I spent some time in Vancouver recently and have nothing but good things to say. I met some great friends I had been talking to online for years in real life! Had some great times hanging with locals, made some new friends and walked/biked all over the city, beaches and parks. The peak of the trip for me was definitely performing live at Sequential Circus.
We had a very enthusiastic crowd that was really up-for-it and easily the most talented collection of artists I’ve ever shared the stage with. Did I mention this was a LivePA festival and every act performed their set with a combination of analog gear, computers, keyboards, controllers and various bits of technology? Yes, it was a bit of a geek fest, and a real treat to experience 5 other live electronic performances and get an up-close look at how they make it happen.
I’d also like to say that everyone involved; the door staff, organizers, light/sound/video crew and bar staff were a perfect vision of professionalism and dedication. Everything ran on time and felt organized. The sound was phenomenal and the video crew was amazing. Big thanks and support to Drew, Rich, Mike, Krista, Carrie, Ross, Kim, Shell and all the performers (plus anyone I may have forgotten). Getting to meet so many awesome people was one of the best parts of my trip.
So, how was the show itself you ask? Well, the vibes & music were great all night. We kicked off the evening with Kir Mokum dropping some very powerful melodies and intricate beats, his set morphed and shifted in a very pleasing way as Open Studios began to fill up and people were grooving. Jeff Griffiths then took the stage and brought some deep & dark progressive tech house type awesomeness. His grooves were huge and they got me and lots of others moving. Next, Dark Arps stormed the place and brought the hammer down. Kicking up the bpm’s a bit with tons of energy he dropped huge banging progressive techno. At first I was nervous to follow him, but between him and the 1st two acts the crowd was in a great place, lots of cheering and dancing. It was just before 1AM and I hit the stage to a happy audience who couldn’t seem to get enough. Thanks so much Vancouver for the warm welcome! It was a pleasure beyond description to share my music with you! After my set, Jonnay (the only all hardware act of the night) proceeded to bring the RAVE! His set went into all kinds of territory, he blurred genres and bpm’s and left the crowd begging for more. Last, and definitely not least, The Square Root of Evil took the stage kept the party moving.
It was my first time seeing the really fast and ultra melodic techno that’s going by names like chiptune, 8-bit, breakcore, etc. I’m not sure what you call it, but I like it, her set reminded me a bit of the type of stuff one of my favorite acts Slagsmålsklubben is putting out. She was very in control of the music, blending crazy beats & rhythms together with fun melodies, all with a smile , I was definitely moving my feet a good bit during her performance, as was everyone else. Truly an epic night to remember! Thank you Vancouver!Read More
Ok, so I waited a while to actually get around to posting this. You’ll be pleased to know I actually composed most of this while waiting in the airport for the trip home. I’ve done my best to simply give you a journal style account of our experiences during WMC 2010. This was my 4th time attending the conference and DJ Notech’s first.
Left Atlanta, GA, our flight departed around 12 noon. We had some airport BBQ and a tall one. We arrived in Miami and headed to our hotel, took a walk on the beach, walked down Collins, had a delicious cuban sandwich and an empanada, then took advantage of a local package store where we acquired some Johnny Walker Black (great deal with free glasses) and some beer. We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for night one in Miami, which pretty much went max to the limit and didn’t let up until Sunday.
So we caught a bus into downtown Miami, got off on the wrong stop and had to walk about 1/2 hour through a empty streets and a construction zone, I nearly got crushed by a giant crane. Finally we arrived at the Electric Pickle (a very cool spot with a great vibe) and Disco/Funk legend Greg Wilson was already on the decks with his trusty reel-to-reel. Greg’s set was out of this world, I’ve never seen a DJ do the types of tricks he was doing. There weren’t too many people there early in the night but it filled up steadily. Eventually the place was packed with Greg Wilson (Credit to the Edit) blowing up downstairs and King Britt going off upstairs. Had a lot of Sapporo’s throughout the night, followed by a nice kamikaze. Bar staff was probably the coolest we encountered.
