Goodbye Footwork

A growing yet unfortunate trend in Toronto is nightclubs closing down and condo buildings going up in their place.

This past weekend one of Toronto’s hottest clubs closed down, Footwork.

It was a place the respected electronic music, very famous for house music however. This place kept it real; no such thing as a dress code, everyone was welcome and most importantly it had a very friendly atmosphere. You can go in there alone and meet awesome people. Footwork had it’s own community of people who would go there almost every weekend.

Footwork for me will always be memorable, it’s where I spent my new years even 2012 with my girlfriend. We heard DJ Sneak spin a set using vinyls. It was a great experience and the music had us moving throughout the whole night. Regrettably so, I was unable to go back but I made it a priority to check out the closing party this past Friday. Footwork is the only nightclub in Toronto that I can compare to Stereo Montreal; a place that respects the sound and for any music lover, this is important.

In it’s earlier years FW was known as an after-hours but the vibe has stuck. The purple lighting and the alleyway gave it an underground sort of experience which I love. The intimate interior of the club is inviting and on the dance floor very few are using their phones and are focused on dancing and socializing with their friends. The place had a lot of charm, from the twin disco balls to the LED panels above the DJ booth tucked away giving people lots of space to dance. It will be missed and I am glad I was able to experience it before it went away.

However the organizers who brought the amazing DJs and events to the venue are still active so be sure to stay tuned for updates on Jonathan Rosa’s twitter.

Farewell Footwork.

-Ani H.

Mau5 in the Hau5

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Guvernment complex and so I was invited to go this past Wednesday.

They were launching the brand new Microsoft Surface computer that has touch technology and the new Windows 8 interface where everything is cascaded across your screen. Very clean looking design overall.

Upon my arrival I noticed a projection promoting the Surface on the “Kool Haus” sign located above the ticket booths and also a much more corporate crowd than what you usually see when you’re going to the Guv for a night of dance.

Taken with Nexus 4

Taken with Nexus 4

A very nice touch to the venue were the cubes in the bottle service area. They had Microsoft icons on the light cubes, this gave the Haus some Microsoft swag in addition to the surface logo on the LED panels throughout the room. Those with VIP access, were served complimentary alcohol for the duration of the event and as any corporate launch party I had the pleasure of viewing tweets on TV screens from my friends and I.

*Video courtesy of Stilez

Deadmau5 played a very nice set, albeit short, he played a good spectrum of sounds including some of big hits and some experimental stuff. Deadmau5 is well known for playing mostly his own tracks in his sets which has become rather uncommon recently. He also played some techno which was a nice touch.

The event did not get uncomfortably crowded, the place was definitely busy with lots of room to dance and socialize with friends. I was very pleased by this.

Taken with Nexus 4

Taken with Nexus 4

One thing that surprised me the most was the production that was placed on the stage, I was expecting a very simple DJ booth set up, but Microsoft brought out a big stage set up including LED panels and a geometrical booth. The lights were also on point, giving the show a beautiful aesthetic.

Big thanks goes to Veritas and Microsoft for throwing such an amazing party.

-Ani H.

You should re-tweet.

I am still quite new to the whole Twitter scene but I am already being annoyed by the pet peeves I encounter while using it.

Twitter is a powerful growth tool for brands, if used well it can be a free form of advertising with lots of gain while spending next to nothing on it (lets amuse for the rest of the post most twitter accounts gain followers the ethical way).

On the world of Twitter your aim is to create and become part of a community; a great way to connect with people that think about the same things as you. This is amazing for people working in the media especially because it gives you a direct insight on what people like and how they react to current trends.  Another beautiful thing about Twitter is how news and celebrity gossip break out. A lot of what you read and see on TV news was probably broken on Twitter first. With 140 characters being the limit, Twitter has made a large impact on the world of social media and the internet in general.

Now that we’ve talked about the great, let’s talk about the annoying.

I go to a lot of electronic music events, some venues has better marketing than others and some don’t have marketing at all. It’s not compulsory for a venue to have a twitter, but when you have a large volume of people crowding your venue on big events, keeping them active on Twitter is very beneficial to your brand.

