CVIndependent

Fri05242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Alex Harrington

So you want to be a DJ? Or maybe you’re a DJ already.

There is a running joke these days that says “everyone is a DJ” now. I have been doing it for seven years—and even that amount of time pales in comparison to the amount of experience others have.

This month, I’d like to share some things that I have learned over the years.

Know Your Goal: First things first—and that is to understand what you want to do. It’s important to be realistic, especially at the start. Do you want to play clubs? Weddings? Do you also want to create your own music? I think of what I do as a business—no different than being a plumber or doctor. The only difference is the medium with which you are working. As a DJ, it is important to know that most markets are over-saturated, so you’ll need to find a way to stand out. Your best shot is to find something that fits you.

Get on the Web: Having a presence on the internet is more vital than ever before. Social media is a great tool. Choose the networks that best fit your target audience. I like Instagram because it’s easy to digest: Photos, videos and short captions let your followers keep up with you. Facebook is also good, because you can run promotional ad campaigns and reach a targeted audience. No matter what your social media choices are, a website helps tie it all together. You can list links to your mixes, music, events and more—all in one place!

When in Doubt, Reach Out: I have had some people ask me: “How do you get your gigs?” The answer is pretty simple: I reach out to venues and promoters directly! If you know of a club that you want to play at, record a mix, and shoot the venue a short email. I find messaging via Facebook pages to be efficient at times. Think about why you would be a good fit for the venue. From a business standpoint, why should they hire you? How will you make them money?

Be Respectful: I live by the rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Over the years, it has never steered me wrong. No matter how big (or little) your local scene is, there are those who have been doing it for a longer time than you. I always made an effort to reach out to those in the scene with experience. If I wanted to play at a venue they were at, I would talk to them first. In that vein, don’t try to move in on a DJ’s residency. It may be tempting, but the best thing you can do is put yourself out there and perfect your craft. Things come in time.

Say No to Ego: This is a big one! No one likes someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else. I’m proud of what I have done, but I know there is always more to be done, and more to learn. In the music business, it is easy to get carried away. Be yourself, and learn how to market yourself in a way that feels right. If you enjoy what you do, you will connect with others—and the gigs will keep coming.

I hope you find these tips to be useful. I know that when I first started, I had to go it alone for a while. Everything takes time—so keep on working on getting better, and success will come!

They say April showers bring May flowers—but here in the desert, April’s warmer weather brings pool-party season!

We’re in the land of heat and pools, and it can be hard to decide where to take a dip—in part, because poolside affairs in the Coachella Valley usually bring more than just swimming. Depending on where you go, you can enjoy great food, drinks, entertainment and more. Therefore, this month, I’ve decided to share with you my two favorite places to hang out and relax in the valley. (Full disclosure: I have performed, and continue to perform, at these venues.)

So … where do you start? Locals can find plenty of options for poolside fun, but one of your best options is always going to be Arrive in Palm Springs. This resort sits on the edge of downtown Palm Springs and offers a heavy nod to the midcentury-modern style that shaped Palm Springs. Arrive hosts an array of food choices, too; grab a bite at Wexler’s Deli for lunch (they have a poolside menu, too) or take a short walk to Draughtsman for some serious libations. You can also find a coffee shop and an ice cream shop on site. Saturday and Sunday at Arrive bring entertainment in the form of DJs. There’s always plenty of room to sunbathe or sit and soak up the sun. Like games with your pool parties? Enjoy some poolside pingpong and cornhole in between float sessions. The sound varies, depending on what day you go, from Top 40 to house. You can find me there every other Sunday, bringing my original blend of house and disco.

The Saguaro in recent years has become known as one of the biggest pool-party spots in the valley. Not only is The Saguaro one of the regular hosts of the twice-per-summer Splash House festivals; it also books a range of DJ acts throughout the summer. Here, you can enjoy a colorful, vibrant, very Palm Springs experience. Grab a cabana; order some tacos; and enjoy carefully curated sets. Hammocks behind the pool and endless loungers make it so you can relax in multiple ways. I’ve been fortunate to work with The Saguaro and their music programmer, Dominic Saldana, aka SABIO, for the past few years. It’s worth noting that the Saguaro is the host of some of the best Coachella pool parties. One of my favorite things to do for “No-Chella” is hit the Palm Springs pool circuit. You can find world-class entertainment without breaking the bank while skipping the crowds. Given the size of the pool area at The Saguaro, you rarely feel squeezed in.

