Monday, March 17, 2014

Mixtape Mondays 2007-2008 : The Top Ten Years

Top Spins - May 11th 2007

Container Ship Ten - June 12th 2007
A pic of an APL ship I snapped on SF Bay

Ahhh, 2007-2008.
Such significant years. For me personally, a time of resurgence and reinvention. For me musically, a time of rediscovery and obsessive tendencies for the hottest sounds. My 'mixtapes' during these years were a series of graphically intensive top ten lists I'd create and trade via email with my best mate Artie who was living in London at the time. This was an unscheduled ritual for us... the tunes and imagery culled from whatever was going on in my life at the current given moment, traded in a 'tag you're it' fashion. During this period my tastes were wide open and morphing, some days I'd be diving into obscure French/Canadian garage sounds of the 60's, other days I'd be exploring the latest independent techno twinged bands or obscure groovy ambient tracks (circa 60's to present) that had somehow missed my radar. I was still buying records like mad, with frequent trips to Tower Records, Virgin Megastore & Amoeba, focusing my attention on quirky stuff I'd heard about in passing and the perpetual acquisition of slippery vintage classics. Many hours were spent digging through the new releases and the clearance bins in search of all things groovy... without limitations.
What you see above and below is some of the artwork I created for the lists and emailed to Artie to share my ten favorite new-found sounds of the moment. I never imagined that I'd be able to find much of this music again today, so color my surprise searching Spotify to find almost all of it there. A lot of this stuff was completely unknown or impossible to get during the time I compiled these Top 10's, and has since been sold or disappeared from my collection, so clicking and hearing these tracks again & compiling a playlist has been the highlight and the soundtrack of my last couple weeks.
Give it a listen. And don't mind if it gets too weird in places for you, stick with it or click through, there's sure to be a song just around the corner that you will bug out on.
Cheers dudes
Top Ten-Pack - The Now Sound of Fred's Turntable circa 2007/08 

Taupe 10 - January 27th 2007

Dust & Scratches, Themes for an Auction House - April 14th 2007

It's A Gas Baby - August 24th 2008

Fredwind Presents: Mad Props - November 5th 2007

Jack Purcell's Lonely Mix - February 12th, 2008
Artie had left his shoes on my deck before leaving for London and they remained untouched.
6 months later I snapped this pic

Mixtape for a Dumpy Traveler - December 17th, 2007

Success Stinks - February 4th 2008

Club Oxbow Presents RHLNDR - September 11th, 2007

Crate Digger - March 9th, 2007

Foreplay Mix - February 25th, 2007
A picture of my set of golf clubs.

Do Not Cross, The Mortgage Mix - July 20th, 2008
The photo is a foreclosure home in Lodi that my brother & I cleared out.

Hot Mess - April 30th, 2007

Maximum T & T - September 1st, 2008

Oh  sXit! - February 13th 2008
Artie had just fried his laptop by spilling a Vitamin Water on his keyboard.
I re-inacted the crime scene.

Stovetop Ten - May 24th 2007

Soundtrack to a Bright Future - July 31st, 2008
A pic I snapped of the USCG Barque Eagle sailing past the SF waterfront.

Gitanatop Ten - May 20th 2007
My little tribute to my favorite sailing team at the time.

Groundwerk Volume 1 - December 22nd, 2007
The schematic artwork is by my brother, a conceptual look at a putter I was in the midst of designing.  

Isle Tones - April 21st, 2007

The Real Nowhere Man Mix - December 4th, 2007

Trimaran Rock City - April 1st, 2007
An obvious swipe of the iconic Sub Pop 7" graphic style. 

Aquaphenia - May 22, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixtape Mondays - Mad Hatters : 50 Britpop Brimmers & Baggy Headhangers

