While I missed out on the obligatory end-of-year journal entry here on Area709, I did take the time to upload two new recordings to my music page at the end of December. I thought the dichotomy between these two sets was an appropriate commentary on 2011, and it seemed less forced than hurriedly condensing the events of the calendar year into a blog post. I had a great New Year's Eve and Christmas holidays, book-ended three weekends ago by another great night at the Anza Club. Apparently, everyone's New Year's resolution was to become more socially outgoing, as the joint was packed shoulder-to-shoulder! As usual, I'd like to extend a huge thank you - from me and the Soundproof crew - to everyone that came out.
Before I muse about what lies ahead - and now that I've had some time to collect my thoughts - there are a couple of moments from 2011 I'd like to revisit. Consider this more of a highlight reel as opposed to a play-by-play of the year past. One admission first though: while I always feel energized after throwing a party with Soundproof, I felt one or two of our events in 2011 were "just okay" as opposed to bonafide home runs. This is the risk you run when you try new things. Soundproof experimented with a series of different venues, performer line-ups and varying scales of scope to reaffirm what we do best, what might be changed or improved, and what was probably best left untouched. Besides, if you're completely adverse to trying new things you also never going to unexpectedly hit it out of the park , which is exactly what happened with Trancemission 14 this summer.
So, what were some of my favourite Soundproof moments from 2011?
- This year, we held 'Lucid,' our dream themed party in February, 'Space-ish,' a campy sci-fi driven event in May, 'Trancemission 14' our now weekend long outdoor party in July and 'Submersed,' an under-the-ocean surrealist affair in November. Each event had a strong unifying theme, increasingly more involved visuals and a small army of decorations and lights and the inclusion of an appropriately challenging Big Weird Prop (BWP). 'Lucid' had the two-story high, rotating cloud tree, 'Space-ish' had the giant flying saucer, 'Trancemission' had the huge, illuminated and swivelling T14 and 'Submersed' had the ocean wall of visual screens and remote-controlled helium fish. The giant T14 wins the prize for most impressive BWP and was easily the crew and crowd favorite for 2011. Conversely, if I'm ever asked to help build another massive flying saucer in my lifetime, there's a good chance I'll probably try setting it on fire.
- 2011 was a good year for new blood and new ideas in the crew. We officially welcomed Jon Bierman, (Dark Arps - http://soundcloud.com/dark-arps
) into the crew after T14. Jon has been a welcome addition, not just because of his talented live PA act, but also his unwavering professionalism when it comes to setting up sound for our events. I - and other crew members - also felt some welcome pressure to perform due to the efforts of some of the newcomers and guest DJs at our indoor parties, Trancemission and at our monthly Anza night. Ehsan Rezaie, Teresa Johnson, Roberto Alcantra, Stacey Shkuratoff all come to mind. Special props this year go to Mike Lee, Kurtis, veteran Jeff J and Clint Hanson (the morning DJs at T14) all of whom I thought completely out-classed the veteran DJs this year by a far stretch, myself especially included.
- The Anza nights (the first Saturday of every month) have been running for a year and a half now, which is a bit hard to believe. After about a year of doing them informally, we officially took over hosting duties once a month and they remain quite successful. We retained the opening Open Decks format from 9:30 pm to 11:00pm and the nights became a good way of introducing and exposing new DJs that would otherwise get limited opportunities to play. I still do a double-take when I see the number of controllers and laptops at parties, and the complete absence of decks at events. Up until about a year ago, I was still using turntables at Open Decks, and turntables and CDJs are almost absent on many occasions. While I always expect a fairly low-key evening out, these evenings *always* ended up being busy. You may have noticed my use of the past tense in this section... I'll explain later.
- Trancemission 14 consisted of perfect weather, brilliant music for 24 hours, a solid stage set-up and an amazing near-capacity crowd. While we didn't have paragliders coast into the party this year (like T13) from the neighboring mountain range, the dance floor was going off *well* after we passed the 24 hour mark at noon on the Sunday. Clint Hanson gets the best performance award of 2011, without question, for the strongest closing we've ever had at a Trancemission party. John Tennant gets the runner up award for igniting the party, somehow managing to cram the dance floor full of bodies at 7pm and definitely setting an incredibly high bar for the rest of us to follow for the remainder of the evening. The logistics for this event always wipe me out for the following week, and it's always well worth it.
