Welcome

Posted: March 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

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PLUR, D

Got back very tired but very happy from Swingmajig today, what an amazing festival. Great music, amazing people and awesome venue. The quality and variety of the acts playing were immense … I don’t think there was a dull moment all day. Plus people really brought their costume A-game. Can’t wait to go back next year!

PLUR – D

The last couple of years have made humanity seem more divided than ever, like there are ideological and cultural barriers that seem insurmountable. Despite this perception, we are all one species, we share 99.9% of our DNA and anything that seems to divide us is actually minuscule compared to everything that we share. The most upsetting thing (at least to me) about the rise of divisive ideologies is that we now actually have the tools to create an amazing world for all of us. There are enough resources for everyone to be fed, clothed and even entertained, if we could only get over the thousands of barriers of self-interest that prevent that happening.

This track is a different type of retro inspired music to the electroswing and vintage remix stuff I’ve been working on recently… 90s inspired euphoric dance. When I was just a baby and started sneaking into clubs, it was one of the first electronic genres I got into. It wasn’t long before I was into darker, more complex stuff too but nothing else quite gave the same big joyful release. I know it had its cheesy moments but it created that feeling of togetherness that permeated the clubbing community like nothing else. I know a lot of people dismissed that as a product of drugs or alcohol but I’ve been to enough sober raves recently to know that its actually just acceptance and the shared enjoyment of music that makes us feel that way. Dancing is an ancient act, one of our oldest rituals (and probably the oldest form of exercise). Perhaps when we dance together, it allows us to touch that thread of commonality running through our history

 

As you might expect I’ve used a lot of oldschool elements for this one with pumping bass, soaring pads and big arpeggios. I’ve made a suitably retro video to go with it  (with some help from Touchdesigner, zGameeditor visualiser and Blender). The track is a free download so grab it here:

PLUR – D

 

Just published my complete guide to finding cool vintage free/public domain content. Read the whole article at

The 10 best places to find free vintage tracks

If you look at my social media feeds you may have seen the DJ-rig-in-a-case build I’ve been working on. If you’d like to know how to build your own for incredibly little money check out the full write-up here in the articles section

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It has been a year of mourning
Even early there were warnings
But it’s not celebrities I grieve
It’s the loss of what I believe

I was raised for a world of reason
Where dissent was vital, not accused of treason
Where arguments were won by word
Not the volume at which they’re heard

Now all our politicians do is pander
The news decayed to propaganda
Our anger has been monetised –
To increase profits, amplified

We were surprised, we found it numbing
As if we couldn’t see this coming
But maybe we chose not to see
The simmering catastrophe

We loathed Bibi, cheered Berlusconi
Dismissed Le Pen and all her cronies
Saw them gain power yet not understand
‘It could never happen in this (green and) pleasant land’

But when we’re given the same choices
All we heard were hateful voices
We showed the world we’re just the same
Our leaders also play that lethal game

Finding cracks within the nation
Widening them with fears of immigration
Or inflation, or even war
Then tell us it’s worth fighting for

Their job should be to find consensus
Yet all they say is “you’re with us or against us”
To us this rot has now extended
“Toe the line or be defriended!”

We’ve closed our minds and closed our ears
We only talk to those who share our fears
On the left, the right, with any view
The zealots say that only their path is true

We scorn all outside our bubble
Call them insane or the cause of trouble
Shout down our own sister or brother
Transform them from person into ‘other’

And so the lesson becomes clear
We must remember how to hear
How to listen to a statement that offends us
Even something we find horrendous

And tell them calmly why we disagree
With no anger or hyperbole
Or telling them what they’re allowed to think
Perhaps we can bring debate back from the brink

But most of all, we must recognise
Reality is seen through 14 billion eyes
And every last one of them is human
And shares this tiny rock, around our distant sun

Peace <ᵎᵒᵎ3

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I founded this blog almost 8 years ago when I started to become serious about learning music production. Now 1 hundred posts, many tracks and a few crazy projects later I’m pleased to report its still going strong. At the beginning I was just a keen hobbyist but I’m much more confident in my productions now, I even sometimes feel like I know what I’m doing 😉

