Urban Marinade

Urban Marinade Goes Away

Hey folks… so blogging clearly had to take a backseat in my life over the last year as I pursued my photography career. And it looks like this particular blog as we know it will cease to exist. I’m redesigning Dougvansant.com, which will have a blog element. So for now, Urban Marinade will be put to rest as I rebuild my site and continue my growth as a photographer.

I won’t delete this blog just yet because I might find it to be useful once the new site is live. So don’t forget about it. Just don’t expect anything in the near future. ;-)

The video above is an exclusive film created for Cosmic Gate and Emma Hewitt during their recent visit to Club Glow. The film was shot by Doug Van Sant Photography and edited by Justin Whitacre Post Production. It is now nominated for a Vimeo Award. Excellence in dance music media is how we roll.

Biggest Teahupoo Ever

The photo above comes from a video shot by Chris Bryan using a Phantom HD Gold camera. This camera shoots somewhere in the range of 1000 to 1500 fps. And the sucker cost close to $150k if my estimations are correct. I screen grabbed this shot because I was blown away at the angles and close proximity Bryan was able to get to these massive waves. Personally, I don’t think I’d bring my Ferrari of a camera anywhere near a wave the size of a mountain. Here is more info on the video, which can be seen here…


This day at Teahupoo- Aug 27th 2011 during the Billabong Pro waiting period is what many are calling the biggest and gnarliest Teahupoo ever ridden. Chris Bryan was fortunate enough to be there working for Billabong on a day that will go down in the history of big wave surfing. The French Navy labeled this day a double code red prohibiting and threatening to arrest anyone that entered the water.

Kelly Slater described the day by saying “witnessing this was a draining feeling being terrified for other people’s lives all day long, it’s life or death. Letting go of that rope one time can change your life and not many people will ever experience that in their life.”

All images where shot by Chris Bryan using the Phantom HD Gold camera. To see more of Chris’ work check out his website.

Rant: D.C. Tweeps 2011

I don’t like to step on a soapbox too often. I used to do that when I lived in California and it didn’t help my image. But something recently happened that irked me and now I feel like I need to speak out. No, I’m not offering to occupy a Starbucks or topple some newspaper bins. I just need to get something off my chest.

This past December, I was honored to learn I had been selected by the Washington Post as one of their finalist in their annual D.C. Tweeps contest. The contest is basically a superlatives list of local personalities on twitter. I was nominated in the “Nightlife Insider” category. It was actually the second year in a row that I was given this honor. Pretty cool eh! I was happy. And I played into it a bit and shamelessly plugged the contest in hopes I would win. Alas, I didn’t.

I’m not mad that I didn’t win. But I am mad about who actually did win. The term “nightlife insider” can obviously mean many of different things. But one thing I think this category should embody is “nightlife.”  When the person who wins the category very rarely does anything or says anything about nightlife, you have to wonder what’s up. Seriously, I get the whole popularity contest side of this. But if the Washington Post wants to be considered relevant and accurate, wouldn’t they make sure their nominees represent the category they are supposedly nominated for? I know the girl who won. She’s very nice. She’s very engaged and does a good job marketing her business. But it’s not a nightlife business. It has very little to do with nightlife.

My good friend Zach was nominated as well. Zach is a promoter for Glow. I would have loved to see Zach win. The guy is out every night. He’s out at some of the biggest and best parties all the time. If you want a true nightlife insider, shouldn’t it be someone who actually goes out at night?

This my latest video, renowned house music icon from Miami, Oscar G. at TEKA.


It’s a little sad to say, but the play on words surrounding the new Meatballs establishment in Penn Quarter is probably it’s best quality. I mean, who doesn’t love saying the word “balls?” Eating the food at this new restaurant in my downtown hood is a different story. There isn’t a lot of love being shared between diners and the staff.

Meatballs opened up a few weeks ago with much fanfare because it included food rock stars Michel Richard and Mark Bucher as contributors to the concept. And the concept is quite simple. You step up to a counter and order any type of meatball and then choose your vessel/sauce, Chipotle-style. You can select a side and drink and then off you go to enjoy meatball heaven.

The good: I ordered a classic meatballs and had them put on the garlic baguette with a standard marinara sauce. I also ordered a side of tator-tots. The food was decent. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t gag at any of the flavors. The bread was toasted nicely and wasn’t over seasoned with garlic butter. The tator-tors were baked just enough to have that crunchy outside layer with a kinda soft center. And they had a nice seasoning of salt to keep me happy.

The bad: The meatballs were a little gummy in the center and didn’t really pack any flavor. The tator-tots tasted good, but looked like they had been through a meat grinder. The service kinda sucked. They had 5 people behind the counter. Two appeared to actually be working. Three just stood around. The lady who took my order was super friendly with a nice smile, but then the girl that moved my sandwich down the line appeared to be somewhere else. The dining room isn’t terribly small, but they’ve packed so many small tables into the room, you feel as though you can’t move. When the guy behind me got up, I felt his entire chair slam into my back. At least 3 or 4 tables were dirty the entire time I was there.

As Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post says, if your business is about one particular product (the meatball), then you better do that really well. Unfortunately I think Meatballs misses the mark. Hopefully Richard and Bucher can help them improve, or else I fear someone will be leasing office space with the word Balls written along the conference room wall. At least it’s a fun word to say.

Confessions of a Lindy Hopper

Well here we go again. My usual once-per-year rant about Lindy Hop, the partner dance I am still (reluctantly) in love with. The truth is, most of you don’t know me as a dancer. I was talked into learning this type of swing dancing while living in California. I continued to learn it when I moved to DC because it was something to do and an easy way to meet people. I got better. I started to travel and compete. I even won a few competitions. Now I teach it. But I find myself drifting further and further away from this dance. Why? How? What should I do?

Read More

Quick Stew Review: Sou’wester

I’ve had an opportunity to visit some pretty awesome restaurants over the last few months and figured there has to be a way to voice my opinion. Sure, I can Yelp it up and tweet you all photos from my meal. But Urban Marinade isn’t just about dance music. We’re about the urban experience that goes along with dance music. And what do you always see world-class dance music artist tweeting about between gigs? Food!

So today I’m kicking off the Urban Marinade “Quick Stew Review” feature which will basically be our way of letting you know about the restaurants we visit without going into all that “I’m a foodie and know more about ingredients than you” rubbage. Cause seriously, I just wanna know if the food is good and I’m sure you do too.

We start with Sou’Wester, a restaurant that falls somewhere in the middle of my happiness range. The restaurant is located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest DC and boasts a lot about the view. Okay, so the hotel is kinda next to the Potomac and Tidal Basin. But you have stunning views of I-395 and a fairly busy (and wide) stretch of Maine Avenue. And what else is down there? Seriously…it’s like a remote island hotel stuck in a forgotten about corner of DC where only lonely business travelers are dining alone on an expense account. The area could be really awesome if the city actually developed a proper waterfront that connected the monuments of the Tidal Basin to the harbor. But for now it’s a quiet corner of DC where Chef de Cuisine Eddie Moran is free to do his work.

The space is nicely appointed but reminds me of a hotel restaurant. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s in a hotel…but if you’re going to hype a joint so much, it better look different than every other overpriced hotel restaurant without an identity.

The food is okay. I had the hush puppies as an appetizer ($7) and loved ‘em. After living in North Carolina for a few years, I grew to love this staple of southern cuisine. Moran’s take is crispy on the outside, sweet on the inside and almost hints of the freshly made donuts you find at places like Tabard Inn. I’d buy them again.

Joelle had a salad of shaved fall vegetables ($13) that included turnips, carrots, pear, walnuts, dried cranberries and a goat cheese fondant. It had a nice creamy texture that came from the fondant, but wasn’t as flavorful as I would expect. Decent, but not worth the price.

For dinner I had chicken “under a brick,” ($22) which is basically where they cook your bird with a very heavy brick resting on top. Supposedly it cooks faster and traps moisture. Along with my chicken came sweet potato fries and a broccoli rabe with golden raisins and chili flakes for heat. The meal was good. But the chicken was a tad bit dry and again, what made this stand out? I come to a meal where they label all their menus with the chefs name expecting to be wowed. I expect to eat something I can’t really make (or taste) at home. I still stand behind my opinion that Barcode has the best made chicken in DC. I would order the meal again, but only if someone else was paying.

Joelle had roasted duck with black rice. I can’t recall the price. I can’t recall the flavor. It was dark. It was a little tough and very salty. Overall, don’t order it. What else can I say?

Honestly, we went to Sou’Wester because we watched their pastry chef Matthew Petersen make the finale on Top Chef Just Desserts. But the service was so slow that we decided to skip dessert. Petersen is also the pastry chef for Mandarin flagship Cityzen, so we’ll give that restaurant a whirl and hopefully have the patience to hang around for the final course. Overall I was disappointed. But what can you say for a restaurant that appears to be catering more to the guests passing through than the residents who might visit more than once.

So I recently signed a deal with Lima Lounge to be their house photographer. This included shooting video on a weekly basis. Now, I was pretty straight up with the guys that I’m not a videographer. I told them I could shoot, but I couldn’t promise it would be good. And I certainly don’t have the software to edit. But what the hell, I’d give it a shot. After learning some tricks and investing in an LED light, the video above shows the finished product. I’m still learning, but I love it. And Lima video editor Justin Whitacre is pretty nasty with Final Cut. Ahhhh….big things ahead folks!

Exclusive Interview with Tritonal

By Robert Fairbairn

Tritonal, the Austin, TX-based duo of Chad Cisneros and Dave Reed has thundered onto the EDM scene in a fashion worthy of their explosive namesake. Starting with a series of highly-regarded remixes and solid originals, the pair launched their own label, Air Up There recordings. Highlighting that effort came the release of their first artist album, Piercing the Quiet, back in May.

