Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lost & Found: My DEMF Experience

Alas! DEMF Weekend is finally over and I've had a chance to recover. I must tell you about my festival experience – from the performance to the afterparty. Let me first say that God has a way of putting things into prospective! Before this hectic weekend, I prayed for just that. "God, please just open my eyes and let me SEE what's going on around me…" What I saw, oh man, was unbelievable…

A BIG hello goes to all of the fans who approached me during the festival. People kept saying things like "I hate to interrupt you, but…" Trust me; it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'm just as excited as YOU are. Feeling so much love from random people, knowing I touched their lives in a certain way, means the world to me. And with this clearer vision, I was able to understand, acknowledge that accept WOW… This IS who I am. WOW, my music IS reaching people. I was humbled and thoroughly appreciative.

Onto the performance – I'm sure you'll soon see the video footage. For me, it was nothing short of magical. Mind you, I was very surprised when I wasn't asked to play on the MAIN stage, like I did in 2005. I was told that I would be on the Real Detroit stage, which was underground. I couldn't have dancers because there wasn't any room, so I was told. My time slot was also cut from 2 hours to 1 hour. But I took it all in stride. Instead of being bitter, I decided that I'd take "what I had" and work with it – and work the HELL out of it. That's how I've handled my song recording situations as well. I didn't have the best equipment – sometimes I had barely anything to work with at all… But I used whatever I DID have, and worked it like no other! That's one of the things that impressed Mike Banks about me so much – but that's a different story.

ONSTAGE… The moment I walked onto the stage, I felt nothing but pure love. I remember walking up the stairs, and E. Dubb asked me, "Are you nervous?" I wasn't nervous at all. I was on a mission, and that ONE mission was to "beat those bitches down... with the BEATS, with the BASS, with the FILTERS…" I vowed to play with such intensity that they'd NOT HESITATE to give me the main stage NEXT year! Man, I beat the shit out of those decks… The crowd felt me, but more importantly, I felt THEM!

Veronique came onstage for her performance, which shocked a LOT of people – in a good way. Her stage presence commanded your attention, and let me say this: Veronique and I put together??? OMG… FIRE! The synergy was felt throughout the entire room. Of course, Veronique sang the hell out of "Use Me." And I mixed in our duet, "Alright." Confession: We had NEVER performed together on stage before. We had NO time to rehearse. We had NO sound check, NO practice, NO NOTHING… But when we sang that song together, it was nothing short of a phenomenon… We WORKED, do you hear me? Amazing…

DJ E. Dubb also deserves props for his very first DEMF performance. There was a slight technical glitch when he first started, so I stayed onstage with him. After all, the show MUST go on… I sang a couple songs from the new album – one of them was the newly re-worked version of "DOWN." (If you haven't gotten this album yet, you BETTER GET IT!) While I was singing, Erick (E. Dubb) mixed into his own set of Jackin' funky House. BABY, those mixes were flawless. He's a Wallshaker for a reason, let me tell you…

All in all, it was a great performance. I thank EVERYONE was in that room at that moment. It wasn't just MY show… It was OUR show. (See y'all NEXT year!)

Later that night, the official W.A.R.M.T.H. party was under way. Mind you, there was MANY parties this same night, so I expected the crowd to go from party to party all night long; not spending much time at either one. After a scare with the equipment setup, we finally got everything situated – just in time for the doors to open. Instead of TWO levels of sound, we only had one level, broken down into two rooms. Thank God for those walls, because it worked out perfectly. In the House room, you heard HOUSE. In the Techno room, you heard TECHNO. Both systems banged, but neither system clashed with the other.

Throwing a party is actually much harder than it looks! Everything rests on your shoulders – from the patrons to the talent… Everyone must be happy. We made sure the DJs had free drinks throughout the night. I know that most of the DJs I hired to play the party, did so as a favor, or to support the organization. I am SO GRATEFUL to those who showcased their talents! Katalist, Ben Wu, T. Linder, Jeff Comer, Trench, E. Dubb & The Deaken, Alton Miller, Gary Martin, DJ SURGEON!!!