Also highly appropriately (especially if you are a fan of the number 10 and multiples thereof) as of this week there are now 10 tracks in the free tracks playlist on Soundcloud – both new and old, so a mix of electroswing, house, techno and leftfield

As well as the free tracks, you can also now get the whole of my back catalogue for 1 discounted price at the download page. Please consider supporting me so that I can continue for the next 100 posts and beyond

As for what those posts might be, I’ve got a new electroswing EP in the pipeline, a few DJing/VJing projects to write about and a couple of new articles too, so expect all of that soon. Hit the subscribe button on the left if you want an email when that happens or browse down and see what I’ve been writing about all of that time

Love and Peace,

Dataphiles

I’ve been an mixed genre producer for several years now but currently about 75% of the projects I’m working on are electroswing. There’s something incredibly special about this genre, both to listen to and to make… here’s why

So Danceable

Swing music was made for dancing, its hard for me to listen to it and not start moving. In electroswing, the other genres it’s being combined add an extra level of energy. The overall effect is creating a style of music that is irresistable to dance to. And the great thing is there are so many styles of dance that work well with it: swing, quickstep, shuffling, charleston, club dancing, rock and roll or just your best flapper impression…  anyone can get their groove on. A friend of mine recently observed at a gig: ‘There were ravers in the middle and swing dancers around the outside but everyone was dancing together’.

Creative Freedom

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Compared to other genres ES is very light on rules, there’s no set BPM, no set beat, no established convention on what instruments you have to use, anything goes! (note to self, I need to make a remix of Anything Goes). People produce ES that is almost entirely swing with a hint of modern production added while others make primarily electronic music combined creatively with swing. With the latter, I’ve heard ES inspired by (or based on) almost every major electronic genre: House, DnB, Electro (obvs), Dubstep, Techno, Dancehall even things like Trance and commercial EDM. Providing it fits the overall aesthetic and uses some relevant samples or instruments you can justifiably call it electroswing. This makes it a real joy to produce in as this freedom of expression allows you try out combinations of sounds and techniques you’d never otherwise think of. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that genre conventions stifle creativity but I would say that it is a lot easier to be lazy in your productions when you already know how aspects of your tracks have to sound to be considered part of that genre.

Plays well with others

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Because ES can be based on so many different styles of music and be played at many different tempos it mixes well with a whole range of other genres. Glitch hop, funk, rap, big band and latin house work particularly well but if you feel out the crowd you could drop a massive electro-house track, an acoustic rock number or something really leftfield. You could probably make anything work if you gave it enough thought. This encourages really creative DJing and means that the crowd can be genuinely surprised, which is much less likely to happen during a 2 hour long single genre set.

Sample away!

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A lot of people have commented recently about how intellectual property law has become completely ridiculous. Some corporations (ahem ahem Disney) have tried to change copyright law to allow them to have perpetual rights to their properties. This is an insane approach as it completely shuts down some major creative avenues: homage, remixes, retellings all become potentially problematic legally. Fortunately they have not managed to extend this far enough back to affect a lot of swing, big band, jazz and other pre 1940s music. Maybe its just me who cares about making music completely legally (or rather without the chance that some gung ho record label will decide to try to sue over something that is clearly being used in a creatively altered fashion) but I really appreciate the sheer volume of source material freely available to use.

Broad appeal

One of the great things about electroswing is that it is really approachable. When I’ve played some of my friends and relatives a heavy electrotrash, dubstep or DnB track, their response has  been ‘that’s just noise’, when some people hear a house or trance track all they hear is the pounding kick. I’ve yet to play someone ES and get an overtly negative response anything like that. I mean I might start them off with something fairly swing heavy like Parov Stellar or Caravan palace but even the tracks which are heavily inspired by the genres above get a much better reception. It might be something about the sounds of real instruments or the familiarity of the swing samples that makes it easier to get into. I think this is reflected in the group that turn up to ES events, you usually find people of all ages and backgrounds (not to mention an amazing selection of outfits), and that creates a really welcoming atmosphere.

