A Real Journey Expands by Gerrard Winstanley

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Inspiration crosses borders with Gerrard Winstanley’s eclectic approach to presenting rare music in SL from his deep cultural knowledge in real life.

A Real Journey Expands by Gerrard Winstanley

When the Guardian newspaper had an IT supplement, I became curious about Second Life. There were occasional reports about such things as resident demonstrating and protesting outside the virtual offices of Linden Lab—that sounded like fun. Although I imagined thousands congregating, being unaware of sim limits.  That aspect of Second Life seems to have diminished now.

I had no idea what I’d do when I came to the virtual worlds—it took me a long time to realize how creative we can be—and learn such things as the difference between mainland and private sims. I spent a lot of time hanging out at campfires, enjoying bizarre conversations with various beasts, aliens, and particle clouds.

SL is a way of continuing to get out and about but in the comfort of my own home. SL is a window on the world—or a backdoor. I get home close the front door, settle in … then go out the back door into the international virtual world.

I largely socialize in SL the way I do in real life. When I was younger, I would go out most nights. I live in a very trendy part of my current city and a lot of the local hipster bars employ DJs – but the owners tend to be vinyl snobs and won’t consider someone turning up and plugging in a laptop full of MP3s. The downside is that not much innovative cutting-edge new music gets played. The upside is that I can go out and listen to a great session of vintage soul, funk and rare groove, any night of the week, whilst enjoying a fine craft ale or a single-malt whiskey.

I have been in theatre groups in the real world, and I occasionally do the sound & music for an amateur dramatics company. I’m more knowledgeable in musical styles and genres than the technical side—my degree, as a mature student, was largely in Cultural & Community Studies. I focused on youth sub-cultures—the street fashions, the politics, the music obviously—and how all these groups have been in both overt and covert dialogue with each other—beatniks/ teddyboys, mods/rockers hippie/ skinhead, punks/new romantics—that kind of thing.

I’ve done a lot of event organization in real life—working in arts centers,, independent cinemas and galleries. I currently work as a recycling volunteer manager, fund-raising for an international disaster relief charity. My job is 90% people skills. Fortunately I work part-time on flexible hours.

Whenever my peers have started pairing up, settling down and raising families I’ve tended to move on to another location and social group. Eventually life caught up with me when I became a single parent ten years ago and I had to stay in of an evening.

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Inspiration Crosses Borders

In the UK we had the late, great BBC DJ, John Peel. He was such a huge influence on the music scene due to his unique policy of promoting underground—and often unsigned  —bands. They would send him cassette tapes and if he liked their stuff, he’d arrange for them to record a session in the BBC studios. His approach and dedication inspires me.

I like to promote new sounds from innovative musicians who don’t have the backing of a big corporation. The labels I largely select music from probably have an annual turnover less than the budget for one mainstream pop or rock video. That’s my speciality. I do play vintage, but mainly I play music released by Europe’s small, independent labels. I read a lot of reviews and if the bands are not signed up, I track down their websites or Soundcloud pages.

I was exploring a lot in Second Life, then read up on other grids, and decided to explore Inworldz as the biggest alternative. The friendly nature of a small grid appealed, and being able to upload textures for free with the cheaper land costs enabled me to do more. I commissioned a friend to build a replica of the art deco Rio Cinema in London’s East End and opened a vintage film poster gallery there.

For the opening party, I wanted appropriate music—mainly jump blues, soul & funk divas—so I learnt how to do it myself, as even if I’d asked a DJ to play those songs, I’d have likely found the near random order they were played in frustrating and disappointing.

I came back to DJ in SL, after a club owner (who also had an Inworldz sim) said he had a couple of slots free in his club. I always maintained a presence and land parcel in SL, so it wasn’t a big returning event for me to make the transition. The audiences in SL are more international and diverse, and just in sheer numbers, there’s more that appreciate hearing something they haven’t already heard a 100 times on the radio. But I do get booked for a lot more special events in Inworldz than I do in SL.

I put a lot of time and effort into structuring a set so it has a beginning, a middle, an end and steadily rising energy levels. For a lively party or club set, after the opening attention-grabbers, I lower the beats per minute, and slowly raise them to a peak about 20 minutes before the end, and close with uplifting torchsong-like numbers that leave people feeling good and happy after the musical journey I’ve taken them on.

I do a lot of themed sets—recently one for the opening of an role play hub that covered space, western, medieval, pirate & gypsy genres. And I have what I call my ‘signature sound’—a big beat blend of nujazz, electroswing and world music, mixed with vintage soul, funk and rare groove.

But the discovery of great new music in itself would be nothing without the sharing. There can be some bad gigs too, though, where nothing seems to work. You have to be a bit tough to not let it affect you. Handling the variety of people requires diplomacy, which I bring from my real world jobs.

I’ve lived a full and varied life already with a lot of adventurousness and lifestyle exploration, and I’ve always worked with, and mixed with, people from all parts of the world. So SL is really an opportunity to continue doing that into my old age.

Virtual life for me is mainly about socializing and fun group activities like sailing cruises. I enjoy get-togethers, either creating a party atmosphere or a more relaxed, listening, and discussing experience. I thank all those that have enriched my real and virtual life—whether through bizarre fleeting encounters, fun party nights, or long-lasting relationships – it’s all been a great trip.

Gerrard Winstanley

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Please see more insights from Gerrard in “Border Patrols— How DJ’s Manage the Boundaries Between Virtual and Real,” the in-world article that compares his views with others in his circle. The in-world edition is a complement to this online series, and together comprise a publishing suite.

Enjoy different, but related, issue versions: online and in-world (available at the Second Life® SSJ office (Innu 42, 35, 1649) or download PDF here Sim Street Journal #13
Back issues are available on MARKETPLACE.
— The in-world magazine has topics that relate to those who understand the virtual context, including photographs, parallel articles. It has tabs for information landmarks, and web links.
— The online magazine expresses what the virtual world offers the real one. It is a mirror that reflects parallel articles, hot topics, and provides more links.Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.

Please see the INDEX for all contributors and articles.

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Back issues are available on MARKETPLACE.

QUICK LINKS TO ISSUES
INDEX for all contributors and articles
Sim Street Journal #1: Virtual Reveals Real
Sim Street Journal #2: The Old in the New
Sim Street Journal #3: Magicians of Meaning
Sim Street Journal #4: Telling Stories
Sim Street Journal #5: Champions of Expression
Sim Street Journal #6: Overlapping Realities
Sim Street Journal #7: Luck Created
Sim Street Journal #8: Facing the Inevitable
Sim Street Journal #9: Motivated Learning
Sim Street Journal #10: Serious Fun
Sim Street Journal #11: Fantasy Fulfillment
Sim Street Journal #12: Insights from Extremes
Sim Street Journal #13: Bridging Boundaries

Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.
Comments and opinions are also encouraged: simstreetjournal@gmail.com

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Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.

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Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of second to first life.
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