What’s In A Name?

Name

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!

Your Masters Matter

Masters

As usually happens, it all started with a crazy idea. For a while now I had been considering changing all of my copies of the tracks I had written to AIF files, instead of wav files like I had been using for…. well, ever.  The main driver was that I wanted a better way to make sure all the graphics I had created for my releases stayed with the audio files. And as the DJs among you might already know, AIF files support not only embedding artwork, but also meta-data.

And speaking of DJs, I wanted to convert all of my Tarekith DJ and live sets as well. Not just for the artwork aspect, but also because I could then embed the tracklists in the files as well. Just makes it easier to ensure all the relevant info is there when I need it.

And just for fun, I figured I would also do the same for all the MP3 versions of my songs, except I would create 320kbps AACs as the compressed format. I’ve already been releasing all my tracks online as AAC’s over the past year, and so far it hasn’t been an issue for anyone. Why AAC? Read my blog post on the subject here: http://tarekith.com/mastered-for-itunes/

Of course, nothing is ever easy is it?

The plan had been to first create all the different formats I needed from the original wav files, and then bring everything into iTunes to do all the tagging and artwork embedding. But as I started collecting all the current files I had, I realized that somehow things had gotten sloppy over the last 20 years. Sometimes I might have a wav version of a song but no MP3 version (not a problem), other times I might only have an MP3 version of one of my DJ sets, but I didn’t have a wav version saved on my hard drive (problem).

I’m normally really organized when it comes to my own music, but over the last 20 years I’ve written over 130 songs, as well as dozens of live and DJ sets. Somehow a few tracks didn’t get copied to the right folders I guess. I wasn’t too stressed about it though, because I ALWAYS make physical back ups when I finish a track as well, typically to CDR or DVDr.

As I started going through my stacks of CDR backups however, I began to realize that some of the really old ones had hit that point where they were no longer readable. Or maybe I had saved the DAW project files for a song, but no longer owned that DAW (Cubase, Reason, etc). Either way, quite a few of the back ups were either unreadable, or I couldn’t access the data easily which really defeats the purpose.

That’s when the fun started. 🙂

I had to slowly go through every one of my archives and check to see it was readable, then burn a new copy if it was more than 5 years old. In some cases I had to enlist the help of friends with different software to help me get access to DAW projects I couldn’t open on my own. In the end, I was able to create the AIFs and AACs I needed for all of my songs and sets, with only one exception. Luckily that was a crap song I did last minute for a contest years ago, so it wasn’t a huge loss.

Still, a scary reminder that physical media isn’t permanent, and that we need to check our archives every so often to avoid scares like this! I always knew it was going to happen eventually, this is just the first time I had experienced it with some of my own archives. Crisis narrowly averted! 🙂

Once all the new files were created, the next step was to track down all of my artwork for the releases. Pretty easy for the newer stuff, since those were all on my website with the artwork already. But for some of my older tracks, I had to either revisit the CDR back ups, or spend a lot of time hunting around online for the right images. My previous artist name was “rEalm”, so it’s not as simple as you’d think to find some of this stuff via Google!

The last step was to get all the info I wanted to embed in the files. Things like details I might have posted on forums about how I wrote a track, or maybe copying the descriptions from my blog or tracks I had for sale on Beatport and Addictech. Just any information about the song that I, or maybe other people, might find interesting in the future. Maybe.

Last but definitely not least, I had to bring it all into iTunes and get it all organized. I thought a lot on naming conventions, standardized formatting for the info, tags I wanted to use, etc. Just to make sure everything had a consistency to it and would make sense to anyone other than me who happened to look at the info.

The final step was then to burn all of the new master AIF to disc once again as a redundant back up, along with copying them to a couple USB sticks. I still have to re-grid everything in Traktor, but right now I’m burnt out on this project since it took so much longer than I expected. Someday! 🙂

Now, I can see some of you shaking your head at all this. It’s a lot of work, and since I had wav versions of just about everything anyway, why bother? Well, for me this is my legacy. This is showing what 20+ years of hard work did, it’s what I’ll leave behind when I depart this world. More than that though, it reminded me that just because we religiously save and make back ups, it doesn’t mean they will last forever.

Media decays, formats change, tools come and go from our arsenal, things get lost or misplaced, you name it. In short over a lifetime of making music you’re going to generate a lot of it! Take the time now and then to go through some of your old back ups and make sure you can still read them. At the very least, get in the habit of saving a high resolution copy of your masters and keeping them all in one place.

