Friday – Nov 13th – Prague, Czech Republic
The tour kicked off with an early 8am / 5 hour train ride from Berlin to Prague. Since i received 3 double bookings on this tour and the promoters were not able to move the dates around, i had to cancel those three gigs and the tour was cut from 8 potential performances down to 5. Nonetheless i was excited to return to Prague, one of the highlights of my 2008 tour, and an all around amazingly beautiful and fun city to visit. Jan, the promoter, picked me up at the train station and we made our way to his place where his girlfriend Jarunka prepared a great meal and we chilled a bit. We were joined by another Jan, aka Flautistar, a real chill guy, who plays the flute and runs a recording studio downtown. Since Jan had to get to Club Matrix to start getting set up, Jarunka and Flauti took me to Prague Castle for a bit of sightseeing. The last time i was in Prague, i checked out the old city and the famous bridge, but had missed out on the castle so this was an opportunity to catch up. The castle is simply incredible! Towering architecture, small cobblestone side streets where vendors and craftsmen had their shops, dungeons and full on cathedrals inside the castle walls, transport you back to medieval times.
Promoter Jan and his new puppy Oscar:
Impressions from Prague Castle (the place was amazing, so bear with me!):
The dungeon (people were locked up in that small cage):
The craftsmen alley:
Crazy sculpture near the dungeon:
Haha, flying pig:
Look at the douche:
From there we took a ride through the city to get a few drinks at Zanzibar and stop by Cross Club (where i played last year), then went to pick up my stuff back at the crib and headed to Club Matrix.
Riding Through Prague (simply amazing city!):
Czech National Theater:
Downtown Prague – Street Art:
Halloween…Watermelon (?) at Zanzibar:
Some sort of crazy looking piece of machinery, hanging at Cross Club:
Once at Matrix, the opening djs were Idiot (yup, his dj name) and Gasr (who also played with me last year in prague), so i relaxed in the backstage and charged my camera Gasr let me plug into his serato so setup was a breeze and i launched into my set, just as the club had reached it’s peak attendance of the night. Rolled through some new and old ragga dnb, and got a wicked crowd response. Definitely a sick kickoff for the tour. For some reason this one kid would constantly hover over me during most of my set, or stand behind me and occasionally shout into my ear to “drop dubstep now!” even though people were hooting and hollering to the ragga stuff i was playing….i think i did a good enough job on my own but oh well, he did help me out by doing some filming for below video with my camera so i was thankful for that. Aries, who played after me, came into the club from a previous gig towards the end of my set and continued the vibe with some sick tunes. I got really some great feedback from the crowd and my CD’s were snatched from my hands faster than i could distribute them. Much respect to Flautistar for rockin’ the flute tastefully over my set! Thank you for a dope night, Prague Massive!!!
Here are some pics and a video from the event:
The one like Flautistar:
After my set, i had some time to kick it with Michal, the promoter who had booked me the previous year, and with whom i’ve been exchanging music and designs for a while now. Always awesome hanging with this super nice guy! I do think the last round of shots was the nail in the coffin for his girlfriend though, who almost fell asleep / passed out standing up, so Michal bounced out. Either way i was glad to connect with him.
For some reason the club started emptying early, throughout Aries’ set, which i thought was strange, since he played one wicked tune after another. I’m glad though i was able to play to a solid and very excited crowd. I had been connected with Aries via Internet for quite some time now, but never met him in person so it was really nice to chat til early morning (we had gone back to jan’s place by now) about music, God and the world. His tunes are fantastic and his label is putting out one solid release after another (make sure to check out www.ariesdubs.com). Oscar, jan’s 4 month old puppy tried sleeping on the fold out couch with me but Jarunka took him into their bedroom and let me catch a few hours of z’s before it was time to get up again.
After a quick breakfast of coffee and baguette, Jan took me to the airport where i caught the plane for belgium. Big up to all prague crew! Thank you for the hospitality, i was taken nicely care of from beginning to end and loved playing there. ‘Til next time!
