Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

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

PLUR art 5.jpg

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

Dataphiles 100 cc.jpg

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!

creative-commons-logos

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

 

 

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

 

 

I’ve always been fascinated by Fractals, mathematical oddities that create ordered chaos and patterns that mirror themselves on many scales. I couldn’t explain the maths behind them but they come up in all sorts of contexts from producing (pseudo)random melodies in grooveboxes to modelling chaotic systems such as the weather.

One particular reason that makes me love them though is their power to create artwork, often surreal mulicoloured alien looking and captivating all at once. Back in my DOS freeware days I used to use fractint to create 2D renders (I remember hitting the colour cycle button and watch as everything turned into a crazy trip of flowing gradients). Recently though I’ve discovered some excellent freeware for making 3D ones or Mandelbulbs as they are often referred to.

They make great backing visuals for tracks and I’m working on creating a library of them to VJ live with

If you want to try making some of  your own check out the excellent Mandelbulb 3D (huge number of variety/features but a little daunting) or Mandelbulber (A little more limited but perhaps a bit easier to start off with). Both are completely free … I ❤ the internets 😉

PLUR – D

We live in an age of unbridled creativity. The combination of freely available software, processing power and the access to pretty much the entirety of human knowledge and artistic history, means that our horizons are endless. We can make anything and yet it seems that most often we use memes to make the same statement or joke.

I have no objection to the Be like Bill one in principle but seeing it so many times in so many different variations over the last few days did make me think that if he was real he would have had a complete personality collapse. I suppose its impossible to please all of the people all of the time

PLUR – D

Glitch Bill

Big love to all the awesome people I met at SW4 today. If you didn’t watch Faithless’ set through spectral glasses you were doing something wrong 😉

PLUR, D

   
   

Ah crowdfunding has brought us a a great many awesome things,  awesome music videos, insane gadgets and reboots of long dead media franchises (even an attempt to rescue the ailing Greek economy). However one of the things that I love the most are the crazy music controllers that people are coming up with. Often looking and behaving completely unlike anything remotely musical before, these could really represent the vanguard of future music production and performance. Or a hiliarious looking desk ornament that will serve mainly as a dust magnet once the novelty has worn off. I’ll let you decide for yourself which these beauties are

Expressiv MIDI guitar

 

 

OK, this is not the first time that someone has made a hybrid electric guitar and MIDI controller but this rocks some features that are truly unique. Firstly it will detect  notes just from your left hands position on the fretboard effectively freeing up your strumming hand to operate the modulation controls, a mouse or perhaps a beer. Secondly, on the subject of the modulation controls, it has a playstation style analog stick instead of the normal modwheels, ribbons etc, so you can add a shinku-hadoken to your shredding (It also has buttons and a touchpad for crazy control schemes). Most importantly, perhaps is the fact they’ve built a light tunnel into the body! Anyone who knows my natural affinity towards glowing objects will appreciate how exciting that is for me.  It also plugs into an amp and operates as a regular electric guitar. They’re in production at the moment. Expect to pay $500 on kickstarter to preorder yours

Drumpants

 

Hey if you’ve never slapped your thighs in time to a song, you probably have a terminal lack of joie de vivre. I mean isn’t the lap natures drumkit? Likewise the impulse to tap one’s foot in time to a tune is pretty much obligatory for listening to music. Some smart guys and gals have decided to harness this into a a collection of smart sensors that attach to your thighs and feet to convert your leg drumming into legendary drumming. They’re even making a version to help people with ALS and other movement disorders communicate more effectively, which definitely ups the awesomeness of this project. They’re actually being released very soon, with an estimated shipping date of September. You can preorder the basic set on indiegogo for $159

MIDI sprout

 

I know many exponents of the theory that talking to plants helps them grow, what if your plants could sing back though. Wouldn’t that make the world a better place? Quite possibly, or it could be one step closer to unleashing the Triffids, who knows? What I do know is that this black box (or white box in this case) translates the galvanic response of plants into MIDI signals that can be used to control your favourite music software. According to their campaign page it will also work with objects other than plants, including humans, pets and ice creams. Its apparently being tested at the moment and is available to preorder for $95 on Kickstarter

Spaceharp

 

On of the first performances of electronic music that I remember was Jean Michel Jarre taking over several city blocks playing his iconic laser harp. The Spaceharp takes things, umm a little further. Not content with just lasers that you break with your hand, this thing has Sonar, Shadow sensors and a whole range of buttons and other controls to create some crazy laser harp/kinect/theramin hybrid. And boy, does it have a price tag to match… $1900! You could set up a pretty decent starter studio for that. Still it looks amazing and is probably a very cool way of really using your body to play, available to preorder on indiegogo (it also comes in a 2-pack for $3700, you know, so you could get one for yourself and one for me to test out. Just saying)

RemoFinger

 

Anyone who has used a tablet for music production will usually tell the same story: multitouch = amazing, lack of tactile feedback = a right pain in the derriere. In order to counteract this there are a number of controllers available for iPad but they all have the same Achilles heel, software support. This can be a real pain if you’ve found a real gem of an app but the only way you can control it is by tapping the screen. The Remofinger niftily skirts this problem by actually having attachments that stick on you screen and replicate the touch of a human finger. As the pedal set implies, this is squarely aimed at guitarists aiming to change effects. However I see a whole range of control possibilities (and no not playing flappy bird with your foot). This has (at the time of writing) not reached its target of funding yet, although it is doing pretty well. I really want to see this happen, if you do too show your support on Kickstarter

Well there you go, there’s your 5. Perhaps once they’re all released someone could combine the lot into the maddest looking one man band ever (especially with the potplant you’d need to strap to your back to operate the MIDI sprout).

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect,

Dataphiles

Did another dastardly device build a couple of nights ago. This time it was a wrist mounted smoke machine – I thought I’d do a build video as I knew I could put it together in 1 take. I hadn’t used Drillbit for any videos yet (despite releasing it 6 years ago!) and I really though the sound matched the speeded up assembly. Anyway … Enjoy 🙂

The whole build only took an hour and was a good laugh. Its basically just tubing, valves and a hand pump to suck gas out of an e shisha, so as well as looking crazy good (or just crazy) it also makes the room smell of caramel (other flavours available). I might get one of those cloud vapes to up the smoke output and once I build the laser glove for the other hand, its going to look insane

PLUR, D