For me, the International DJ Expo started on a Sunday. I'm glad I got there a day earlier than most people because it allowed me to enjoy the Hed Kandi/Ministry of Sound US party hosted by Lainie Copicotto. Weather forced the party inside and inhibited Nadia Ali and Ali Bertash from singing, but the beautiful aesthetics of the pool room at Harrah's, combined with the chaotic weather outside and the large, colorfully lit side of the hotel made it a memorable experience. The music was good, I recognized a fair amount of classic tracks along with a few newer ones. A highlight was when DJ KC Anderson dropped the fantastically electro Daddy's Groove mix of Whitney Houston's new song, "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." The genius behind the A&R on the track, Hosh Gureli, needed to tell us who did the mix because I think only the DJ knew at that point. Smart buzz move. DJ Prime and Trevor Simpson also got behind the decks.
Promo Only Hosts a Killer Party, Or Four
Promo Only Promotions did a fantastic job of creating a laid back vibe in the Foundation Room for their wonderful Monday night cocktail party. I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new artists (Paradiso Girls, V-Factory, Kaci Battaglia, Annet Artani) along with some more established ones (Deborah Cox, Blake Lewis, Karmatronic). Partway through I was rushed to a back room where new singer Carmen Reece had set up to perform with a keyboard. She emotionally sang her new song "Right Here," as well as two songs to be found on her upcoming album. This girl has got a voice that needs to be heard! Afterwards, the guests split into two directions. Some went to Club Worship for the Big Management Party, others went to the Casbah for the Nervous Records Party. I did not get to attend the party at Casbah but I did see Chris Willis drop an amazing performance at the Big Management Party, mostly amazing because he performed "Everytime We Touch," a personal favorite of mine.
The Tuesday night festivities began at the House of Blues for the big concert night. Performers included: Pitbull, LeToya, Deborah Cox, Kristinia Debarge, Kaci Battaglia, AnnaGrace (formerly of Ian Van Dahl), Annet Artani, Kim Sozzi, Erika Jayne, Sylvia Tosun & Freedom Williams, Naughty By Nature, Livvi Franc, the Paradiso Girls, and V-Factory. It was a fantastic event of live entertainment that also included a few DVDJ's to keep the party going. Then things moved to a chill after party in VP of Promo Only Cary Vance's suite. It was fun seeing Sylvia Tosun, Glenn Friscia, and Cary Vance himself bartending to the small crowd.
DJ Times Takes the Time to Educate
It wasn't all a party though, as DJ Times hosted some great daytime seminars. A lot of the conference was aimed at Mobile DJs, so when learning to turn prospects to clients, a lot of the information given was in relating to brides or other people who would be hiring your DJ services for an event. Luckily the gist of the information is universally applicable. Spending some time learning about copyright law and how it affects performers is a must for any DJ, I believe. Make sure your venue is covered with licenses from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC! An hour with DJ Russ Harris made for an enlightening time as he took us through the basics of remixing on Sonar, a PC-based mixing program. The nice thing is that a lot of the mixing programs, Mac or PC, share a lot of aspects so the information should help anyone who mixes. A beatmixing session taught the importance of matching your beats in any performance, Mobile or Club.
DJ Times also threw together some great panels, whose discussions provided some insight into various aspects of the current dance and DJ scene. The first panel I attended was a Radio and Mixshow DJ panel, with representatives from KTU, Sirius, XM, Pulse, and a few others. The second was an artist panel which had some great discussions between Lucas Prata, Kim Sozzi, AnnaGrace, LeToya, Lolene, Kristinia Debarge, Kaci Battaglia, Deborah Cox, and America Olivo. Emphasis was placed on crossover buzz by Cary Vance, who spent considerable time praising Kim Sozzi for beginning to reach that process with "Feel Your Love." He also focused on the edgy vibe of Kaci's angry track, "Crazy/Possessive." Cary also talked about how big Lady Gaga got after her time at the Expo in 2008, and I believe everyone in the room was wondering, "Who's next?" The singers all gave their input on using social websites like Twitter and Facebook to manage themselves, and LeToya proved to be an eGeek by going in depth about a few sites she uses to remain in touch with her fans. The last panel I attended was a remixer/producer panel and had names like DJ Skribble, Josh Harris, Russ Harris, Disco Fries, and others who talked about the state of remixing and what it takes to get your stuff heard.
All in all it was a highly entertaining and informative week. Some definite random highlights included the effervescent Annet Artani, the beautiful Lauren Hildebrandt, Fredrick Ford (who is a real sweetheart), and the gorgeous and great Perry Twins. It's amazing who just shows up to these things! The International DJ Expo also settled an ongoing debate in my head over whether to pursue a career in music or allow it to be a part-time, and for anyone suffering a similar crisis, I'd recommend attending. How I could think that music was anything else but my life, I'm not sure, but the event definitely woke me up. And my final two cents? For the next Lady Gaga (i.e. breakout star of the DJ Expo) look no further than "awkward-pop" singer Lolene.
Posted August 2009.