Gilles Peterson Interviews The Black Madonna

What happens when one of our favorite DJs interviews one of our favorite DJs?

“Something happens, the room snaps and it’s almost a supernatural experience.”

Gilles Peterson interviews The Black Madonna, aka American DJ and producer Marea Vierge-Noire. She discusses falling out love with her craft, then rediscovering her passion and restarting her career at some of the most famous clubs in the world. They also talk about overcoming nerves, dealing with awful gigs and the parallels between religion and house music. Presented by WeTransfer Studios.

Interview with Alumnus DJ Boss

Since graduating from Mmmmaven in 2014, Chayuth Clark Subsin also known as DJ BOSS has been making waves in the Boston DJ community. Originally from Thailand, DJ BOSS has opened for Borgeous at The Royale and has a residency at Club eNVy in Allston. We were lucky enough to have him back at Mmmmaven to talk about how he started DJing, his career highlights so far and how we helped pave the way for a career as a DJ. 

How did you find out about Mmmmaven and the programs we offer?

I looked it up online and I wanted to be a DJ and get myself in the community. I found you guys doing it over here in Cambridge so I tried it out and learned so much here.

When did you graduate from Mmmmaven?

3 years ago – Mmmmaven looked very different then it was downstairs! This new setup is really cool.

What was your favorite class/technique that you learned?

I learnt a lot when I first started. There was the DJ 101 class and the DJ 102 class. In the DJ 101 class I learned how to DJ using equipment and how to connect all the equipment together. In DJ 102 I learned how to beat match and how to blend two songs together. It also covers a lot more technique in the 102 class.

Had you DJ’ed before you came to Mmmmaven?

I started DJ-ing by myself a few months before I came to Mmmmaven and I felt kind of stuck. Then when I came here my mind was blown. I got to understand the technique behind what I was doing before I came here and got right on top of it – it was amazing.

What skill do you think you improved on during your time with Mmmmaven?

I improved on my confidence beat matching and pushing the crowd. Beat matching is really important as a DJ. When I learned from the instructor how to play the two songs, that made me a lot more confident that I could do it myself. Also, with the turntable equipment in here it’s totally different: starting off using vinyl is a really great way to learn how to DJ.

Do you use different equipment when you DJ?

I started off using the Controller – that’s a little bit different. In here with vinyl it’s different so let’s talk about it. When I first started to DJ I listened to the radio and I was like “oh I wanna learn how to DJ” and I bought two turntables however it was not good equipment. I also didn’t know that a turntable needed a Serato box to make it work so I went to guitar centre and bought it but I didn’t know how to use it. I randomly went to the bar down the street and hired a DJ to come and teach me. He taught me a couple of times but I was still stuck and felt like “why don’t I know how to do this thing? How do I adjust it? How do I beat match?” When I came here to Mmmmaven I solved the problems that I had.

Can you tell us a little bit about your first gigging experience? What was it like, how did you book it, how did it go?

After the graduation party at Middlesex I met one of the students from Mmmmaven – they call it the Project Mixx and they invited me over to spin at one of their nights at Mini Bar in Copley which was actually my first DJ gig.

Yeah I was super nervous, I didn’t know what to do because it was my first live performance but I thought “this is what I’ve been waiting for!

I’ve been learning and now this is like the real show time for me.” Yeah so, it was great! I did my best, I had a good time and everybody had a good time.

How often do you DJ now?

I DJ once or twice a week. My resident club is eNVy in Allston and sometimes I DJ at some other places as well. I would love to DJ more! I want to do this every day – that’d be fun!

What part of DJing do you find to be the most challenging?

Reading the crowd. Reading the crowd and playing the right song in the right moment. Taking the requests can also be challenging but I try. I love it. I love taking requests. At the club I want everybody to have a good time and when they request it sometimes, I wouldn’t think about that song, but then if the song works for the crowd I’m happy with it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve been playing a lot of big night clubs since I played at Royale. That was the most exciting venue for me to play at. I was opening for my favorite DJ, Borgeous, and to be able to hang out with him and talk about music was great.

Did getting an education at Mmmmaven help you with your DJ career?

Definitely! It helped me so much! I wouldn’t be DJing where I am right now without Mmmmaven.

Not only did they teach me the basic things I needed to know as a DJ but also the DJ community at Mmmmaven is very strong. Mmmmaven is pretty much a home for everyone musical as a DJ. I wouldn’t be able to know all of the DJs that I do and be able to talk about DJing with so many people without the community from Mmmmaven. It’s great to be here, to share music and talk with friends. Sometimes you can pull a line to get a gig from a previous student.

How has your music progressed since graduating from Mmmmaven?

I hope my music has progressed as I keep practicing after Mmmmaven! I practice every day mostly. I try to find some time to just practice, to just play with it. As an artist you know you wanna practice because it’s so fun to DJ! I DJ by myself all the time. I go live on Facebook now to practice and when I practice I learn every time. I try to do something stupid and then I learn if it works or not. If it works I’m gonna keep practicing until I get it and then I’m gonna play it at a club. I’m gonna use that technique to play it at a club and see if it works.

What do you hope to have accomplished in your DJing career five years from now?

Five years from now I am planning to get my songs signed by a record label and also, a dream that I’ve thought about since being at Mmmmaven, I want to play at a festival – that’s one of my goals! I would love to do any kind of music festival as I haven’t done that yet. I wanna feel it! I wanna study about it and get a different feeling and it would be really awesome.

What didn’t Mmmmaven teach you that you wish you had learned?

They taught me a little bit of everything, so no, I don’t think there’s anything. I think they covered everything I needed to know. Other than that you have to practice by yourself.

What did you find most challenging to learn at Mmmmaven?

The most challenging thing for me was beat matching.

Doing that with songs with different BPMs and learning how to try and blend the song together is challenging.

