Guest Star: DJ Vincent’s desert island picks

Vince Naples, Stitely Entertainment’s sound engineer and DJ gave us some insight into his musical tastes, how he got started with music, and what other projects he has his hands in.

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the five songs you’re listening to the most right now?

Vince Naples (VN): My musical inclinations are all over the map, but here are a few highlights from my Last.fm account:

1) James Blake “Unluck”– British wunderkind producer James Blake‘s self titled full length record has been rocking my world for the last few months. Sparse and deliberate, James uses minimal electronic textures and rhythms with looped layers of bluesy vocals and gospel tinged piano/synthesizer progressions to prove to me that electronic music can have a soul. Drawing influence from minimal electro/house and dubstep, the record is informed by electronic dance music but with the heart of a singer songwriter. I can’t recommend it enough.

2) Toro Y Moi “Blessa”– Embodying the current “Chill-wave” craze, Toro Y Moi takes modern indie music and washes it out through DJ-esque production and techniques derived from turntablism to create dance music with a dynamic range. Not quite disco, but with a driving bass that gets you moving, “Blessa” provides the ear candy that makes a mix interesting to me, but with solid hooks and restrained emoting that makes for a super chill jam. I had the privilege of catching them at the Empty Bottle early in April, and they exceeded my expectations of what they’d be able to pull off live.

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3) Flying Lotus “Recoiled”– LA Producer Flying Lotus takes electronic music to a whole new level with his most recent record “Cosmogramma”. Obviously inspired by IDM mainstay Aphex Twin, the record features some of the most interesting drum programming I’ve heard in a longtime. Marrying post dub-step glitchy off kilter rhythms with a variety of acoustic percussion and instrumentation, the record has something new for me every listen, and “Recoiled” is a cut I keep coming back to.

4) Friendly Fires “Paris”– UK band Friendly Fires apply a disco/house kind of drive to modern indie rock, leaving a highly energetic dance vibe that is still melodic enough to hum along to, and poetic enough to remind you that dance music and songwriting are not mutually exclusive.

5) Twin Shadow “Castles In The Snow”Twin Shadows somehow take only the parts I enjoy about 80s music production and combine it with solid songwriting and infectious melodies, leaving me with nothing not to love. I heard “Castles In The Snow” at just the right moment and as often happens with well-timed music, it really underscored the moment I was in. Instant nostalgia.

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
VN: My guitar teacher throughout high school was very influential in giving me an appreciation for music and taught me to be an active listener of music. He exposed me to jazz, and a variety of different philosophies on art and music as a language and vehicle of expression. When I realized that it was possible for me to structure my own schedule and make a living as an artist and performer, there was no question in my mind. It still blows my mind that I get to make my living doing what I love.

SE: What’s your craziest event story?
VN: I once played a wedding where the bride’s family had a unique tradition. This involved the groom stripping down to his underwear, and crawling through a “spanking machine” comprised of the guests at his reception. Words fail me.

SE: Do you play in any other groups? Tell us about them.
VN: I play guitar in an original rock trio called Dozens. We’re a regular fixture at Chicago venues like the Whistler, Subterranean or Empty Bottle, and perform energetic synth tinged indie pop. I also perform in different jazz trio and quartet configurations, often on acoustic bass. Occasionally I play solo under the name WWDJ; this is an ambient/downtempo electronic project involving improvisation with minimalist textures.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
VN: This is a tough one, but I’m gonna have to go with Brian Eno. As a prolific producer, performer, philosopher and musician, his career and his aesthetic have both been very influential on what I do, and I’d imagine the experience would be pretty incredible.

SE: You are stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you take with you?
VN: This is exceptionally difficult, I don’t think I could readily pick three desert island genres. In terms of utility, I think I’d have to take Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue”, as I could probably listen to this for the rest of my life and still find new things in there. Gustav Mahler’s 5th symphony should satisfy a need for emotional music in a large ensemble format; John Barbirolli’s  1969 recording fits the bill nicely. The adagio movement of this symphony slays me, and has always been one of my favorite pieces of music . My final pick for desert island jams would be Radiohead’s OK Computer, which would anchor me in my humanity while making sure I don’t hold my breath for salvation.

SE: Beatles or Stones?
VN: I have a lot of respect for the music of the Rolling Stones, but it always feels tied to an era and a genre for me. The music of the Beatles seems timeless, and I can recall specific moods and emotional reactions to individual songs as opposed to the general impression I get from the Stones. “Abbey Road,” “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour” are all crucial listening for different reasons, and although I really hold “Exile on Main Street” in high regards, I can’t say that the Stones have changed me at all.

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Delivering a mind-blowing musical performance at an event is an art and planning it is a science. Stitely Entertainment has mastered both by planning and executing thousands of events.

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April 2011

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