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Raver meets His DJ Hero

Christopher Milo aka DJ Three (Hallucination Limited)

DJ Three – live at Robot Heart 10 Year Anniversary (Burning Man 2017) – September 2017

“I’m The DJ”

It’s been a few months now and the boys are beginning to take weekend road trips to rave all over the state. At this time in Florida, all the kids would do likewise. You would see the Orlando kids, Miami kids, Ft. Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Talahassee, Boca, Daytona, Coco Beach, etc.
After a while we all began to recognize one another, and we all began to clique. If you can imagine, there was a time when every raver in the state knew, or at least knew of one another. Good times.

During the early 90’s Kimball Collins was the most hyped DJ in Florida. The main sound was Progressive House and Trance. Not really my thing. I was quite new to all of this, but I already knew that I liked a more underground sound. A sound that went on to be called Chicago House, and Detroit Techno. Ahhz (Oz) in Orlando was the club to be at. It is where Kimball was a resident. At the time, the raves filled the void, as Ahhz had closed down for a bit.

search mission(s)

By this point, the ritual is to spend a couple hours trying to find acid. LOL to the naivety of these kids looking for “paper” when over 95% of the heads were eating “rolls” (ex/mdma, etc). For the time being, I am too afraid to try it, so we search for acid. A couple hours go by with no luck, then a dude says that his roommate is coming later. COOL! We roll out to the Chevy for a blunt, and then go back inside to wait.

too embarrassed to dance

Back when I first started going out people did not say I like to dance. They said I like to House. We called it “Housing”, and everyone was trying to get good at it. I felt that I would one day be an exceptional Houser, but at this time I am not. I was like the best of the worst, or the best of the newbie housers.

This being the case, I would wait until all the best dancers would go home at around 7 am before I would even go on the floor. As my pride/ego would not allow me to be seen not being as good as I would someday be. Kinda sad.
Glad I worked through those issues. At any rate, the dude came and we copped the cleanest blotter ever. The paper looked like bathroom paper towels, but the trips were clean with no strychnine feeling.
Then it happened. I heard this amazing music and said to myself “this must be the mighty Kimball Collins because this dude is rocking me.” Yet, when I looked up, I see the lasers spelling out DJ Three. Instantly I knew that this dude was likely the best DJ in the state. Despite Kimball’s hype.

fast forward……

It’s like 6 months later and I am feeling like a veteran now. There is a new crop of kids coming in after us and I am wondering were we this annoying also. LOL Backpacks, lollipops, and funny hats. Massaging each other with vap-o-rub, and wearing surgical masks. What a sight!

So by now I have met one of the loves of my life. Marissa. My little rave queen. Together with my buddy Adam, we make the rounds from city to city. It is almost Christmas time and so The Edge in FT. Lauderdale is throwing their annual party. DJ Three is on the bill.

One day I hope to do what you do

It is now morning and people are chilling outside in the back courtyard. I spot DJ Three chilling, so I decide to go walk up to introduce myself. He was quite approachable. We had a very long conversion in which I learned his real name. Where he was from, and that he worked at a record store.
I told him of how I had recently dropped out of music university in hopes of one day being a DJ/producer. To which he replied that his good friend Dave Christopher (Rabbit in The Moon” was also a classically trained musician.
He also encouraged me to stick with it. We parted ways, but kept in touch.

Later Marissa and I would move to Tampa on the strength of knowing many of the same people Chris Milo knew. Brian Busto, Terryn Westbrook, and DJ Jask. It was also here that I would go on to meet Chris Mitchell.
The scene was vibrant and healthy. If you played, you could gig and get paid. Lots of record stores, and cool parties. More on those in the near future.

advice not heeded

In winter of 2006 right after starting Vanguad Sound! I also started a myspace and found DJ Three on there. I was living in the Chicago suburbs and he had recently moved to NYC from Tampa where he held a residency at Twilo. After telling him that I was going to go all out and try music full time he warned me against it. He mentioned the lack of security, retirement, medical benefits, and the overall stress. I think his words were do not ruin your life trying to be a pro DJ. It’s not worth it. The irony is that there have been many times where I thought that perhaps I should have taken his advice.

yet, we are artists

throughout the history of humanity, many of the most lauded artists struggled to survive in their lifetimes. I am no different. the phrase “feast or famine” comes to mind. When it’s good it’s really good, but when it’s bad, the darkness can overwhelm. I am not so cheeky as to compare myself to people like Nina Simone who had similar struggles. Nor Bernie Worrell, or any of the other talented Black Americans who struggled in life, but were celebrated in death.

