Top: Dinner in Serbia...meeeeeaaaaatttttt
Bottom: MC Jon Vex and Addison Groove, AKA The Brandy Twins
It's Wednesday, the day before I fly to Serbia to play at Exit Festival. I am in bed with the flu. I would get out if I could stand up for longer than five minutes without feeling dizzy, but it's just not happening. I have made arrangements with my agent to decide before 11 PM whether I will feel well enough to go the following morning. They have people on standby to do the gig if I can't make it. In 20 plus years of gigging, I can count on one hand the gigs I have missed. The most notable was in Reykjavik one New Years Eve after getting food poisoning from the evening meal before the gig, and spending the whole evening vomiting in the bathroom of my hotel. Anyway, for this trip, the magic serum of lemon, honey and hot water has me feeling a little better, and with the pressure of knowing that Resident Advisor's future as a credible website rests with the completion of this article, I endeavour to make the journey.
So it's up at 7 AM, leave by 7:45 and get to the airport at 8 for my flight at 9 to Zurich where I have a 30 minute wait for my next flight to Belgrade. Then it's onto a minibus for a 90-minute drive to Novi Sad, the city that hosts the festival. I arrive at the hotel at 6 PM Serbian time. Checking in is interesting: It appears that Erykah Badu and Guns & Roses have over 60 rooms booked between them, and the hotel has shut down some of the floors and the restaurant for these A-list celebrity artists. I will have to get dinner at the festival, I am told, so I retire to the room for a couple of hours to chill.
I am playing the Happynovisad stage with Jon Convex, Addison Groove and Doc Daneeka & Benjamin Damage, and looking forward to spending the evening listening to what they are all gonna play. There is a minibus waiting for us all outside, and I'm greeted by a familiar sight awaiting me as I exit the hotel. Jon Convex is very drunk, and it appears he has coerced Addison Groove into having a few also. It turns out that Mr Convex got married the day before, so the celebrations continued with some duty free brandy. I sense a fun night in store.
So the gig is in an old castle overlooking the city. It's very impressive. The main stage tonight sees Duran Duran play live, then some horrible cheesy drum & bass. There's also a more commercial dance arena and our stage. I am told there is upwards of 30,000 people here tonight and walking round looking at options for dinner there is a great atmosphere, as well as a nice mix of ages and nationalities. We opted for some random-looking grilled meat for dinner and ate happily while listening to Duran Duran open their set. We move further into the crowd to catch an epic version of "Save a Prayer," which is perhaps my favourite tune of theirs. I've been known to dance on a table or two to it, so it was a rare treat to see them perform it in the flesh over 30 years into their career.
Later on, I get to hear an impressive 60 minutes of Doc Daneeka & Benjamin Damage playing solid techno. Then it's my turn. It's only an hour-long set, but it's fraught with technical difficulties. One turntable is causing lots of issues, so I have to alternate between Serato and CD. I am experienced enough just to get on with it and enjoy the hour immensely, playing a mixed bag of house and techno and testing out a couple of new Trevino tracks. After me, both Jon Convex and a rare DJ set from Addison Groove have a pretty packed arena dancing until the sun rises at 6 AM. I retire to my hotel very drunk at 7 AM, and wake up four hours later to fly home.
Top: The view from Le Batofar at dinner.
Bottom: A sign I didn't see until it was too late...
It's back to Paris for the first time in two or three years, and what's particularly poignant is that it's the first time I am playing at Le Batofar in over ten years. It's a great venue, a docked boat on the River Seine in central Paris. I have played here three or four times before as Marcus Intalex, and have always enjoyed the space and the vibe it creates.
Now before I get onto the events of the gig, it is worth noting that this whole Trevino thing feels new to me. I don't often get to go out and hear what house and techno DJs are doing. I don't know what's regarded as protocol, what tunes are big, what sound is popular and what people expect of me. This is something I like. The freedom of innocence. I just want to go out and play some music I like, make people dance and enjoy a change of sonic scenery. The other thing is that there is such a wealth of music that is new to me right now, so I am overwhelmed with things to play. At this stage it's a problem. I look at my screen and see so much music I half-know that I worry I will get lost. So prior to the Paris gig I spent about four hours one night midweek mixing house and techno, trying to get a feel for the music I want to play. That's the important thing to me. You need to know your music, so you can then decide where you want to take your set at any given moment. I never organize a set. I don't believe in it. Every set is an experiment for me, a journey that is guided by both myself and the crowd and their reactions.