You never know when it might save your ass, and at the very least it’s a good habit to make sure you really have the back ups you think you have!

Three Tunnels DJ Set

Three Tunnels 300

 

Three Tunnels DJ Set

A fun and twisted trip down the darker side of midtempo tracks, groovy and glitchy in equal measures.  Good soundtrack for afterhours parties.

Start Time – Artist – Track – Label
00:00 – Cafe Americaine – Sex International – Manifold
04:25 – Gautama Shakyamuni – Committee For The Heat – White Delta
06:21 – Rodg – Jacqueline – Body Condition
11:30 – Whitebear – Facing The Mutant Microbe – Adapted
15:16 – Dhamika – Sound Therapy – Uxmal
20:42 – E Duque – Beat Heart – Dash Deep
24:54 – Akasha Experience – Shanti Planti – Dubmission
28:47 – Niko Troubetzkoy – Drum n Sax – OLA
34:12 – Pulsatronic – To Remember (Special Mode) – Freebeat Music
37:32 – Knights Radiant-The Ouroboros – Folding Space
40:59 – Whitebear – Lost in Vibrations – Muti
47:47 – Desert Dwellers – Seeing Things (Land Switcher Rmx) – Twisted

Learning To Listen Again

Inner Portal Studio Upgrades 2014 #2.

Well, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I ordered some new monitors for the studio, Tyler Acoustic D2x’s.  Due to huge snow storms in the US, they took an extra week to get to me, but the wait was worth it.  Last Thursday, 4 big boxes arrived via UPS Freight, the 2 speakers and their stands.  

The freight truck couldn’t make it up my driveway, and the UPS driver was lazy in his own weird way, so we ended up pulling all 4 boxes at once up a long hill on a dolly.  It was sketchy, but soon they were safe inside.

Tyler D2 02

The next step was getting them up to the studio on the third floor, knowing that the large boxes were almost 160lbs each.  Oh, and I did it myself, with the injured shoulder, fun.  🙂  A bit of leverage and using my legs to push from below made it not too difficult, but still a bit intimidating as you don’t want to slip and have one of these come back at you!

Tyler D2 03

The only really difficult part was getting them on the 12 inch stands I had made for them (gets the tweeters at ear level), but by that point I was determined.  Luckily it all worked out, and after a couple hours playing with the positioning of the new D2x’s (as well as the Opals now), it was all working well.   This is obviously a pretty big upgrade for me, so it’s nice to see it all set up in the studio finally:

InnerPortalStudio

 Of course the $6000 question everyone keeps asking me, is how do they sound?

In a word, different.  I know, not very descriptive, but that’s the best way to describe it.  Right away I could tell they had real depth to their imaging, placement of instruments was incredibly precise.  But I knew before I bought these that they would need 200 hrs to break in, something the manufacturer reminded me of a few times in the process of ordering them.

Like most of the reviews of Tyler Acoustics speakers, at first they come across as a little underwhelming.  It’s a big sound, you feel like you’re really IN the music in a way I’ve never experience at this level of clarity.  But the lows were frankly weak, and the highs were frankly dull.  They sounded “good”, but not reference grade mastering monitor good.

Again, all this I expected, and having confirmed it with my own ears, I set about breaking them in.  They’ve been playing non-stop since I got them, so I’m at about 120 hours now.  I have the Hilo set up to switch between the Tyler’s and the Event’s with a button press, so it’s been easy for me to compare the way they sound (in a nice level-matched way) quite simply.  The Opals are a tiny bit closer together than they used to be, but otherwise they are what I know inside and out, having used them exclusively for the last few years.

Right away it was apparent the Beryllium tweeters on the Opals were a lot brighter than the D2’s, the highs were right in your face while the D2’s were much more muted.  It wasn’t bad, but definitely more smooth than I was used to.  Luckly I’m told it’s pretty easy to swap out a resistor on the tweeter crossover to make them a little more present sounding, so I always have that option later depending on how they break in.

The D2’s also have a more prounced low end, it’s not so much louder as just deeper and more physical feeling.   I had always used the way the Opals made my chest feel for deep bass as a guide for how much was too much, and with the D2’s this is much more a whole body affair. 🙂

Still, I know that I have to break them in fully before I draw any conclusions, so that’s what I’ve been doing.  Anytime I’m not listening to music on them and comparing with the Opals, I’m blasting pink noise at 96kHz through them to really get all the speakers working.  After 5 days of non-stop use, they already sound a LOT  better.  The subs are much more apparent, and the tweeters have brightened up a little too.  Still a big difference from the Opals, but I’m only halfway there.

