behemoths Ticketmaster/Live Nation and AEG will be the only ones who can afford to support international artists in the States. Do you really want to support anything that will help strengthen their stranglehold on live music?
Recently, I wrote about how and why you should support your local music scene. Part of that is supporting the touring artists who stop through our cities as well. If we want our hometown music scenes to survive, we need to make sure that bands from outside of the U.S. can play here too.
Last Tuesday, I played a last minute, fill-in set at Dolce Vita and recorded the full two-hours that I played. Then I chopped the set down to a more reasonable one hour and ten minutes, which you can now hear on Mixcloud.
I’ll be back at Dolce Vita on Tuesday, February 21 to play from 9 p.m. until last call. There’s no cover and it’s 21+. Hope to see you there.
One of the reasons I started blogging like it’s 2003 again is because of AI. I’m not an alarmist, but I’m not naive either. It’s obvious that writers and DJs both fall under the category of jobs-AI-might-eliminate. They’re jobs that people assume require less time, skill and creativity than they do. Neither writers nor DJs are particularly well-appreciated by the masses, although both have their small communities of supporters. Plus, AI has already made inroads in both media and the DJ booth.
With that in mind, I figured I should carve out my space online now, while I’m still working, just in case a time comes when I’m unemployable and some people are starved for “content” that’s not generated by AI.
To be honest, I’m not anti-AI at all. It’s been around for a long while and, like everyone who has ever asked Siri to name that tune, it’s already a part of my life and work.
Plus, I know that there is real potential for using AI in creative work. In 2019, I talked to YACHT for Los Angelenoabout how they used it in the process of making Chain Tripping, an album that would go on to earn a Grammy nomination and is a really good example of how the technology can be used. This is my favorite line from the story:
“AI is like any technology,” [Claire L.] Evans says. “It’s what we do with it that’s good or bad.”
I’m less concerned about AI than I am about humans because, frankly, we suck. We will take advantage of every opportunity to fuck each other over, to cut someone else out of the equation so that we can horde the cash or the clout or both. We turn our eyes away from injustices over and over again just so we can accumulate more crap for less money. Then we blame systems as if those weren’t built by humans and as if their continued existence doesn’t depend on us enabling them.
So, no, I don’t trust humans to employ AI wisely. I know that both my jobs— writing and DJing— will be on the line as a result. Human intelligence and creativity won’t matter if it means not having to pay a writer or a DJ to do what was their job. And I honestly don’t think that general audiences will care. People accept low standards for writing (see: most stories that fall under the category of “click bait”) and are accustomed to getting music recommendations from an algorithm. We already set the stage for this, whether or not we want to admit it.
I also don’t buy any of the bs that AI will cut out the boring work and give us more time to be creative. The boring work often is essential to the creative process. There’s a reason why you typically don’t see photos of writers in the midst of writing on Instagram. It’s boring as hell. You spend half the time staring at a blank screen wondering what you’ll write and the other half staring at a bunch of words while fighting the urge to delete the whole thing.
Now that I think about it, most of what a DJ does is pretty boring too. Sifting through your music collection can take more time than the actual DJ set. It’s tedious, yet it’s something that you should do, even if you can automate that part of the process now. Going through your music over and over again helps you select the best songs for specific moments and fit them together in the most impactful way.
In fact, when people say “boring,” it sounds to me more like they mean less glamorous or less prestigious. But, as I’m certain many freelancers will tell you, those are often the gigs that make the exciting ones possible. The copywriting and content marketing jobs can help a writer afford to work on portfolio pieces that will inevitably sell for less money than the labor involved warrants. The DJ gigs where you’re tasked with playing the hits, like private parties and weddings, can allow you fill your calendar with more low-pay gigs where you can play whatever you want.
I’m suspicious of anyone who who argues that UBI is the answer, especially in a country where universal healthcare is not a thing and educating oneself frequently requires taking on staggering amounts of debt. It’s more likely we’ll end up fighting for whatever jobs technology hasn’t replaced.
All this sounds extremely cynical, because that’s my nature, but I don’t think the situation is hopeless. If it were, I would spend my downtime looking for a job that won’t disappear instead of writing an essay for which I won’t be paid. I know I’m not unique. General audiences might not care whether or not the news was written by AI or they’re dancing in a club to set mixed by a streaming platform, but niche groups will.
There are people out there, maybe (hopefully) more than I think, who will want to continue reading words typed into a computer by a human and hear music selected and mixed by a human. After all, people who are too young to remember life before Napster are shopping at record stores. If that can happen, then maybe tech’s pull isn’t as strong as we like to think it is.