Some of the DJs played their sets, and immediately left the party. While I didn't mention money to some of these DJs, I wanted EVERYONE to walk out of there with at least SOMETHING! That's just how I am. Those DJs that I didn't get to pay personally, I'm going to definitely do something nice for. Some got T-shirts. Some got CDs. Believe me, I am so touched by their willingness to help me and W.A.R.M.T.H., I would feel less than HUMAN if I didn't repay them in some way.

Overall, the crowd was sparse. Not many people were in attendance, but those who WERE, had a good time! Because the night was so slow, instead of staying open until 6 am, we decided to only stay open until 4. THIS meant that the DJs I had scheduled from 4 – 6, couldn't play. While it was a disappointing fact, it was nobody's fault! THIS is where God REALLY put things into prospective for me! ONE of the DJs (who wasn't officially on the bill, but I'd promised to give a timeslot) was very upset that he couldn't play. One of HIS guests approached me and expressed her disappointment. Now mind you, I'm excellent with people. I'm professional, etc… BUT when she said "I ONLY came to hear _____ play," I lost it. I lost all sense of professionalism within me… Yes, I let her have it.

By this time, it was 3:30 a.m. Alton Miller and Gary Martin were playing at the time… Since my other 2 DJs were basically whining and holding a grudge against ME, I asked Alton and Gary to stop playing… I told them we were shutting down, paid them for their time and basically apologized for the inconvenience. Inside, I was burning! I'd just kicked my LEGENDS off the turntables for WHO??!! Someone who's NEVER played in front of a crowd before? (That was ONE of them…) And someone else who's a good DJ, but had NO professionalism whatsoever? Oh, I was pissed. As I proceeded to curse one of the DJs (the one with the entourage) out, I threw my hands up and said, basically, "fuck it… Play now." And when I got to the edge of the room, I turned around and shouted "And you BETTER NOT FUCK UP, EITHER!" Yes, I was wrong for saying that, but damnit, I was pushed way over my tolerance level. I could've cared less about embarrassing him at that moment. I was fucking embarrassed. I felt belittled AND betrayed. So I shouted that statement at the top of my lungs, then walked away.

All in all, those two never played. They both got pissed and left. Neither of them was willing to understand that I don't make the rules of the club. If the owner says, "shut down at four," then I'm shutting down at four! They would've played to an empty room anyway… But you couldn't explain that to them. YES, I understand their feelings were hurt. I was a little disappointed for them myself! BUT… Being a professional in this business, I understand that sometimes these things happen. Both of them, up until this night, have called my house REPEATEDLY; blowing up my telephones, coming over to practice, etc. I even went WAY above and beyond what any normal person would've done for them… Hell… One of them, I picked out the records for his set. I offered to let him use my Serato, my laptop, MY tracks, everything… The other, I helped produce tracks, giving him more credit than I should've; as well as took him under my wing – against the wishes of nearly everyone I know. Did they appreciate my efforts? NO!

So this is why I called this blog "Lost & Found." Because while I may have LOST money on this party – I lost more money than I care to repeat – I FOUND out who was REALLY in it for the love, and who was really only looking out for themselves. I lost two people who I thought were my friends – but I FOUND that they weren't really my friends in the first place. And I KNOW that sounds cliché, but let me say this… It's the truth. I'm not upset about this. In fact, I'm thankful. I've never felt more successful in Detroit. I've NEVER been shown so much love and appreciation for my talents. …and I've NEVER seen things more clearly than I do right now. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

A final note… To the fan who "didn't want to be THAT GUY…" I appreciated your words and sentiments that night. I told you that YOU are the reason why I continue to do this music, and I meant it. I still mean it! You came to support my party, you bought my album, you bought a T-shirt, but most of all, you took the time to TALK TO ME. You've inspired me. Believe it or not, your words encouraged me… And the reason why I am so thankful that the W.A.R.M.T.H. party continued, despite the small crowd, is because people like YOU were there to show the love – so I believe it exists. Thank you.

Love,

Aaron-Carl

1 comment:

augustus said...

This turned out pretty awesome AC. Totally stoaked for you and the W.A.R.M.T.H. venture. I swear those 2 guys sounded like a bunch of bitches. There's plenty of opportunities to play out. I swear they don't understand AC and hopefully someday they will. Everybody's gotta pay dues to the dancefloor :)