Sometimes The Brain Doesn’t Work

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Chalk one up to intuition and taking a leap based on a gut feeling. So far selling Maschine and going for the Teenage Engineering OP-1 seems like it was the right thing to do. I’m not going to go into a full review of the OP-1 right now, but it’s quirky interface and use of audio recording to save your work is right up my alley. It’s much deeper than I expected too, even after reading the manual a couple times.

Whew, deep sigh of relief!

I struggled mightily on the decision to sell Maschine so soon after getting it, especially since it hit the right marks on so many fronts. Still, there came a point where I realized I was rationalizing my decision to keep it with only logical reasons, and lots of them. The fact was, as impressive as it was, I wasn’t excited using it, or even thinking about using it. It took a real effort of will to sit down in front of it, even though I always came away with some really nice sounding results.  Such an unexpected conundrum!

I’m my big believer that making music should be fun first, and I just wasn’t having fun thinking of uses for Maschine. Weird, I know, but there it is.

The OP-1 is almost the exact opposite so far. Way more limiting sound pallete and a completely different workflow, much more focused on how you get your ideas down versus recreating them.  I can’t stop thinking about it. I was up almost all night playing with it, and when I did finally go to bed, I kept thinking of new things I could do with it.  Then I woke up and all I wanted to do was play with it some more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the best musical instrument ever. There’s a lot of things it can’t do, and it’s definitely not for everyone. It does way more than most people realize, but it’s not a full on modern DAW in a box.  Nor should it be.

But as a fun and unique way of making music, I think it’s brilliant. Probably not something you can use solo, for years on end, but I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how much I depth I can get out of this.  More details soon!

Garage Sale, Goodbye Maschine Studio

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Well, I guess at the very least the last thing I will ever need to worry about is where to store all my gear. Kind of hard to stockpile stuff when you barely hang on to it for even a year.

Maybe I should back up.

I’m selling the Maschine Studio, and likely most of my guitar pedals. Sigh, I know, I know, not again dude, didn’t you do this before? Yes, in only a few short weeks my love affair with Maschine has come to an end, once again. Although this time around the fault lies entirely with me, and not with Maschine like before.

It’s impressive, again and again it surprised me at how capable and well thought out Maschine has grown. The Studio controller was fantastic, really well done, and unlike the MKI version, let me create all the music I wanted out once needing to look at the computer. It truly is the best groovebox I’ve ever used, hands down. Kudos to Native Instruments for really nailing it on this one.

Unfortunately, the more I used it, the more I realized that right now perhaps the groovebox workflow is not really the best way for me to work at the moment. A bitter pill when you have the best groovebox in front of you, but lately I’ve just been more into recording longer passages for my music. Doable on Maschine, but cludgy compared to just recording into a DAW.

I was afraid this might happen, but luckily I bought it during the big sale last month, so I hopefully won’t lose too much money selling it. In the meantime, Control Voltage in Portland has a Teenage Engineering OP-1 on its way to me, something I’ve been wanting to try out for awhile. More on that at a later date though. 🙂

On to the guitar pedals, why in the hell am I selling those?

Going with separate pedals and making a really nice pedal board has always been something I’ve wanted to do. It was a fun experience planning and putting it all together, and it was everything I wanted it to be when I was done.

Except that I realized I’m too much of a sound designer at times to settle for such a simple set up. Not so much simple, but really to get the best use out a pedal board you’re leaving all the pedals largely to set and forget mode. I wanted to explore more, and most importantly be able to save those explorations if I hit on something cool sounding.

Another factor was just that I realized I’d likely have more fun with just a really nice delay and looper pedal, and that the TE-2 and MO-2 pedals just weren’t getting used that much. The EP Booster and Hall Of Fame Reverb I’ll likely keep for now, but the rest are up for sale to help pay for the Strymon Timeline that’s also on its way to me right now. More on that at a later date as well 🙂

So, in the meantime, I’ve got a few bits of gear up for sale if anyone is interested. Everything is in like new condition and comes with all original items/boxes, shipping extra if you’re outside Seattle.  If you need pics, let me know.

