The home, manual beat matching set-up.

Saturday I am opening for myself, or as I like to call it, playing myself in.

Here’s the pick-list: https://embed.music.apple.com/us/playlist/21-7-10-dj-crate/pl.u-Z6Wmjtq6KvN

My first steps from zero to hero:

  1. What’s Good? Favorite DJ resource on the Internet (a/k/a Youtube) is Digital DJ Tips. Honerable mention to DJ Tech Tools as well.
  2. Can I stream? No you cannot stream form Apple music or Spotify. You have to to sign up for Tidal, but I am not using streaming this time around.
  3. How to Setlist? Per Digital DJ Tips’ advice, I have twice as much music ready as I need packed neatly into a Serato, in order of BPM, which is probably how I will play it. Organization has been the best digital tip (of many). I’ve watched a ton of Phil’s content on repeat, and his patience is saintly.
  4. What’s your thing? Know what you’re after. I mix like a vinyl DJ, and that’s making the first outing easy: emphasis on vibe and mood, not non-stop dancing. Making this distinction–figuring out the what and how, will save heartache down the road.
  5. What’s been the best? The internet (Youtube) is filled with some really amazing feats of curation an dexterity from DJ’s all over. A lot of great Brazilian action out there right now. As a closeted sp-404 guy, I found LeMellotron in Paris, and their DJ sets are second to none. I love all of their programing.
  6. What about your original music? It’s all affecting the music I’m making now. This week’s track is a prime example.
    https://soundcloud.com/jdtorian/right-demo
  7. This guy

Next post: set building.

My early AM view

Hopefully you did not come here for advice, but I bet you may be looking for new ideas.

My Idea

Spend a week with a synth. (A month in my case.)

Which synth does not matter and is the wrong kind of detail! If you have an iPad you have acres to a world of them under $10.00, and you also have all YouTube to get you going in the right direction.

What did I find out, learn, or reinforce in a week/ in week one?

1. Make new sounds from existing ones. You do not have to start from a basic patch. (This is how you make a basic patch.) Think of presets as a springboard.

2. I am not the player I could be, but I’m not as bad as I thought. In fact, I may play a song live this weekend (typically only perform w/ guitar).

3. All synths sound the same to the general public.

4. In the context of a mix, effects may be more important than the synth patch/ tone.

5. I really do love my first true synth love, this Alpha Juno. (Yes my site and record label are named after the AJ series.)

6. I am a writer first player and player next, but I still need to be able to get my ideas across as fast, efficiently, and as accurately as I possibly can. A/K/A I need a practice routine. [Austin Kleon has already said how succinctly.]

Random Thoughts

Patches matter less I thought they did, but they still matter a lot. Better general keyboarding will speed up the demo process for me. Committing to the journey and work of #programertoplayer will pay-up huge. I have a much better ear than I used to.

The AJ2 in almost-action

Uno Mas

Knowing this synth well will also save me real money. I think we all know that going out and buying a synth or spending time researching/ SHOPPING for new models—for the “sound in your head”—is wasting energy as compared to practical application, never minding that “sound in your head” is probably just lazy journalist writing that we’ve all come to accept as true.

Imagine not shopping as much. Or imagine the habit of going to your synth when you have something in mind.

For me, my key here and to my writing is this: the process is my reward.

The end-of-the-line song is fine, but if you do not love the journey and keep faith that it will end somewhat victoriously, you may need to rethink things. Out of everything, reenforcement of these is the true one synth lesson for me.

Epilogue

So do you sell everything else?

(Gear is the worst! *and the best)

Why am I writing all of this?

READ THIS! Disclaimer

To find my audience/ spread the music.

Listen here.

Please sign up for the email list here.

The best Juno.

This week’s challenge in my electronic music Song Game Group is to use just one synth for the whole track. Even the drums!

The idea here is that there is so much gear out there, and there are plug-ins on top of plug-ins, and sample packs galore that, instead of helping, these gum-up the works, stopping all creativeness in its tracks.

It’s a dirty room or a sink full of dishes. A diner table piled high with plates and old food. A bed full of people at a party and all you want to do is go to sleep (if this happens).

A good chunk of YouTube seems dedicated to the pursuit of of learning how to use all this gear, or how to acquire it, or how some other idiot acquired it, or why it is the greatest, or why is sounds like a cat being _____, or how to take it out of it’s box …

It’ll make you ‘effing crazy. Real Crazy.

So with this sorry state of affairs that’s maybe a by-product of our consumer economy, you must do things like pretend you only have one synth to shake loose of it all.