In 1989 at a friend's party in SF, I was introduced to two crazy British fellas named Jesse and Julius who were visiting from Oswestry, friendly and engaging lads with a heavy dose of lazyitis who were eager to perform an awkward hip hop-inspired handshake upon meeting another authentic Californian. Wide-eyed and baggy-tailed, their style was spot on in a cleverly assembled scrubby manner, outfitting themselves in the latest thrifted 60's gear with just the correct amount of Fred Perry & Adidas flourishes ...a wardrobe recipe that fit right in with our equally tuned-in yet ramshackle posse. While seemingly harmless at the time, these two gentlemen ended up crawling under my skin from that day forward like a squirrel with a box of Triscuits, a power couple that would change my life forever. The initial union at that party was crazy cool, both of them flaunted a ridiculous sense of humor, incredible taste in music, impressive drinking stamina.. and were quite proud to have assimilated 'dude' into their vocabulary so effortlessly. We instantly got on like a house on fire.. (or maybe rather like a duplex with a blown out water heater and a smoldering rubbish bin, but...) It was evident, these cats were birds of a feather. At one point toward the end of the evening they informed our crew that they were leaving for LA the next day. You're WHAT? No..no... Obviously we weren't going to let that happen. We trapped them in San Francisco for the rest of their stay, and those days we spent together were some of the craziest memories of my later teenage years. We called ourselves the Mad Hatters, never leaving the house without a hat on our heads... and, yer.. the mad part is a given. I hadn't even been to the UK yet but I was well mad for it...
The next year, Jess and Jules were at school in Manchester and we planned a visit. My brother and I were already organizing a little tour of Europe and we decided to swap out our plans for London in favor of a stint in Manchester. It was to be the final stop of our month-long tour, and up until then and all throughout Paris, Geneva, Munich & Amsterdam, me and my bro were gearing up for our visit to the musical motherland with a tape I'd made featuring the likes of The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Ride, Happy Mondays & My Bloody Valentine.
Our arrival and subsequent week in Manchester is a complete blur, excessively quiet pubs disturbed by Scrumpy antics, sleeping on stairs, failed attempts at using a mythical 'AT&T Card', dice games and early morning mohawk-shaving sessions not withstanding... our late night visits to The Hacienda and hungover afternoons in the Northern Quarter record shopping seem like a dream now, if it weren't for the vinyl purchases to prove we were actually there, I wouldn't remember any of it. We bought so many records we had to ship them to SF, and opening the packages back home was like an extended Christmas morning, instantly turning our West Coast friends on to the new sound of England.
I've kept in touch with Jesse & Julius over the years, and with many thanks to facebook, last year I had the pleasure to visit them in London for a Mad Hatter's reunion. It was like time had stopped, we were as retarded as ever, still behaving like little juvenile delinquents in the adult world. Jesse is now an accomplished writer, most famous for his series Peep Show with partner Sam Bain, and Julius is most famous for being on another planet entirely, his tweets are crazy cool, we're bound to see him gracing the mainstream airwaves with his obtuse humor anytime soon. Both dudes are happily married with kids, they've finally achieved Dadrock status. Living the dream.
This mixtape covers everything I love about the Britpop scene... an homage to the raw emotions of freedom from those early days of '89/'90... all of the attitude, the funk, the dissonance, the grooves, the drugs, the swagger & the rock n roll in tact... I hope you enjoy it too. http://bit.ly/pophattersmix
Cheers big ears,

Mad Hatters Reunion Tour, chilling with Jess and Jules at chez Armstrong in London last year.

Me in 1999 on one of my DJ nights 'Tomorrowland' at The Orbit Room SF

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mixtape Mondays

My first experience with a mix tape was when I was 11 years old during a weekend stay at my brother Bill's bachelor pad during his fraternity days at San Jose State. It was 1982 and my brother was a full-blown new waver and record collecting nut, consuming new release vinyl the second it hit the shelves at Tower Records. This was one of the most exciting times in musical history, the late 70's and early 80's music scene was dynamic and outrageous, new bands were coming out of nowhere with imagery and sounds projecting both style and substance in a revolutionary pop art punk fashion causing an overthrow of  the classic rock anthems and cheesy novelty disco acts dominating the radio airwaves. Bill's tastes were my guide map, he was finely tuned to the cream of the New Wave crop, and my eyes and ears were wide open and fixated on discovering this good weird stuff too. Sitting on his floor flipping through his records that weekend was like browsing an outrageous miniature art collection that seemed to come from another planet...
My little mind was blown!
What resulted from that session was a mix tape my brother dubbed 'Tyke's Tunes' featuring bands like The Vibrators, Madness, Devo, B-52's, Missing Persons, Adam & The Ants, Dead Kennedys, Human League, The Ramones, The Pretenders, The English Beat, The Residents and so many others...the best of the best. That 90 minute tape was like gold to me and ultimately changed my life. New wave and punk became my soundtrack, 'Tyke's Tunes' was like a prolific trend setting transmission beamed down from outer space to my world of little classmates who were happy settling with The Eagles and The Carpenters. I would play the mix tape everyday, learning all the words to the songs, cautiously adhering to the promise I'd made to Bill to not play 'Too Drunk To Fuck' if mom or dad were in the room.

