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The real work was over for now but I had already made a big mistake that could end the trip.
The Megabus journey when without issue. Despite my right leg going numb after the first half an hour there were no prisoners on board. Not that I knew about anyway. At four and a half hours in total, the trip didn’t compare to the nine hour overnight trip from London to Edinburgh. A journey that was burnt into my memory from a visit to see my sister there several years ago. All through the journey I’d been texting Alan who was one of the first to reply to my email. Everything went to plan and I reached Union station in Washington just at sunset. Feeling good about myself I put Alan’s address into my phone bought a card for the metro system and headed seven stops north out of town. It’s only when I texted the Citymapper live ETA to Alan that I realised something was wrong. “You’re in Chicago right?” the text read. Shit.
I’d been messaging the wrong person the entire day and now I was standing outside a strangers house in the suburbs on Washington DC.
I headed back into town and dug through the email responses from earlier in the week. Searching for Washington I scrolled down and found Wade. Giving him a call I crossed my fingers. He answered. Even though I gave him no warning he was still willing to take me in. He text me the right address and I sigh with relief.
Wade was a buzzing character. He was just working on some packing with his girlfriend when I arrived before we headed out to explore. Walking fast around town I fell in love within the first block. Every American city I’d been to numbered it’s streets and avenues the same. Washington used numbers for streets heading north to south and letters for streets east to west. Something about this system made a great deal more sense to my brain. We stopped at U street for an amazing wood fired pizza. Looping round for a tour of the towns clubs. Once we’d done the circuit we paced back to the flat as he explained to me the startup scene and DJ scenes in the town. I was amazing to hear the startup he worked for had grown from ten times the staff in the last couple of years as he pointed out the large stone building that was his office.
That evening after chatting about Chew a little Wade took a look at the Chew API we launched just lithe week before the visit. He was a self taught developer much like me. While I watched he coded a live status icon to sit on his website Tortoise and the Snare. A much better developer than I ever was clearly.
We were both flagging after food. Chilling on the sofa made me want to sleep more than ever. But as soon as Wade showed me his studio I perked up. We created a show and started mixing for the second time on my trip. It took a little while to get to grips with his brand new Pioneer XDJ–1000s. The new decks that remove the CD drive in favour of a touch screen display. By the time we’d hit the hour mark there was no stopping us. We plowed on mixing 44 house beats until 1am. Familiar faces from earlier in the trip jumped up in the chat. Justin from Wax n Cats who I stayed with just a week before watched right the way through.
The next morning I woke up and took 3 hours of solid back to back calls while Wade worked from home wrapping up his latest development sprint.
For lunch we went and found a Taco place close by. And once we were full I split off to see some of the sites of the capital. I couldn’t leave without taking the classic snapshots of the Washington Monument and the White House.
By the time I’d walked around the capital for a couple of hours my tweets about the trip began to pay off. A few messages and I meet up with DJ Panch to talk dubstep over yet more tacos. The other reply I got that night was from the
Zeitgeist collective. Jonathan from the group had invited me down to an event at the Velvet Lounge that night. The circle was complete. The three Chew DJs from Washington all converged on the bar as the clock passed 11pm.
For ten minutes my new friends met and swapped Chew follows back and forth on their phone.
The sound that Jonathan and Andre played brought me right home. For last three months in London is been running the Future Bounce show representing the same sounds an entire ocean apart. The sound is a combination of interesting bass heavy vibes merged with future R&B, trap and grime. Two cities connected by music.
As we took photos and headed back to the apartment it struck me that these DJs had all been playing in the same city yet they’d never met until that night. They had all found the platform in completely different ways. Chew connected them across scenes and across genres.
Ben Bowler is the Co-Founder of Chew, the live streaming community that connects a new generation of DJs, producers and personalities.
Having built his career in music and media companies AEI Media and Vice, he noticed young fans today are no longer passive consumers but content creators as well. Launching Chew in January 2015 the community has exploded internationally in the first year and Ben has received press and industry notice, being awarded the IMS Visionaries award last year. Ben continues to build and expand Chew internationally throughout 2016.