In the streaming age, we're all aware of the need for physical, collectable products. Over the last few years, there has been a gradual increase on the sales of vinyl, showing that music fans not just in the dance world are returning their focus on to a tangible product, one that's rich with life, passion and design. We all marvel at our own (and our friends) collections of wax, and our contribution to keeping the format alive. A pretty positive thing in this day and age of instant gratification and sharing. But what happens when a passion turns into an obsession and your hobbies begin to ruin your life? What would be the downside of collecting 50,000+ records, seemingly the by product of being unable to stop buying random bits and pieces?
Those ‘trusted’ purveyors of news and culture, The BBC ran a feature in April of this year that explored ‘The Eight Tribes of Vinyl Collectors’, lightly exploring the different ‘types’ of vinyl collectors and those that are buyers. From ‘The new buyer’ to ‘The Nostalgia Collector’ and ‘Shop Owner’, it seems they miss out on a ‘type’ of collector that sadly doesn’t get any thought: ‘the obsessional hoarder’. When collecting and dedicating your life to your aesthetically charged desires, things can often turn rather tricky. Consuming your thoughts, taking up your time and holding your undivided attention, many of us have our vices. From golf to cars, music to video games, we've all annoyed and upset our loved ones through our one-track mindedness, seemingly obsessed on inanimate, non emotional, consumerable objects. Musical formats have always been a collectable item but what happens when the obsession for black plastic becomes too much? From divorces, homelessness and mental breakdown, a seemingly harmless past-time of indulging in music can have quite an effect on your wider life at large if you let it. At what point do we become 'hoarders' rather than 'collectors' and become dispossessed from their family, friends and life?
Esquire magazine recently wrote about a new book, Dust & Grooves, concentrating on the, various cavernous locations where people are hoarding their collections, some of which are reaching nearly 100,000 strong. As an opening line in the book states, written and photographed by Eilon Paz, "Some collections built through crate digging are meticulously organized by name or color with others the wood is warped and sits beside piles of records and used electronics, all covered with dust and grime". a poignant statement by the author, but after looking at the pictures, there is a positive spin on the obsessional drive of these insane record collections, driven by love, passion and undying dedication.
For some of us, the ability to store and house gargantuan collections is too mammoth and unrealistic a task thank god for institutes such as London’s first ever Vinyl Library in Stoke Newington, enabling vinyl lovers and collectors to deposit and share, whilst accessing a vast and endless collection of wonderful music.
“A musical community sharing space and library full of all kinds of freaky goodness. For £10 a month members get access to events and can borrow vinyl!” explains the company’s mission statement. “To raise the consciousness of the listener through the raw vinyl form and to preserve the heritage of songs and good times whilst maintaining the two elements, tradition and modernity in balance.” Although a great idea, in just under a year since the project started, the library’s popularity growth has well exceeded it’s current home even a public institute such as this is currently looking for a new home to cater for the storage of an increasing amount of vinyl.
Unlike some of the world’s largest and most respected collectors such as Brad Miocevich in Perth, one of many people that have built custom spaces to house collections that exceed 20,00 in a private music library how do some house a collection of this size? What do you do when your floor can't be seen due to the piles of albums and EPs strewn across it and how is it affecting people?
According to the Vinyl Factory's blog, an infamous case of hoarding overload can be referred to as one of the most extreme cases of over collecting, with a 68 year old collector in Canada collecting a staggering 250,000 records, even rendering him unable to even use his bathroom or shower due to records filling every nook, cranny and space the house had to fill.
As critics of those who fall foul to hoarding point out, at what point does the act and pleasure of listening to music become lost through the drive to increase? Surely when your collection exceeds tens of thousands, you aren’t really listening to music anymore. And spare a thought for those that are dealing with what’s been left behind. With the aforementioned Canadian hoarder, the house was bought outright by a record label and a mass clean up begun before they even started cataloguing the music. Others have been tipped off to long forgotten graveyards, such as photographer Frederic Thiphagne and his blog Les Mains Noires. Given unprecedented (but guarded access) he was contracted into silence before being able to take photos of an abandoned warehouse stuffed full of records an unsoecified amount at that a few weeks later, the warehouse and all of the potential musical gold and stories behind them were lost as the warehouse was demolished, wiped from the face of the earth without a trace.