Saturday – Nov 14th – Hasselt, Belgium
The airport Brussels – Charleroi is the airport accommodating most bargain airlines flying to belgium, it just happens to be about 50 minutes from Brussels, so after landing i took the shuttle bus (not free!) to Brussels – Midi (or Brussels – Zuid; the country happens to be bilingual, with flamish / dutch speakers to the north and french speakers to the south so when traveling there you have to be aware of train stations often having both names), and then hopped on the train to Hasselt. I finally arrived there around 8pm and was picked up by my good friend Jan, aka MC D.O.C. We’ve known each other for years and i usually stay with him when i’m in Belgium, so we rushed to his place where he was hosting a dinner party. A quick shower and a great meal later, it was already time to make our way to the Muziekodrom, tonight’s venue for Rave Our Souls. I had about an hour to relax in the backstage, sort my stuff and take a walk around the party and i was already on. Crucifix, a young guy playing before me, had warmed up the crowd with some harder DNB tunes, and the crowd at the Jungle stage was solid from the beginning of party (and would be all night). I kicked off right at midnight and the crowd was hype from the start! Rolled through a really fun set and even had Bizzy B dancing and shuffling around as he was setting up to play after me. I finished up with some more mashed up / old schooly tunes to prepare the crowd for the old school madness about to ensue, and ended with a Krinjah tune, not necessarily old school, but well known and always a crowd pleaser. Gave out a ton of CD’s to a very excited crowd, as Bizzy B stepped up and rolled on, starting with some serious classic hardcore tunes going into some wicked ragga jungle dubplates of all your favorite old school tunes. Also hyping the crowd on the mic, he managed to really get everyone into it, whether or not they were even born when some of these tunes came out
Jesus was there to help me out (check the statue to the right!):
Bizzy B on the decks:
Riot & MC D.O.C. closing out the night:
All the performers, promoters and crew in the backstage:
Riot getting ready:
Chillin’ with Bizzy B:
Chillin’ with Maurice:
(these pics do not include the action in the other room, which featured the techno / rave / acid acts, i was mostly by the jungle stage)
I also linked up with Maurice who runs the immensely popular DNNB night in the Netherlands, which i played on the previous tour, as well as few other familiar faces, as i stop off in belgium on every tour and have done so the past 5 years. I didn’t really check out the techno room too much but every time i looked in there, people were raving like mad! The whole party was close to a thousand people, everyone smiling, dancing and just having a ball. Later on i got to chat and kick it with Bizzy B for a few hours, amazingly nice dude! Very open, very interested in what i played, and definitely one to link up with for future projects. The night ended with the usual madness in the jungle room, a short but super intense set by Riot, the promoter, and MC D.O.C. who had to bounce out to another gig earlier and had just gotten back. The last few tunes of the night just let the leftover crowd lose their shit completely before the lights go on. Rave Our Souls really does just that! After saying our good byes we returned to Jan’s place, hung out a little and passed out around 7:30am or so. Good night Belgium!
Sunday – Monday, November 15th & 16th – Hasselt, Belgium
The following day was really really chill. It was all about just trying to relax, keep one’s eyes open for a little bit and call it an early day. Rising in the early afternoon, we ate some amazing crepes for breakfast and headed to the local nature reserve which features miles of forests, a botanical garden, an old dutch village and a huge playground. A stroll on this sunny but cool day was relaxing and refreshing, and we made our way back to town for an amazing, and very large, mexican dinner. Jan, his girlfriend Elke, Riot and his girl and I stuffed ourselves with fajitas and margaritas until they had to roll us outta there. Fat and happy we stopped off for a night cap at the local watering hole Cambrinus and then rolled back home to catch up on lots of sleep!
Old Dutch style village:
Dinner with friends:
Paying with 2 euro coins (from last night’s door register):
On monday, Jan had to work, so i was on my own. After breakfast, showering and taking care of online biz, i tried calling some of my other friends in Belgium, DJ’s Wasp and Ladylite, who were hosting my friend Florin (who had booked me for two gigs in Romania the year before) and another friend from Bulgaria on their vacation, in order to catch up with them, but as it seems they were all still sleeping. So i made my way into town, only to get a call back, that they were up and Wasp came to get me and drive me to their beautiful new house (they used to live in an apartment, right across the street from Jan). We spent the afternoon catching up (all old friends i’ve known for years, Wasp and Ladylite at least) and just shooting the shit. Ate, drank, joked, traded stories etc….always a pleasure seeing all these heads. Time flies when you’re having a blast and many laughs, so by 6pm, Wasp drove me back to Jan’s place because we were gonna go indoor snowboarding (!).