Retrofuturism

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Part of the reason I love electroswing is the same reason that I love steampunk… they take some of the best bits of the past, the present and our imagined futures to create something glorious. I love the imagination of these hybrid genres but I think that they are part of a bigger trend. We have unprecedented choice when it comes to music (and media in general), you could load up your computer with all the best music from the past 100 years, or listen to it online. We are no longer bound by whatever the radio is playing or we’d managed to collect as physical media. This has meant that in a sense we have moved on from the strong creative fashions and trends of the past. People can listen to, watch or play almost anything that is current and anything that is from the past. The last few years has seen an explosion in old acts reforming, retro inspired culture and classics being rereleased. Likewise modern technology has given us almost unlimited creative freedom to combine these things. I think that this has definitely helped to bring electroswing to the fore in the last couple of years.

While often an increase in popularity is associated with a reduction in quality, I actually think that in electroswing’s case it has just created a broader range of interpretation and styles. That’s not to say that there aren’t some really lazy tracks out there but actually, there are very few lazy tracks which are popular with ES listeners, it’s the interesting stuff that keeps people hooked. If that spirit continues I’m sure it will remain one of the most exciting and vibrant musical styles.

Love and Peace, D

 

 

At this moment, Fabric, one of the best known, respected and loved clubs in London has a very uncertain future. While I find this deeply upsetting on a personal level (I have so many happy memories of nights spend there), it is unfortunately part of a much bigger problem. The UK has lost half of all of its clubs in the last 10 years. This has happened for a variety of reasons but the pattern is clear… and if we don’t act now to protect existing clubs and encourage new ones, we might lose them for good

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If you haven’t already signed the save Fabric petition, please do it here

Worldwide shift in electronic music

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One of the strange things about club closures is that, in the UK and worldwide, electronic music is more popular than ever. The clubbing scene has always been tightly bound to these genres of music, so surely having more fans should mean more club punters? Unfortunately in reality it has not worked out this way. A lot of new fans are too young to get into a club. Even if they could, they may not want to anyway, electronic music is played in homes, cars and everywhere else. The idea that the club is the natural home for those genres is no longer as strong. There are obviously tons of fans who are old enough though but a lot of them would rather go to a festival to see big ‘superstar DJs’ playing to 1000s rather than a more intimate venue. Clearly a lot of new fans are still interested in clubbing. When I go out nowadays, there are still plenty of young ‘uns but it is way more mixed in age than it ever used to be

Also nightlife itself has evolved, there are many pop up raves in unusual places, DJ bars, sober morning parties etc. which are very cool but again take away a lot of traditional club business. We might see club closure as a particularly UK based problem, but I hear reports from all over the world that a lot of traditional venues are being shut

Change in licensing laws

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Over the last 10 years, it has become easier than ever to get alcohol after 11 PM. Late opening bars and pubs have become increasingly common. Once again, this is something I really appreciate but it does take a lot of business away from clubs. Back when I started clubbing, people would often move on to a club at 11 pm because it was the only option for continuing the night, nowadays you have options. Bars often have DJs and dancefloors so even if you wanted to dance, you could be well catered for without actually going to a club (but always stay well clear of those ‘music too loud to talk/no room to dance’ bars, those places are the worst). This has probably made the clubbing experience better as there are less people there who only want to get completely lashed but it has still meant that the clubs themselves have taken another economic hit

The rise of tinder

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Just like the “I’m only here to get plastered” crowd, the “I’m only here to pull” bunch used to be a regular part of the scene. People who didn’t care about the music or about the dancing or even about the alcohol. They just wanted to get busy and the club was the best place to meet people for a fleeting dalliance. Nowadays, there are definitely easier ways of finding a squeeze, almost all technology based. Once again, I think that the absence of those people has made the club experience much nicer, but again less punters means less profit.

Drug policy

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I could  write a whole post on the absurdity of the ‘war on drugs’ and the broad range of social harm that it has caused. However in the case of clubs, drug policy is applied in a particularly unproductive way, often used as stick to keep them in line. Many clubs have had their license revoked on the basis of people taking drugs there. I still remember when Home was shut ostensibly because their door policy was too lax (but everyone knew that it was because they were being very vocal about not being given a late license). Fabric now faces closure because 2 people have died while on drugs there, there is no evidence that they bought the drugs there and Fabric’s door policy is generally considered ‘gold standard’. Still, I would imagine 1000s of people take illegal drugs there every month, without incident. Inevitably, many are suggesting that the answer is stronger door checks with police (including sniffer dogs) outside. This is the worst possible way of dealing with the problem. Rather than trying to stop people taking drugs (which never works), we should be focused on preventing drug deaths.

