31 October 2012

On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 3

"Having a concept for the direction of the mix helps me
figure out where I really want to head with it."

Part 3: Process in Progress

When you create a mix, do you come up with a theme first and build around it or do you piece together samples you like until it starts taking shape? Roughly how long does the process take from start to finish?

Usually I like to start with a concept. Having a concept for the direction of the mix helps me figure out where I really want to head with it. It could be something as simple as a tribute to one of my favorite rappers, or a collection of songs from the Grammy nominees, like I did back in February. I don’t usually know what songs I want to use until I really sit down and figure out what is the goal of the mix. I’ll spend a good day’s work on making sure the songs flow together.

If you were creating a Halloween mix, which songs would you include?

I think the safe Halloween mix from a DJ would of course include "Thriller". I might take it a little creepier. It might not necessarily be the best dance friendly mix, but I would incorporate some of the hardcore Hip Hop songs. I think I would include songs such as Geto Boys “My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me” or Eminem’s “Stan”. If you dive deep into Hip Hop there is a lot of paranoia there. That would be my concept right there!

You have released a variety of mixes from the “No Days Off” series to tributes to B.I.G., the Wu-Tang Clan, and most recently Tupac. Over the summer you released “The Last Crate” which has that signature hip hop/soul vibe we’ve grown accustomed to in your previous work; however this one’s an instrumental. Why did you decide to go that route this time around? Do you think you’ll do another instrumental mix in the future?

To me, “The Last Crate” was basically my debut instrumental album. It was different than my other mixes because the instrumentals used were one’s that I produced over the last year or so. I decided instead of initially breaking up the tracks, that I would create DJ mix for the listener to stream. I wanted the listener to push play from the top of the project and let it ride all the way out. I was trying to give it that vinyl feel. What better way to do that than to mix it together using turntables. I definitely have plans on releasing another instrumental mix. It’s actually inspired me to possibly do a tribute mix for a legendary producer. We will see.

"I wanted the listener to push play from the top of the project and let it ride all the way out.
I was trying to give it that vinyl feel."

What would we find on your daily playlist right now?

In my playlist right now some Kendrick Lamar. I cannot wait for that album! My friend Judo just dropped off the Elle Varner album. I’m looking forward to the 4th quarter releases. There should be some good stuff dropping. I’ve recently been jamming a lot of Isley Brothers. I know that’s random.

You have created remixes of songs from up-and-comers like Ellie Goulding and The Weeknd. What other new artists should we have our ear out for?

Remixes are fun to make. It’s like sampling. You are putting your spin on certain song. I’m not quite sure who I’m going to remix next. A few of the remixes I dropped this year, were decided the morning I created them! I tend to get inspired when I’m organizing my music library or downloading new music.

Previously you have produced for FreeSol, Skewby, and Al Kapone. Which other artists would you love to collab with in the future?

Having moved to Memphis and worked with some of the best talent here is a blessing. I’m currently about to embark on a tour with DJ Crumbz. We are doing a few colleges around the Mid South this fall. Our setup is a 2 man x 4 turntable rig. It’s going to be fun to watch. I’m excited for the next few months. I’m doing a lot of work with Red Bull at the moment. I’m headed down to perform a few shows at the A3C Hip Hop festival in Atlanta. That should be a good time. As far as collaborations, I’m a huge fan of Miike Snow. I would love to work with them. Dillon Francis would be cool as well.

"I'm headed down to perform a few shows at the A3C Hip Hop festival in Atlanta."

What is the status of FreeSol? Are you and the guys still with Tennman Records? Is the debut album ready to go or is it on hold while you each pursue other avenues?

The band members of FreeSol are some of my closest friends. They are some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met in my life. When you deal with labels, you aren’t in control of everything. Even with all the music complete, sometimes the control you have is limited. I think touring with them is one of the best learning experiences. They taught me to break out of my shell. As I mentioned earlier, it’s different to perform with a band than by yourself. You are playing with other musicians who really know and understand music. Those guys are family!


Thank you to Charlie White for this three-part interview series! Visit his website and connect with him on SoundCloud, FacebookTwitter & Bandcamp

30 October 2012

On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 2

"I decided to pursue a degree in Recording Technology because
I wanted to have a well-rounded knowledge in all aspects of the industry."

Part 2: An Education

While you were an undergrad at the University of Memphis, your music career really got underway. Why did you decide to pursue a music degree in Recording Technology? Did you finish the program?

I credit the University of Memphis and the Recording program for a lot. I’ve met some of my closest friends in that program. The professors are very supportive. I’ve been incredibly busy over the last two years so I had to take time off. I should be wrapped up with the program very soon. I decided to pursue a degree in Recording Technology because I wanted to have a well-rounded knowledge in all aspects of the industry. Performance is only one part. I find myself at ease when I’m in the studio. When I produced “The Last Crate”, it wasn’t something that I rushed into doing. It was a natural project that came over time.

Do you think your music education has made a difference in how you approach various career opportunities? What advice would you give to other music students looking to get into the industry?

I definitely think it has helped. Not only did I have to take courses in Recording Technology, I also took courses in Music Business. I think my advice for other students is too work really hard outside of their programs as well. The music industry is set up for networking. It’s different than a law degree. If you go to a top law school in the country, you have a great shot at a job right out of college. This is not the case with a music degree. You gain the knowledge and experience from your degree, but you have to work just as hard outside in the real world.

Besides DJ-ing and producing, what jobs have you had industry-related or otherwise that you feel have helped shape your career?

I’ve interned in multiple recording studios. I’ve mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms, and vacuumed rugs. The summer after high school I interned in a studio in Richmond, Virginia. It was right before I moved to Memphis. Engineering is one of the most under appreciated parts of the industry. Some of the nicest people you will meet, are the one’s behind the scenes. Engineering is an art form in itself. I’ve learned so much from engineers.

"You gain the knowledge and experience from your degree,
but you have to work just as hard outside in the real world."

Did you ever think DJs would become as popular as they are today with people like A-Trak, Diplo, and Skrillex making a name for themselves not only as DJs but as highly sought-after producers and artists?

That’s a good question because yes and no. Growing up I was inspired by A-Trak, maybe more so than any other DJ. He came from the DJ battle culture. Now if you look at where he is, it is truly amazing. I felt that DJ’s would eventually get the respect they deserve, but it’s crazy how far the culture has really gone. Stadiums are being sold out for DJ concerts. Festivals now have DJ’s as their headlining acts, right along side the big bands. I love it. With more popularity, you definitely see an increase in kids picking up DJing, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. Where it goes wrong is when people don’t study DJing as an art. Not taking the time to practice and really doing the homework. That’s where it goes wrong, but I’m loving the fact that hard work is paying off for DJing.

"I felt that DJ’s would eventually get the respect they deserve,
but it’s crazy how far the culture has really gone."

Visit GRAE New York tomorrow for On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 3: Process in Progress.

29 October 2012

On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 1

For the past two years DJs have become the tastemakers in the music industry. From David Guetta to Diplo, all eyes are on who's behind the turntables. One up-and-coming DJ/producer who should be on your radar is DJ Charlie White. I first crossed paths with him last year when I saw FreeSol live twice in a month. One-fifth of the Memphis-based band, Charlie added so much energy to the performance it made me wonder why more bands don't utilize DJs efficiently.

Recently I had the honor of interviewing Charlie to find out more about the life of a touring DJ and how his education and experiences have shaped his career. Here's part 1 of 3.

"You are now exposed to such a variety of different people that you really
have to be versatile with your music selection and knowledge of different areas."

Part 1: Life of a Touring DJ

How has the rise of the DJ affected how you focus on your career and market yourself?

I think it’s opening up more doors for different markets. You are now exposed to such a variety of different people that you really have to be versatile with your music selection and knowledge of different areas. Getting booked outside the city you are based out of is important. It opens up the ability to gather what other people want in different regions. What may be hot in one part of the country, may not necessarily work in another. I really enjoy traveling as a DJ. I think it’s one of the most helpful tools for getting better.

How did you make the transition from party DJ to professional touring DJ? What have other touring DJs taught you over the years?

When I first started out DJing, I was living in Charlottesville, Virginia. I was DJing for my older brother’s friends. They would have the classic high school/college house parties. Looking back, those were really fun [laughs]. I used to carry crates of records to these things. 14-15 years old, with a few crates! I made my way to Memphis, TN for college. I started DJing fraternity parties and step shows at the colleges around Memphis. My first out of state gig was MTV Spring Break. I went down there with Skewby. Once I started performing with FreeSol, that’s when I really became accustom to the touring lifestyle. DJing in a band is different than any other form of DJing. That’s really when the music instrumentation of turntables plays it’s role. Other touring DJ’s have taught me what to expect for different events. The best part about hitting the road is that you see some of the same people on a regular basis. You build friendships with DJs in other cities and that is more valuable than anything.

The best part about hitting the road is that you see some of the same people on a regular basis.
You build friendships with DJs in other cities and that is more valuable than anything.

Is there a difference between party rocking college shows and party rocking music festivals?

There definitely is a difference. One cool part about college shows is that it is primarily of one age group. A festival could be up in the air. I remember performing at Lollapalooza a few years back and looking out into the crowd. You saw every age group. Another great part about college shows is knowing that these student’s are having a great time after a hard week of school. You can see it in their faces. They are ready to let loose, drink, and go crazy! It’ s a fun atmosphere. The festivals are fun because of the size of crowds you get.

What have you learned from performing with and opening for artists like Justin Timberlake, Chiddy Bang, and ZZ Top?

Those artists are all extremely different. Each crowd has been different. When you start to DJ for other audiences out of your comfort zone, you have to research and make sure your music library is stacked with everything. An important goal for DJing is to take risks. A song may not work well with a specific audience unless you incorporate it in a clever and creative way. Being creative in the way you blend songs together.

This past May you placed 2nd in the Red Bull Thre3style event in Charlotte. What’s the toughest part about doing DJ battles?

DJ Battles are changing. Technical skills were the dominant deciding factor in previous years. In the DMC battles it’s just a 6 minute routine. Now, the majority of battles are party-rock events. You play to the crowd. Technical skills are icing on the cake. Those are things that add to your performance. When I’m signed up for a competition, I try to train myself. I used a stopwatch and timed by 15 minute Thre3style set. It was important to have backup set ideas in case a DJ played all your music before you went on. That is probably the toughest part. Not knowing what order of the lineup I was going to be picked.

"Now, the majority of battles are party-rock events. You play to the crowd.
Technical skills are icing on the cake. Those are things that add to your peformance."

Do you think more people will start viewing turntables as instruments now?

I don’t really know. I hope so. With the advancement of technology in DJing, the equipment is doing more for you than ever. I see that there is a group of people that appreciate scratching, beat juggling, and DJing more than others. DJ’s have always appreciated other DJ’s for what they are doing. In the general population, some people really understand and get it while others are more apathetic to what is really going on up there on stage.

What are your DJ essentials? Any specific program, turntable, headphones, etc. you can’t work without?

I’m most comfortable with a pair of Technic 1200 turntables, a Rane 57 mixer, and Serato. I love Ableton and what it can do. I currently use Ableton for a majority of my pre-production edits and studio work. The Ableton controllers are also crazy! I’ve used just about every headphone out. I go through headphones fairly often. I like the recent additions to Rane mixers. For my production, I use the Native Instruments Maschine. Every beat that was on “The Last Crate” was created in Maschine.

"With the advancement of technology in DJing, the equipment is doing more for you than ever."

Come back to GRAE New York tomorrow for On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 2: An Education.

11 October 2012

The Grit and Glam: Fall Into Fierce


"I want to create, motivate, inspire, and influence."

That's what I wrote in June as I set out to develop an all-new GRAE New York. A dozen posts later I felt that initial narrative ended somewhat abruptly, but I was on the verge of yet another chapter in the story of GRAE.

As the autumn crisp arrives, my thematic focus is currently locked on Fall Into Fierce. Right now I'm feeling bold, confident, experimental, and curious. I want this to translate into everything I do from my work to my style to my writing. Throughout the journey I took to achieve Fall Into Fierce the inner PR girl in me began to analyze GRAE New York not only as a blog, but as a lifestyle brand. I realized what makes me the most excited about GRAE is having the platform to showcase the stories of creatives and brands that are up-and-coming, inspiring, support a cause I believe in, or that I find myself just wanting to know more about. As a maven it's in my nature to share my discoveries with anyone I think can connect to them. That was the reason I started blogging in 2005. That's the reason I'm still blogging in 2012. I still want to create, motivate, inspire, and influence, only this this time I want my process to center around a new aesthetic that reflects the state I find myself in now.

We're living in a moment of uncertainty. But it's just that, a moment. We must not place all our attention on worrying about the now. We must focus on bettering and presenting our authentic selves for what's to come.While autumn continues to set in, I invite you to join GRAE New York as we move forward. Together we shall transform, adjust, shape, and evolve into the next edition of GRAE. Be a maven and tell your friends. xo. Shari.

25 August 2012

Girl Gone GRAE: The Return


Like the sign says GRAE New York will be back soon. Fall 2012 to be specific. Date unknown, but gear up. This fall GRAE's getting fierce!