Maschine Studio (black) – $780

Akai MPK25 – $100

NI Traktor Audio6 – $120 (does not include Traktor software or scratch vinyl, this version was released before those were bundled)

Pedaltrain JR with dB11 Hotstone SM PSU – $120

Boss Tera Echo Pedal – $90

Boss Multiovertone Pedal – $90

Sony MDR V700 headphones – $40 (carry bag only included)

What’s In A Name?

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Ah, the joys of trying to find a new artist or DJ name! For many people this is actually a very hard task, as it’s the first time they’ve had to put an identity to their music. Especially when it’s something that might be with you for a very long time if your music is successful. I thought I’d give a few tips on choosing a new artist name, based on some of the things I’ve seen work well over the years (as well some things that didn’t work).

A good artist name can be many things for different people; a globally established brand for their music or DJing, a funny play on words to attract attention, or perhaps it’s just a front they can use to retain some sense of personal privacy. Whatever your reasons for wanting to use a name other than your own (which is certainly a viable option too!), here’s a few key points to keep in mind when coming up with yours.

Originality counts. There’s nothing worse than having an artist name that is the same or similar to other artists already out there. When I first started making music, I used to go by the artist name “rEalm”. It was fitting for the music I made, it was something that spoke to me and seemed just right. Unfortunately, there were so many other people out there using the same or similar name, that it was impossible for me to stand out using it. A quick google search of it would turn up hundreds of results that had nothing to do with me, even with the goofy capital “E” in there.

There’s also a practical side here, in that I found it near impossible to register an easy to remember domain name for my website, not to mention email addresses. I ended up just creating a completely new name from scratch as a result, something that I knew only I would be using. This has made my life so much easier, since I could use a nice and simple website like tarekith.com, or Tarekith at gmail for people to reach me. Anyone searching my name will always get pointed right to my site, useful for promotion.

You don’t have to make up your own name, but it certainly is the best way to make sure no one else is using it!

Keep it simple. A really long name, or something that’s difficult to pronounce or spell correctly, at best just makes it harder for your fans to connect with you. At worst, they’ll end up shortening or abbreviating it for you which sort of ruins the point. Keep it fairly short, ideally 3 syllables or less if you can, and make it easy to pronounce and spell.

Funky spellings and weird abbreviation might seem like it’s helping you stand out, but you run the risk of it looking dated later on (I.E. replacing C’s with K’s, etc). It’s worth pausing and considering if this is something you can live with for 20-30 years possibly before you go this route.

One name or many? There’s two different views on the subject of should you use one name for all your releases, or use different artist names for releases in various genres. Some people like to target different audiences depending on the music they are writing, so using various names helps them focus the release to specific audience.

On the other hand, using the same name for everything means you’re possibly attracting a much bigger following to ALL of the music you’re creating instead of just some of it. Though that might put some people off if they only like a certain style you write now and then. Personally I like being known as an artist who releases music in a wide-range of genres, but that’s a call you’re going to have make on your own.

Who else likes it? Consider how your name looks not only to your fans, but also your peers. Calling yourself DJ Dickfuck might be a good chuckle now, but will other artists want to work with you if you call yourself that? Will you have issues being put on flyers for gigs if you use an offensive name?

Some people just don’t care about this stuff and will use whatever they think is funny. But considering how competitive the music scene is, it seems odd to me to stack the cards against yourself with something a simple as your artist name. Horses for courses I guess!

Finally, don’t stress too much about. The best names usually come in moments of inspiration, just like the music we write. If something comes out of the blue, but it feels right, by all means go with it. You can always change it later too, there’s no rule that the name you pick now you HAVE to use forever either.

Which is good, because at the moment I myself have been giving a lot of thought to possibly changing my artist name. Initially I wanted an artist name to sort of define myself outside of the name my parents gave me, and to give me some layer of anonymity online. It worked great at first, but as I’ve grown my mastering business more and more, my real name (Erik Magrini) is out there more and more.

So for a few months now I’ve been considering just switching and using my real name from now on, and perhaps letting the Tarekith moniker rest for awhile. It’s a tough call though, because after so many years of building up that name as my “brand” if you will, I worry that many people won’t follow the change. Or that ultimately, changing my name again is just going to a waste of time and everyone will still call be Tarekith anyway. 🙂

Lots for me to think about, but hopefully some of my ideas have helped you out in the meantime!