So … what do we do at night? Good question. I was out in downtown Palm Springs on a recent Monday, looking for drinks and good music, and we found ourselves hopping through several locations. Many closed at 10 p.m. and/or had no entertainment … and things felt a little dead. Now, to be fair, this was on a Monday night, but it was during the middle of season. We did manage to find some fun, enjoying drinks at Bootlegger Tiki and Lulu California Bistro, before finishing the night at the Village Pub, where there was a DJ and karaoke, for those brave enough to try.

So … there it is! I’m always searching for new spots, old spots and the best spots to enjoy our valley—even if they’re off the beaten path. I’m excited to kick off another poolside season, and I look forward to seeing you all out there!

Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment industry, a city where people come to follow their dreams of careers in film, TV, music and more.

With all of that comes plenty of parties and events—some of the best of which are put together by Tom Astley, of L’Affaire Musicale, and Matt Orlove, of Orlove Entertainment.

While they both have their own companies, they plan almost every event together. This kind of collaboration is something you don’t see too often—and it’s refreshing. What brought them together?

“In short, the love and passion we have for music and working with artists,” Astley said. “We met at a time when we had both just moved from New York City and had set up our respective companies. We were both in the process of getting our brands and philosophies out there. We had a similar vision, so it just made sense to partner up. Synchronicity and timing are everything!”

That comradery has helped them expand their reach not just across Southern California (including the Palm Springs area), but also to the East Coast. These aren’t two corporate groups throwing unlimited money behind soulless events; it’s two friends sharing their love for music with the rest of us. It’s rare to see that kind of passion on the business side of music.

Astley described how they choose the right artists for their events. (Full disclosure: They have hired me before.)

“While there is always a component of how a headliner will sell at our shows, we mostly book acts that we enjoy and believe in as artists,” Astley said. “As for openers, we love to dig deep into the local culture and scene of the genre we’re booking. The openers at our shows are usually the ones running the local scene.”

Astley and Orlove work with acts such as The Knocks, Moon Boots, Pete Tong and disco legend Giorgio Moroder. In fact, Astley and Orlove are hosting Giorgio’s second annual “live disco” experience on Saturday, April 27, at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles. This show will include New York City’s Holy Ghost! (one of my personal favorites), French disco house icon Cerrone and a special performance from Dita Von Teese. It’s events like these that set them apart from other L.A. nightlife producers.

Astley and Orlove also know how to pick the perfect venue. We aren’t talking about run-down, tired nightclubs on the strip. From the Saguaro pool here in Palm Springs, to Skybar at the Mondrian in L.A. and the Delano Beach Club in Miami, the venues are almost as cool as the artists playing. This shows not only their passion for the music, but also for providing their guests with a quality experience all around.

“Sound, lighting and location all play a big part, but what really takes it over the edge is the staff—bartenders, security, door people, etc.,” Orlove said when asked what makes a venue great. “The customer experience starts here. At all of our events, we strive to create a friendly atmosphere, so when a venue is on the same page, it’s ideal.”

Orlove Entertainment and L’Affaire Musicale have big plans. “We’re really focusing on building the brands we have and expanding them into new markets nationwide,” Astley said, “and also working on launching a series of Wicked Paradise Beach Festivals in 2020.”

When asked what their favorite show to date was, Orlove said it had to be their first show with Giorgio. You can find tickets for the next one at bit.ly/Giorgios2019.

It’s 2019, and the way we listen to music has changed. We moved from vinyl to cassette, then from CDs to MP3s and now streaming. How we enjoy music has evolved—and not only is it easier to find music to listen to than ever before; it’s easy to share it with others as well.

