The experiments done…

It’s been real, and I’ve moved on to other things, namely a tech blog found here

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Tis the Season…

Couldn’t leave this blog Christmas post-less, so here we go, a quick
list of fun mashes and remixes for the holiday season.

VoiceDude – Forget You, Santa!

My favorite Christmas mashup. Putting little Michael over the Cee Lo
beat works so well, since they happen to have such compatible swings
to them. Really a holiday gem.

 

Drop Goblin – Snow Miser Bass Jam

EDM Christmas song… just passing through… Yeah, it’s a bit
gimmicky, but if you like Mid-Tempo moombah-ish tracks, it’s worth a
listen. If you don’t know what that means, give it a shot anyway.

DJ Schmolli – Back Door Santa Getting It On

Now you know I love me some Schmolli – his choices for sampling work
beautifully. There’s a general lack of seriousness in his tracks
which comes without the typical stupidity of forced-joke mashups.
Anyways, this Christmas themed one is no different… although the
matching viedo is admittedly pretty silly.

MojoChronic – Yuletide Zeppelin I and II (YZIYZII)

MojoChronic is actually a commonly featured artist on Santastic
(Schmolli has been featured too, actually) – a Christmas-themed
mashup compilation that gets released (almost) every year. There’s a
lot of material in this collection, and I encourage anyone with a
free afternoon to skim through an album or two to find some favorites
of your own. Both of these tracks are great because they carry their
zeppelin/christmas theme without sounding forced or overly gimicky.

 

Bonus Sillyness
Dirty Boyz – All I Want for Christmas (Is to Get it Crunk)

I don’t have anything to say about this, other then you should
probably keep it off the playlist for the family christmas party.

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Self Governance in the Internet Age (A Proposal)

I was contemplating a passion blog post about copyright and record companies and the nature of collaboration in today’s music market, but I ended up devising an internet based system for regulating collaborations between smaller artists, and then stumbled upon an opportunity for some serious progression on how we view society. Here I’ll explain a specific goal, and over on my rcl blog I’ll look at the topic more generally.

 

So, let’s say I want to work with some artist, I’ll make one up and call him Phil, and he reciprocates the notion. So we draft out a new track and he gets a friend to record female vocals, and it all sounds just fantastic. So we get it all mixed and mastered, and we want to release it. We agree to stream for free and sell on iTunes, splitting the funds 50/50.

 

Great! We’ll be rich! Except there are countless ways this falls apart – the girl might want a cut, either of us could easily start selling it through another avenue and recieve all the profit, either of us could leak the song and hurt its profitability, either of us could attempt to gain full rights to the song through legal action, or otherwise go against the nature of the verbal contract. If I got screwed in such a manner, I’d have the option of eating the losses and moving on, trying to fight it out publicly (which is rarely as good of an idea as it seems) or trying to take the offender to court. None of these are good options.
Here’s my proposal – create an online collaboration jurisdiction body that bypasses the courts. Documents wouldn’t have to be drafted by a lawyer, in fact that would be against the spirit of the site. Rather, two or more collaborators would put down in writing their plan, their payment plans, and possible punishments. Templates could be made available, as well as volunteer (or even paid) mediators. The collaborators would set up a joint funding system that could be monitored by all the members as well by an anonymous judge. If something went wrong, the judge would bear the responsibility of sorting out repercussions. This role could even be crowd sourced in order to drastically increase efficiency in reaching a decision.

What do you think? Decent idea for smaller artists wary of the current system?

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Sampling as an Instrument

I hinted at the idea of redefining instrumentation in a previous post, but I’ll try to go more in depth, or at least provide a more concrete expose now. The idea of sampling has come a long way since its inception. By a broad definition, sampling is extracting a piece of a audio signal for later replay – i.e. recording. Typically, though, sampling is considered to be using portions of audio that have been recorded for the sampling or otherwise recorded before hand in a purposeful, artistic way. Sampling has largely re-imagined what can be practically considered an instrument. We typically think of instruments as being producers of sound in a controllable way. By its very definition, sampling expands the set of sounds that can be controlled, such that the sampler is an instrument without bounds of sonic creation.

Synthetic instruments are often samplers at heart. While it is entirely possible to create an instrument using a solely algorithmic approach to the sound creation (i.e. creating a signal from scratch in response to user input), often samplers allow for more natural sounding results. Add this to on-the-fly modification and the resulting sampling instrument can be quite versatile in its ability to create new, inventive sounds that do not require individual programming.

