Latest Entries »

What’s up everyone!

After a long and relaxing break visiting family for the holidays, traveling to Los Angeles and spinning around STL, I am about to head back to the Caribbean for my Spring tour aboard Disney Cruiselines. Before I get into that though, I just wanted to announce that I was recently invited to join St. Louis’ largest DJ/Producer collective Basement Sound System. I’ve mentioned this crew before (they were responsible for hosting the Sunday Night Remix) and they include some of my biggest local DJ influences in the city: Mahf, Uptown, Who, Chulo, Madmonk to name a few. Anyways, it is a big honor to be a part of the group and I am excited to start collaborating on some new events. Like our page and look out for the launch of the BSS podcast and youtube channel soon!

Ok, back to cruising. My spring schedule will be a total of 8 weeks, which is broken up into four 2-week shifts on two different cruise ships starting tomorrow and going until mid-May. Tomorrow, I will flying to Houston, TX and then shuttle to Galveston to embark on the Disney Magic, which happens to be one of Disney’s oldest ships. This is going to be a much different experience for me as Royal Caribbean is much more entertainment-focused, while Disney is obviously more family/kid-focused. This means my night-club shifts will definitely not be as hype but I will expect a lot more interaction with the kids aboard the cruise.

Magic at night!

Magic at night!

In terms of DJing, I know this will be a challenging ship for me b/c not only am I limited to playing squeaky clean edits, I am expecting that much of the guests will be from Texas/South and request country music, which is probably the genre I am least familiar with. I also had to actually do research on what is on the Disney Radio charts right now and am expecting a lot of T.Swizzy and JBieb requests. Ah well, at least Disney pays way better, lol.

Alright, I gotta go finish packing, I expect the next time I post I should be back in Mexico!

Peace,
Keeno

p.s. The itinerary is a bit different as well, I am definitely excited for the second half of my trip:

1st shift (6-day Caribbean cruise):

1 Galveston, Texas
2 At Sea
3 At Sea
4 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands*
5 Cozumel, Mexico
6 At Sea
7 Galveston, Texas

2nd shift (8-day Bahamas cruise):

1 Galveston, Texas
2 At Sea
3 At Sea
4 Castaway Cay
5 Walt Disney World Resort (Port Canaveral, FL)
6 At Sea
7 Key West, Florida
8 At Sea
9 Galveston, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And before I know it, I’ve got my 8 weeks as an official guest DJ aboard cruise ships down! It has been such an incredible experience so far and I still can’t believe I get paid to do what I love and travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world. If you haven’t already, check out my pictures from each shift: OASIS || FREEDOM

IMG_4318

Reggae Beach Bar: Cozumel, Mexico

The Freedom of the Seas was, altogether, a much different experience for me than the Oasis. Obviously, having already done a month worth of cruise spinnin’ eased up some of the preparation anxiety, but in terms of lifestyle and exposure to different crowds, the two ships couldn’t have been more different. If you read my last post, you know that my first week aboard the Freedom was quite interesting, lol. Couples Cruise is a wild crowd (mainly white people, average age of 40), and it proved to be more challenging than I thought (though I didn’t have to play the Wobble a SINGLE time). That week I threw down my first rock set and had to deal with some really aggressive drunk and kinda racist old-timers. But nonetheless, I enjoyed the shift in schedule (as well as all the boobies). The second week turned 180 with Thanksgiving holiday: out of 3600 passengers, 1200 were kids and teens, which meant my DJ 101 classes were bloated and the clubs were pretty much empty all week. Third week, my buddie PJ tagged along as my guest and I got a chance to spin an “all-crew” party, which was one of the highlights of my cruising thus far. And the final shift was full of latinos, who pretty much went crazy anytime you played “Danza Kuduro” or Pitbull.