If I am actually of this lineage, I am more than honored. I do all I can to put myself in this class of artists, but only time will tell. Hopefully I won’t have to die for people to show love.

We shall see.

true story
AAxx

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Oh Sh!t

“we should most definitely have been arrested that night”

box full of blunts

Three young lads, tripping balls, and riding dirty on a Saturday night in the early 90’s. Amir is driving the “Pluto trip mobile”, Adam is riding shotgun, and Jamie is in the back with a box of 50 Tampa nugget blunts, and an ounce of cheeba. Later that night they will attend their first official rave, but for now they’ve decided to chief up a few blunts and ride out listening to the new Pharcyde tape.

“let’s drop now and let it kick in on the way”

Seemed like an excellent idea at the time, so we did just that. The plan is to do the scenic route on the way to the abandoned mall, chief up, and let the acid do it’s work so we hit the party primed and ready to dance.
All is going well as the tracers and body buzz both creep up on us. (By this time I have logged hundreds of hours acid driving. Not proud of it, it just is what it is). Coming out of downtown Jax we are the only car on the highway.

beginning to peak

This tape is DOPE!” Everybody is vibing out as the album unfolds. We had all seen the video for “Passing Me By”, so expectations were high. So far, the 4 Kids from LA have not disappointed.
Then I see them. Out of nowhere come 4 squad cars. The boys in blue. Jacksonville’s finest starting to follow me. Just as I tell the boys what’s up the speakers ring out “Oh Shit!”, then the song of the same name begins to play.

we’re surrounded

Suddenly they fan out and surround us on all 4 sides. Front, left, right, and rear. We ride like this for what seemed like an eternity. “Look normal! Act sober! Don’t look at them!” All these things could be heard as we prepare for the worst. The pressure was on me to not get us caught so “I focused power”, trained my gaze on the rear lights of the car in front of me, and hit cruise control to keep my pace steady.

poof!

After what seemed like forever, but was actually likely only 5 minutes we approached an off ramp/exit. In a flash all 4 po po cars peeled off the highway toward the krispy kreme donut shop that had the “hot donuts now” sign blazing.
For a couple minutes we all sat in silence trying to comprehend what had just happened. Then suddenly we all began to yell, and cheer. No jail for us tonight. “How the hell did they not just pull us over?” I asked. “Who cares as long as they didn’t get us” Adam answered. “Word up” Jamie chimed in.

and so…

We made our way to what would become our first rave ever. Acid heads in search of acid house. Doing unspeakable things. Driving recklessly, breaking the law, and participating in deviant activities.
Us kids with our Adidas suits, and super baggy jeans sleeping all day and staying out all night must have seemed quite strange to our families at the time. We should most definitely have been arrested that night, but it wasn’t meant to be.

over 25 years later

I am now the only one who still actively engages “the culture”, as it were. For the other guys it was a passing phase. For me it was like an orphan finding his tribe. The music has given me the opportunity to live my dreams. To discover myself, and to almost destroy my own life.
I am thankful for it all. As I cannot imagine even being alive right now without such a life giving force underpinning my life for the last three decades.

Once upon a time, a kid could have a dream and pursue it to fruition. A nobody kid from nowhere special. These days, not so much. Time and place (context) are crucial. The luck of the draw must be accounted for. I write these episodes to demonstrate my “universal normalcy”. Meaning, my story is not different than most every other kid in the scene. Except that I totally went for it.
This is something that anyone who believes in themselves can do. Surround yourself with people trying to accomplish similar goals. Support one another, and NEVER GIVE UP!

taking my own advice

So now I find myself returning from hiatus to find the entire climate has changed. And thus, I must rebuild everything from square one. Much of the sector that was home to me and other similar House artists has been decimated and doesn’t exist anymore. So many artists don’t even play out these days. Yet, I choose to remain positive and be optimistic.
This is my career, my business. Built up over the course of almost 3 decades.

