Photosynthesis 5.0

Hard to believe that after months of work prepping the new live set, the first festival of the summer I’ll be performing at is almost here!  Photosynthesis 5.0 starts next Friday, and runs through Monday morning (July 20-22) in beautiful Neah Bay, WA.  For those of you who’ve never been there, it’s a beautiful location, and also happens to be the northwestern-most tip of the continental US.

This year I’ll once again be performing in the H’art tent, and my set time is Friday (technically Saturday really) from 2:00-3:30 AM.  I’ll be performing my brand new downtempo/midtempo live set, super excited to bring the vibe to what is guaranteed to be an incredible tent.  Still no confirmation if I’m doing a more uptempo set in another tent that weekend, I’ll be sure to post here when I find out.

Tickets are going fast, so if you’re interested head to the website or Facebook page for more details.

http://photosynthesisfestival.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/314150431967132/

Two weeks after Photosynthesis, I’ll be doing another live set at Chillography in Seattle at Myrtle Edwards Park.  This is a free day time event, so if you can’t make it all the way to Neah Bay, I highly recommend Chillography.  Great downtempo music in another beautiful location!

http://www.chillography.net/blog/events/next-event/

Finally, August 18th I’ll be doing an uptempo set at Sequential Circuits 11 in Vancouver, BC.  I’ll post more details on that event once I get them.

Thanks everyone, and I hope to see some of you this summer at one of these gigs!

Upcoming live gigs, June and July 2012

Hey everyone, just wanted to pass on some info for a couple live shows I have coming up over the next couple of months.

The first is a chill afternoon gig at the local pub I hang out at,  The Beer Authority.  I’ll be playing Saturday, June 23rd from 4-6 PM, which also happens to be happy hour.  Buy two bottles of beer to go (any size, any kind), and your first pint is only $2.  They have over 800 micro-brew bottles from around the world, and 8 rotating taps.  Great place to just come and chill out, and if it’s nice out they have outdoor seating too.  No cover either.

I’m using this as an opportunity to give the new downtempo set a run through before festival season kicks off, so it’ll be a pretty laidback and low-key event.  Feel free to stop by if you want to say hi, or talk shop afterwards.  Or just have some really damn good beer!

Here’s their website for more info and directions:

http://www.seattlebeerauthority.com/

And here’s their blog for an up to date list of the latest beers on tap:

http://thebeerauthority.blogspot.com/

The next gig is one I’ve been talking about for awhile, and something I’m REALLY looking forward too, Photosynthesis 5.  Once again I’ll be playing in the H’art tent, which was one of the coolest venues I’ve yet to play in last year when I was there.  I believe I’m also playing a more uptempo set in one of the  main tents, though I’m still waiting for set times to find out for sure.

The festival runs from July 20-22nd, and is located in beautiful Neah Bay, the northwestern-most tip of the continental US.  I’ll post my set times once I find out, but if you’re at all interested I highly recommend this festival (even if you don’t want to see me 🙂 )  Here’s their website for more info:

http://www.photosynthesisfestival.com/

I also recommend their Facebook page if you want info, as it tends to get updated more frequently:

https://www.facebook.com/PhotosynthesisFestival

 

There’s a few other gigs I’m still waiting to get confirmation on for later this summer as well, so stayed tuned if you can’t make it to either of these.  Thanks, and I hope to meet some of you before or after my sets!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Festival Season

Well, summer’s here and that means the start of the festival season here in the US.  Lots of cool outdoor weekend long parties here in the Pacific Northwest, and once again I got asked to perform at Photosynthesis Festival.  This year I’ll be doing two sets it looks like, a downtempo/midtempo set in the H’art tent again, and a more upbeat one in some other tent.  Not sure which yet, this is all very preliminary 🙂

People who follow my blog know I’ve been talking non-stop about the Octatrack lately, which is my latest gear purchase.  Mostly I’ve been working on taking my previous Ableton-based live set, and transfering it to the Machinedrum and Octatrack for live performance.  Recent posts of mine will go more into the details if you’re curious, but it’s mostly been about remixing the old material into something new with the Elektron hardware.

