Around the World with A-Trak, Part XIX: The Detonate Festival

May 07, 2009

Back on the road for another odyssey, this time for the entire month of May, literally from the 1st to the 31st. I was home for a few days last week, just enough time to touch base with reality and throw out the rotten clementines in my fridge. For some reason when it's wintertime and I buy one of those wooden cases of clementines I get really psyched for a few days and then I forget about them. Then I might open the fruit drawer a month later and they still look the same so I keep them. Next thing you know I leave on tour, come back and it's only when there's a thriving ecosystem growing on them that I remember to toss them out. Can you blame me? Anyway, I promise I kept myself occupied with more than citrus fruit. I never socialize much when I'm in my hometown. I did, however, peep Catchdini DJing at Izza Kizza's mixtape release party. I also finished a collaborative EP which you may or may not have heard of, dropping this summer. More on that soon. And I tied up a few loose ends for the last couple of songs that we've been recording for the much anticipated Kid Sister album. With that, I packed my Tumi and crossed the Atlantic.

I'm usually able to sleep on long flights but this time I didn't. You know how it is, I arrived in Brussels at the crack of dawn in dire need of a bed. This driver had to take me an hour into the Belgian matrix to the town where this Polsslag festival was going down. I like the word Polsslag, it looks like you could flip it upside down and it would read the same thing. I just did a quick google (a quoogle?) and found out that's called an ambigram. Check this out, this is so cool. When I finally got to my hotel room I collapsed and woke up at 6pm. I got a call about a party that Aeroplane was throwing later that night in Brussels where Erol Alkan was supposed to play but had to cancel due to illness. They wanted me to replace him. I said sure, I'm too jetlagged to tell what's late and what isn't so let's go ahead and do 2 gigs in 2 cities tonight. I was playing Polsslag with DJ Mehdi. It's really cool how Mehdi and I now get booked for tag-team sets even without asking. We didn't actually organize a tour together this Spring but we've done enough tag-team shows that promoters have been asking for the tandem. The festival was actually bigger than I expected, there was even a DJ playing in the catering room for the artists. He played Rusko's Kid Cudi remix, I appreciate the Fool's Gold plug but I have to say I never ate to that song before. The room we played was a massive hangar with a bunch of rave-chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I finally met the elusive Mr Oizo. We discussed beards. In French. Good guy. As for our set, Mehdi did the first 45 minutes, I did the following 45 and we went back-and-forth for the last 30, ending with my new(ish) Daft Punk beat juggle. Those sets are like alley-oops: Mehdi warms them up with the funk, then I shake them up with my A.D.D. and we knock it out of the park together in the end.

After that we were driven out to Brussels for gig #2. It was 1am but to me that felt like 7pm, so when we arrived I really wanted to eat before the club. I knew what I wanted too: Belgian fries. My gracious hosts took me to a 24-hour stand and I got my fix. Then we went to the club and I played from 3 to 5. I played a really different set. If I'm gonna play twice in one night I need some sort of switcheroo. Since this was a bit more of a bougie spot (you should have seen the size of THAT chandelier) I played more of a disco vibe for the first hour or so. Not all of my remixes fit into all my sets, and that night for instance I got to play my James Pants remix that I did with XXXChange. Then I played some throwback hip-hop (Europe will always love EPMD) and finished off with what I would call a classic New York rollerskating set. When we were done we did the only sensible thing: went back for more fries. Bed at 8am.

On Sunday I went to Nottingham, England for the Detonate festival. It's a festival in the loose sense: a couple of clubs next to each other throw a bunch of parties on the same night and share a big flyer. I flew into Birmingham and was driven with the homie Gaslamp Killer to Nottingham. I kept thinking of Birmingham, Alabama. I was trying to picture myself in the Renaissance à la Professor Peabody and imagined the settlers arriving in the New World. They start a village. "What should we name this place?" (Long silence... They must be from Birmingham, UK...) "Birmingham!" In my head that was really funny. Today, not so much. Back to my gig, I ran into a few other friends who were playing in various rooms and went to do my set. I had to run to the bathroom for a pee break in the middle. That night I mostly spun from my playlist called "Cold & Druggy." That's my 2nd best playlist name after "Bottle Service Electro," which I try to avoid at all costs. The crowd was raging and there was ambient musk of perspiration in the air.

This week I'm in London. And I'm still sleeping at the weirdest hours. Monday night I couldn't fall asleep until 6am, then had to wake up at 8 to go to the Chinese consulate to drop off a visa application, then came back and slept almost all afternoon. As you can guess I'm typing this while the crickets are buzzing. At least I'm not going crazy in a hotel room, I'm staying with my homies Herve and Martelo. Nice to be able to speak to humans on these trips. Even better when it's humans who make (and share) good music!

Pass the duck sauce.

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Posted: May 07, 2009
Around the World with A-Trak, Part XIX: The Detonate Festival