Samplers also allow for more consistent and realistic accompaniment for acts that don’t have certain segments present – either by chance or by choice. Take for example the modern rapper. His beats are sampled from real drums, modified to be more fitting to the desired tone of the song, and looped over themselves. This is often sonically suiting to the genre – more so then traditional drums. Taking it to the extreme, artists such as iamerror are completely sample based, and have the freedom to create impossible segments, as far as traditional instruments are concerned.

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A Handful Of Mashups That Will BLOW YOUR MIND pt. 2 of 2

Continued from two weeks ago. Click the art to open the songs in SoundCloud.

 

…Because You’re About to Get Mindf***ed – DJ Strongarm


Slim Thug, Mannie Fresh, and Young Jeezy, over a crunchy complextro backing track? Couldn’t be too bad. Actually, it’s incredibly well arranged, from the silly intro quotes to the sparsely-lyriced breakdowns, to a piano-heavy build that provides a refreshing contrast to the intense synths. Like many great mashes, this one is chiefly a product of organic combinations. A great party tune, for sure.

 

 

 

Heart is my Religion – Blake Jarrell (no art available)

 

Up front, I’ll tell you to skip to about 2 minutes in. This mashup’s intro is way too long. The post-intro content redeems it fully, though. There’s not much going on in this mashup, but if you were to play it to people blind, 9/10 would call it a remix. It seems completely planned – the REM vocals go perfectly with the way the axwell track adds layers of synth – and just when the chorus starts, the track breaks into an intense dance anthem. I’ll admit – if an REM purist heard this, they’d hate it. As a fan of the re-imagining of classic tracks, though, this one is a keeper.

 

 

Journey Without You – 3LAU and Acetronik

I think I mentioned something similar in my first round of favorites – if a mashup can create a good song out of multiple tracks I dislike, I tend to hold it in high regard. Such is the case with this mashup and it’s featured “Don’t Stop Believing.” Yeah, I like Journey, but that goddamn song isn’t their only hit, despite what our generation seems to believe. Anyway, the result just makes me smile when I hear it, it’s an incredibly uplifting mashup.

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All Hallows Eve…

Its 330 a.m. and I just remembered I have to write a halloween themed post for this blog. Well shoooot.

When I started to get into mashups last year, I found another to love holidays – there a a pletora of great remixes and mashups inspired by the major holidays. Halloween is an interesting one because… well.. there’s kind of a small pool of “halloween” songs to draw from. You end up with a whole lot of thriller remixes. Too many, actually. But while we’re talking about it, I’ll go ahead and say that Wick-It’s remix is the best.  dat drop and tempo change… 

Halloween is a great time to dig up some drumstep that’s a little more “scary” sounding, so I’ll throw a few of my favorites out there. First and foremost, it’s hard to do halloween songs and not mention Figure’s massive remix of the classic track “This is Halloween,” isn’t it? Figure might as well have written the book on drumstep – caustic bass tone and sharp rythms galore. If you’ve managed to survive the popularity of “Internet Friends” and don’t hate it habitually, Poisound’s Remix is really quite impressive. Definitely not a dance tune, but it’s incredibly intense. I’m not sure exactly why, but I always lump one other epic track with halloween – New World Disorder by Arkasia - something about the composition of the track just comes off as incredibly sinister. Regardless, it’s a great melding of orchestral build, electronic energy and hard-style-esque synth lines that’s very inventive.

Oh sh– this is supposed to be a mashup blog… well here’s a great one to round things out (by two gods in the mashup scene) – Turnin Tricks for Treats by D.Veloped and Basic Physics.

Oh, and happy Halloween.

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A Handful Of Mashups That Will BLOW YOUR MIND pt. 1 of 2

I wanted to, in general, stay away from just throwing a bunch of mashups out on this blog, or reviewing them, because this isn’t my attempt at being the next earmilk. But I couldn’t think of anything to write about between now and the Halloween Mash post coming next week. I have enough to write dozens of posts, but I’ll confine myself to two…

We’ll call these my all time favorites, as far as I can remember off the top of my head. Throw in some earbuds or crank your stereo up for these doosies.

Click the art to open the songs in SoundCloud.

Acid Rappack by Mitch-Mash

Why it’s awesome: Something is just a beautiful about the way the vocals fit into the structure of the backing track – even within the bars, the accents of both align seamlessly. Let’s face it though, what makes this so perfect is the fact that “Beast Mode” is placed in the double-time section of the backing track, creating one hell of a pump-up jam.