Not too long after my life changing weekend with Bill, I remember feeling inspired and cramming a cheapo 60 minute Radio Shack cassette into my parents hi-fi after school one day. Already dialed in to Dr. Don Rose on KFRC, I was ready to groove out to the new hot sounds of 1983. The cassette ran the whole time as I sat and watched the tape on the tiny wheels dwindle down... hoping they wouldn't run out in the middle of Rockwell's 'Somebody's Watchin' Me'. The resulting mix and the songs I'd grabbed were less than great, complete with commercials and Don's knack of talking over the intro of every song... but still I loved it. Dude. I made my own mix!
...although this time on the more socially acceptable tip of popular music, the tape featured hits like Steve Miller's 'Abracadabra', 'Designer Music' by Lipps Inc, 'Rumors' by Timex Social Club, and 'Man Eater' by Hall And Oates. It kept me occupied for the moment, but I counted the days until I could have another opportunity to travel to Bill's pad again for another freakout session to listen to the 'good' bands, often calling him to ask about new records he had bought.

I never looked back from those early days and by 1990 I was fully equipped with two turntables, a crappy Realistic mixer and a kick-ass Nakamichi tape deck thanks to Bill. Forever my mentor, my bro helped me get everything dialed in, teaching me about grounding wires, recording levels, recording time, needle wear, record handling, fade outs and segues. In the 90's, my reputation for my record collection and my mix tapes defined me. Those who know me understand what I'm talking about.... for those who don't... stay tuned... that'll have to be another blog post.

Flash forward to 2014. While technology has surpassed the physical presence of a cassette tape, the idea of making and trading mixes is still fresh in my mind. My preferred online resource for making a playlist is Spotify, and while not completely comprehensive for obscure and rare tracks or contemporary music that was released before the 70s, the Spotify library is relatively complete and does the job for me. The interface is simple and efficient, the streaming solid and fast, click and go and before long you've made a mix and are able to share the link for anyone with an internet connection to listen to anywhere.

BUT... My big problem with this scenario is it doesn't completely capture the mix tape experience. Everyone whose created or been given a mix knows that half the fun of a good mix is the artwork! The anonymous personalization capacity of Spotify beyond a profile picture is something to be addressed, so for now I create my own artwork in Photoshop while I am compiling a playlist, cutting and pasting and free-transforming while I am simultaneously clicking away tracks online. Takes me right back to the fun process of designing a tape cover, an even better experience in many aspects. The new style of the artwork production has replaced the tactile procedure of arranging clippys and text with gummy spray adhesive thumbs and a xacto blade... and is not limited to the restrictive cassette cover size!

So... here are a few modern 'mixtapes' for your listening enjoyment.
If you'd like to keep up with my playlists, you can find me here: fred eagle on spotify
I'd love to hear yours too, cheers!

PS: If you need a little inspiration for your next mix tape artwork, have a look at my brother's incredible photography. He's still got it. ; ) - misterbigidea on flickr

'Swizzle Sticks' is my latest mix, a compilation of  audio cocktails and sonic bar snacks suitable for a perfect evening out and about or cozy soiree buzzing around about at home. The cocktail genre has always been my forte, but seeing as many of my cocktail genre mixtape staples in the easy listening/incredibly strange/go-go vein are unavailable on Spotify, I've opted to create a less predictable and less retro mix. This playlist still includes some googie-era favorites and some go-goers, but features a few modern groovers you may not be familiar with, and also a shot of pop & soul classics tossed in for good measure. The resulting mix pours out crisp and clean, a bubbly concoction of past and future grooves to soundtrack the ultimate vibe at your favorite hole in the wall or patch of outer space. The now sound of the space-age bachelor pad at chez fred eagle.

