WOW! I was just cruising beatport as I have a number of tracks in cart and I want to see which ones are available on bandcamp as BC gives the labels/artists a much higher percent of sales.
Then I saw a familiar name on the home page w/ the No.1 track
Pretty much exactly 3 years ago - John took me up on an offer for a track review. His work at the time was very solid. We've been connected and I've seen him release on labels like Dirtybird and and Farris Wheel from Chicago's Gene Farris. His latest is on legendary house label Defected at at the moment it holds the No.1 spot on beatport.
SPECIALISTS IN HOUSE AND TECHNO MUSIC PROMOTION, PROMO POOL AND MUSIC CONSULTANCY
First off - they are a legit operation. I appreciate anyone willing to say something is not a fit. That's what happened when I first reached out about a campaign. The song in question just wasn't the right match in terms of genre so it didn't make sense for both parties.
No harm no foul. At the time I appreciated the response and book marked the site for future use.
This past August I released a bootleg I had been working on and wanted to get it out there.
The artwork and description of the release is entirely up to you so get writing or find someone to do it. Writing an article about the release isn't needed but a solid paragraph is. Some people specialize in this. Just get it done well before hand. Here's my release.
This will help DJs who get the release want to give it a listen. The words should be factual but also curiosity generating - kinda like a good press release.
Here's what I wrote which got reposted on NoiseGate.
I chose to make a modern interpretation of Nat Monday's Waiting. I borrowed parts from The Creamer and K mix.
This was early 2000s progressive house. Think Tenaglia and Deep Dish. Actually the tune was on one of my favorite compilations ever - GLobal Underground Moscow - mixed by Deepdish - the duo Dubfire was in before going solo.
Anyhow I got some great feedback - far beyond the guaranteed minimums.
Overall 290 opens and 240 plays 3.8 out of 5. Some big names got it, listened and gave feedback/support - and by the way the names above genuinely downloaded and left a comment.
"Downloads for Richie Hawtin" don't count. I did get that LOL.
All in all great service this is something the pros use.
Great for some if you who want real feedback from people other than your Mum or Bros. This service is used by some top labels so you also have access provided it makes sense.
It goes without saying your material should be well mixed and professionally mastered. If you already have some street-cred and releases behind you all the better. That's not required but helps tell a story and for new artists that story is what helps you get heard.
And in other news Pioneer and Native Instruments have dropped new stuff.
Competition is always good. Pioneers release isn't such a big deal - yet another controller in the XDJ line. This time it's a less costly version of their XDJ-RX.
Native Instruments drops a ton of stuff w/ Traktor 3 coming soon along with updated S2 and S4 controllers. The S4 comes in at $899 which is less that Pioneers DDJ 1000 and new XDJ RR. Between these 3 offerings there's a good amount to choose from for the serious DJ who doesn't want to shell out big bucks.
The Traktor S4 MK3 looks interesting! While full details are limited it looks like it can run as a stand alone mixer which is a win for anyone with a turntable and it can play from IOS with the Traktor DJ app. However the app has collected dust for a while - to me the question is if you can run 4 tracks with the controller playing from the Traktor DJ app.
Im sure Traktor users are psyched for Traktor 3.0. I'm more of a Maschine user so I'm hoping a big Maschine update is coming soon.
I know I've been a little quite. This past April I started a new 9-5 job and 2 weeks later had my 2nd kid. So the company I work for is German, and they've sent me there 2 times now. The first was mostly work, the most recent trip was mostly party.
I think smarter companies are realizing it's a better trip when employees can mix and mingle rather than spend too much time in meetings fighting off hangovers.
I knew this was going to be a good trip because I saw US House Maestro Todd Terry in the airport. I travel out of Newark most of the time and saw who i thought was Todd sitting at CBGB. It was his signature backwards NY Yankee hat that made me realize it was him.
Todd was cool enough to chat for a few minutes, he was coming into Newark from Pacha Ibiza and off to Atlanta.
Anyhow I arrived in Berlin quite sleep deprived, rested in a hotel for a few and had to do some meetings and stuff from 2-6pm. Then it was dinner.
The next day I was off "the Castle," rather Schloss Beesenstadt.