 

 

Rock of Ages by DJ Schmolli

Why it’s awesome: The presence of 23 absolute classics in a mashup that doesn’t deface any of its parts (unless you’re a purist… but then this wouldn’t interest you anyway). It’s silly enough to be entertaining, and epic enough to draw you back for another listen – many, many times. Also, the video is a great compliment to the music.

 

 

Mashed Over by RedEye (Javier Jaures)

Why it’s awesome: To me, this is the perfect pop-dance mashup. I hate half the songs it samples, but I love the resultant mix. I still do, a year after it was made. Also, the transition between “Hello” and “Till the World Ends” is legendary. Two different lyrics spliced to form a sentence and a drop. Perfection.

 

 

Last Vandilism by DotCom

Why it’s awesome: If “Mashed Over” is the perfect pop-dance mashup, this is the perfect party mashup. What I really love about it is how long it spends building the energy of the track .The very start is built on fairly standard house beats and chilling vocals, but the track soon opens up into a half time ambient section, preceding to an initial false drop, creating an atmosphere of anxiety for a release. When the main drop does come, it just explodes. It’s a rager anthem.

 

 

Voyage On 44′s by DJ abSRD (No Art)

Why it’s awesome: When I created my “Swaggasm” mix, I was desperately trying to emulate the epic swagger that this track has.  You have to get past the admittedly odd into section, but the drop is just… immense. This song being played on obnoxious subwoofers in a ‘pimped out’ honda civic is the closest an upper-class white kid will  feel to being gangster. Feels good, man.

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“It’s Like You’re Actually There!”

How many times have you heard that before? There’s certainly a focus in contemporary electronics on creating an illusion of proximity. And, as far as music is concerned, it makes sense – few things are more special than seeing an artist in an intimate venue. I’ve mentioned both the rising paradigm of the internet as a pseudo-venue for musicians and, more recently, the new tendencies for niche audiences. This week, I’d like to share some of the more interesting developments in online music marketing that have yet to reach the general public eye, but certainly stand out as highlights of these new standards.

The first, which I’ve mentioned a few times already, is turntable.fm. I’m terribly biased towards loving this site simply because it was the door to some of the coolest interactions I’ve had both as an artist and a music fan. The site is essentially an abstraction of a music lounge. For each “room,” which have a theme of some kind, there are up to five djs “on deck.” These five users take turns choosing songs to play, either from a large searchable library or from their computer. These songs are voted on as good or bad by the other users in the room, and playing ‘better’ music results in a better DJ score. Users can create rooms at any time, though most choose to find rooms they like and regularly visit. All the while, users can chat about the music (or anything else) in a sidebar or in a private messenger built into the site.

A Larger Turntable.fm room. This one is a mixed theme.

The setup functions well for a few fundamental reasons. First – users are competitively inclined to play the very best music they have, and the resulting spread of music is typically quite entertaining. Second – artists themselves can join the rooms and interact with other users, and, if they tend to produce quality music, can gain a new fan-base on the site. Because users can save any song into their online queue to play later, it’s entirely possible for artists on the site to play a song that progressively spreads across the site, into many rooms, eventually being heard by thousands of users. Last, the community is very active – certain users take it upon themselves to help organize online events with artists, often times with several notable acts playing new material for the first time. The artists get free publicity with active, enthusiastic listeners, and the users are offered constant opportunities to hear the latest and greatest tracks from artists that range from the upcoming to the nationally known.

A Typical Mixify Room – Yes, their avatars are very silly.

If one took the concept of turntable and tweaked it to allow a ‘dj’ to physically talk to users and mix between tracks live, they’d end up with a newer and equally novel site – mixify.com. The concepts are otherwise pretty similar. Letting the DJ mirror a live atmosphere is huge though, because it brings the audience closer to the “in the room” experience of a live show. Currently, mixify is host to many lesser-known DJ’s, but I expect it or other clone services to start hosting ‘bigger’ artist soon. It allows a cheap, intimate setting that’s beneficial for both the audience and the artist, and further closes the gap between the two.

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It’s Not Your Parent’s Music Scene

I debated with myself over the audience for this discussion, and chose to target the general public. If you’re an avid EDM listener, or just a fan of more obscure modern acts, indie, experimental, or otherwise, this might not seem accurate. I ask you to step back and view the status of modern music from a more… average vantage point.