I think that’s the most challenging thing as a DJ. When I started I had a really difficult time trying to beat match between different songs because you have to count in a certain way and I didn’t know about all this. I thought “how am I gonna get that two song break down at the same time?” Then at Mmmmaven I found out how to count to make it work. Then on these turn tables beat matching can be tricky because when you press it, it’s not going right away. It takes some time and you just gotta kind of like feel it. I think that’s also the fun part as a DJ. It’s the best feeling matching songs together and getting it right.

Do you collaborate with other Mmmmaven graduates?

Once in a while I get in touch with my old friend from Project Mix and some good friends from Mmmmaven as well.

Do you think Mmmmaven graduates are prominent in the Boston DJ music scene?

I think there’s a lot of Mmmmaven graduates on the DJ scene. I think it’s only Mmmmmaven – you can Google it! There’s nowhere else.

In what ways did Mmmmaven prepare you for playing for a live audience?

The graduation party was a preparation for performing for a live audience. It was all the students who were graduating that got to perform live with their friends and everybody got together. Actually I think that was my first time. That was actually my first official gig to play live performing in an actual night club. That was the most exciting part for when me I graduated. I still remember that feeling. Even now when I DJ I still get that exciting feeling you know? That was the first time that I really felt like “woah I’m gonna do this, these people gonna like it” and at the end of the day everybody had a great time believe me.

If Mmmmaven were to offer more advanced classes would you be interested in taking them?

Well yeah! Actually I’m getting myself into production right now. I wanna learn more about sound design and stuff like that, yeah. I’m looking forward to that.

What brings you happiness?

I like to go outside, walk my dog, come back, practice for an hour, go out, get some lunch, come back and make music. That’s an ideal day for me! M U S I C – that’s everything.

What advice would you give to any aspiring DJ student?

They’re just gonna have to love this {points to turntable}. When they love this they can do it. Just love playing around with it and spend time with it – it’s fun! Just download music and try to play it and record your set. I record my set all the time and I listen to it in the car when I’m driving. That way I learn when I listen to my set after like “oh does this technique work when I press the crossfade right” or if it doesn’t work I’m gonna come back to it the next day and practice it until it works. When it works it’s like “oh I got it!” It’s fun. Also practice: learn and practice. Practice will make it happen.

Well thank you so much for coming in today to have a chat!

Of course, thank you for inviting me to come back here! Mmmmaven will always be a home for me.

 

 

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Worldwide FM Live from Mmmmaven


Anyone who knows our Co-Founders Alex and David know they are massive fans of the legendary DJ, label-owner, and champion aesthete Gilles Peterson. Mr. Peterson has led a movement in the UK and around the world for tasteful and eloquent disco, chill-out, afro-beat, grime and who knows what. His taste exceeds many.

Mr. Peterson, in contrast, is a huge fan of Somerville-based label Cultures of Soul. Their latest 12″ includes, in a full-circle, a red-hot remix from Boston’s own Soul Clap.

So when Cultures of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds (who also happens to be a regular at Soulelujah) needed a studio to record a special Boston installment for Worldwide FM, Peterson’s exceedingly tasteful internet radio show, we were more than happy to oblige. Here is the result: four hours of deep African rock, lost Boston jazz, Japanese disco, Gospel, you name it. For more on Deano, Uchenna, and Andre, and the labyrinthine tracklisting, visit the Worldwide website.

Support Cultures of Soul at Bandcamp:

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Student Profile: James Walker AKA Cakewalk

It’s time for another student profile! We checked in with our former student, James Walker, to hear about his DJ career since graduating from Mmmmaven.

James AKA Cakewalk got his start DJing at Franklin Pierce University after teaching himself how to DJ using Youtube and online tutorials. He wanted to learn more about the craft, so he began searching for DJ schools in Boston. His search led him to Mmmmaven, where he began taking classes in 2012. Early on, James started exploring different genres and Mmmmaven helped him pull from these influences to find his own sound.

One thing that has stuck with me from Mmmmaven is “imitate, imitate, innovate”. In other words don’t be afraid to “sound” like or take things you really like from artists that you really love. Eventually you’ll find your own sound but still be able to show your influences in your music or sets.

Cakewalk is currently a resident DJ at the monthly parties, BINARY at Wonder Bar and Flight 617 at Good Life. He loves playing at BINARY parties because they are always packed with fun and energetic people. Flight 617 parties also appeal to him because of the diversity and high-energy feel that they have.

Cakewalk has accomplished some amazing things since leaving Mmmmaven, including opening for Purple Disco Machine at a BINARY party, playing at Boston summer party, Dancing at the Charles, and doing a set at Habitat Living Sound in Calgary.

James describes the type of music he plays as New Disco/ House. He likes to play any funky, feel-good music that will get people dancing.

When asked who his biggest DJ idols are, he cited Soul Clap and no regular play.

Listen to a mix by Cakewalk below:

 

As far as DJing goes, James considers it a part-time job for now. He works full-time as a Kindergarten Teacher’s Aide in Brookline during the week. Even though this job doesn’t primarily deal with DJing, he is able to network with people by inviting them to his shows and has even been able connect with other musicians through work.

James still maintains his DJ career by doing his monthly resident gigs and shows on the weekends as well. Luckily, James has summers off from his full-time job so he is able to focus on DJ gigs during this time. He definitely keeps busy DJing even though he considers it a part-time job.

 

Here’s some advice James had for aspiring DJs:

Work your hardest, but be patient too. That was definitely the toughest part for me, but just keep at it.

 

Catch Cakewalk at our new free event this coming Saturday (3/25) at Hojoko in Boston. Come in for one of their signature dishes, a designer cocktail, and some house music tunes.

3/25/17

FREE

Posted by: Tori Leche