Top Moments of Movement 2013

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I’m still exhausted from dancing my ass off at last weekend’s Movement festival in Detroit. In my third venture there, it’s cemented its position as the best place to reconnect with the music scene and friends I love. I’ve been thinking about it all week, so of course I immediately read Mixmag’s “Top 5 Tracks From Movement Detroit 2013″ article when it flashed across my news feed. It’s an interesting list with a few cool tracks, but my top moments at movement didn’t come from bleeding edge tech house tracks from hippest of labels like the ones mentioned there. My favorite moments from last weekend in Detroit came from either 15-25 years old tracks, or more recently released material I would normally write off as cheesy.

5. Miguel Campbell spinning The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds”

Having heard Miguel’s Beatport chart topping disco-edited production, I was expecting his DJ set to be of more of the same. I was not expecting a mid-90’s style progressive house set with an injection of funk into everything touched. While he played a unreleased edit or remix of this 90’s classic with a heavier bass line, the original’s psychedelic composition was very much intact.

4. Buzz Goree throwing down Maurice Joshua’s “This is Acid”

The Made in Detroit stage always seems to be playing something different. After a lovely melodic set by Ryan Elliot, Buzz threw down this 1988 dance chart topping single and instantly reignited the party. Iconic tracks have their place.

3. Carl Craig rocking “Quetzal” by Los Hermanos in a wine bar

“An Intimate Evening with Carl Craig” at Motor City Wine was far and away the best way I’ve ever started the Movement weekend. The 60-person gathering was festive enough to get you in the mood, but relaxed enough to not wear you out. In the style of my favorite party here in Portland, Carl Craig was DJ – no opening or closing act necessary – and his set builded elegantly while being all over the map. My highlight of the night was this progressive sounding bomb that went of around 1am while sipping “Carl Craig with Bubbles” wine.

2. Soul Clap jamming the Frankie Knuckles remix of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” in the sun

The Beatport stage has moved from its usual location between the trees to where the Red Bull Music Academy Stage used to be by the cement pyramid. While the stage has traded the natural ambiance and shade for a larger and level plot in the sun, the lineup of the trendiest names in tech house remained mostly the same. Soul Clap mixed things up by unleashing a medley of piano house and disco at the height of the days warmth at 4pm which enhanced the vibe considerably. If there’s one thing the festival could have used more of this year, it was blissful daytime vibes like this classic Frankie Knuckles remix.

1. Ellen Allien dropping GTA’s “Booty Bounce” in a howling rainstorm

Monday was a tough day for a lot of folks still tearing up the festival. Two days of festival and three nights/days of afterpartying had taken its tole on the crowd and the weather had taken 180 degree turn for the worse. The Beatport stage felt like the deck of an aircraft carrier in a storm that afternoon. The wind and rain combined for a horizontal downpour off the river. The tarps covering the turntables in the DJ booth looked like they were barely holding on. A significant percentage of the crowd was wearing ponchos and there was clearly less energy on the dance floor.  Ellen Allien came on and started with a sensitive and easy to listen to deep house track, then tore out the rulebook by dropping an absurd Miami Bass track with the silliest vocal you’ve ever heard. The crowd responded fervently to the fun and unexpected cut. When the climax hit and the vocal line was pitched up to an Alvin and the Chipmunks octave, the entire stage went ballistic and a dumbfounded grin swept Ellen’s face. Not even she could believe the extent she had lifted the mood of the entire stage. Is this a track I would give a shit about if I heard it on Soundcloud? Probably not. But it boosted my attitude on that afternoon more than anything else. Context is everything in live performance and Ellen’s risk paid off bigtime.

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Spaceship Modifications

It’s been nearly two years since I posted about The Spaceship, my standing desk built from IKEA shelving units. Since then, it’s been featured on sites like Lifehacker and IKEA Hackers, yielding unforeseen traffic to my humble blog. This gargantuan $250 dollar experiment has been replicated by at least 10 people I know of, each person modifying it to meet their own needs.

Modification #1: The DJ Booth

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IMG_7735When The Spaceship was first launched, I was working from home. Easy access to the keyboard was my foremost requirement. Second requirement was room underneath the front part of the desk to fit a high chair so that I could sit on occasion. Once I stopped working from home, I found the The Spaceship was seldom used. However, I was no longer burdened with the original requirements. That allowed me to convert The Spaceship into a DJ booth AND a casual work station.

