The end of an eight week tour with Hercules and Love Affair is finally coming to an end…well, for at least two weeks before we start again. By this time, I'm super excited. Even though it went by fast, my body feels like it got hammered.
When the touring gets really thick sometimes, it's hard not to go on auto-mode. We get spoiled with our tour manager telling us where to be at every moment. Once in a while, I start to lose track of the day of the week, and sometimes I have to remind myself of what city I'm currently in before I get on stage—so I can be sure not to address the crowd with the wrong city.
I'm getting tired of living out of my suitcase, and repacking my luggage explosions over and over again. It's also hard to keep within the always changing weight restrictions because, while on the road our bags get heavier and heavier each day. On this round, we have been through a lot of major summer festivals. Some highlights for me were Glastonbury, Leeds and Pitch in Amsterdam with Azari & III.
From muddy wells to avoiding porta-potties to messy tour bus moments to five star hotel to skinny dipping in the blue waters of Corsica, it feels like we've been through it all. And, now, we're almost done. The last show is Dour Festival in Belgium. Final shows of the tour always feel like such a big event. I think it's because you want to end with an amazing bang, and that excitement at having a break—although I personally don't have much of one, as I go to New York for only three days before I go back to Europe for DJ gigs in Moscow and Finland.
We start the day with a two hour drive to the Cologne airport. Not having much sleep the night before, I immediately put on the three things I can't live without when I travel. My eye mask, ear plugs and my panda travel neck pillow. I wake up, and we're already at the airport. We always arrive extra early to the airport to deal with checking in the group and all our bags and gear. It's a good thing too: As usual, the airport was a total nightmare. There were a ton of delayed flights and the lines were insane. It took us forever to maneuver through the airport and to have someone check us in, deal with our 14 pieces of luggage, and make sure that we all get our airline miles.
During the check-in Andrew [Butler] kindly offers Aerea some gum, but when he does his fancy cologne falls out of his bag and breaks, splashing some of the gear. Just before our plane takes off one of our band members, Mark Pistel, gets pulled off the plane by the airlines to open one of our pieces of gear. They couldn't figure out why it smelled so strongly of designer cologne. We arrive in Belgium and get in a nice cozy splitter van that takes us to the festival. It's an hour-and-a-half away, so there's enough time to watch an episode of Lost on my computer. Yes, I know I'm the only person who hasn't watched it yet. It's no True Blood, but I'm enjoying it so far.
When we arrive at Dour I go straight to catering. I have to say that the food was a little like being in a cafeteria in high school back in the day. Maybe I just chose the wrong thing, but I had chicken and veggies that weren't impressing me compared to other festival food we had had on this tour. When we arrive to our dressing room, I finished another episode of Lost right before we met our runner downstairs to take us deep into the festival to our other dressing room side stage. I'm dying to know what's gonna happen next. Did Michael really just kill Anna Lucia and Libby? Cliffhanger.
It's raining and muddy out and, because of that, our dressing room looks a lil' used and abused—in a fun way—with muddy shoe marks from the previous bands. Before we go on, we come together to give a team big group hug and holler before we get on stage. Our set time was perfect—primetime at night—and in a tent. I like tent gigs a lot more than open air gigs. The crowd was ready for us, and the show turned out really good. It went by really fast.
Coming off the stage I think we all felt pretty high off the show from adrenaline, so we celebrated with a toast. It felt really good to close tour run on a great note. We all then get driven about an hour-and-a-half to our hotel, which is actually at the Brussels airport. I usually don't enjoy staying out by the airport, but in this case it works out perfectly as we all go home the next day, and the airport is literally across the street.
Shaun and I start singing along to old school Janet Jackson songs on the way back. We just saw her in concert together and we're on a mega Janet kick. After about an hour, though, the runner looks back and says that we're about an hour away from Charles DeGaulle... "Um, what!?? But we're going to Brussels airport?" Then he asked us if we were a band whose name we didn't recognize. "Just kidding!" he said. "We'll be at your hotel in 20 minutes, hahaha!" He got points for that one.
Just as I started to decompress from the tour, I was off on the road again three days later for some DJ gigs on my own. The first was in Moscow. Unlike Cologne, the arrival at JFK was really smooth. No lines at all. Once the plane takes off, and the seatbelt sign goes off, I get my computer out to do a little work but sadly my battery only lasted about 30 minutes before it died. I had forgotten to charge it up all the way, and then I realized I also forgot my book. Bummer! I had to entertain myself with In Touch, US Weekly and In Style. After learning how Marc Anthony drove J. Lo crazy with his jealous ways and that Drew Barrymore is allergic to garlic, I decided to get some rest.
Tonight was a gig at Denis Simachev, a bar which is a super amazing conceptual place with a good vibe, good food and good sound. Denis Simachev is Russia's prominent fashion designer, and they have his shop upstairs. It's really the coolest spot I have been to in Moscow. I play often in the same types of spaces, so when you come across places like this, it's special. They don't have an entrance fee, which is really cool and rare. But they also keep it so that it doesn't get too crowded which is another nice detail. I always really respect it when it's really about the party and music and vibe in that sense.
