Thursday, 21 January 2010

Fifteen - Studio Special

This time the show is a bit different. Instead of listening to records, we take a trip to my studio and make a track on some old synths and stuff in under 90 minutes. Hopefully this is interesting to some of you, let me know in the comments and feel free to ask questions about what's going on.

Normal service will be resumed next time.

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50 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to listen to this, what an awesome idea!

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  2. Wow, can't wait to listen to this on the long train ride tomorrow!

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  3. Now this is educational. I hope you do more like this in the future, but for now I'll just glean what I can from repeated listenings of this one. I hope you don't mind some technical questions as well...

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  4. At this point i can't help myself but having to leave a message that this podcast is absolutely awesome, and quite the treat for all us musicians and/or gear heads. Thank you!

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  5. this is fantastic, cheers!

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  6. Nice one, my mate said I was weird for making patterns then arranging them later, you've just validated my methods and given me a few ideas on the way. :D

    Us computer guys are DEFINATELY not having has much fun as you are!

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  7. wow that was amazing, really love this you should do more like this :)

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  8. That was great fun to listen to and also educational (why couldn't school have been like that).

    What exactly did you have going through each channel ie, did the 808 kick, snare and cymbal get separate tracks are one for all of them?

    Also, you should stick up the separate tracks and let people have a go remixing it!

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  9. Glad people are liking it...

    >>That was great fun to listen to and also educational (why couldn't school have been like that).

    I dunno, I wasn't allowed to do music at school....


    >>What exactly did you have going through each channel ie, did the 808 kick, snare and cymbal get separate tracks are one for all of them?

    Each synth was on a channel each, TR808 was just on one channel, sampler sounds were split on to a few channels as I explained when I was plugging the cables in.

    >>Also, you should stick up the separate tracks and let people have a go remixing it!

    I didn't record any separate tracks, it was just a live jam, mixed as I went along. There are no parts to remix.

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  10. awesome stuff!

    can you do a video podcast next time you hit the studio?

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  11. That was really insightful and fun to listen to. Thanks for pulling together another great idea. It complements the podcasts really well. Cheers Ed

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  12. I love your record playing but this time you really went above and beyond. youre one of my favorite artist and how f**king cool is it 2 get 2 hear u compose a tune!!! please make a habit of this..
    thnx ed

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  13. wazza name of the track? how do you come up with your track titles?
    cant wait to hear you compose another tune ;-)

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  14. Excellent podcast as always, Ed. Certainly found this one entertaining and valuable.

    Out of interst, which OS do you use on the MPC, the standard or the JJOS?

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  15. >>can you do a video podcast next time you hit the studio?

    no, I don't own a camera and I am shy like that.


    >>wazza name of the track? how do you come up with your track titles?

    it's called Three Days Of Entropy and it's from a dream I had the night after I recorded the basic track.
    titles come from different places, often from a cool phrase in a book, especially science books, also from random thoughts, dreams etc.
    unless the track is a song with words, then the title is usually obvious.


    >>wot no vocals?

    no, I more or less stopped doing vocals for several reasons.
    I still make some vocal tunes but don't really have a place to release them.
    anyway it would have made for a very embarrassing and extremely long podcast.


    >>Out of interst, which OS do you use on the MPC, the standard or the JJOS?

    standard one just because I am used to it and it has never crashed on me during a gig. I hear great things about JJ but my feeling is always "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

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  16. I really enjoyed this. Getting to hear one of my favorite artists create a tune and gaining insight into the process is about as awesome as it gets. I think I speak for everyone when I say we'd love more of these in the future. Big thanks for being one of the few "accessible" and truly down to Earth people in the group of artists that I consider the braindance legends and pioneers! <3

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  17. me, myself & i didn't actually understand a word of it: we just like the sound of your voice! still your #1 fan!*

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  18. nice blog! our tastes in music are very comparable. i think you will like this mix i've recently made

    http://soundcloud.com/dj-eis-t/dj-eis-t-old-school-elektro-breakin-mix

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  19. fantastic podcast! i agree with previous comments, i would really appreciate it to hear more technical stuff from your studio. great idea. please keep doing these and thanks for answering questions.

    as far as i see, the kenton pro solo does just have one cv/gate output. do you still use your prologue interface aswell?

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  20. u cant stop doin vocals ed! "kiss goodbye" was a superb record. I always hope that your vocals will kick in when I listen 2 a new tune from you

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  21. Hi Ed, reposting my question here as requested:

    You mentioned that you cut it down from an 11 minute jam into a sensible song length, but I'd really like to know your thoughts on form and structuring electronic beat music in general. Perhaps you do it instinctively? Or have you received some useful guidance at some point along your journey? If you don't have time to give me your personal thoughts, could you direct me towards any books, people, or perhaps existing tracks I might be able to learn from?

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  22. >> the kenton pro solo does just have one cv/gate output. do you still use your prologue interface aswell?

    yes I use a Kenton for my modular and the ProSolo for my other monosynths. The Prologue is a 4 channel MIDI/CV interface made by a company in London. They don't make it any more. It works OK, it's got 8 CV outs and 8 gate outs, responds on up to 4 MIDI channels so you can control 4 synths with extra gates and CVs for controlling stuff like filter or whatever....


