When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from the Left Coast, the L.A.-based tech-house talent Kricked (aka James Parr).
What’s it like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time? We have been shut down for the most part for the past year, and few months, as far as nightlife. While the club/festival scene was on-hold, I made it a priority to try and pivot our efforts into projects that would strengthen our connections with our fans. We launched and put thousands and thousands of hours into our Slightly Sizzled Twitch channel which grew to about 3,000 followers and maintained an audience of 1,000-2,000 fans per each weekly stream. On top of our own streams, we also worked to partner with other music communities who were putting on cool streams which led to taking over Desert Hearts TV for label takeovers twice, as well as Beatport’s Twitch channel.
You’ve been plenty busy… On top of streaming, I found a great way to connect with our fanbase was through our Facebook Group, “Slightly Sizzled Community,” which has grown to 5,000 members during this time and has become extremely active (15,000+ monthly engagements per month) considering its size. The focus of the group is to help our Sizzled community grow, provide resources for them to learn. I focus on creating every thread with our members first in mind and, before posting, ask myself: “How can I create this post so that it helps our community members the most?”
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Yes, unfortunately. Before the pandemic I ran a weekly house-and-techno event here in Los Angeles that we’d been building for three or four years, along with monthly underground warehouse shows that brought pretty decent sized crowds of 1,000 to 1,500 attendees. As soon as we got news of the pandemic, we shut it down all of these shows and refocused our attention on Twitch, our record label releases and our Facebook group – all of which cost money to grow and curate compared to our live shows, which actually generated profits.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? Twitch donations help out a bit, but most of the time they break even due to costs associated with advertising the streams and curating the events. I considered launching a full-scale Sizzled PR company as our resources in this regard have grown significantly, but didn’t want to distract away from our goals with the labels, so decided to put the idea on hold for the time being.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? We’ve been continuing full-speed ahead with our weekly release calendars for both labels and have promoted every release with the same drive and passion as before the pandemic started – the same is true for my personal Kricked releases. I actually had some of my most prestigious releases during the pandemic: “Da’ Hot Nation,” my release with Jamie Jones’ Hottrax label, “King Goron”/“Niño Karkoma,” my release with Junior Sanchez and Demuir’s Kultur label, “Euroemotion,” my 303Lovers release and even “Marvin the Martian,” my release on Carlo Lio and Nathan Barato’s label Rawthentic were all dropped during this time and performed rather well considering the circumstance. My latest releases, by the way, are collabs with Andre Salmon – “Hardclouds” on My Techno Weighs A Ton and “New Favorite Label” featuring Cami Jones on Slightly Sizzled.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? In the studio, I use Ableton Live, my Ableton Push 2, Dave Smith Pro 3, Erica Synths DB-01, Elektron Digitakt, Elektron Model:Cycles, as well as this fun piece of hardware called “The Pipe,” which I can speak into, beatbox, etc., and it’ll change my voice into synths using pretty cool internal algorithms. I really like Operator, as well as Diva, for software synths, Roland Cloud and Sting for software acid lines. Tantra for quick and fun FX manipulating, CLA Vocals for processing vocals, along with Soothe 2, Fabfilter Pro Q3 for EQing, list goes on and on, really.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I usually start with a kick, bass and start to work in some drums, and then I’ll try to cut up and chop up some vocal samples to fit and add energy to the groove of the track. Once I add all of the elements, I’ll try and strip the track back to only the elements that are needed, as my best tracks are usually the ones with room to breathe. No need to jam-pack your music with sounds that distract from the groove/flow. Outside of these sessions, I’ll do “FX sessions,” where I’ll just go crazy with my synths to try and come up with some really unique analog builds/atmosphere, which I’ll come back to after I have the foundation of a track set up to see if I can work something in. Every track is different, though, sometimes I’ll start with just an acid line and go from there.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? Preferably, three Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NXS or CDJ-3000s, a DJM-V10 mixer and, if possible, a DJS-1000 sampler would be a pretty perfect set-up for me to do my thing. I’ve been DJing on CDJs for about 10 years now, so it is where I find myself most comfortable to navigate music freely.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Recently, we’ve seen a lot of festival lineups drop with all of the same names from the guys who took a year-and-a-half vacation during the shutdown and didn’t do anything to further the industry during this period. I found this pretty disappointing because there are a lot of us who buckled down and kept pushing the music scene forward despite the setbacks… I guess I just wish the gatekeepers of the industry didn’t just fall back on their same go-to artists for their festivals and that they actually paid attention to who was making moves during this period of uncertainty.
What else have you done online and what are you planning for the future? We do a weekly stream on Twitch called “Sizzled Sundays,” so yes – every week. We’ve been working on a really big mixed-reality project and rolled out the stream using this technology during our last Slightly Sizzled Desert Hearts takeover. Essentially, we created a virtual Slightly Sizzled world that we could DJ inside of: We built a virtual stage in the middle of the virtual desert, designed full-scale laser shows, firework displays, and the mixed-reality stream drew a large crowd of 20,000 simultaneous viewers during the takeover. We are working on building this into a virtual-reality experience where users can download our Sizzled world and enter it using VR or a mobile device and party with us virtually inside of the Sizzled world. All of their actions inside of the world would then be streamed live on Twitch for a real-time true interactive experience.
We also are trying to create some games for users to play once they are inside the world. Anyways, a lot of really exciting things to come. We plan on incorporating these virtual reality streams into our live shows once the world opens back up, so that viewers around the world can join in on the fun even if they can’t attend our show in person.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? I would like to shout out my little brother, Austin Parr, who just released his first single called “Whisper” on Spotify. It’s not house music, more like a Jack Johnson sort of vibe, but the tune is great and he mixed it down and mastered it himself – really proud of my little bro. The song is about the early days of his relationship with his current girlfriend – how they met, the experiences he was going through during that time and how he knew that she was special and worth the extra effort to try and win her heart. I love the song and, honestly, I’m sure it would resonate with a lot of people out there in the world.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? I’ve found it easiest to stay positive by not letting the situation dictate my behavior. I wake up early every morning, get to work on my goals and stay focused on creating value – be it music, promoting my label artists, making new label art, coming up with new video concepts to work on, the streams, etc. Working towards the thing you love will bring you a bit of satisfaction by the time you close your eyes at the end of the day. So my advice is to just keep busy to distract your mind from the other things that are going on around you. Reach out to your friends or family, if you are going through a hard time, as you are never alone even when it feels like you are. Stay safe and healthy, my friends!
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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