It’s been interesting trying to assimilate this huge change in the way I’m going to be hearing things, while at the same time knowing I have work coming in too!  When you’re used to a playback system so well that you never have to second guess yourself, learning how to hear music all over again is both a fun challenge and a bit stressful too!

But, I’m not complaining 🙂

I’ll post some more of my thoughts on this change in a couple weeks once everything has been broken in and I have some more mastering done on them!

——————

I just wanted to remind people one more time about my video series on Optimizing Sound Quality In Ableton Live too.  Been getting a lot of good feedback on these 4 videos, and I can’t recommend the rest of the Warp Academy stuff enough.  If you’re a Live user, you probably won’t find better deal on Live training:

http://www.warpacademy.com/tutorial-series/210-optimizing-sound-quality-in-live-2/

Thanks everyone, until next time!

Sending Orbs DJ Set

Sending Orbs DJ Set  <- Right click to Save or Play

I first heard about Sending Orbs with their very first release, Kettel’s “Through Friendly Waters”.  A friend had just turned me on to Kettel’s quirky and upbeat style of music, and I was on a hunt for more from him.  Soon after I was sold on the style of music they would continue to release, and often bought each new album before I even heard it.  Never was I disappointed.

In 2010 it looked like things were over for Sending Orbs though, no releases were planned, and nothing was heard from the founders for almost 2 years.  Luckily in 2012 things started back up, better than ever if the music is any judge.  This mix is a way for me to say thanks for all the incredible music over the years.  As a DJ, it’s always fun and challenging to mix music that uses odd time-signatures and atonal keys too.

Hope you all enjoy as much as I do!

Start Time – Artist – Track (all tracks on the Sending Orbs label)
00:00 – Blamstrain – Frame Math
04:40 – Legiac – Mings Feaner
08:32 – Markus Guentner – Doppelgaenger
14:47 – Kettel – Krabs
16:58 – Secede – Vega Libre
24:32 – Kettel – Twinkle Twinkle
29:57 – Kettel – Clara
32:25 – Funckarma – Dredge
39:06 – Secede – The Marvel
46:35 – Yagya – Rigning þrjú
51:11 – Markus Guentner – Meer Der Luegen
55:28 – Kettel & Secede – Admittanc
60:15 – Secede – The King Of Sanda

For more music like this, visit: http://www.sendingorbs.com

Tarekith

Bits Gone By

Logic

Last week I had a some fun putting together a list of all the different music making hardware I’ve owned over the years, so I thought I’d try and do the same thing with the different software I’ve used over the years.  There’s a lot more overlap in the software realm than the hardware side of things for me, but I’ll do my best to keep it as chronological as possible.  So, here goes:

– Cakewalk for DOS (I have no idea, it was barely a GUI is about all I can remember).  A guy I used to work with got this free with some computer magazine or something, so he thought I might want to mess with it.  I spent about 3 days trying to figure it out, and eventually it made a “ping” sound that might have been a 3 bit piano.

– Cubase 5 VST.  Years later while attempting to rebuild my studio after having to sell a lot of it off, I decided to build my own PC (my first ever) and get into music software.  Went to a lot of seminars checking different ones out, but it was Cubase that seemed the most intuitive to me.  Used it until about the SX3 days.

– Reason 3.  Shortly after I got into making music on the computer, a lot of my friends did too.  They all liked Reason and were always asking me for help with the program, so eventually I got it too.  It provided the intro and hook for the very first track I ever got signed, so I’ll always have fond memories of Reason.  Bit too tiny and cluttered for me now though  🙁

wavelab3

– Wavelab 3.  At the Cubase demo they also showed the latest version of Wavelab, and it was that app more than Cubase that got me excited.  Hmmm, it’s for mastering you say….?

– GRM Tools.  I got talked into getting these by a friend who really didn’t know what he was talking about.  Very wild for weird sound effects and what not, but never stable at all for me and ultimately a lot of wasted time.

– Cakewalk Z3ta+.  I think this was my first softsynth.  Such a spartan UI, it felt like the perfect computer synth at the time.  Still a great sounding and really flexible synth though.

– Waves Linear Mastering plug ins.  I bought these when I started getting people coming to me asking me to “master” their work for them.  In those days there was very much a “linear is better” mindset, so they seemed like the best package for my needs.  Oh boy did I like to go overboard with those in hindsight, though I guess we all need to learn one way or another.