On my most recent trip to Paris, I spent 2 weeks at the home of my friend Thierry, a professor and historian who lives in an apartment in the 13th arrondissement with his incredible collection of books and records. Thierry lives in the building which was the former location of the Atlantic Records recording studio, known most famously as the home of several Serge Gainsbourg's recordings and the place Louis Armstrong layed down his first Paris sessions in the early 1950's. Thierry's apartment is on the first floor, directly above the basement that housed the original studio. There are obviously some old souls seeping through the floorboards there... Thierry and I couldn't stop playing records the entire time I was there... transitioning between punk and jazz, britpop and french music seamlessly. It was raining hard throughout my stay and we would stay up into the wee hours with the windows wide open trading stories and flipping discs of our favorites while we enjoyed some nice bottles of wine and cheese. This mix takes me right back to that happy place... listening to the rain, rocking out, feeling sentimental, feeling old and feeling young at the same time.

Widely recognized among my friends as one of the greatest wedding receptions we've ever experienced, my good friends Jon and Karen pulled out all the stops for their celebration of marriage. This reception was like a homecoming and a family reunion, Karen and Jon have a beautiful collection of artistic friends and we all know each other in some way... catching up with everyone was so so cool. The soundtrack for the event was especially perfect, delivered by an ace deejay panel.... difficult to go wrong with the lineup of supreme music afficionados Carrie Swing, Carlos Perez, Otto von Stroheim, Dean Curtis, Alec Palao, Sean Cavanaugh and Michael Beller behind the decks. We danced and danced, we laughed, we cried, we hugged.. we ate and drank until the place shut down to the sound of all of these tunes. I will never forget that day, I love Jon & Karen and their union means the world to me too ... and to everyone in attendance, a special time for all of us to share. I held the distinction of being Karen's 'something blue' and had dyed my hair Tiffany Blue to coordinate with the theme, quel honneur! This mix tape was my gift to the happy couple to thank them and commemorate the event, albeit with minor apologies to the deejays as some of their cool songs were unavailable on Spotify...  

A compilation for my girl Alberta, my musical soul mate... We've shared 22 years of musical discovery and obsessive vinyl collecting together... making analog mix tapes with perfect transitions and DJing parties were some of our favorite leisure activities back in the olden times before computers. 'Bertie's Bag' will be an ongoing series, this particular mix is jam packed with a batch of  60 of her all-time 'hot hits'. This mix features songs you know and love, and the songs you don't know are surely soon to be favorites too. An ultimate party soundtrack... also great for cleaning, vacuuming, doing the dishes and walking the dog... which all of them I better do soon or I'm going to be listening to 'Bertie's Nag'

If you are feeling thirsty by now, Alberta is one of the top mixologists around and has been at the forefront of cocktail culture for many years... have a look at cocktails on the fly and freshen up your hi-ball with new flavors to complement your listening experience.

Inside the music mind state of master sailor Loick Peyron. What exactly does Loick listen to at sea?  I spent some time with him dissecting this question resulting in the Spotify playlist 'loick's offshore mix' featuring a tune Loick listened to on board during many of the races throughout his career. Always a purveyor of fine taste, Loick's musical interests are diverse and in the pocket. Everything you need is here, music from some of his favorites: The Who, JJ Cale, The Police, Serge Gainsbourg, The Doors... soundtracks he digs: Game Of Thrones, Red Dead Redemption, Star Wars... hip tracks by The Black Keys and Air.. and many more. Loick's taste in music is sophisticated but mischievous not unlike the man himself. His playlist sets a idyllic ambiance for your next maxi-trimaran trip around the world, or your next session at the breakfast table with a p'ti cafe and a smoke ...while you plan your current top-secret strategic attack on the water.
loick peyron's offshore mixtape

Until next time, happy listening...

Friday, February 28, 2014

What Difference Does It Make? SF Screening w/ François K

If you aren't yet hip to this film documenting the search for the soul of music, do yourself some couch digging and plug in for a heavy dose of optimism. 'What Difference Does It Make' is a film all it's own, a supreme audio visual testament to the power of creativity. A must see for deejays, musicians, record collectors, knob-twiddlers, and next-big-things, this hour and a half long journey throughout New York as experienced by the eyes, ears and musical prowess of the Red Bull Music Academy members provides for an engaging collage of textures and vibes, both mellow and chaotic. The freestyle emotions and undefinable reverence that the art of making music holds for these individuals (and all of us) is realized with a slick yet gritty sensitivity. The stylish editing and surprise guest appearances from music legends & household names (Brian Eno, Debbie Harry, Giorgio Moroder, Philip Glass, Erykah Badu, Rakim & many more) fuel the story as it extends it's tendrils across the city with no apparent rhyme or reason, flowing and imperfect like an impromptu jazz session. The experiences of the students as they noodle together in the fully equipped RBMA studio to find their groove will resonate deeply with the fellow artists in the audience struggling to make sense of music's fickle obsessive nature and the relationships we create while creating music. The freedom of discovery is celebrated with armchair philosophy and gold-plated words from our musical heroes who encourage viewers to keep the creative flow going no matter what.

