Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview with Scratchmusikatt Fox (aka Scratchmusikatt Sprocket)

By Bixyl Shuftan

Scratchmusikatt Fox is a DJ in real life whom was making a name for himself a few years ago in Second Life as the "Chaos DJ."  Events forced him to take a break from the virtual world for a time. But now he's back, and so is his music, either on his main account or his alt Scratchmusikatt Sprocket. Recently Second Life Newser sat down for an interview with him. 

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did you find out about Second Life?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "A real-life roomate of mine, Stripes Waterkat was part of the beta testing for Second Life. I would occasionally look in on what he was doing because he always had some pretty good music coming out of his speakers, and I knew this wasn't stuff he had himself. So I finally asked him one night 'what is that you're doing?', because at the time he was at Club Fur and I could hear the DJ talking on the air. He explained Second Life to me and how to get into it. But It wasn't until a year or so later that I tried it myself."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your first experiences go?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Second Life was still pretty basic back then. It was out of Beta by the time I joined, but furry avs as we know them were mostly still a new thing. My first 'avs' were of my main fursona, Johnny Vulpine and The fursona I created specifically for my forray into SL, Scratch Musikatt. I joined Second Life for the sole purpose of getting into DJ'ing because it's something I liked doing in real life.  I couldn't even begin to tell ya who made those first two avs. They were little more than a head and tail and a skin, because flexiprims didn't exist at the time."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds pretty basic compared to today."

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Yeah, Second Life has come a long way. but even then there was something that spoke to me beyond the draw of DJ'ing. I found alot of roleplayers and, given the ability to be... pretty much anything you want. SL suddenly had a second draw for me. It was the DJ'ing and the escape from real-life that kept me here through the difficulties of SL's infancy."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your experiences go from there?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "As Second Life grew and more people I knew got into it, things got more and more fun. I never got to officially DJ at Club Fur, but I found a place called Club Elite. They were open to furs and non-furs alike. They had, in the past been named the Number One club in SL and they were looking for DJ's. I applied, and Mrs. Rainestar (owner of the club's radio station) gave me a wednesday night slot from 7 to 9pm. And it was there that DJ Scratch Musikatt was really born."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did it go?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "To be perfectly honest, I was nervous as hell. They had shown me how to setup and run SAM broadcaster the week before and I remember thinking to myself now crazy complicated it looked. As I was preparing to actually go on the air the first time, a million ideas were spinning in my head for how to carry myself on the air. I took a breath, and thought of the Radio DJ's I used to listen to as a kid. Wolfman Jack, The Greaseman, and Dr Demento and I just kinda decided to channel them into my performance."

Bixyl Shuftan: "And it went without a hitch?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "To my surprise, Yes, Rainestar had told me a good formula to follow is to do at least 20 minutes of music then either an ad or a voiceover. I found it easier to keep to a 30 minute schedule and by the third set of my first show I felt like I had it down pretty tight. I did have a bad habit at first of forgetting to turn off my mic after a voiceover. So, sometimes the listeners would get treated to my singing along with the music until someone would poke me to turn off the mic."

Bixyl Shuftan: " Heh ... How did things go after that?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Things were great @ Club Elite for a good while. But unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end. The club wasn't making enough money to keep running and eventually had to close its doors. As a parting gift, the owner of the club gave me a copy of the club's dancefloor. at the time it was one of the most unique dancefloors I'd ever seen. And to this day, I still use a dance floor based off of it's design whenever I put on shows in my own places or a place that allows the DJ to provide a floor. I made quite a few friends at Club Elite, and was able to get into other clubs thanks to those connections.

"I played for Club Abydos when there were only three Furnation sims. DJ Inferniel ran the place he and I were both alumni of Club Elite, so it was no surprise when I got an invite to play there. Furries were rapidly becoming more and more widespread in Second Life and so I was doing alot of looking around at other furry clubs too. Abydos eventually shut down, for the first time and I moved on to the club which I will always think of as Scratch's first home: Rainbow Tiger."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How would you describe this particular club. What made it stand out among other clubs, furry and otherwise?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Rainbow Tiger? well, it was bigger than anyplace I'd played for before and it's roster of DJs was huge. There was someone live on the air almost 24-7, I'd never seen that before. The atmosphere at Rainbow Tiger was really hoppin' too. there was always people there. Club Elite, Club Fur and Abydos all had times when there was just nothing going on, but not Rainbow Tiger. It was exciting and fun knowing that was part of a club that entertained so many people so much. Of course, that just makes how Rainbow Tiger finally shut down even sadder. I haven't found a club since that had the same feel to it as RT had back then. I'll admit, a few have come close. But I honestly don't think that kind of magic will ever be duplicated. Rainbow Tiger just had the right combination if elements and I'm proud to have been a part of that."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How long did it keep going?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, I know that Rainbow Tiger had been a well established place by the time I started my backup Second Life account in 2006. And I know that somewhere around 2009 or 2010 RT had to shut down. I don't know for sure when because I had fallen on hard times and was not able to get on Second Life for almost a year. Before then, the last time I played at Rainbow Tiger had been in 2008. I was playing for there and another fairly popular club called Fur Dungeon. I was unemployed in real life from 2010 to 2013 and so I wasn't able to do much in Second Life at all unless I was at a location where my aging laptop could get a good enough signal to get into SL. When I finally got back into Second Life effectively, I found out that Rainbow Tiger had closed.