Given all of this, I monogamlly committed to my favorite synth–the Roland Alpha Juno–for not a week, but for a whole month. A MONTH! My first analog poly was an Alpha Juno, but embarrassingly I still have not really plumed the depths here. Like A LOT of others, I got distracted by the this-one-does-this and that-one-does that of other synths. I mean, that’s how I got the AJ in the first place.

I do think my music would be better, and I would be slightly happier if I would have only stuck with this and the Minitaur, and my shadow motivation is to, after all of this is said and done, go down to just a few synths I know very well. (target list: Alpha Juno, Grandmother, OP-1).

I am preparing for a show on the 12th, and I am also finishing a couple of tracks for pre-studio, tracking. I am not 100% sure if only using this guy will make all of this easier or harder, but it’s already making it simpler.

I believe the Juno series has a categorical sound akin to what the Stratocaster/ Les Paul/ Rickenbacker all have to guitars. A differentiating, know-it-when-you-hear-it thing. Crucially, pop music would not sound the way it sounds without Juno series. So, can a modern musician survive a summer month with just one synth?

We’ll see.

Not the manual, but manual adjacent.

A few things to think about: The manual is really great, as is the above pamphlet/ book. I use an iPod touch for arps and sequences, and this works better than a phone for a lot of reasons. Related to this, having no sequencer or arpeggiator on a synth like this can be a real plus. This helps a lot. Ableton works really well with Alpha Juno (native External Instrument plug-in). Connect 2 things with this (iPhone runs op-1 and AJ).

best AJ video out there *notice how much he plays the AJ over the Juno-6

Great Web 1.0 resource here


Pushing Buttons

I am almost 50 and on my 3rd or 4th act. Today it’s reinventing a band that only barely got off the ground. Not only this, and to make matters worse, we are computer-based.(Electronic performance is a very young man’s game!)

I read an article last night where Liam Gallagher was talking about his ‘This will do’  period. It was a time when things didn’t matter as much and he let ‘good-enough’ get released. But post-Oasis, his 2nd solo record was incredible (And is still his best work (so far). Around the same time, old men Coldplay released their greatest work (and the next one was not too bad either). 

Today both have GREAT new releases (here and here). And Duran Duran just released this.  

What in the world is going on? 

Nothing. 

People are just doing their thing. I think for these artists they are hyper-conscious of their audiences while letting the process and eventual products exist as their own rewards. Rick Rubin says we make music as an offering to God . Whoa! Possibly, but I have to live with this for a bit. 

I spent a day or two going through my old catalog preparing material for new/old  band. What shit a lot of this was. But what do I care. The growth is astounding, honestly. Just think where we will be when I’m 60!

A lot of my friends look old, and I cannot imagine the way they must feel. Memes are fond of saying things like ‘you’re as old as you feel.’ This is both crap and true at the same time. 

I need to sleep a lot more, I cannot stay up late more than 2 night in a row. I cannot eat sugar at night or have caffeine past, say, 11 am. The list goes on. 

A lot of rules (!), but we live in a world that does not know the rules but lives by youth culture’s rules. And these change every day, What are we left with? Everything is permissible but at the same time deeply judged. 

I am left with my best work ahead of me and staring me in the face, and 64 buttons to make and perform a song. And I could do it all with my computer, or my phone, or anything else I have lying around. 

Amazing. 

This will be chopped up into a song at some point!

Being from Austin, and being more electronic, and being more pop, and living in the the world of Americana and big, floppy hats, and being very authentic, things get weird if you let them. I have some low grade anger towards the middling world of Americana. This is not to say that there is stuff that does not rise above, but there is definitely stuff that does not.

I did sound for a show this weekend, and I just didn’t get it. Seemed like an act. So, how do you check that at the door and get to the essence?

Here’s how I’m going to do it.

The new Set-Up

My gig this week will be the first where I finally drop the guitar as a centerpiece along with the sing-songs and push into the shaky frontier of improvisation and electronic. Mixing this with my 80’s-sounding sing-songs.

Will it work gig #1? I don’t know. Going to try. (I am excited about show 3 or 4.) The starting line-up is drafted, and I am going with what’s pictured above. Have some assumptions about the equipment and its ability to hold up.

The Xone mixer is very old, but it’s also very rock-solid. Interface from Ableton to mixer is a bit sketchy. If it all goes to shite I can just play the guitar and sing, so nothing lost there.

I will say this: on the Monday before a Friday show, I am interested to see how it turns out. It could go 1000’s of different ways. That’s really great and inspiring. Hope it’s inspired!

Hope to see a few of you out Friday!