If 'IT' is in you, 'IT' needs to come out.

Bad bad Leroy Webb, my favorite artist in the film. Subway goosebumps.

'What Difference Does It Make' is moving and poignant, groovy, encouraging, hopeless, refreshing and completely human. It would be impossible to finish this film without a smile on your face and itching to get back to that dope track you were working on. Or that painting you just started. Or that book you were writing...
To watch it online at the Red Bull Music Academy site or download to your desktop, click on our old mate Lee 'Scratch' Perry below

Red Bull have their fingers on the pulse for sure. Always poised to provide a memorable night of forward-thinking youth culture while recognizing the pioneers of the genre, the San Francisco screening for 'What Difference Does It Make' was true to form, a double bill which included a moderated discussion with legendary French ex-pat deejay François K. As a celebration of 15 years of the RBMA, this free event had been highly publicized and on my radar for quite awhile... I'd shot in my rsvp well in advance along with a handful of my mates in the extended Sweater Funk crew, and at exactly 7pm on the 22nd we were in the heart of The Mission, filing out of Pancho Villa taqueria with full bellies and our eye on the prize. Smart thinking. By 7:30pm there was a line all the way down the block from the Victoria Theater, this was easily a sold out gig.

Once inside and settled in, the ambiance was super chilled out with an electric playful attitude courtesy of the Academy members in attendance we'd soon meet on the big screen. The hour long discussion with François treated us to intimate anecdotes from the glory days of DJ life, we happily would have listened to him all night while he dove in and out of his vast catalog of tunes and memories with host Shawn Reynaldo from XLR8RFrançois sharing his experiences with us was cool to be a part of, like listening to an old family friend. The man is as multi-faceted as he is humble, François is reserved and soft spoken, clever and insightful... and a total Dude. 
A brief clip to illustrate la classe. François reflects on Larry Levan and begins to talk about the worldwide rebirth of the NYC DJ.
Merci pour votre temps, grand mec.

Front and Center. Shane, Kirk, Ileah, Brian, Sue & Danika
...and zee French Touch, pausing for a photo with François K.

Many thanks to the Red Bull Music Academy for what you do.  Keep The Faith!
#FollowFriday on twitter RBMA  RedBullSFO  Do415  François K
And a special shout out to my new Jedi Master : Tom Moulton for flagging this bomb for us.
Currently in heavy rotation

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eagle For Hire

Operation: Panic Button. After the jet-lag wore off and the lively email banter fell by the wayside, I realized I'm living in the most expensive city in the world with no safety net. I've been surfing an incredible wave but now there is sand in my margarita, all the girls have put their winter coats on, and I have to sell my surfboard!
Just when you think things are really clicking in life, the silence replaces the laughs, ideas become inconvenient, and productivity comes to a screeching halt in the rough surf. Reality deals it's unpredictable hand without a lighter... cigarettes become a forbidden luxury item, weighing them dollar for dollar against a satisfying meal is not easy when you're accustomed to puffing away like some dragon royalty. These past 5 months abroad have been the most incredible memories of my life and now I am paying for it... I wouldn't change a thing but I need to get myself out of the red and Into The Cool something fierce. Although currently in freak out mode, I know the boat will come back into port soon.
So...I'm wrapping up an intensive week of Social Media self home-schooling today... been busy at the computer immersed in the latest bells and whistles and brushing up on new techniques to keep ahead of the curve, enjoyed some nice research and gained new knowledge, SEO tutorials, a template-creating fest and generally going batty over tweaks and settings. And with all synapses firing, I've made it out alive with a way better grip on the mainstays of community management and strategic communication. Freestyle only goes so far before it's time to face those waves, slathered in sunblock with swimsuit pulled high.
I've built a coordinated thematic campaign proposal for new clients, with solid examples from Google+, Google Pages, about.me, Facebook, MySpace, twitter, flickr, Instagram, Photoshelter, WordPress, tumblr, Blogger, Pinterest, Klout, YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, Soundcloud, and even CafePress, Etsy and eBay. ...and while I was on fire, I had some Moo cards printed too. Pair those with my stellar resume and countless successful years of freelance design solutions and I'm one hott Moondoggy.
If there are any brands or personalities out there looking for a tip-top sophisticated online media presence, a savvy marketing manager, photographer, graphic designer, therapist, copywriter & scene-maker in one fell swoop, please do get in touch. I've got you covered dudes. ; )

See you hanging-ten on the other side

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's A Mod Mod Moscow...

