Posts Tagged ‘electroswing’

It’s no secret that gaming is one of my favourite art forms . In fact it is second only to music. No other media can offer the immersiveness, the challenge or the reward of a really well designed game … and Cuphead is a really well designed game. It might have been the retro cartoon aesthetic and hot jazz soundtrack that made me eagerly await its release but it is the gameplay that really kept me engaged. It is not easy, in fact (minus the cruelty of limited lives) it is as hard as a NES era run ‘n gun game. It’s vanishingly unlikely that you would finish any level on your first try – it requires experimentation, learning and composure to figure out how to beat a boss and then actually pull it off. This might sound frustrating but actually it is where the greatest joy comes from.

I’m not one to knock modern games for being easy. Casual mobile tap-a-thons, walking simulators and ‘checkpoint every 10 seconds’ type games have done a huge amount to introduce gaming to new audiences. However they cannot offer that sense of accomplishment that comes with vanquishing a really hard (but fair) foe. The feeling that you have overcome all the challenges that they have thrown in your face and come out victorious. The failures and frustration on the journey making the destination that much sweeter. I think it can even give you a better outlook on life too. In this world of instant gratification it is good to be reminded that almost anything worthwhile takes time and the determination required to get past the challenges you face on the way.

The soundtrack is amazing, the hot jazz perfectly complimenting the 1930s cartoon aesthetic. The first time I heard it, I knew I was going to have to make a remix. Fiery Frolic (from the Grim Matchstick boss battle) particularly grabbed me as a stand out track, especially for a Swing n Bass remix. I think that a blistering breakbeat, sizzling sub bass and crazy chops really add something 😉 Once I had done the remix though, I thought it would be fun to make a video that reflected what it was like to actually play. Showing the process of attempting, learning and ultimately defeating a level.

So there it is, a game and a soundtrack worthy of much ♥. Even more impressive when you consider that this was MDHR (the developers) is a small indie studio and this was their first ever game. Equally impressive is that the composer – Kristofer Maddigan had never written this sort of music before. They really knocked it out of the park! So if you have and XBone or a PC with even moderate specs (this game runs perfectly on my GPDwin for goodness’ sake), do yourself a favour and pick it up

PLUR – D

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Here’s my latest project … a mad video mashup with an upbeat Swing and Bass soundtrack. While its looks and sounds fun, it did come out of a serious thought that I’ve been having

Every year the world becomes more automated. What future do we want to build?

It was easy for society to watch physical labour being replaced by machines. They just said that humans would just get more skilled jobs. They didn’t think it was worth worrying about … human intelligence, ingenuity and intuition would always be irreplaceable. This century we are seeing the rise of AI, of big data and fine robotics. We have to start asking, is there actually that much that humans do that couldn’t be replaced. What do we do when more people try to ‘get a job that they never could find’?

The strange thing for me is how few people are talking about it. It does crop up from time to time but it is not though of as a serious issue. Our politicians don’t discuss it, the media doesn’t think its sexy enough and our business leaders don’t care. Almost everyone in a position of wealth or influence probably either feels that they are immune, or are completely unaware. Some even knowingly reframe the loss of jobs as the fault of immigrants, millenials, a lazy workforce or another group they want to attack.

If we do this properly, we have all the tools we need to create an amazing world. I’m writing this on Easter weekend and in the UK and we get a full 4 days off (well we’re supposed to anyway). How amazing would it be if we enjoyed 4 day weekends every week. We could divide up the work as a society so that everyone still contributed but had ample time to to pursue the other things in life that give it meaning. People wouldn’t have to choose between work and family or between sleep and social life. Just think how amazing it would be for culture and invention if we gave people the time to work on their ideas. If we really got our act together we could feed, clothe and shelter everyone and live in a futurist paradise of our own making.

On the other hand, if we do this poorly we could see society degrade completely. We could see vast swathes of obsolete humans trapped in a dark techno-feudalism. Rioting as those who were left behind and embittered fight against the elite. Throw in a robot army and you might get all out war.  In all probability, we’ll try to keep propping up the status quo for as long as possible. The world of work, however, is already incredibly uneven. There are people running companies earning well over 100x the amount of a low level employee. There are people working untold hours of unpaid overtime while others search for the extra job they are covering. Some of the hardest jobs are met with the most meagre rewards either by being labelled ‘worthy’ or ‘unskilled’. I understand the need to give people incentives but the way we do it now is incredibly unfair. If we keep making the current system more extreme, we’ll be walking blindly down the path of polarisation until something snaps.

We are truly at a crossroad but one thing is for sure…it we don’t start thinking, discussing and planning, we are bound to take the wrong path. So for the near future, when we ask what our jobs should be, maybe the answer should be: trying to build the best world we can.

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect – D

I’ve been working on a series on sound reactive mashups using vintage video. If you want a unique looking video for your track/youtube mix, send a message me a message on contact@dataphilesmusic.com or via the normal social media channels

I can use any video as source material for these so if you have an idea you’d like me to adapt I can make that happen.

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Or I can make you a straight up vintage video remix

Or something more conventional

 

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

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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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

 

 

Posted a new video on Youtube, its the ‘official’ video for Beep Beep Baby (not that the steampunk arcade machine vid featuring it wasn’t fun). I found some great old black and white footage of vintage dance routines, burlesque performances and animations, cut it all together and Robert’s your mother’s brother. I’m quite proud of the results & feel it fits the overall feeling of the track. The cut up dances reflecting the cut up swing samples that form the backbone of the track.

My girlfriend first described the break of this track sounding like people honking (flirtatiously) at a girl, dancing in the street (and hence came up with the name Beep Beep Baby). It was great to find some appropriate film footage to recreate that vision during this part of the track. The internet archive is truly an amazing place.  Bonus marks if you can spot all of the original clips on there. Some of them are hilarious (and perhaps slightly worrying) to watch nowadays, I’d particularly recommend ‘In my Merry Oldsmobile’ and ‘Gags and Girls’, I wonder if they’d remake them today 😛

Also I used Blender as a video editor for the first time for this (hell, I didn’t even know it was a video editor before now, I’d only ever used it for a bit of 3D animation before). As ever, it has a pretty steep learning curve but it is incredibly powerful and quite satisfying, once you’re in the zone. It’s by far and away the best open-source/free video editor I’ve used. So big props to all of the guys and gals who have made its development possible.

Anyway hope you enjoy the video, please like, comment and/or subscribe.

PLUR, D