Now who would’ve thought i’d be doing that on this tour ? I haven’t been on a board in 6 years, but it came back fairly quickly. This indoor ski place was pretty amazing. The main track was a 235 m slope, with a lift on each side, next to it a bunny slope for beginners and passing through a gate one enters an actual indoor snowboard park. I mean this place was not huge but it was perfect for a serious 2 hour riding session. I rode my first box ever! And did not bail any of the three times i did a board slide on it. Well technically a 50/50 but hey, first time! Check the video!!! This was definitely one of the highlights of this tour! Completely unexpected, and just a blast! Again, who would’ve thought ?
Hittin my first box ever, three times and never bailed:
MC D.O.C. and I on our boards (mine was borrowed):
Tired, battered and grinning from ear to ear, we had an apres-ski beer, and stopped by Jan’s family’s place, whom i visit every year as well. This place is great and his parents just super sweet people. Really would’ve been rude for me to skip it. Off it was, back to our welcoming beds at Jan’s place. A bit relaxing, watching some TV shows on my laptop and snooooooozzzzzze…..
Tuesday – November 17th – Belgium to France
The usual morning routine, followed by packing all my stuff (my suitcase had exploded over the room over the past two days), getting some breakfast and then off to the train station. Time to say good bye to my beloved belgium and charter into unknown territory, namely Lille in France. Thank you Jan for always being an amazing host, a great friend and just a blast to kick it with every time! Bye Belgium, Hellooo France.
After a few hours journey i arrived in Lille in the late afternoon / early evening and was picked up by Edsik, the promoter, whom i had briefly met in NYC earlier this year. We rode through the center of Lille, an amazing city, with some fantastic architecture…of course only in the touristy center, and where all the super expensive stores are. Stopped off for a welcome beer, which here is served with a little bowl of cheese, some dried salami and some peanuts to munch on. Then we made our way to the venue of tomorrow’s party, a reggae bar called “Djoloff” to meet the owner Kyzer, check it out and get treated with one of the many flavors of homemade rum! After all, this is a carribean bar! The owner was super chill, always had a big smile and very welcoming attitude! I was excited to return here the day after. As we finally made our way to Roubaix, where Edsik lives, two of his friends, one being Mr. Aya (who would be MC’ing at the gig), hitched a ride and after dropping them off we arrived at Edsik’s loft. The building it is in, is owned by his family for almost 20 years, and used to be an old textile factory. It’s really quite amazing! His loft is a wide open space, featuring all the amenities of a comfortable apartment, minus the walls. Not around the bathroom, nor the kitchen nor the studio. It was pretty wild! After a great dinner, prepared by Edsik himself, his other friend left, we played records for a bit and knocked out fairly early. First night in France. Quite the adventure already!
Where i rested my head:
Wednesday – November 18th – Lille / Roubaix, France
We kicked off the day with a breakfast of coffee and cereal, listened to some of Edsik’s tunes, and checked out some pics of his travels to Africa (his mother’s side of the family lives in Senegal) and his adventures there. Very inspiring! I definitely want to go there! It looked very impressive. Taking his dog Barack (!) for a walk, Edsik showed me around Roubaix, which used to be a textile capital in europe until the mid-20th century, but steadily declining since then, with factories closing, a huge influx of immigrants coming in and housing becoming more and more low-income, to leave the city a poorer area within the group of cities that constitute the county of Lille. But that always guarantees some interesting people, some real flavor and a hotspot for music and art! Here are some pics of the area as well the amazing building where Edsik and his mother (she’s a famous contemporary artist and also organizes a yearly music festival drawing thousands of people) live and work with other artists as well.