3 days in Russia with French Boutik & The Riots!

The Moscow Dream Team
(l-r) Denis, Kirill, Serge, Iky, Sasha, Terry, Zelda, Gabriela, Alex, Maria, Oleg, and me

Russian Visas in hand and fighting a lack of sleep after battling our suitcases in Paris, Serge and Gabriela and I left for the Charles de Gualle Airport at 5am, arriving like clockwork to meet Iky, Terry, and Zelda at the check-in counter. French Boutik was in full formation and bound for Russia! Our bags were securely tidy and tagged and we made our flight without a hitch. The flight was stopping first in Austria where we'd change planes, just enough time for a quick nap en route, and a little breakfast at the Vienna Airport before our final leg to Moscow. We arrived at the Domodedevo Airport at 6pm, extremely fatigued but high on adrenalin...amplified slightly by our passage through Customs. Once through the pearly gates, we collected our baggage and headed out, greeted by our mate Kirill from The Riots. After a little laughter and hugs, we hopped in two cabs and motored into downtown Moscow...

The Domodedevo Airport was like another planet for us.
Unable to read anything and completely freezing when we stepped out the doors.

After a 40 minute drive, we arrived at our apartment for the weekend, greeted enthusiastically by the other two Riots, Alex & Sasha, and Oleg aka Mobkid. It was a happy meeting to say the least! We dug into our suitcases and pulled out some celebratory gifts from Paris for the occasion, Some nice French wine and cheese, saucisson sec, and a bottle of Calvados. After a couple hours of revelry and good music we headed to the 16 Tons Club to scope out the gig for Saturday night. We arrived to a full spread of amazing food in a special little room adjacent to the main bar, the club pulled out all the stops to take good care of the Frenchies... Merci! Oleg's wife Maria and The Riots right hand man Denis joined us just after dinner for drinks and nonsense... annd...our party continued into the wee hours. We closed the club and made tracks for our apartment, too excited to sleep and high on laughs and friendship. More cool tunes and French wine ensued and as the sun was coming up we all bedded down for the night.

Tiger Prawns - 16 Tons style.
And of course it wouldn't be a proper visit to Moscow without taking part in...
a little recreational vodka digestif session. (or 44)

We woke up on Saturday a little rough around the edges but super happy. Dudes. We are in Moscow!
My morning ritual of expediting showers for the group and fueling them full of coffee kicked in, we were to be at the club at 2pm for sound check and it was already noon. As the Boutikis prepped and packed, I stepped out on the balcony for a smoke and soaked in the ambiance.. it was absolutely bone-chillingly cold outside! Halfway through my cigarette it began to snow.
Tick tock-tick tock, it was time to leave for the club.

The view from our apartment in downtown Moscow 

Once at the 16 Tons Club, we filed in with our gear and ordered a round of espressos. We set up on the stage, The Riots sound-checked first followed by French Boutik, and two hours later, the levels were dialed in and we were set for the show later that night. Zelda, Iky, and Terry left with Maria to have a look at Red Square, and I stayed with Serge, Gabriela, Alex and Sasha for lunch at the club. A quick bite down and a round of beers, and we left via taxi at 6pm for a live radio show at Moscow FM. Right out of the cab, we passed through security at Moscow Media and were escorted to the studio, miked up and debriefed and were live on air before we knew it. The hour long feature on The Riots and French Boutik was brilliant, the duos each played an acoustic song and chatted with deejay Maria Bravikova, covering everything from the symbiosis of the two groups, the history of Mod, tackling the language barrier, and the electricity of the current independent music scene... 

Maria Bravikova hosting Alex, Sasha, Serge and Gabriela for the live session on Moscow FM.

Leaving Moscow Media HQ
I forgot my gloves and my hat. After 5 minutes I couldn't feel my fingers or my ears!