I recently spoke with streaming music consultant, strategist and curator Mike Warner about the ins and outs of the modern era of digital streaming via services like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music. He’s had a front-row seat to watch this evolution over 15-plus years in the music business.

The main difference I’ve noticed with these newer services, especially Spotify, is the addition of playlists—specially curated lists that feature artists both popular and unknown. Warner curates playlists via Spotify, Apple Music and other services, and these playlists range from “Wine Bar Grooves” to “Funky and Nu Disco Jams.” He handpicks all of the tracks—which reach tens of thousands of his followers each week.

Beyond this curation, Warner works with artists and labels to find playlists for their music. Most of his work is done through personal networking—a breath of fresh air in this often-distant digital era.

“My primary function, really, in 2019, is education,” he said. “I just want to get out there and educate as many artists as I can.”

This education involves sharing tips with artists to help them better promote their releases. “The more people that become successful, the better,” Warner said.

Warner published an e-book last year called Work Hard Playlist Hard. It details some of the best practices people can use to distribute their own music.

“The stuff that I preach, I’ve done myself, and I continue to do,” he said.

I asked what inspired him to write the book. “It got to the point where I was writing so many emails and sharing the same information again and again that I went, ‘You know what? Maybe I should just write this down one time and put it in a book,’” he said.

Warner also works with commercial clients, including labels.

“Labels see importance in independent playlists and third-party curators just as much as the indie artists do,” he said. “… A lot of the labels are doing the same thing you’re doing now, (so) they’re actually reaching out to independent curators, too.”

Warner himself is an artist; he’s a third of the popular Australian trio Date Night. Warner and bandmates Sharif Darmansjah and Anders Magnusson produce fantastic music; while Warner is now based in the United States, and his bandmates remain in Australia, that hasn’t slowed them down. The year 2018 was big for them, especially regarding the streaming numbers, with a total stream count in the millions.

Work Hard Playlist Hard is available via on Amazon, Apple Books, Gumroad and other providers. If you purchase it via Gumroad or Apple, you will get automatic updates whenever Warner updates the e-book.

Visit www.workhardplaylisthard.com for links to purchase his book, submit music, listen to his podcast and more. If you’re looking to catch me live,  find me Thursday nights at Landmark Lounge, and Friday and Saturday nights at Big Rock Pub. Visit my website at www.alexharrington.co for more information.

Hello, readers! My name is Alex Harrington, and I am a music producer and DJ based in the Coachella Valley. I have been playing music for more than 16 years, and I’ve been a DJ for the last six. I’ve been fortunate enough to play at venues across the valley, from downtown Palm Springs to Old Town La Quinta. This has helped me develop my sound—and inspired me to dive into the local scene to find the best spots to enjoy music.

I consider Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley to be an internationally influential location. What does that mean? It means people visit us from all over the world. There is no universal culture here; we’re truly a mixing pot. Still, while the valley has grown, it feels like the music scene has stagnated at times.

Is that because of a lack of talent in our scene? No, it’s not. I know many people out here, true artists, who offer something different—and I think that bodes well for the future of our scene. The valley is home to some artists who provide listeners with a truly unique experience—something people will fly home and talk about. The Flusters are a great example of a band who entertains and tells a story in an original way.

This stagnation has not just been limited to bands. The “producer” and “DJ” monikers have been thrown around a lot in recent years. It’s true that many people can get into DJing, but it’s not necessarily easy to translate this “passion” into something people can actually enjoy. It’s not just about playing the hits; that’s why some people choose to visit places off the beaten path. It’s about having options and variety. Look at Los Angeles, Miami, New York, London and Tokyo. What do all of these places have in common, music-wise? Nightlife and scenes with creative people bringing it to the masses.

I don’t see our valley—and Palm Springs specifically—as being too far removed from those locations. Why? Again, we have a valley full of people from all over the world, both visiting and living here. It’s also no secret that many people here enjoy nightlife, no matter their age or class. So shouldn’t there be more choices when it comes to hearing music? We have great places to hear reggae, hip hop, Top 40 and rock … but what about house, disco, funk, indie and dance? I’m not talking about a disco throwback playlist being played; I’m talking about DJs who dug for tracks and worked them into mixes everyone can enjoy.