IMG_4101

Freedom ShipShape Fitness Center

Another change this time around was that I was able to actually get to know and hang out with a bunch of the Freedom crew & staff. On the Oasis, I was very focused on getting used to my sets and didn’t get a chance to meet much of the crew until my very last week. But since the Freedom has a smaller crew (2400 vs 1300) and only one main hang-out spot, I got to meet a bunch of awesome people from all over the world just by kicking it at the crew bar after my shifts. Shout-out to all my new crew homies: Kieran, Anna, Natalie, Alencia, Hinal, Kyle, and Solomon! It was dope meeting all of you and hopefully we’ll run into each other in the future. Also, huge shout-out to the resident DJ Ron Mayers for making me feel welcome from the very start!

IMG_4314

 

All in all, going full-time DJ aboard cruise ships was such a wonderful test of my skill and just an incredible break from my previous 9-5 schedule. It’s not a gig for everyone, but if you get the chance to do so and you are young and able, I highly recommend the experience. And with that, I am happy to share that I am returning to ships next February! If you’ve checked out my facebook fan page within the last week you’ll see that my schedule for Spring 2013 has already been booked, and this time aboard DISNEY cruiselines! I have heard mixed reviews about working on these ships that have made me very wary, but I still think I will enjoy it very much. The toss-up is basically that while Disney has MUCH nicer accommodations and work hours than RCI, they also are much more strict on what I can and cannot play as well the fact that since these are family-oriented ships, the parties will not be as hype. Nonetheless, I know each opportunity I have as a DJ is a new learning experience and I can’t wait to see what Disney has in store for Scratch DJs.

disneycover

 

I am off to Hilton Head Island tomorrow with the family to meet up with some other Asian clans for a week-long xmas celebration on beach so I won’t be able to post until afterwards. But next time, I will be recapping my top 3 events from this past fall tour!

Happy Holidays!

Keeno

p.s. After 2 months aboard ships, I was able to get a really in-depth behinds the scenes look at crew life. It was crazy seeing how much goes on behing the flash and glam of the upper decks. Just keep in mind that next time you are on a cruise, treat your servers and staff well because they all work EXTREMELY hard!

OMG. So if you haven’t been following my fb or instagram this week, I’ve been having quite an experience during my first shift aboard the Freedom of the Seas. Unbeknownst to me, I joined the cruise during an all-ship takeover by Couples Cruise, a company that jumps ship to ship and offers an all-couples, clothing optional vacation for consenting adults. To be blunt, it is an all out party that focuses on, well… you know. Not only that, but couples are encouraged to swing and they have seminars on improving, ahem, performance and stamina. I have Purell on me at all times.

Without getting into to much details, let’s just say that my retinas have been scarred for life. There are some redeeming parts though, lol; there is an incredible amount of old-white-man-mail-order-bride pairs, the latter of which takes full advantage of the clothing optional… option.

In terms of DJing, the week has actually been quite laid back. Couples Cruise actually provides their own DJs who host the large theme nights and deck parties; also, since there are no kids aboard, I don’t have to teach DJ 101 this week. Which is good, since I am still taking this week to get used to this new ship. While I do enjoy all the boobies, we are thankfully back to the typical schedule next week. And for all of those asking for me to take pictures… shame on you (but I will try my best). Here are some PG ones though:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keeno

Well, I can’t believe it, but I am already about to head out on my next cruise tomorrow morning! These past couple weeks have been great, catching up with friends and family, but I’m itching to get back in the booth and take on this next cruise much more prepared than the last.

I am flying out to Orlando, FL and boarding Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas for another eastern/western route (with slightly different stops). Can’t wait to see what’s up with this ship, especially with the holiday season approaching!

I have some more updates from sitting in queue, but haven’t had a chance to polish them up amidst the packing and family time. I will definitely have some more content soon though. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out my facebook album from my first shift aboard the Oasis of the Seas HERE

Keeno

Yes, I am alive and back on land! Given that internet was so scarce these past four weeks, I was not able to update as often as I would have liked so let’s pretend I am still on the boat and these next few days, I’ll post my updates that I’ve saved up thus far:

Last post, I talked a bit about the challenges I faced during the first week and key lessons I learned while spinning afloat. This time, I’m gonna give you guys a run down of the venues I play at and what my typical weekly schedule is like. Never in my life have I had to DJ every single day for a month (outside my own bedroom that is). And even though I am spinning the same kind of events each week aboard these ships, the demographics of the guests are considerably different week to week, forcing me to stay vigilant and focus on reading the crowd.