Many patrons at clubs like to talk about their experiences when going out and a short tweet every an hour or so can give you a general idea how well they enjoyed their experience at the establishment.

The favourite function on Twitter is often misused in my opinion. I personally use ‘favourite’ when someone posts a link to something I’d like to see later on. A form of bookmark if you will. When you have a large number of people tweeting about your brand inside your venue a good practice is to re-tweet them.

This does a few things effectively: it helps spread your brand and showing to the world that people love your parties. It helps your brand go viral, especially when influential names and accounts are being re-tweeted; people like their influencers talking about the stuff they like are into, it validates their taste. And finally the tweets actually show up on your feed making your brand look very active and responsive.

Nobody looks at your tweet to find out who hits the star on it. People look at how it’s being re-tweeted because that’s a more effective way to measure virility. Sure you saw my tweet and then clicked the star but it does nothing for either of us when you don’t re-tweet it, especially if it has an great Instagram photo attached to it. I am not necessarily suggesting that every conversation should be rt’d but do re-tweet the ones that have thought put into them, otherwise you are losing followers by re-tweeting everything and most of that everything happens to just be “Oh wow this event is so unreal”.

Expose yourself and expose the stuff you like, to the world; re-tweet when you are on Twitter.

retweet

-Ani H.

Married to my phone, a review and some thoughts.

The Nexus 4 is by far the best cell phone I’ve owned.

The vanilla android is a very simple system to use and the possibilities are endless when it is one of the most developer-friendly phones on the market. I was humbled to see all those software engineering students at CUTC using the same phone as me; usually I’m surrounded by iPhone users.

The Nexus 4 has a very nice design to it, the sparkly look on the back and the chrome strip along the edges of the device give it a nice touch of luxury, even though it is one of the cheaper phones on the market. The internal parts are fast and powerful; this phone literally never lags and I can run the mobile Unreal 3 Engine on it even though I only really play Tetris on this thing.

The phone does frustrate me in some areas however. The recording sound is awful. I like to snap short clips of my nights in concerts and shows but I can’t enjoy good quality audio in the final product. The camera itself has a weak sensor while in HDR mode, so taking photos at night is impossible when there is lots of movement happening.

A big drawback to this phone is the internal 16GB of storage, which is not expandable. You constantly need to back up your files and erase them off the phone in order to have space.

Although I prefer phones where I can remove the panel on the back, on this device it’s unnecessary. It automatically reboots if you hold down the power button while frozen and it will actually reset. The SIM card is inserted externally through a little port.

If you don’t care much for good video functionality and simply want a reliable phone I strongly suggest getting a Google phone. For the money you are getting powerful hardware and a wonderful platform to develop on. The Nexus 5 is coming out soon and given the buzz it should be an even stronger device.

Although most social media apps are now universal with IOS and Android I feel it’s right I switch to an iPhone on my next upgrade, unless Google finds a way to make it so the microphone and camera sensors are on par with the iPhone 5 series.

-Ani H.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas 2013

Never would I imagine that a place like Las Vegas would take people back to their childhood. But that’s exactly what Insomniac’s premium festival experience, Electric Daisy Carnival, did. EDC LV was a memorable experience not only because it had an endless line up of DJs and performers; the vibe and unity created by those in attendance also extended the experience beyond the Motor Speedway and into the strip of Vegas itself.

The Vegas strip was decked out in advertisements for pool and nightclub parties with DJs faces on them and cars marked with peace signs, flowers, smiley faces and rave-related messages were on every street. Many dub Las Vegas as the new Ibiza and they might be right. Vegas has been a popular spot for DJs to land residencies this year and every day I was hearing about my friends’ experiences at the pool parties they were attending.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

The night before the first day of EDC, my Toronto friends came over to my hotel suite and we shared our experiences on the strip so far over drinks. Shifting our focus to the main event, EDC, the guys were talking about their LED gloves and orbit lightshows while the girls showed each other their custom made outfits for the festival. I decided to sleep early to rest up for a very long weekend of festivities ahead of me, but I was very excited.