Many other cities, and even towns, have numerous lounges and bars that provide DJ entertainment—and people love them. This inspires me to stay original and to strive to bring my listeners something fresh. It’s also why I wanted to start this column!

In this space every month, look forward to interviews, in-depth discussions, local artist features and more. In the meantime, you can hear me play at the Landmark Lounge in La Quinta every Friday and Sunday night, playing the best in funk, soul, house and more. Details can be found at alexharrington.co.

Monday, 31 August 2015 12:00

Alex Harrington's DuneCast: On Hiatus

I wish I could bring you a mix this month … but I can’t.

Circumstances have forced me to make a few hard decisions. Most notably: The website on which we’ve been hosting our mixes, SoundCloud, has suddenly made it very difficult to post anything related to a music mix. Here’s what happened: Some major record labels recently signed with Soundcloud, and in the aftermath, Soundcloud has rocked the DJ/mixing world by pulling all sorts of stuff offline, and issuing a lot of copyright notices.

Let me clear: The labels have the right to do this. But that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Artists like me are seeing our mixes being removed, even though we are giving all artists proper credit, and not selling any of this music.

There is not another viable service to use to host mixes at this point; many of my colleagues and I have been shocked to see this happen. As a result, I have to change a few projects around—including this monthly mix/column.

I’ll still contribute to the Independent when possible, and will always be working on new things. Who knows what the future will bring? Keep up and in touch at www.alexharrington.co, and thanks, as always, for all your support.

This month, I’m happy to welcome Hard Rock Palm Springs resident DJ Paparazzi, aka Cesar Rios.


Since you’re from L.A., what has it been like transitioning to being a Coachella Valley resident?

As far as living day to day, it’s actually been a great transition for me. It’s paradise everyday and night here. Plus, I’m extremely lucky to have my DJ residency at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. … Nevertheless, being born and raised in L.A., I do miss a good local scene. In Palm Springs, I feel like it’s not here ... yet. I do see it changing. I’m betting it will come when Bardot, (the new nightclub) at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, opens (tonight), where I will be curating events.

What would you say your style or favored genres are?

Dance music. Always dance music. Anything beyond that is a discussion I don’t get into.

What would you consider your "best" gig?

Coachella. Set-wise, it was a mess, though. I don’t normally plan my DJ sets in their entirety, but for some reason, I got obsessed with it just for that gig. I worked on it for about a month. … Thirty minutes before my set time, I was told instead of DJing for 45 minutes, I would be DJing for three hours in the Sahara Tent. … It wasn’t bad or anything; it just wasn’t great. At heart, I’m a club DJ, and I mean club DJ in the old-school sense of the word. I tend to play to what I think would make the best experience for my crowd.


Paparazzi has a lot in store for Palm Springs, make sure you follow him on his social media to keep up with it all!

  • Chris Lake, “Chest”
  • Vin Sol, “Off the Chain”
  • Marcelo Cura, “That Sh*t” (Pirupa and Leon Remix)
  • Billy Kenny, “I Eat Beats” (Ardalan Remix)
  • Stephane 1993, “Plaques”
  • Manik, “Silver”
  • Sophie, “Lemonade” (Durante Edit)
  • Tiga Vs. Boys Noize, “100”
  • Tinashe, “Hand on Deck” (Giraffage Remix) 
  • Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen” (Figgy Remix)
  • Autoerotique, “Woof”
  • Frankie Knuckles, “Baby Wants to Ride”
  • Zombie Disco Squad featuring DJ Funk, “Twerk”
  • Treasure Fingers and Anna Lunoe, “Bad MF”
  • Donna Summers, “Our Love” (Blake Baxter Remix)
  • Armando, “Don’t Take It” (Thomo’s Re-edit)
  • Stip Steve, “Ridin’”
  • Jamie XX featuring Young Thug and Popcaan, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:30

Alex Harrington's DuneCast: July 2015

This month, we welcome guest mixer SynthEtiX, aka Alvaro Sandoval (right). I asked him several questions about him and his music. Check out his DuneCast below!