Here are the main venues I perform at aboard the gargantuan Oasis of the Seas (check the slideshow below for the visual)

  • Blaze: This is your standard, modern nightclub/lounge: lots of plush couches off to the side, full bar, bamboo dance floor and a pretty vicious sound and lighting system. For my St. Louis homies, think of a stretched out Pepper Lounge with Jamaican bartenders. I typically spin here 3 nights a week (more if weather shuts down the outdoor venue). Unfortunately, the layout is kind of awkward (I could tell no one consulted a DJ when considering the placement of the booth and dancefloor). But nonetheless, it’s a fun place to be at after the shows.
  • Dazzles: This is a more upscale, open venue targeted towards the older crowd. Apparently, many wedding receptions take place in Dazzles during the weekends. There are two floors, one overlooking the full stage set-up for bands and another floor with an awesome light-up dancefloor.
  • The Solarium: This is a two-level outdoor deck bar, which, during the day, houses several pools and a south-beach diet style buffet. Even though it can got humid as hell spinning here, this is where the two largest parties are thrown each week.
  • Rising Tide: A very cool bar that actually “rises” – centered in the middle of the promenade, the pod lifts from floor 5 to floor 8 and back down every half an hour, so you can get an awesome view of the central park area as you drink.
  • Studio B: Believe it or not, this is the ice skating rink inside the ship. That’s really all I have to say about that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My weekly schedule consists of about 25 hours of spinning spread over 6 days (I get Fridays off):

  • Day 1: Definitely the busiest day of each week; I spin the entrance music as people walk on to the ship; mainly top 40 and Caribbean/island music to get people feeling like they are on vacation right as they step on. Later that night, I open up at Blaze and try to gauge a feel for the crowd (each week has been completely different and a challenge). Usually the first night is pretty slow b/c people are tired from traveling or want to get up early for port the next day.
  • Day 2: Depending on the route we take, the first “At Sea” day usually includes me teaching the 1st DJ 101 session for teens and then spinning the “Escape by Malibu” party. This is one of the special events held in the Solarium; not really my favorite just because there are a lot of limitations on what I’m supposed to play (it’s supposed to be a beach-themed, Latin & line dance party). I usually have to play stuff like the Macarena and wobble, but on the other hand, I’ve upped my reggaeton and island music game tenfold.
  • Day 3: Our first port day is one of my favorite days; since most people go offshore, I usually do not have to spin during the day and can enjoy the port myself. The night consists of one of my favorite gigs: the 80’s Flashback Party, where I trade sets with the house band and get to watch old people get down to Rick James and Bon Jovi. I found that I really enjoy spinning 80s music just because it seems to be very universally enjoyed no matter what age or ethnicity you are.
  • Day 4-5: These two days are pretty chill; if it’s a sea day, I’ll have the second DJ 101 session and then at night I’m at Blaze for the battle of the DJs, where I do a tag-team showcase with the resident DJ onboard. Then the 5th night I do a short set on the Rising Tide that precedes the 70s Disco party on the promenade and head to Blaze to spin the “Retro Rewind” party: think old school hip-hop/R&B, pop mash-ups/remixes and other feel-good music.
  • Day 6: This day is dedicated to the last big party of the week called “TWENTY,” which is sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Scratch DJ Academy. The Solarium is transformed into an outdoor “Miami/Ibiza-style” nightclub, complete with light-up dancefloors, red carpet photographers and fist-pumping house music all night long. This is by far the biggest event of the week for me and one of the most fun because by this time the crowd has really warmed up to me and pack the place shoulder-to-shoulder.
  • Day 7: The last day of each cruise is my night off, but I still teach the final DJ 101 class during the day. The last session is the DJ Graduation where each teen does a short showcase of the different scratches I teach them from the first two classes and then I hand out SCRATCH dog tags and a certificate with their new DJ name.