It's more of a manor than a castle and about 3 hours from Berlin. Many of the popular Berlin clubs have held off site parties there.
It was beautiful, strange, creepy, crazy and cool this place. I'm actually really happy they booked it because the local people have a lot of pride in it and booking it helps fund renovations.
The place was once a military spot where horses were raised, another time an elite boarding school, probably at some point was run by communists as there was a big mural of Karl Marx. At another time maybe some Free Masons did stuff there. Was taken over by Nazis for a time, then used as a party place for East German Gov, and definitely spent some years in an abandoned state prior to being bought by a private owner after the fall of the Berlin wall.
So that's that. I have plenty of crazy pics of the place.
My employer is cool as fuck so they had various workshops to choose from. Music production, grafitti, volleyball or just chilling by a local lake.
You know what I chose to do.
My employer also has it's on DJ on retainer, Mr. Marvin Hey a Sisyphos mainstay. This year he brought in 2 DJ pals, his Ableton tutor Ingo and Ingo's girlfriend Diana May. (all great people).
I had found out some little details about the work outing and messaged our event planner about playing in a couple songs or something. I asked her to put me in touch w/ the DJs so I could work out technical details.
(They rented 4 CDJ 2000 Nexus players, a DJM 900 and an Allen & Heath Zone 92) Ingo brought in a bunch of production stuff too.
The first night was a gala dinner and masquerade ball/techno party (some top 40 was played too) and the next day was a DJ and production work shop.
Anyhow at the beginning of Day 1 when our awesome event planner was saying a few words to the whole company, she spoke about how her team of DJs had been there 2 days earlier setting up. She mentioned Diana who joins the team as the first girl DJ and then announced me as guest DJ from NYC.
"Oh hey everyone...no pressure now, thought I'd just play a few songs here and there didn't know I'd get proper announcement"
I curtailed my drinking during dinner a lot as to not mess up my set. I played from 1am to 4am in this sexy library turned techno room.
I totally rocked it and it was HOT. Germany had an unusual hot spell and there was no Air Conditioning up in there.
Anyhow really good time, great crowd as many of my European colleagues are totally up for the music. Not like fucking Americans - I love Americans but not too many where I'm from understand electronic music.
Maybe you can relate, but I learned a while back it's better to not even mention the whole DJ thing at work. No body gets it.
"Oh u dj like parties and weddings and stuff" - Nope.
"Then you must scratch like wika wika" - Nope not that either.
"Oh so then like EDM big David Guetta DJing (Puts hands in air)" Not not like that either just forget I said this.
So that's how it went a couple jobs ago so I don't mention it at all unless I know they "get it" first.
Anyhow, my coworkers thing Berlin DJs are like the worlds finest - they had no idea I could totally hold my own w/ them.
I made the switch to Rekordbox 2 years ago. I also have the XDJ-RX at home which makes walking up to CDJs quite easy.
Good thing for hot cues because sometimes equipment is a little shoddy. One deck had a cue button that didn't work. I usually drop cue point A on beat 1 so that was an easy work around.
I finally called it a day(night) at about 8am. The party went strong for a while.
The next day was DJ/production workshops and as honorary member of "Team DJ" I ended up teaching the DJ workshops which was fun. Didn't mind goofing off w/ a Nexus set up for a few hours.
Was fun teaching others how it all works. We let them try and mix without training wheels (the sync button)
If you're in the Berlin area Diana May gives lessons on the regular in addition to club/festival appearances.
Speaking of Berlin - you must be wondering if I made it to Berghain.
I did but didn't get in.
I got back to Berlin Saturday afternoon but had to be back to the hotel by 6am so I could be ready to leave at 7am. That made Berghain a tough one and when I got to the place the long line made it a no go. 12am-4am are peak entrance times so my chances were basically zero.
What I should have done was gone to Watergate - but we decided it was Berghain or bust. So I had a bust of a night.
What you should know about Berlin is that there are too many patrons and not enough venues. What this means is that Berghain isn't the only club in town that will deny you entrance. Getting in during peak night time hours can be annoying.
However from what I'm seeing there's so much nightlife activity that you can go out in the afternoon and have a blast with no stress of lines or getting rejected. There's enough people to have fun but still room to have plenty of space.
