These days, in order to stand out in the music media world you’ve got to be a jack of all trades. One such well-rounded Boston music media player is Nick Minieri, the 33-year-old East Boston resident behind Beantown Boogiedown, a blog that features everything from party photos to show listings to curated selections of electronic music. As of this week, he can now add label head to his lengthening resume, with the launch of Zakim Records, and its inaugural release from Boston’s Doctor Jeep.
Minieri, who moved to Boston from Syracuse in 2004, and works as a graphic designer at the Mullen advertising agency, never really intended to get into online media, he explained over the course of a night in Central Square, bouncing from Phoenix Landing (where he’d gone for the long running drum and bass party Elements), to Cafe 1369, and on to the Middle East. It was the drum and bass fare at Elements that was his introduction to the world of electronic music in Boston, he said.
Around 2009, Minieri had been balancing a demanding work schedule with performing as a DJ, and realized he wanted to contribute something else to the local music scene. Around that time he was noticing a shift in the focus of the larger world of electronic as well. “For about five or six years I thought that dance music was really stagnant and a lot of genres weren’t evolving much,” he said. “Then all of a sudden different styles started coming in like dubstep, UK funky, and a big resurgence of garage and the classic sound of house music from the ’90s. There was a lot more cross-pollination than the isolated way of thinking that was prominent in the early 2000s.” He wanted to document this rejuvenated culture, so he started Beantown Boogiedown in the middle of a bad job economy. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a job, so I wanted to do something that could be a resume builder in case I lost mine.”
“I used that first year to sharpen all my tools, getting better at writing, getting better at photography, getting better at HTML and CSS, and my design skills, jumping into social media. . . . I started getting opportunities to get photo bookings for my job, and do more things in the digital realm.”
Along with a lot of the quick daily content that populated the site, some of his longer pieces have gone viral around the Web, like “Why You’re Not Getting Booked (And What to Do About It)”. (Sample advice: “You think of DJing as a hobby. You’re trying to get followers instead of fans.”) and another on how to accumulate SoundCloud followers.
Minieri sees much of what he does searching through SoundCloud for songs to share as digging through digital record crates. “Some people say curation isn’t something you need anymore. I think it’s more necessary than ever. It’s great that technology has made it accessible to everyone, but there’s a lot of noise out there and very little signal. Everyone has access to tools to produce and to broadcast to the world, but a lot of stuff gets lost in the shuffle.”
In the age of digital music, one way of making a track stand out is by turning it into a physical product, he says, which is where the record label comes in. “I think both vinyl and digital can live in harmony, but the reason I chose a vinyl label is it’s an emotional thing to be able to hold a record in your hand. I think an average person will think that if a record label owner is willing to put $1,000 into pressing up a couple copies of a record, they know it’s something they believe in.”
The endeavor is a bit of a risk, he admitted, which is why he wanted to make sure he had something solid from an up-and-coming talent. The result is the “If U Want It” EP, a split between two of André Lira’s alter egos, Doctor Jeep and DRJ, where he remixes his own track in varying styles, from throwback house, to UK hardcore and grime.
“I think he does a really fantastic job covering the scene in Boston, and there’s rarely a night that I’m at that I don’t see him,” Lira said in an e-mail. “It could be because we tend to frequent the same events, but I know he party-hops like a madman in order to cover several events per night. . . . ” The site is a great resource, particularly for the calendar portion. “It’s like Resident Advisor for Boston, but actually good,” Lira joked.
Among the best parties, Minieri said, aside from his longtime home Elements, are a monthly at the Lily Pad called Some Like It Hot, thrown by Alan Manzi of Make It New, which brings in veteran house DJs, and the globe-trotting Pico Picante at Good Life, thrown by Sara Skolnick, a fellow member of the Together festival team, for which Minieri also serves as the photography coordinator.
It’s a lot to juggle all at once, but Minieri is heartened by the positive changes he’s seen in the dance music community in the years since he started covering it. “During the 2000s the core average age was increasing. There was no younger youthful energy to reignite things. That’s what’s really changed in the last couple years. It may not always be music I like listening to, but it’s an indication of how healthy the scene is.”
A lot of people keep expecting the EDM “bubble” to burst, and maybe it will somewhat, he thinks, but a lot of kids are going to stay. “Some will be hooked on it, take the music seriously, and want to get involved in the local scene one way or another.”
Or maybe four or five different ways at once. As he was walking out of the coffee shop, a man at a nearby table called out to him, having heard his conversation. “Hey man, are you a DJ?” he asked. Sure, that and a lot of other things.
Boston’s Dave Hanson, a.k.a. Prism, will release a 12” on Tuba, the New York label, on June 10. “Future Samba” is a minimal dubstep track that’s spare, chilling, and percussive, with mournful horns echoing off in the distance. The B-side, a remix from British producer Compa, introduces congas, and dials up the already-shadowy undertones. Prism is set to embark on a lengthy tour starting later this month. Listen at www.soundcloud.com/tubanyc/tuba-006-prism-compa-future. . . . Case & Point, the Boston-based duo, recently released their “Upgrade” EP on Big Fish Recordings. The title track is an electro-house banger, rife with manipulated vocal effects, huge builds and drops, and progressive-house-style synths. Along with increasing attention from around the world for them, “Upgrade” was recently given a huge plug, being played by electro-house standout Porter Robinson during his closing set at the Electric Daisy Carnival New York festival. Listen at www.soundcloud.com/caseandpoint/upgrade. . . . The fourth edition of the Good Life’s “In the Mix” series will be released Saturday night with a party at the downtown club. The first mix release from Frank White, the 2012 Boston Music Awards DJ of the Year, is a blend of new and old hip-hop, trap, moombahton, disco, house, and soul, and is free on CD with admission to the party. Listen at www.soundcloud.com/djfrankwhite/dj-frank-white-its-the-weekend.
Luke O’Neil can be reached at email@example.com.