After weeks of back-to-back gigs, I’ve discovered that cruiseline DJing is very much about crowd control and versatility. To me, these are two of the most important aspects of a skilled DJ and there is no better place to gain the experience than on a cruise ship like the Oasis. From this past month, I already feel more confident about my stage presence and my ability to cross genres and decades to appeal to whatever crowd is thrown at me. But there’s still tons of room to improve!

Until next time,

Keeno

Hello!

So sorry it has taken me this long to update my adventures on this blog; I wrote up a lot of notes on my laptop but wireless internet aboard the ship is ridiculously expensive, so I have been waiting to find a port that would give me enough time to properly upload my experiences thus far.

It has been a really amazing week and a half so far: I am already midway through my second cruise shift, island hopping in the eastern Caribbean and loving it. To sum it up briefly: the food is amazing, the weather incredible, and the DJing both fun and extremely challenging. I will not lie to you, even though this may seem like an easy and laidback gig, being a cruise DJ is no walk on the beach. As DJ Ollie from the Digital DJ Tips post said, it really is like a DJ boot-camp: I am spinning 6 out of 7 nights a week for a crowd that is not only diverse in age and ethnicity but is always changing from week to week. In addition to those nights, I spin short sets by the pool during the day to promote evening parties and teach a 3-session DJ 101 course for teenagers throughout the week. All in all, depending on the ship, you are looking at about 25-30 hours of DJing/teaching a week – definitely the most demanding DJ shift I’ve ever had. But I’m not complaining!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My first week was especially stressful since, of course, I was unfamiliar with the ship and, having never been a DJ on a cruise ship before, had to learn everything on the fly. Usually, Scratch DJ Academy will send a rookie DJ on a ship a few days early for a handover, where they can observe and learn about everything from a veteran DJ before handling it on their own. But due to recent budget cuts, Scratch DJ Academy was not able to send me early, so I basically had to figure out how to do everything myself. It was also probably ambitious for me to jump on to the largest cruise ship in the world for my first cruise gig, but, whatever – trial by fire, right? Fortunately, the onboard activities manager, lounge technicians and resident DJ are all great guys and have been very helpful and understanding getting me adjusted to the ship and all the different events. Nevertheless, I was quite nervous during each of my performances the first week but learned some key lessons:

  1. You cannot please everyone; in fact, you should not try to do this. You should, however, try your best to fit requests into flow of the night. But it would be unwise to force a song or genre just b/c a guest demands it. Not every party will appeal to everyone and you shouldn’t feel the need to break a theme due to a few complaints.
  2. Timing and momentum of the energy in a room is CRUCIAL, especially on cruise ships. Even 30 seconds of a misplaced song can kill a dance floor and cause people to leave. There are plenty of things to do on the ship and if people aren’t feeling it, they will leave (there is never cover or parking to worry about so their commitment to one venue is much less).
  3. My microphone skills definitely need some more work. I’ve found that keeping the crowd engaged with your presence is very important as a cruise DJ. You have to have a good balance though; too much time on the mic can be cheesy or annoying; not enough will distance you from your guests.

While I made some mistakes and let my nerves get to me this first week, I am a firm believer that you cannot grow without being a bit uncomfortable. In addition to becoming more confident with my stage presence, I’ve become a lot more familiar with Latin/Caribbean music and gained a ton more mixing experience.  I already feel that I have become a more well-rounded DJ after this first week and am excited to see how my skills shape up after another 7 weeks this fall!

Thanks for keeping up with me! Next time I will give a brief run-down of the events I have been doing.

Keeno

Hey all!

This past month has been pretty crazy; after finishing up PT school apps, traveling back home and DJing various last-minute events around town, I’m finally reading to set sail on my first official SCRATCH DJ Academy cruise ship gig aboard the huge Oasis of the Seas! I cannot begin to explain how excited I am to start my new job! In case you missed my last post, I will be departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL tomorrow afternoon and taking the first leg of my shift through the western caribbean, returning to port each Saturday until October 27th. Then I’ll be back in St. Louis/Cincinnati for a couple weeks and back out to Port Canaveral for the Freedom of the Seas on November 11th.

