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Interview with DJ Kafka
How do you want to be credited?
Howard Anderson d.b.a. DJ Kafka, a.k.a. Maui Haui, Joe Schmoe, Mr. Wrong.
What is your Web site?
www.djkafka.com and www.mp3.com/djkafka
Describe the DJing you do.
I try to hit all the bases. I try to make every show a memorable experience for everyone. I call myself DJ Kafka because I do a lot of weird music and stuff that you wouldn't necessarily expect (in line with the writer Franz Kafka). I like to play a lot of remakes , remixes, and parodies. I like to make people laugh and have a good time. The most important thing is to keep people dancing .
Do you use turntables, samplers, sequencers, keyboards, and other devices and programs?
I use two turntables, mixer, dual CD deck, and sometimes my laptop when playing live. I practice using samplers and keyboards as well as programs on my laptop but haven't felt a need to try it live. I expect to use the sampler as soon as I feel that I have it flawlessly mastered. DJing is something that I am totally into, and I don't want to do a bad show when I'm not quite prepared.
Which of each do you use?
I use a Vestax PMC-15 mixer, a BBE Sonic Maximizer, a cheap Numark dual CD deck, and two Gemini XL-500 turntables. My P.A. is a Fender P D-250. My sampler is a Boss Dr. Sample. I practice using a digital delay (I have forgotten the brand, and the decal is rubbed off) that is an awesome effect but is kinda broken and I don't feel confident bringing it to shows.
How do you use them?
I have always brought mix tapes to parties and have made tapes and CDs for friends . I had thought of going into DJing for a long time. A friend was having a low-budget wedding and was sad that she didn't have a DJ or band. That clinched the deal. I went out that afternoon to the local used band gear place and spent my rent money on the mixer and turntables. After I did the wedding, I realized that I needed to get some money back to pay off the gear and bullshitted my way into a paying gig at a local bar. I told the owner that I would play the first time for free and if I packed the place he would pay me $300 a night thereafter. I packed the place and he screwed me. He told me he could only afford $200 a night and I took it. Now that I had a paying gig I had to try to look professional. I cut up some scrap lumber and built a rack for all my gear. I put stickers all over it so I looked seasoned. I use the equipment in the traditional DJ fashion. Mixer in the middle and the turntables on either side. I keep a box that fits about 30 CDs close to the mixer at all times. I keep my "desert island" discs in this box so in case of emergency I can just grab any disc and throw it in without even thinking and push Play and it will most likely be something cool. Most of the discs in this box are discs that I burned myself and are filled with stuff that I play the most.
Do you use existing creations to work from, create your own, or both?
I do both. I actually started 10 years ago remixing your stuff! (Bomb). This was long before I thought I would ever be DJing. I did it for my own enjoyment. I found one of the tapes a couple of months ago but don't have my four-tracker anymore. (Rule #1: Don't lend out your equipment to people you don't know.) Now I use Sonic Foundry Acid and Sound Forge for creating songs. I have a bunch of instruments that I don't know how to play, but I use them to make cool noises that I eventually use. I have a drummer right across the street if I need some special beats. I use an old friend of yours for guitar or bassSkip Lunch [1.] (of the Treebirds) is an incredible guitarist and is a great inspiration to keep me motivated to make my own music. He has a huge collection of vintage instruments and effects that we will toss into recordings. I plan on making an album with him this fall.
Describe your typical work day.
Usually I start by cleaning out my studio that doubles as my office. I often have something that I have had burning in my head that I have to record. I will clean everything off my hard drive that isn't necessary, to make it run faster. Then I fire up Sound Forge and open samples of stuff that I had been collecting until I find the one that is right. I snip the samples or loops out and put them into a new folder that I will name X-song - drum or guitar , where X is the name of the song I am working on. I do this until I have all the loops or samples together and then run Acid. I arrange and rearrange until it sounds cool or I run out of time. I have 50+ songs stored on CDs and hard drives that I need to finish or be happy enough with them to call them done. I have a hard time with calling something done as I always feel that I could do it differently or add something else to it. Mix, remix, repeat, and so on. I helped produce an album for a group called Bells Of (Teenbeat Records) that we listened to some songs over 100 times before we called them good enough. We mixed it until within two or three hours of the deadline. I need to learn when to stop. I have learned to back stuff up. I had a hard drive crash where I lost 10 gigs of samples. Hours of Skip playing guitar and stuff that I had been working on for years. I was so bummed.
Any closing comments?
Don't do it for the money or you will be sorely disappointed. I play 10 free gigs to one paying gig. I do it for the love of music and making people happy. I play a lot of Burning Man [2.] parties. These people are really into dancing, and it is great to see them spinning fire to the groove I am laying down. I play for free just about every time I am asked (outside of clubs). When the club gigs come along, I get paid well. When I get paid, 99 percent goes into getting more music, better equipment, or something else that I need to make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone. I have thousands of CDs and records. I imagine that I will need 1,000 more paying gigs to pay off my addiction , but I'll give up my mixer when they pry it from my cold dead hands!
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