MODERN DJ MUSINGS

More About Ben Annand

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In his zone from deep house to techno, Ben Annand pairs impeccably smooth mixing skills with a dynamic style that keeps the music moving, often flowing over breakdowns and always spending most of his time in the mix.

“For me, a great mix is the interplay of 2 unique pieces of music, creating greater than the sum of the parts – and a great set weaves those mixes into a musical flow you can’t help but lose yourself in on the dance floor.  Technology changed the game a lot but the goal remains the same.”

Ben learned to mix in 1996 and just 2 years later became resident dj at the famed Moontribe Gathering, and started his own production company, Tropical.  The first half of his career was mostly focused on DJing abroad, leading to 13 trips to Moscow’s Propaganda club, travel all over Russia, Spain, and Mexico, an appearance at Wiggle at Fabric in London and two at the Labyrinth Festival in Japan.  After marrying his love Jessica in 2009, Ben refocused efforts more locally, and is now one of the top West Coast festival DJs with recent appearances at Oregon Eclipse, Motion Notion (Can), Cascadia (WA), Lightning in a Bottle, Sunset Campout, and Desert Hearts (CA), among others.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, Tropical has evolved from humble warehouse beginnings to 500-person summer boat parties and the legendary Tropical Oasis Retreat, an event which has brought together top artists from the West Coast 7 times in California and most recently, Kauai and Maui, Hawaii.  A breath of fresh air in the sometimes ego-dominated dj and party world, Ben has donated over $30,000 to charitable causes through Tropical.

 

After 20 years of producing Tropical from Los Angeles, Ben Annand moved to Maui for 6 months to produce his top event production to date, the 300 person beachfront microfestival Tropical Oasis Retreat Maui March 29-April 2.  Returning to the West Coast in late April, Ben went straight onto a 5-week tour with his family, finally landing in Eugene Oregon in June.  Within a week in Eugene the Annand House Café was born, and the next chapter begins!

 

#34 – Leaving Town for Gigs

This is one of my personal weak points and It’s a good week for me to post this since I have to leave town for Seattle tomorrow, and need to remind myself of best practices too! We DJs want to crack out on music right to the last minute but that's not much fun when...

#33 – Agents!

Now this is a hot topic, and I have some useful perspective in my experience with agents which includes sometimes being totally annoyed with them as an organizer, and hiring one to represent me as a DJ. So that does seem a bit ironic. What can be annoying about agents...

#32 – Staying Relevant

There are a lot of threads going around from DJs who are upset about not getting booked more, and especially, as much as they used to. I’ve covered related topics but not specifically the idea of dj relevance.  To stay relevant is a constant hustle and I’ve had some...

# 31 – Sober October for Djs

Like many, I am taking the month of October off from drinking alcohol, and maybe beyond that too.  Sober October is an extra challenge for busy djs, so we got to have each other’s backs 🙂 Why is Sober October scary for djs?  Many reasons. First of all, alcohol is...

#30 – Flow Between Djs

One thing that bugs me nowadays is when djs don’t mix out of me at all.  Sometimes they make a big show about giving me props, but you’ll get more props from me by showing me you know how to mix out of a track that you’ve never heard before, and blessing the dance...

#29 – Dj Billing

People who perceive me as mellow are sometimes surprised that I care about my DJ billing.  The truth is, I’ve worked hard and consistently hard for 23 years to get to where I am, and I do care about being represented properly. Like anyone who has put in the work, I...

#28 Enough with all the damned pop remixes!

It would be one thing if these tracks stood on their own but they rarely do. Here’s a good rule of thumb - if you took that familiar and oh so catchy Depeche mode vocal out of the track - would you still buy it? If the answer’s no then don’t buy it.  Demand more from...

#27 – Keeping up with all the music releases!

Since there is a 50% off Beatport coupon ending today I decided to write a quick column about how I sift through all the music that’s out there. The problem on Beatport is too much music to sort through - read on for tips (1) You can shop wherever you want but I shop...

#26 – Protecting Against USB Music Theft

We all now DJing has changed a lot since the 90s.  I started in 1996 and only had my records stolen once in 99, at a place I never would have expected it - from the dj area behind the decks at a lovely party on Vancouver Island, Canada.  Of this crate of about 50...

#24: Be Nice and Help Each Other!

I’ve veered towards the organization side in my first two musings of 2019, and I want to bring it back to Djing. No dj is going to make it alone.  There’s a heavy social component of keeping in touch with organizers, fans, and fellow djs.  There’s plenty of...

#23: Promoter Responsibility

Last night I posted a simple observation on my home wall which got a lot of reaction. “Something I've noticed in 23 years doing events....It's easier to criticize them than to organize them” I really just meant it like that, its easier to criticize than organize.  But...