Further investigation and research has gathered psychological reasons and studies into the phenomenon of collecting, especially with music, but at a minimum. Russell Belk and Simon Reynolds two of the only writers and scholars to extensively look at the effects of obsessional record-collecting suggest that music collecting can wander off track into destructive behaviour obsessiveness and consumer fetishism often combined with an “idiot savant” level of data accumulation. Reynolds refers to the practice as a “perverse consumerism” that literally “eats up your life”.
Of course the above pointed out are all extreme cases of insatiable desire, when collecting turns into something much larger than mere musical appreciation but with the sales of vinyl rising (already an expensive medium itself), one does have to often consider the life changing, space saving format of the Mp3 and digital formats. Boring, lifeless and non-tangible they may be, but they have offered music collectors and hoarders a chance to amass music from the four corners without having to give up their lives in the process. With this in mind, perhaps it would be fair to say that we are all hoarders of music in our own right so lets spare a poignant thought for those that have suffered for their love of music.
Written by Joe Gamp
Excellent, personally sourced fabrics and minimal designs are the key elements behind the success of SDG East London.
Founder and head-designer Stefania Di Ghionno achieved a degree in Costume and Fashion History from the University of Bologna and soon moved to London to follow her passion. She started engaging with the fashion market in the UK by selling vintage garments and customized vintage clothes in the hottest spots of the city: Camden Market, Portobello, Spitafield and Birck Lane's Up Market.
Back in 2010 she decided to move on and create their very own brand: SDG East London, a brand that could represent their ideas and deliver the best quality and design, rigorously handmade in London with love.
Stefania personally sources each material: fabrics arrive and are ordered from all over the world. In her studio precious silks from the east are piled together with modern high-tech materials. Each jacket from the Match collection is a colourful, spot-on clash of different patterns and textures. Patterned cotton, velvet, faux and real leather, jacquard and quilted fabrics enrich and distinguish every single design. The combination of different patterns and textiles results in never ending possibilities of matches, which spice-up the basic, well cut shape of the SDG jackets and make each one unique.
Beyond quality, commitment and passion, the focus of the brand is on delivering pieces that can be worn in several ways and all around the year, for an effortlessly chick look. SDG Match Jackets are perfect on both, laid back clothes or elegant ones. The attention to details and care for quality will always make them the right choice to complete an outfit.
Easy-to-wear is the word that better represents the brand concept, as jackets are unisex and has also been recently launched Puffetta, the baby line for those mums and papas who can't escape the matchy-matchy charm.
Fell in love with a pattern and would like to mix it with another? SDG provides also a bespoke line. Just book in an appointment to come over to the showroom in East London and choose your favourite materials amongst the rich stock. Sleeves, bust, pockets and even the zip colour can be combined accordingly to the customer's tastes.
For our dearest MEOKO readers SDG has raffled a beautiful, unisex jacket that boosts a dark, plain body brought to life by the warm coloured, African print sleeves. The jacket is from the Match Collection, which SDG has created after receiveng several orders from her clients. Amogst them a few promoters, who triggered the idea of delivering some to the Crew Love, collaborative concept from Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap and Double Standard. For this year Sonar Festival she made 14 jackets for Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb, Pillow Talk, Slow Hands, Tanner Ross, Nick Monaco, No Regular Play, Navid Izadi and other members of the Crew.
To get a chance of winning a Match Jacket like SDG East London on Facebook and let us know at
. Write SDGreat on the subject line and explain in which occasion you'd use the jacket.
Have a look to the complete SDG East London collection on the blog or shop them on-line.
For how much longer will the very concept of television, indoctrinated news, high octane action films, regurgitated jokes and obvious story-lines mask our awareness of the importance to question. This isn't a political call for revolution it's merely a reminder that you can step off of capitalisms conveyer belt by simply placing one foot in front of the other. This isn't an attack on TV viewers, film buffs, comedians or any other sector of the entertainment industry, but take a look back to Ancient Greece and you will find that entertainment was used to educate the people as well as entertain, though add the word industry after and you get a corporate brainwashing of what entertainment is meant to be. Do you honestly think that these corporate powers want future generations to think for themselves and be without their apparently essential products. As Bill Hicks said "It's just a ride" and the very thought of future generations coming together through their own self-found entertainment with their own opinions jeopardize corporate media's focus upon wealth and control after all they have a lot "Invested in this ride". Fixate the people with material distractions such as advertisements, game show prizes and reality TV I'm sorry but if thats what's real then I can't imagine how "fake" the everyday issues concerning the people of Britain and the rest of the world must seem.
