“You need to start displaying a more diverse taste in music. Our demographic surveys have suggested that your audience aren’t solely interested in loud, up-beat noise. So, we’re having you attend this year’s music convention in Canterlot. You’ll mix and mingle with other ponies who have interests not only in club music, but also hip, hop, rock and roll, and even classical. This’ll be good for you, Vinyl; perhaps you’ll even be able to make new fans…”
That was how it happened. The conversation still repeated itself in Vinyl’s head, her mind doing a perfect impression of a rewind on her turntables. She groaned silently to herself as she trudged on, trying to look like she was enjoying herself in the very likely event that a paparazzi was able to capture her discomfort in cold, hard evidence.
Sure, she went along with pretty much anything, and if her sponsors and agent wanted diversity then as long as she still got paid she’d comply. It still didn’t mean she was overjoyed to have her precious ear drums assaulted by the various off-key, mismatched and downright badly played tunes, songs and recordings that were going on all around her. But at least she didn’t have to spend any bits.
Her travel, accommodation and living expenses had all been paid for, and as she had a gig during the convention she had free access to every area of the building. She could also see why such an occasion was taking place. It was indeed a good event to experience the different avenues of the musical world. There were all manner of ponies who had gathered to either make a name for themselves, search for young and budding talent, or even just to satisfy one’s personal tastes.
Since she’d arrived she’d been given business cards, various albums and tapes, and had been asked to sign autographs to the ponies that recognised her. She’d only been in the building for what she thought was half an hour and already the modest saddlebag she’d decided to take with her couldn’t contain any more of the items she was being given. It was almost amusing to see the faces of the eager ponies look so disheartened when she refused to take any more of their recordings, upset that a DJ of her calibre had deemed their work unworthy of her time. She was careful to make sure that wasn’t the case, however; everypony has to start somewhere.
The convention was taking place in one of Canterlot’s largest hotels in the artistic district; a tall tower which was pretty much the only notable building on the street it was located on, the rest being restaurants and stores. And due to not being a long walk from the Royal Palace of the Celestial Sisters the area was the main hub for the arts in Canterlot, music being only one of the many forms art could take on.
It was because of the proximity to the Palace that the district received such attention. Paintings, sculptures, musical renditions, anything considered worthy of taste were often sent through the palace at the behest of the Princesses. Many of the artists craving success vied to gain the Princesses’ attention, especially Princess Luna, who seemed to desperately want to catch up on how far artistic influence had grown since her disappearance a millennium ago.
The Alicorn had been a huge fan of music when she and Celestia had ruled together; often it had been a requirement for her hoof-maidens to know how to play an instrument or to sing so that she could be entertained whilst performing her nightly duties. At least that’s what the tabloids printed when she returned. Vinyl always took everything they wrote with a pinch of salt, but considering how much the royal treasury had spent on the music industry in recent months she had been led to the notion that there may be some truth to it.
As a matter of fact, Princess Luna’s thirst for knowledge was rather insatiable. She had already caught up on law to the point where she was now making the judgements on unlawful behaviour more often than Celestia, and even closing a few loopholes that existed within the system. History came shortly after that, everything that had happen in the last thousand years from all manner of sources, be it from books or Celestia herself. She soon had the knowledge to teach a night class in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and talks were underway between the two sisters behind closed doors of having her take a more active role, perhaps even founding her own Academy.
The music convention seemed to just be another way for Luna to gain the most knowledge on a subject in the least amount of time possible; a little bit of everything to sample until she found her tastes again to indulge in at greater depths. But, as Luna’s reputation as a know-it-all began to grow, Vinyl doubted that her tastes would stop her from learning about just about everything else there was to know about music, even if she cared for it or not. She hadn’t seen the princess yet, but she figured she’d catch a glimpse of her somewhere in the building, listening intently or asking questions to the various nervous musicians and performers that had gathered.
Although, it was actually rather perplexing at how many ponies had gathered. One would think that to promote your particular brand of music you’d do it someplace…quieter; a place where everypony could appreciate it without other distractions. But here, here everypony just struggled and fought to be heard over the next table, the next stage, or whatever their neighbour was performing upon. It amused the young DJ to think that should she set up an area for her to mix out some tunes with a decent set of speakers she could drown out most, if not all, of the ponies in the complex. But despite the grin she had on her face at the thought, she knew better of it; her agent would likely not be pleased if she hijacked the convention and turned it into a rave…no matter how appealing it seemed.