How long have you lived in the Coachella Valley?

I was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. Nothing beats the summer and winter seasons, and the surrounding mountains.

What would you say your “style” is with your music?

I take influence from techno and house. I focus on percussion grooves and a jazz-style call-and-response technique.

What got you into being a DJ and producing?

Thanks to my family influence, I’ve always been a musician and surrounded myself with creative individuals. I started writing classical music (for the challenge) when I was in high school, and I was no good at it. (Ha ha!) But I learned to push myself and funnel my stress, happiness and other feelings into motivation.

My steps for success: 1: Do what you love. 2: Pour your heart and soul into it. 3: Nourish your art and self. 4: Happiness.

  • SynthEtiX, “Intimate Settings”
  • SynthEtiX, “Heart Stop”
  • Huxley, “Cobourg” (Agnes Mix)
  • Patrick Topping, “Forget”
  • Jesse Slayter and Wuki, “That’s Right”
  • Sluggers, “Horizon”
  • NAPT and Roska, “Come Like This”
  • Justin Martin, “Buggin”
  • Chambray, “Ghetto Giants”
  • Champion, “Execution”
  • Victor Ruiz, “Message”
  • Booka Shade featuring Fritz Helder, “Love Drug” (Silversix Remix)
  • Above and Beyond, “Thing Called Love” (LUST for SynthEtiX Mix)
Friday, 29 May 2015 15:30

Alex Harrington's DuneCast: June 2015

I would like to start off by thanking all of the Coachella Valley Independent readers who have ever taken the time to check out my little column here. For almost two years, I’ve been allowed to fill this space with my mixes and minor rants.

I have recently been inspired by our music scene to the point where I truly want to develop something in it: I have started a record label and music collective called DuneDisco. The idea is to connect the Coachella Valley’s music fans, from listeners to DJs, with each other—and the broader music world. Our desert is unique and a perfect place to grow a wonderful music scene. Every month, we will feature a DuneCast mix and offer some insight into our local scene. This may include spotlights on local artists, musicians or writers—anyone with a connection to the growing scene. Musically, the idea is to bring you the best in house and dance music, with an emphasis on the unknown and upcoming.

Check out the first DuneCast below. Enjoy!

  • Billon, “Dive In”
  • Thee Cool Cats + Lika Morgan, “Thee Worst” (Club Mix)
  • Digitalism, “Second Chance” (David Vrong Remix)
  • Le Youth, “Touch” (jackLNDN Remix)
  • Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight (’Panski and John Skyfield Remix)
  • Tommy Vercetti, “I Miss You”
  • Ne-Yo, “Coming With You” (Blonde Remix)
  • NVOY, “Girl”
  • Helsloot featuring Freya, “Rain”
  • Alex Harrington, “Don’t Stop”
  • Mogul, “Can’t Hold On”

I have curated a mix this month that should prime you for the upcoming summer season!

I wanted to turn up the heat and bring you tracks that can get anyone moving. I took some inspiration from the deeper side of dance, so this playlist can take you from the pool to the club—and back!

I recently decided to retire All Night Shoes and perform under my “real” name, and with that, my style has evolved as well. In any case, you may hear some familiar sounds here—maybe you can pick them out!

I hope you enjoy this exclusive mix. Enjoy these pre-hot season sounds!

  • Redlight, “Gold Teeth” (TRU Concept Remix)
  • Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (Chris Lake Edit)
  • Breach, “Let’s Get Hot”
  • Anna Lunoe, “Breathe” (Cosmo’s Midnight Remix)
  • Galantis, “Runaway (U & I)” (East and Young Remix)
  • Tough Love, “So Freakin’ Tight”
  • Kolombo, “Ur the Finest”
  • SNBRN featuring Kaleena Zanders, “California” (Chris Lake and Matroda Remix)
  • Kaskade, “Never Sleep Alone”
  • Bee's Knees featuring Marty Rod, “Rumored to Be Real”
  • Breach, “Jack” (Alex Harrington Remix)
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