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

Novation Circuit Review

My newest bit of kit came last week, the Novation Circuit.  I sat down and did a video review, and a quick walkthrough of the features and sounds you can expect from it.  There’s also an overview of the new editor for the synths from the folks at Isotonik Studios.  The synth in Circuit is deep!

Sit back, enjoy, and post here if you have any questions not covered in the review!

https://youtu.be/hZfyL9-hoOA

Later!
Tarekith

Ad Infinitum – Follow Up Questions

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Well, it’s been a bit more than a week since I released my latest album and the accompanying video walkthrough of the Live Projects for it, and I’m super pleased with the way it’s been received so far. All that work putting together the walkthrough wasn’t a waste of time, though I’ve been getting a few questions from producers about some of the things I didn’t cover in the video. I figured it would be good to collect them all here so other musicians who might be curious about these can read them too!

So, without further adieu, here’s some follow up questions I was asked about making “Ad Infinitum” (rephrased for clarity/brevity):

1. What settings from the Groove Pool did you use for the songs on the albums?

I actually didn’t use Grooves at all on this album, instead I just set the Swing parameter on Push 2 to roughly 7% when I was recording new parts. The Groove Pool in Live is a nice idea, but I find it a bit cumbersome to use myself. A little bit of swing here and there when using things like Note Repeat goes a long way towards making things a bit more human sounding I find.

2. What sample-rate and bit depth did you for this album?

I actually spent a couple days before I started trying out various sample rates to see which I should use for the rest of the album. Namely I wanted to see if running at 96kHz was something I wanted to use. Every couple if years I start telling myself that perhaps now is when I’ll be able to notice an increase in sound quality, so I like to spend some time revisiting the idea before larger projects.

But, as in the past, I still ended up preferring the 44.1kHz versions of my songs once everything was down-sampled to that setting for release online. In a couple cases the 96kHz raw versions sound a tiny bit more open on their own, but once you add in a pass of sample-rate conversion to get the standard 16/44.1kHz wav files most online aggregators like CDBaby.com want, then I preferred the regular 44.1kHz versions.

In the end I decided that for my music (and the way I write it at least), sticking with 24bit/44.1kHz files while working was the best way forward.

3. In the past you’ve said you almost never use MIDI and prefer working with audio files directly in Live, however in the video it looks like you’re using a lot of MIDI clips. What changed your mind?

It’s true, normally I prefer working with audio as soon as possible when writing my songs. On this album though, every one of the songs was written from the ground up with Push, which largely was created to control the built in instruments in Live via MIDI. So while in a few instances I resampled the MIDI tracks to audio if I needed more CPU power, overall it was just easier to keep things as MIDI after I recorded them with Push.

Even audio loops from my own sample library were typically imported into the new Simpler for further tweaking.

4. You seem to have a lot of nice gear available to use in your studio, why did you decide use only Live?

Actually the initial plan when I started working on the album was only to use Live as a DAW for writing the songs, and everything else was fair game if I thought it should be used on the album. But once I started diving in with Push and exploring some more of the Ableton Live Packs, I just found a workflow that seemed to fit me really well so I ended up ultimately using mostly the Ableton instruments for most of the writing.

There’s a little bit of other things still scattered throughout here and there though. In one track I used Absynth 5 for one sound, and I think Synplant might have been in one song as well. Plus I have a lot of audio loops I’ve made with other gear that got chucked into Simpler for the album. A few were from the new electribe, and there’s a lot of MicroTonic drum loops from the Patternarium website on there too.

So while the actual hosts of the audio loops were Simpler or Sampler, there’s a few years of other gear as the source material too.

5. For awhile there you were heavily into the iPad for music making, did you use it for this album at all?

I’ve been using Auria a lot the last few weeks for the album, though not for the actual writing per se. Where Auria really came in handy, was letting me take all rough mixes of the songs as I was close to finishing them, and play around with the track order while not in the studio. I’d load them up on the iPad at the end of the day, and go sit outside to listen to what I had done and play with track spacing and track order (it’s meant to be listened to as a continuous album).

