March 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“In the 80s, I had some VCRs, a record player and a dual cassette deck. I had a group of friends at that time and we were really interested in DJing and making beats, we would combine various songs and recordings to make new songs and then combine those to make new mixes; stuff like, recording a spoken word track playing over Mr. Fingers or add movie dialogue to another record. We loved the dirty version of I’ll House You, ‘I’ll Hump You’. I remember us all agreeing on that record. Soul II Soul had a big impact, too. I regularly slip-up and refer to podcasts as “mix tapes”, maybe because it’s nostalgic or something. It still sounds right to me. Mix tapes are one of the very coolest things to come from Generation-X. After hearing or maybe reading about how Nitzer Ebb were doing their music I remember asking my mom to bring me to the Sam Ash store on 48th to get a sampler, not knowing the price of the things! Upwards of $10k! A few years later I did eventually get a used Ensoniq EPS-1, which was a more affordable semi-pro sampler. I think it was a popular piece of equipment, it was certainly a step up from my Casio SK-1… Many producers probably remember using the EPS-1 fondly.” – Levon Vincent
|Artist Levon Vincent
Title fabric 63
March 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
More to come.. I’ll be updating this page as the information comes in.
DEMF 2012 After Parties – Saturday May 26, 2012
- Point Blank Online presents: Dirtybird Detroit - City Club - Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke, & many more Dirtybird artists TBA
- Ndatl Pres Deep Detroit Vol 4 – Kai Alce, Marcellus Pittman & Specter
DEMF 2012 After Parties – Sunday May 27, 2012
- Interface 36 / Scene 04 by Droid Behavior + Blank Code - The Works Detroit - DVS1, Cell Injection, Raíz live PA, Luis Flores live PA, Jeff Derringer, Memnok vs. Tiari Live PA, Project 313 live PA, Dean Paul, Derek Michael live PA, Kero vs Annie Hall, Corbin Davis
March 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I’m getting psyched for this year’s Movement Festival at Hart Plaza in Detroit. It’s hands-down one of the best music events happening in North America, one of few I’m proud that our culture has produced (shout outs to Decibel, Communikey, and Unsound btw). I’ll be joining some old friends in Detroit and covering the event for Dubspot, stay tuned for updates from the frontlines from May 26 – 28 of this year. In the meantime Paxahau has recently announced new additions to the lineup so I’ve compiled the complete list below. In addition, Paxahau has launched a Spoitfy Channel which looks like a nice soundtrack for days leading up to the event.
DEMF / Movement lineup 2012
The Wizard aka Jeff Mills
Brenmar, Busy P
Earl Mixxin Mckinney
Keys N Krates
Kyle Hall b2b Jay Daniels
Mark Farina (Mushroom Jazz set)
Maya Jane Coles
No Regular Play
Tale Of Us
The Martinez Brothers
Wolf + Lamb
New Artists added on March 14:
Benoit & Sergio
Erno The Inferno
Filsonik b2b Patrick (NY)
Hot Natured: Jamie Jones & Lee Foss
Nic Fanciulli b2b Joris Voorn
Seth Troxler b2b Guy Gerber
Tiger and Woods
March 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Thomas White created some of my favorite records of the early 2000′s. More recently he’s been working with Teenage Engineering’s OP1 and teaching the world his findings on youtube. These are some of the best OP1 tutorials online today. Thanks, Thomas!
March 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you happened to miss Donnacha Costello’s ‘Color Series‘ from 2003, here’s your perfect recap. And if you know the series you’ll probably find Ryan Elliott’s take on the vibe as appealing as I do. Dark, moody, prolific, wonderful. Also check out Elliott’s thoughtful letter that accompanies this mix to get a sense of the depth that Costello reached with this series.
March 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Wow. A lot can happen in one year. It’s been about that long since I’ve updated Sounds Defy Gravity.. and while I’m inclined to apologize for the delay, I can’t really. It’s been an incredible year. It’s been a crazy year. For starters, 2011 saw the birth of my first child, Oliver, by way of my amazing and beautiful Karen. Then I started work as Editor of Dubspot.com‘s blog over the past year.. which led to writing some course curriculum, teaching an online course, and enjoying every moment of my work with the Dubspot team.
Today the child can feed himself and I’ve found time to dedicate to SoundsDefyGravity once again. I’ve recently added a few articles that have been published on other sites and I’m aiming to get back on track with music selections, gear reviews, tutorials, tips, and general music nerd-out moments. Psyched to be back.. hope you’ll continue to read!
March 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
Sometimes it’s writer’s block. And sometimes it’s simply procrastination. But some days in the studio don’t seem to flow like others. Often we feel inspired to start (or continue) a project but feel that something’s not working. Maybe the sounds don’t come like they did last time. Maybe you just can’t get in the groove. To help we’ve got some tips that can get you back on track the next time you’re feeling the lack of mojo in the studio.
10. Clean your workspace. A clean physical space creates a clear slate in your mind for creation. I find that when I clean the house, sweep the floors, dust off my equipment and delete a lot of junk from my computer desktop I feel much more enticed to work. I also gain a lot of ideas through the process and my mind feels clear as a result. You can apply the Chinese art of Feng Shui to your studio layout, which is said to bring harmony, balance and a better flow of energy. On a smaller scale, I take a moment once a week to clean down all my gear, using a horse-hair paintbrush to get dust out of the smaller spots.
