Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

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YouTube version of this set:

http://youtu.be/D7V8HvRLXfo

Audio version of the set:

Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

This live set has been a long time coming, something I’ve been trying to do with different gear for awhile now.  After bouncing around for what seemed like forever trying various different set ups, I finally decided that the Maschine Studio controller would be something I could really dive into.

This entire set was created and performed entirely using the Maschine Studio controller, the laptop was closed the entire time as I wanted to treat the set as if it was purely done on hardware.   There was an NI limiter on the master channel in Maschine, otherwise this was recorded directly from Maschine with no additional processing after the fact.

An earlier attempt at doing this showed me I needed to really pay attention to my CPU usage, it’s easy to get carried away using lots of the bigger plug ins from the library.  I have Maschine set up so that each Group is a basically a separate song, so I need to have enough CPU available to load 8 songs at once in effect.

I started by keeping the drums mainly sourced from samples, both in the Maschine library, and some of my own found sounds (more on this later).  Other than the kick drums, most of the percussion and cymbal noises are various odd sounds I sampled in various forest preserves near where I live.  Editing, tweaked, effected, and pitched all over of course.

I used “Group I” in Maschine to host a global delay and reverb, and sent just about everything through that to save more power.  There was also a few filters, EQs, a transient shaper, and delay on the master channel.  These were assigned to Master Channel macros so that I could effect the entire sound of the set if I wanted to.

This left me plenty of CPU I found to get a bit more indulgent with some of the instrument sounds.  Time to dive into Massive and some of the new content in the Komplete Select sounds from the Maschine v2.3 update recently.

This video was actually my very first trial run of the set.  I was mainly trying to see if the cameras would record long enough, and if Maschine could handle running that long as well.  I ended up having so much fun I just went for it, and happily all the camera and audio aspects worked as expected too.  I still have quite a bit more I want to do to fine-tune the set and a couple of the songs, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.

Maschine Studio ended up being a lot better than I expected from a performance standpoint.  Doesn’t take long to really start knowing your way around, and with things like the mixer, macros, and synth tweaking only one button press away, I was surprised at how quick I could move around to keep the set as fluid as possible.  Good stuff, and I look forward to doing some more live music with this set up!

Hope you enjoy the music!
Tarekith

http://tarekith.com
https://twitter.com/Tarekith
https://www.facebook.com/innerportalstudio

Building A New Live Set

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Now that things are settled down a bit from the move, I finally have the time and mindset to really focus on getting some new music written and recorded.  Probably even performable if all goes well.

The Electribe live set I was working on was giving me a few issues so I decided to shelve it for a bit, and the Traktor S8 live set didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so that was a dead end too.  I figured it was time to dive back in on the Maschine Studio as a live tool, see if I could come up with a way to use it to write and perform and entire live set from.

I won’t lie, this video of Dapayk Solo helped kick my interest back into high gear:

He’s basically using the exact same way of organizing the set that I was planning on, and despite a couple CPU dropouts he said, everything worked fine for up to 8 songs.  At least now I knew it could be done, and I wasn’t so hesitant to spend the time prepping something of this magnitude.

I set myself a self-imposed deadline of June 1st to finish the set.  Well, slightly self-imposed anyway, I might actually have a live set to play that night.  Details pending.

The basic idea was to use each group in Maschine as a self-contained song, so that I could have multiple songs all in one self-contained project.  After some experimenting and talking to other Maschine users trying something similar, it sounded like limiting the set to 8 groups (songs) was the best way to go.  Beyond that you start running into CPU load limitations, it’s just pushing things too much IMO.

Even then, I knew I needed to try and be as bare-bones as possible when building the set, the more CPU in reserve the better.  If nothing else it gave me plenty of power later in the process when I really wanted to fine-tune things.  By sticking mainly with samples for my drums and a few instruments per song, I was able to write 95% of the set with my CPU meter barely lighting up in Maschine.

Oh yeah, the set came together really fast too, the bulk of it created over maybe a week?   Plenty of time to meet my deadline now!   I think it helped that I had just gotten back from a nice relaxing vacation to Amsterdam (my first time) a few days before.  But I also know that it had been awhile since I had written and released any music I was happy with, and the itch was there to just get it done.

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I’m still impressed every time I use the Maschine Studio, I admit it.  Other than a few things I can do quickly at the start of a session like start a new project, everything can be done from the hardware.  And it’s really fun to do so.  The more used to Maschine I get, the more I realize there’s so much potential there with how quick it is it to write and EDIT your music. Didn’t help that the new 2.3 update for Maschine hit right before I dove in, new goodies are always fun to play with of course. 🙂

In a couple busy days in the studio, I managed to get the core of 8 new songs written for the live set.  It’s mainly a dub techno, deep weird house sort of set, dance or nod, it’s your choice.