The modification is simple and non-permanent. To drop the top, I unhinge and remove the partially constructed 5×1 Expidit shelf in the front. In its place lays the previously unused side of the 5×1 unit on top of the 2×2 units. I don’t bolt down the side of the 5×1 unit as the weight of the turntables and mixer is enough to secure it.When I need to get some work done, I simply put the partially assembled top back on. Since the top fits exactly over the shelf below, I don’t need to bolt it back on. Transitions take about 30 seconds.

IMG_7738This unit makes for an ideal DJ setup. The speakers at ear level, equipment right at the waist height. The Expedit shelf spaces measure 13″x13″, which is perfect for fitting 12″ records inside. Inside the assembled 1×5 unit lies a mess of equipment and wiring. I cover this mess with a disassembled Nasum basket, the same basket that I use for storage inside the 2×2 units.

Modification #2: The Treadmill Desk

Written while walking by Chad Evans (@ch7d)

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Sedentary work life? Can’t end well. Thinking forward with forward thinking, I constructed a walk/work apparatus using Peter’s Spaceship 2.0 design and a purpose-built walking treadmill. Wondrousness ensued.

Now, I condense 12-16 hours of activity (4-8hr walk, 8hr work) into an 8 hour workday, pleasing the min-max brainmeats which command me. But something else happened. Something unexpected.

I am easily twice as productive on this hawg. As I’ve learned, walking while working is more than time maximization. It adds imminence. If I stop walking, I will fall off the back of the treadmill. Mentally, this translates to “must… keep… going…” which bolsters intensity and productivity.

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At its core, what is walking? Moving forward toward a goal. Exactly what I do all day on the computer. Perhaps the mental/physical combination activates a primal goal-reaching adroitness. Perhaps that’s a stretch. Either way, the whole thing is made of win.

Enough philosophy, let’s get down to gritty.

In my version of Peter’s Spaceship 2.0, I decided on treadmill-matching black and to keep all shelves in tact. Skipping shelf modifications allows the ability to break down the beast into four movable modules. To prevent rubbing/scratching, I affixed the included fuzzy floor sliders to the underside contact points of the 5×1 shelves.

Dollar cost: $1200 ($200 for IKEA Expedit shelves, $1000 for LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Standing Desk Treadmill

Build time: 2-3 hours, 1 person

Measurements: 72 7/8″ width, 30 3/4″ depth, 48 1/2″ height

Photos don’t properly portray the bootprint of this contraption. It’s massive, yet compact. Bulky but sleek. Truly, a luxury workspace for the power user. It affords ample surface, cubbies galore, and perfect height for a 5′ 11″ person.

Lovingly, I coined her Behemoth, my voluminous, forboding iteration of Spaceship 2.0.

Pros:
– Dang sexy
– Far cheaper than prefab standing desks
– Huge surface area
– Considerable depth allows use of a mega monitor (better on eyes)
– Deep cubbies perfect for basket-drawers, computer bags, keyboards, wires
– Cables can be routed and hidden
– Treadmill console sits on desk

Cons:
– Bulky
– Costs money

Uber tips:
– Use a 32″ 1080p LED TV for a vast digital viewscape
– Wear Vibram “toe shoes” for ancient walking powers
– Enter treadmill’s engineering mode to eliminate 1980’s era beep

Put together, this particular desk/treadmill combo is quite the catch. Remember when tablets introduced untethered computing to the masses? This could be a similar breakthrough for power users where determination and $1200 nets a happy body and amped-up productivity.

Modification #3: ???

Okay, so I know I said at least 10 people I know of have modified The Spaceship to meet their own needs and that’s true. However, I only have full details from Chad. Email me details of how you modified The Spaceship and I’ll update this post!

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“Summer Fiesta” Mix

Prompted by my first live DJ gigs earlier this year, I’ve changed my DJ setup. I used to sequence tracks in Ableton Live’s arrangement view. This let me dial in transitions until they sounded immaculate. However, I tended to get out of touch with end-listers experience with this workflow. Also, it was a total pain in the ass to do live.