Also, because I was going to be using Pro-L to master it on the laptop, I could use Pro-L in Auria to get a rough idea how it might sound on different headphones once it was done. Useful for gut-based mix checks as I work. It was really handy for letting me listen to everything with a fresh perspective out of the studio.

6. Will you do your next album with Live and Push 2 again?

At this point I haven’t decided what the next album will be, or even when I’ll start it, so it’s hard to say. Given how complex this album was though, I think in the short term I’m going to rachet things back and focus on my Novation Circuit which is arriving any day now 🙂
Hope that clears things up for people, if you have any other questions by all means put them in the comments!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Ad Infinitum – New Tarekith Album

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Ad Infinitum Album <- 320kbps AAC files

For high-quality WAV and FLAC versions,
please visit my Bandcamp page by clicking the image below:

Bandcamp

The Ad Infinitum album was probably one of the quickest projects of mine to come to fruition, from start to finish it took me almost exactly one month to complete. Well, the audio aspects anyway, artwork, promotion, and writing things like this took slightly longer of course. And what’s most surprising for me, was that I approached this album a lot differently than I have most of my music making the last few years.

Most of my music projects recently have been focused on creating music I could perform live, patterns and motifs that I could use to shape the overall structure of a piece over the course of 30-60 minutes. The focus was on creating performable material, with the performance being the main thing I was worried about capturing. Most of the time with no editing, or any sort of post-production, after the fact. What I performed WAS the end result I was aiming for, even if it wasn’t recorded in a live context on stage, and only in my studio. This time around I wanted to go back to actually shaping songs individually, really crafting songs that stood on their own and not just as a piece in a larger context.

I only had a few rough ideas about the shape of the album when I started, and I planned to let it evolve once I started the writing process and saw where things were headed. However, I knew I wanted to slow things down a bit compared to my more recent work which was mostly 120BPM or faster. A blend of downtempo and what I’ll call modern ambient, mixed with enough sound design shenanigans to keep even the quietest moments interesting. I wanted the album to be very dynamic in terms of loudness, soft gentle sections leading to and from the more drum-heavy songs.

And most of all I wanted to use Ableton Live and Push 2 to do it all.

It’s been years since I really dove in and spent a lot of time working on my own songs in Live, even though it’s something I use many times a week for my studio business. Nothing against Live, I’ve just been exploring other ways of making music the last 3-4 years; hardware, iPads, acoustic guitar, etc. However three things came together at the right time that made me excited to dive back in and bury myself in one application for an entire album.

The first was becoming one of the Ableton forum administrators. In effect I was now working for Ableton and that brings with it certain benefits like access to Live Packs I might not have tried otherwise. The second was getting a Push 2, and being blown away by the enhancements Ableton made to it compared to Push 1. Mainly how we could now work with audio as fluidly as we could with MIDI on the first version. Heck, MORE fluidly since the entire workflow of Push 2 just made loads more sense to the way I think about making music.

The final step that really helped push me (no pun intended) to follow my creative ideas with Live was being invited to Ableton’s first Loop event in October 2015. It’s hard not to come away inspired after spending a weekend hearing musicians and producers you respect share their insights and tips on the music making process. I’m glad Ableton will be posting more of these talks on their blog soon, as I think a lot of people will really benefit from hearing what successful artists go through when they create music. And how often they face the same struggles as someone just starting out when it comes to music production.

To say it was a kick in the pants to just focus on getting things done would be an understatement!

So, on November 7th, 2015, with my wife away on a work trip for 2.5 weeks, I sat down in the studio in front of Push 2 and started to write. All of the songs started on Push 2, sometimes with drums first, occasionally a melody or just mangling a sample led to a song idea, a few times I even used it to help me capture my guitar playing as well. Just being able to quickly record something, hit the Convert button, and then keep on tweaking it into something new was a load of fun. Sometimes I would just throw some random Max4Live devices on the master channel and record audio in realtime as I tweaked and messed about with things that I had no idea how they worked. “Raveere” was one song that was done 100% this way in fact.