For the most part, I think the sets are basically ready to perform, I’m pretty happy with both.  I think I’ll still work on the the more uptempo one some more now that I know I’m playing two sets.  I’ve mainly been focusing on the downtempo one, since I knew I had a couple of those gigs coming up this summer.  I’ll post some run-throughs of the uptempo set in a couple weeks when I’ve had a chance to work on it some more.

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Other than the live set, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks diving back into iPad music apps.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, I can finally take the iPad somewhere and work on some music outside the studio.  I love my studio and writing tracks in there, but now that I work in there all day too, sometimes I just need to go somwhere new for inspiration.

In the past I’ve used everything from my laptop a couple MIDI controllers, to a much more compact Palm TX running Bhajis Loops.  Lately I’ve been using my iPhone running NanoStudio for out and about music making.  It’s pretty amazing how powerful the apps are now, and the newer touch based apps mean you really don’t even need to bring anything else but headphones.

Still, I have to admit there were times it was a little frustrating trying to work on such a small screen.  You COULD write a whole song on them, but it could be a little tedious trying to navigate around some of the more complex apps.  I could always bring my laptop, but to be honest I find it cumbersome to take on my bike or out in the woods for instance.

The iPad has fit the bill nicely though, I’m pretty impressed at how well it fits the role of portable studio.  Well, maybe not studio, but idea starter maybe 🙂  Fits in my Camelbak so it’s unnoticeable on bike rides or hikes, but it’s large enough to turn making music on it into something you WANT to do.  Good battery life too, I’ve yet to come anywhere close to running mine down all the way when out and about writing music for a whole day.

One of the biggest things that I’ve discovered working like this, or on iOS devices in general, is that I’m much more productive if I stop trying to write complete songs in them.  Instead I just focus on building up a cool groove, or some synth melodies.  I can record them into the Octatrack for further tweaking and arranging back in the studio.  Much easier doing that for me, that trying to sit there and be focused enough to do a complete song when it’s beautiful out.

I tend to go to a few different parks every time I work on music like this, so at each new park I start a new idea.  Usually I’ll switch apps to force myself to approach the next song idea a little differently.  It’s a fun way of working, because I know I have a use for anything I decide to keep and expand on later.  If I come up with something that ultimately doesn’t sound that good and just gets deleted, oh well, at least it was fun while I was making it.

Really digging Propellorheads Figure for this kind of work lately too, it’s deeper than you would think the first time you use it.  Now if they would just let us save our work so we can have mulitple songs in the app.  More sounds too! 🙂

 

Festival Season

Well, summer’s coming up fast and I’ve already got a couple gigs lined up that I’m really excited about this year.  I’ve been asked to play Photosynthesis again, this times perhaps doing two different sets over the weekend.  As readers of my blog will know, I’ve recently switched to using the Elektron Octatrack in place of a laptop and the APC40 I have been using for years now.

The first couple of trial runs I posted online I was happy with, but at the same time I knew I had really rushed some of the prep work because I was excited to try out the Octatrack in a live context.  I knew going into those early attempts that the drums were barely sketched out, and the track order and mixdowns were just done real quick and needed more attention.  So, with the summer gigs coming up, I decided it was time to dive back in and get all my new live material prepped and ready for the summer.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been going through my back catalog of tracks, looking for ones I could use to fill in the holes in the current set, as well as just to give me more material to use live.  I ended up adding about 8-9 more tracks overall, giving me about 2 hours of material total to perform if needed.  Once the new songs were prepped and ready to go in the Elektrons, I went and did a lot of touchups in pretty much all of the patterns.  Just fixing the small things that were still bugging me about some of the song mainly, and re-mixing all of the new ones too.

Once that was done, the tedious part was next, mixing and re-ordering everything so that it flows better from one song to the next.  This is pretty time-consuming because I have to do it all manually in the Octatrack ,cutting and pasting one song and all it’s presets at a time.  But…. it’s worth it, everything flows better overall and the set makes more sense as a complete piece of work too.

