Why Aren’t You At CRSSD This Weekend?

Southern California has established itself as one of the premiere locations for music festivals. The radiant sun and budding beach vibes set the scene for some of the biggest music festivals, and now it’s San Diego’s time to shine.

CRSSD Fest is on it’s third annual iteration of the sunset San Diego Festival, which is held twice a year in Downtown San Diego where the cityscape meets the sea.

CRSSD has cultured an atmosphere devoted to the grooviest and deepest in house and techno music, mixing an eclectic range of live bands and DJs.

This year’s live headliners are none other than Seattle-based duo, Odesza, and Australian tour de force, Chet Faker. Both these artists have circled the globe over the last year, touring the festival circuit, so San Diego is glad to have them.

The techno runs deep this year, as CRSSD have pulled in Eric Prydz’s deep dark alias, Cirez D, to close Saturday with a tour hour set!

I love the sound that CRSSD is bringing to San Diego. They have solidified themselves as strong curator’s devoted to the art, and I love the vibes that they are bringing to town. A step away from the mainstream, CRSSD also has a dedicated home at Bang Bang nightclub on the corner of 6th Avenue and Market St. Bang Bang has been “the” spot to be in Downtown to dance the night away, and they will be one of the many clubs hosting exclusive after parties during this CRSSD weekend.

Being on the waterfront, dancing the night away, is something special to San Diego. I’m excited to go for my first time, as their “Sunset Sets” are something special.

Learning to DJ

This past Wednesday, I had the amazing opportunity to mix live for my radio show! Behind two decks, spinning songs, now feels naturally to me. Now, unfortunately, I didn’t have my usual set-up with me, so it wasn’t my best run, but performing live for an audience is a feeling like no other.

Ask any dancer, singer, actor, or musician: it’s exhilarating.

Since a lot of people lately have been asking me about mixing, I figured I could break it down here.

Before we even touch the hardware, there’s one basic skill when it comes to DJ’ing, and that is beatmatching. You have to feel the rhythm of a song, before lining up the next one. Like the ever-so-talented Zach Efrron revealed, “I like to start them off at 122 bpm, before locking on their heartrate and bumping it up to 128”.

Something like that, that movie was lame as hell anyway.

Once you learn how to beatmatch, you’ll be able to phrase songs together. Sure you’re on the beat, but if you’re not lining up phrases, it won’t be as clean as it can be. You want sounds to enter when other sounds exit, ok?

Most music deals in Four-Four time, Four counts for Four beats. The most basic of songs follow this structure. Particularly in electronic music, everything is built by groups of fours. In house music especially, a new sound is added or subtracted every 16 beats, or some multiple of four/sixteen. Next time you’re listening to a song, start counting in your head four counts and repeating, and see what lines up.

Of course, not every single song ever made adheres to this. And that’s where it gets tricky, and what separates the Carl Cox’s from the Steve Aoki’s.

Once you nail those basic principals, you can focus on song selection. Anybody can play any song, but it’s how you play it, how you mix it, any personal flair you add, that really makes you stand out. Prove those kids wrong that say, “Oh DJ’s just press play.” They’re not even worth your breath arguing.

A mantra I’ve always lived by, is that “A good DJ plays the song you want to hear. A great DJ plays a song you didn’t know you wanted to hear”. I strive to surprise my listeners every time I get behind the decks. It keeps things fresh. But of course, everyone always has those “go-to” songs/song combinations/transitions.

Now you have your songs, you know how to mix them together, what do you mix with? You don’t even need a physical controller. There are a lot of similar DJ softwares out there, which all accomplish the same thing, and if you know the basics I mentioned, then you can fly behind any deck, real or virtual.

Here is a picture of my personal controller, which runs on Serato DJ (Serato DJ Intro is the free version).


I work with the Pioneer DDJ-SB “Portable 2-Channel Controller”. Behind the decks, I can control and cue up to two songs. I can mess with volumes, or even individual layers of songs to intermix the two songs together, for whatever desired effect I want. Sometimes you want to weave them in together over a stretch of time, other times you want to slam in a drop right on beat.