– UAD Plug ins.  In many ways I think my Cubase and UAD set up was one of the easiest to use and offered the greatest range of tones.  I wrote a lot of tracks using these plug ins, and only sold them when I decided to switch to a laptop and UAD didn’t have any options for those yet.  I still plan on getting an Apollo one day….

spektraldelayscreen

– NI Spektral Delay, Absynth 2, Akoustik Piano.  My first disastrous foray into NI plug ins, all of these were nothing but buggy and crash prone.  I loved the Alien looking GUI of Absynth, though the tiny text boxes you used for actually programming it were less liked.  This is one of those synths I find myself often considering repurchasing.

– Ableton Live 3.  I had been watching Live since version 1 came out, but it wasn’t until around version 3 when I started to see that I could use one program for writing, DJing, and playing live.  I didn’t have any hardware for playing live at the time, and I missed doing that.  Enter Live…

– Battery 3.  So much potential, and so much wasted time lost to buggy errors and crashes.  I swore I’d never buy another NI product after this.  I didn’t listen to myself though.

– Elemental Audio Inspector XL.  Got this on some sale, excellent set of tools, too bad they got dropped when EAS was bought by RND (short-lived as it was).

– Logic 7.  I finally got curious enough about Logic after being a Mac user for awhile that I had to get it.  Seemed needlessly complicated at first, though over time I’ve grown to get more accustomed to it’s little peculiarities.  I’m still amazed at how little it’s changed over the years.

sv517eq

– Sonalksis SV-517 EQ.  The first digital EQ that made me go “wow, this sounds as good or better than analogue.”  Debate amongst yourselves.

– Audiofile Engineering Wave Editor.  Switching to an OSX based set up also meant leaving my beloved Wavelab behind.  I used it for awhile in Parallels, but eventually got sick of the Windows-ness of it and looked for a native OSX solution.  Audiofile Engineering seemed new and full of good ideas, so I jumped onboard with Wave Editor pretty early on.

– Sonic Charge MicroTonic.  Best drum synth period.

– u-He Zebra2.  Huge potential and amazing customer support and interaction on his forums, and it sounds as good as you’d expect.  Ultimately I just found the UI uninspiring and sold it though.  The new version due out soon is making me rethink this one as well.

– Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Stylus RMX.  For years these were my go to plug ins for synth and drums.  Incredible sound and flexibility, easy to program yet capable of a lot of variations.  Only because I’ve been looking at them for so long am I starting to check out other options.

– DMG Audio Equality.  If you love the SV-517 EQ, this one will blow you away.  Sounds amazing.

sonic_charge-synplant

– Sonic Charge Synplant.  I bought this one on principle alone.  A weirdly unique way of programing a synth from the creator of MicroTonic?  I was first in line.  Drives me crazy that this one still is not 64bit compatible, it’s the only one of my plug ins I miss that is not.  🙁

– Voxengo Elephant 2 and Polysquasher.  Serious mastering tools in the right hands, frustration and distortion if you don’t know what you’re doing.  A little complex to set up, but still what I reach for when I need a really clean and cool sounding master.

– PSP Xenon.  Bought this on a whim after hearing so much about it, but I rarely use it.  I like it for softer more dynamic music, something where you don’t want a really transparent limiter, but you don’t want too much color either.  Has a way to reacting to transients that feels different to me from anything else.  Not often used here, but I know exactly when I need it with some projects.

– NI Traktor 2.  After using Live to DJ for years and years, it was time for a break.  Checked out Traktor and was hooked immediately.  Combined with the S4, it’s most tightly integrated laptop/controller set up I’ve ever used.  Works great, never gives me any issues, and is a ton of fun to use.

– u-He Uhbiks.  Bought these on a deal when they first came out, and loved the sound of them.  Sadly, I hated the interface, weird tempo multiple for delays times and what not.  As a result, for two years I never used them and eventually sold them.

– Presonus Studio One.   Presonus heard I was interested in Studio One and invited me to join the beta team.  So I’ve used Studio One quite a bit since it was released, and it’s still my go to for client mixdowns and audio editing.

Pro-l

– Fabfilter Pro-L.  Best sounding limiter ever, very easy to make things weak sounding though.  Powerful when you can really hear what you’re doing through

– Audiofile Engineering Triumph.  The update to Wave Editor took me awhile to get used to, and this is with daily use as part of my mastering business.  For every user request they added, it felt like 2 steps back in the usability of some other function.  I’m used to it now and rely on it daily to earn a living, but it still feels needlessly complicated at times.