I still need to keep fine-tuning the mixdowns for each song, the Elektrons are capable of such deep bass, I’m always tweaking the low end to get it deep but not over-powering. Could be worse I guess!

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of work, I finally got to record a couple new trial runs of the material this weekend.   I had to split it up into two seperate videos on consecutive days because I’m still learning the the new camera I bought to record these videos  🙂  Oh, and I’m sitting down because last year at Photosynthesis they had us sit to perform in the chillout tent, and I want to get used to that.  Was kind of weird at the time when you’re used to always standing to perform.

Downtempo Live PA recorded April 14, 2012

 

Downtempo Live PA recorded April 15, 2012

 

I’ll post the time-slots I’m playing once I get the final info about that.  You can find out more information about the Photosynthesis Festival here:

http://photosynthesisfestival.com/

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest I highly recommend it, I had a really good time last year. The other big gig I have lined up I don’t have dates for yet, but I’ll talk about that some more once everything is finalized.  If you have any questions about the sets above, or want to book me for any parties, send me an email or drop a note in the comments.  Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Festival Recap

Well, back from Photosynthesis Festival 4.0 and slightly more rested up today than I have been in days.  Overall it ended up being an amazing weekend, way more fun that I had even been anticipating.

The location itself was beautiful, a really nice campground on a beautiful stretch of beach at the tip of the Olympic peninsula.  This was all native american reservation land, and the resort where the festival was held was run by the local Makah Indian tribe.  It had been cloudy and raining a bit on the drive up, so I was a little worried we might not be getting the nice weather we were supposed to.  As part of the opening ceremonies for the party though, the local indian shaman (??? not sure the correct term for this tribe) did a quick prayer for good weather, and spookily not 5 minutes later the clouds parted and it was gorgeous the rest of the weekend.

Most of Friday night spent in the ambient and downtempo H’art tent, some great music was playing there almost all night, and it was a really cool venue.  They had put carpetting and tons of pillows down on the floor, and were making people take off their shoes when they came in.  Lots of cool artwork on the walls, and even the “DJ booth” was low to the ground too.  The sound system was set up totally surrounding the round room too, which was nice. Overall it was one of the more relaxing and beautiful places I’ve played in, perfect for the chill music they were playing all weekend.


I did leave for a bit to check out Kilowatts, who did an amazing set in the gallery tent.

It was interesting that practically the whole native american local community seemed to come to check out the event too.  Probably the craziest thing to happen there ever, many looked pretty bemused at all the partiers and their outfits.  The event was billed as a dry event due to all the alcohol and drug problems the indian community had dealt with in the past.  Something like this will never be completely dry, but everyone who was drinking did so discretely out of respect.  I honestly never really saw that many people too wasted or out of control, it was a really positive vibe the whole weekend.

With the music going on in all the tents until 6:00 AM each night, we were basically up all night until the music stopped and we could get some sleep. Saturday we woke up about 8:30 because the sun was out and the day was already so warm that is was uncomfortable being in the tent any longer.  Hallie and I decided to drive 10 minutes down the road to Cape Flattery, which is the northwestern-most point of the continental US.  Beautiful park, and a short 20 minute hike to get to the tip of the cape.  It was nice that we were able to get out and do some things we enjoyed that made it feel a bit more like a normal vacation too, and not just a 3 day music festival.

Where as Friday night had been about relaxing and chill music for me, Saturday was totally different.  Tipper went on at 11:00, and I have to say the 7 year wait to see him live was soooo worth it.  Brilliant set, amazing music, the whole place was into it and dancing their asses off.  At midnight I sadly had to leave to get my gear and set up for my set at 12:30, so I missed the end of his set unfortunately.  Great stuff though, I was so happy he was the main headliner, perfect music for an event like this.

I got to the chill tent to set up about 30 minutes early so I’d have plenty of time to set up and get ready to play. As I walk in, I see the previous group was already packing up, and there’s no music playing.  Uh oh.