I am certain that this will be the most challenging string of shows I have ever played and know that I will be doing a lot of learning on the fly. In terms of music and crowd control, I feel fairly confident in my skills as I tend to thrive on playing many genres and reading the atmosphere of a venue. However, since I will be 1 of 2 DJs on the entire 5000+ guest ship, I will have to constantly push myself throughout the week to keep my sets fresh and interesting.

Conveniently, my friends at Digital DJ Tips just posted an article (written by fellow Scratch Academy DJ Ollie) talking about cruise ship DJing a week or so ago and gave me some great last minute insight to the gig. If you wanna get a better understanding of what my responsibilities are going to be and the challenges that come with being a cruise DJ, I recommend checking it out HERE. I think the biggest lesson to take away is that while this gig seems like a 24/7 party, it should really be treated as an job with fantastic perks rather than a vacation where I have to work. I really plan on honing my skills as an entertainer during this next month, and understand how crucial it is to remain professional during the entire stay.

Anyways, I am going to try and update as much as I can while aboard the ship, however, my access to internet is pretty limited. I will be able to post on here each Saturday for sure, so please look out for my updates then!

SEEYA FOOLS LATER!!!

Keeno

HELLO!

OK, so after a busy summer of spinnin’ and traveling, the dates for my Caribbean cruise tour are confirmed. CHECK IT OUT:

Here are all the details for those looking to join me in the Caribbean this fall! Keep in mind that these are all 7 day cruises, so I will be on each ship for a total of 4 weeks each. The basic itinerary for each route can be found below.

Oasis of the Seas: September 29th – October 27th

Attraction info and booking rates HERE

Western Route: September 29th & October 13th

Eastern Route: October 6th & October 20th

Western Caribbean Route (3 stops):

Day 1: Depart from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Day 2: At sea

Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

Day 4: At sea

Day 5: Falmouth, Jamaica

Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico

Day 7: Return to Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Eastern Caribbean Route (3 stops):

Day 1: Depart from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Day 2: At sea

Day 3: Nassau, Bahamas

Day 4: At sea

Day 5: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Day 6: Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Day 7: Return to Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 Freedom of the Seas: November 11th – December 9th

Attraction info and booking rates HERE.

Western: Nov. 11th & Nov. 25th

Eastern: Nov. 18th & Dec. 2nd

Western Route (4 stops):

Day 1: Depart from Port Canaveral, FL

Day 2: At Sea

Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

Day 4: Falmouth, Jamaica

Day: 5: George Town, Grand Cayman

Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico

Day 7: Return to Port Canaveral, FL

Eastern Route (3 stops):

Day 1: Depart from Port Canaveral, FL

Day 2: CocoCay, Bahamas

Day 3: At sea

Day 4: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Day 5: Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Day 6: At sea

Day 7: Return to Port Canaveral, FL

As you can imagine, I am incredibly excited for this fall and can’t wait to share my adventures with you all. I will have intermittent internet access during my time on board but I will be sure to update this blog each time I am in port. Subscribe by pressing the button on the right hand side to stay up to date!

KEENO

I’ve already plastered this article through-out facebook, but I think it most appropriate to share on here as well. As one of my biggest inspirations, A-trak exemplifies the type of DJ I respect the most. Raised as a turntablist, toured as a back-up DJ, ventured into production and an avid supporter of new technology, A-trak truly understands what it means to be disc jockey. A great read for new and experienced DJs alike:

DON’T PUSH MY BUTTONS

-Keeno

WATTUP!

As promised, here is the soundcloud link to my battle set from SIXTY-TWO BATTLEGROUND this past Thursday. I gotta run and get ready for another gig tonight, so I’ll post an update about the event later. For now, check it out, share and enjoy!

Full tracklist will be up in “My Mixes” soon.

KEENO