Enter Native Instruments Traktor Pro. I’ve been using it for the last six months and am very satisfied. Using it in conjunction with the Kontrol X1 midi controller, I can mix without having to touch my mouse or keyboard. Like Ableton, it beat grids tracks and allows for auto beat-matching. Unlike Ableton, however, it stores the mapping information in a single xml file instead of individual files in the same directory. This allows for direct access to my iTunes library and all existing playlists, a huge win for productivity.

Here’s the first mix I’ve recorded with my new set up – an assortment of old classics and new laid back jams perfect for enjoying in sunny weather, preferably close to a grill:

Tracklist:

1. Nelly v. Poolside – Ride Next To You (Pedro Mahx Cut)
2. Crazy P – 3 Play it Cool
3. Zimmer – Looking At You
4. Grandadbob – Pictures (Naughty Remix)
5. Maya Jane Coles – Watcher
6. Santana – Oye Como Va
7. Roska & Jamie George – Love 2 Nite
8. Sneaker Pimps – Post Modern Sleaze (Salt City Orchestra Nightclub Mix)
9. DJ T. – City Life (Maceo Plex Remix)
10. Snoop Dogg – Sensual Seduction
11. Franck Roger – Bring It Back (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
12. Maya Jane Coles – Humming Bird
13. Michael Jackson v. Joyce Muniz – Remember Les Time (Pedro Mahx Cut)
14. Peckos – What Are You (Pete Dafeet’s Remix)
15. Sebo K – Mr. Duke (Alternative Version)
16. Maya Jane Coles – Nobody Else
17. Carly Simon – Why
18. Duff Disco – Return Of The Duff
19. Phoenix – Lisztomania (CLASSIXX Version)
20. Groove Armada feat. Will Young – History (Bachelors of Science Remix)

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Top Tracks of 2011

Yet another awesome year of electronic music! Here are my favorite tracks, categorized loosely by genre:

House

1. Julio Bashmore – Battle For Middle You [PMR Music]
2. Tom Middleton – Cicadas (Maya Jane Coles Remix)[Lo:Rise]
3. Shonky – Oasis [Culprit]
4. Sebo K – Mr. Duke (Alternative Version) [Mobilee]
5. Joyce Muniz feat. Sketch – Malicia [Lo:Rise]
6. Maceo Plex – Your Style [Crosstown Rebels]
7. Eric Sharp – Hope Spring Eternal [RISLabs]
8. Alex Arnout – Move On [One Records]
9. Peckos – What Are You (Pete Dafeet’s Remix) [Headtunes Recordings]
10. Tricky – Time To Dance (Maya Jane Coles Remix) [Domino]

Techno

1. Andrea Suglia – Reflections On A Decadent Society [Rohs Records]
2. Elon – Chordate feat. Maceo Plex [ReSolute]
3. Dario Zenker – Light [Ilian Tape]
4. Terence Fixmer – Dance Like Paranoid (Marcel Dettmann Remix) [Electric Deluxe]
5. HD Substance – Futurama [Software]
6. Cladio PRC & Terence Fixmer – Lunar Forest [Prologue]
7. Nicolas Masseyeff – Mugen [Herzblut]
8. Dilo & [a]pendics.shuffle – Is It (My Insanity) [We Are Recordings]
9. Scalameriya – Ripjaw [Genesa]
10. Xhin – Incidental (Audio Injection Remix & Drumcell) [Apotek]

Deep / Downtempo

1. Soul Clap – Between The Edit [Glass Table]
2. Maya Jane Coles – Senseless [2020Vision]
3. MANIK – City Kids [Ovum]
4. Mark Chambers – Well Well (Doubtingthomas Remix) [Safari Numerique]
5. Tale Of Us – Dark Song [Visionquest]
6. Ernie – Soul Of The Night (Ordell Remix) [Minuendo]
7. Rhythm & Sound – Mango Drive [K7 Recordings]
8. tINI – Someone Loves You [Desolat]
9. Evren Ulusoy – Chord Interrupted (Matt Masters Sunset Mix) [Midnight Drive Music]
10. Mario & Vidis – Changed (Soul Clap Remix) [Future Classic]

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barre3 3rd anniversary mix

My relationship with barre3, an exercise studio, has evolved since I made their 2nd anniversary mix last year. My girlfriend is now an instructor there. I spent this spring developing a forthcoming web-based business with the owners. They’re now a year older and in need of fresh music for their anniversary party tomorrow night!

