Monday, April 8, 2013

DJ Exclusive": Interview with Baxter Aubin

DJ Baxter Aubin and a drum kit
I always catch Baxter hanging out at The Velvet and only recently realized she was a DJ, and quite a versed DJ at that. Baxter is always super friendly and is present in local chat even when not DJing and seems to be enjoying the social experience SL can bring. I caught Baxter this week and truly enjoyed the set and would recommend it to the music lover in us all! Come out and hear the enjoyable variety for yourself!

Here is what Baxter shared:

Are you DJing currently and where?  Right now I play once a week, Wednesdays, at the Velvet. I also play irregular sets at CafĂ© Wellstone, although I may be moving to a regular Friday spot there soon. I had been doing Mondays there, but one RL work night per week is plenty for me. I also enjoy doing guests spots at various venues when the opportunity arises.  

When did you start DJing?  I started DJing as an alt in 2009. When I first came to SL, I made friends with some people that ran a sleazy sex club, and the DJ was just awful. Mediocre metal, Top-40, crap like that. I thought, “Hey, even I can do better than this.” First I started hanging out at blues clubs like Toby’s, but pretty soon I found places like Alt-7, the Looney Bin, and the Social Scene, and I knew there was hope for music in virtual life.   

First Club?  My first regular gig in SL was at a club called Digital Decay. A live band, Engrama, was also playing there at the time, but one of the members was banned for life for calling all the women in the club the “C” word. The owner of the place was a zombie, blood dripping from open sores on his face and a spike through his head. Really nice guy, though. Those were, umm, interesting times. I played the old Crow’s Nest a few times, but Woody, the owner, was about the only person who came to my sets. I think he showed up because he was afraid I was going to steal the art off his walls.   Most unusual thing you saw while DJing?  Probably the time I was playing at a place called the Workhouse, and one of the patrons spent the entire evening, through multiple DJ sets, engaging in simulated (I think or hope) sex with a plastic goat. Fortunately he took the goat with him when he left.    Then there was the time I was playing a sort of festival gig. One of the other performers was an Elvis imitator, Bubba Something, I think. Bubba was actually pretty decent for that kind of act. But he made this totally ostentatious entrance. He landed this little private jet right on the stage and got out with his entourage of about a dozen Elvis groupies. As soon as his set was over, they all piled back into the jet and zoomed off. I have no idea how they all fit inside that tiny plane with their giant hair and tons of blingy jewelry and huge sunglasses, but Bubba sure seemed to be having a good time.  

Baxter Aubin in Pose
Favorite music?  Well, in retrospect, and this is a little embarrassing, in my younger days I saw the Grateful Dead play live about eight or ten times. After that I was heavily into punk and post-punk. Patti Smith is still one of my all-timers. I’ve always loved Dylan and the Beatles. At various times I’ve had major unrequited crushes on Donovan, Leonard Cohen, Ray Davies, and Nick Cave. I went through a fairly intense reggae phase, and now I’ve pretty much settled into the indie/alt/eclectic mode.  I sometimes have a knack for playing the exact wrong stuff at the exact wrong time. A few months ago I was invited to do a guest spot at this sort of Texas roadhouse club that does themes every Saturday. I asked the owner if they ever had a punk night and she said, “No, but go for it if you want.” So I did a set of really classic tunes, Clash and Ramones, Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, Sham 69, Pogues. All great stuff. A few people stayed for the whole set, but by the time it was over I felt like that scene in Animal House where the band is playing behind a chicken wire fence getting pelted by bottles of PBR.

Influences? Growing up I listened to a lot of underground and college radio stations, which may explain why I tend to be fairly eclectic. They sort of had genre shows, but the DJs would play pretty much anything they felt like. In a couple of hours you could hear everything from prog to garage to world to dance to psychedelic to folk, etc. I still listen to stations kind of like that--KEXP out of the University of Washington, and a local station, WMSE is similar.  I’ve learned my craft from a lot of really incredible DJs here in SL. A few that I should mention are Maht Wuyts, Paradox Messmer, Enigma Bombay, and Dano Bookmite, but there are many, many others who have also influenced me. A big THANK YOU to you all.  Like myself, most of those DJs don’t do voice very often in SL. Without trying to sound phony, I think it really helps if a DJ can keep the chat going in local. When I’m messing around with my queue, I really appreciate a crowd that keeps the conversation moving. Some of the best DJs don’t necessarily play the best music, but they know how to connect with the audience. That can be a very difficult thing to do. On the other hand, you learn a lot from a good crowd. People often talk about movies or books or web sites I’m not familiar with, so I discover some cool things by hanging out in clubs and being a DJ.  I think there’s a big difference from being a DJ iRL. RL DJs can break their sets up into coherent three or four song slices. Here you have to somehow make it all flow and hold it together, no matter how diverse the music is, in these massive two hour blocks. It can be kind of challenging, but then we also don’t have to do PSAs and self-promos and boring things like that.  

What do you listen to at home?  I love late Classical and early Romantic music. The Mozart clarinet concerto and Schubert’s Trout quintet would be on my desert island list. The flow of the movements, from fast to slow to fast is a little bit like the way a long DJ set works, if that makes sense. Late modern, or post-modern is also interesting because some composers mix a lot of different styles into a single work, kind of like a DJ might mix different genres into a single set. Mahler’s third symphony technically has 6 largish movements, but it’s really made up of about 25 or 30 smaller, discreet units, almost like songs.  Do you have a regular set you play, a “go to” set?  Not really, but I save some favorite sets so it’s easy to pull songs at the spur of the moment if I need to. Sometimes when I’m not playing the wrong stuff at the wrong time, I’m trying to get a feel for what the audience is into and sort of compromising my own tastes, without abandoning them altogether, to fit their expectations. As a DJ I like to turn people on to new stuff, but you need to balance that with what they already like.   

When can we hear you DJ usually?  Wednesdays, 5-7 SLT, at the Velvet.  

Cream and sugar or black?  Plenty of both please. Organic Highland Sumatra when available. And please be sure to serve my cappuccino in porcelain.  

Cat or Dog?  Meow!  

If you could take one thing from your inventory for real-life use, what would it be, and why pick it?  I teach English iRL, and even though I’m not an ESL teacher, that old Google translator that doesn’t work anymore would sure come in handy with some of the kids. Or does my shoe collection count as a single item? I can never find boots I like quite as much as the ones I have in SL.  

Best SL Memory?  I enjoy playing charity events. I tend to pull out all the stops and just rock really hard in whatever way is appropriate for those kinds of sets. A couple years ago I was fortunate enough to play an Occupy SL benefit, which was an offshoot of the RL Occupy Wall Street movement.  The money we raised went to support the people camping in the streets and parks in NYC and Oakland and many other places; to buy them food and show our solidarity. The crowd was just so generous and enthusiastic, and the other performers were so amazing. It was a total, all-day blast. It was a completely fantastic experience and to me epitomizes the very best of Second Life. Maht does a similar thing every year at the Velvet, when he plays for like a day and a half straight, to raise money for farmers in developing countries. Those are always incredible shows.  

Wow! Great Interview Baxter and I hope to keep the date open for you at the Velvet on Wednesdays!

Photography by Piedmont Cartauld

No comments:

Post a Comment