So she kept to herself, smiling and nodding at the various ponies that recognised her as she trotted past the stalls and trying not to gather too much of a crowd. Her fame had only grown since she had offered to take care of the music needed for a modest fashion show in her home town of Ponyville. She’d always been able to get gigs, nothing too big, just small little venues, parties and the like. Ponyville wasn’t known for its active nightlife, but there were one or two clubs which gained enough profit to stay open and pay her enough to play sets. But it wasn’t until after the local fashionista’s show that she started to make a name for herself.
That was where she met her first big time employer, Opel Jubilee, and gained her stage name; DJ Pon3. Opel had been following Hoity Toity, hired in the off chance she’d be needed for an impromptu fashion show of Hoity’s own making, when she had noticed Vinyl and, being always on the lookout for rising talent, offered her a small venue in one of the bigger cities. Shows and gigs were then coming so quickly that she didn’t have enough time to accept them all. She’d had to hire an agent to manage all the attention and she’d even been able to start up her own night club in Manehatten, though she rarely managed to run the turntables there anymore; the nights that she could, however, proved very successful.
The electric blue streaks in her mane waved as she shook her head slightly to escape from memory lane. A few passersby, rather froufrou looking, took note but she simply gave them one of her trademark grins, the one on all her publicity posters, and they carried on their way muzzles held high. “These things bring all sorts of ponies out of hiding,” she caught one of them say, an image of a conductor’s baton upon his flank.
“Quite right, and why in Celestia’s name is she wearing glasses like those? Indoors?” the second retorted, before they both grew out of ear shot. Vinyl thought nothing of it, of course. Image was everything in the business she was in and a thick skin was the next item on the ‘list for success’ below it. She’d built herself a reputation on her style and behaviour, and she wouldn’t change it for a few ponies who disapproved of her, especially when she was doing as well as she was. All in all, if they didn’t like it, they could go and buck themselves, something she’d been caught saying a few too many times for her sponsors’ likings.
Quickly casting the rude ponies from her mind she took stock of her surroundings, realising that she’d been daydreaming for longer than she realised. She’d wandered away from the organised chaos where she’d picked up all her ‘souvenirs’, which were now starting to become an annoyance on her back, especially as she didn’t want them in the first place.
All the mismatched tables and music stands had been replaced with rows of spacious cubicles, some with stages, others with tables adorned with musical bric-a-brac for even the most eccentric of collectors. And still others sold instruments. Drums, horns, guitars, piccolos, pretty much anything a pony could think of that made a noise of a musical nature was available for sale from some of the best instrument dealers in Canterlot.
Many a pony were browsing said wears in their droves, flitting from instrument stand to instrument stand and sizing up value for quality. Vinyl noted that nearly all the ponies were wearing high-class articles of clothing, long sequined dresses and garish hats of all sizes. She suppressed a snort of laughter at the few that wore monocles and other such items. She’d mistakenly wandered into the area of the building dedicated to all things classical, traditional and by her own opinion, boring in the musical genre.
She could never really get on with the upper crust of society. They always looked down on her for her tastes and so she in return didn’t give them much more than the time of day. She was forced to be civil when she had to, most of her record labels were held by some of the more open-minded of the elite, such as Sapphire Shores, but she would never be caught willingly going along to one of their social gatherings.
She contemplated turning to leave, to retreat back to the chaos she’d come from, but the weight of her saddlebag made itself known once more as she turned and she grew worried of the amount of useless materials she’d collect from spending more time in there. At lease if she stayed where she was she wouldn’t be harassed by every pony she walked past, and she’d also make it look like she was trying to do exactly what her agent wanted her to do; mingle. And so, with a sigh of resignation to her decision, she began to wander through the throngs of high society.
Wrapped within an aura of pale blue magic, the map Vinyl had been given floated out from her bag and hovered in front of her. The entire convention was taking place predominantly on the second floor of the hotel, the floor with the most conference rooms, halls and auditoriums for occasions exactly like the one taking place. Everything else in the hotel was running normally. Guests were still staying, though pretty much every room was booked up.