The tracks in this mix are all over the board, from current house favorites to classic 90’s jams I got down to in junior high. It’s mixed in the quickly transitioning, rapid-fire style that BeatMatch, my forthcoming iPhone app, creates automatically. You can download the mix by clicking the down arrow icon on the right side of the Soundcloud widget below:

Track list:

1. Shonky – Le Velour
2. Cut Copy – Pharaohs & Pyramids
3. Julio Bashmore – Battle For Middle You
4. Snap – Rhythm is A Dancer
5. Maceo Plex – Your Style
6. Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
7. Leonid – Resting II
8. Makam – When You Love Somebody
9. The Miracles Club – Light of Love (Cut Copy Re-vision)
10. Lee Curtiss – I Can Hear You Arthur
11. Julio Bashmore – Ribble To Amazon
12. Madonna – Vogue
13. Craig David – Hot Stuff Vs World Hold On
14. Jennifer Lopez – Waiting for Tonight
15. Maya Jane Coles – What They Say
16. Marvin Zeyss – Next To You (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
17. Justin Drake, Kevin Griffiths – Midnight Special
18. Lee Curtiss – Black Door Beauty (Dyed Soundorom Remix)
19. Hot Natured – Forward Motion
20. Deniz Kurtel – The L Word feat. Jada
21. Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack
22. Soul Clap – Between The Edit

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My presentation on Restkit

Tonight I gave a presentation at PDX CocoaHeads on RestKit, a RESTful object mapping framework for iOS and OSX. RestKit has proved extremely useful in connecting BeatMatch, my forthcoming iPhone app, to a my Ruby on Rails web app. It also boasts an enthusiastic community that has graciously responded to questions merged in a few of my pet features. Here are the slides from my presentation:

If you’re considering using RestKit for your next project, I recommend these tutorials to familiarize yourself with the concepts introduced in the presentation:
Developing RESTful iOS Apps with RestKit
iOS SDK: Advanced RestKit

As mentioned in the presentation, the object mapping API is being overhauled in the next version, so keep in mind that the syntax will change.

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Travel recap – a week in Morocco

My girlfriend and I spent a week in Morocco as part of a larger European vacation. We had an amazing experience there, but I feel compelled to write a candid recap of what I would gladly repeat and what I would urge to do differently next time. I find travel books to be overly optimistic and unopinionated, so I hope my account of traveling will better set expectations.

TL;DR: Roaming the Erg Chegaga Desert is what made our visit worthwhile.

We added Morocco to our itinerary due to our desire for a more exotic segment of the trip as well as its close proximity to Spain. After skimming through a Lonely Planet on the subject, I became most interested in seeing Erg Chegaga. This section of the Sahara Desert in the eastern part of the country near the Algerian border is mostly conveniently  accessed from Marrakech, so we flew in and out of there.

Marrakech

We stayed at a guesthouse in the the Medina called Riad Chorfa. We were quite pleased with our hospitality, but we found the Medina itself to be vastly overrated. The Medina is a large medieval neighborhood of twisting alleys filled with souks selling goods Lonely Planet describes as “ranging from exotic spices to potions to cure any ailment”. The book hypes these souks as one of the primary destinations in town, but we couldn’t leave them soon enough.

The tacky motorcycle-ridden souks of the Medina.

For every store selling spices or potions, there were ten selling knockoff Lional Messi jerseys. Combined with obnoxiously hustling shopkeepers and loud smelly motorcycles aggressively whizzing past you makes this a far from medieval experience l’ve had elsewhere. Other travelers mentioned that the neighboring city of Fez is a more tranquil and picturesque city center, but we didn’t have time to visit on this week long adventure.

The leather tanneries were an interesting but smelly excursion, reinforcing Kaitlin's desires to be (mostly) vegan.

There are redeeming parts of Marrakech. While its exterior architecture is nondescript, its interior architecture can be stunning. The lush courtyard gardens, organically vaulted ceilings and ornately framed windows and doors further encouraged us to escape the chaos of the public. We enjoyed our excursions to the Saadian Tombs and Jardin Majorelle.

The beautifully eclectic Jardin Majorlle was a worthwhile excursion

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