As of today, my music collection stands at 797 songs. Its taken me a decade to build this library of music and in this age of digital DJing I’ve noticed its become easier for some tracks to get burried deep down in the pile. After a period of relative “DJ hibernation” the search for new material for my dancecast has led me back to some old an forgotten tracks. I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to incorporate them into my sets, so don’t be surprise if you hear some from a few years back, or even the late 90s.

The DJ culture we’ve perpetuated since moving to the digital format has been one of “churn and burn” but it wasn’t always that way. When you had to spend 10 bucks per record and could only haul 30 to 40 of them to a show we were a much more select group. These days I can download any track I like from beatport instantly for $1.99 and have the ability to store millions of them on a single hard drive. $1.99 in 2011 vs. $10 in 2002? When adjusted for inflation, I believe that is the equivalent of 0.12 cents…lol.

On a serious note though, the diversity we have access to digitally now is amazing, but maybe we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Phoenix, AZ is spectacular place to play. I’ve played there 3 times now, and each time its been awesome. This was without a doubt one of the best gigs I’ve had in years, and is certainly top 5 all time. Here is the story of what went down in the desert.

I spend Saturday morning practicing and reviewing my controller set up, followed by some packing and then it’s off to Palm Beach Int’l Airport. I get there a little early because trying to get through security with a DJ setup it typically not easy. I find a cool looking TSA guys and when he looks at the bag, I tell him he might as well just take it off the conveyer belt now. He looks in and instantly says “are you a DJ”? He then asks me if I like David Guetta [which I don’t] so I just mention he’s been very successful, collect my bag and go. Easiest security screening ever. With time to kill I grab a beer and jot some notes in my DJ diary.

After a layover in Austin, TX, I make it to PHX. This airport is basically 4 airports in 1 and finding someone is always a challenge. One of the local DJs, a cool dude named Nick who goes by Skeltaboy, picks me up and we head to the venue. Unlike previous trips, in which we drove up into mountains then out into the desert, this time the party is in a warehouse district fairly close to the airport. As we pull up, I notice some seriously long lines. I ask Nick how many people they are expecting and he replies “about 2000 to 2500”. I knew right then and there I was in for one serious evening.

I find the VIP area, change, stash my equipment, and head out. The sound is quality, lighting is very good, and the stage is real nice. I wander and check out some local DJ sets. It’s early, but already the party is in full swing. Out front, the lines have grown quite large. At some point the main room gets so crowded and you can move, at all. Pushing doesn’t even help. I have to sneak out a back exit, walk around the block and re-enter through the main gate to get back to the VIP area. Meanwhile the line out front… still huge. I decide its best to stay in the VIP room for a while. I hang out with the ArcAttack boys, and then have a beer with Showtek [the popular dutch hard dance act]. We all b/s and talk shop. The venue owner was in and out as well, and let me say this: he’s the coolest venue owner I’ve ever met.

As the evening progresses, it’s getting to be time for the Charles to take the stage. The place is now so packed and wild that 2 security staff have to be called to escort me to the stage. DJ D-Lyte it banging some serious NRG style 150 bpm stuff, and I’m not sure how I’m gonna get down to 130 BPM electro. Mike Saga has the mic so I tell he, let the track play out and ask the crowd if they like electro. They bite. They are so amped up I think they might have cheered for an Irish Polka. Either way I have my in and we go straight into some heavy electro.

Several times early I come out from behind the decks and amp these people up. I’m slapping hand with everyone behind the barricade like some sort of rock star, and we really start to connect. I feed off the energy and we have some serious fun, with some great tunes that are not at all what they expect. I’m happy I was able to win over a hard dance crowd early, or it could have been a long night. On a couple occasions I try to hand out stickers but there are so many people, I end up just chucking them out into the crowd. After the night was over, none were on the floor.

At some point, my beats attract the full compliment of go –go dancers to the stage. They are great eye candy, and the crowd is rockin’. A staff member ask me if I want to clear a few of the girls off b/c the crowd can barely see me and I reply “No way, they’re a lot better looking than I am” and besides the current arrangement appears to working out just fine.

Now I was supposed to play Dubstep as well, but I really wasn’t focused on that at the time. A cute little dance come up to me and says “don’t you have some Dubstep?” and I say of course I do. I set up a mix, loop it, and lower the volume. I grab the mic and as the crowd about a rumor I head that they like Dubstep. The deafening roar of a response tells me they like it. I un-loop and drop into dub. It goes over very well and not a single person has left, despite this being the final set of the evening. When we do finally finish, I get a huge applause and I have that indescribable feeling that I’ve been chasing for years, and only experience very rarely. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt, the audience’s satisfaction with my performance is overwhelming.