While tragic, deaths from common club drugs are actually pretty rare (or at least far rarer than alcohol related deaths). They usually down to either toxic impurities in the drugs or a higher potency than expected (causing users to take higher doses than they were expecting). If someone buys drugs then they are likely to take them at some point, whether they are allowed into a club with them or not. So if people do go to a club we should see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. Don’t add extra security and confiscate them, rather let them in and have testing stations that can assess both strength and purity and provide advice on safe amounts to take, levels of hydration etc. Don’t create a situation where people fear the bouncers and the police and so down their whole night’s supply when they see them and overdose. Sometimes people will even refuse to see the club medics because they fear getting in trouble, this is a climate that creates poor outcomes. Ultimately legalisation, regulation and taxation would be the best way to clean up the supply. Until them a liberalisation of the way we police drugs could effect an immediate improvement in the risks, almost every club death is preventable if we are open minded about how to tackle them

Rising rent

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London is becoming a little bit absurd in this respect, there is almost nowhere that is safe from rampant gentrification. There are even some parts which have become quite like ghost towns as the only people who can afford to buy a home there are investors who have no desire to live there or even rent the property out. I don’t think all gentrification is bad, but when it prices everyone out, it has gone too far. Running a club is expensive and the rising rent has been the final nail in some of their economic coffins. Even worse than that, many landlords have not even given them the option to continue renting the space and have sold up to property developers for a tidy profit. Turns out some people would rather get a quick buck over owning a piece of cultural heritage.

Nimbyism

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These are the most frustrating reasons why clubs close down: disputes over soundproofing, drunken revellers at closing time or litter on the pavement. There are many NIMBY reasons people give for why their local venue is a menace. Sometimes they really do have a point but closing the venue seems a very heavyhanded way of dealing with them. Every other possible avenue should be exhausted before that is even on the table as a possibility.

Shortsightedness

So if there are still plenty of places to go on a Friday night and get your groove on, should we even care about all the club closures? Do we need them anymore?

I truly believe the answer is yes. Music has been one of the greatest exports from the UK in the last 100 years and clubs have been a vital part of that. They have offered one of the purest forms of escapism for generations of party goers looking to listen to great music, dance with friends and forget their weekly woes. Festivals, bars and house parties are all fun but nothing quite compares to a club night.

That is a very personal argument though, and maybe not everyone shares my passion but everyone should still care about these places. Clubs are not the only thing being closed – many live music venues, theatres, pubs, independent cinemas and other venues have also been suffering recently. These are intrisically part of our cultural heritage, they are part of what make our country great. With everyone that goes we are losing a battle in a slow war of attrition that will turn our cities into beige blandscapes with no life and no flavour.

What to do

It is clear that we need to take action to protect our clubs. But what actually can be done? I feel we need some drastic action, firstly with a protection scheme similar to listed buildings to make it harder to redevelop culturally important space into soulless office blocks or high end investment residences. Secondly we should encourage the development of more clubs, other venues and new forms of nightlife. In London, the arrival of the night tube should be a huge boon for this and development should be encouraged along these lines. The way we tackle drug-taking in clubs should be radically altered.

This sort of change takes time, for now, the most important thing would be to make it easier to appeal licensing decisions so that a council cannot just hand a venue a death sentence. If Fabric’s license is revoked then it will be a deeply upsetting day for clubbers all across the country and the world. If we don’t act soon though, it will not be the last… not by a long shot

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect

Dataphiles

I’m truly amazed by the quality and range of free music making software available today. I’ve written an article about how you could literally set up a whole studio for no money at all. Covering free DAWs, synths, effects and more. Check it out here

 

 

The playlist of free Dataphiles tracks on soundcloud is looking very healthy. There are now 9 tracks with more to be added soon. Check it out and get yourself some quality music for nothing

PLUR, D