The factory, now art studio:
Train station clocktower (it was posessed, watch the digits!) and the train station itself:
Typical Roubaix housing front:
After another great lunch by chef Edsik, followed by a visit to some outlet stores (didn’t really find anything though), we rolled to Lille to check out a record store and get up with Daoof, a friend and dj who often plays with Edsik and whom i had also met in NYC. Unbeknownst to me, there were gonna be two soccer games that evening: Algeria vs Egypt and France vs Ireland. Now, the area where Edsik lives as well as the area were the party was gonna be, were both heavily populated by Algerians, so cars driving by, honking, with people hanging out of the windows waving Algerian flags and hollering became more and more apparent as people were heating up for the game(s), which were both extremely important to this soccer crazy town! As we returned to Roubaix to get our gear, eat and roll back to Lille, the game was ending, in favor of Algeria….and of course mayhem ensued! From what we saw and later on heard, people got a bit out of hand, even lighting cars on fire (on the way back after the party we saw a fire in the street in Roubaix). Needless to say, this ended up affecting the turnout at the party. Whether people were too busy watching the game, celebrating, or simply were too worried going outside (i totally understand why), the event was sparsely attended, which was really too bad, because all of us dropped some really dope tunage, and the three mc’s ripped it in a singjay as well as dnb stylee. I was treated super well by the venue and everyone there, and of course it would have been dope if the party would’ve been packed but the owner loved my set and guaranteed me a Saturday night prime spot upon my return! Finished the night off with another one of his amazing handmade rums, handed out some t-shirts and CD’s and it was off to Roubaix to mayyyybe catch a few hours of shuteye before my travels to Berlin, Germany, the next day! Thank you everyone at Djoloff (the venue) as well as the MC’s Samy and Mr. Aya for giving me mad respect and making me feel very welcome in France. Definitely looking forward to working on future projects with all of you, and returning next year to rock the house! Bless!!!
There was a bit of very dark video of myself playing but didn’t really have pics taken so here are some of the other artists
Wish i would’ve been at this festival:
and last but not least a fun little video i shot:
Thursday – Nov 19th- Thursday Nov26th – Berlin, Germany
It was a pretty straightforward, uneventful journey back to Germany. Due to aforementioned scheduling conflicts and me having to cancel three gigs, the weekend of the 20th / 21st remained gig-less, which allowed me to spend a week with family and friends in berlin. Either way it was really really nice. Here are some of the highlights…
One of the first computers (Museum for Traffic and Technology):
Dubplaaaate (Museum for Traffic and Technology):
Old School! (Museum for Traffic and Technology):
Flak to take down enemy planes from the ground (Museum for Traffic and Technology):
Entire ship insiiiiide (Museum for Traffic and Technology):
Amazingly painted wall on the way to above museum:
Berlin Dome at night:
Amazing Sunset in Berlin:
Dope street art:
Hanging with my boy:
The brothers behind the decks:
Neues Museum Berlin:
Russian Roulette Game for Kids (Berlin Museum Of Things):
My new slippers (Berlin Museum Of Things):
and new lamp (Berlin Museum Of Things):
I used to have this computer! (Berlin Museum Of Things):
Portable turntable…nice! (Berlin Museum Of Things):
I want this in my living room, but with an HDTV (Berlin Museum Of Things):
Friday November 27th – Cologne, Germany
I had to get up quite early to catch a 6:25am flight and arrived an hour later in cologne. I was meeting some co-workers from the european sales team at 10am so i had some time to kill and chilled at starbucks which offers one free hour of wi-fi per computer per day. A good tip for those on the road! This is also the case at McDonald’s, i believe nationwide for both establishments. After a lengthy breakfast with my colleagues and checking out the local offices, i met Andi the promoter around 2pm and he drove me to the hostel i was staying at. Nice simple place, typical european hostel. We went for some coffee / tea and since Andi still had to work for a few hours and take care of some errands before the party, i took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep, relax, watch a movie and eat some dinner near the hostel.
Cologne Dome, biggest cathedral in the world:
He returned shortly after 9pm and we were off to the venue. The Kolbhalle is an alternative music and art space, including some living spaces, two event rooms, and a bunch of other big areas, inside and out, where people lived, created and hung out. I met the whole DJ crew, who were all super chill, and they started off with a real nice 4 hour warm up set, back to back stylee. The place was rather empty until about 1am but then, as if on command, it started filling up rapidly and by the time i got up on the decks at 2am, it was packed! Pretty young, but very excited crowd, that was already dancing their asses off when i kicked off. The set was really well received, people hooting and hollering, and when i distributed CD’s during the last tune, many hands were eagerly snatching them up! DJ Jumpat followed up with a pretty heavy neurofunk set, and Rascal Emcee, who was already impressive during my set, could really flow and murdered it on the mic (i play mostly vocal tunes so there is not that much room for mc’s, understandably). I hung out until about 5am, handled biz, and took a cab back to the hostel.