The day of the gig starts with a round of golf, as I don't leave the UK till 5:30 PM. On arrival in Paris I meet the promoters, and we go to the hotel and then onto the venue for dinner on the boat (steak frites and red wine) and a quick sound check. Just after dinner we sit on the deck drinking more red wine, and listen to the impressive old electro sounds of Luke Eargoggle from Stilleben Records. I was loving it, talking about the early days of rave, the Hacienda and the early pioneers of house and techno while listening to some of the very music that inspired me to get into this whole thing some 20 odd years ago.
Moving down into the bowels of the ship, I am presented with the familiar site of the main room. It ain't changed much which—I must add—is a good thing. The new soundsystem is crisp and the room is filling up nicely. The DJ before me is a Parisian lady called Malilone. She puts together an impressive set of house and 130 stuff (God knows what name they have given this by now). The place is bubbling.
So, for the next two hours, myself and the red wine make sweet sounds come out of the speakers. I start off on a housey vibe with the intention of ramping it up into techno for the second hour. It's one of those nights that has music jumping off the screen, dying to be played. It all just seems to fall into place nicely, and I think I must have played the most Trevino tunes (about eight) in one set since I started this thing. "Backtracking" and "Derelict" get cheers from the crowd, which is nice and makes it a very pleasurable experience. I may have even broke out a smile. So, again, it's about 6 AM that I'm off back to the room drunk but hyped. There's a pattern forming here... 20 years into this, and some things just never change.
If this was a battle of prestige glamour and living the high life, then being Trevino and sharing the bill with Duran Duran and then flying off to Paris must surely be coming out on top. But if ya know me, then you will know that glamour and prestige is something I care nothing for. I enjoy small intimate venues more than anything. Events where you know the people that are there are lovers of your sound, and are there to dance and have a good time. This gig in a pub in Shrewsbusy is just that. The town has a good rave history, and has for as long as I can remember held decent drum & bass events. Only nine miles from the border with Wales, this small old medieval market town is not too easy to get to. With no direct motorway you have to drive through the glorious English countryside. Past farms and great looking villages with their welcoming inns and pubs. It's the England I love.
The journey reminds me that I need a break. It's been a busy year for me, so a few days away from music and perhaps some golf might be a good idea. The journey also affords me the time to listen to some new drum & bass. Specifically the CD Calibre gave me of his intended new album. I am possibly his biggest fan, and I'm lucky to be a person he turns to for advice and as an extra ear for his new material. I'd say 95 percent of his music is the finished article, but if I do notice anything I think he could improve, I know I can tell him and he will listen to my input. From the CD of 14 tracks, I pick 8 things to play.
I arrive at the venue with 30 minutes to spare and I am feeling up for it. (I'm fresh mainly because I had spent the entire afternoon in bed recovering from the previous night's debauchery in Paris.) The crowd is filling up nicely, and the soundsystem is tonking out the bass. It's strictly no drinking for me tonight as I am driving, so I order water and begin to play. It's a 90-minute set, which I like. It gives you enough time to take people through the ups and downs of underground drum & bass. You can bang it out for 45, then take it down for 15 or so, then end with a rousing 30 minutes.
I wouldn't say there's a wealth of great music around that I love at the moment, but there is enough. Tonight my set comprises of mainly stuff from Calibre (I played five of the eight new ones), three or four bits from the new DRS LP we're putting out on Soul:r, a remix from dBridge, a couple of new things from S.P.Y., bits from myself, Dub Phizix and various others. Plus a few tracks from the past 15 years or so. My attitude towards drum & bass is: I play it if I like it. I try and push things forward by repping new music, but also digging through the crates and dropping a few older bits whether they be club classics or just personal favourites of mine.
On this occasion, it's a fleeting visit. One of the guys on the label, Phil Tangent, is playing after me, and I would normally stay around but I gotta be up for 8 AM to go to Royal Lytham to watch the Open golf championship. I thank the promoter, have a quick chat with some of the punters, do the obligatory picture requests and jump back in the car for the 90-minute journey back up North. I had downloaded a mix from Skudge to listen to on the way back. I love their music. But I opt for something a little more sedate and choose to listen to Sharon Van Etten, who is my current favourite artist. I arrive home at 3:30 AM, which gives me about four hours sleep before another big day of watching the world's greatest golfers close up.