"Then early in 2014, I began to hear rumors that somebody was trying to bring Rainbow Tiger back. I kept tabs on this rumor until finally a notice popped up in the old RT group that stated they were back and looking for DJs. I immediately signed up. ay this time I had begun playing for a licensed furry radio station, 'Raging  Dragon Radio,' owned and operated by the con chair of my local area's first furry convention 'Furthemore.'"

Bixyl Shuftan: "So you never found out why it closed?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "I spoke to Spike about it when I found out that Rainbow Tiger was back, and the way it sounded to me was that the place just wasn't drawing the crowds like it used to. So, I thought this could be a win-win situation if I could get Rainbow Tiger associated with Raging Dragon Radio. That way RDR would finally have an official venue in Second Life (they didn't at the time) and RT would have the support of RDR. Unfortunately, it seemed it was too little too late. The place was almost always empty. And so, Spike finally sent out a notice that Rainbow Tiger was shutting down for good, just a couple months ago. Even the brightest stars eventually burn out."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sorry to hear about that. So for a few years your DJing in SL was a little spotty?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "I Yeah, between 2006 and 2010 I did alot of hopping around to different clubs, I played GYC for about a month ... Don't even get me started on THAT place. Let's just say for the kind of club they were running they hiring DJ's was just kinda a waste of time and they would have served themselves better by just using a radio stream tuner. I played for some of the clubs that my good real-life friend DJ Rory ran; The Coco Beach Club and the Blue Parrot to name a couple. I met one of my best SL friends ever at the CBC, Muertos Ashbourne. I Played for a mostly human club by the name of Club Zapp for a while. But by then it was pretty much the end of 2011 and the beginning of the really hard times when I pretty much had to drop out of Second Life completely.

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, it was during the Spring months, I was doing sidework for a real-life friend's father and staying at his place while I worked. SO I was able to use my laptop to get online there and get back into SL. At first, I didn't do a whole lot. Certainly no DJ'ing, all the clubs I was familiar with were gone. Even, as I found out upon my return, Rainbow Tiger. So, I kinda took a break from the club scene for a bit, my RL schedule didn't really work for club DJ'ing at the time anyways. So I got into new roleplay groups. I had begun getting into 'My Little Pony' by that time and I discovered the Fallout/MLP crossover called 'Fallout: Equestria.' Did alot of RPing there as well as alot of other places Muertos and I found in our travels.

"As I said before I hooked back up with Spike and the Rainbow Tiger crew and did my best to try to help the place thrive, but it turned out to be a lost cause. Early in November (2014), a group notice went out from this place I'd shopped at before called Furry Fashion saying they were looking for DJ's Hosts, and Models. Hell, I never even knew they had a club. Now, I've never been the kind of guy that DJ's for the money. NONE of the clubs I played for before paid the staff. We always worked for tips and that was it so I was used to playin' for peanuts. But hey, like I said, I was never in it for the money. BUT, I will admit, it DID perk my ears when I heard that this place not only paid the staff but you also get tips, it was just like an real-life club.

"So I figured, what the hell and I applied. Well, not to toot my own horn, but it was no surprise when they showed interest in hiring me. There's alot to be said for having a good resume backed by years of experience. I was contacted within the week, played my first show there that Thursday. And I do believe, I made them fall in love with me that very same night."

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds like you were a real hit (smile).

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, so far, I've heard nothing but praise from the Furry Fashion staff. They're a really fun bunch too. They run a staff chat outside of Second Life in Skype that way we can keep up to date of things going on at the club on or off of SL. We get together and play 'Cards Against Humanity' online sometimes. It's just a very friendly atmosphere and very family-like. I'm enjoying it a lot. I still play for Raging Dragon Radio on Thursdays. Unfortunately tho I don't think I could host RDR at Furry Fashion because there are rules to how I have to play on RDR and there are rules to how I have to play at FF and the combination of the two would make running a show very difficult for me. I'm good, but I'm not that good and trying to follow both sets of rules would totally suck the fun out of the whole show."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "So aside from these places, what are your plans for the future?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, I'll play for Furry Fashion for as long as they'll have me. Meanwhile, I am looking for a place that can accommodate my schedule and be a good fit for hosting Raging Dragon Radio. Kit, RDR's owner has recently gotten back into Second Life himself and a few weeks ago we went club hopping looking for places to apply to that might be a good fit."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Anything else that you'd like to mention?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "*Giggles insanely* "well I could bore ya with my mercifully short forray into trying to run a club of my own. But I don't think you want to write about a train wreck. That's one thing I'll NEVER do again."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Well, if that's all, thank you for your time and good luck with your music making."

Raging Dragon Radio:

Bixyl Shuftan