The sound guy rushes up to me and asks if I’m Tarekith, I say yes, and he breathes a sigh of relief and tells me the previous group stopped 30 minutes early for some reason, and asks when can I start.  Ummm….  So, it was a bit of a scramble to set up as quick as I could, hit the bathrooms one last time, and then start my set 15 minutes early.  All while I was still out of breath from dancing to Tipper for an hour too.  🙂

Overall I think my set went pretty well.  Enough mistakes happened while I was playing that I was a little bummed afterwards, but it was pretty much unfounded from talking to everyone else later on.  I think a lot of my misgivings came because the way the DJ booth was set up really low to the ground, meant there was no room to set up my laptop stand without it being right at eye level.  And to the left and right were the DJ and house mixer which coulnd’t be moved.  So my view of most of the people directly in front of me was blocked, which made judging people’s reactions a little hard.

Also, the Kapture Pad app I was using on my iPhone to reset my Live controllers was honestly more hassle than it was worth, and threw me off a few times.  Too many times it just didn’t reset all my controls, or it would randomly reset them at the wrong time or late.  Good idea, but honestly I can’t recommend it for live use right now.

Once I ditched that and just focused on the APC40, things went smoother though.  The promoter of the tent I was in came over as I was packing up and said he really, really liked my set, so I guess it couldn’t have been that bad.  Ultimately I think it’s a good reminder that we’re always our own worst critics, and if mistakes do happen, just smile and move on (which I did) and most people will never even realize.

Here’s a couple videos of the set:

The rest of the night we just wandered tent to tent dancing pretty much non-stop until 6:00 AM or so.  I was mostly going after some of the harder tech-house DJs, but we checked out some really smooth DnB for a bit too.  Great night, lots and lots of happy people everywhere you went, locals and party goers.  There was some amazing music happening all over the place, I danced more than I have in years.  I really hope they have another one next year, I’d go again in a heartbeat!


7 Days To Go

Well, I feel bad I haven’t been updating the blog as much as I’d like, but there’s been two pretty major events in my life happening almost concurrently.  So, I figured it was time to give a quick update while I had a free moment.

The thing I’ve been working on my new live set for the Photosynthesis 4.0 Festival starting a week from today.  I’m REALLY excited for this, the line-up is killer (I mean Tipper? How cool is that?) and it’s in one of the most beautiful locations in my favorite part of the United States.  Not to mention I have a really prime time-slot for when I’ll be performing, this is no early evening warm up slot (somewhat typical for downtempo musicians like myself).

So I really have been putting a lot of time into fine-tuning my normal live set, and trying to come up with something special.  In this case I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to see how (or if) I can combine my hardware Elektron-based live set, with my normal Ableton Live set.  Further made interesting by the fact that I sold my Elektron Monomachine earlier this week.  I know, WTF right?

It was a great synth which I really enjoyed using, but due to the second reason I’ve been busy lately, I needed some spare cash sooner than expected, so it had to go (for now).  Before I sold it however, I did take the time to separately record all of the parts of my new Wired Roots live set into Live, so that I could sync the Machinedrum to Live and still perform that set if need be.  Well, that was the plan anyway, I ran into two issues that will probably make this a no go at this time.

The first was that my Elektron stuff sounds so different (more minimal, techy) from my normal Ableton live set, that it was hard to mix and match the two the way I intended.  Not really possible to intersperse them among each other, and playing the Elektron stuff before or after the Ableton stuff just didn’t flow right.  I’m playing for an hour and half at the festival, which is 30 minutes longer than I usually play my live sets.  So I thought, maybe I could just work in one or two of the Elektron songs into the set as segues, or maybe for the intro.

And then I ran into issue number, I just can’t get the Machinedrum to follow Live’s tempo accurately enough.  Or rather I should say most of the time it syncs fine, everyone in awhile for reasons I can’t figure out, it just goes wonky and that’s that.  The new beta of Live 8 syncs to the Machinedrum as master ok, but I don’t want to be messing with the Machinedrum all night to change tempos.  Something my downtempo sets do a lot of.