Back at the apartment, we had a couple of hours to kill before leaving for the show. Half of us took a power nap and the others powered through with a little coffee, snacks and wine. Once we were all up and assembled, we left the pad and entered onto the freezing streets again, this time taking a different route. We had all heard so much about the notorious Moscow Metro, and this was our only opportunity to see it first hand. A 15 minute walk later, we were buying Metro tickets and descending down the escalator, rubbernecking and pointing right and left. The reputation of the Moscow Metro holds true. Beautiful indeed.

Headed to the club... Serge and Sasha in fine form.

A nice example of the beautiful Metro stations in Moscow. Like nowhere else in the world.

In a half hour we were back at the 16 Tons Club, right on schedule. We were escorted through the rear entrance to the backstage area, once again impressed by the attention to detail from the club. Bowls of fresh fruit and beverages were at the ready, I poured some drinks as the groups tuned up and changed clothes. On the main floor people were spilling onto the stage area at a solid pace, already dancing thanks to Oleg's prowess behind the turntables. The place had filled up and it was time for The Riots to have a go. This was my first time seeing them live and they absolutely killed it, Sasha's voice is one of the best around, Alex is a machine behind the kit, and Kirill's casual effortless bass style completes the equation perfectly. Their set is powerful and utterly perfect. The dance floor was ablaze and the girls were mad for it, but before long The Riots were finished and Oleg kicked it into high gear on the decks again, spinning soul classics and obscurities to the delight of the crowd. A half hour later, French Boutik took to the stage with an eruption from the audience, everyone was excited to have an intimate look at this French import they'd heard so much about. French Boutik did not disappoint! Their hour-long set was tight and energetic, full of style and class but with a unique playful stage persona... despite their impeccable appearance, these cats don't take themselves too seriously and are never afraid to cut loose and have a blast. For their encore, the floor was full and everyone was dancing like crazy, so when French Boutik finished, Oleg picked up the torch and never let go. We were all on the dance floor, sweating and grooving until 6am ...and we would have been there well into the next day if it wasn't closing time at 16 Tons. We all said our goodbyes and staggered into taxis, and were shuttled back to the apartment... 

Super set by The Riots at 16 Tons (l-r) Sasha, Alex, and Kirill 

DJ Mobkid, giving the people what they want!

Gabriela, Terry, Iky, Serge & Zelda... French Boutik on fire in Moscow!

Gabriela being interviewed for a documentary on The Riots and the Moscow music scene

We managed to get a couple of hours of sleep in before leaving the apartment at noon. We relocated to Sasha's flat a few minutes away with just enough time to relax for an hour with a cup of tea. There was a knock on the door, it was Oleg, Maria, and Kirill aka the Moscow airport express, ready to transport French Boutik for their flight back to Paris. We walked down the stairs with luggage in tow, loaded up the two cars and it was time for them to leave. A bittersweet moment for sure, I had to say goodbye to my French family for the past four months! Needless to say, it was a little emotional for me watching the cars drive off into the distance. Not missing a beat, Sasha, Oleg and Denis picked me up by my bootstraps and shuffled me down the street to see some sights and we ended up at a cool cafe for drinks and a bite. This time wandering about was precious, my only little glimpse of the city outside of our club schedule. Moscow is like another planet, cold and mysterious and completely intriguing. I know I'll be back here in the future to check in on my new mates. So so great to get to know these guys better, so much in common despite our different geographical worlds. The Russian hospitality continued that night back at chez Riots and unfortunately was difficult to stop our momentum! The result was none of us hearing either of the three alarms we'd set, until Alex rustled me awake at 12:30pm, DUDE! My flight was at 2pm. Neither of us thinking so clearly, they poured me into a taxi to the airport, which finally arrived at 2:20pm. The rest of the day was spent at the Domodedevo Airport wheeling and dealing for a flight out the next day, after which I returned to the dudes pad shortly before midnight...which was... Sasha's 30th birthday!!  We had a laugh and some drinks but kept it civilized, and without fail the next morning I was on my train for the airport, showered and sussed with a head full of incredible memories...watching the icy Moscow scenery... en route to San Francisco.
What an unforgettable 3 days... See all you dudes again soon. Thank You!

Family Portrait - The Moscow Crew on the last day

Tripping around in downtown Moscow

View the entire photo gallery here
French Boutik online
The Riots online
Mobkid's Moscow Mod Scene
Rolling Stone write-up