Expressing oneself is a great way of finding and maintaining personal peace, purpose, and vision. I have found that creativity allows me to reach a place of wholeness and reflection When focusing on a project I am able to transport myself into a super ultra reality where I reflect on my past, vision the keenness of my present, and project for my future. Creativity eases me of all my pain and replaces it with the glories of love and life.
At times when I am in my studio preparing to record a music mix I am able to see myself in another time and place. I could see the possibilities of what life has to offer.
There was a time were I never considered myself to be a creative person. Although I have always had interest in media and expressive arts, I just thought that being creative was for someone else.
I was surprised to learn that I had a level of creativity when I curated my first photography show in 2001. I visited Ghana West African in November of 2000 and I wanted to showcase photos and talk about my experience. It was June 2001 when I made the call to a local ice cream shop/art galley and told the owner I wanted to host an opening at his parlour on Saturday September 15.
Throughout the summer months I spent most of my free time thumbing through the hundreds of images I had captured narrowing them down to just a dozen. I was shopping for frames, cutting, mounting, and organizing my thoughts in preparation of opening day. It was a challenging and fun process. I gained a level of focus and purpose that I never knew was possible.
I was amazed how drawn I became to that project. It came to the point were I limited or halted participating in my routine social life such as going dancing, dining out or spending time with friends. If I allowed myself time to be away from my project my inner voice started nagging me, calling me back. I listened and honored my voice and followed it back home were I resumed my project and felt whole and complete again.
When I hung the show on the last week of August I was excited, uncertain, nervous, and thrilled to see my thought fall into three dimensional forms. An idea that I have been carrying with me for over 11 months come to fruition. My creative mind created an opportunity for me to share, connect, and give reason for people to gather.
Creativity is one of the many keys to personal success, achievement, and opportunity. Creativity allows for you to focus on something that is dear to you and then have something to show for it.
The Fingersnaps DJ & Art Collective was founded in 2002 for the sole purpose of creating community around the art, technology and philosophy of DJ culture.
Since 2008, 350 individual DJ lessons have been taught in the founder, DJ Lamont Young’s home music studio, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. The Fingersnaps experience has reached beyond the studio, teaching DJ courses and Media Skills to youth and adults at various community and educational centers, such as the SF YMCA, The San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts, The City of Richmond Police Activities League (PAL), The Hamilton Family Center, Bayview Hunters Family and the Bayview Opera House.
From 2005 to 2007, Fingersnaps has operated in a pop art gallery named Red Ink Studios, a non-profit organization which hosts a diverse array of emerging multi-media artists. It is here that Fingersnaps conducts DJ lessons, produces social events, art shows, open mics, workshops and seminars.
One of our signature events is Synchronize, an annual event produced by Fingersnaps, and is designed to bring members of the DJ community together, allowing them to tap into the potential of what they do with panel discussions, networking and interactive DJ workshops. Hosting the annual workshop/symposium, Synchronize is also a great way to connect and inspire members of Fingersnaps to visualize based on dialogue, as well as the exchanging of ideas and information in order to ensure success in the world of entertainment.
How the Money Will Be Used
Your contributions would allow Fingersnaps the opportunity to expand beyond the home music studio by creating a full-time, accessible community space and venue centered for DJ culture. The funding will be invested in the following line items:
-Deposit/Lease Commercial Venue
-Lease hold improvements: décor
-Equipment, such as DJ gear, computers, audio software
In return you will receive a handsome Fingersnaps embroidered Patch, DJ Lessons, and Membership based on your pledge amount. The point is, we want you to get the full Fingersnaps experience!
Our core mission is to bring people together with common interests and ideas. We believe that music, education and technology are ever-changing mediums, and creating a center point is a means of providing opportunity. The DJ community changed dramatically once the majority of small local DJ record shops and chain stores such as Virgin and Tower went of business due to the advent of digital downloading.
The community is surviving, but the creative core where people once gathered to share ideas has since been scattered throughout the community. There is no one centralized place where DJs can meet on neutral ground to network and learn from one another.
