Archive for March, 2008

WMC Diary – Day 6 and home..

Well, after the Shocklee brothers erm.. ‘insistence’ that I’m there (Hank: “You be there, you be there!” as we strolled through the WMC lobby – lol!) My only destination on Saturday afternoon had to be poolside at the Miami Beach Hotel – the WMC venue. After pretty much a whole week of four to the floor house and techno poolside, I was happily surprised to hear the beautiful bass of an all-afternoon dubstep show; highlights for me were Mala (original dub warrior for sure) and Skream (totally, totally brilliant), as well as the first-ever live performance by the Shocklee brother’s Bomb Squad, playing live dubstep themselves; I loved it. Hooked up with Alex (of label2net), who I met pretty much every day throughout the conference, and Ray (aka Fatso Brown) and we spent the afternoon drinking Budweiser and laughing in the 28 degrees heat; great great way to finish the conference.

Finally caught a cab to the Ultra Music Festival; a mental dance festival right in the middle of the city; I’ve never been to a festival surrounded by skyscrapers before, and it was a surreal and excellent experience. I hooked up with my old raving friend Steve, who moved to the states some years ago, and who I haven’t seen in years and years – oh the wonders of Facebook! Caught Carl Cox, Goldie (again) and Underworld among others, but for me it was really about wandering around and catching up with Steve(and his girlfriend Ashlie), absorbing the atmosphere..

The next morning, I headed for home; Miami > Ft Lauderdale (1 hour) > New York (3 hours) (gutted I couldn’t meet up with my old mate Alex Church in NYC, and didn’t have his phone number to tell him!! doh!) > and finally from New York to London (7 hours), to Shropshire (3 hours).Now I think I’ll sleep for a week, and talk about this for months. What an experience; only time will tell how it affects my music; it can only move me on; I’ve learnt so much. I’ve met so many great people, swapped tips and opinions on all aspects of the industry, so I’d like to say thanks to everyone I met; I received nothing but welcome wherever I went; you guys made it a really worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

I’ll do everything I can to do it all again next year, for sure.


March 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

WMC Diary Day 5

The rest of the week blurs a little now, so is in no particular order. The ViRam night at the Soho Lounge, Downtown Miami was incredible; Andy C was brilliant, SubFocus wicked too, and Goldie really kicked off. Met a very loud John B at the bar – as funny as he looks in his pictures (“Lovin’ your work, John”, “Me too!”). The Dubstep room was absolutely incredible, mind blowing; deep deep dubstep, low loud bassbins that totally shook your whole body, with wicked ragga MCs chatting over the top of syncopated 138 bpm riddims as the heaving crowd swayed, hands raised, to the half-beat; awesome… staggerred back to my room at around 4am…

I braved the Demo Listening workshop on Friday – my biggest disappointment of the week; After working so hard to prepare my demo’s, it turns out I mastered them badly – there was a WHOLE load of sub-bass in my demo track that I didn’t even get a sniff of on my monitors or any of the test systems I tried it out on; massive lesson there; if you’re gonna make music for big sound systems, particularly drum & bass or other bass-heavy styles, I’m pretty sure you need a sub-woofer before you can be sure your tune’s gonna sound alright. Had to handle hearing DJ Rap telling me that she couldn’t imagine which DJs would play it out, as my head span in confusion at what I was hearing coming out the speakers – damn!!!

It was a lesson though – I’ll be buying a sub-woofer at the weekend, and Rap advised that downloaded a whole load of d&b that I really love, and analyse how those tunes are mixed and arranged; advise I’ve heard before, but advise I’ll definately be taking; The biggest thing I’ve come away with is that I need to focus completely on what style of music I want to make, and study that genre. Despite the proliferation of downtempo this year for me, I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to drum & bass; it’s where my heart is.

I’m also thinking of taking up DJing, so that I get to test out my tunes in clubs before I send them out to the masses; I learnt the skillz required right at the start of my music career, as part of my enthusiastic absorbtion of Hip Hop, and it now makes sense for me to get right back into it again; but I need to sound-treat my studio first, and get my mixes much better before I do anything.

March 30, 2008 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

WMC Diary Day 4

Waking up early with timezone confusion and wiredness from the club night, I didn’t sleep much at all, but my bleary day turned into the best of the week so far, in fact a day I’ll never forget.

Met a few really nice people, gave cds to all sorts – I’m skipping over this stuff, cos it’s not great reading, but over the week I’ve passed out and discussed with publishers, promoters, and DJs from all over the world; one of those discussions might lead to something for me, but it’s impossible to tell at this point.

I then attended a fantastic panel discussion. The History of Electronic Music, hosted by many of the originators of Electronic music. “I’m in the presence of greatness” popped into my mind on numerous times during the talk, as we listened to opinions and anecdotes from Hank Shocklee, Carl Craig, Man Parrish, Jesse Saunders, Junior Sanchez, plus a few more other great producers from other genres.

It was a little frustrating to hear Junior Sanchez say that music is shit nowadays, and that no one makes good music any more, but Hank Shocklee jumped to the defense of all current producers, but showing his excitement about today’s vibrant scenes, and sayng that the fact that more people are making music nowadays simply means that you have to dig a little deeper to find the gems. He also very humbly pointed out that back in the days, there were so few producers, so it was much easier to get spotted. Hearing stories of self-pressing and distribution businesses from basements was brilliant, and inspirational, and after (to my unhideable delight) meeting Hank and Keith Shocklee (great, great guys, an absolute honour), I wandered out of the discussion feeling like the world is at your fingertips; you just need to know what you want, and go get it.