So in the end I decided it was probably best to make this performance almost entirely Live based, with the Machinedrum standing by with a self-contained live set in case I need to extend my set somewhat.  After a trial run last night though, I’m confident that i have enough Live-prepped material to more than cover the time slot, so I doubt I’ll need to turn to the Machinedrum at this point.

Ah yes, last night’s trial run.  First time I’ve played some of my newer songs in a live context, and for the most part I’m SUPER excited at how it’s all going to sound.  Only had one real issue, where I ran into a weird Live bug where some of my clip loops were extended by tiny fraction of a bar.  Just enough to sort of barely throw the groove off when the clips looped each time.  Not sure most people would have heard the issue, but when it’s your songs, every little thing stands out if it’s not right.  I don’t remember ever having this issue in the past, but at least it was easy enough to correct.  Another reason you should ALWAYS do trial runs at home!

So at this point, I think everything is set and ready to go.  I’ve got my laptop prepped and backup, all my important data and the set are burned to DVD just in case.  I’ve got a diagram drawn showing all the connections to the Fireface400 I need to make, just to  make sure I remember everything.  All my cables are checked, packed, and I have extras of everything.  I even make some nice labels for the APC40 to make it easier to remember which channel is which at 2:00 AM!

Just to be safe I’ll probably do a trial run again tonight or tomorrow, really making sure all the kinks are worked out before everything gets packed up for good.  Practice makes perfect, so it’s not time wasted.  And honestly, I love performing my music live, even if it’s just at home. 🙂

So, Photosynthesis festival 4.0, July 22nd-25th, Hobuck Resort in Neah Bay, Washington State.  Tarekith performing live from 12:30-2:00 Saturday night (Sunday morning) in the h’Art tent.  I doubt many people reading the blog will be able to make it out to the show, but if you do please stop by before or afterwards and say hi.

And that’s the news on the first thing on my plate lately.

The second thing I’ve been spending a lot of time on, is sort of relaunch of mastering and mixdown business I run, InnerPortalStudio.com.  Things have been steadily ramping up since I started doing this full-time, and there’s a few other things in the works that I know are going to be driving a lot of traffic to my site in the next two to three months.  So as a result, I’ve decided to revamp the website, upgrade the studio acoustics (custom fabricated courtesy of GIK Acoustics USA out of Atlanta), and re-look at the services I offer.

After almost two years of doing this full-time, it’s apparent that I can make a living doing it, and that there’s a demand for what it is I offer.  I’ll admit, I’m a musician and engineer more than a business man, so it’s been a long process of trying to figure out exactly where I fit in, in this time of change in the music industry.  But I think I’ve got some exciting new ideas that people will find appealing, so it seemed like a good time to re-look at what it is I offer people.

The new acoustic treatment should arrive in 2-3 weeks, with the new website to launch shortly after that.  Currently streamlining some other aspects of the business as well, so pretty exciting times for me, if crazy busy too!

More news to come as I get closer to launch of Inner Portal Studio v2.

Well, that’s the update on what’s bee going on, and why I haven’t been posting to my blog as much as I’d like.  On a side note, despite getting the most traffic to my site ever, and a lot of positive feedback, the Production Q&A series seems to be dead in the water after only one episode.  Everyone liked the idea, and web hits were through the roof that month, but I didn’t get many questions for the follow up (and those were strangely almost word for word the questions I asked in the first Q&A).  I’d love to keep helping people out, but I’m only going to spend the time on it if people actually have questions they want answered 🙂  So, last call for production, mastering, or mixdown questions you’d like to see me tackle.

Finally, for those Facebook users in the USA, I’ve been spending a little bit of time each night on the new Turntable.fm service.  It’s a fun way to chat to other DJs and share tunes, in this case in a room dedicated mainly to downtempo (we stay sometimes).  If you’re bored and want to share some similar tunes, or just want something to listening to while chilling at night, check out:

http://turntable.fm/el_jefes_downtempo_saloon

I mainly tend to visit in the evenings, around 6:00-7:00 PM Pacific Time.

