DJ Manipulator knocking out a banger on Native Instruments Maschine using Drum Broker’s – Texture, Crunch, & Percussion by EARS Sample Pack
DJ Manipulator knocking out a banger on Native Instruments Maschine using Drum Broker’s – Texture, Crunch, & Percussion by EARS Sample Pack
Very Dope Sampler shootout from Drum Broker customer Fanu (http://fanumusic.com/).
I’m a sampling freak. And a sampler freak.
I’ve been loving hardware samplers since early 2000.
Mostly, I’ve been using a whole lot of Akai as well as E-MU.
(At this point it’s relevant to say that if you’re one of those ADHD heads, or belong in the cult of TL;DR, I wouldn’t blame you for scrolling down till you see a Soundcloud player, as that’s where the goodies are)
Around 2009 I, like many, went all digital and thought my hardware days would be over as I considered DAWs so convenient and magnificent; quick, easy to use, and you can take them wherever you go. Little did I know that I’d go back to my roots. I made an album and some EPs with my all-digital setup (mixing some of it in an outboard desk for a while), but ever since I sold my hardware, I realized I missed working with a hardware sampler plugged into a desk.
You can say what you want about working with a laptop setup, but I’ve always found that hardware samplers, when plugged into a good desk, have that certain warmth that I find extremely pleasing to the ear.
Anyways, cut to the chase and fast forward to today: currently I’ve got an Akai s900, Akai s2000, Akai s3200, Akai MPC Renaissance, Akai MPC Studio, and E-MU E4XT Ultra. Here’s a few brief words about each.
The Akai s900 (made in 1986) I only use for sampling sounds, and then I sample sounds out of it into other samplers or my laptop. It’s got this sweet 12-bit crunch that nicely rounds off the top end and it brings some presence into the mids, which helps get especially the drums to stand out in the mix. Seriously. Someone once said, “Beats coming out of an old Akai sound like bricks”, which is a compliment. The s900 is still the choice for many hiphop producers because of its “organic” sound. Its drawback is the display which only has two lines of text. And oh, its ram is 0.7 megabytes. You read that right!
Have you ever glanced around your studio and asked yourself, “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”. If you answered no, you are either going to absolutely love the idea of injecting a little minimalism into your workspace or totally reject it. Honey badger and I don’t give fuck. There is no denying that we find ourselves (beatmakers, producers, musicians, insert your audio related occupation or hobby here) the
victims product of capitalistic and consumerist clutter. Before you go into Red Scare mode, hear me out. Capitalism has blessed the audio production world with some innovative and arguably necessary products. In my humble opinion too many great products.
The by-product of cheap technology and development coupled with internet marketing is depression. We are bombarded with an endless stream of must have midi controllers, DAW’s, plug-ins, etc. Add the revitalization of the so called vintage gear craze to the equation and you might be feeling a tad bit inadequate in the gear department.
Over the last 10+ years I’ve owned my fair share of expensive hardware and dabbled in the expansive cloud of plug-ins and feature excessive DAW’s. You can easily find yourself down the rabbit hole chasing the latest and greatest or the oldest and sonically “best” equipment money can buy. You will certainly spend a substantial amount of time and possibly find yourself near bankruptcy chasing the perfect tool. In the end, you might go over the precipice and ask yourself “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”
My latest experiment in producing music has been to inject a little minimalism into my workflow and production workspace. I find myself more productive and the creative process is beginning to be fun again.
I’ve made it no secret that I use Propellerhead’s Reason software to produce my music. I don’t use some strange combination of Reason & Pro Tools or Reason and Ableton Live. I don’t obsess over new features of version x,y, & z of a given product. I’ve learned to work within limitations of my DAW (especially with Reason). I can honestly give a fuck what your DAW or Drum Machine can do that mine can’t. Maybe you should too. I use a single production tool and plan to master it completely. The workflow makes sense and allows creativity to flourish. My plug-in (Rack Extensions) are minimal and essential and accomplish their desired task.
I’ll argue that you can never have enough sounds, so I’m always getting my hands on more drums samples, samples to chop, virtual synths, and so forth. Having a solid sound bank is crucial to creating fresh material, but without inspiration its useless.
I’ve narrowed down my multitude of midi controllers to a single device that integrates near perfectly with the Reason workflow (Nektar Panorama P4). I own a beefed up E-Mu SP-1200 for sound design projects and drums. Again, tools that I use frequently and add value to my creative production and workflow.