- A newcomer to our events made an interesting comment mid-way through the evening at "Submersed" back in November. She said it was refreshing that everyone played a noticeably different style of music each hour of the party. While coordinating a cohesive lineup with a variety of different musical styles can be a bit of headache, it's nice being reminded that people appreciate the diversity. From the perspective of someone that likes to play different styles of music, having such a receptive and forgiving audience is really liberating, within good reason of course. I continued the gradual transition I started in 2009 over to harder techno, little by little, over the course of the year. I admit I'm still trying to find the boundaries of what seems to sit well with the audience at a Soundproof event, and there's a large volume of material still sitting being held in check on my computer these days.
Bearing that last comment in mind, I don't have one particular personal performance that's stood out for me above all others this year. I feel that 2011 was a good year for self discovery and experimentation, whereas 2010 seemed the year where I hit the nail on the head every time I stepped up to the controls. Bearing this in mind, my 2 hour tag team set with Drew David at "Lucid" last March was probably the set I enjoyed the most. Drew and I have tagged at a couple of Soundproof parties now, and he always brings out the best in me. I felt like we balanced each other out perfectly at "Lucid," but more importantly, it's the most fun I had playing all year.
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So, what's next?
Every year it's a challenge balancing my DJing with other pursuits, and I don't foresee anything different in 2012. I had a couple of major breakthroughs in my climbing life (my other major passion) this past Fall, having the best season in memory since my trip to Spain in 2008. Like other personal breakthroughs in difficulty I've had in the past, the presence and support of a truly amazing group of motivated friends was a huge factor in the progression I made this Fall. Luke, Chris, James, Pete, Andrea, Angela, Josie, Marty, Rich, Senja, Kelly, Jessie and Geoff all played important roles, helping me piece together individual elements of technical beta for two inspiring and intimidating routes, and more importantly, helped me believe I was capable of climbing these routes in the first place.
I've been integrating climbing into my life for 10 years now. I've been DJing with Soundproof for 5 years, and I really value how these two pursuits inevitably reflect different parts of my psyche and personality - and surprisingly - compliment and balance each other. As of January, I've added skiing to the mix as well, so I'll be interested to see what these varied pursuits bring out in each other over the coming years. While it may seem contradictory to some, I definitely believe it's possible to lead a lifestyle that encompasses some form of dedicated athleticism and appreciates the hedonistic world of electronic music. Of course, I'll be the first to admit this would be much easier to accomplish if I didn't have to sleep 8 or more hours a night...
I'll acquiesce that this balance will be slightly easier to maintain the coming months, as Soundproof is going through a semi-voluntary lull over the next 5 months. For the time being, I'll refer you over to http://www.soundproof.ca for a list of various announcements, as I think this particular journal entry is long enough. Follow the link you'll see that Colleen has done an eloquent job of explaining why we're stepping down from hosting an Open Dex night every month at the Anza Club, and what will be taking its place this summer. Hosting Open Dex has become a welcome monthly fixture in my life, and I'll certainly miss it and the new talent it always brought out. However, we obviously attracted a large enough crowd that we've outgrown the downstairs venue, so now it's time to try something new.
In terms of gigs, Soundproof's next party will be in April. Our club nights will resume in June, and happen every 2 months instead of every month, albeit in a larger and more auspicious environment. On a personal note, I'll be playing an event on February 18th with Khan (http://www.area709.com/khan/), Nemo and Atash, kindred spirits from the Beheshto group here in Vancouver. I'll post up more details here on Area709 in the next week. It's been a couple of years since we've all shared the stage, so needless to say I'm pretty excited for the evening.
So, in the meantime, I hope everyone's new year is going well... and I hope all of you find whatever it is you're looking for in 2012!