I still need to do some final mixdown tweaks, figure out exactly how I want to video record a run through of the set (everyone loves YouTube versions after all), add in a few fills here and there, and start assigning all the controls I want to tweak when playing the set to Macros for each group.  6 days, easy.

If all goes to play, hopefully I’ll be playing a new live set on June 1st, or at the very least have a practice run through of the set online.  Back to it!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

 

 

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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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!

The Tarekith Update

Well I know it’s been a bit light on blog posts here lately, so I thought I’d do sort of a general update on a what’s been happening here in the studio. I’m in sort of a bit of flux in a lot of areas right now, so my apologies if this comes off as a little rambling! 🙂

For starters, I wanted to thank everyone wishing me luck with my shoulder surgery earlier this year. Things have been progressing great, I almost have full range of motion back and the physical therapist has me weight training already. Still fiending to get on the bike, but I know I’m almost halfway there now so trying to be patient 🙂

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My plan while recovering from surgery was to renew my focus on learning guitar, especially with the new Taylor acoustic I bought. Happily that has been going very well, I’ve been practicing almost daily and already starting to notice huge improvements. I’ve ditched the pick all together at this point, and am now focusing a lot on fingerpicking. Not so much traditional fingerpicking, but definitely learning as many techniques as I can to add my own style and feel to it.

Because I’ve been enjoying the guitar so much, I’m starting to consider putting together a new live set using it as my main instrument. Quite a jump from hardware groove boxes! I’m still mentally toying with different options, but in the mean time I decided it was time to start playing around with some dedicated guitar pedals. My Boss Tera Echo is still a dream to play, and I just ordered a TC Hall Of Fame reverb pedal, and an Xotic EP booster to get the Taylor’s signal a little more usable.  Thinking about the TC Flashback x4 as well.

TeraEcho

When I haven’t been working on the guitar, I’ve been thinking about where I want to focus next when it comes to studio and live work. I’m still happy working on the iPad for tracks now and then, but I want get back into more of a hardware workflow too. Not just for writing tracks but for performing them too.

Strangely, for some reason I’ve really been giving serious thought to Maschine Studio. Crazy, I know 🙂 But it looks like the newest software updates have solved a lot of my previous complaints about Maschine. And it’s hard not to appreciate how much more hardware-like the new display will make the controller feel. As much as I love Push and Live, I have to admit the Live library really doesn’t do much for me when it comes to finding sound ideas to use when creating tracks. That was one area I really liked about Maschine when I tried it previously.

But, we’ll see, nothing is decided yet. I still might go with more traditional hardware too 🙂

The mastering business was a bit slower than normal to start the year, but with me being out for surgery anyway it worked out.   Things have ramped up a lot since then though, and 2014 is already looking to be a great year.   And it certainly is fun listening to those Tyler D2x’s every day!  🙂

Last but certainly not least, I  broke my right hand in three places last week.  Yes, right when the shoulder was starting to feel better, I decided it would be a good idea to hit the refrigerator in a rare display of frustration.  Stupid I know, and now I get to pay for it.  Oh well, no guitar for a bit I’m guessing, so I’ve decided to just spend my time focusing on music theory again.   I was doing a little every day as part of my guitar practices anyway, now I can sped more time on it 🙂

Well, that’s about it, and not terribly exciting I’m afraid.  Hopefully the hand heals up fast and I can get back to writing again soon!

Free Octatrack Sample Chains

Octatrack

I recently decided that I’m going to be selling my Elektron Octatrack, so I’ve decided to make the all of the sample chains I had created for my new album and live set available for download, now that I no longer need them:

Octatrack Sample Chains

There are three folders of sample chains in that zip file, one containing drum sounds, one containing synth, guitar, and chord sample chains, and one that uses single-cycle waveforms for turning the Octatrack into a synthesizer.  All samples are in the key of C, and some of the chord samples use both major and minor chords.  All chains contain 64 samples, so you can make full use of the Sample Start parameter in the Octatrack.

Of course these are just wav files, so you don’t need an Elektron Octatrack to use them, they’ll work in any sampler (or DAW for that matter).

I hope some of you find these useful!

Lemonade!

Borked OT(Yep, you know where this is going!)

Well, I know it’s been awhile since my last post, but things have been a little hectic here.  Just that time of year I guess!