Overall I’ve reduced my setup to the bare minimum, the essentials if you will. I’ve reduced physical, mental, and virtual clutter to the point where I can master the few tools that I use most frequently and never have to worry about the latest and greatest and must have’s of the music industry.
Injecting a little minimalism into my life as a beatmaker has done personal wonders. Shit worked for me.
The next time you glance around your studio or bedroom, ask yourself, “Is all this gear necessary?”. The next time you spend hours on internet forums reading “This Machine vs. That Machine” posts, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”.
In the end, most of our consumption does little to add value to what we do best… be creative and make music.
1. Take a minute to introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Tommy Tench and I’m a Producer and DJ operating out of my studio in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. I specialize in sampling and making beats, and I’m a huge fan of Turntablism, which I practice daily. My YouTube channel, which I started posting videos to a few months ago documenting the process of beatmaking, currently has 1300 subscribers and shows no signs of slowing down. I have numerous few projects lined up for 2013, working with artists (most of which I am supposed to keep quiet!) as well a super limited run of vinyl pressings with some producer friends of mine. I am also former student and current employee at Dubspot, a music production and DJ school, where I oversee the Tech Department.
2. How did you transition from being a Dubspot student to an employee?
I started taking classes one summer, and spent as much time as I could there. I got to know everyone pretty well, and one day they needed help setting up a private event because a few people were sick and couldn’t make it. They kept asking for help over the next few weeks, and I approached them to make it a permanent position in the Tech Department. I worked for about a year and a half as a regular Tech, until this past august when I was put in charge of the entire department.
During this time, I was able to learn and listen to everyone around me and really soak up tons of information. Everyone there is so talented and knowledgeable, its crazy really. The whole place breathes music, and can cater to everyones’ specific tastes. It really helped me be where I am today. It’s incredibly important, no matter how good you are, to keep your mouth shut and listen sometimes. I do a lot of that.
Alkota: A lot of “up and coming” beatmakers & producers assume that the the music industry has a single linear path to success where licensing and selling beats is the name of the game. What most of the new jacks don’t know is that the industry is a multi faceted and dynamic beast.
Oh man. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The modern producer has to wear many different hats. He has to not only produce the track, but mix, master and release it himself. He also has to promote the song, coordinate with artists, get studio time, and in a lot of cases, coordinate the legal side of it with contractual agreements and licensing stipulations. Gone are the days where you show up at a label with beats and they write you checks on the spot. Now, if you’re one of these elite producers, these things may not apply as much. But I see that changing rapidly.
But having to do all these extra things are what makes it fun and interesting. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to learn and try to be the best producer out there, then go ahead and make your $5 beats off your pirated version of FL Studio. Just remember that theres a glass ceiling with that style, and you’ll never reach your full potential. No disrespect to anyone who pirated FL Studio and sells $5 beats, just try to do something different on top of what everyone else is doing. I mean, I bought a DSLR to record my videos, now I understand photography really well. White balance, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, focal length, etc. I also understand lighting and video editing. I then promote it online as much as possible. I understand SoundCloud really well to the point where I have videos on how to share to all your groups in one click using html scripts. You really get to learn a lot of things inadvertently through this process. Is it harder? Yes. But you don’t gain as much if aren’t trying to figure everything out all the time. I mean honestly, the whole beat making process is really just a puzzle you have to put together. This part here, this part there and so on. The other things are basically the same, just a different puzzle!
3. Can you talk about your role in the industry from the standpoint of an educator?
I get to meet all these big named artists through Dubspot, and there are two kinds of people. The ones that are always learning and trying to get better, and the ones that have what me and my friends call “Old Man Skills.” Now the Old Man Skills have nothing to do with being old. I know 22 year old kids with OMS. Its the refusal to try anything new, which is essentially the unwillingness to keep learning and elevating your craft. These people literally get stuck in time. I firmly believe that if something works, stick with it by all means, but who’s to say that theres not something you could do differently to make it that much better? This is especially true in Turntablism. Guys that are legends in the game but for some reason stopped learning new scratches, new juggles, etc. I would rather choose to not use something, (like a particular trick or technique or even new software) then to discard it without at least testing it out myself. I think it all boils down to being humble and willing to learn, while still thinking you’re the best out there. Its a fine line between the two, but if you really do become the best remember this: The best producers are also the best at learning.
Stompboxx Music is back with another beat tape just in time for Christmas & the end of 2012. The YAMS Tape, produced by M.Simp was produced entirely using Propellerhead’s Reason 6.5 and mixed/mastered using a slew of Rack Extensions that are readily available for the production software.