9. Disconnect yourself from the internet. Close Explorer, Firefox, Safari, iChat and any other apps on your studio computer that are online. Facebook and instant messages confuse your workflow and will get you off-track. Make your studio time streamlined and productive and you are less likely to lose your inspiration in the process.
8. Listen to something very different. This tip comes from Oliver Chesler who runs the very insightful Wire to the Ear blog. Oliver adds,“Four hours into any mixing section and your brain starts to believe it’s being exposed to a torture test of some sort. Stop and click iTunes open and then play the cheesiest, happiest song you can find. Besides realizing how much better any song you choose is better than the one your working on your brain will reward you with some new ideas.”
7. Take a break. Your ears are doing a lot of work when you sit between the monitors and scrutinize each sound. Eventually your perception of the sounds changes and it’s important to take breaks to let your ears rest. 5-10 minutes after 45 minutes of working (at lower volumes) should be adequate to let your ears bounce back.
6. Write your ideas in a notebook (with a pen.) I was working at an Ad Agency a few years back when my boss gave me a really good tip. She suggested that when I come to work in the morning I should grab my coffee and a notebook and “sit on the couch and write for an hour.” It turned out to be a habit I kept long after that job. Most of us turn to the computer for our first move with just about everything these days. But the computer offers too many choices and too many chances for mis-direction. I found that writing my ideas on paper helped me to refine ideas and workflow before I got started. With a clear direction of where you want to go before you begin, the process becomes much quicker and enjoyable. If you keep these ideas in a notebook they can become a reference for more ideas when you read over them again. I continue to find new inspiration in things that I wrote and forgot about.
5. Try your hand at a new genre. Most of us get stuck in one or two modes of beat creation when we start, leaning on a certain tempo and kick pattern to begin the session. To inspire creativity when you’re in a rut – change it up. If you usually make house, make hip hop or dubstep. If you usually make drum and bass, make techno. By attempting a new beat pattern you will conjure new ideas while learning how to produce outside your own box.
4. Apply time-compression. This idea comes from Dubspot’s Matt Shadetek who wrote a great piece on his blog entitled: “Creativity: How To Turn Lack Of Time & Resources Into An Asset.” The basic idea is that when we are very busy (working a full-time job, going to school, etc) we are the most productive. This is because we are constantly at a fast pace, trying to get the most out of all the time we have. When we are not working or not so busy we are less productive because we are moving at a slower pace. To get the most out of our time it’s best to apply deadlines to things that we do in order to be more efficient. Matt explains further:
The basic idea is how when we are forced to do something in a tight frame we suddenly become very focused and fast and get it done. The example is when you were in high school and had six months to write a report and then wrote it in five hours the night before it was due, and still wrote it really well. I think more people do this than not. By working constantly under time pressure and deadlines you can actually majorly improve your productivity. I find I work REALLY well this way and get a ton done. I don’t fuck around and check my email or twitter in the middle of working, or stare into space or allow myself to get distracted. Instead I WORK LIKE CRAZY and get things done. As I mentioned in my Zen Calligraphy post I like to sometimes use the site e.ggtimer.com and set tight artificial time limits during my work day to push myself into this race against the clock mind state. It’s awesome.
3. Apply Oblique Strategies. In 1975 Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created the Oblique Strategies card set. Subtitled “Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas,” the cards offer new perspectives in our approach to creating art. The idea is that when you are stuck you can pick a card and then use the message to move forward in your work. For an example of how it works you can check out an online version of the card set, download the iPhone application or pick up your own deck directly from Brian Eno.
2. Give yourself some limits (and make a manifesto). Some of the best artwork created is made using minimal materials. Dabrye and Prefuse 73 have created albums made entirely on an MPC, for instance. One of my favorite house 12’s was made with (just) a Roland MC-505. You don’t need a lot of gear to make music. Furthermore a lot of us are overwhelmed by the choice of VSTs, presets or even DAWs to choose from. By setting some limits on what you are using you can save time and get down to the business at hand. One way to do this is to create template files that have your presets and plug-ins loaded and ready to go. Another way to approach this refinement is to make a manifesto. This idea comes from Matthew Herbert who has a personal contract for the composition of music which includes rules such as:
The use of sounds that exist already is not allowed, In particular: No drum machines. All keyboard sounds must be edited in some way: no factory presets or pre-programmed patches are allowed. Only sounds that are generated at the start of the compositional process or taken from the artist’s own previously unused archive are available for sampling. The sampling of other people’s music is strictly forbidden. – Matthew Herbert
1. Stop Complaining. My favorite tip is directed at procrastination. It comes from the insightful and musically prolific Mike Monday, who writes some great pieces on music production, motivation and productivity on his site. He also makes some killer dance music. The advices continues as follows:
You’ve wasted too much time complaining. The game has changed and you can either sit on the sidelines or start playing. This is as big a revolution in the way we consume and distribute music as there’s ever been in history. As big as sheet music. As big as recorded music. As big as radio. If not bigger than the lot. And you’ve spent way too long whining about it instead of getting your head around it. You’re missing a golden opportunity. Or more accurately – lots of them. Because the writing’s on the wall for selling recorded music it doesn’t mean the same is true for music as a whole. Our new currency isn’t vinyl, cds or even mp3s. It’s attention. So how are you going to get mine? – Mike Monday
(Originally published on Dubspot.com)
March 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
What is a Digital Audio Interface?
