Monday, December 6, 2010

Mix: Bolivia, "Live in Antarctica 2010"

Ok, here's the second of the three shows that I played while I was travelling this past month, and it's the one that will undoubtedly be the most popular. This one is just over an hour long, and it's mostly my normal style of progressive house, with a tiny bit of trance, house, and tech-house all mixed in. Lots of vocals.

To the best of my knowledge (and Google's), this is the first DJ mix ever to have been recorded live in Antarctica (and put online). When I first found out about the trip two years ago, I thought to myself that it would be interesting to have a live show recorded there, to put on my website. After all, a lot of other DJ's can eventually hit shows on six of the seven continents, but Antarctica has to be a tough one. I then searched the net and couldn't actually find any. Of course, there has been lots of regular music recorded there, since a lot of the people at the various bases have instruments, so there is a lot of live jamming happening there all the time. And other people have written songs (including electronica tracks) that are Antarctica themed or that feature sound recordings there. But no DJ sets. I kind of quietly held my breath for the last two years, wondering if I might end up being the first. At the moment, I think I succeeded, which is kind of cool.

The challenges of doing a show down there are a bit unexpected. Doing a show on a ship that is anchored somewhere offshore is technically still "in Antarctica," but I wanted to go a step further. We had an overnight camping trip there, which I figured would provide the perfect opportunity. However, it wasn't as easy as it might seem.

Antarctica is almost entirely a pristine and rugged wilderness. I love it. As a heavy environmentalist, I was pretty concerned on the way down that I'd see tourist activity that would frustrate me. However, that was not the case. There is an organization called IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) which is comprised of about four dozen companies, and they are a self-regulating agency which ensures that tourism doesn't leave any impact on the continent. And the staff from our expedition (Quark) were extremely diligent, which I found to be extremely reassuring. Let me illustrate by going over a few of the rules we had to follow:

- Not allowed to disturb wildlife, ie. we weren't allowed to approach closer than 5 meters to any penguins, although the penguins generally don't seem too scared of humans. Penguins would often approach us a lot closer than that, but it had to be them coming to us, not us getting close to them.
- Not allowed to walk in trails that the penguins use.
- Not allowed to bring ANY food onto the shore. An example used to illustrate why this was a problem: a chocolate bar contains egg products. When they are manufactured, the candy isn't cooked to a high enough temperature to completely kill certain bacteria or pathogens in the eggs. This doesn't matter to humans, but this could introduce a fatal organism to a penguin or other bird which could wipe out an entire colony quite easily.
- Not allowed to bring ANY beverages onto the shore, except bottled water. Similar reasons as above. Talk about a "dry" event.
- Not allowed to leave human waste behind. That's right, we weren't allowed to pee in the snow. Human waste had to be brought back to the ship when we departed. An important consideration since we were there overnight!
- Our boots had to be disinfected and sterilized each time we got on or off the expedition ship. The risk there was that one of us would step in some penguin poop and it would get onto our boots and then be transferred to another colony, and somehow infect that second colony and wipe it out. Unfortunately, this rule is in effect because there have been some colonies wiped out that they think were because of this problem.
- Our expedition staff had to go use snowshoes and tramp out trails for the human visitors to use. If we stepped off a trail and went down through the snow to our waist (which definitely happened a few times to each of us), we had to fill the boot hole afterwards, so a penguin wouldn't fall into it and get trapped and die.
- Obviously, things like kleenex and plastic wrappers in our pockets had to be monitored carefully, so they didn't fall out and create litter.

I was really glad to see that all these kind of rules are in effect. But when thinking about doing a live show there, I also had to consider that there was no electricity, and amplified instruments were not allowed because the sound would really carry, and might confuse and upset the penguins.