    >>u cant stop doin vocals ed! "kiss goodbye" was a superb record. I always hope that your vocals will kick in when I listen 2 a new tune from you

    ha you are kind. for me it's very hard to sing in tune so it's a lot of work to make a decent vocal. some of my old vocal tracks I am proud of but a lot of them are embarrassing. apart from that, if you do vocal music, it's not interesting to most "techno" people, and my style is too weird for most "pop" fans so I got stuck in the middle with that stuff. I like "fun" music but it was disappointing that a lot of people saw me as a novelty act, I feel I have some decent emotional music to offer, not just comedy tunes... that was part of the reason for "Collapse Of The Wave Function" having no artist info, to try and capture the interest of the more "seious" Rephlex types.

    loads of labels rejected Kiss Goodbye and in the end I had to release it CD only, Japan only just to get it out there. I've got some decent vocal tracks unreleased but nowhere to release them.
    and... personally I prefer instrumental music unless the singer is amazing, and I am not an amazing singer.
    aaaand...... I'm not interested in pop stardom, being at the front of the stage with a mic. I'm nearly 40 and not that pretty. I haven't got the drive or ego to succeed doing that kind of thing.


    >>You mentioned that you cut it down from an 11 minute jam into a sensible song length, but I'd really like to know your thoughts on form and structuring electronic beat music in general. Perhaps you do it instinctively? Or have you received some useful guidance at some point along your journey?

    I haven't received much guidance beyond maybe someone saying "this bit goes on too long". In general as I have become more experienced, my taste moves towards shorter tracks with less repetition. I'd rather be surprised and interested for 2 minutes than tranced-out for 8.
    I like the tracks to start quite gently, build up and peak about 3/4 of the way through, and then perhaps chill out for a moment before the end. if it's a repetitive grooe then I like to have a contrasting section to drop in once or twice in the track to break it up. apart from those ideas it's pretty instinctive.
    other things that come to mind are the memory of playing tracks to friends as a kid/teenager and saying "listen to this bit coming up!" "wait for it...." I think it's important to have things that only happen once in the track, a best bit, or little funky thing that grabs your attention. I think if stuff repeats it should repeat slightly differently.
    oh and I can't stand music where everything happens in 8 bar sections, you get 8 bars of kick drum, then the hihat comes for 8 bars, then bassline comes in etc. it's boring. why not make the hihat come in after 5 and a half bars, and bring the bass in with a little extra funky lick one bar early, bring in 4 things at once and drop something else out. listen to aphex, drexciya, even robert hood who's music is very minimal and repetitive brings things in at unexpected moments and has unique little one-off tweaks in his tracks. it's all about keeping it interesting within the parameters of a groove sorta thing.

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  23. Thanks Ed, you're a legend.

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  24. Ok, after a few listens, I realized that everything was explained really well and I only have a couple of questions:

    1-I didn't hear much talk about compression/equalization/limiting or any of the other nuts'n'bolts stuff I'm currently trying to get my head around in learning production. Is that more about the nature of the way you made this particular track, or do you generally not do that sort of thing on the individual elemets when you're working on something?

    2-The Analogue Systems modular sounded amazing. Can I be "that guy" and ask the model?

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  25. Erm. Thought of one more.

    3-How much classical musical training do you have? Some of those keyboard licks were quite serious, and you seem to have a good ear for adding chords. Result of practice, or schoolin?

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  26. >>1-I didn't hear much talk about compression/equalization/limiting

    Compressors: I don't use much compression. It's useful for stuff recorded with mics where you need to control dynamics but not necessary for most electronic sounds, apart from TB303 which has uncontrollably wild dynamic variations so I usually squash it. Occassionally I do squash other things for an effect but very rarely - I hate all that super-clean electronic music with everything compressed and hyped, and even more I hate the sound of pumping sidechain mixes. I like the sound of synths playing live together through a mixer nice and natural: Analord / Analogue Bubblebath, Drexciya, UR, acid house. My tracks are recorded live from the stereo outputs of the desk, I seldom record parts separately apart from vocals.

    EQ: I EQ stuff on the mixer, usually just simple small adjustments, a little high boost on a synth and high cut on drums. If I feel "oh that sound is too dull" or "too sharp" then I reach over and change it without really thinking.



    >>2-The Analogue Systems modular sounded amazing. Can I be "that guy" and ask the model?

    There isn't a model as such, you buy whatever modules you want and put them in a case, that's the whole point of it being modular! You can see details of mine here: http://www.durftal.com/music/edmx/dmxstudio/modular.htm



    >>3-How much classical musical training do you have? Some of those keyboard licks were quite serious, and you seem to have a good ear for adding chords. Result of practice, or schoolin?