Instead of working on the songs one at a time from start to completion, I started a bunch of songs at once. This gives the entire album a bit of cohesion since nothing was created in isolation, I was able to keep the same headspace across the tracks. It also lets me jump around from track to track if one of them is just not doing it for me that day. Rather than stopping for the day and coming back to it later, I could just open up another one of my songs and keep working on something different instead. These were long days, often 8-10 hours at a stretch just sketching and refining my ideas, trying different rough arrangements, fine-tuning the mixes as I went, etc. I was 100% focused on Push 2 at this point, I wasn’t even looking at the laptop most of the time.

By the end of 2 weeks I had 9 songs roughly laid out that I was really happy with. They fit the mood I was going for, and I could see how they would progress as an album through all sorts of different emotions I wanted to draw out. It was at this point that I decided to not just release all of the songs as nine separate entities, but also to combine them into one longer piece complete with custom transitions to make them flow together how I was hearing them in my head.

So, I set aside Push (job well done you), and set about focusing on the laptop and mouse to get more detailed with the arranging and editing. In the last few years this is where I’ve started to get bogged down, not for lack of ideas, but more of a “been there, done that” sort of mindset. Mousing in transitions and fills can get a little tedious for me at times, but luckily the time away from such activities let me come at it with more enthusiasm than I had in the past and it actually was pretty fun.

Not having to worry how I’ll be able to pull something off live, and instead just focus on getting it down permanently to hard disk can be greatly liberating I found! Or maybe I should say I re-discovered it, since it wasn’t necessarily a new insight with 20+ years of music making behind me.

It took me about a week to work on all the songs like this. Occasionally turning to Push when I needed to record something new real quick, but often just sitting with the laptop, a mouse, and a pair of headphones at my kitchen table focused on the task at hand. I spent 3-4 days after that doing final mixdown tweaks and mastering the songs, and then 2-3 days taking all the individual songs and combining them together for the continuous form of the album I wanted to release as well.

And then…. I was done.

This sort of realization always hits me suddenly, when I realize there’s nothing more I need to do with the songs. What was most surprising to me though, was looking back at the album back-ups and realizing I finished exactly 31 days after I started. I can’t recall a time I’ve ever written this much detailed music in such a short period of time.

And so, I give you “Ad Infinitum”, my newest album.

Tarekith
http://tarekith.com

A Shift In Workflows

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Things have been quiet on the blog front lately, I know. But, they’ve only been quiet these last few weeks because I’ve been crazy busy working on a new album. As happens every once in awhile, a lot of things in life align at the right time, and I get hit with a wave of creativity to ride for awhile.

While over all I think I’ve written some of the best music of my life this year with my Maschine Studio live sets, at the same time I know it’s been a long time since I sat down and did a proper album. Most of the last few years my music making has been focused on grooveboxes and live sets, creating longer pieces of music I could perform in a live setting. Or at least where the overall performance was driving the shape of the music. It’s probably been years since I sat at a laptop DAW and wrote more than one song at a time now that I think about it….

However, going to Ableton’s Loop event really sparked a lot of ideas in me for approaching a more layered approach to music making via the DAW again. Then you add to that Push 2, and being able to combine the feel of a groovebox and instrument with the editing and polishing of a DAW I know inside and out. Suddenly new ideas are starting to form. The final kick in my pants to get my ass working, was realizing I was going to be stuck home alone for almost 3 weeks while my wife had to travel back to Seattle for work. A long enough period of time to get a lot of work done if I put my mind to it.

And it’s crappy beginning of winter outside too, and who wants to deal with that?

So, for the last three weeks I’ve been working almost full days on the album, forcing myself to treat it like a job and power through blocks as best I can. The plan of attack became; get things recorded, work fast, and switch to a new song if the current one starts to get to me, repeat. Usually that sort of power through mentality doesn’t work for me, I get fried on the idea long before I can finish it. But this time was different, and I now have almost 9 songs done and ready to release for the new album.

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They all started as ideas I came up with on Push 2, usually 4-8 bar loops that I could expand upon once the initial concepts were recorded. Most of you have seen my Push 2 review, so you already I’m a big fan. Nothing has changed, it’s great for getting ideas started, and it feels like a quality instrument I enjoy learning and using. So that part of the process was fun as you’d expect, and I managed to get a lot of solid ideas captured in those first few days.

