DJ Dain
DJ | Producer | Musicologist


Summer Sessions - Lesson 3


I've felt something nasty start to affect me over the last few days. There's been a sludge building up in my arms. A foul taste lingers in my mouth after meals. One evening I coughed up phlegm that might have had a little spot of blood inside. After the smog that hit Vancouver a few weeks ago, I thought it was all after-effects of inhaling smoke. Like how some smokers start coughing up all sorts of gunk after they quit.

It is still difficult to accept the times when I get sick. I quickly grow fearful of illness - thinking I cannot afford the time and other costs of taking a day off. I used to have day jobs that didn't provide any coverage or support for sick days. If you couldn't work, you didn't get paid. Nowadays I have stability through full-time work with benefits. However, the impulse to deny myself time to rest still comes hard and fast.

Pushing myself through poor health is a dangerous game. If I start to notice symptoms that linger or worsen after a few days, I start with a least one day off to just rest and recharge. Stress and exhaustion play lead roles in the sustainability of my physical health. Even one day of rest can turn the tide significantly. There have been one too many times I've tried to brute-force my way through work, only to exacerbate the issue. I pay the price many times over, and one cautious sick day instead becomes a week or more of agony.

Yesterday was one of those telling days where my whole mood was impacted by an underlying suffering. It wasn't intense, but the fatigue was just enough to make mundane tasks tedious, and annoyances quietly enraging. Getting to my turntablism class in the evening was my light at the end of the tunnel. I even treated myself to one of my favorite restaurants in town for supper in order to help reset my mood. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough to turn everything around.

Don't get me wrong, the class itself was enjoyable. I was struggling to give the lesson my complete attention as my condition was waning. I don't think I looked or sounded ill to anyone else, but my inability to focus lead to minor frustrations as I failed to notice little things that were causing me issues. Considering how many elements one needs to coordinate when performing on turntables (or any musical instrument for that matter), one cannot afford to spend their mental energy on other distractions. Especially if you're trying to learn something new.

That being said, I felt another puzzle piece fall into place. Flares are starting to make more sense to me. I still need to get more comfortable at half speed, but I'm starting to hear the right sounds. I need to keep practicing the technique in isolation until I'm more comfortable to link it into combinations.

I am even more convinced that there's something about my mixer and/or fader preventing me from achieving certain sounds. Near the end of class, we went back to freestyling and trading bars. I was offered to play out the last bars for the night, and I managed to produce some sounds that I had been struggling with at home. They sounded great to me, and one of the other students commended me. I was thrilled but also frustrated that I was trying the same movements I was practicing at home. Why was I able to achieve these sounds so easily here, but not on my own gear? There's more research and experimentation ahead of me to solve this problem.

In the coming weeks, the other students and I will have to agree upon a beat and develop our own short, 8 or 16 bar routines for a promotional video. I hope I can get myself back on my feet to practice and develop something that showcases both what I've learned and my own style. It's refreshing to have work and goals that excite me.