Having the Right Palette of Sounds is Essential for Hassle-Free Techno Production
Let's talk techno samples. Here are the problems I wanted to solve. Now if you don't have a reason to do this you can end up drowning in near pointless activity.
What I wanted to do was make better use of the samples I do have, pick more specific sounds which will help define the music I make, have it better organized by mood/genre. Organizing by mood/genre is important - for the same reasons you'd organize playlists for a DJ set. Different songs are more appropriate for different parts of the night. Same for samples. The problem with samples is that they aren't organized by energy or feel so you can just end up with a bunch of kicks or hats. Different kicks are better for different kinds of tracks. The same applies for bass, lead sounds and so on.
I also wanted my samples key labeled which makes things sound tighter and more cohesive. And when you get things sounding great at the onset it means less time mixing. Plus key labeling makes it easier to pick out what samples to use. (I tend to focus around the Key of A or something close to it)
Here we go.
Before I get into these tips let me give you a little back story.
The first sample pack I ever bought was a double data compact disk. This was ages ago and it was by East West which is still around today. However finding usable samples for underground music or techno was not an easy task.
Imo very little was actually good - like 5% at best.
So when modern producers started making packs I found them to be tons better however I'd still use less than half of the pack's content.
More on this in a moment.
Over the years I'd grab packs from beatport when they do really deep Holiday sales - this doesn't mean I'd gorge myself on them.
To date I have maybe 20 or so packs in total including 5 (Maschine) Native Instruments Expansions. The NI ones are quite good BTW.
Anyhow it was time for me to start getting more particular about my sounds so it was time to get them organized.
What I did was make one folder called "select samples" - this folder would Be a home for the good stuff I'd use.
So, I went through each pack and searching for kicks loops hi hats synths riffs noises and so on. I then put them in folders.
From there it was easy to find gaps in my sonic palette. To fill those gaps I signed up to Splice for $8 to get more interesting usable stuff.
The beauty of Splice is you only get the samples you hand pick - I have about 79 so far.
You want to organize your sounds so they represent the frequencies in a club track. This way when your selecting stuff you'll have the spectrum covered. Now leads and melodic content may come from synths and stuff - I'll get to that.
Anyhow once your done and trust me this can be a never ending task, but once an initial pass has been done you'll want to key label your sounds.
I have an old copy of Mixed In Key version 5 that was up to the task. All I needed it for was to key label my samples - the ones that were missing this that is.
The benefit of having your stuff labeled by key is that when you get a groove going and then reach for your keys for a melody or bass line you know what key to play in.
Synth presents are another animal to organize - honestly I have yet to go there, but that's next on the list.
In short a good first pass at this would be to:
Hand pick the samples you actually do lik
Categories them into folders - kick, hat, ride, bass, top loop etc
You could make sub folders as needed (Peak hour kick) but it might not make sense to go too crazy on this
Spot categories of sounds your weak in - for me this is lead sounds, plucks, noises, and metallic percussive sounds - use the image below to see what "space" your techno samples occupy. Tracks that sounds "big" and "full" tend to fill out the entire spectrum.
Keep in mind this is an on going task that will evolve over time. Don't let this become overly time consuming. Use a timer. This is a way you get smarter and more precise about the sounds you do choose to use.
Organizing is helpful but organizing is not producing
Splice (Pretty solid for shopping techno samples by label (Sample Magic, Audio Tent) or by artist collection. Remember you can download them individually and combine them in your own sample packs or re-packs.
Some readers of the site asked how I got this done while holding down a lot of other responsibilities. Another common question was mixing and sound - how do I get that clarity and punch (hint - a lot of that is in mastering - HIRE A PRO)
OK Let's Talk Techno Production
I started this tune back in the Fall of 2016. It was just released this week so don't get tripped up thinking your material will sound dated by the time it sees the light of the day. The only reason it would sound dated is if you're leaning too heavy on popular sounds of the day. So shy away from fads.
This tune was completed in September 2017 when I emailed about 20 labels to get this track and a couple others signed.
Lars of Jannowitz Records gave it a thumbs up and said it would be released on a compilation.
Here's how I got it done.