– Jam Origin MIDI Guitar.  Finally, an audio to MIDI program for guitar that works with my playing style. I love this app, it’s amazing how well it works.

– DMG Equilibrium.  The best EQ ever.   This does everything, and expects you know what you’re doing when it comes to EQ.  If you do, welcome to the most amazing EQ ever designed.

 

I’m sure there’s quite a few smaller plug ins I’m forgetting about, but I think this covers most of what I’ve purchased over the years.  Quite the list again in hindsight!

“Sway” Tech-House DJ Set

Sway300

Sway
Tech-House DJ Mix 06-13-2013

With the weather getting nicer out, I felt like putting together a new tech house DJ set.  And as always, you can expect a bit of the weird and unexpected.

Start Time – Artist – Track Title – Label
00:00 – Chantola – Make It Happen (Matan Caspi Rmx) – AU
06:44 – Miguel Cid – Thermostat – Cray1 Digital
11:45 – Nikki Noek – Enough – Nopassport
16:32 – Tarekith – TH1
20:03 – Groove D’Vision – The Black Fraud Optimized Speech – Dish Of The Day
25:03 – Juan Ddd – Jukebox – ONOFF
30:07 – Junior Legh – Sun Is Shining – SL Records
35:58 – Daniel Lyons – Riggle – BR Selections
41:06 – Jorge – Pedruscada – Trippy
47:26 – Gruw Frequency – Big Bag Show – High Contrast

Windows down, go faster.  🙂

Tarekith DJ EFX Racks version 9

Well, it’s taken me a little while to revisit my DJ EFX for Ableton Live, but recently it was brought to my attention that some of the DJ EQ Racks I had created no longer functioned properly in Live 9.  It seems that the new Adaptive Q in EQ 8 was causing some pretty massive spikes in the signal, and the EQ curves no longer matched my original models.  Now all of the EFX Racks are compatible with Ableton Live 9, and you will need Live version 9.04 (or newer) for them to work properly.

Tarekith DJ EFX v9

I also create a couple of new racks as well, called “Lock & Key” and “Red Shift”.  These are a little on the weirder side, so look in the included READ ME file for the details.

Lock & Key

 

Red Shift

Hope you enjoy the new effects, and that the ones I fixed solved any issues people were having. If you notice any issues with any of the other Racks when using Live 9, please let me know and I will try and fix them ASAP.

Thanks, and have fun!

No Valleys In This Sky – Downtempo Mix

No Valleys In This Sky  <- Click to download

I wanted to do one more darker and slightly weirder (ok, really weird in places) DJ mix before the cloudy days of winter leave us for good.  Starts out a little more chill, but ramps up into some energetic midtempo towards the end.  Recorded live with NI’s Traktor and the Kontrol S4.

Time – Artist – Track – Label
00:00 – Merge Of Equals – Clear Blue Sky – Highscore
04:50 – Puff Dragon – Spacefunk – Dakini
10:33 – Spiral System – Elephant – Pschent
15:53 – Puff Dragon – Chinese Radio – Ultima
22:06 – STS9 – Spectacle (Ott Rmx) – 1320 Records
26:26 – Asian Chill Art – Haryana (EPhase Rmx) – Cartoon Fresh
31:24 – Freeq Sense – Tek_n_Spice – KTS
35:16 – Aes Dana – 101 Clouds – Ultimae
41:23 – Chris Zippel – Space Dock – Waveform
45:10 – Tarekith – The Focused Mist
49:15 – Afefe Iku – The Blues – Tarifa
54:34 – Freeq Sense – Tribal Spirit (Den Kozlov Rmx) – KTS
59:49 – Youandewan – 1988 – Tarifa

As always, hope you enjoy!

One of Twelve

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 10.55.11 AM

Well, the first month of 2013 is almost over, so I wanted to give a quick update on some of my current projects.  Sorry, no deep-thinking posts or handy production tips this time, though certainly more are on their way soon (next Production Q&A is almost done for instance).  I just wanted to take some time to talk about some of the things I’ve been exploring and trying out lately for my own productions.

One of the more recent things I’ve been spending my time doing, as I mentioned in a few earlier posts, is DJing with Traktor and the S4 controller again.  I have to admit with all the work I’ve been doing preparing material to play live the last couple of years, I really haven’t had much chance to focus on DJing for awhile.  It’s been nice going back to that way of working, it’s a real good chance to play with music on a much more relaxing level.