Usually this is where I stop, after all on a groovebox you really don’t often take things past the pattern stage. But I wanted to really fine tune the arrangements, and add more transitional elements than I had been in my music the last few years. So I flipped everything to Arrange View in Live, grabbed my headphones and a mouse, and sat in the kitchen arranging, re-arranging, editing, altering, automating, you name it.

Yes, I said the kitchen.

After working in my studio all day every day for the mastering business, sometimes I just need to get out of there and work somewhere new. And since I was just focusing on editing on the laptop, I didn’t need to worry about perfect monitoring (though I love my Spirit Focal Pros) or access to recording other gear. Instead, I just zoned out and moused away in the DAW like I used to years ago when I was more into the linear DAW way of working.

It was fun, I admit. It’s been awhile since I used Live that intensely, I had been taking a break from it after almost 12 years or so of heavy use earlier. So diving back in and seeing just how fluid things are in Live again was great, and it triggered a lot of new ideas that found there way into the songs.

I have probably 2-3 more songs that need to be polished up, then I’ll focus on any mix issues and that sort of stuff once I think the writing is done for all of them. After a nice break for my ears first of course 🙂 If all goes well I hope to be done by the end of the year, but since the majority of the work is done I’m not rushing too much at this point. If I’m actually going to sit down and spend time to craft songs in this manner, I want to take the time to do it right. Plus I’m considering giving away the DAW sessions for those that buy the whole album, so I have to keep things tidy in order for people to make sense of what I did.

Stay tuned for more info on that once it gets closer to release!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Not A Push 2 Review

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I thought long and hard about doing a proper review of Push 2, either written or video. But given how many other reviews there are out there, and how busy I am with other things (more on that below), I decided it wasn’t worth the time to do something too detailed. I did want to take the time to give my general impression, and talk about how Push 2 has come at the right time for me however.

Like a lot of people, I was really happy to see Ableton release the first Push. It had character, it was different, and it was really well made. After only a few weeks of use, I knew that I’d probably use it anytime I fired up Live.

Unfortunately, I also found it a little cumbersome to use, it was hard to always find what I was looking for when I had an idea. As a result, Push didn’t really drive me to use Live more, in fact for a long time I probably used it less. It happens when you’ve used a tool for over a decade I guess. No matter how good it is, sometimes you just want to use something different for awhile. This is largely what I did, exploring other DAWs, hardware workflows, and other controller/software combos like the Maschine Studio. It’s good to check out the alternatives sometimes, learn some new workflow ideas and just expand your horizons a bit I guess.

Then came Push 2.

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The seas parted, angels blared their horns, and unicorns shot rainbows from their asses. Not really. But it did make using Live properly FUN again, in ways I never expected.

Part of my reason for not really bonding with Push 1, was that I mostly work with audio and not MIDI when I write. And really, audio support on Push 1 and earlier versions of Live just wasn’t there. A simple numeric display of your clip and loop length, but that’s about it. Now that we can not only see our audio files on Push 2’s display, but also drop them into a revised Simpler for further mangling…. well, now we’re talking! At last, I can finally mangle audio, and in ways more fluid than what I had settled on with Maschine Studio too.

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The other big change that I find most helpful, is how Ableton re-ordered all the device parameters, and used subtle graphics here and there too. It gives each device a bit more uniqueness when you control it from the hardware, and makes finding what you want to adjust MUCH easier I find. Where as the Push 1 workflow felt kind of clunky to me, on Push 2 I can get my ideas down very fast I find. Not only that, it’s fun to use too.

One of the big take-away I got from Ableton’s Loop event, was just how much they really do think of this as an instrument. Something you can spend the time learning to play, perform your ideas, and capture them easily to expand on later. It’s not a DAW controller. Once you stop expecting it to be one and get comfortable using the mouse for the things it excels at, you end up with a very powerful and fluid workflow. It helps that the instrument side of Push 2 also received attention, the pads are much more consistent in sensitivity, feel, and color. The new buttons and lighting just make it ten times easier to find your way around while playing your ideas.