    Basically no training. When I was 9 or so, we had a Bontempi organ and I found a book with a diagram showing how to play chords on a keyboard so I taught myself most of the 3 and 4 note chords. I understand the basics of chords and scales and stuff. However this can be a dangerous thing because you end up playing what is "correct" and it starts to get boring. I noticed when making sequenced tracks with friends who can't play as much, they would program more interesting stuff than me, because they didn't have preconceptions about what was "right". This is why I nowadays use step-time programming and analogue sequencers, anything to break my playing habits up because my hands naturally go towards some quite cliched licks and chord progressions. I try hard to compose stuff that is the opposite of my instinct. I think this is the major difference between my earlier music and stuff from "Wave Function" onwards. Records like "We Are DMX" have straightforward pop chord changes whereas my new stuff is more quirky. Cylob and AFX are good for this kind of harmonic originality.

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  27. Really great as usual.

    Wondering why you haven't done a track with Wisp yet?

    More deconstruction shows please...

    I'm putting my studio back together with duct tape, and this episode was especially inspiring.

    Thank you.

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  28. Thanks for the thorough reply. It means a lot to get advice from someone who's music you greatly enjoy rather than the legion of internet experts out there.

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  29. Yeah good stuff- great podcast in general and this one was particularly enjoyable - made me realize how much i miss messing about with real knobs and boxes...hope we get to see some more of these in future!

    Cheers, Caleb

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  30. I've listened to this 2 or 3 times now. Love it! Keep 'em coming.

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  31. "listen to this bit coming up!" "wait for it...." Absolutely! Wave Funk has a bunch of those moments.

    I'll join the growing chorus and say I'd really be sad to never hear another new DMX Krew vocal tune. I play your instrumental tracks all the time, but it's Kiss Goodbye that I can put on anytime to make me feel good. It's catchy, humorous, and flows amazingly from track to track. It's like Thriller for a new generation!

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  32. I LOVED the vocals on this track! Please please please do more of these. Like everyone else, I'd also love to hear the homeless tracks. Ms. M and I will petition until it can be so (although we'll also fight for the title "Swoons hardest for EDMX").

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  33. Very nice of you to take the time and give us looky-loos a peak into your music making frame of mind.

    I read your answer to the previous post about musical training and such, but i still would like to know what you did right at the beginning of the podcast.

    You enter in a bunch of notes into the MPC for the baseline, but are you enter the notes in purely at random or do you restrict the random notes to within a particular scale? I find if I try to just enter notes at random (no scale restriction) and then try to apply some chords over top it turns out shit and so I have to restrict myself to note inputs to a particular scale.

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  34. >>You enter in a bunch of notes into the MPC for the baseline, but are you enter the notes in purely at random or do you restrict the random notes to within a particular scale?

    Yeah obviously they're not random. I knew in my head roughly what chord changes I wanted to hear, so I played notes within a certain range and kept count so that the changes would take place at the right time. But within that restriction, I deliberately added a few "off" notes, some very high or low notes etc, so that it would be more interesting than just playing straight chord notes.

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  35. I figure I have to post this since I used your podcast as a template for pretty much the whole thing.

    http://soundcloud.com/tramic/tramic-green-flame

    Thanks again!

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  36. oh yes, ccloutier, i swoon.. (is it that obvious?)<3

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  37. i love vocals on:
    come to me
    end of the night
    and place called love..

    i think your lyr*cs are divinely inspired!

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  38. That MKS-80 you're using. Did you say you have the MPG-80 controller? Or can you use just about any MIDI controller / DAW?

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  39. >>Did you say you have the MPG-80 controller?

    Yes. I don't know much about MIDI controllers and computers, I expect you can use those too but the MPG-80 is proper.
    :)

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  40. I really loved this episode. Nice to get a little idea how you work your production.

    ThizOne
    http://soundcloud.com/thizone

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  41. insightful and inspirational!

    What are the chances of coming back to Australia? Bring some breakin'/rephlex buddies too hmmm?

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  42. I know I am late to the conversation here, but... your vocal tracks are quite good. I've always enjoyed them. Now, as far as getting someone to releases them, yeah, I see where a bit of trouble could be had... but "soul miner" and "17 ways..." and especially "good time girl" (I've still got my limited edition picture disc) were good electro pop music. As a matter of fact, the entire "We are DMX" lp is just stunning, still a favorite of mine.

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  43. Hello.

    Nice to be invited to the other side of your process.
    Amen to the non-vocal tracks. I find that there is more depth to these tracks, as well they feel nostalgic yet quite unique.

    Question: When you transfer tracks from the MPC to Abe Live how do you get the MIDI timing in Abelton to be in precise sync with the timing of what you imported?

    Thanks, B.

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  44. great podcast, really enjoyed! how do you synch in time the sh101 sequencer with the mpc? I tried a few times with the ext clock in through the kenton pro solo but without good results..

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  45. Hi Ed.

    So am I right in thinking that the chain is

    Vintage Synth - Kenton C.V/Gate Convertor - MPC-1000 - Mixing Desk?

    I'm puzzled to how you can play the synth and then have it inputted straight away as a sequence into the MPC. Is there anything else you're using besides ?

    Thanks and Regards.

    Roz

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