ChromaCaps01

Of course, it’s not all roses though.  I’ve been amazed at how long it’s been taking me to go and find new tracks to DJ with these days.  Not for lack of choices mind you, there’s basically too much choice!  I can spend all day quickly flipping through songs on Beatport, and I’m lucky to find 4-5 that I really like.  I mean, I know I’m picky, but wow!  It’s great having so many options on one hand, but on the other hand it can be a bit soul-sucking listening to so many ummm….. not-so-good tracks during the process too!  Oh well, I guess it could be worse.  🙂

If you’re interested in catching one of my DJ sets, the next time will be at the next Liquid Beats night I run at Beer Authority in Seattle on February 6th.  This is the grand opening of their new larger location, so it should be quite a party.  I’ll be playing mostly catchy downtempo, but if things get crazy later in the night, who knows where it could go.

Beer Authority
12720 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125.
7-10PM

In other news, I’ve taken a bit of a break from the Elektron based techno set I was almost done with.  Well, I thought I was almost done, but as will often happen when you write music, after a bit of time away from the set I listened to it again and realized that I wasn’t happy with how things were going.

LiveSet

The intention had been to do the set entirely in the Machinedrum, but it was starting to sound a little samey, so I figured it was time to press the Octatrack into duty as well.  So, I edited down my 16 songs in the MD into my favorite 8, and set about recording new samples in Live that I could use in the Octatrack.

After a few weeks doing this and getting everything set up to perform and record, once again reality snuck in and I found that I was still really not happy with the direction the set was going.  Hard to describe what exactly was wrong, but it wasn’t sitting well with me and I was on the verge of just taking the best song of the set and making a studio track out of it.

But while I’m a huge fan of editing out things that aren’t working and only keeping things that are, going from 16 songs for an hour long live set down to just one for a studio song seemed a bit drastic.  So instead I decided to just shelve the project for a bit and focus on other stuff.  I even went so far as to pack up the MD and OT (after backing them up of course) for now, out of sight and out of mind as it were.

Hopefully in a couple months I can come back to this project a little more excited about it and see if I can give it one more go!

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So, for now I’m just going to focus on working on a couple of single tracks for awhile.  I’ve had a lot of really large projects I’ve been working on over the last couple of years, from writing complete live sets to releasing full on albums.  I think for at least a couple months it’s time to just ratchet it back a notch and just have fun writing on some smaller projects.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working in Presonus Studio One, and I’ve been really impressed by it.  So much so that I haven’t even opened Logic once on the new laptop, and I’m only barely finding a need to use the Live 9 beta now and then.  It’s not perfect, there have been some crashes and other bits of weirdness, but no more so than with other DAWs I have access to lately I guess.

I’ve been a bit bored with the DAW offerings lately (let’s admit it, the Live 9 update is kind of…. underwhelming once you’ve used it) and while Studio One isn’t the breath of fresh air I had hoped Live 9 would be, it’s at least something different to work with for now.  Really hoping that the beta of Bitwig goes live soon, as that’s my last hope for something truly revolutionary when it comes to DAWs!  Then again, I have been known to have high expectations too, so I suppose I should temper my expectations again 🙂

That reminds me, I want to mention the MIDI Guitar software from Jam Origin.  This is the first pitch to MIDI tracking software I’ve used that I felt let me play my guitar the way I want while still sending predictable MIDI to my synths.  It’s a bit rough around the edges, but well worth the $60 they are asking while it’s in the beta-stage.  Free to try, so I definitely recommend trying it if you’re a guitar player.

I’ll try and get some reviews written for both MIDI Guitar and Live 9 once they get out of beta, just to make sure the features are set in stone before I talk about them in depth.  Stay tuned!

Finally, man is it nice to have a guitar to turn to now and then, I have to say.  As you can tell from the above, I’ve been a little frustrated with my usual music making tools.  So it’s been really nice having another outlet to turn to for making music.  Over the years my guitar playing has gotten regulated to being something I only used a couple times a year when I needed a part in a specific song.

Parker SetUp

But lately I’ve been making a real effort to try and pick up the guitar at least once a day and play for a couple of minutes.  Sometimes that turns into a couple of hours, and I can honestly say those have been the more enjoyable days in the studio lately.  I think it’s time I start focusing some more on getting my chops back, and seeing how I can integrate the guitar more into my own productions.  Either on it’s own, or as a MIDI Controller via MIDI Guitar instead of using a keyboard controller.   Regardless, this is the direction that is giving me the most to look forward to in 2013, so I plan to roll with it as long as possible.

Hmmm, maybe it’s time to go down the rabbit hole of boutique guitar pedals as well…..