Having an established full-time, accessible space and venue would allow for an on-going dialogue and fulfill the need for a social network of creativity, mentoring opportunities, education and inspiration. That also correlates with core message of Fingersnaps DJ & Art Collective, which is to create, educate and inspire its DJ’s, members and the general community by providing opportunity.
Through his interaction with his students, founder DJ Lamont teaches a unique and practical worldview, incorporated with language and culture that he thinks resonates with his students. He also feels that the most important aspect of teaching is communication, which is personalized to fit the needs of each student; “I take the time to understand who I am working with before I apply my standard of teaching.”
It is though the application of these ideals that expansion of our commercial space would further suit the needs of our clients and in terms of our goals, expediting our directives in retail, events hosting and production, seminars and teaching. The ultimate goal is to represent the DJ culture by providing a place where people can learn, connect and play music.
Music played a major role in my family. My mother’s mother, Virginia, would have gospel music playing every Sunday morning on a scratchy AM transistor radio. Throughout the week my sister Jean and cousin Brenda had organ lessons. My mom Jackie and her best friend Thelma would host lavish parties every weekend at each other’s houses with fried chicken, smothered pork chops and rice, biscuits, and chilled hand shaken cocktails. However, the music was always the center of attention.
It was music that inspired the frying of the chicken in the middle of the afternoon in preparation for the evening. Music played while my mom was getting dressed for the party. And then the music played all night long until the very wee hours of the morning.
Back in the 70’s children were not allowed to linger around grown-ups, especially while they were getting their groove on. But how was an 11-year-old kid supposed to sleep while a bunch of adults were downstairs drinking and dancing to Al Green and Barry White? How was I supposed to keep my head on the pillow while the extended mix of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Herald Melvin & The Blue Notes was vibrating through the ceiling, its heavy bass line causing the floor in my bedroom to hum?
From listening to the AM Top-40 in the car, to the kitchen, the bedroom, the family room, even the bathroom, music was a huge part of the Young Family development and enrichment. Then there were my older siblings Loray, Troy, and Jean and all their friends. Sister Loray being the oldest, she shared many of the same musical tastes as our mom; I remember her going to a James Brown concert in 1976. My brother Troy was a strict Soul and Jazz type of guy: nothing but the likes of Frankie Beverly & Maze, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Bobby Womack. I learned about Kenny G before he became famous from my brother. Then there was my sister Jean. She was totally in touch with her musical generation: The Jackson 5, Ashford & Simpson, Switch, and Cheryl Lynn.
Yet however much the family is the base of my musical influence, everyone knows that our greatest influences come from the streets. I was struck by the musical gods and goddess when, as a 6th grader at West Side Middle School, I took a long yellow school bus for the fist time.
I was totally intimidated riding on a bus with people I had never met before, even though they were all my neighbors. I took my seat and just looked forward for the duration of the ride. Every now and then, I would peek back and check out Manny. He was the guy holding the boom box.
Manny was one of the cool upper-classmen sitting in the back of the bus. It was 7:15AM and the music was pumping from his boom box. This was a type of music that I never heard before. It was fast, driven, spiritual, lush, and groovy, with raw and honest vocals. The bass line was thick and kickin’. It was Disco, and I was hooked.
From the moment when I saw that small group of upper-classmen at the back of the bus I wanted to be part of them. I could not wait until the end of the school day to jump back on the bus to listen to the music that would come screaming from the back. I was born again. When I arrived home I would run to the radio, trying to find those very songs. But they weren’t on the radio: Disco was too new, too deep, and extremely underground at the time.
I learned how to connect my DJ studio myself. I had no idea what I was doing. I just took the equipment out of the box and started connecting the cables. I started to figure out any problems I was experiencing by asking questions, going to audio stores, and reading the manuals, along with a little common sense.
My first interaction with a record and turntable was a Close N’ Play. It was a self-contained turntable that was in this little wooden boxed with a green vinyl finish on it and it had a little speaker enclosed in the box. The record player played 331/3, 45, and 78 RPM. I would play children’s sing-along 45’s that came with coloring books or cereal boxes.
I remember once I had this all-in-one turntable that I got it for my birthday. It was lime-green with a cool green-tinted plastic dust cover, and I loved it. It sat it on the top of my chest of draws. I hadn’t even started my record collection yet so I was constantly playing my mother’s and siblings’ records, of which I am sure they did not approve.