If Vinyl had wanted to attend and wasn’t invited, she’d have been hard pressed to get herself a room to stay in. Luckily for her she had a full suite to herself somewhere on the twenty-first floor, room twenty-one eighteen. She groaned inwardly at having to go so far to get to her room but couldn’t complain; she could have anything out of the mini-bar, a privilege she was definitely looking forwards to abusing later on.
Finding her mind wandering once again, this time at the prospect of chocolates, cookies and various types of alcohol, she focused on her map more intently, trying to find something of interest to her in the vast expanse of boredom that she had found herself in. Eventually she glanced over something familiar, a name. A smirk appeared upon her lips, map putting itself away, and eyes behind her tinted glasses scanning the room to get her bearings.
Once she was comfortable with where she was in relation to her target she set off, avoiding brushing shoulders with as many ponies as she could, and failing spectacularly with the ones that wore over the top attire. A string of ‘oof’s and ‘of all the nerve’s followed in her wake as she turned corners and weaved through the array of cubicles and tables until she eventually reached her destination.
She kept herself hidden behind one of the walls of a cubicle, its occupant scowling at her as she intruded on his space and his bizarre collection of oboes on display. She ignored him and his persistent prodding and whining as she gazed upon the table she’d been looking for. A large placard beside it bore the name ‘Lyra Heartstrings’ in gold emboss and all along the table were recordings with album covers depicting the named mare upon them.
The mare herself was situated behind the table, and Vinyl had to stop herself from rolling on the floor with laughter. She’d gone to school with Lyra, grew up with her. Their tastes in music differed, made obvious by their cutiemarks, Lyra depicting a lyre, whilst Vinyl only held a music note symbol, which could be applied to anything. But it was their similar personalities that helped them become fast friends. They’d never been known to dress up or have tea parties or anything else that little fillies did when they were young, and that was why Vinyl was almost in stitches.
Lyra was dressed up. Lyra was dressed up a lot.
She wore a long, white dress that flowed down over her flank, covering her cutiemark. Golden slippers adorned all four of her hooves with a matching golden laced saddle upon her back that wrapped around her chest. And to finish the whole ensemble off she wore a simple, golden necklace, a sapphire jewel in the shape of a wrapped sweet encrusted right in the middle of it. Vinyl’s eyes watered as she took it all in; the mint green unicorn even had her hair done up, held into a quaint little bun, held together with a miniature golden lyre at the back.
Lyra held that wide, toothy grin she often used when excited and was happily looking back and forth at the ponies that stopped to look upon her albums. Behind her was a small lockbox which already had a modest sum of bits held within it; obvious turnover for the sales she had made.
It only took Vinyl a few more moments to recompose herself before she decided to go and greet her. She watched as Lyra looked around a few more times before her eyes fell on the approaching DJ. The smile fell off her face, replaced by a shocked expression, quickly followed by an uncertain smile, and finally a light blush. “Hey, Scratch... what are... er... I mean... well... um... how’s it going?” she finally managed to get out, stumbling over her words and knowing full well that she’d never hear the end of this.
Vinyl simply smirked at her, finally coming to a stop before her table and looking down at the albums for sale. She remained quiet whilst Lyra fidgeted her front hooves, letting her stew in her discomfort before looking back up over her glasses, their eyes meeting. “Lyra, come on, a dress? I thought you were cooler than that,” she said, a teasing glint sparkling within the ruby irises.
Lyra’s face only flushed further, a healthy rose colour crossing over her muzzle. “What? I can wear a dress if I want to...” the defence was made, serving only to make Vinyl snicker. “Besides, it’s a nice dress... Bon-Bon bought it for me, a one of a kind Rarity Label. She says it helps to dress like this in Canterlot,” she finished, closing her eyes and stomping her hoof, raising her head into the air in a pompous gesture.
Vinyl couldn’t resist after that, she broke into full on laughter. Ponies began to look over at her and the now distressed musician and whispered between themselves. Her heart racing and feeling hot with embarrassment, Lyra leaned over the edge of the table and used her magic to pull at Vinyl’s glasses. As soon as they left the white mare’s face the laughing stopped.
“Hey, give ‘em back!” she yelled, jumping back up and on to her back legs and banging her front hooves onto the table loudly.
Lyra winced at the noise but refused to give in so quickly. She held them above her head, an irritated look now adorning her face. “Shhhh! You’re making a scene, quit laughing and being... well... you and they’re all yours.”