King Britt brought out a couple live singers who really got the place going, I was upstairs on and off throughout the night, but since Greg Wilson is legendary and doesn’t play too many shows I spent most of the night down there. His beyond eclectic set kept the crowd moving all night. We met some cool people and made a few connections while hanging out on the patio. Got back to the hotel around 5AM give or take and proceeded to get kicked out of the nice heated pool, I didn’t see a sign for hours (the security guard said it was stolen). I don’t recommend the Miami Beach Resort & Spa, no balconies or opening windows and the service was pretty unenthusiastic.
Woke up, at lunch at the poolside grill with our Orbitz bucks and then headed to the Bentley Hotel for Basic NYC’s rooftop party for ‘Do You Want To Boogie?’. Crazy P killed it, incredible tunes and a great spacious party with lots of dancing. Nothing quite like partying while surrounded by a beautiful ocean & skyline. We met lots of really cool cats who were up for it. From there we retreated to the hotel and then headed back out around 1:30AM to the 10 year anniversary party of SAW recordings where Satoshi Tomiie worked a finely tuned sound system like the master he is. Stayed til’ close and went home with a nice new T-shirt courtesy of Satoshi & crew, what a vibe! Didn’t get back to the hotel until around 5AM.
On Friday we finally got a little bit of rest, then had to hustle down town to make it to the yacht party with Guy Gerber, Seth Troxler, Shaun Reeves & dOP. This party was one of the highlights of WMC for me, great music and a great crowd. Dancing while in motion is pretty crazy. Seeing the Miami skyline from Biscane bay is definitely one of the most spectacular experiences I’ve had, and having world class talent throwing down the whole time made it even better. Met lots of really cool people on the boat and danced until it hurt. The feeling of motion stuck with me for the rest of the night. After the show we ran into Guy Gerber and his crew on the metrobus, a few stops later our bus was overtaken my the Ultra Music Festival crowd, we sat at one stop for 1/2 hour. It took another hour to get back to the hotel…
After a good bit of whiskey and pizza and a trip to the heated pool we got nice and clean and got ready to head back out at 4AM to the Hope & Audiotherapy event with Nick Warren & Dave Seaman at club Shine. That place is about the closest to dancing in a space ship I’ve come. The sound system levitates your insides and shakes the floor, so it still felt like we were on the boat again. Shine had some of the best sound & lights I saw while at the WMC. Nick & Dave were DJ’ing together and dropping some freight train size grooves. The event ran until 6:30AM. I was completely worn out but the music commanded me to move and somehow I found myself dancing, endorphins kicked in and the pain subsided. That party was overwhelmingly insane, it’s nice to see two heavy-weight DJ’s and record labels come together to create an awesome night. Got back to the hotel around 7 or 8AM, more or less zombies at that point.
Had breakfast in bed thanks to some $100 worth of Orbitz bucks, the chicken wrap was delicious. Headed out around 4 to the Serato/Rane product showcase. This was held at the Fountain Bleu, a 5 star hotel that made us all feel famous. The place was simply gorgeous. The staff were very friendly in helping us locate the right tower, we had been wandering around with our new friend Bhai through another tower and out to the pool. The place is huge. We made our way to the event and got an up close look at their forthcoming project ‘The Bridge’. Suffice to say it looks like a huge step in the right direction for both Ableton & Serato. I can’t to see what they come up with in the final version. The Rane/Serato crew were very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. I really enjoyed the chance to get such an up close look at both their current offerings and things to come.
From there we headed to the Beatport pool party where Mark Knight was storming the place with live singers. The Beatport setup was insance. From a really cool 3D motion art piece to some majorly solid sound and a light show that could easily cause seizures it was out of control. After Knight we got to see DJ Chuckie, who worked the place into a frenzy. Some of his stuff was a bit hokey to me, but there was no denying some of his grooves. Plus the sound & lights were just amazing. Check www.youtube.com/steamtownrecords to see some of our videos showing everything I’ve mentioned.