Photosynthesis Festival

Woo hoo, it’s official, I’m playing live at the Photosynthesis Festival at Neah Bay here in Washinton State, on Saturday night from 12:30-2:00 AM.  Well, technically that’s Sunday morning I guess, but you get the idea.  I’ll be in the h’Art tent put on by the people who run Church of Bass in Seattle.  Not all of the details have been posted yet, but you can follow the infomation on the website here:

http://photosynthesisfestival.com/

As well as the Facebook Page for more info.  If by any chance you plan on being there, let me know or stop by before or after my set, I’d love to hang out and meet some people.

Of course, this will likely be one of my  largest gigs yet, so I’ve been working hard the last few days to get something really awesome to play.  I had been debating exactly what gear I wanted to bring, and what kind of live set I want to do, hardware or software-based.  Since the promoters have asked me to do a bit more of a chill set however, and I’m playing for 1.5 hours, I think ultimately this will be an Ableton and APC40 live set.

It’s been almost a year since I redid my software live set (most of my blog readers know I’ve been on a hardware kick lately), so I took this opportunity to relook at my Live PA set up in Ableton.  In the past, the effect rack I was using on each of my audio channels was functional, but just never really did what I needed 100%.  Too much overlap with the send effects I was using as well (delay and reverb), and I wasn’t quite happy with the sculpting capabilities of the filters I made in the past.  So this time, I decided to use my Xone62 emulation rack as the first device in the live rack.  Having 4 bands of EQ (hi- and low-cut shelves, and two mids) lets me really shape each sound, and to be honest I’m just used to that from my DJing with the Xone62.

Following the 4-band EQ, are 2 different gated slicing devices, which let me add more rhythmical interest to parts, or to sort of mimic making drum parts less busy.  Next is a smooth modulation based effect that sort of a weird combination of a chorus and flanger/phaser.  Last is one of my “washes”, which is a bunch of delay based effects that let me turn any sound into a pad or ambient texture with one knob.  This same rack is on all 8 of my audio tracks in the set.

I also went and redid the delay and reverb sends I had been using, making the delay a little more dubby and the reverb less metalic and darker sounding.  The previous versions sounded ok in the studio, but in a club they were just a bit too bright for me.  Live and learn.

I’m also experimenting with Liine’s Kapture Pad for iOS.  This way I can store a snapshot of the live set before I start playing, and then instantly return to it no matter what kind of tweaking I do while playing.  So far it’s working pretty good, easy to set up and exactly what I wanted.  I’ve had a couple issues where it didn’t restore all of the tweaked parameters to the saved state unless I triggered it a couple times, but I’ve got a support request in with the Liine guys to see if they can help me solve this.  Could just be something not set right on my end.

The hardest part of prepping for this show is that I’m playing live for an hour and a half, and usually I play for 1 hour.  I have enough material for that long, but it’s been interesting trying to pace it all out.  My downtempo tunes cover all sorts of energy levels from comatose almost danceable, and much of this is regardless of the tempo.  Bit of a challenge to get it all flowing nicely without huge jumps in tempo or energy song to song.  I’m sure I can figure it out though! 🙂

And of course, because I always have to be prepared for every possibility, I’m also prepping some DJ sets and probably even a Machinedrum solo live set just in case.  Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared I guess!  Who knows, maybe I’ll get bored during the day and just hook everything up to the car stereo to throw my own little parties.  Either way, I’m really looking forward to this gig, should be a great time.

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Just a heads up that I’m still looking for more questions for round 2 of the Q&A series I started last month.  I got more positive comments about that blog post than any other by far, but I still haven’t had many people submit some new questions.  Feel free to  send me an email or ask something in the comments if you’d like to see my try and tackle it next week.  Thanks!

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I also added a “Like” button to the blog page at the top right, click that baby if you like the blog please! Thanks!