March 29, 2009

DJ Etiquette :: Bring Your Own Gear

This "Etiquette" series will be my effort to outline some key points that I've learned throughout the 10 years I have been DJing and hopefully bring back the diminishing etiquette every DJ should know. Furthermore, I hope this will show new DJs that there is more to being a DJ than just playing music.

For this post, "Bring Your Own Gear".

Here's a list of things I always bring to any gig. Whether I'm helping out on a mobile gig or playing a club gig, these are the most basic things I bring. These are not ordered in a specific way.
  • Headphones
    I've had my fair share of forgetting my headphones at home. But I have seen DJs try to mix without them; not a good idea. Those waveforms on Serato will not help you mix tracks, let alone, mix them better. Also, you really do not want to end up borrowing sweaty headphones or keep the other DJ at the gig if he/she needs to leave.

  • Needles
    I bring 3 sets (6 needles) to any gig. Just in case. Don't expect other DJ's to let you use their needles.

  • Slipmats
    I bring 2 sets. Butter Rugs and regular mats. Some venues do not have mats readily available on installed turntables and don't expect to use the other DJ's slipmats.

  • Control Vinyls
    Bring your own! It came when you bought Serato, now use them.

  • Vinyl
    Yes, old school vinyl! I lose a little respect for a DJ that does not bring at least one vinyl to switch out. Bring your own!

  • Serato Box Power Supply
    You'd be surprised how many times this gets looked over, even in an installed club setup. I always bring mine, just in case.

March 22, 2009

Another Type Of Gig

My dad has always wanted to have a band. So over time, he collected all the equipments and instruments needed for one and have his friends come over on Friday nights to play and "jam". All the equipment are stored and set up in my dad's living room and that's where they practice. It's like a studio right when you walk through their front door. They call themselves "Oldies But Goodies, Young Naman" or OBGYN. haha. The word "Naman" is a Tagalog word. I don't know the formal definition for it, but it's implying that they're still "young". hehe.

Here they are on stage. My dad is in the back playing the guitar. They even have matching outfits!

My dad wants me to play rhythm guitar for his band, but since I can't be at their practices all the time, I play a background role. I am the, as he calls it, "audio technician". I balance the volumes of each mic and guitars. Below is my station.

It's definitely something different from DJing and it's a lot more equipment to setup / breakdown in one night.

March 19, 2009

Go Go Dell

24 hours later, I have a new hard drive on my desk directly from Dell.

I was expecting my drive to finally get to me by mid next week but to my surprise, FedEx walks in and hands me an overnight package containing my replacement drive. Gotta love that.

March 18, 2009

And The Drama Continues

Just when I thought that I was finally done with hard drive issues, life throws me another curve ball: My new 500 GB Seagate Freeagent Go HD is dead. Yes, the same one that just arrived from Dell this past weekend. Yes, the same hard drive I unpacked 5 days ago.

The drive has been working perfectly since I finally started using it. Today, I thought I'd bring it to work so I can move some files from my computer there. I get to work, I plug it in, it makes a weird click sound but it comes on just fine. Before I could access the drive, I get a call from a co-worker who needs help with a WD Passport. I try to "safely unplug my drive" through Vista, but it said it was being used. I unplug the drive anyway since I need the slot for the Passport. Passport works fine, did my work on it and replug my drive into the same slot. This time, all I hear are nasty clicks and no light on top of the drive. I try it on an XP box and the same thing. I do a little research and come across this website that gives examples of dying hard drive sounds and found that the Seagate "drive with bad heads slowly clicks and beeps on spin up" sound is exactly what I'm hearing.... it's a dead HD. I still have all the music so the files aren't an issue this time.

Fortunately, I call Dell and they're going to send me a new replacement, free of charge. No hassle, no other questions, just have to send this dead one back when the new one arrives. Hopefully I get the new one by Thursday next week so I can move files into it and use the drive in time for Aoba that Friday.