After the beach party we got ready for yet another late night. We feasted on a huge meal of authentic Cuban food. They didn’t speak English but were happy to give us plenty of their delicious offerings. Cuban food is a must while in Miami. Nice and full, we headed to Steve Porter’s ‘Porterhouse’ at club B.E.D. I attended the very first Porterhouse back in 2005, and it’s still a raging party. Didn’t get to see much of Steve’s set, which was disappointing, but Eli Wilkie and Mike Swells killed it with super-sized grooves. Plenty of room to dance, overall good night. We ran up some insanely high bar tabs that night, and somehow didn’t get back to the hotel until the sun was coming up. We hung out on the beach with a few other people who were out to watch the sunrise. Got to walk around in the fairly cold Atlantic, then went inside for some much needed rest.
Woke up hurting from the last 4 days, zipped down to South Beach to meet some friends for brunch. Then we made our way to the airport where our flight got delayed. Sat around and worked on this blog post and watched the news. Eventually we had some yummy pizza and finally got on a very bumpy flight home. WMC 2010 was a great time, full of amazing talent, some of the best sound & lights I’ve seen and lots of new friends that have made life cooler than it was before.Read More
This is another tip of mine that I employ frequently, you may already be doing this, if so, no need to keep reading unless you’re bored and have nothing better to do. If not, this is going to help you add some unexpected and original elements to your productions. When making electronic music things can sound overly robotic. This is part of why we like techno, but too far in one direction is no good, we want a well balanced android, a blend of organic & mechanical elements.
So, after I’ve got a stomping beat, lots of organ levitating bass, some layers of melody or harmony or what have you, I start longing for something fleshy & organic. I typically accomplish this by rolling tape (ok so it’s digital) and using all sorts of things to get sounds. Now, you can run around with a portable recorder getting field recordings. This is tons of fun and you wind up with all sorts of useful or just interesting recordings. Nearly everybody is doing it now, so if you haven’t tried it, come on and ride the train, you’ll be glad you did.
What I’m talking about here is slightly different. You can get a live track just by recording yourself banging away on a keyboard. For instance, on a track I’m currently producing I did a 5 minute take of various percussion from my Alesis QS8. Now, I recorded a few high hat riffs, some bells, congas, random percussion that I’m not sure of the origin and I also moved the sliders and pitch wheel around. I basically hit record and then went to town on the Alesis making sure to try and lock into some sort of “groove” or at least trigger a sound in time so as to minimize future editing. This method is useful for percussion, atmosphere, basslines, melody… really anything. It’s no fun to just sit in front of the computer clicking around (well, it certainly can be, but all clicking and no playing makes Wesley D. a dull producer). Even if you don’t play an instrument you can bang on keys, push buttons, move knobs & sliders, or shake a guitar, just do something with your body that makes sound Have fun, get into the groove and you’ll be surprised at what comes out, just make sure you’re rolling so you don’t come up with something dope that doesn’t get on the track (arm your tracks, make sure the signal is getting recorded, do a quick test, nothing worse than doing a perfect take only to find out your punch in settings only got 5 seconds of audio)
I also like to do this with a microphone set up, I’ll tip whiskey bottles, bang on various things, scream through my childrens voice changer, wobble the zither, shake the percussion egg or a broken light bulb, whistle through a tube, make random noises with my mouth as I run around the mic or anything that seems fun and has the slightest chance of sounding cool. Keep in mind you can go crazy with FX after you record, turn things backward, pitch them up/down, time stretch/compress, go nuts, this is why techno is so much fun. I’ve even set a guitar on fire by lying a dryer sheet over the pickups, igniting it, and then plucking the strings (it was a cheapo silvertone, and I cleaned it up afterward). I’m fundamentally opposed to abusing instruments, but if it gets a little damage for the sake of a cool recording that’s different.
Have fun, and send tracks to my drop box, if it’s dope I’ll link to it or something. Take care everybody! For bonus points this week experiment with a Blumlein Pair, all you need is two stereo (figure 8 ) mics, they should be matched, but I’ve done it without and it works fine.Read More
This may sound like a simply trick to some of you, but when I first discovered this it felt like the world had fundamentally changed in a split second.
This technique is primarily useful when trying to add distortion to a bass, but multiband processing itself can be applied in a myriad of ways, and multiband distortion can be used on any source, so by all means experiment and realize that affecting specific bands of the frequency range isn’t just for distortion.