In my household we had a stereo in each room. My mom loved music and played it all the time, especially on the weekend. She was on top of all the latest sounds during the 70’s. She had this bumping stereo console that was about 8 feet long, with a turntable, AM/FM stereo, and 8 track tape, and it would pump when she opened it up.
I asked her once why she never played my little lime-green stereo and she said it did not have enough bass for her. “I need to feel it,” she would say. One day I woke up and I decided that I was over the little lime green stereo and I wanted a better one. But when I asked my mother for a new one, she said the one I had was just fine. So I went up to my room, picked up the lime green turntable and tossed it down the stairs.
Then I picked it up and placed it on the floor in my bedroom. I went to my mother and told her that my stereo had fallen off the top of the chest of drawers onto the floor, “It’s broken. Now can I get another one?” To my utter dismay, she said no.
Synchronize Again gives the up and coming DJ community the opportunity to lean how to thrive in the art and entertainment world from the officials and the professionals of the industry.
Fall 2011 was the first time Fingersnaps DJ & Art Collective produced such an event that brought members of the community in one environment to share ideas, learn from each other, and to be inspired to get out there and take on the world.
Synchronize was an idea I was carrying with me for many years as I learned the one thing that my students and music enthusiasts in the community needed most, information.
After the closing of most DJ records shops do to downloading and file sharing, the common place for all DJ’s went away after many family owned small business could not compete with the digital age. The record shop was not only a center place for buying the greatest music that any DJ would ever want but it was now unavailable for a center place were DJ’s would meet.
I did not realize the hole that was placed in the community until after 2 years when I found that I did not interact with as many DJ’s as I have in the past. The void that I noticed was the lack of common places outside of the club were DJ’s would meet to purchase new music, network, exchange ideas, share dish on club owners and promoters, connect with friends and establish new ones.
The ease of downloading music replaced the common ground of meeting. I really enjoy and appreciate the fact that I could find almost any recorded song by logging into a music search engine, however I morn and feel the lost of the music society that was associated with the records shops.
The last UPS delivery of a box of 12’ dance single and the final closing of another sole proprietors shop was a blow to many of us that appreciated vinyl records, CD’s and the social interaction, There was a time were I would travel to cities and towns around the world and I was able to find instant community by seeking out a DJ record shop.
Based on my own life experiences life does come after death and Fingersnaps DJ & Art Collective and Synchronize is the new life that stands on the memory of all the great music shops and music enthusitist I have meet over the past 30 years.
I hope to Synchronize with you.
We are here to live, love, and be creative. With these three concepts you will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Creativity is a way to tap into your inner self and express ideas that can inspire you and those that are connected and influenced by those ideas.
Music and DJing is the art of being creative. The year of 1998, when I was seeking and forging my way through life, I started asking myself what is the purpose of my being? I was feeling ordinary by going to work Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm with two weeks off.
And although I was working in my chosen profession which was radio broadcasting at the time, I was not able to rise above the grim reality that there must be more to life then just going to work everyday.
Then, a dear friend suggested that I start teaching DJ lessons. I was encourage by the suggestion yet challenged because of the task ahead of me. I said to myself, wow, I can teach someone the gift of spinning music? I could inspire someone to learn with this vinyl and CD library that I have amassed over the years?
The exciting part for me was sharing my experience, music, and passion for DJ culture. The challenge was sharing my experience, music and passion with others. The task ahead meant, I had to sit myself down and create. I would have to create a course of instruction. I would have to think and write something down on paper. Again, I was wowed by the idea of teaching and fearful to move forward.
18 months after the conversation I had with my companion, the creativity hit me and the fear and challenge was put to the side and the pen, paper and I begin to talk. The creative thoughts flowed through me just as a salmon swimming up stream.
I locked myself in my studio for weeks, writing down every ounce of experience that I knew about being a DJ. And if I could not put my own ideas and experience into an intelligible sentence, I started asking questions from those that expressed passion for the DJ profession or have been spinning music as long as I have.
