And…..Done. Final Blog Post

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It’s hard to believe I’ve been running my blog for 6 years now, even more difficult to believe that I’ve done 282 posts in that time period.  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and I’ve decided that now is a good time for me to step away from the blog and focus on other avenues for sharing my views on creativity and audio production.

It’s been really enjoyable talking to everyone and sharing your views on how you approach all the struggles and joys of writing music.  I can’t thank everyone enough for all the insightful comments, indepth replies, and most especially for all the donations you’ve made to help make all this possible.

As a way of saying thanks one final time, I’ve collected all of the best blog posts into one document, which you can download here:

BEST BITS OF THE BLOG (Zip File)

The zip file contains both PDF and epub versions of the document so you can view it on any of your devices.  I’ve made a few changes here in there in the text to update my recommendations on gear, and make it easier to read all of the posts front to back.

Thanks again everyone!
Tarekith

Strymon Timeline Review

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Finally got a chance to do my video review of the Strymon Timeline, which you can view here:

As always, let me know if you have any questions, happy to help if I can!

Welcome To The New Blog!

Woo hoo, welcome to the new blog location.  Sorry if you got multiple notifications for this blog post the last day or so, still working out a couple last minute bugs with notifications.  Ummm, that’s all I have, but more soon!

(Strymon Timeline review…..)

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Decibel Festival 2013

Well, that week is upon us, a non-stop ride of electronic music here in Seattle as Decibel Festival celebrates it’s 10th anniversary.  This year I won’t be performing, but I will be giving a talk as part of Dubspot’s workshops on Thursday, Sept. 26th, from noon to 2:00 PM.  The topic will be “A Day in the Life of a Professional Mastering Engineer”.

Dubspot Instructor Chris Petti will be fielding me questions about what it’s like to be an audio professional today, and of course we’ll be taking audience questions as well.  Stop by to say hi or if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, happy to talk about other audio subjects afterwards too 🙂

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The following day Ableton will be hosting a day of seminars as well, along with Warp Academy who are launching their new Live-focused video tutorial service this weekend.  I did some videos for them that I think people will find really useful, stay tuned for more details!  I’ll be there all day Friday as well most likely, say hi if you see me.

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 http://dbfestival.com/dbx/schedule

For those of you going to Decibel, who are you looking forward to seeing this year?  Other than the Orb, I haven’t made up my mind, so I’m open to suggestions 🙂  Anything but Dubstep or Bass music please, nothing against it but I hear that music all day.  Thanks!

Photo Fest Prep

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http://photosynthesisfestival.com

Two days to go until I leave for my next gig, once again playing at the Photosynthesis Festivals in Neah Bay, WA.  This is my third time performing at this location, and my 6th time playing out at a larger gig with my current Elektron live pa.  In a way it’s made me a lot more at ease than I normally am, and in other ways I’m more stressed than usual.

Back in the early spring I spent a lot of time refining my downtempo set for any gigs I managed to get this summer.  Quite a bit of the songs got remixing, everything got a new mixdown, and I moved a lot of things around to make it all flow better.  At the time things were a little slow with work, so I figured I’d use the time to get my live set prepped and ready for a new season.  And it would save me the stress of having to do it when I’m typically more busy in the summer, right when the gigs start rolling in.

So this summer I’ve been more or less set, knowing that my live set is working and sounding better than ever.

Or is it.

I guess no matter how well prepared I am,  I’m going to have last minute doubts about how the set will go.  Of course, the best way to get over this is to practice, run through the set and fix any issues that come up.  Simple!  Except I have just not been feeling like working on music lately.  I just released a new EP that I spent a lot of time on, and quite frankly I was a little burned out.

So the weeks went by, and I knew the gig was getting closer, but everytime I would sit down to give the set a try I just felt like it was half-assed so I stopped pretty quickly.  This happened a few times, which is of course frustrating.  Normally I love playing out, and when I had last worked on the set I finished very happy about how things sounded, so it wasn’t like I didn’t think it was good enough.  I just couldn’t get in the right mindset to really dive in properly and perform the songs the way I knew they deserved to be played.

Of course, eventually you run out of time.

This past Sunday, 6 days before I have to perform, I finally get in the right mood to give the set a proper run through. I know I’ll be busy all week getting work wrapped up so I can be gone for the festival, so it’s truly now or never.

Thankfully, all that prep work earlier in the year truly had paid off.  Properly motivated (i.e. no other choice) to sit down and practice for real, it didn’t take me long to get into the groove of performing, and I noticed very few things I wanted to adjust in the set. Whew!

Now at last I was in the mood to play, and I was 100% comfortable with the material as well.  I made a few more changes to some of the sounds, and gave the set a couple more plays over the next few days, then time to pack it all up.

It’s amazing how sometimes we spend all this time to prepare ourselves for what’s to come, and in many ways it still ends up being a mental exercise we need to deal with none the less.  Ultimately my prep work DID save me a lot of time right when I was obviously not feeling it 100%, so it was worth it in the end.  Though I have to admit, I almost wonder if preparing this far in advance is making twice as much mental stress for myself as just waiting until the last minute!