People with such power could eradicate poverty and debt globally, but why help anyone that can't help you, right? Political parties may offer (the class you find yourself in) a better deal than the other horn-headed puppet running against him does, but either way its a dance with the devil whether the better you know or the disguise you don't. The concerns of the people of Britain are not those of the government even though they are the people in charge of the peoples' concerns. This reminds me of a phrase that was created during The Boer War 'National Efficiency' basically an investment by the government in the health and wellbeing of the British public, this was put into play when the government realised that 1 in 3 men called up to fight were unfit for battle causing a major problem for the government which was basically that they had no cannon fodder. I have a huge respect for every person that fought in any of our past wars though feel the government viewed soldiers, casualties and deaths as statistics rather than people that deserved the basic human rights of national efficiency in the first place.
It just seems we have gone full circle again, though next time war arises national efficiency is no longer a worry to the government as they have ploughed so much tax payers money into the military that they have us covered for at least the next "war" which no doubt will be our own governments' fault as the last two "wars" were in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reason I write "war" is because they have both been more of a pillage than anything else and my deepest condolenses go to those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq but it's just what our government does. If you feel I'm wrong, narrow minded or simply deluded in any of my points than I ask of you to at least take the time to watch 'Paying the Price Killing the Chilldren of Iraq' which reveals sickening, barbaric events take place and some of the reasons why our government will exchange lives for natural resources and money both of which aren't ours.
The days of battles and wars should have passed a long time ago, you would surely agree as we have classed ourselves as civilised creatures for centuries, we no longer need to make spears from flint, stick and rope, we are living in the height of technological advances where the previously unimaginable is at our fingerprints. As a race we are clever enough to design smart phones with fingertip recognition, wifi, blu-tooth, infra red, fighter jets, space shuttles etc etc etc….though are still too dumb to work out a simple but effective political system that serves the very people it is there to support. Call me a cynic but even wide-eyed at the front of the tunnel I don't think I would find as much as a shimmer of light at the end. Bob Marley warned us "total destruction was the only solution" which as a kid I didn't really understand but exactly what he meant is growing ever-present in reality day by day.
Written by Michael Ainsworth
There's a focus on the fact that there are more and more female DJs taking control of the decks and forging themselves a career in a predominantly male driven industry. But whether female DJs are the flavour of the month or not, (and whether people chose to judge a DJ by their looks rather than their skills) is entirely up to them. But Ellen Allien head of the fantastic and highly respected alt-dance imprint Bpitch Control has been at the forefront of Berlin's underground house and techno scenes for over a decade, taking her own alternative and unique view of modern electronic music culture and reproducing it into a world class benchmark of quality.
Listen HERE for MEOKO's latest podcast by Ellen Allien
With her new EP 'Freak' out at the end of the month (the first since her LISm concept album), Ms Allien is priming the release with an exclusive MEOKO mix to get us well and truly into the frame of mind for some out of the box rhythms and spooked out atmospherics. Taking command of her mix through varying shades of emotion and feeling, the 'Queen of German techno' wraps up her experience as a sharp-eyed A&R, label boss, musical obsessive and touring DJ to a tee in her MEOKO mix. Tune in, turn on and get leftfield as Ellen takes us on a trip in to the nether regions. We promise you'll love where you end up.
Only 3 years of age and already a familiar name amongst the ears of London. Over the past 3 years they have built a highly credible reputation for throwing parties in the most rugged spots around London never failing to deliver when the music is concerned. From the most respected of globally established DJs to the rising talents of tomorrow Art of Dark have got it covered.
To celebrate their 3rd birthday next Saturday they have attracted DJs from around the world to help blow out their candles. Cassy, Delano Smith, Eli Verveine, Cristi Cons, Mandar, Slow Life and Isherwood as if that isn't enough presents for one year. Residents Colin Chiddle, Jack & I, Charlie Dave Kent and Iain Kemz will also be supplying the Art of Dark sound so many of us have grown to admire.
Panorama bar resident Cassy is a name that speaks volumes to most her techno sets have left many a dance-floor in awe, as for Onur Ozer whether its minimal techno or deep rolling house he has many a trick up ones sleeve I am sure. Delano Smith hailing from 'Motor City', Detroit the birthplace of Techno in its purest most original form, has taken his sound to over 20 countries worldwide which to be fair I think speaks for itself. Eli Verveine 'Tardis Records' boss is one to admire and not one who could ever be called generic or predictable as for Cristi Cons the 'Sunrise Agency' aficionado's productions can be found in many of your favourite DJs record collection.