March 15, 2009

New Hard Drive

I finally received my Seagate Freeagent Go over the weekend and spent a good part of Saturday moving all my salvaged files into it.

At first I used my practice laptop (Win XP) to transfer files between my WD MyBook HD. But, as soon as I plugged in the MyBook, the Seagate would disconnect itself. If I plugged in the MyBook first, the computer wouldn't recognize the Seagate drive; really weird. I was starting to think that I got a bad drive but then I tried it on my regular laptop (Vista) and both worked just fine. I don't know what it was with my XP laptop. Maybe it's just too old.

It looks really nice. I got the Titanium Silver and it matches well with my gear. The mesh of lights illuminates when it is plugged in and fades in and fades out when data is being accessed. It's calming to see that compared to the hectic flicker of some hard drives.

It's really light too. Compared to my MyBook, this thing is light as a feather. Plus, I don't need to bring an extra power supply for it! It's also small enough that's it should be easier to bring around. You can see in the second picture just how small it is. 

March 10, 2009

Hard Drive Issue - Update #3

The Unstoppable Copier worked wonders! I wasn't able to save all my files, only about 90% of it, but at least I have the bulk of it. Furthermore, I was fortunate enough that the folder with songs that I usually play weren't corrupted and the files that were are songs that I would never play anyway. Whew!

Now time to roof test this dumb hard drive. I'm keeping the peripherals though so I can use it for another hard drive in the future. Instant external HD! haha.

Now I can't wait until my Seagate Freeagent drive gets to me.

March 9, 2009

Hard Drive Issue - Update #2

Right when I'm about to give up. I come across a blog post that has a link for a life saving program that I can use to copy my files with.

This website has a bunch of freeware tools that can prevent heart attacks caused by a dying hard drive. I'm using the Unstoppable Copier and it's working great! It copies files so fast and tries to recover corrupted files, which you can skip. It copied 14 Gigs of data in under 10 minutes (I didn't time it, but it was fast).

Here's the official application description:

Recovers files from disks with physical damage. Allows you to copy files from disks with problems such as bad sectors, scratches or that just give errors when reading data. The program will attempt to recover every readable piece of a file and put the pieces together. Using this method most types of files can be made useable even if some parts were not recoverable in the end.

Now, I need to come up with a backup strategy so I don't have to go through this again.

Hard Drive Issue - Update #1

After multiple tries to backup my files, it just didn't work. I couldn't even move 2 files. So, in an effort to get my files out and after reading plenty of blogs about people with dying Western Digital MyBook drives, I decided to take the case apart and take out my hard drive:

At this moment, it is hooked on to my tower and going through disk check to look for bad sectors and corrupted files. It's been an hour and it's still going. I guess that's normal since it's 160 Gigs of space to go through.

It seems to be running okay, but we'll see when it is done scanning.

March 8, 2009

Hard Drive Issues

A failing hard drive is the worst thing a scratch live DJ can come across. I use a 160 Gig Western Digital MyBook to store all my music but lately, I've been hearing some weird clicks coming from it when I use it.

Worried, I thought I would do a differential backup since I successfully backed up the drive months before. First try, I wanted to do a differential backup so I just backup the new and modified files. I come back to it 20 minutes later and the backup window is blank, and the hard drive light is blinking but definitely not processing anything. So I let it go 5 more minutes and I got impatient so I turn off the drive and the backup window comes up saying "succeeded with files skipped." WTF? So I decided to try it again, with normal backup strategy this time. Again, it fails.

At this point, I'm scared and frustrated. I think, "maybe it's my computer". So I decide to try and use my XP laptop... still fails. Now, I'm really worried. I saw a deal on slickdeals for a 500 Gig Seagate Freeagent Go for only $83 so I decided to buy one just in case the WD drive dies. I hope I get it backed up before it does. I also need to find a better backup strategy. I don't think Windows XP Backup is cutting it. How do you guys backup your stuff?