The EDC journey started at the line up for the shuttle – everyone, including Insomniac staff, were cheering together. The bus ride lingered with conversations about rave experiences as well as everyone’s game plan for the weekend. Many were also trading kandi while in the lineup, on the bus, and at the ticket booths.

The shuttles were very accessible and arrived at the speedway in a timely fashion. This year they took a route that cuts through the US Air Force base making it safer and speedier to get to the festival. I highly recommend buying a shuttle pass directly from Insomniac to avoid any issues.

As I arrived at the venue, I remember, vividly, the crowd outside looking like a sea. My friends and I were immediately hit by a rush of energy and we were instantly hyped to start partying. Despite there being hundreds of people around the area, the staff at will call was very helpful and we managed to get our entry cards in less than 10 minutes.

A memory I will not forget is walking through the stadium and seeing the lights, stages, carnival rides, art installations with the desert and the orange sunset in the background. It was a breath taking view. On the grass grounds of the speedway several art installations where situated and that’s where people mainly went to sit down, eat, give lightshows and in some cases had a disco nap.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Once we got inside, we stored our basics in our reserved lockers and started exploring the festival. We got on the ferris wheel, where my girlfriend shed tears of joy at how beautiful the scenery was after the sunset. Some of the other rides gave me the time of my life too. I remember going on the Mega-Dropzone and, as it raised me in the air, I caught a glimpse of the Las Vegas skyline before it dropped me straight to the ground where I was back in a dream world. It was a humbling experience.

As for the music and various stages, Basscon really captured my attention with the psy trance and other hard styles of dance music. The stage had a character in the centre overlooking the audience, wearing a gas mask with LED screens in the eye sockets. Three watchtowers were installed in the area and there was a lot of smoke and fire coming from the stage when things got crazy. Lisa Lashes, Simon Patterson and Bryan Kearney had great sets and fit the vibes perfectly at Basscon.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Above & Beyond was able to attract the biggest audience to my experience throughout the weekend. As Carl Cox vacated the DJ booth, the crowd went silent until the group therapy ribbons showed up on the screens. During that set, the Kinetic Field stage had a vibe that is hard to describe. During the breakdown of Walter White, they had imagery on the LED screens showing a map of the world pulsing; for me that was a very moving experience as it made me think of all the struggles we go through in life and yet, how so many people from all over the world came to EDC to experience and share a moment like that. It was a very positive feeling that I only (and rarely) get to experience at raves. It is also why I go to electronic music events.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

The main stage wrapped around the guests and had a forest theme throughout. The DJ booth had an owl wrapping its wings around it and they would open up every time a new DJ got on the decks. The main stage was always full of energy, every time I walked by big anthems were being played and there was more traffic than usual compared to the other stages.

Neon Garden and Circuit Grounds were simply designed but had really cool lighting and production to them. My most notable experiences at these stages were created by Adam Beyer, Green Velvet, Dirty South and John Digweed. La Roux also captured my attention at Circuit Grounds as she brought a live band and provided live vocals. I thought it was a great break considering most of the line-up was for DJ sets. La Roux had a very positive and uplifting atmosphere that was very different than what that stage was typically hosting.

The BassPod had a round design and featured heavy drum ‘n bass, dubstep and trap DJs. Out of all the stages, I would say that it was shooting fire the most and had lots of MCs. Although I wasn’t into the music, I thought it was a great experience regardless.

My favourite experience that weekend was hearing Booka Shade at Cosmic Meadow before leaving to go back to my hotel room. Some amazing deep house was being played – the kind of stuff I never get to hear back home. It had a very after-hours feeling to it and it was just amazing to hear sounds like that outside of a club environment.

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

Image Courtesy of Constance Chan Photography constance.room-noise.com

The main thing I noticed about EDC is that even those who were new to the music were being very respectful of everyone. It helped that every stage accommodated all different tastes but I encountered some people who were stepping out of the comfort zone; where in most cases they would be at a big room house DJ set, they would lose themselves in the techno area – something I don’t see very often in Toronto.