If you use your computer for music, DJing or audio creation, you’ve probably encountered digital audio interfaces. The digital audio interface translates binary information into audible information so you can hear it. And it can take audible information and translate that into binary information for the computer to process. Most computers come with a digital audio interface built-in (this is what allows you to hear iTunes play music instead of noise.) But the quality of those devices are limited as most consumers are more interested in the screen size rather than the sound quality. At some point most sound enthusiasts find themselves on a path to finding a Digital Audio Interface for their computer to raise the quality level of the sound playback, to record outside sources, or to expand routing options for their studio.
A good audio interface is essential to producers for reference and for recording because most stock sound cards will not give you professional sound. Audio interfaces can also greatly expand the possibilities of your recording setup with multiple inputs and outputs, MIDI connection and monitoring options. The options available are sometimes overwhelming so earlier this year on our blog we explored some of the devices available on the market by Apogee, Focurrite and Native Instruments. That article can be helpful if you’re looking for details on specific devices. In this article we want to address some of the variables involved in converting sound to digital information so that you can be informed for your studio’s development and educated for your future audio interface purchases.
Analog vs Digital Audio
You’ve most likely encountered conversations regarding analog vs digital sound (vinyl vs MP3, for instance) - it’s a widely debated topic online and amongst music and audio enthusiasts. But just what is the difference between these signal paths and what makes the sound different? You probably understand that your CD player, iPod and computer are digital audio devices and record players are analog audio devices. But it’s important to understand how digital audio works on the inside of these devices so that you can make a proper choice on your digital audio equipment.
An analog signal, by definition, is A nominally continuous electrical signal that varies in amplitude or frequency in response to changes in sound, light, heat, position, or pressure. Analog can be electrical or mechanical but the key word here is “continuous.” An analog signal path implies a continuous signal in contrast to a digital signal path, which breaks everything into numbers. This is the primary difference between analog and digital sound.
Until the mid 1980′s almost all audio recording devices were analog. That is to say they all used a mechanical or electrical recording methods to capture a continuous waveform. Around this time digital recording started to become affordable and eventually it became the most cost effective way to create music – which is why so many of us use digital devices to create sound today.
DAC – Digital to Analog Converter
A Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) is something that most of us take for granted. There’s one in your satellite TV box, one in your CD Player and one in your computer. This device is the heart of your hearing experience with all forms of digital audio. When it comes to professional audio we want to use a high quality DAC to create a better, cleaner and sometimes more enjoyable experience. When recording audio into your computer the Ananlog to Digital Converter (ADC) is the soul of your recording experience. This is what turns your guitar or voice into binary data to be used by the computer.
Digital to Analog converters are manufactured almost exclusively on integrated circuits (microchips) and the best ones are created by a few companies who specialize in this type of chip architecture. Therefore many audio interfaces share the same DAC circuits (Cirrus Logic chips show up in many devices.) There are many kinds of DAC circuits, however, and the industry is constantly trying to create better chips.
Bit Depth / Resolution
The waveform above represents an analog signal/sample (grey) and a digital signal/sample (red.) Notice that the analog signal is a smooth curve, whereas the digital signal is broken into a grid-like shape. While this grid is not entirely accurate (it’s more for the sake of example), it helps to illustrate the idea of “bit depth.” Bit depth describes the number of bits of information recorded for each sample. When you read “16 bit” or “24 bit,” the bits represent the resolution – how many dots will help create that nice curve of the waveform. The less dots, or bits, the more grid-like your wave will be and the more “grainy” the reproduction of sound will be. The more bits, the more accurate the curve and therefore more accurate sound. 16 bit is the standard resolution for CDs and is generally acceptable for analog to digital recording. 24 bit will give you a cleaner sound and more accurate representation of the curve. Some systems go even higher than this but understand that with more bit depth you will be pushing your processor to work harder.
Bit depth and sampling rate determine the quality or accuracy of a digital recording. While bit depth is sort of easy to explain, Sampling Rate is a bit more tricky. Sampling rate defines the number of samples per unit of time (usually seconds) taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. For time related signals the unit for sampling rate is Hertz. Perfect reconstruction of a signal is possible when the sampling frequency is greater than twice the maximum frequency of the signal being sampled, or equivalently, when the Nyquist frequency (half the sample rate) exceeds the highest frequency of the signal being sampled. In practice this means that the a minimum sampling rate of 40kHz should allow for accurate reproduction of 20Hz – 20,000kHz – the range of human hearing. This was initially the standard for digital audio recording until it was realized that human beings can actually perceive sounds above and below that range. For this reason you now find interfaces that record at 48kHz and higher. (Read more)