I read physics text books and learned about relative motion and how it relates to turntables and DJ equipment. I would thoroughly read each instruction booklet that was accompanied with DJ equipment. I even took the time to read music theory books and going to live music shows to study musicians and bands.
The knowledge that I knew and learned surprised me; I never assumed I knew much until the creative streak struck me.
Today, I have taught hundreds of children, youths, young adults, and adults the art of DJ culture in my home music studio and community centers and schools throughout northern California. The source of these great opporunties was fueled by my own personal creativity. I never considered myself to be a creative person until I begin the journey of teaching others.
Being creative is a powerful force that cannot be under estimated or toyed with. When in doubt about your life’s direction, just take a look around you. Everything that we have as a people, as a society, was forged by creativity…nothing into something.
Challenge yourself. Be the creative being that you are.
Spinning outside on the streets of San Francisco provides me the distinct opportunity to create a weekly house music mix coined “The San Francisco Street Inspired House Mix” which airs on KPOO 89.5FM or KPOO.COM: Wednesdays 12midnight to 3:00am.
As the leaves were falling during the autumn season of 2011, I mixed over 16 live sessions on the Embarcadero and Valencia Street in the Mission.
Vulnerability is one of the key engines that drive me to create music mixes on the street because I have no idea what can happen next. The SFPD rides by and as they give me a slight glance as they take on matters of great urgency. What I do know is programming music as transits are making there way allows me to connect with the people, humanity.
The feelings that I am tossing around while I a selecting songs are wildly incredible. I shake. I tremble. I think.
I encourage you to plant yourself on a street corner and create and express yourself for the greater good of your community. Sharing my passion for music with the general public is a great way of being part of something bigger then I.
Share your passion with your world and you will realize how generous, loving and engaging people can be. Normally, when I step away from mixing a music set, I am left with an overwhelming state of contemplation and wonderment.
Being a personal witness to humanity as I stand still, in a creative state, shakes me to my core with the reality that life is a force, a force that cannot be played with, and a force that thrives on its own no matter what I may think or feel about it. I have relearned that we are all the same on the inside now matter how we make up and dress ourselves on the outside or the body we were born in.
I realized that my opinions are important but not necessary to the force of life because now one is living for me or the force of life depends on me. I had no idea that taking on the streets of San Francisco as a DJ will inspire deep thoughts and a reappreication for who we are. I am just doing my thing, playing music, getting myself out of the house and sharing something that I have great passion for with my community.
Vulnerability is the essence of having an exciting life. Take the risk and give what you got. Take that one special thing that you have and share it with humanity… the gifts that you will receive will be beyond the words on this page.
To quote the great lyricist Cole Porter “Begin the Beguine”…let’s start the dance. I am so ready to play music for the entire world. I realize that is a tall order but I am basing my vision on this year past. I have been reflecting on all the wonderful events and special groups that I provided music for in 2011.
I am always taken by the impact music has on a person to the point were it inspires one to move their bodies and rouse their emotions. I am filled with joy when I spin a tune and a group of dancer explodes verbally with excitement and freedom. I feel empowered when people connect with me as one expresses what a song really means to them.
To see a person jump, tumble and roll to the beat of a drum thrills me. Music is there to celebrate the union of a loving couple to feeling the love of a passed loved one. The tone and melodies of a voice can soothe the unease of a crying infant. A song can transport us back to the moment of our first kiss and helps us celebrate the moments of our life. Music has granted me the privilege of working in peoples homes and being apart of milestones in a person’s life. Music has brought me to exotic events and locations at home and abroad.
As I look forward to the days ahead, I want to use my life’s commitment as a DJ and the hundreds of records, CD’s and gigabytes of music I have amassed within my lifetime and share it with the masses. Being a DJ is not only an occupation, being a DJ is an avenue that unites me to something greater than I.
One of the great things about hosting a weekly radio show on 89.5 KPOO San Francisco is sharing the music that I have been collecting for the past 35 years. The music that I share represents the soundtrack of my life. With each and every song that I program, especially if it a 12’ single or a Vinyl LP, I am able to recount a memory that is associated with the purchase of that piece of music or where I first played it or the people connected to it.