I barely sleep because my body does know the time zone difference, but the next day I hang with the promoters and other headliners. It was a great way to chill and decompress, and crack jokes about the English, Welsh, and Americans. I have to give props to TMC for putting together a spectacular show. Special thanks goes out to GREM and Faye for bring me out, turning me lose on their crowd, and taking good care of their DJs. I hope to be back out west soon.

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I’m going to make an effort to start blogging and podcasting with more regularity again. I know for the last 6 months things have been spotty at best, but the truth is “real world” pressures have just caught up with me. Moving from Connecticut to Florida was more difficult that I expected, and once I got down here I didn’t exactly take to my new surrounding like a duck in water. Adapting to a new area after living my entire life within a 15 mile radius of Bridgeport, CT was more difficult that I thought it would be. Compounding the situation were the holidays which were right around the corner. Christmas made me miss my family very much, more than had anticipated. It hurt. I figure I’ve always been adaptable and resilient and this wouldn’t be a big deal. Turns out, I’m human after all.

In addition to being mentally drained, my new job is demanding more of my time than ever before. The end result has left me worn out, in a creative rut, and without as much desire to plow forward as usual. I would like to publically thank Mike Hindle and DJ Airty for continuing to contribute great mixes to the DanceCast while I regroup and try to regain my old form. Both are spectacular DJs with extremely different styles, but most importantly they are good at what they do.

This whole ordeal has been a tough pill to swallow for someone who is very demanding and constantly putting pressure on himself, but I taking a step back and accepting things for what they are. I think I’m starting to work my way out of this funk, and hopefully I’ll be back in full swing soon. Maybe this gig out in AZ will jump start the process.

A big thank you goes out to those of you who have stuck around, and continued to be a great inspiration to me.

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So I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I have however been doing a lot of things that are all positive.

First and foremost, the move to FL is complete. What a relief that is. For months now I had been flying back and forth for weeks at a time, while trying to juggle the buying and selling of homes. The dude who bought my house in CT was… less than accommodating. Lets just leave it at that. I do however now have a nice house at the top of South Florida. I also now have a decent room dedicated to music, which is hugh. I can wait to work my way out from under all the boxes, paint it, and set up my studio. I’ve got a lot of ideas in my head and I would really like to get back to making music.

I have also been making a few moves behind the scenes lately and will have a few announcements in the near future, here are a few hints:

  • A big new gig at the end of January [You may want to book a plane ticket]
  • An upgraded alliance to add to my portfolio

fieldtrp

Just in case you’ve missed my previous blog, here is the story. I was offered a good job down south, and I’m going to be moving to Port St. Lucie, Florida. I’ve been laying low for the past month, making plans and preparing for the move, but I wanted to make sure I did one final gig before I leave. A few weeks ago Randy called and we decided to join forces for what will most likely be my final gig in New England.

I’m still going to be in CT for a little while, probably at least a month or two until I can sell my house. I don’t, however have any other gigs planned, and wouldn’t take any unless it was something I couldn’t pass up. So this is it… my final gig in my home state, and fittingly its only a half mile away from where it all began. Over the years you guys have been great and supported me tremendously. Now, I’m asking for you all to come out one final and dance, enjoy yourselves, and have fun with me.

Saturday, September 12th Randy Boyer and Mike Charles team up one final time at Room 960.

Mike Charles 10 to 12

Randy Boyer 12 to 2

This really doesn’t need much of a description. Over the past few years our parties at Hartford’s elite nightclub have always brought the best house and trance to the best crowd in New England. Its only 10 dollars for anyone on the reduced entry list. To get on the list, simply email me back at mikecharles@gmail.com with your name.

Room 960 is located at 960 Main St. in Hartford, CT. Inside the G. Fox building.

So not everybody on my list lives in the Northeast, heck some don’t even live in the US, but I’ve got you covered there too. If you can make it to the final gig you can still hear me play that same night on BUZZ, Kiss 95.7 FM’s electronic music show. The show runs from 12 to 4am on Saturday night / Sunday morning and I will be doing a guest mix for the show at 1am. Tune you radio to 95.7 if you are in the Hartford area, or listen from anywhere in the world by going to www.kiss957.com.
I hope to see you Saturday night.

-Mike

portstlucie

In case you aren’t on my mailing list…

Well the subject line just about says it all… I’m moving to Florida soon. Why? I have a good job opportunity line up down there and I’ve been interested in FL for some time. I’ve got family there [including Daddy Charles] and in general I just think it will be good for me. I’m headed about 1300 miles south to Port St. Lucie where I’ll be relatively close to Miami.