#22 – Avoiding Fyres

Okay so it’s super easy to take potshots at the Fyre Fest from the 2 documentaries released in the last week, but what are the takeaways for djs and event promoters? Well first of all this should be required watching for anyone doing events of any kind, especially...

#21 Have Some Class Getting Booked

Have some class when trying to get booked.  I know it’s a competitive field, I’m in it too. But a lot of strategies come off as more than a little desperate What does it mean to have some class? It means to approach things professionally. Here are some common mistakes...

#20 Self-Criticism in Balance

Ever notice that Djs who tell everyone about how they blew things last night are never that talented or innovative? It's because truly talented artists are typically more in their heads than that - without self-critique, amazing things do not happen If you think you...

#19 Track List Your Sets – (Part 2)

Following up on last week's post about tracklisting dj sets, here is part 2, which is about how to do this in modern times. In the beginning I had to copy the info by hand from record sleeves, well I don't have to tell you times have changed... The main advantage with...

#18 Track List Your Sets – (Part 1)

Amazing how simple this is yet how infrequently done. It's nice to be able to use music other people produced and weave it into something special on the dance floor.  It’s nice to be able to release that set so people can relive it or hear what they missed. It’s also...

#17 Quality not Quantity

Ideally a dj plays only amazing gigs with packed dance floors.  In reality, this is only approached by djs who have made it to a high level, or those who play twice a year.  So what strategy to take when you are in the middle?  Is it necessary to play a lot of bad...

#16 Posting too many sets

How much is too much?  Some artists are very particular and only want one mix out per month or season.  I am more on the prolific side - I feel like it's ok up to once every 2 weeks as long as each one is unique from the others with little crossover.  Also releasing...

#15 Getting Gigs Out of Town

If you want to make a living as a dj, it’s very hard to do this solely in your hometown.  If you do, you’re likely playing 3-4 nights a week, just barely making it by on little-paying gigs and residencies. Realistically, to get paid better in your hometown you have to...

#14 Timeline Review and Tagging

Djs, you can do whatever you want, but… Great way to start a post, right? So you can do whatever you want, djs, but if I may make a recommendation, as an event organizer… Make sure you don’t restrict the ability for people to tag you in posts. Of course people abuse...

#12 Music Organization

▶️ There are many different approaches to music organization - what do you do to organize your music? Last week I finished reorganizing my entire digital music collection, for the second time in about 12 years. The goal of this project was to listen to every track and...

#11 DJ Residencies

What does it mean to become a resident dj somewhere? I feel like there’s a big gap in understanding between promoters and djs on this one. I’m equally invested in both, so here’s my take: As a dj, I think a residency is a pretty big deal and I’m not trying to be a...

#10 Using Soundcloud Playlists

Didn’t know what to write about this week so figure just write about what I’m working on, which right now is Soundcloud Playlists Playlists are an underused feature on Soundcloud -they allow you some advantages like grouping all your sets from one genre, or from a...

#9 Record everything!

One of my best habits in 2 decades DJing has been to record every time I mix, whether at home, at a great gig or a so-so one. Recording your practice allows you to listen back and see what worked and didn’t work as well as really hear what your tracks sound like at...

#8 What are Djs doing when they’re mixing?

I see a lot of djs waving their arms. I hear a lot of djs playing short choppy transitions, filtering over the mix. Is that what it's about? For me the trick is not to find 'solid' tracks and then filter the crap out of them. The trick is to find tracks that are...

#7 PROmoter Tip about handling time slots

I took djs to task a bit on last week's DJ Musing so for balance here's a PROmoter Tip: Time Slots discussed with Djs, not assigned Always have a personal conversation with each dj you book about time slot before posting.  The best time to do this is right when you...

#6 Whose job is it to promote?

Nowadays promoters expect djs to participate heavily in promo unless they are headliners.  And djs are complaining a lot. If you are one of them then ask yourself a couple questions: #1 - Are you a headliner?  I’m guessing not, if you are expressing frustration at...

#5 The Sync Button is a Bad Idea

It’s common to hear veteran djs describe newbies using sync as cheats but here’s another perspective on why that button is a bad idea. All electronic music uses some degree of “swing” when programming beats so they sound dynamic, not robotic and mechanical. It’s the...

#4 Have faith in yourself!

A month ago I returned from a glorious though intense working trip to Hawaii, to my new life as full time dj/event organizer Like anyone, I had doubts and fears, real things like rent and health insurance and supporting a family. What I told myself was that everyone...

#1 Dj Tips & Tricks pt. 1 -Soundcloud RSS Feed

Hey Dj! Here's a handy tip about your Soundcloud RSS Feed.  Your RSS Feed is simply your Soundcloud followers, this relates to whether they see your track/mix or not. So if you've noticed your mixes getting less attention than before, read on... Somewhere in the past...