Mandar have recently recorded a mix for MEOKO full of sunshine vibes perfect for any dance floor and Slow Life have been on many a house-heads lips recently so avoid disappointment and keep an ear out for them. As for Isherwood his sets are purely outlandish and his productions some of the most original period, if you don't know about this guy yet I can promise you will after your visit to Studio 338 next Saturday.
Listen HERE the MEOKO's latest podcast by Mandar
This is not just an event full of great headliners though the Art of Dark roster are much more than just warm up DJs they all have their own style and know how to set the mood whatever it be so I would suggest getting down early and marching straight to the dance-floor because this is going to be one hell of a birthday party. Those who witnessed Art of Dark's side venture 'HOME' last month will know that if there is one thing these guys know how to do then its throwing a party. Saturday 26th July doors open at 14:00, be ready to celebrate because your all in for one hell of a celebration.
Buy your tickets HERE
There has been a growth in digital labels in the past few years, mostly owned and ran by music lovers wanting to share the music they love with likeminded people. This is a great way to launch unestablished artists and offers a platform for them to build upon. Launching digital labels has also been a technique used by producers to raise awareness of their own production projects. Other digital label owners launch labels hoping to establish a brand that can be built as a business, though the fact is that there just isn't that much money to be made from digital sales. Obviously this is not true if your being played on Radio 1 or have a label that is constantly topping every Beatport, Juno and iTunes chart but I imagine that this is not the case. I have spoken to a handful of established producers and label owners about this issue and they agree. Producers receive there royalty cheques and once the digital store has taken their majority percentage and then the label has covered costs for artwork etc and the distribution company have taken their slice, theres barely a sprinkle of the cake left. This is not an issue if you are genuinely making music for the love of doing so, though if you are getting into producing music to make money I think you are in for a rude awakening.
In 2013 digital music sales were responsible for 39% of music sales globally (Guardian News and Media Ltd., 2014) (IFPI, 2014). Though 51% of the global market were physical format sales (IFPI, 2014) (Billboard, 2014), such as vinyl and CD, this does show a continued rise in digital music sales and considering digital music has only been available since the 'iTunes Store' began legally distributing it in 2003 (SOS Publications Group, 2014), it could be considered that gaining 39% of the whole global market within the past decade suggests a promising future for digital download formats. With regards to competitors when launching a digital music label, their are numerous digital labels, who's full digital catalogue's are available online from webpages such as Beatport (Beatport, LLC,2014). Digital labels offer 'WAVe', 'mp3', 'AIFF' and 'FLAC' formats though predominately 'mp3' and 'WAVe' are preferred due to their compatibility with a wider range of digital players e.g. iTunes (Guardian News and Media Ltd., 2014) (Haymarket Publishing, 2014). Publishing and distribution companies offer copyright, licensing and marketing services to digital labels (Allegro Media Group, 2010) (Music Xray, 2014) at a cost and due to the large amount of digital labels launching in recent years it could be considered very competitive to sustain a profitable company, after all a large number of companies are currently competing for only 39% of the market (Guardian News and Media Ltd., 2014) (IFPI, 2014).
But enough of statistics and revenue talk how about digital formats actual characteristics? Digital is cheap to produce, distribute and purchase and can be downloaded last minute before a set. Sure this is convenient and offers flexibility to a DJ when scrolling through their USB but depending on what digital format you play this can really affect the sonic quality. Lossless audio such as WAVe and AIFF sounds great but the second you get into a habit of buying mp3s your set is going to sound a lot worse, you may not notice but it does, especially when you play to more than 300 people. Mixing in your bedroom is not a problem but big sound-systems reveal mp3s as shadows of their lossless counterparts. But before you think I am about to open up the pandoras box of debates regarding digital vs vinyl; hold on because thats not where I am going with this.
Producers are now being booked as DJs regardless of their mixing ability this is a whole separate issue to be highlighted another time, though I just wanted to highlight the benefit of getting tracks signed and how it seems to be helping toward apparent DJ status. The problem that this is creating is that the whole digital world of house and techno labels, producers, DJs etc is becoming quickly saturated, perhaps not in terms of options but certainly in terms of quality. Looking for original tracks on Beatport can be an agonisingly laborious activity its almost like there is so much average music available that when you hear something half original, it sounds amazing because you've been conditioned for the past hour or so by the regurgitated blandness of the past few months releases which just creates throwaway music by throwaway producers; disposable content. If labels were how labels used to be then music would still be more of a business which I am not in support of but at least there was a standard that had to be adhered to.