While growing up in Connecticut the greatest impact that I was influenced by was the connection my mother and I had to music and New York City Radio such as WBLS and WRKS. Because of that influence I was driven by the sounds of the city. My friends and I would each have $100. One of use would drive our car to New York City while the rest of use pitched in for gas and tolls. The feelings that we all expressed as we where heading to the big apple 75 miles from our home and 90 minutes south were beyond excitement and anticipation. Once we arrived in the West Village we parked the car and ran to Vinyl Mania Records only to be welcomed by a room of hardcore music enthusiasts. The joy, the joy, the joy.
Records were flying off the racks onto the central listening stations the was managed by one of the rotating employees. At Vinyl Mania Records you would find world class DJ’s producers, and artist listening for new music , yet everyone was there under one roof sharing the same passion. Back in the 1980’s the average 12’ domestic single was valued from $3 to $5. My friends and I both would almost spin are entire $100 or 15 to 20 records however, we would save just enough to buy a slice of Pizza at Joe’s Pizzeria on Carmine and Bleecker Street. At the completion of our meal, we would finally head north back to the Constitution State. We would do all that we could to avoid all tolls and additional expenses to get back home because we only had coins left on our pockets and a feeling of purpose and excitement.
We played out this ritual for years until I moved to San Francisco. When I visit the east coast and my friends and I try to recreate the pathway to our youth and music only to find that changed has replaced a way of life that was so real to us.
If you were to tune in to my radio show the Fingersnaps Music Salon , Wednesdays 12midnight to 3:00am you will hear many of those Classic Disco, House, and NuJazz records.
On 11.11.11, I was booked to spin a sweet 16 Birthday party in Tiburon California. The host of honor requested I show her a play list of the songs I would be programming for her party and I informed her that I don’t have play list, I play spontaneous. She responded that’s great but can I see a list. I told her I have over 7000 songs on my computer and that she was welcomed to look through them all. She was surprised by my response to her but I could to think of any other way of letting this young lady that I had things covered. She ask me repeatedly if she could see a list and I responded with the same answer. As the night started to take shape and as her school mates and peers begin to show their presents she came to me once again and ask if I was going to play “this” type of music for long. I was playing a current dance hit from the radio. The type of music that I was playing at the time were many of the songs that she requested along with current hits and genres of her generation. I assured her once again that I got the music covered and to relax and enjoy your party. Friends arrived. The music increased in volume and the room became completely dark for the exception of the glow sticks that were handed out as party favors to her guest. LMFAO Shots was the very song the solidified that her night along with mine was going to be unforgettable. That group of teenagers worked me all night long and I loved it!
It’s been great working with all the community groups that I have been spinning at over the past few weeks. I spun at a Gala for the non-profit organization, Positive Resources at the RH80 Gallery in San Francisco. With the variety of music that I played within a four hour span Donna Summer would be proud to know that her music still inspires a dance floor 30 years after the fall of Disco. Although Disco never died based on my experience.
A friend from Gallery 1307 invited me to harvest vegetables at an urban garden in East Oakland on Sunday afternoon and as I was walking out my front door I got the bright I idea to bring along my flash DJ unit: laptop, DJ controller, and rechargeable power speaker (pictured on home page). I spun music, took pictures, tilled the soil, picked some fruit, planted some seeds, waved at some live chickens, met some new friends, and ate some amazing food in the sun, at the garden with a group of passionate colorful people.
I have been loving my radio show on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco (www.kpoo.com) The vision that I had for being on the air is ringing true with the programming of Disco, the Fingersnaps House Mix, Nu Jazz & Soul music. Most special is hosting the talents such as Byron Mason (www.byronmason.com), Anthony Williams(www.anthonyjuliuswilliams.com), and Carol Francis & P. Segal The Adventures of Sasha & Malia at the White House (http://www.facebook.com/theadventuresofsashaandmalia), of bay area artists broadcasting to the world the great things people are doing in San Francisco. Tune in if you are up.
I was fired from my part-time position at Fort Mason after 4 years of service. It was a great experience working with large scale events. I met some wonderful people, made some great contacts, and learned valuable skills about producing events. With the efforts of Fingersnaps my future is now open. With the openness of my future I can now create something new for myself and others. I look forward to the next chapter.