So despite the leanness of the land, as it were, I must struggle to find a way. For the culture, the artform, my son, my self, and for those coming after me. Each one, teach one. In the scene many will grow old, but few will become elders. It is a responsibility one must accept.
Looking back on my life in this scene, I am inspired to continue to be that “regular guy who broke out” (even though according to the industry press, I never have. LOL) At any rate, I either let the story end, or I blaze ahead and forge the next chapter.

Any artist who completely dedicates themselves to their craft can begin to feel some kinda way when they feel ignored, or slighted. This is natural. Yet, at some point, dealing with the industry creates the opportunity to truly become the positive and laid back person one claims to be. Because it’s either that, or become a stressed out A-hole no one can deal with.
After having tried on both hats, I’ve settled on the former, not the latter.

grizzled and torn war veteran

“The battles are with oneself. Convenience is the lure.”

I’ve never been connected. Just stating fact. Never had anyone to give advice, etc. Just a regular dude in an extraordinary situation trying to find my path, while making hella mistakes on the way.

Looking back, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. During my implosion I never did or said anything hurtful. I was just an unpleasant areshole who was bringing people down. It takes humility to admit this.
My bad.
Ok then, what’s next?

The struggle continues……

True story
AAx

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Entering the fray in earnest…

“Industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty; Record company people are shady” – Q Tip (Check The Rhyme)

It is what is

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – Unknown Wise man

Knowing the rules of engagement will get one quite far in the game of life.
Better late than never, I guess. Being a kid who has always marched to his own drum, I’ve been content with my outsider status.
Yet, I am a part of a broader community.
A culture, even. one with a code of conduct, values, and means of communication.

Good looks and talent have served me well in life. I must thank my parents for the genetic hookup! Yet, at some point, these very attributes have also stifled my development as an artist and a person. Thank GOD for self realization, and the will to be better me than I was yesterday.
That said, I finally get it. After my stint as the underground “Rude boy”, subsequent sentence to the “time out chamber”, and my “eureka moment” in Australia I am ready to “play nice” with others, and “get in where I fit in”.


“You’re dope! Why have I never heard of you?” – anonymous clubber

Yes. I get this from time to time. To which I reply “Thank you very much. I don’t know. Either I don’t know the right people, or I pissed off the wrong ones. LOL!” A bit of both is likely true. So then what?
BE HERE NOW!
Water under the bridge, as spilled milk flow to the path of least resistance. Accept what is. Learn from it. Move on. Do better based on the lessons learned.
Got it!

So what does this mean?

Many things, actually. In this case it means getting my sh!t together as an artistic entity in this music business we all orbit.
Me and my crew at the time were strictly about the art. No real business models. This carried us a quit far. We all found ourselves in the “international circuit” playing the game with the big boys and girls.
People who have their business models “Trump Tight”.
So at some point things began to stall out. This happens to most everyone. Fair enough, and that is where your business acumen comes into play.

None of us ever expected to accomplish half of what we have thus far. There was never a plan. Everything was ad hoc from the soul. Being a poor black kid from the ghetto now thrust into the limelight, living a dream, while suffering from low T, and in an abusive relationship is not conducive to adapting to the shifting sands of the industry. We humans seek comfort. Comfort in the stability of the static.
I will explore my experience being in a relationship with a BPD woman who felt compelled to “destroy me” in future posts, but for now I will just say that as a public figure, having real life problems are not very good for business.

Therefore I internalized a lot of stuff that eventually drove me to commit “internet suicide”. 100% publicly for all to see. That was fun….. NOT!

So what’s the freaking point?

Amends through acknowledgment, I guess.
This will be an ongoing process. As I now understand that congruency is paramount. Everything must add up. In the life of a public figure, one must be willing to disclose all. Because sometimes words and actions can be misconstrued without proper context.
I have grown in such a way that I can open up more about my epic fails, heartbreaks, and missteps. There is strength in allowing oneself to be seen in vulnerable moments. So get ready. You have no clue.

so much more soon to come…..

