Things can get really tough prior to the winter holidays: you have too many presents to buy and too many cards to sign, and the days seem way too short to accomplish everything you’ve got planned. If you know the feeling, you are probably also familiar with the tips all the productivity experts share for those situations. Lower your expectations, get more sleep, try to stay positive, etc. As a high achiever who struggles to finish all the projects I’ve planned by the end of the year, I can tell you that none of this expert advice really works (trust me, I’ve tried it all). What influences me the most is a full day without technology, followed by a night of dancing.
I am not joking at all! According to a recent study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute, music instantly decreases your stress and makes you feel happy, which is essential for the pre-New Year’s rush. This effect is especially powerful when you are listening to what might be called “peak emotional moments” in music—when you feel “chills” all over your body as a reaction to especially good musical passages. The researchers explain that your favorite “chill songs” cause the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a molecule that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, and essentially makes you happier.
It doesn’t matter where and how you listen to your favorite tracks that make your brain sing—whether you listen to music on your iPhone or on the radio while driving to work. What’s important is that you really concentrate on the healing qualities of music. Returning to my example about a technology-free diet, I have to say that a night at a club probably works best: it’s a place where you can really concentrate deeply on music. Here you have your own unique interaction with a DJ whose job is to raise your dopamine to the ceiling.
Researching the healing effect of music on people prior to the winter holidays, I interviewed New York’s most wanted DJs who shared with InLove magazine readers their behind-the-scenes secrets and inspirations.
If there is one DJ who has played at all the city’s hottest spots: Catch, Electric Room, Marquee, No.8, Avenue PHD, Finale, the list goes on and on… It’s DJ Chachi, who travels the world and plays on world famous stages, but never forgets his native New York and beloved Hamptons.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve been working on?
This year has been chock full of exciting projects. I released an official remix to Dirty South’s single “With You” on his label, Phazing Records. I also remixed a cover of Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “You Don’t Own Me,” covered by up-and-coming artist Grace; that came out on the legendary RCA Records. The icing on the cake is that I signed a record deal with Spinnin’ Records, one of the largest most respected labels in the dance world.
What inspires you as an artist?
The best part of inspiration is that you never know where it’s going to come from. It could be anything from elevator music to a nursery rhyme. In the end it’s not about inspiration, but what you do with it.
How do you select the music you are planning to work with?
I always like to go into a set with just an idea of what I’m going to play. Every DJ has go-to tracks that almost always work, but the rest of my sets I always like to look out in the crowd and see how each song performs, and which songs get the best reactions from the crowd. That information leads to what I’m going to play for the rest of the evening.
Who are the people you are playing for?
My ideal audience would be people with their phones in their pockets and their hands in the air—people, who are actually dancing, people who are really looking to have fun. That may sound like a cliché statement, but these days there are people looking to have fun and there are people trying to make it look like they’re having fun on their social media.
How does your typical day look?
I usually get up around 10 or 11 AM. It may sound late, but I go to bed between 4 and 5 AM most nights. I have breakfast, clean my apartment and then answer a solid 50-100 emails. After I’ve got a good jump on that I either hit the gym or attend one of my Muay Thai classes. After that I have lunch and then head to the studio, which a few fellow producers and myself rent out in the Music Building in NYC. Then it’s studio until either A) I have to DJ or B) my girlfriend texts me that dinner is ready.
If you ever attended a fashion show, you probably noticed that the music accompanying the runway presentation is equally important as the collection itself. It creates the mood and allows you to feel the mood a designer put into a new collection. There’s a fashion myth that the music at fashion shows is performed from a pre-recorded track. In reality, there is a special kind of DJ who works at fashion shows (they’re called Sound Stylists) and perform live. In this exclusive interview for InLove magazine, I interview the best of the best, DJ Javier Peral, who is responsible for music at Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Monique Lhuillier, Bibhu Mohapatra, Kenzo, and other top-notch fashion shows.
What are some of the most exciting projects you worked on during the latest fashion week?
Spring 2016 New York Fashion week was a very interesting season since a lot of the venues I worked with were new.
Carolina Herrera’s show at The Frick felt incredible; the serenity of the courtyard, the flow of so many models walking around it, paired to a great collection and very upbeat soundtrack was very fresh.
The sound installation at Moynihan station, where I played Monique Lhuillier’s bombastic yet minimal soundtrack, was incredibly well executed. It was exciting to hear the mix with such power and clarity of sound. Sometimes it’s disappointing to work on a soundtrack that’s not reproduced on a great sound system.
How have things changed over the years you’ve been working in the industry? Have you noticed any difference in what type of sets the designers/fashion show planners are looking to hear at the show?
Digital access to music has made my life much easier. I can find a lot of music within seconds of searching. The style has changed too: shows keep getting shorter in time, fewer looks, and more models on the runway. That has impacted production overall and now sets tend to not use many elements. They’re more minimal. Music in general keeps evolving, though I do go back to older sounds frequently.
How do you select the music you are planning to work with? Do you concentrate on what you like or what your audience likes?
I listen to new music constantly. Sometimes, just seconds of a song can tell me if it is great or not. Of course I am the first filter to go through in this process deciding if I like something or not. The designer will be the next one to choose from what I present. The audience just listens.
I purchase all the music I use (unless it was shared by the artist or their record company).
What inspires you as an artist?
I find inspiration in every moment of a day, looking at art, watching movies, reading and of course, listening to music at my studio. Sometimes hearing something at a restaurant or a store triggers ideas. It’s a non-stop process.
How does your typical day look during NYFW? How many shows do you do in a day?
It varies; I could do one to five to six shows a day. It can be grueling. I tend to prepare weeks ahead so my schedule doesn’t get too crazy. I also like to have a good night’s sleep during those days, though some call times are incredibly early.
What’s the difference between the terms “DJ,” “sound designer,” and “music stylist”? If you had to pick one of those terms, what would you prefer people call you?
I still DJ once in a while. That means I’m mixing records live, blending them right on the spot.
A show soundtrack is a much more elaborate process. It involves an intense creative research and inspiration that goes beyond playing songs. My soundtracks are produced and mixed in advance and I only press play when the show starts, so technically I’m not DJing. I’d settle for sound designer. I never really liked music stylist. It sounds a bit silly.
One of the very favorite dancing styles in New York, salsa, is more than just another workout routine. Salsa is a very sensual dance and it leads you to express your sensual side. Things heat up when the sun goes down in New York City, especially in the salsa scene! The fans of this sexy Latin dance are stepping out of their comfort zone of their dance studios and spending evenings at actual salsa dancing clubs, as it’s a highly emotional and somewhat spiritual experience. The Copacabana, Club Cache, Taj and Gonzalez y Gonzalez are the most popular options if you are looking for unstoppable dancing and tons of positive energy. Don’t forget about the exhilarating Latin groove, and watching yourself getting in shape, moving in a sexy way on and off the dance floor is an enormous boost in confidence! As a girl, there’s nothing more satisfying than having guys constantly asking you to dance. As a guy, being able to go up to the most beautiful sexy girl you never would have dreamed of talking to and asking her to dance is an accomplishment that will change your world.
Those are the most prevalent reasons why people take up salsa dancing as their life-changing hobby. The very favorite DJs of the salsa scene are DJ Babaloo, who is spinning the best of the best salsa romantica with innovative twist; DJ Willie Rivera, who is famous for classic salsa dura, and best of bachata to mix it up, and DJ La Conga, known for his great vinyl collection. These amazing DJs are city’s hottest tickets for salsa nights.
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