Peep the excerpt from the Stompboxx Team:
YAMS, or Young and Musically Inspired is a free instrumental project from M.Simp of Stompboxx Music. The collection, inspired by his son, includes an eclectic blend of soul/southern/gritty/funky/bangin’ records! Please download, jam, and share the project.
*All tracks were fully produced in Propellerheads Reason*
*Grandeur contains additional programming by @JRSwiftzVA*
Download the tape below:
Khrysis talks with Digital Hustle Films & The Drum Broker about making beats, workflow, sampling, drums, & much more. Don’t sleep on Khrysis playing some crazy NI Maschine Beats.
1. Take a minute to introduce yourself to the readers who may not be familiar with DJ Hellfire.
Well, I’m a Producer/DJ/Engineer out of Trenton, NJ, born and raised. The crazy thing about me is that I actually started out as a rapper around the age of 12. I used to loop up instrumentals on a Mini Disk recorder and rap over them using a karaoke stereo. Then I found out one of my friends, who’s name is Ampkilla, had a studio in his basement and he taught me how to make beats on an Ensoniq EPS16 and from then I was hooked. I couldn’t afford to buy my own gear, but he would let me come over from time to time to make some beats.
So for like the next few years I just kept rapping and making songs and in high school and eventually got into DJ’ing. My mom bought me some cheap Gemini belt drive turntable kit and I started making mixtapes and buying vinyl. We didn’t have any Serato or Traktor or even mp3’s back then. So you had to actually BUY vinyl to be able to DJ. My favorite thing was making blend tapes. I’d make my mixtapes and make little cover artwork for them in my graphic arts computer class and sell them around school and made a nice little bit of pocket change.
Then in my junior year, I met AP, who had heard one of my rapping tapes through another fellow rapper/friend of mine, Big Ooh, and invited me to his crib where he had a studio. He and a couple other friends, Deuce and Alamaj, had formed a group called Underworld Entertainment, and they welcomed me in. This was around 1997 and we are all still together to this day. Anyway, AP had showed me how to use an MPC 2000 Classic, and this is when I started taking production seriously. Me and AP would make beats for the crew, which was up to 9 members at one point, and make albums on a Boss 8 track digital recorder.
A couple years later I bought a 2000XL with some tax return money and it’s been on since. Eventually got bored with rapping and beats were really my true passion, so I focused mostly on that, and even pushed DJ’ing to the side for several years. I found out a friend of mine was dying from cancer and needed place to record, which I didn’t have. But I did have the space. So I went out and bought an Mbox, Pro Tools, a new computer, and a Mic and started my journey into engineering. I was able to record his last 2 songs before he passed 3 months later. I ended up liking studio recording, so I invested some more and built up a more serious recording studio over the next 4 years, which is where I’m at today. I actually didn’t really get back into DJ’ing until about a year ago after building up my current studio. Still more into the beats than anything, but running the studio and making peoples albums really takes up a lot of my time that I can dedicate to music. But it’s cool. Linked up with MPC Tutorials earlier this year and now just wanna shared some of the stuff I’ve learned along my journey.
Part of the
marketing tactics appeal of the new generation of drum machines from companies like Akai (Numark Corp.) & Native Instruments is the so called “Vintage Mode”. In general, Vintage Mode promises us the analog flavor and characteristics of drum machines past including the Akai MPC 60, E-Mu SP-1200, ASR-10, and more. While not perfect, Vintage Mode offers us a close software emulation of the legendary grit that these vintage drum machines are known for. With the switch of a button, your entire track is turned “Vintage”. As if to instantly inject some life and soul into your music the new generation of drum machines are capitalizing on our lust for analog.
The inherent problem with the so called “Vintage Mode(s)” aside from the technical limitations of emulation (I’m sorry but SP-1200 emulation doesn’t come close to the real thing), is the fact that Vintage Mode can be applied to your ENTIRE track. Part of the allure to drum machines past (ala E-Mu SP-1200 & Akai MPC60) are their limited tech specs. For instance, the E-Mu SP-1200 has only 10 seconds of sampling time which is spread across 4 banks. Thats 2.5 seconds on sampling time per bank. Yes sir, you can only sample 2.5 second chunks of your favorite wax. Limitations such as memory size, effects, & workflow force(d) beatmakers and producers to work within a limited enviroment. Whether its a strength or crutch, Modern DAW’s, Samplers, & Drum Machines have infinite memory and sample capacity.