The PhDJ has been sharing improvisational, eclectic mixes in various media and venues around the world since 1996. Beginning in radio on the West Coast, The PhDJ brought his unique brand of funk'n soul & electric hip-hop sets to the Virginia frat and sorority circuit. Since college, the PhDJ's musical education came to embrace dance and protest musics from all over the world, giving rise to REBEL edutainment.
Mixing bleeding edge productions with forgotten favorites from the past three generations, the PhDJ/REBEL music soundsystem is ideal for any all-ages event—from peaceful protest, to highbrow gallery opening, to all-night throwdown. The PhDJ— "the best music you've never heard"!
Abram the PhDJ was amazing at our wedding. He was super easy to work with, did exactly what we were hoping, and had a great sense of party flow. Music energy was high when the moment was right, chill as needed, and ended with a few legendary drunken songs. Our wedding was in a huge barn (trendy 2013!) and The PhDJ really took care to check on the acoustics and scope out the venue before the big event.
Response from The PhDJ / REBEL Music:
Yeeeeah, buddy! I still listen to that playlist and fondly recall the raucous wonder of the Friedland–Press conjugal Barnstormer. Such a great idea to have guests submit their suggestions in advance; the event and set-list came together beautifully
We wanted a Motown heavy, not too cheesy, fresh, fun dance party at our wedding and that's what we got. He was kind and responsive, just sort of person you want to work with while juggling multiple vendors. Highly recommend!
Response from The PhDJ / REBEL Music:
Aw, I had such a blast sharing music at your and Cobi's celebration—beautiful setting, beautiful people, what a wonderful day that was!
Price Range: $250, $500, & 1000 & up for PA, DJ, & weddings
Gig Length: 60 - 300 minutes
Languages: English, French
What to Expect
It's all in the motto: "the best music you've never heard". There is some outstanding popular music produced through the decades and around the world; my specialty is mixing it with things you don't know, but wish you did...and now, will!
With the highest standards in music media, hardware, and fashion, what I play will sound, and look, amazing. Every time.
The PhDJ’s Artist’s Statement for The Rubin-Frankel Gallery’s 6th Annual Juried Art Exhibition, "A Private Glimpse"
My sets are almost always improvisational. When playing a party or club, savvy disc-jocks use the crowd as a barometer, tailoring the energy/BPM of the music to the crowd’s “combustability” until the point where they can direct that energy. In that self-reflexive process, potential rhythmic pathways present themselves, parts of which are familiar. Every track represents a turn; the improvisational DJ must make a decision at each fork to either tend toward well-trodden paths, familiar from his/her own mixing or others’, or to try something new. If it does not sound in the headphones as projected in the “mind’s ear”, that familiar option is still a click, eject/load, or record flip away…if one still has time. If it works, it can become one of these favored progressions DJ’s refine and reuse. It is in this way that one’s best improvisational moments solidify into a style.
Thus, even when one forges a real-time set that reacts to live energy and requests, the way in which s/he reacts maintains something of a personal style insofar as it repeats certain of those tried-and-true track progressions with which people may become familiar as trademarks. (Think of the way certain jam bands regularly splice together two or more tunes, until they cannot get away with performing one unless the other follow, such as the Grateful Dead’s China Cat Sunflower into I Know You, Rider—a cover that they have made their own). Fulfilling this expectation can be exciting to the crowd but fatiguing to the frequent performer—hence certain artists’ emphasis on Jazz music’s improvisational ethos of never playing the same tune the same way twice.
A more salient stylistic consideration for an eclectic DJ is not so much in cleaving to certain clusters of favorite tracks, as presenting radically different tracks in the same or similar way. These pairings or progressions can have a high degree of mixing difficulty, appearing at first blush too disparate to flow properly one after the other. One consolation is that for a DJ with far-flung musical interests, discrete tracks are not commonly recognizable, making it easier to achieve the goal of weaving sets that appear to be one continuous piece of music. Hiding their variegated threads is not always compatible with the goal of improvisation, as it requires knowing a song intimately enough to hide certain sections (down to fractions of seconds), often employing only snippets as transitions to create a sort of sound collage.
The smaller these sonic ingredients become, the more are needed to fill a “canvas” and the closer a set moves to becoming a truly original piece of music. In this case, samples are cut, spliced, distorted, and repeated as instruments or notes, as in a favored bass kick or symbol clash entered into a sample bank and replayed in a whole new rhythmic or melodic milieu. This technique has been facilitated by the explosion in home-studio software and their increased compatibility with a range of hardware options beyond the vinyl or CD turntable. These changes go far in explaining not only the transition of many deejays into producers and remixers, but also the forced changes in copyright law that has followed.
The artistic process behind crafting a set for a particular event, or in conceiving a mixtape, follows the same logic behind creating these sound collages. Forethought is essential. Like a soloist, certain premeditated musical phrases are combined to create a “sentence” or a statement. The analogy is clear: instead of notes, the atomic unit is a song, portion of a song, or soundbyte; instead of a traditional instrument, the DJ uses pre-recorded sounds on albums or loaded into a sampler or mixer or midi capable of altering it further. One difference, however, at least with much of classical music, is that instead of being judged by how closely a piece keeps to an established template, the finished product says something original, challenging the very idea of genre, or at least challenging traditional interpretations of the chronological/historical relationship between genres.
This philosophy gives rise to my dual slogans: “the best music you’ve never heard” and “off the charts.” My goal is for people to react with the same joy and interest to songs and artists they don’t know as to those they do.
Additional Booking Notes
Technics SL-1200s/Ortofon Concorde DJ S's
Sennheiser XSW 35-A Wireless vocal set (B)
Apple MacBookPro w/ Traktor Scratch Pro II
Allen&Heath Xone:2 Battle Mixer
QSC K10 Powered PA Speakers
QSC Ksub Dual 12" Powered Subwoofer
QSC K15 Speaker
AC power and I do the rest!
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