At the airport I met up with Timofey Smirnov, who is also DJing. I had met him the last time I was in Moscow dancing to his set when the same promoters had brought us out to play live. Tim and I were both hungry, so we went straight for food at the venue and to meet up with Orange, the promoter, who is super cool. I had a fresh carrot apple ginger juice, an omelette and a few bites of Timofey's pancakes before I went to the hotel to rest. I love when hotels are within walking distance of the club. When I wake up from my nap, I'm starving again, so I go back to the shop and bar to have more food. They are open 24 hours and you can eat breakfast anytime, which I love.
While in Russia, I decided I needed to go on a mission to get another Cheburashka for my collection. A Cheburashka is a cute little character from a Russian cartoon. They seem to sell them everywhere. I already have two, but Orange took me out and treated me to not one, but two more! I now have a pink one that sings when you squeeze his tummy, and one that looks like a Boy Scout. Mission accomplished.
Orange asked me if I liked ping pong, and I of course said "hell yeah!" so we set out to a nice bar on the lake with outdoor ping pong. On the way we had a fun discussion about having a gay radar and also about gay handshakes. I'm actually pretty good at ping pong, and I was giving Orange a good challenge until we started playing for points and then he pretty much kicked my ass. The game made me sweat like crazy, so we jumped in a taxi and headed back to my hotel so I could take a shower.
I got to the club about 90 minutes later, and there was already a cute crowd going. I had some nice refreshing fruity beverages on the small colorful lit up dance floor. The dance floor changed from red to blue to green. I saw some friendly familiar faces from when we were just there recently with the band, which is always nice. It was a nice mixed crowd. Some people even came up while I was DJing and asked me to sign their arms and shirts.
I played for about two-and-a-half hours, and then I ended my night with another nice meal from the venue to ensure that I slept well. It was a really nice day and night. I had to fly to Finland the next day, and I'm happy that my flight was arranged so that I could sleep until check out and get some rest. I woke up and went back to the bar to enjoy a nice breakfast with the gang before heading to the airport. During breakfast I got a fun gift from the shop—a pink Denis Simachev t-shirt with a picture of Vladimir Putin's face on it surrounded by flowers. I made sure to sign the tiled wall before I left next to all the other DJs that have played. I see so many DJ friends that have also signed the wall—Tim Sweeney, Wolfram and more. I left gay handshakes on the wall for them, and was off to the airport.
Where is my luggage?
When I arrive in Helsinki, I realize that my luggage hasn't come with me, so I go to investigate. Apparently, as I was going to New York City the next day, the woman at the airport had checked me in all the way through…and my bags were being held to go directly to NYC. It would be possible for me to get my bag somehow, but I was told it would take at least two hours to locate it. Since I had a two hour drive to Turku to play at a festival, I had to make the decision to just go ahead without it. I felt as if I was in my pajamas, but at least what I was wearing was fine enough. You can't go wrong with a Luther Vandross t-shirt and some splatter paint weightlifting pants. I'm a total clean freak when it comes to clean clothes and showering, so I was a little traumatized with the thought of DJing in the same clothes that night as well as flying home in them the next day. Oh well.
This is my first time DJing in Finland, although I have been before to play live with Hercules & Love Affair. The crowds have always been nice, so I figure the Turku Modern Festival will be a cool gig. I exit and find my runner. The drive there was really pretty, so green and with rock walls that sometimes had water running over them, like tiny waterfalls.
When we arrive to Turku, I check into my hotel to drop my stuff off and head out to meet my host for the night, Katerina, for food. Turku has a small town feeling, but it was very alive because of the festival. Everyone in the streets was on their way to get drinks or to the next location to catch a performance or DJ. I went back to my hotel to chill and rest and to maybe work on arranging a remix, but I didn't have as much time as I thought. When I was walking back to the hotel I realized it was 11 PM—even though it looked like 5 or 6. The light in the north is trippy, plus my body was confused with weird jet lag.
When we got to the club, it was already really packed. I went on and the sound was really good, so I enjoyed playing. The crowd was already really warmed up and ready to go, so it was easy for me to jump right into it. I'm a person that really vibes off the crowd, and this one was a good mix and super cheerful. I felt like I had a really good night for myself. After I was done I met Jori Hulkkonen for the first time in person on the side of the stage. He was really nice. I like his remixes a lot.
I took some pictures with some people before going back to my hotel room for a nice bath. Luckily I had an extra clean t-shirt—the Vladimir Putin t-shirt. I Skyped with my lady, and told her how my night went. Then I decided to check to see how my remix was going, and that opened the door to the rest of my night. Instead of sleeping, I just stayed up all night and decided to work. When I was finally ready for bed, I realized I only had 45 minutes until my ride came, so I decided to just stay up.
I regretted that in the morning, though, because when my ride came I felt totally loopy. On the drive back to Helsinki from Turku, I ate a warm breakfast in the car with some permanently "borrowed" utensils I took from the hotel to eat with. By the time I finally started falling asleep I arrived at the airport feeling even more delirious, with my skin crawling. I missed my face cream the most. It's weird to not have your personal items. I went to duty free and bought some nice Biotherm face cream, and it felt like a million dollars after having gone without my toiletries bag in advance of the long flight. It was an easy check-in and, at the gate, I asked the woman if the flight was full and told her I really would love a nice seat so I can sleep. She was kind enough to move me to an aisle seat with no one next to me. I was asleep in no time, squeezing myself into the two seats, and laying down. I missed the meals, and woke up for an orange juice before we were about to land. It was a good weekend.