In electronic music many times you want to give your bass a nasty growl. Running it through a metal zone petal can make it scream, but more often than not adding distortion doesn’t help out with your sub bass, or your “low lows” as some say. I’m not sure why, but for some reason the same grimy distorted sound many of us love doesn’t work out so well on low frequencies. For the most part sub bass is something you feel, more than something you hear. It’s not as much about tone as it is about making the earth shake, or bones rattle. Distortion doesn’t usually help this.
So, how to do it… if you have a plugin like Izotope Trash it’s much easier as they have already built in the multiband function. If you don’t already have a distortion plugin that offers a multiband approach it’s not to hard to set up yourself. Just route your bass to two sends, buses, etc. You’ll have two sources for the bass now, so route the main output of your bass track to nowhere when using this approach. Now, simply add a high pass filter (HPF) on one send/bus and a low pass filter (LPF) on the other (together the two sends/buses will sound like the original bass). Set them so that one is just the low lows, say 150hz. and under, and the other is everything above 150hz. Of course this value may need to be adjusted depending on the bass, and you could of course use more than two bands.
If using something like Izotope trash you don’t need the sends/buses, just create two or more bands in the plugin and set the sub band so that it’s not getting any distortion. From here simply dial in the distortion any way you like it. Try something subtle or completely muck things up, it’s your call. Using this technique you can add some nastiness to your bass without losing the presence of your subs.
You could also just run distortion over the whole bass and roll off the lows or filter them out. Then just add another layer of bass for sub, usually a sine wave with most of the mids/highs rolled off.
Again, this trick is old hat for some, but to others, this may really open some creative doors. Best of luck to all and most importantly, have fun!Read More
Over the weekend I finally made reservations for Winter Music Conference in Miami, which takes place around March 24-28. DJ Notech is traveling down with me, we’ll both be there as representatives of Steamtown Records and in our capacity as DJ’s/Producers/Performers. We look forward to meeting many new people and expanding our network. To anyone else attending, hit us up through email/twitter/etc. and let’s meet up! WMC is probably the most fun week of the year to be in Miami
In other news I’ve been playing a lot of guitar lately. Took my Jackson RR3 (Randy Rhoads signature) guitar to have Dimarzio pickups installed. Also bought an Alexi Laiho 200 signature ESP/LTD guitar for a ridiculously low price on eBay. I wasn’t in the market for another guitar, but the Alexi signature is pretty awesome, and I honestly didn’t think I would win the auction at that price, I woke up the next morning and looked at my phone; “hrm, looks like I bought a guitar last night”. I’ve since installed the signature Alexi pickup & preamp combination. Had to get out the soldering iron and strip some mic cable to make the installation possible. Apparently I got one of the older ones where the cables were too short for a flying V. Anyway, the guitar is a precision shredding machine, and it does other sounds quite well too. I picked up the Dethklok tablature book, the guy behind the music is an incredible player and jamming to his songs is enhancing my style. Heavy metal has an interesting influence on my electronic productions. Melodically I like the same things regardless of the style of music.
Hope all is going well for you all, can’t wait to see some of you in Miami next month!Read More
A friend and all around talented producer/performer, Gustavo Lanzas, has founded a new record label; Nude Photo Music. The first release, Nude Photography 2010 is an incredibly solid offering featuring four different producers. I highly recommend checking this out!
“Starbase Lounge Music”, from Mantic, delivers a subliminal & techy tune that draws you in with constantly evolving elements as it chugs along with a great funky groove. Caltrop’s “Fleeting Moments” is a beautiful & lush sound scape with wonderfully programmed electro synths playing well thought out melodies. I’m a big fan of the chord change that develops, it’s nice to hear such good melody together with a solid electronic foundation. “Acid Love”, from Audioelectronic, is a funky concoction of swinging house rhythms and percolating synths that channels the spirit of early techno into a modern & sexy track. Jon Gillham sets it up and knocks it down with “Tracer”, a very futuristic sounding number with lots of little bits coming together to make the groove churn, tracks like this are really getting into the minimal/tech sound.Read More