For a long time New England has been good to me. I grew up as a DJ in a Hartford basement, and I still miss the Muni dearly. I’ve played parties in every state in the Northeast over the years and have many fond memories of them all. If I can come close to duplicating that in Florida I’d consider myself a lucky man. I want to thank everyone for all the love and support over years. This journey through electronic music has been a wild one, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of it. I don’t really know what else to say except: Thank you for the memories, the good times, and the great dancefloors.

I’m going to a farewell gig before I leave so we can all rock it one more time. I can’t give out details yet, but I will say this… I’m reviving Discretion for one final night. Expect to information about a clandestine invite only party very soon. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

So yeah, I’m leaving, but there is good news. You can still hear me anytime you want on the DanceCast and my blog “Room 211″. Both can be accessed by heading over to www.mikecharles.net

Thanks again everyone, I will miss you.

-Mike Charles

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I recently stumbled across a rant by Trent Reznor thanks to CDM, one of the few sites I visit daily. It really got me think about where this is all going. I just finished my first real track entitled Alpha 243. I sent it out to a group of people I thought would be for providing feedback, and I got mixed reviews. Some people liked it, others didn’t and its pretty much what i expected. Now what? Its not exactly a dance track, its more like mellow dubstep, so do i really want to start contacting a million labels and deal with all that rejection?

Like most artists, I lead a semi-normal life while flying under the radar and eking out a living in this world. Someday I dream of quitting my day job and being a full time electronic musician, but I’m pretty sure that day isn’t gonna be anytime soon. So where exactly am I going with all of this? Does anyone give a sh*t? I’ve been trying to build slowly over the last few years; first the podcast, then the blog, all the dj gigs, and now making music. I’d like to think that if and/or when new people do discover me, I’ve at least made myself interesting enough to hold their attention.

Back on track… Trent says give it away free, because its all gonna end up on mp3 blogs and torrent sites anyway and I think he’s got a valid point. “Making it” as an artist is probably more difficult that ever as we approach critical mass. No matter what your medium its easier than ever to become an “artist” so the amount of content people now have to sift thru requires a digital machete. There is so much crap on beatport now, because everyone can make “music” with a cracked copy of ableton and a few torrented loop packs and server storage is now cheap, that finding new things like requires hours of dedication.

So where do I from here? I don’t know… I guess back into the bedroom I refer to as a studio and get back to work. Back to the podcast I’ve worked hard on for the last few years. Back to the blog so people will have something interesting read if they ever show up. And back to the DJ booth, where I’ll hope I can get a decent dancefloor to rock every once and a while. At least I know one thing for sure, I can’t be accused of not trying.

dubstep

So last night was Dance Till Dawn 8. The annual party/rave/whatever at the University of Rhode Island. I was booked to play Dubstep which is, as many of you know, quite far from the norm for me. I practiced a lot for this gig because I’d never played dub out before and I wanted to make sure I nailed it. In practice sessions I had a real rough time, because dudstep has some pretty unique patterns and the tracks are generally much shorter than those of other genres of dance music. I even forced my wife to come into the music room twice and listen while I spun sets and tell me how it sounded. The morning of the gig I play a good set and felt decent about the coming night. I figured it would either go great or be a total wreck, but I typically have a way of pulling through in a clutch. When it came time to take the stage, I nailed it, and got some really great feedback from people after the set. All in all, i feel pretty good about how it went, and can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Welcome to the confessional, where you’ll find me opening up about some of my personal feelings. So, I think I’m a pretty darn good DJ, but my foray into music production is less than one year old. Its had some ups and downs and starts and stops. Sometimes I even catch myself making excuses or doing other work just to avoid making music. I did some soul searching and got down to the cause, which is that I’m really scared about making music. Its overwhelming, There is so much to learn, and the field is vast. I’ve learned a lot, and continue to try all the time but I don’t think I’m very good at it right now. Its not that I don’t have the creativity to make music, its more about not being able to tool to make my ideas into reality fast enough. Its like I’ve got this great riff in my head, but can’t get the guitar to make it. I guess that is why I’m scared, because I hate failure, I hold myself to very standards, and I’m very critical of myself. I know that I’ll stick with it, and that over time I’ll gain the experience I need to get where I need to, but in the mean time its frustrating. Of course when I think back on my first year of DJing, I was not good. Eventually with a lot of time, practice, and patience I was able to develop and hone my skills, and now I’m firing on all cylinders. I just hope I can do the same with producing.

EDIT

I drafted this post about 2 weeks ago and since then I’ve made some great strides on the track I’m currently working on. I guess maybe I just needed to get this stuff off my chest.