Have you heard of 3lau? Well, hipster jokes aside, most haven’t. Skrillex – you’ve definitely heard of him, right? Well, how did you hear about him? I’m going to guess it was through the song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” and you heard from a friend who either loved it or made fun of it (“brostep” is alienating, who wouldn’t at least agree with that?). More specifically, the first time you listened to that song was most likely online – probably on YouTube. Do you think your parents did the same thing for Skrillex? Have they even heard of him?

The odd thing about the nature of music today is the presence of a multitude of channels for music promotion that simply did not exist ten years ago. Some are absolutely huge, like iTunes. Others catch on quite quickly, but aren’t necessarily household names – like Pandora or Spotify. Others are slower to propagate – like turntable.fm or SoundCloud. If we analyze the differences in the workings of these services, it becomes clear that the difference between them is their audience.

Older or less musically curious people are less likely to spend their time searching SoundCloud then browsing the iTunes top 10. And while our generation has almost unanimously used YouTube to listen to music at one point or another, the same can’t be said about our parents or grandparents. If you search through artist accounts on SoundCloud or BandCamp, it’s hard to find many with artists over 30, and the same is true, albeit to a lesser extent, with listener accounts.

Of course, this points to a larger shift in the mindset of music. Put simply – we’re experiencing a shift towards the ‘fringe’ (of course, the more the shift occurs, the less the artists seem as such). Radio is dying, and MTV is already dead. With these go the rockstars and pop icons. The new landscape is one of fractured, but profitable, niches fed by smaller, but nonetheless successful, acts. Because artists can reach fans globally as easily as posting to the web, a lesser degree of familiarity doesn’t mean what it used to.

Let’s return to those I listed above, for a few stats. ~90,000 people follow 3lau on facebook. Skrillex? Over 9 Million. The gap between the growing niche interests and the common listener can be at least a factor of 100. 3lau must have a tough time making ends meet, huh? Actually, not so much. That tiny slice of the global audience not only helps 3lau stay consistently booked across the county, but allowed him to raise over $25,000 for his favorite charity in about a month. Not bad for someone 1% as popular as someone your parents have never heard of.

3lau on soundcloud (worth a listen!)

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In Defense of the Art

Mashups are an art form on the same level as any other musical endeavor - and I’m going to try my best to prove it.

Let’s first start by creating an outline for what “music” is. If we look at the range of genres that people have created, we can conclude that their isn’t a stubborn stylistic definition for the term. Especially when one considers fringe genres like noise music, the idea that music has a unified point becomes flawed. Thus, I submit that music can be defined only as having purpose in and of itself, regardless of that purpose’s content. Sound in organization that is understood differently if changed is what we can refer to as music. Spoken word can even be considered music, given that its delivery is markedly designed to beg interpretation.
There has always been a notion with some that even if we accept this liberal definition, we can cut out much of the field because of certain, arguably measurable, reasons. The most popular notion, it seems, is that music must be the product of difficult, practiced delivery. The idea that, if it doesn’t come from an “instrument,” in the traditional sense, it is not music. I tend to disagree – if we take a step back from a musical noise, any medium of its creation could be considered an instrument if the user is in this mindset. To say a sequencing keyboard (one that ‘memorizes’ sequences or progressions of notes) is less of an instrument than a piano is self-serving and constricting. Lets say an artist can play twice the notes on a sequencer compared to what he can one on a piano. The ability to do more with less physical movement doesn’t disqualify musical merit – the sounds could be the same. Its subjectively easier, but he had to program the sequence, and understand how it worked.

(More simply – it urks me when people discredit music because it can’t be created by a ‘band’ and acoustic instruments. A piano’s sustain peddle allows an artist to work in ways beyond what 2 hands and 10 fingers allow. Perhaps that disqualifies its use from music too?)

So what if the sequencer isn’t playing piano sounds? What if it is playing samples (pieces) of an existing piece? Of multiple pieces? The artists must still understand how these pieces fit together, as they would the sounds in a piano piece. The artist must learn how to digitally run these sounds together, in such a way that serves a purpose, which is usually to entertain  This is all that a mashup is. Using samples as an instrument, no matter how “easy” that may seem to the listener. Some of the time, admittedly, it is. Others… quite the opposite. So, to the naysayers, I propose a challenge. Find me a piano teacher that can decompose this, and I’ll rethink my definitions.

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