That said, I find myself super freaking busy. Like I have not been for years. Putting in the work it takes to earn a position in the ranks of working DJ producers. Starving has not been fun LOL
The industry is a lot like Janet Jackson. Who demands “what have you done for me lately?”
This means that unless one is a truly established artist who gets booked off of legacy, you’re a lowly foot soldier who must grind their ass off prove themselves over and over again. It just is what it is. Like it, or leave it.

The result

Much more output/content, etc. And an open window into my inner chamber as it were.
We are in the people business, one must give in order to receive.
AAx

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First Rave Ever

True tale from the streets Episode One.

“Yo man, nice skateboard. I need you to come swing it like a bat into my car window… Locked my keys inside”

I got a flyer
For weeks my friends and I had been going to The Edge in Jax Beach, Florida. They played “baby rave” music from 1:00 – 5:00 am on Friday and Saturday. Bruce Wilcox was the DJ. He played the usual commercial “meat market” club music of the early 90’s in Florida. Hip Hop, Alternative Rock, Indie, Punk, Shoe Gaze, and finally the “rave music” we would all come to hear.
I loved the nonstop music, the lights, the super baggy pants, the cool girls, and the way they moved. This was my new home. Then it happened. Somehow there was a flyer with a number to call later that night. I would attend my first real rave. LIT!

Pluto
I am 20 years old in 1992. A Jazz/Music Education major at my first year of university. I drive a 1985 Chevy Cavalier with black sharpie graffiti all over it. New to the wonders of Lysergic acid diethylamide, the idea to do so came about during a marathon trip. Seemed like exactly the thing to do at the time.
My naive, newly minted raver mind could not conceive that my car looked like a “druggy mobile” to the po pos. (boys will be boys. LOL).
At the time my nickname was Pluto. Due to being so “out there” with my dreams and imagination. (For example, being a famous DJ Producer someday, etc). The sides of the doors had the word “PLUTO” in huge bubble graffiti letters. Along with various scribbling and tags from friends and such.
We had gone out to the car to spark a blunt and vibe out to the Pharcyde tape Jamie had just bought. All was lovely. Mad kids were in the parking lot doing likewise. It felt so exiting to be out super-late at night in this makeshift nightclub in an abandoned mall. Dancing to this new music nobody knows of. What was cooler is that there were kids just like me. Different than most, but the same as each other.
We get to meeting and greeting as the acid kicks in fully. It’s like an open air chillout room. Next to my car is Big Red and his crew. Some good ol’ southern boys out for a rave. Red, Mike, Daryl, and Tony.
Good people.

Oh Shit!
“Time to go back into the club man. I’m high ass hell!”
“Yeah, me to yo. Let me just go put my backpack into the whip….” I say this just as I reach to open the door of my little Chevy. Looking down I can clearly see the keys in the steering column.
“Oh Shit” (This is the second “Oh Shit” moment of the night. The previous one will be chronicled in the next episode).
I tell the homies that we’re locked out and that must sacrifice the tiny back window in order to sort the issue.
Bet. It is what it is we all agree and look for someone with a jackhammer.
On the way I see Big Red again. This time he’s riding a Natas Kapas skateboard and attempting to ollie while shitfaced. Seems like a good idea, right?

Yeah, Break it!
“Yo man, nice skateboard. I need you to come swing it like a bat into my car window… Locked my keys inside”
“You serious bro?” inquired Red, sheepishly. “Yeah, break it. I’ll go to the junkyard on Monday and get a new one to put in myself. It will be much cheaper than a locksmith at 4 am on a Saturday night.”
“Ok then. You’re not gonna be mad, right?” quipped Red. “You good bro” I replied.

And so the deed was done
Red broke the shit out of my window. We went back in and danced way past daybreak. Who does this? The lawless wild wild west devil may care attitudes. The music. The fashion. The expression, and the individuality was addictive.
On the way out the party the promoter thanked me for coming and handed me a flyer for the next event. WOW!
Being the type of kid who always walked to the beat of his own drum, I was well accustomed to being on the outside looking in. Yet, he had just welcomed me into the fold. I was one of them. A raver.
20 years old and not a care in the world. It’s the summer and school is out. All I need is money for food, blunts, rent, gas, a few hits, and the next rave.
I felt like I had just begun an epic journey of unimaginable proportions.
Over 25 years later, this appears to be the case.
True story.

Until next episode………
AAx