Andi, the promoter! Biiig up:
Andi and the crew were more than forthcoming, every single one awesome! I had an amazing time in cologne and cannot wait to return next year! The feedback i got was that everyone felt the same and i eager to have me return as well. Wicked wicked vibes!!!
Saturday Nov 28th – Konstanz, Germany (last gig of the tour and my 30th birthday!)
I slept for about 3.5 hours and was up by 9:30am, packed my gear, brushed my toofers and took the tram a few stops to the main train station, from where i caught the Eurocity to Konstanz. I tried to sleep as much as i could on the train, but it’s not always easy. You sleep lightly, in 30 to 45 minute spurts, and at some point you just keep staring out the window waiting to arrive. Thank you Henry Rollins, for accompanying me through many of these seemingly endless travels. Your spoken word is a lifesaver, in so many aspects. Not only out of boredom, but it sure helps to pass the time in a very inspiring and humorous manner!
I finally arrived in Konstanz shortly after 5pm and was picked up by Arnt, the promoter, who has become a good friend over the years. I’ve played in Konstanz two years ago, and tried to return last year but scheduling conflicts kept me from it. Arnt is part of the 4 corners crew, which makes some really dope dubwize and dubstep tunes, and an all around really cool dude. He now lives with the other members of the crew so it was nice to meet everyone, talk music, crack jokes and eat the local specialty, handmade by Arnt himself: Kaese Spaetzle (handmade chunky pasta, baked with cheese and onions…i was in heaven!!!). A shower and a beer and i was almost back to my old self.
We made our way to the venue around 9:30pm, and since Arnt has been closely working with the Kantine (name of the venue) for a long time, we were able to set up the stage however we wanted, got the gear and the sound rolling nicely, met up with Katja (who does all the bookings and who worked with Arnt the last time i played in Konstanz as well), and started cashing in some of my 20 drink tickets (no joke. i am still not sure if that was nice or mean of them. but hey it was my bday haha). I was told that parties do not really start filling up until after 1am, but shortly after midnight the place started getting crowded quickly, and by 1am, it was ramjam packed! Once again a bit younger crowd (am i really getting that old ? wow. i guess it goes REAL quick once you leave your 20′s!), who was dancing excitedly and were super receptive to the really nice mix of dubwize, ragga dnb and dubstep, Arnt was dropping. I got on around 1:15, started my intro and slammed down some dope tunes by J Bostron, Aries and Hi Grade. The crowd jumped right in with me and even the people who kept asking me to play reggae or hip hop (i thus played two hip hop remixes, and some dubstep remixes of reggae tunes / riddims), picked up on the vibe and were stomping their feet and waving their arms. Another fantastic reception! Great set, great people…all around amazing. I keep repeating myself i guess, but hey, when it’s a killer, it’s a killer! Arnt came back up and changed it up with a dubstep set, and after coolin out for a while, and waiting for my soaked shirt to dry, i came back up with a round of drinks and we went back to back until about 5am and the lights came on. Once everything cleared out, the staff and crew hung out a bit, wrapping everything up, and we all jumped in a cab back to the crib. Arnt went on to his girl’s place and we said our good byes. Konstanz remains one of my all time favorite places to visit and play in. The nicest people and crazy parties every time. Love it!!!
Here is the night in pics and a video:
My boy Arnt, aka Selecta Sia-Fu:
I got about 2.5 hours of sleep and then Arnt’s roomie drove me over to the train station, where i began the long journey back to berlin, which took most of Sunday, as i was taking a train clear across Germany from the southern tip to way into the north. Sleep, movies and this blog passed the time and i arrived tired, but happy, in the early evening, back in my native city. A relaxed evening with my family and a close friend rounded out the tour. Monday i returned to NYC….
Thank you so much everyone!!! Thank you for booking me, hosting me, coming out to the events and supporting me! I feel truly blessed meeting so many amazing people and enjoying the music i play with all of them. This is something i look forward to every year and it’s an honor and pleasure to get to chill with all of you.
Much love and respect, everytime!