So anyway, we spent a night camping overnight on the shore on November 25th, at a place called Paradise (Danco Island, but maybe it should be renamed Dance Island). There were thirty of us in the group, the maximum that Quark could get a permit for. We didn't have tents; we were just in sleeping bags, sleeping on the snow. I know that a lot of people immediately would think at this point that we were crazy. Perhaps, but to a Canadian, camping in the snow is not that strange (well, at least not to some of us). And a bunch of people in our group were definite techno fans, so I figured that there was a way to pull it off. I took the laptop and did a set with Ableton. Obviously, it was a pretty quiet set, for a pretty small but appreciative crowd. The laptop was no louder than human voices, but in the quiet, it was good enough for people to dance to. We didn't have any fancy lighting effects of course, but then again it was summer there, so the sun never sets. The only real problem was that my laptop is a few years old, and even though I charged it fully before we went to shore, I had less than an hour and a half of battery life. So the set is only slightly over an hour long.

Because I was working on a laptop without even a controller, I had to do everything with the mousepad. To make sure that I got a good sounding set, I had to play extremely conservatively. Luckily, once files are properly warped in Ableton, a crab-eater seal could have probably produced a good sounding set. There are absolutely no effects in this set. I didn't even play with the EQ 3's. I just started and stopped tracks (overlapped, of course), and made basic volume changes (usually sharp changes, and there were only a few times that I tried to do smooth fades with the scroll pad). Also, I usually always kept a third tech-house track or house loops playing in the background at just under half volume, to give the set the continuity that I needed, and keep the sound full all the time. Ableton is amazing - between the "background track" trick, and using a basic DJ mastering plug-in to keep output in a tight range, this is actually a great sounding set. A lot of people are going to really enjoy it.

To download any of my studio mixes or recordings of lives shows, visit:

Then go into the folder called "Bolivia's DJ Mixes & Live Shows"

Thanks for your support!

I started the set with one of my own tracks, "Global Underground (Alone In New York)." This particular remix is pretty trancy, and it was done by Gregg Morrish. If anyone wants to download it, you can grab it for free from my Dropbox Folder.

Here are the track listings from this particular set:

01. Bolivia, "Global Underground" (Gregg Morrish Remix).
02. Timo Garcia & Amber Jolene, "Lady Luck City Lights" (Solee Remix).
03. Green Velvet, "La La Land" (Pleasurekraft Sideshow Remix).
04. Ivan Gomez, "No Name" (Sisko Electrofanatik Remix).
05. Gabriel & Castellon, "Hit The Bottom" (Original Mix).
06. Jon Rundell, "Top Shelf" (Original Mix).
07. Hugo & Marshall, "Mortal Coil" (Original Mix).
08. Milkwish, "Gotta Be Moved" (Mario da Ragnio Remix).
09. Lewis Lastella, "Pumpz Up The Volume" (Original Mix).
10. Tarska, "Midnight" (Lee Nova Techmix).
11. DJ Crash & JAVE, "Ice Cream" (Original Mix).
12. Hernan Paredes, "Right Now" (Extended Mix).
13. Max Bett, "Mad Clinic" (Original Mix).
14. Angel Stoxx, "I Dropped My E On The Dancefloor" (Original Mix).
15. Luca M, "Grumpli" (Original Mix).

As mentioned, I had about a dozen other tech-house tracks and some house loops playing subtly in the background. For example, listen around the seven minute mark - you'll hear one track that I dropped out for about two seconds from 7:27 to 7:29 (I don't know why). I'm not listing them here, because I don't think any of them are readily identifiable.

Finally, just in case anyone wants to see something cool, Shadow set up his Canon on a tripod for the night, and set it to take a time-lapse sequence throughout the night. He turned it into a video and put it onto YouTube. It's neat because there was a penguin colony inland from us, and during the night, a lot of them came and started wandering through our camping area. The lens cap cover blew sideways during the night, but you can still see what happened throughout the night (including our ship circling around in the bay, and a very light snowstorm that blew through during the night). And you can also click here to see my full photo galleries from the trip.

I'm Jonathan Clark, known online as DJ Bolivia.  Do you want to learn more about DJ'ing and music production?  If so, visit:

If you happen to enjoy techno tracks, most of my tracks are available as free downloads from this link:

Thanks so much for visit, and for your support!  I really appreciate the fan base that I've been able to build up over the years.

Also, if you want to visit any of my other sites, here are a few links:
    Main Site: