Wednesday, 30 March 2011

This Weekends Activities

Funkin' for Japan Feat DJ Norman Jay M.B.E @ Barrio Central, Thursday 31st.

Line Up


Time: 7:00pm - 1:00am
Venue: Barrio Central, 6 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 8PS.

Soulmates presents Raps Birthday Party @ The City Arts & Music Project, Saturday 2nd.

Line Up


Time: 10:00pm - 4:00am
Venue: The CAMP, 70-74 City Rd, Old Street, London, EC1Y 2BJ
Cost: £8/£5

Mulletover 7th Birthday @ The Great Suffolk St Warehouse, Saturday 2nd.

Line Up


Time: 10:00pm - 7:00am
Venue: The Great Suffolk St Warehouse, 29 Great Suffolk St, SE1 0NS.
Cost: £8 - £25

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tuesdays Tech Tips: Logic Voice Sampling..

Playing Melodies With Voice Samples in Logic..

In this tutorial, producer/DJ and Dubspot Senior Logic Instructor Matt Shadetek shows you how to manipulate, re-pitch, and process vocal samples using Logic Pro 9’s ESX24 Sampler and Pitch Correction plug-in. Utilizing one of the vocal samples that comes with Logic, Shadetek slices each individual note of the sample, converts them into a sampler instrument. Shadetek delves into the ESX24 Instrument Editor, in order to re-pitch the vocal samples and make them playable across the keyboard. He then utilizes Logic’s Pitch Correction plug-in (similar to Antares Auto-tune), which he uses to refine the pitch of the re-pitched notes. At the end of the tutorial, you should have a strong grasp of how to take a sample and play your own melody with it in Logic’s EXS24 sampler.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Robert Henke: Co-Creator of Ableton Live

Robert Henke is many different things to many different people – performer, lecturer, software developer, technician. In truth, the Berlin-based artist busily juggles all four descriptions, but when he gets on the phone you can understand why he does so well in front of a bunch of university students: the man loves to chat and has a strong grasp on the English language, to the point where he stumbles to keep up with the ideas pouring out of his head. Henke is best known for his role in the rise of Ableton, but a tour to Australia provided an opportunity to pick his brains about a variety of things, from the leading part he played in the development of the now ubiquitous Live software to the Monodeck performance controller that he built and used for many years. Originally interviewed for Scene, the full chat is reproduced below. – Matt Shea

I guess the thing that you’re most often tagged with is your hand in creating Ableton Live. How did it the whole Ableton thing come about originally? You were coming at it from a musical perspective first, yeah?

The important thing to demystify is that the initial impulse to start the company came from my former Monolake collaborator, Gerhard Behles, and I just came into the game when the company decided to do some software that was more aimed towards live performance. This is where I started building ideas together with Gerhard. I’m not an official founder – that’s just a myth because at the point where the company started I decided that if I became a board member and all these things I would probably not make music anymore. My prediction became very true for Gerhard, who didn’t make any music since he started Ableton. However, I couldn’t resist when he asked me to join the company for actually creating the product. So, basically the idea for Live came out of a personal need, and this personal need was that there was software for working in the studio, there was editing software, but their were no commercial products to actually perform music, and Gerhard and me always used software for situations where something is just running and we wanted to change what’s running in real time, and therefore get some kind of conductor perspective on your own work, on our own work. This was the basic idea behind Live, to create something to interact with the computer in playful way in real time.

It’s been over ten years now. Why do you think Ableton flourished compared to its competition?

Honestly, we don’t know (laughs). What surprised us is that no competitor took up the idea we had. When we showed it at a show in 2001 – okay it was very esoteric and the other big companies came to our little booth and said, ‘Oh, you guys must be crazy. This is absurd.’ A year later, we were still in business and a lot of people really loved what we were doing, and still no competitor came up. Then we came back to the show three years later and we were extremely sure now that one of the big players would have a competitive product, and they still didn’t do anything. And I really believe that all the big players in the game completely underestimated the market of us freaks, you know? People with laptops on stage. When they realised that a lot of people liked what we were doing, it was already so mature that it would have been a big effort to catch up.

Did those companies underestimate how much digital music would come to play a part in live performance?

Definitely. Really, ten years ago they were totally focused on studio, and the idea that some blokes with their computers would go on stage really was not on their plate at all. I guess one advantage that we always had was that it’s relatively easy to create a good product if you work with it yourself, so I mean I’m using Live as we’re developing it, and tons of other people working on it are using it as well, and we’d have tons of internal conversations about details. But I also believe that those exact conversations about details make sure that the software works for a lot of people.

You play experimental electronic music, Robert. Has Ableton led to the rise of more experimental electronic music?

Well, that’s hard to judge but it certainly made it possible for a lot of people to make music that they couldn’t do without it. It played an important role as a facilitator for those people. In this regard I certainly believed that life changed for a lot of people. [It illustrated] how to make music and enabled them to make music in the first place, but I’m not sure how genre specific this is. From the public perspective it seems that Live is mainly used by club music people doing dance orientated stuff. If we look at our own statistics we can see that Live is used by a large group of people who never show up in the clubs and play club gigs. The range of users ranges from theatre people to experimental to music to bands to film scoring, whatever, and the group of actual dance music is small in comparison to the overall user base. It’s still a huge group, but it’s not the one major group that is using the software.

You’ve stepped back a little from Ableton, is that right?

Yeah, definitely, and for two reasons: first of all, the company now has over 100 people working there and there’s a lot of intelligence in the company so my input is not needed every day. The second thing is that as much as my heart belongs to Ableton, there’s another part of my heart that belongs to my music career. I will never give up talking with Gerhard about details of the software and reading company emails and thinking about that stuff, but when it comes to day-by-day business I’m very happy to step back.

Tell me about Monodeck and Monodeck 2. What was the inspiration behind that project? Do you still use it to play live?

Well, computers are fine in the studio environment, but if it comes to performing, a mouse and a screen seems to be the wrong interface, and so I tried to come up with something that feels a little bit more like hardware, and the Monodeck is pretty much a very advanced attempt at getting something like a hardware feel for Live. As a matter of fact, it worked very well for me for maybe four years, but just recently I decided that I need to abandon it. I kind of grew out of it: it became too rigid – it’s layout, its structure, it’s very much aimed at a specific purpose and my music developed further so I’m not using it anymore.

So no plans to create a Monodeck 3?

Well, I totally underestimated the work involved in creating a Monodeck 2 (laughs), so I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

You never commercialized it, did you?

Well, the whole point of it is that it’s an individual instrument tailored to my needs, or the strangeness of my needs. In order to make a commercial product out of it I would need to get rid of the oddities, but then it wouldn’t be interesting anymore. I mean, as a matter of fact, the Akai APC40 is highly inspired by my controller, and I was even part of the decision team at the beginning, but at some point I just found that dealing with Akai was not my cup of tea. What happens if you water down a strange, slightly odd concept of a personal controller into a commercial product? You get the APC40.

Looking at your recent career, Robert, there seems to be this constant tension between your technical work and your music…


Is it a case of what you want to achieve in music constantly pushing you back to the work desk to create a product that will allow you to get there?

I guess it comes more from a very personal satisfaction with creating tools. I like tools, you know? It’s a funny thing, I’m in good company there: for instance, the Basic Channel guys, especially Mark Ernestus, he was from the very beginning building his own hardware also. His own hardware shaped his music and I’m just a classic do-it-yourself person and take that approach to building my own instruments. Computer technology allowed me to do that, but sometimes I think it’s a problem because it keeps me from composing, but on the other side, if I spend half a year on developing my own synthesiser, I will really use it excessively afterwards. For example, [the synthesiser] Operator: I would say that 80 per cent of my sound design is Operator and this is the one single synthesiser that I use all the time, so every second of development work I put into this instrument paid off.

Talking specifically about your music now. You’re currently touring under your own name. What’s the difference between the Monolake stuff and the music you produce under your own name?

It’s a bit of a difficult question as a matter of fact, and one that I ask myself quite often. I see Monolake as a more open and collaborative project, like for instance Monolake as a project which is definitely aimed towards rhythmical music and Monolake live is aimed at an audience that can move live. With Robert Henke I’d rather look a little bit more inward and explore soundscapes, computer music, but not explicit danceable music. Robert Henke could conceivably include rhythmical music, but then it might be rhythmical music that’s more informed by complex African rhythms and things like this and music that’s not so immediately danceable.

I’ve heard you described as Michael Mann through the headphones – do you think that’s a good summing up of what you try to achieve musically?

I’m fine with that (laughs). You know, if you look at things from the outside, it’s always much easier to describe anyway. I really can’t say so much about my own work. I have a few ideas, I know what I like, I know what I don’t like, but the overall shape I only recognise when I look at it from a distance. I can look back at things and say, ‘Ahh, I’m obviously interested in this or that.’ I like textures, I like harmonic relationships that are a little bit complex and which have a tendency to vary from classic harmonic scales to enharmonic elements. I like enharmonic sounds, I like a definition of space. But, you know, to find a really fitting description, I guess this is up to other people.

You’re currently performing some surround sound gigs. How do you approach one of those? What kind of equipment are you using to create this sound?

There are basically two possible concepts when you talk about performing with surround sound. One concept is that you say, ‘I’d really like to have the sounds always coming from the left front and moving to the right back.’ This is a concept that clearly deals with the localisation of sound sources. The other concept would be to say, ‘I have a lot of sound sources and they’re just distributed equally somewhere.’ Think of a crickets or the sound of the ocean. It doesn’t matter where cricket is located or where each wave breaks – what gives you the sensation of a lot of things is just the fact that they’re distributed in space. For the concert in Brisbane I take the latter approach, which means all that I do is create a lot of little sounds at the same time and sew them in the space and experiment with two channels, so if you have something you want to have in four channels, you just basically two times two channels with slightly different signals and then you have what you want to achieve. So, that’s basically what I’m doing. One thing comes out of the left speaker, a similar but not exactly same thing comes out of the right speaker, and then again I have two slightly different signals coming from the back speakers and the result is that you close your eyes and have the sensation of something really big.

Do you find crowds in different parts of the world react differently to your live performances?

Well, you see, generalisations for me never work for me anyway. Because you can go to a club in Berlin, and depending on which night you go to which club you can have very different crowds, and I see the same pretty much everywhere.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The History Of Modular Synthesizers by Prof. Christopher Ariza

This video, via MIT, takes a look at the history of the modular synthesizer.

It captures a lecture by Prof. Christopher Ariza, from MIT’s Music and Technology (Contemporary History and Aesthetics).

Topics covered include:

  • The Modular Synthesizer: Overview
  • The RCA Synthesizer
  • RCA Synthesizer Mark I
  • Buchla 100 Series Modular Electronic Music System
  • Moog modular systems I, II, and II
  • Modular synthesizer concepts
  • Key synthesizers

A PDF is available that goes along with the lecture.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

This Weekends Activities (Fundraising for Japan)

Play For Japan @ East Village, Thursday 24th.

Line Up

Giles Smith
James Priestley
Joey Negro
Luke Solomon
Phil Asher
Richio Suzuki
Stuart Patterson
Terry Farley
Tim deluxe
Tomoki Tamura

Time: 7pm - 3am
Venue: East village, 89 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HX
Cost: £5 - £10 donations will go directly to the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.

Unite for Japan @ Plastic People, Sunday 27th.

Line Up

IG Culture
Phil Asher
Marc Mac

Time: 7pm - 11pm
Venue: Plastic People, 147-149 Curtain RD, EC2A 3QE
Cost: £10 donations all proceeds to the British Red Cross’s Japan Tsunami Appeal.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Derrick Carter Talks Lifestyle...

Derrick Carter and Herman

Derrick Carter and Herman

After the UK's Second Summer of Love in 1988 and '89 gave house music a firm foothold across the Atlantic, Derrick Carter was part of the first wave of Chicago DJs and producers to invade Europe, in the process permanently altering its pop-music landscape. A couple of decades later, songs built on a house-music framework have started to dominate the pop charts in America too—it wouldn't be hard to draw a straight line connecting Carter to radio juggernauts like and David Guetta.

That's not to say most people would even recognize him. At the Wicker Park bar and grill where he suggested we meet—a surprisingly jocky place for a house-music legend to hang out—our server either didn't know who he was or kept it to herself. She seemed mostly worried about his food—he was so busy talking that he never touched the chili he'd ordered, and she must have asked us six or seven times if everything was all right.

Carter prefers this relative anonymity—he'd rather be an influence behind the scenes than have his face on magazine covers. "You know what," he says, "I have such a comfortable existence that is built on not having a crossover. I like to live a normal life. I mean, OK, there's like this crazy—I've done Australia and New Zealand. I'm about to go to Istanbul on Friday, I was in Belfast on Saturday, I got back from London yesterday. So there is this fantastic element. But it's really much more commonplace than it sounds. It's work. And I come back, and I got to pick up dog shit, and I got to go to the grocery store because we're running out of food, and there's company coming tomorrow so I have to do some dusting."

Globe-trotting superstar DJs are often able to fit the self-regard of an entire arena-rock band into one person, but Carter's default mode seems to be nonchalance. He describes his late-80s collaborations with Mark Farina, which more or less launched the entire genre of ambient techno, as "basically just some suburban kids that fooled around in a studio and came up with some stuff."

That mellowness doesn't carry over to the music he spins, though. Carter recently released Fabric 56, a mix in the highly regarded series curated by forward-looking London club Fabric since 2001, and it's full of massive songs built on the kind of polyrhythmic beats he's known for—funkier and less bare-bones than the beats in old-school first-generation house, they fill up large swaths of the audio spectrum, and they're frequently accompanied by exhortations to get lewd on the dance floor. He's been DJing since the late 70s, when as a grade-school kid he took over the decks at a family reunion, and the black music of that decade left its mark on his aesthetic. "I liked funk. I liked disco, but I liked funk," he says. "I like big slap basses. Like bow! Bar-Kays, and like James Brown, and who else was big? Parliament. I liked groovy stuff. Anything that just settles right into the pocket and just rides the pocket." From there, he explains, it was a "natural evolution" for him to get into house.

Carter is a deft mixer and can build and release the energy in a room so subtly his touch is almost subliminal, but other than that there's nothing understated about his sets. This is an essential part of his practical-minded philosophy of DJing.

"Maybe there's a bit of an art form," he says. "I mean, it should be respected and it should be presented in a certain way. But I also feel like it's not . . . fuckin' we aren't DJing at the Louvre. It's music at a club—people are getting drunk, trying to get a little ass. There's a part of me that knows that the reason that people are here, the reason they've paid to hear me, is that they want to have a good time. Not to stand around and debate the finer points of the hi-hats or how the interplay between the bass and the kick kind of creates a third bass line, you know? I can do that too, but I just don't have the energy. I'm busy. I got shit to do. I gotta make this party happen."

Carter's Fabric mix doesn't contain much you could use to pin it to 2011, at least by ear—the styles that have occupied the sets of young, cutting-edge DJs in recent years, like dubstep, electro cumbia, and UK funky, are all absent. With its tracks from old-school artists like DJ Sneak, Roger Sanchez, and Cajmere (represented by his unkillable 1992 "Percolator"), it sounds like something straight out of the 90s. Carter explains the consistency of his style over the years by invoking his aversion to hype.

"I get sent so much shit," he says. "I get this shit with these taglines like, 'Get ready for Ibiza 2011 with this new house track that comes through with catchy vocals and a hot bass groove,' and it's just like so much hype and it's just like, get off me. Leave me alone. It stinks already."

At this point in his career, it'd be fair to call Carter a die-hard traditionalist, but if you talk to him about the mainstreaming of DJ culture over the past few years, he comes off less like an old crank and more like a bemused veteran. "They sell DJ equipment at fucking Best Buy!" he says, and laughs. "I had gone to get a flash drive, because the new Pioneers [CD DJ decks], you can put something on a flash drive and pop it in the B slot and play off those. So I found myself looking at DJ mix controllers and the pitch-controlled CDJs that they had there. And I was like, Hmm, that's not bad. But then I was like: What the hell am I doing?"

On the topic of the Guettas and Will.i.ams of the world incorporating house music into platinum-selling pop, Carter is agnostic. "It's kind of whatever, it's cool," he says. "I don't care. I'm not pro or con about it, because it doesn't really matter how I feel. I'm not gonna get up in arms about something that doesn't affect me. I'm not getting on the radio, and they're not coming to Fabric. So it's fine."

He also says he rarely thinks about issues like that unless journalists ask him to. "I never have the time to sit and think about, like, dissecting things. I don't have that particular bent. I just have a gut‚ and I feel it and it's fine. I don't start to question things. I'll just roll with it, and if it starts to seem a little off and I don't have my mood right, maybe I'll check it in the mirror."

I ask if he thinks his ability to stay true to his instincts has helped him keep his career going for so long.

"Well, you know, I've had this conversation with my therapist, who I recently started seeing because I'm getting old and I'm trying to make some sense of this shit before I get out of here," he says. "And what I feel is that some people are made for what they do. I just feel for me, the core of who I am suits this music thing. I've been doing it for 20 years. I still fly off every weekend and pop back on Monday. Maybe a little bright-eyed—tail's a little bushier than before. And I talked to my therapist and she said, you know what, this just suits you, it fits who you are, and that's OK. So I was like, all right."

Monday, 21 March 2011

Beatport donating 100% of Monday’s net proceeds to Japan relief

Beyond the fact that electronic dance music as we know it wouldn’t exist without Japan’s contributions over the years—just consider the numbers 303, 808, and 909—the ongoing crisis in Japan affects us all, on a purely human scale. For that reason, on Monday, March 21st, Beatport will donate 100% of our day’s net proceeds to Japanese relief efforts. Join us by shopping on on March 21st.

Read on for Terms and Conditions.

Join Beatport as we donate 100% of our net proceeds on March 21st to Japanese relief.

Proceeds will be calculated based on sales from 12:00:00 AM MT to 11:59:59 PM MT on March 21st, less royalties paid to labels and artists. Donations will be sent to theAmerican Red Cross, Mile High Chapter, to be directed to the Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief.

You can help the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross’ Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need.

The American Red Cross name and emblem are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion or political position.

The American Red Cross will not receive your contact information. Should you require a receipt from the American Red Cross, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to donate by phone or give online at

For more information about the American Red Cross, please visit