For the last few months I’ve been struggling through a bit of a writer’s block, but I know these things happen so I’ve just been trying to work through it.  Mainly jumping around between new things like Push, or DJing more frequently, anything I can think of to spark some ideas.  Decibel Festival here in Seattle definitely helped to keep me going when I was getting fed up, which is good as something finally stuck and I was excited about making music again.

So I’ve been working on the Octatrack live set, and honestly it’s been a lot of fun too.  Getting stuck into a lot of those lost-in-time moments of flow, just getting on with things and working as fast as I could.  Lots of prep work though, figuring out a new way to use the OT for transitions, prepping sample chains, just learning all of the functions of the OT again to see how best I can utilize it to pull this solo box thing off.

Last night I finally had everything prepped and ready to begin the writing and recording process.  In fact, I was so into this new way of working with the OT, that I was planning to first try recording a live set completely on the fly from scratch.  NO planning at all, no pre-planned sequences, just winging it and seeing what happens.

Just needed to save everything properly and make sure it was all backed-up, so at any time I could easily return to a blank canvas with all my custom templates ready to go once more.  Back-up to the computer and thus my regular archives went easy enough, so I decided to also load my templates onto the two Compact Flash cards I use for safety back-ups at gigs.

After backing-up to both cards, I inserted my original CF card, and for some reason the OT froze.  Reboot, reset, empty reset, trying the other cards, nothing worked, the OT just froze the second a card was inserted.  Looked into the CF card slot on the back of the OT, and I saw one of the pins the cards connected to had broken off.  Sure enough, the pin broke off inside the last back-up card when I ejected it.

Fuck.

Why does gear always fail on me RIGHT before I go to record something I’m really excited about and in the right mental zone for?   You have no idea how much stuff like this just makes me furious, that gear should fail when it’s needed most just drives me nuts.  I sold my TI2 Polar the very same day when it did something similar.  At least I wouldn’t have to look at it and remember how it disappointed me, or how much of my creative life I lost due to that failure.  (angry face)

I won’t sell the Octatrack, but I was tempted for a little while there.  No, it will go back to get serviced and I’m sure that in a few weeks I’ll manage to get in the right head space to give this a go once more.  In the meantime it’s hard not to be upset, and instead remember that this stuff happens sometimes and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Chin up, head up, time to listen to some Jon Hopkins stupid loud and find my happy place.  🙂  Let’s hope my next post has some positive news that this is all well behind me!

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!

Post Album Odds and Ends

Whew, it’s been a busy couple of weeks getting my new “Fractured Time” E.P. wrapped up and ready to sell.  Seems like that’s always the case the though, the very end of the process is where things get complicated.  It’s not even just finishing up the act of actually writing the music either, though that’s certainly the most important.

There’s quite a few things that need to happen before I can release a larger project like this:

– Am I happy with the artwork, and do I have it in all the sizes and resolutions I need for the various online outlets?
– Do I know which stores I want to sell it in, and can I coordinate the release for a specific day among all of them?
– What formats do all of the stores want the audio files in (some like Addictech are particular about the file-naming)?
– How much do I want to sell it for?
– Have I added all the images and info for the album on my website, both the Tracks page and the Blog?
– How am I going to handle giving away the Live 9 Project files for the album (free for people who buy it)?
– Is all the correct artwork and album info embedded in the AAC (or MP3) files?
– Who am I going to give free copies too, and do I need to worry about it getting pirated that way?
– How do I want to announce it on the social media sites, with different wording for each, or the same for all?
– Did I upload the album to Soundcloud, YouTube (working on this today), or Vimeo?

Those are just a few of the things I’m trying to coordinate and plan for in the last couple of weeks that I’m writing an album, I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting.  But it goes even farther than that for me, because I also like to play live and DJ in addition to writing tracks in the studio.  So I’ve also got to make sure I have copies of all the new songs tagged and ‘gridded’ in my DJ software ready for my next gig.

There’s also the live set to think about.

Do I want to play any of these songs in my downtempo or uptempo live sets?  If so, then I need to go through the process of getting the right loops from all the songs to use in the Octatrack.  Those have to be set up properly, and all new drum parts have to be written for the Machinedrum.  Then I’ll remix it all to give it a fresh take for the live set (I hate live acts that sound EXACTLY like their studio songs).  Right when I am soooo sick of hearing the same songs over and over again, I have a lot more work doing just that while I get them ready to perform on stage.  🙂

Oh well, it’s all part of the process I guess, and at least most of it is fun.  just thought some people might be curious about what goes into a Tarekith album launch.  If you have any specific questions though, just put them in the comments below and I’ll answer them ASAP.

Thanks, and I hope many of you out there are enjoying the new music!