Started with kick from a sample pack followed by a bass preset that's a go to favorite of my from Native Intruments Prism.
From there I layered in some percussion. This was all done in Native Instruments Maschine as I prefer sampler based production. I'm not a keyboard player.
I like to take percussion sounds and pitch them down a lot and then use a hi pass filter to remove low end.
I then stumbled upon a nice synth preset used for those ominous sounding chord stabs.
The chords repeat enough but don't over do it.
Then I found a percussive synth sound that added a bit of melody.
At this point I had about 73 bars of music done in Maschine. Now Maschine isn't like Ableton, Logic or any other kind of DAW. Maschine forces users to use scenes and patters. In short, it's hard to take say an 8 bar kick drum loop and draw it out for say 209 bars. You can do that in Maschine by duplicating scenes that are 8 bars in length that contain the 1 8 bar pattern but if you change that pattern it will change it EVERYWHERE that pattern is used in the track.
To me that's the limitation of Maschine. It's great for short loops and ideas but for tracks that breath and evolve where you would want to automate parameters for 16+ bars of music it's not so hot.
Off to Ableton we go.
In Ableton I opened my track notes from Layton Giordani's "Dragon Fly." My track has some similarities so I thought I could leverage what Layton has done in terms of structure. "Dragon Fly" moves along in 16 bar sections and there's a clear beginning, middle, and end.
So I began to lay out my tracks within this framework.
A Few Important Things
One I get to the point where I want to further flesh out my song, whether it's just 8 bars of music, or 65, I am at the point where I'm confident in how it sounds sonically.
It's not yet perfect (is it ever?) but it is sounding good enough so that I can move on to the arrangement stage.
While I'm getting my ideas down I often use a hi pass filter to unclutter the low end. I'll also add a dash of tape saturation and perhaps a little compression to keep volume levels in check on certain sounds.
Since I exported audio from Maschine into Ableton - elements like the kick and bass were exported with a dash of tape saturation. UAD's Studer is my go to on that. I like simple but elegant solutions. I did spend decent coin on a Quad DSP card to run the plugins and later upgraded my audio interface to the solo core Apollo. In total I've spent like $500 on UAD plugins and it's been ALOT less in recent years. I really don't give a fuck about plugins. I'm done looking at sales...it's such a distraction. You'll see in the video that I barely know how to use the UAD Fairchild.
So when I get to the arrangement stage I'm not going to get distracted by tweaking anything with the mix. That will come later.
Once I had the basic structure down and I knew where my break downs would be and where I'd increase/decrease energy levels it was time to find some melodic parts.
I got that done and after this it was time to just add subtle effects and ear candy - then give it a final mix.
Check the video for more.
If you want more detail on what this tune looks like in the early stage where I walk through each individual track then check out my course. There's about 20 minutes spent on this.
My general work flow is -
Get my ideas done in a sampler - long time user of Maschine but more recently the Pioneer Toraiz.
Make them sound nice - this means using a hi pass to roll off low end i don't need on tracks other than the kick and bass.
Then tweak the arrangement and enhance the mix.
Send off for mastering.
Regarding life....I don't produce a ton of tracks. I do 4-6 per year and I spend 4-10 hours on each track.
Personally I think good music is born out of struggle and experience so fill up and live your life so that you don't have free time to fuddle around tweaking stuff.
Parkinson's Law - Work will expand to fill time allotted to it. So if you have lots of available free time, production will take long.
In the beginning this is kind of OK. There's a fun learning curve and time needed to sort out the basics.
If you're at the point where you can make an 8 bar loop that sounds dope, you need to discipline yourself to finish.
I don't like will power, but use some will power to complete a track.
You need to go through the whole process so you get a feel for each stage.
Again it's like cooking. A track in it's basic form is like eating dinner. Appetizer, entree, desert. Beginning, middle, and concluding section.
If you're a chef, you have to make an entire meal. Beginning producers get stuck making new ideas but never a while meal.
This would be like a chef who keeps making new appetizers and instead of developing a meal based on the first appetizer she stops, get's frustrated and learns to make a new appetizer.
Maybe this makes sense.
Anyhow, my course exists to help those of you struggling to turn your short ideas into complete polished songs. If that's you check it out.