The timing of this release couldn’t be better for me either. I’ve been struggling with writers block for a few months now, so I could feel my creative energy building. Then the Loop conference happened last week, and suddenly I had a ton of inspiration and ideas. Take all those things and put a little bit of “my wife is away on a business trip for two weeks” and suddenly I have a lot of time and a lot of ideas on my hands. 🙂

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So, rather than just noodle about, I decided to really push myself (no pun intended) to record an albums worth of material in two weeks. The goal is to release 74 minutes of new music before the end of the year, so I want to dive in and force myself to write as much as I can these first two weeks. Knowing Ableton Live and having a controller that finally resonates with me it helping to no end I’m finding. It’s day 3 and I already have 5 songs written, arranged, and mixed. Like I said, there’s a fast work flow with this set up. 🙂

So, as you can see, I’m a big fan of the new Push, I think Ableton really hit the mark with this one. The first one had a lot of great ideas and really paved the way, but this one has the refinements that were needed to make it not only easier to use, but more fun as well. If you use Live and Push a lot, I think it’s definitely worth the price to upgrade (and please donate your old one too). Even if you don’t upgrade, it’s nice to know that Ableton are supporting the Push 1 as much as possible, they clearly see this as a long term instrument, and not something to be obsoleted.

Good thing too, I think I’m going to be using mine for awhile to come.

More on the new album later!

(Ok, I lied and did a video review too)

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Ableton Loop Review

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I love it when something comes along and the timing just couldn’t be any better. For the last few months I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut, which as followers of my blog know is really not all that uncommon for me. Still, when I was invited to Ableton’s Loop conference this past weekend, an event designed to foster creativity, I have to admit part of me breathed a huge sigh of relief. Perhaps this was something that could kick start my ideas again. As this was an event with very limited attendance, I thought I’d give a brief overview of the weekend for those that couldn’t be there themselves. If you haven’t heard of this event yet, here’s all the details:

https://loop.ableton.com

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Loop was held at Radialsystem V in the heart of Berlin, a large venue with main auditorium for the main presentations, a huge room set up with all sorts of electronic music gear for people to play with, and multiple smaller workshops on the four floors above. While it was obviously an event hosted by Ableton, they made it clear that it was not an event supposed to be ABOUT Ableton. There were many other manufacturers there with gear for people to try, some of the more common ones like Roland and Elektron, a large selection of modular errr…. modules, as well as some more esoteric and experimental bits of gear. It was a nice way to check out things you might not have gotten any hands on time with in-between the talks and workshops.

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I won’t go over all of the workshops and presentations, as I only made it to a few of them due to spending so much time talking to other musicians, producers, and developers through out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Not to mention quite a few people I’ve known “virtually” for years who work at Ableton, it was a good chance to put a face to the names at last.

There were a few highlights I can talk about from the presentations I did manage to see however.

Friday Robert Henke gave a keynote about the power of failure to drive success. Despite being sick as a dog, he did an excellent job setting the tone for the weekend, and have one of the best quotes I heard all weekend when he said “Success points to your past, failure points to your future”. Meaning, it’s nice to have success, but if you’re only ever chasing that, it leads you to keep repeating the same things over and over. Risking failure forces you to expand your ideas and try new things, or work improve on those things you know you can’t achieve yet. A simple statement, but powerful.

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On Saturday there was panel discussion about creating new instruments and ways to play music with Gerhard Behles (Ableton), Carla Scaletti (Symbolic Sound/Kyma), Stephan Schmitt (NI Founder), and Roger Linn. Good insight into the thought processes about how they designed the equipment they’re most known for. I thought it was nice that they all answered honestly about what they consider their biggest failures so far. For Stephan it was the fact that Guitar Rig never caught on as a stage tool for guitarists, Gerhard said he regretted the way Grooves was implemented in Live, and Carla said she is always making mistakes in order to learn and improve from them.

Roger Linn won the discussion though when he said “Remember in the 80’s when music got sterile, lost it’s human feel, alienated musicians around the world, and made people discount electronic music for decades to come? Yeah, that was my fault”. He was referring to inventing quantization, but it still got a good laugh from everyone in the crowd.