March 29, 2008 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

WMC Diary Day 3

[Note: Due to all sorts of internet problems; I wasn’t able to connect to the internet at the WMC Hotel despite being able to happily connect to their ‘free wifi hotspot’, I’m posting these entries of the diary now I’m home; After a couple of very late night club nights, the frustration of the internet access lack combined with no sleep meant i didn’t carry on the diary for the full week, so I’ve kind of split my diary entries over a few days, mixing stuff I wrote on my laptop at the time with additional stuff as I remember it]

Wednesday was an infinately better day on so many levels. To be honest I hadn’t really given much thought to the actual panel discussions and lectures that are on offer as part of the conference; I’d put my main focus on the networking around the events; I was here to give out cds to people I bump into. Wow, what an oversight; some of the greatest names in music are here this week, giving their opinions and anecdotes on all aspects of the industry, from production, to distribution, through to marketing and promotion.

On Wednesday I attended a panel discussion on ‘The World of Remixing’; Highlights on the panel for me were Man Parrish, John Morales (who I accidentally met and chatted with before the discussion) and Richard Devine. Richard Devine in particular is a pioneer in so many aspects of electronic music that I love, being an early warp artists, and an incredible synth programmer to boot; I was lucky enough to meet with him after the discussion and give him a couple of CDs – what a nice bloke, very enthusiastic and encouraging, hope he like my stuff.

Later in the day, I attended Digital Dispatch – the room was packed; standing room only; digital distribution is a really, really hot topic here this year; everyone’s talking about it. Reprasentatives from QTrax, eMusic and Yahoo music among others were on the panel, and the at times heated discussion was really informative; Michael Spiegelman from Yahoo Music answered in particular the most vital question of the conference for me; is there actually a role for record labels any more? To my surprise, his answer was yes, maybe more than ever; although any individual can now create, publish and distribute their music without even leaving the house, the record label is paramount for building a stable of artists and boosting the reputation and sales of that artist by association; marketing and PR and events are all the kind of thing that a record label should be doing; something an artists shouldn’t have time for. As Spiegelman put it “what do you want to be; 80% artist and 20% businessman, or 80% businessman and 20% artist? I know my answer. Less food for thought, more a complete banquet.

 In the evening I went downtown to Bassrush; the first drum & bass night of the conference that I could find. Set in an all-nighter in a cool, albeit simple and not-plush-in-the-slightest club, the night was put together by Bingo and Shogun Audio. Freestylers kicked off with a really eclectic set of d&b alongside breakbeat, house and techno; surprising to me, but the crowd loved it. Zinc followed with an old-school jumpup set, and then Friction absolutely blew up the spot with a blinging two-hour set of absolute floor-killers; his last tune, a pendulum track, caused the crowd to practically pass out with joy. Goldie was just going on at 3am when I realised my body could handle no more; not yet adjusted to the time difference, I headed for home, but not before chatting with and passing CDs to Freestylers, Friction (great bloke) and Goldie. along with a few local djs, along with a cool DJ from Toronto. Great Night

March 28, 2008 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

WMC diary – day 2

Well, I’m on the second day of the conference now. Yesterday was, well, mixed I guess – it started great; met some great guys, all flown out here on their own, on a mission like me, and I felt convinced that I was in the right place. As the day went on however, I started to realise that the WMC has a very, very, heavy House bias; and finding the people I need to meet, amongst 10,000 delegates, makes finding a needle in a haystack look like childs play.

The majority of the events this week are going to be House too; apart from a couple of outstanding drum & bass events; the first one’s tonight, and I’ll be there for sure, with Fabio, Shy FX and Andy C amongst many others. I wonder if Fabio will remember me from the time we played a gig in Prague, some 7 years ago?

The other slight problem here is that after putting together my album for the event, I’ve realised that I’m not really strictly a drum & bass artists – I make downtempo just as much, and when you’re listening to my music, it makes sense for the balance to work that way – so when people say “so what music do you make?” I can’t answer “drum & bass” or ‘downtempo” or “hip hop”, but kind of ramble “hmmm deep drum & bass and downtempo hip hop/trip hop electronica breakbeat oh bugger listen to this CD then you’ll know..” which iis fine, but not that productive; as I now need to look for the deep drum & bass and downtempo hip hop/trip hop electronica breakbeat events this week if I’m going to meet like-minded souls; and I can’t find any yet!!!

Haha, that’s the negative stuff out of the way; so on the positive side, everyone here is really open and friendly, so if I relax and trust the nature of serendipity, and realise that I must be out here for *some* reason, then I’ll achieve what I came out here for, whatever that is..

If I get anything from what I’ve experienced and learnt so far, it’ll be that the future of music is absolutely in digital distribution; I think eventually the majority of music will be released by the artist themselves; the music industry is changing beyond recognition; at least in the dance/electronic arena; why pay for cd and vinyl upfront when everyone can download your music? Why wait weeks for a release to come out when you can upload it and make if available by the end of the weekend? Why give 50% of your profits to a label when you can go through an online distributor, and give them 20%, and you keep the rest?

Met Alex here from – his company is one of the many online distribution comnpanies that have sprung up over the last few years. Many of these companies, including Alex’s, are run by artists and labels who saw the gap in the market for a simple wasy to manage the paperwork related to getting tunes available for download on sites like iTunes and Beatport.

Food for thought. Maybe I don’t need that record deal after all. Maybe my idea for my own label, Blue Nine, is for sure the way forward – to release my own music on my own label, and take full responsibility for it’s success or failure.. Time will tell, as of course distribution is only one piece of the pie – the biggest challenge for independent recording artists now is standing out amongst a sea of independent releases. The big challenge for an artist now has to be promotion and PR. Hmm, I *am* getting something from this conference!

What about the clubs, I hear you ask? Ha, well, jet lag properly kicked in last night; I barely made it back to my room before passing out at 8pm- so my first Miami club experience will be tonight!

March 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm 2 comments

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