Insomniac turned the racetrack into a magical place where everyone could become a kid again and have fun without judgment, negativity and danger. From the entire weekend, my only moment of sadness came when I was looking out the airplane window and spotted the speedway fully lit, just close enough to notice that half of the stages were already taken down. There are a thousand reasons I could list of why you should attend Electric Daisy Carnival but it truly is something any electronic music fan should experience firsthand. The crowd, staff and security were diverse, friendly, accepting and down to have a great time. All of these elements came together and made the festival such an amazing experience that I will forever hold in my memory.

‘Till next year!

- Ani H.

All images taken by Constance Chan.
Blog initially posted on a blog I am no longer affiliated with. Re-Posted on January 1 2014.

My 2012. DJ Mag Canada and life.

The year began with me doing work for Observer news, the in-house publication at my school. The semester started out a little slow but eventually I picked up the pace and got into the rhythm of things and before I knew it, writing two stories for every cycle became an easy task. Through my experience in the observer I noticed my communication skills advancing significantly; I was able to approach people much better as I was able to express myself much better through better communication.

Something happened over the summer.

In 2008 I re-discovered my taste for electronic music when I came back from my trip to Greece and I was looking for music to bring me back and it happened to be some old Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren. Since then I started going to clubs a lot more and exploring my city even further, even beyond the nightlife.  It’s a life style I have gotten used to. It certainly isn’t a normal person’s idea of fun to dance in a hot, dark and loud night club for a whole Friday night then doing it all over again on the following Saturday night.

I don’t know what it is, but this life style is addictive and I don’t even take drugs and I’ve quit drinking. I just really love electronic music. Nothing beats a world class DJ taking you on a journey through even the most simplistic beats and melodies.

This past summer I experienced, I guess what you would call a “life changing” event where it put a lot of things in perspective. I went back to the motherland[s] I told myself that I would get involved with the scene and I was going to pursue my dream of… well I don’t quite know what I wanna do in this industry yet, but I am finding my journalistic experience has helped me break into it. Additionally I have been involved with social media, please follow me on twitter @anihajderaj and I have been establishing a bit of a following. I’ve been getting new followers weekly.

I completed a four month internship at DJ Mag Canada and Arbitrage Magazine.

Recently I launched a new TUMBLR account, http://anihajderaj.tumblr.com/ where I post everything electronic music. It’s a work in progress as is this wordpress account, but I promise one day it will all make sense!

Cheers.

-Ani H.

Panoramio

In my last blog entry I spoke about my trip to Albania, Greece and Turkey and you might have noticed some panoramic photos I posted in there.

Panoramio is an amazing tool for photographers. Its a site that was started in 2005 so it’s a relatively new service. Through Panoramio you can share your photos and tag them on the map so when people search for a place your photos pop up for them to see. It is a predominantly travel oriented website with cool features such as “Look Around” which sort of creates a 3D image made up of different images from many different photographers, here is an example: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/77244559

I remember discovering it through Google Earth. I was looking at random places and noticed little squares come up and those where photos. I set up an account and began tagging my photos. At the time I was shooting with a Sony Cybershot digital camera, however even some of my lower quality images have received thousands of views!

There are other great photo sharing services but I feel this one is very straight to the point and extremely easy to use. It also gives your photos a lot more exposure through geo-tags.

Image

Another great element on the site is the user base. The comments tend to be very positive and everyone gives encouraging words and greetings from wherever they are. I feel this a great aspect because it makes it feel like a good community full of people who appreciate the places they have seen and are privileged to live on this planet. Albeit some of the comments are in broken English but you can make it out most of the time.

Although it has good features, I feel Panoramio could improve. Their forums are bland and I like the old design a lot better. I would much rather have them be traditional style forums because the new layout is too tight where it should be a little more spaced out.

I invite you to start using Panoramio. It’s free and easy to use. You will be amazed at some of the photos you will see and some of the places you will discover through it. It’s inspiring.

My photos can be seen here.

Thanks for reading.

-Ani H.