The highlight of Saturday for me were the two panels that Young Guru was a part of. I admit, while I had heard of him and knew he was a well-known engineer in the hop hop world, I didn’t realize just HOW famous he was, nor the sheer number of classic albums he had a direct hand in. Despite this, he was so down to earth and eager to share his views on all things related to music, not just in the panels, but while walking around and talking to people before and after too. And better yet, did so in a very inspiring way. I think a lot of people were really impressed with what he had to share, I know I was. Most of the events at Loop were recorded, when Ableton eventually posts them online,I highly recommend watching the Young Guru ones.

Sunday started off with a bang, literally. The panel was about acoustic drummers and how they adapt to working with electronic music. It featured Katharina Ernst, Kiran Gandhi, and Zach Danziger, each with their own drum kits on stage. Aside from being a LOUD way to wake up on a Sunday morning, they were all such different drummers that there was a huge range of knowledge and technique they shared about all things rhythm. They closed it out with all three of them jamming at once too, by far the loudest event of the weekend by amazing to listen to.

Of course Sunday was also about the big Push 2 and Live 9.5 announcement as well, and really was a great way to wrap up the conference. The Ableton presenters did a great job of showing off the new features, and when gerhard said they would be offering a 30% discount if you traded in your Push 1 and they would then donate those to schools, the place erupted with a standing ovation. The music industry really needs more initiatives like this.

You can view the video of the Push 2, Live 9.5, and Link announcement here: https://vimeo.com/144372872.

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After the conference was over each day, there was a music event that was free for everyone to attend each night. While all the music performed wasn’t always the stuff I’d listen to normally, I think it was all well chosen to show the more experimental side of of electronic music. Really cutting edge stuff, sometimes ambient modular noodlings married to visuals, other times harsh and thunderous bass tones in a pitch black room synced to steam cannons. I think these were recorded as well, so rather than try to describe such esoteric music with words, I’ll wait and let you see/hear for yourself when these come out.

More than anything though, I think what I liked about Loop was that it got people from a lot of different backgrounds into the same room, and gave them a chance to share ideas and find new collaborators for their own projects. It also was interesting to see the same themes come up over and over, both in the official presentations, and just talking to people outside in-between the workshops. Things like:

– Making music is not always fun, especially if you’re a professional. There’s times you just need to plow through and get it done even if it sucks at the time. It IS work after all, you can’t just wait for the fun moments all the time.

– Limitations are good, both in terms of the gear you use and time constraints.

– If you want to get good at writing songs, you need to actually finish as many as you can and release them to the world. Wrap up, move on, and curate any feedback you get to improve things the next time around. Team Supreme’s weekly beat-making contests were a great example. Write a one minute long beat in 30 minutes once a week and post it online. Brilliant.

– If you’re having problems writing music with the gear available today, it’s not the gear, it’s you. Young Guru’s quote on how a craftsman doesn’t blame his tools, and that everything you use can achieve professional results with the right mindset.

– Working with other people always leads to better results than working alone. Maybe a bit controversial for me personally, but it’s something I heard repeated again and again.

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Despite three days of late nights and early mornings, I came away from Loop reinvigorated like I had hoped. It was a chance to see how other people work, not just with the same tools I have, but how they struggle and overcome the same barriers to making music. A reminder that as artists we all go through the same problems, and that sometimes you just need to stop whining and get on with things to push through them.

I was very excited to hear Gerhard hint at Loop 2016 at the end of the weekend, I for one really hope I can make it back again. Thanks to everyone at Ableton for putting on such an incredible weekend, this was definitely one of the most enjoyable music-related weekends I’ve ever had. It’s left me really excited to get back to my own music-making, as soon as I can kick this cold anyway 🙂

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Electribe2 Tips & Tricks Video

A quick video showing some tips and tricks for the Korg electribe2. Some of these are briefly (or poorly) mentioned in the manual, and some were discovered by other users on the Korg forums or electribe Facebook group. I’m not claiming to have created these all, just demonstrating them so others can learn some new techniques for studio and live use.

Enjoy!
Tarekith

Over-engineering Musical Solutions

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One of the more interesting aspects of living in Europe compared to the US, is how differently they build things.  Lots more concrete, no drywall, attention to air quality inside, more stringent energy saving devices, etc.  Of course, sometimes better is not always better.