Heading out the festival in a couple days, I’ll let you all know how it goes and if I get a recording once I’m back.  Until then,

Peace and Beats!

– Tarekith

 

Photosynthesis 6.0

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Yep, that time again, the yearly summer festivals start up, which means I get a chance to rock the Elektrons in front of a crowd again!  Very excited this year, as I’ve put quite a bit of time earlier this year into refining the live sets I play out.  I’ll be playing a downtempo set again this year, keeping with the chill vibe they like so much in Neah Bay, WA.  Lots of new songs in the set this year, and and even more tweaks to the older songs to keep it fresh sounding (for you, AND me).

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This year I’ll be playing Friday night July 19th, at 2:00 AM in the Dream Dome tent.  Should be fun as I believe there are only two stages this year, and the downtempo oriented Dream Dome is the only one going on this late in the morning.

If you haven’t been to Photosynthesis yet, I highly recommend it.  Beautiful location, amazing local people, and a really well put on festival.  Definitely one of the highlights of the summer for me.  For more details, or to buy tickets, just visit:

http://photosynthesisfestival.com

facebook.com/PhotosynthesisFestival

Hope to meet some of you there, be sure to say hi after my set if you come out!

Odds and Ends

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Well, as I mentioned when I released my last song “TH1”, I’ve been spending a lot of time making music on the iPad the last few weeks.  Not just messing around and coming up with interesting sounds or grooves, but making serious music.  I figure if something is interesting enough to keep me working in a particular way for more than a couple weeks, then likely it’s something I need to keep exploring as long as I can.  Most of the time these exercises where I limit my tools might only last a week or two before I get bored, but not in this case.

While not an entirely care free experience (still the odd bug or crash), it’s been a really exciting way of crafting full songs.  I’m really enjoying using Auria as a DAW, it’s a much more interactive experience arranging and editing songs just by dragging things around by your finger.  The biggest issue so far has been the iPad4 getting a little sluggish when navigating Auria’s Edit (Arrange) page when I have a lot of tracks in the songs.  I had hoped that upgrading to the iPad4 would fix this, but while it’s much better than the iPad3 was, there’s still a bit of slow down at times.  Nothing too major, but it’s the only really negative thing I can think of so far.

So, my plan remains to keep working on the iPad and try to get a new EP done in a couple of months.  So far I have 3 songs well on their way, and a few ideas for a couple more, so I feel right on track.  I do find myself wanting a new drum app though, anyone have any suggestions?  At the moment I’m using the excellent DM1 primarily, but I also have Bleep!Box and the sample-based apps like Beatmaker2 and NanoStudio.  Not really looking for MPC style composing though, I’m more interested in unique drum machine style programming.  Any suggestions are most welcome!

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In other news, a friend and local Seattle producer I know is working on a pretty interesting Kickstarter project I thought I would let people know about.  From the producer:

“It’s been my life goal to get people collaborating on art and music. I’ve been able to do that through my Subaqueous website, but I wanted to take it a step further with a new product that helps bridge the gap between musicians and other music producers. This lead me to create the USB Splash Drive. It’s an 8gb custom usb drive that is loaded with music, remix stems, samples, Ableton live sets, and more.

This remix album isn’t just about releasing a few produced tracks. It’s about releasing the information on how I made a lot of my music. I want to share with my community, fellow musicians, and friends the knowledge I have acquired along the way.”

As most of my readers know I’m really into sharing HOW people make music, and this looks like a great way to get some more insight into that from another producer. You can find more info about this project here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cotec/subaqueous-usb-splash-drive-and-remix-album?ref=card

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Finally, I’ve had a few people ask me about my live gigs this summer.  At the moment I’m currently only booked for Photosynthesis 6, on July 19-21st.  It will be a downtempo/midtempo gig, and I have a lot of brand new material prepped that I will be playing out for the first time.  This is one of my favorite festivals of the summer, so it’s definitely worth coming out to if you want to hear some amazing music in a beautiful location.

I’ll post more info about this show, and some other ones I’m still working out once I get more specifics.

Thanks, until next time!

Tarekith

 

 

Vancouver Live Set now on Bandcamp!

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Since I released this live set a few months ago, I’ve had quite a few people ask me if they could get a lossless version of it.  Since this is one of my favorite live sets anyway, I thought it would be nice put it up on Bandcamp so people could get it in any format they wanted.

This set was recreated from a performance I gave in Vancouver on August 8th, 2012 at Sequential Circus 11.  100% Elektron Machinedrum and Octatrack, recorded live in one pass with no additional post processing, enjoy!

http://tarekith.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-sequential-circus-11

One of Twelve

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…..

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Just a quick reminder that this Saturday from 4-6 PM I’ll be DJing at The Beer Authority in Seattle once again.  Planning on doing a downtempo set this time around, so stop by for a cold micro-brew and some chilled out beats!  It’s Hoppy Hour, so if you buy any two bottles, your first pint is only $2.  Hope to see some you there!