March 5, 2009

DJ Toastee

First there was DJ Sir Real and MC Get-Down, then there was DJ SuReal and DJ B-Rocc, then finally there is DJ Surreal and DJ Toastee. He looks like DJ Five doesn't he??? haha.

This guy has been with me since the beginning. I spent countless hours on Brian's setup, learning how to work the turntables and practice beat matching. I think he picked it up before I did, he had more time on the tables than me after all. hehe.

I was a poor college student, struggling to gather funds to back my rent, gas, fraternity dues, and an expensive DJing hobby. I had no gear for the longest time, not even my own headphones. Furthermore, I barely had enough money to buy records; $5.99 per popular singles (and you had to buy two copies) and $12.99 for compilations (that only had 2/6 songs you would play) definitely hurt the wallet. Brian was unselfish enough to let me use all of his gear and music so I could get up there and perform. He never pushed me to buy my own stuff, instead he would say "just use mine!". I really appreciated that. A couple of years later, I finally bought my headphones and felt so "official". haha.

Brian and I joined Proof Positive at the same time, all in due thanks to Ryan aka DJ Climaxxx. DJing with Brian was always fun. I remember he and I would put Jack and Coke in a coke bottle, stuff them into record bags and sneak them into the club. Free drinks all night! haha. We had our first gig at Q's in Pasadena; I miss that place.

Too many good times with this guy. I wish he would come back to DJing. Brian! Come back!

March 3, 2009


The corporate DJ..

Jos was my mentor when I first started djing. He taught me the industry, what it takes to be a mobile DJ, and gave me my first club gig in the Jungle Room at the Century Club in Century City. I loved that place. Here's an old page with some reviews of the club: Century Club

I had the jungle room to myself so I felt a lot of pressure to perform and not let Jos down. Worst of all, I didn't have a hefty vinyl collection yet so I had to borrow a crate from my boy DJ Toastee. If you're a DJ, you know how difficult it is to look for songs from someone else's crate. Furthermore, I didn't have enough records to last me the entire night so I had to replay some songs to keep it going. It was towards the end of the night, so it was okay.

Jos went on to bring me to his mobile and wedding gigs and eventually coined me as one of the resident DJs for the promotion group he helped start, Movement Events. Those were some good times and a great learning experience. Thanks Jos!

March 2, 2009

DJ E-Man

Another one of my favorite DJ's, DJ E-Man. I listened to this guy every morning doing his Mickey Fickey Mix on Power 106. Even today, I tune in to Power at 6:40 am, on my way to work, so that I can catch his short mix. I wish they let him mix longer in the morning. I would rather listen to E-man mix it up than listen to another Big Boy's phone tap segment.

In my opinion, E-man is one of the most, if not THE, cleanest mixer on air in LA. I don't understand how he does it so early in the morning. Recorded session? Maybe. Nonetheless, his transitions are next to flawless. When I first started dj'ing, I'd model my style after this man and try to analyze his transitions to make it work with my mixing. I would even record some his mixes in the morning and try to copy them for practice. I wish I still had those old tapes.

March 1, 2009

DJ Hideo

DJ Hideo was one of the DJ's that introduced me to Hip Hop back in 7th grade. Between 92.3 The Beat and Power 106, I would listen to Hideo mix on air and think to myself, "I want to do that".

When I finally got the privelege to be part of Proof Positive and Forte Social, I was introduced to and had the opportunity to work with some of LA's best DJ's. At one big event at the Mayan in LA, I was star struck when I was lined up with Hideo and finally met him. I didn't know what to expect but he was awesome when I introduced myself to him. I wanted to ask for an autograph, cheesy I know, but he made it seem like we've known each other for a long time so I didn't feel it was necessary. I met him again a couple of more times during other big PP event and he was always the same along with his brother Tony Jr.

When I heard about his condition, I couldn't help but feel affected by it. You can read more about it on his blog,

Stay strong Hideo. Fight on!