We’ve got effects too. FX let you get creative, and put your own personal flair on a song. You’re not always just pressing play! For example, a high Pass filters cut out any low portions to a song, and an echo FX will…well give you an echo.

I’m a huge fan of this mixer because of how versatile it was for the price. Retailing for around $200-$250, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of my DDJ-SB over the past year.

Of course there are bigger and better models out there, but they all accomplish the same basic principle. Four decks and fancier FX sure would be nice to work with.

And of course there is always the traditional vinyl route. DJ Snake spins vinyls (bet you didn’t know that), and is an artistic form in it’s own. Peep the grandmaster, A-Trak’s hashtag, #RealDJing to get an inside look of the lifestyle. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing some scratching and cutting in 2016.

DJing is a fun hobby to learn and a good skill to bust out at parties. Be more than just “an iPod”. Flex your musical knowledge, educate the crowd, take them on a journey. Who knows, maybe even one day you’ll be headlining the main stage to thousands of people, or the underground with a hundred people packed into a tight club.

LED Anniversary 5 Electrifies San Diego

Valentine’s became more Valen-turnt this year, as local San Diego production company, LED Presents, held their fifth annual LED Anniversary on Valentine’s Day, this past Sunday, February 14th. Couples and singles alike flocked to the Valley View Casino Center in Point Loma, appropriately dubbed the LEDome, as it has become home for the biggest electronic music events in San Diego, and a central hub for electronic music here in Southern California. Keeping the dance floor packed from 9pm to 4am, concert goers made this Valentine’s Day a night to remember.

I got into the doors right at 9pm to catch the first act, Jackal. Bringing a mix of high-energy tracks with heavy bass lines, Jackal got the party started right away. Oddly enough, he was followed by resident Australian DJ, Hook N Sling. His broad electrohouse sound left party goers in a mixed state, as Hook N Sling’s mellow track selection and long-dragged out mixing seemed to loosen the vibe solidified by his opener. Next up was CRNKN, an up-and-coming trap producer. His sound has varied from track to track, and I feel his 40 minutes was not enough for him to deliver exactly the set he wanted to. Though he hit all his main points, his sound was all over the place as an artist.

Trippy Turtle, otherwise known as Lido, has become a fixture in the Jersey Club genre. Full of sensual thumping bass lines and high-pitched bed squeaks, fans of his sure had a blast. But for me, it was hard to sit through an hour of the same sonic structure. I did enjoy his brief interlude of 90’s throwback hip-hop, which always seems to get the crowd jumping here in the West Coast. Former LED DJ, SNBRN, went back-to-back with Shaun Frank, and delivered a surprisingly heavy house set, reminiscent of old school ’90s rave nights. Though on their own, they have a more laid back sound, their back-to-back brought high energy for those looking to dance the night away. Definitely one of the big surprises of the night for me.

By midnight, the LEDome had gotten ratchet. With Dotcom and Ookay behind the decks, they delivered two hours of in-your-face party music. Growing up in San Diego, Ookay brought the heat and nearly took the roof for LED Anniversary. Surprise guest, Jauz, came back to San Diego after his sold-out LA tour which featured more surprise guests than we could count. Closing out the night, was one-half of the Dutch giants, Showtek. I wasn’t expecting much from their set, as Showtek had a very minimal impact in 2014 and 2015, a steep drop off after dominating the airwaves in 2013. I wasn’t a fan of the initial announcement that Showtek would be headlining LED Anniversary, as I wasn’t expecting them to bring anything new, especially after closing less than two years ago. They had a live MC, which seemed unnecessary to me. I wasn’t planning on getting yelled at to “jump” at 3:30am. Though they closed the night with their throwback track, “FTS”, they did the same exact thing back for LED Anniversary 3. Except that time they were actually trying to give a “F*** ”  you to “The System” and stayed on the decks 20 more minutes before clearing off.

Overall, the music was lit for a Sunday night. Whether you were single, or with your significant other, I hope you all had a blast this Valentine’s Day