Sunday, 17 May 2009

broken/mended - a new DJ mix

Last weekend, I finished and published my first DJ mix in over two and a half years. This post is to 1) tell you about the mix and 2) tell you why the completion of this mix is a significant event for me.

In September of 2006 through a combination of working too much and not looking after myself enough, I developed RSI in both my arms. I'd had some discomfort in my arms for a while, but rather than listening to my body (for reference, pain is one of your body's ways of telling you something) I continued working and did perhaps the three hardest weeks of work I've done yet in my life. When the work was completed and the adrenalin cleared out of my system I realised that my arms really hurt a lot, all of the time.

The doctor diagnosed me with bi-lateral epicondylosis (aka tennis elbow in both arms), prescribed anti-inflammatories and rest, signed me off work and told me I'd be feeling much better in a week. After a week, there was no change, and the doctor moved me up onto diclofenac and signed me of for longer. At this point, everything hurt; getting dressed, washing my hair, opening doors, driving... I couldn't chop vegetables, lift heavy things, type, play video games - in the 12 weeks I spent signed off work my life became increasingly defined by things that I couldn't do. In fact, May became so fed up with taking the brunt of the housework while I was unable that she pretty quickly went out and bought us a dishwasher.

I remained on the diclofenac and started seeing a physiotherapist who turned out to be ex-Army. He put me on a program of regular icing (20 mins ice, then rest) and delivered some brutally painful massage. In January 2007 I returned to work on partial hours and started using Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software instead of typing. By this point, my physio was unhappy with my rate of progress and referred me back to my GP who prescribed steroid injections into both of my elbows. I had these done two weeks apart and just as things were starting to look up I was involved in a car crash which significantly worsened my symptoms.

Shortly after my accident, my ex-Army physio emigrated to Australia, leaving me searching for someone new. I called BUPA and asked to see a physio specialising in forearms which led me to my current physio Sam (yep, from the acupunture story). On my first appointment with her I rather meanly said "I've been told you're a forearm specialist, is that a true statement?" to which she responded "No, I'm a general physio. I suggest that I perform your assessment today and if you're unhappy with me after that I'll refer you to someone else"; great answer. Meeting Sam was a pivotal moment in my recovery as she identified the cause of my problems (restricted movement in my neck causing inflammation of the nerves in my forearms) and started addressing them, as opposed to the ex-Army physio who was just treating the symptoms.

Since then, I've been gradually piecing my life back together and shifting the balance from being defined by things I can't do back to things that I can do - which brings me round in a rambling way to highlight the significance of being able to release a new DJ mix. Putting a mix together in Ableton involves some intensive computer time, and mindful of my tendency to get deeply engrossed in the process, I've been too terrified to start work on a mix for fear of setting back my recovery. Unfortunately I require my arms for my livelihood, so recreational computing has had to take second place.

At the beginning of April, I finally plucked up the courage to start a new mix with the confidence that it would not interfere with my health. Spurred on by my brother's request for a new breaks mix to run to (he'd been using my Air Breaks mix as his soundtrack for a long time!) I produced broken/mended; hopefully the reason behind the titling is clear. Throughout my illness, I continued buying tunes from Beatportand Juno Download and so had quietly amassed a rich seam of quality dance music to mine; I expect this to be the first of a series of comeback mixes.

Broken/mended underwent five revisions before I finally finished it, with some severe nitpicking in the order of the tracks and the addition of more cowbell, crash symbols and square waves. This was mostly as a result of Morcs complaining that the 2nd half of the mix had "nonce-le-ponce singing about the future", which was his way of saying it was getting a little too soft. I'm really pleased with the final result, and for your interest I've included a screenshot of the finished mix as produced in Ableton. The red line is the BPM which as you can see varies between 134 and 146 - hopefully good for the exercise crew.

It's ended up being a full-on, no holds barred rave-tinged electro breakbeat mix filled with big synths, squelchy bass lines, huge drum rolls, crash symbols and cowbells. Please give it a download and a listen, then let me know what you think - I hope you enjoy it.

1 comment:

Dan Rumney said...

great to have you back!