Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

People started dancing a long time ago

Posted by Trixter on November 24, 2008


Back when I worked at Bank of America in the first few years of this century, I met Matt Hite.  Matt is something of an authority on mash-ups, and he inspired me to try my hand at creating some mixes.  Not mix tapes, that melodramatic lost art of the 1980s, but full-on beatmatched mixes that pay a passing respect to basic musicology.

Surprisingly, I turned out to be quite terrible at it.  I mean, I can beatmatch and match songs somewhat competently, but it turns out I just don’t have The Gift for this kind of thing that results in clever, listenable music.  After three strikes, I figured I was out.

For anyone with minutes to kill, I offer up my mutations for a post-mortem.

Attempt #1

Title: Memories of Medusa, Cuesheet (with track breaks and CD-TEXT info)

During my senior year of high-school (1988-1989), and during summers inbetween college, my friend Victor and I used to go to Chicago every Friday night to Medusa’s, a dance club in Chicago (it has since relocated to Elgin).  A converted two-story house, Medusa’s had two distinct components:  House/Dance on the giant lower floor, and a somewhat experimental upper floor that would alternate between rock, punk, experimental electronica (I remember watching Kraftwerk’s Music Non-Stop video up there), and anything else you could think of.  This was my first attempt at making a mix, and I unwisely chose to make a tribute to that time period at Medusa’s.  The choice was unwise because I was still in the “mixtape” mentality and the mix plays like someone walking up and down between the two floors, alternating between late 1980’s house music and… not 1980’s house music.  While that evokes great memories for me, it does not make the most listenable mix.  The first two songs in particular don’t belong in ANY mix, I think, but I had to include them because they were so representative of Chicago house music at the time I was going (including that damn ACIEEED house period).

Attempt #2

Title: Goth Chicks Dig It, Cuesheet (with track breaks and CD-TEXT info)

After realizing the mistake of my mixtape mentality, I decided to put together something modern that would be darker and more intense, with maybe the slightest new-wave influence.  Whether or not it turned out that way is up to you.  This one is listenable and flows well 60% of the time, if not very cleverly.  It’s quite self-titled; I figured it would be female-friendly electronica that goth chicks could tolerate.

Attempt #3

Title: Ultimate Tribal Dance, Cuesheet (with track breaks and CD-TEXT info)

Inspired by the MindCandy 2 easter egg hidden in the first five seconds of 9 Fingers, this was an intentionally silly challenge:  Mix together as many versions as possible of 2 Unlimited‘s Tribal Dance without losing my sanity.  The end result is a 24-minute ultra-mix of Tribal Dance, probably 16 minutes more than anyone should be subjected to in a single run.  And yet, this one is my favorite, mostly because it mixes together so damn well.  If it weren’t for the track breaks in the cuesheet, I’m not sure people could pick apart the individual sections.

When I knew that my silliest mix was also my favorite, I knew it was time to stop trying.  Enjoy these, if you can.

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9 Responses to “People started dancing a long time ago”

  1. Silent700 said

    w00t Medusa’s! I first went there in Jan 92 (after “withdrawing” from my first semester of college) and for the remaining Chicago years that followed (don’t forget it was held sporadically on the stage of the disused Congress Theatre for a while.)

    The video room in the old building was my haunt. Hormones and hairspray…thems were the days. I had more hair then…..

  2. Matt Hite said

    You don’t give yourself enough credit! These are great, especially the Memories of Medusa. In fact, we need more of these DJ Trixter creations…

  3. Trixter said

    Coming from you, that means a lot! But I’m spending my time working on a different kind of music project, hopefully to be finished by April of next year. Since my time commitments are all over the map, I don’t want to announce it yet, but it should bring a smile to a few people’s faces.

  4. Chris said

    A few notes…

    Attempt #1:
    Flows well, although I really don’t care for early 90’s sample laden house music. Sometimes it ruins a great song. Some music in there laid the framework for the modern trance genre. (I got a ton of music from that era if interested, tracing the origins of a genre is something I find interesting)

    Attempt #2:
    This isn’t Goth chick music, not even close. Its actually a surprisingly good progressive trance mix, sounds like its straight out of a 99-2000 period Ministry of Sound CD mixed by Ferry Corsten. Stuff like this fills clubs in Europe today.

    What did you use to mix this? Many purists will tell you beat matching is only an art if you can do it using two decks (CD or vinyl). Although most DJs these days (notably Armin Van Buuren) use Ableton and other software beat matching tools to create their sets for weekly podcasts, radioshows, and compo CDs. Reality is many DJs may only beat match the “oldskool” way during live sets.

  5. Trixter said

    Of course #2 isn’t goth chick music at all, it’s “female-friendly electronica that goth chicks could tolerate.” If I wanted to make goth chick music I’d start with Autumn or something :-) And thanks for the kind words; I like it too, even though it’s awkward in places.

    I used Acid to mix these. I looked at the demo of MixMeister, which looked very cool, but bugged out on my hardware.

    I fully recognize that real DJs mixing live not only produce a better product, but also produce better products for that period of time. I started my Medusa mix with Lil’ Louis, but in reality what Medusa’s used to do was save that song for toward the end of the evening where it had more impact — people would actually cheer when they recognized it coming on. Only a live DJ can read the crowd and do that.

  6. dirk said

    Woohaa, I made it all the way through 24+ minutes of Two Unlimitted. I hadn’t heard that music in over fifteen years and I hope I won’t have to the next fifteen ;-) But you’re right, they flow quite seemlessly into eachother.

  7. Trixter said

    Awesome. I wish I had a prize to give you :-)

  8. asciigod said

    Trixter goes live! I’ve heard the Medusa one before, and I much enjoyed it at the time, as well as thinking it was way better than I thought it would be considering the way you tend to talk down your skills.

    I’ll have to catch these other two in a bit. I actually just discovered a cache of old 1980s Dr. Dre mixtapes from the Swap Meets in LA. Tonight’s apparently mixtape night!

    Anyway, I’m sure this was a blast to do. As far as ACID, you mean Sonic Foundry’s product? What’d you essentially do? Adjust the tempos and such and layer the songs as tracks in the sequencer?

    Audio newb here.

    Thanks!

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