They’ve put forth dance floor rocking tunes that have garnered extensive support from the biggest names in the business, but their album also included some more laid-back pieces worthy of a critical listen. One of those, Still With Me, has now been reworked, and the epic Club Mix releases October 10th on Beatport.

You’re going to hear this track a lot - the blend of Christina Soto’s smooth, sultry vocals with Tritonal’s beautiful, lush production is tailor-made for the biggest sound systems out there. Don’t be surprised to hear it anchoring many DJs’ sets in the coming weeks. So give it a listen here and keep reading for an illuminating discussion with the guys about their art and creative process. Most of all, go pick up Still With Me (Club Mix) tomorrow on Beatport.com.

Urb: First off, you guys have really exploded onto the scene in the last couple of years with remix work and original productions both.  In your view - what was the big break?

Tritonal: Hi, thanks for having us! Well, hands down Piercing The Quiet, being our debut Album, has had a huge impact on our career! The singles from it so far being “Lifted”, “Broken Down”, “I Can Breathe”, “Something New” and now “Still With Me (Club Mix)” have all gotten incredible support by top DJs and our fans. Before this though, tracks like our remix of Ferry Corsten’s “We Belong”, the original “Piercing Quiet”, “Let Solitude”, “Lights Over Austin” and “Hands To Hold Me” have been the most played and recognized tracks from Tritonal.

Urb: What would you say is your collective approach to production and composition?

Tritonal: Grind away at it, day by day trying to learn and get better at this skill. It’s not easy writing music daily and many times we come up with ideas that just aren’t amazing. That said, we’ve learned to work through it, realize that if we keep at it and stay focused good things will happen. Our work ethic is one of the biggest contributors to our success. We’ve also learned to rely on each other for insight, intuition, and creativity. We really trust each other’s judgment, which helps to keep us balanced.

Urb: Are you formally trained, self-taught or somewhere in between?

Tritonal: We are somewhere in the middle, both growing up in musical families. Most of the technical stuff is all self-taught though—the more you work through projects, the more you learn!

Urb: As I understand it, one of you started as a DJ and the other as a producer and you met in the middle. How did each of you transition between the two and how do you think this has affected your methods and results?

Tritonal: We were both producers first and and met online in a forum discussing sound design techniques. Together, we’ve both equally become capable songwriters and composers and often split projects to get more accomplished studio-wise!

Urb: Do you have a specific method to structuring your live sets?

Tritonal: No methods, no rules. We have certain tracks we’ll want to play and test and love to see the crowd’s reaction to the various productions, mashups and mixes we put together. We gain a lot of insight into our own productions based on how they sound in the clubs and festivals.

Urb: Obviously, in addition to your djing and production work, you are now operating Air Up There recordings. Tell us a little bit about where you see the label going and what level of involvement you two have with that side of things.

Tritonal: We A&R the label and are SOO excited about its future!!  Got some young new talent in the family and we’ve really spent good time hand selecting a few awesome tracks for the upcoming release schedule. We want AUT to be an extension of what we play during our live sets and on our radio show.

Urb: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you have many influences among other DJs and producers. Is there a particular artist (or artists) that you find especially inspiring and why/how so?

Tritonal: Certainly - Absolutely love what Kyau & Albert have been doing as of late! Their sound is always spot on for the clubs and their arrangements and bass grooves tend to steal our hearts every time. They have really formulated their own unique and niche sound, something we respect very much.

Urb: You’ve released your first album this year (Piercing the Quiet) to great reviews and strong response among djs and fans. What’s next on the agenda?

Tritonal: Well, speaking of Kyau & Albert we are remixing one of their 15 Years tracks! We’re also looking at some cool collaborations this year and will be releasing Piercing The Quiet (Remixes, Extended Mixes, Club Mixes)!

Urb: I have the pleasure of reviewing the club mix of Still With Me for this piece. Can you tell us anything specific or interesting about the origins of the song or the production process on this one?

Tritonal: Certainly, first off it wasn’t written in 4/4 for a lot of the original! We automated time signatures, giving the track awesome motion. Secondly, we co-wrote the original with Nick Sibicky, who is an amazing producer, song writer, professor and friend. He was also featured on the album on “Poems of Angels”, and we love his work. Lastly, in order to get the vocals sounding correct with our bass groove, we had to re-record much of them specifically for the Club Mix, something many people would never notice. Lots of work on this one!!

Urb: If you could collaborate on a production with anyone in the industry (or outside) who might you choose? You can answer independently if you like.

Tritonal: Hands down Coldplay - We LOVE those guys!! Xylo Myloto coming sOOOOn!!

Urb: Well we know you guys are very busy these days, so thanks for your time and we look forward to hearing your next project.

Tritonal: Cheers from Austin!

When you want to hear more from Tritonal, check out their Air Up There radio show and podcast, and keep your eyes on these guys - they’re very good at what they do, and with AMOnly now behind them, there’s nowhere to go but up.

To Tumblr, Love Metalab