Case in point.  The bathroom in our new apartment has a fan and vent system that’s tied into the overhead light.  When you turn on the main bathroom light, after a few seconds the fans in the vents start.  This provides not only fresh air, but also helps get rid of any moisture in the air after say a shower, preventing mold building up and the like.  It’s a great idea on paper, however the people who designed it over-engineered the concept because said fan will stay on for up to 30 minutes after you turn off the light.  Even if you only turn on the light for a few seconds.  And it’s very loud, so loud you can hear it in all of the other rooms.  To the point where it’s extremely annoying, and it basically creates a larger problem than it solves.

As a result, instead of being a practical solution we appreciate having and use frequently, my wife and rarely use the overhead light in the bathroom and instead use the much dimmer one built into the wall.    The point of this post isn’t just to whine about my new bathroom though, because I see music producers doing the same thing all the time when it comes to writing music.

For instance, people will be working to make two instruments sit together better in a mix by using some EQ on both parts.   They’ll go to great lengths to create these radical and steep EQ shapes that precisely isolate specific frequencies, and yes the sounds do fit together better afterwards.  But at the same time, they also lack any warmth or presence, making the mix sound thin and anemic.  They’ve in effect not just fixed a problem, but created a worse one in the process.

Another example I’ve seen has to do with a song’s arrangement.  I was mastering some music for a couple of DJs, and they had written their music so that every 8 bars was more or less a perfect loop.  The thinking was that this way DJs could just pick and choose their favorite parts of the song, loop those, and ignore everything else.

It sounds like an interesting idea on paper, but when you’d hear the songs from start to end, they sounded very disjointed and just didn’t flow that well.  It sounded like…. well a collection of loops.  It was doubtful any DJs would buy the tracks in the first place as they were, much less spend time pulling out their favorite loops.  Luckily I was able to make some suggestions to make things flow a little better, and there was still the ability to grab loops of the important parts of the songs if DJs wanted.  We had to un-engineer the tracks if you will.

There’s dozens of other examples we can all think of I’m sure, but point of all this is just to keep in mind that sometimes the best solution is one that is just good enough to fix the problem.  That putting too much thought and planning into something can occasionally take a good idea and turn it into something that lacks the soul that made the idea good in the first place.  It’s good to step back once in awhile and rethink what you’re doing, make sure that it still solves your problem without creating new ones you didn’t perhaps realize were a possibility before.

Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing as they say.

Until next time, peace and beats.
Erik

Inner Portal Is Open Again

InnerPortalStudio201501
Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce that Inner Portal Studio is once again open for business!  My gear arrived in Luxembourg last week, and luckily everything made it safe and sound.  Took me a few days to get everything set up the way I wanted after playing with the location of all my acoustic treatment, but I’m really happy with the way everything is sounding in the new studio now.

I know a lot of my regular clients have been very patiently waiting for me to get back up and running, and I wanted to thank you all for sticking with me during this transition.  I expect that I’ll be pretty busy the first few weeks and that my usual delivery times might be a little bit longer than normal, but I’ll do my best to keep the delays to a minimum while maintaining the same level of quality you have come to expect.

I’m really looking forward to getting back to work, and I can’t wait to work with everyone on all your musical projects for the remainder of 2015.
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Other than working on getting the studio in working order again, it’s been a busy few weeks for me writing music and working on a new live set again.  I decided to revisit some of my more more recent releases, and get them prepped to perform live using only the Traktor S8 controller.  It’s been something I’ve been considering doing since I got the S8 and saw how flexible it is with the remix decks.  So far the project is coming along well, and I’m excited to finally try this new way of performing.  Of course I’ll post more details and hopefully a video of a trial run once I get it all ready for prime time.  🙂

I’m still working away on the Maschine Studio I got (again) a few weeks back too.  I was originally going to try and do a live set using that, but I think for now I’m going to just focus on creating some really strong song foundations first.  Once I get enough for a live set or an album, then I’ll decide which direction I want to take. Busy busy!

Im hoping now that things are starting to settle down with the studio, I can focus on the blog some more too.  I’m always looking for new ideas to discuss here, so if anyone has anything that they think would be interesting, or questions they like to see me address, please put them in the comments as usual.

Thanks!

Peace and beats,
Erik
(Errr…. Tarekith)