Category: Camilo Smith

DJ A-Trak: Blurring the lines and building a global picture

Atrak300 A few years ago, the majority of kids turning out for DJ A-Trak shows were what he called “uber DJ fans” who preferred to film him for YouTube clips, as opposed to doing what his mixing suggested: dance.

But more bodies have been moving in the last couple of years, according to A-Trak, the 27-year-old DJ born Alain Macklovitch in Montreal. The wunderkind turntablist began winning international DJ awards at age 15, making him one of the youngest, greatest masters of the decks. He will bring his ever-evolving mix of rap, breakbeat, techno and house to the HARD New Year’s Eve DJ party on Thursday.

The Brooklyn-based DJ has a new look (think maturing hipster: Beard and fedora have replaced baseball cap and sunglasses), and he's pushing his sound further into the realm of the international dance charts in an attempt to further blur genre classification.

“This time is reminiscent of the mid-'90s, where hip-hop guys were making house music," he said during a tour stop in Mexico City. "That’s what allows me to play this Jeezy record or this Gucci Mane record next to some weird German techno record,  because to me they make sense together.”

A-Trak started his indie imprint Fool’s Gold Records in 2007, toward the end of his 4-year run as Kanye West’s official tour DJ. He’s always kept busy with dance-worthy remixes, most recently of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll," but his latest focus is on planning his next album.

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Kinky talk 'Barracuda,' Nic Harcourt and the Latin scene

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The newly opened Club Nokia, part of that bright and shiny L.A. Live complex in downtown, will host its first Latin music performances this weekend. 

Latin Grammy winning duo Calle 13 headline Saturday night's intimate concert, which also features  electro-funk rockers Kinky, who are based in Los Angeles but hail from Monterrey, Mexico. Pop & Hiss caught up with lead singer Gilberto Cerezo, 29, and keyboardist Ulises Lozano, 37, while they were promoting their fifth studio album, “Barracuda,” in Hollywood earlier this week.

So, where did the name Kinky come from?

Gilberto: It's kind of a twisted way to see a lot of the Latin rhythms that we use. We try to twist it and twist it and twist it. We apply that to the music, to my hair. It's a sexy thing as well.

It's probably safe to assume that the first time a lot of people in L.A. heard about Kinky was listening to KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic.” Nic Harcourt was a big supporter. Did you hear he was leaving the show?

Gilberto: Really? He was like a godfather for us in Los Angeles. I think he's one of the main reasons that we are here. It's a really important radio station. Surprisingly, he liked us and he opened his door to us. We were doing his show in 2002, playing live. He even brought us to one of the biggest shows we did in the area. We were playing with Beck and Norah Jones when we were no one.

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CMJ closing interviews: Gliss and Mibbs from PacDiv

The CMJ Music Marathon is known as a proving ground, but for some bands, it's also just icing on the cake of industry approval and support. We caught up with David Reiss, guitarist and drummer for punk-psychedelic trio Gliss just before his return over the weekend to Long Beach. (The other band members were sticking around for a Jets game.)

Gliss is finishing up a new album, "Devotion Implosion," following two EPs over the last couple of years. And though they've toured with Billy Corgan, and opened for several high-profile rock acts, mainstream love eludes them. Signed to indie imprint Rykodisc, and made up of Reiss, Martin Klugman and Victoria Cecilia, the group's CMJ showcase in the gritty basement of the Delancy featured 9 songs played to a rapt audience.

Dave_reiss_gliss_by_taylor So, how did CMJ go for you?

You can't really tell it's CMJ. It's not like SXSW, where all the action happens on a couple secluded blocks; this was like a regular New York night. It was great. We finally got to meet people at the label. They were incredibly supportive of the new sound we have. A lot of them were really pleased with how we've grown in the last year. It was really cool to hear it from them. 

Can you explain that new sound?

I won't say more "mature." But it's definitely an evolution. We definitely have that indie rock, kind of garage sound. We're atmospheric and we're psychedelic too.

This being your first CMJ, what did you think about the show at the Delancy on Friday night? Did you mind playing in the basement?

I'm not into the [acoustics] so much. But I kind of like that dirty, dingy street-vibe energy. It's also fun to play the Bowery Ballroom, where you have much bigger space to play. There's something to be said about playing those thrasher dive bars. I thought it was a pretty good show. It's hard to judge when you're playing on strange equipment.

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CMJ: Five Finger Death Punch and the Broken West

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Ivan Moody, the lead singer of Los Angeles' Five Finger Death Punch, with his muscle shirt, tattoos and mohawk, gives off the mixed-up vibe of a martial arts cage fighter who really cares about his fans. “If you don't want to get hurt, now is the time to get" out of here, he said to one extremely aggressive, metal-loving crowd at last night's CMJ showcase at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza.

He commanded the crowd near the stage to form a circle and kindly warned the women near the front (of which there were quite a few in that ocean of testosterone) that this mosh pit could get vicious.

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Summoning the spirit of Dimebag Darrell and accompanied by Matt Snell on bass and guitarist Darrell Roberts, Moody's primal wailing grabbed the audience by the throat with “White Knuckles,” a melodic yet steel-toed thrashing ode to inner demons.

Moody, also known as “Ghost” began this crowd-enthralling set with “Ashes,” and by the following song, he was already giving fist-bumps to crowd-surfers, crashing down near the stage.

Talking directly to the N.Y. audience, Moody showed himself a formidable frontman, never lacking for a snickering comment about the New York Giants, or a moment of silence for fallen U.S. soldiers. His charisma wasn't lost in all the brutal pushing, shoving and crowd surfing -- that was all in a night's fun for those who needed a litte heavy metal to get things off their chest.

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