Vinyl glared daggers back at her, contemplating on trying to take them back by force. But she knew that that would only lead to a tug of war which would most likely result in them breaking in half. So she grunted in agreement, getting off of the table and standing calmly once again. “Fine, just hurry up and give them back, I think I’m actually starting to feel a drop in the income that comes from wearing them.”
With a sigh, the green-tinted aura that floated the glasses in the air weakened. “You’re such a sell out,” Lyra commented, watching as Vinyl’s horn lit up and caught the pair before they landed back on the table.
They quickly righted themselves and were soon back where they belonged upon Vinyl’s head. “Hey, it’s not my fault ponies want to sponsor me, and if it means I get to look this good whilst making money from it, why should I stop them?” She grinned, causing Lyra to laugh lightly in return. “You’re still in a dress though. That’s funny,” she continued, quickly making the laugh stop.
“Look, Bon-Bon’s making me wear this; you know what she’s like with all this high-society stuff. Besides, it isn’t that bad, and it really is helping me sell my music. You know as well as I that the ponies that enjoy my genre are mostly those stuck-up, judge-you-on-appearance types.” She defended herself once more, and then quickly noticed the now disgruntled customer on the other end of the table. “Oh... hi...” she offered with a nervous smile, eyes wide.
“Well I never!” The brown stallion cried, sticking his head into the air and trotting off away from the table, much to Vinyl’s amusement and Lyra’s disappointment.
“Now look what you’ve done!” the mint unicorn hissed, “You’ve just cost me a sale...”
“How IS Bon-Bon these days anyway?” Vinyl then asked, the ever present grin on her face only fuelling Lyra’s irritation further. Vinyl had always liked Bon-Bon, not just because she was always giving her cakes and treats whenever she came to visit the pair, but because she was genuinely fun to be around. She typically obsessed over the latest fashions, which drove Lyra up the wall, which of course was another reason Vinyl liked her.
“She’s fine,” Lyra sighed, her face falling in defeat. “She’s out shopping at the moment. I brought her as my plus one; I know how much she likes Canterlot. Didn’t you bring anypony?” Vinyl’s grin faltered somewhat at the question and Lyra suddenly found a way to get back some of her pride. “Oh? The famous DJ-Pon3 here without a date? How absurd.”
“I could have brought a date!” Vinyl quickly responded, just as quickly straightening her face into one of nonchalant passiveness. “I just chose not to. Getting tired of the mares and stallions following me around, you know? You gotta have your own space sometimes.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Scratch. Well if you’d like, you could join Bon-Bon and I for dinner tonight. I’m sure she’d love to see you, it’s been a while since you’ve been home in Ponyville.”
“I’d like that, haven’t had a chance for a good catch up with anypony in a while, what with all the tours I’ve been doing lately.” Any sign of discomfort was now gone from the DJ, her nearly unbreakable confidence quickly coming back up as she got to the chance to subtly comment on how successful she was.
Lyra only shook her head as she laughed to herself, her horn lighting up as she took the quill she was using for anypony who wanted her to sign their copy of her album and scribbled her room number on a piece of scrap paper. “You’ll never change will you? Here’s our room number. Meet us there at eight tonight and we’ll head out to the restaurant across the street. And please wear something nice, not for me, but for Bon-Bon, she loves it when she gets the chance to dress up and pretend to be a somepony.”
“Riiight, you just want to see me in a dress. I’m on to you, Lyra, can’t pull the wool over my eyes.” Vinyl replied as she took the room number from Lyra’s grip.
“Ok, ok, sheesh, I’ll wear something nice, no need to yell. It’s a wonder how Bon-Bon puts up with you.” Lyra’s left eye twitched at that, and Vinyl knew she’d got as much fun as she was going to get out of her this time. “Well I best leave you to it then, hope you sell a few more, just try not to upset your fan base like you did with that last guy, not good for business. See you tonight!” And with that, she turned and left, leaving Lyra behind with a half-cocked retort still forming in her mouth.
All in all that was rather fun...but I’ve still got aaaaages before dinner, and my gig isn’t scheduled until tomorrow! Vinyl thought to herself as she took out her map again to look for something else fun to do. A thought then struck her as she reflected back on what she’d agreed to with Lyra. Wait...I don’t have anything nice to wear... She sighed heavily, startling a few passersby as she banged her head against a nearby pillar. I guess I’m going shopping...