So where does this leave consumers? I suppose in a position where you buy, buy, buy and keep buying building your collection of digital music until the industry feels that there is no financial gain in digital formats anymore and they decide to convince you that digitals out and the next financially feasible formats in, with some new feature that is even more convenient; sure I cannot guarantee my pedantic and perhaps derogatory prediction as digital formats are still in their adolescent stages in contrast to other formats such as vinyl but think about the CD and then the minidisc….as much as it feels like digital is great at the moment I feel sustainability is a large concern which is a shame because there are some great digital labels and producers putting out some seriously valuable content. So sure there are peaks but also pitfalls and perhaps the majority of content has already hinted upon a plateau but at least we still have new music available and at least we still have new DJs and producers coming through from around the world so the music itself will continue for sure but through which medium is the million dollar question.
Written by Michael Ainsworth
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Another weekend, another venue cancellation, another promoter desperately trying to find a last minute new home for their party they’ve worked so hard to create. Us devotees of electronic music have been slow to realise just quite how much control and increasing power you, the authorities, have over the music we adore and the nights and days that we love to dance through. The changes you have brought in, apparently for our own safety and to clamp down on our ‘anti-social behaviour’ have been creeping and sneaky, so much so that it’s only recently that most of us are only just waking up to the fact that the dancefloors we pound through every weekend are becoming endangered, or at the very least being slowly changed out of all recognition.
You, the local councils, and the police, have been nibbling around the edges of club culture for years. Venues in Brixton and events on the grime scene were the first experiments in increased control, with licenses being pulled if DJs designated ‘troublemakers’ were manning the decks, although your definition of a troublemaker was apparently anyone who had played at a party where there had previously been any sort of problem. In the last few weeks I personally have had computerised mugshots taken I hope you enjoyed the sunglasses and the raspberry I blew just to go dancing of a weekend. My bankcard was swiped for “ID” purposes. The whole experience was something akin to attempting to enter the US, albeit with far politer security. This time, anyway. Because, let’s be honest, to gain entry to some big clubs these days involves intimate breast squeezing and ball cupping that would probably be defined as sexual assault if it was done by a random in a street.
The thing is, we all know that a lot of the time it’s not even the venues’ fault, you guys have them over a barrel. Most well-established clubs have a full time employee who deals solely with licensing issues, as the clubs know damn well that if there is slightest problem with health and safety, environmental health, drugs or the merest hint of violence, their business will be shut down and then the music stops. Licenses are getting tougher and tougher to obtain, with ID scanners often forced on promoters and venues if they want their events to go ahead. Or maybe the music can’t be turned up too loud, because one complaint from a neighbour about noise (who often has moved in a long time after the venue had opened) could mean shutdown. And, of course, many of these people who run our best-loved parties are scared to speak out publicly and criticise the police and the councils and landlords that own these temporary spaces, because they fear that if they do, their names can be trashed and their license could be arbitrarily taken away. Not just one time, but forever.
But here is the thing, we understand that there needs to be regulation and licensing and all that boring stuff, because it’s important that a party is as safe as possible. For anyone who has been in a vastly overcrowded club or festival, the risks are all too visible. And we understand it’s important to check for weapons, because, well, you never know, and it’s far better to be safe than sorry. And yes, although some might think the law is an ass, we get that recreational drugs are illegal and there are concerns about their usage at electronic music events. But hasn’t it all gone a bit too far? Is this assumption of crime and disorder and bad behaviour really borne out by the facts, these things called crime statistics? I know in your eyes that an electronic music event is just the same as a getting drunk in a trashy bar, but more suspect as our parties go on all night, which to you just seems dodgy. But for us, it’s a flourishing culture, a way of life, and it involves listening and dancing to music that can be just as beautiful as the Rolling Stones or Paganini or Miles Davis, all of whom were once considered malign influences on public life.
And you’re getting stricter and stricter and making it harder and harder for promoters and venues to put on parties. You say it’s for our own sake, and that of local residents, but I am beginning to think it’s because you just don’t want these types of events to happen at all. In recent months several reputable and well-organised parties had licenses revoked on their venues, on several occasions on the actual day of the event. Other parties have been pre-emptively shut down because it was thought there MAY be problems, based on the flimsiest of evidence. In fact, looking down my Facebook feed, these days it’s rarer to find a party that doesn’t have to change their venue at the last minute, and sometimes the organisers aren’t lucky enough or don’t have the extra cash to find a replacement venue. Have you any idea how devastating that is for the promoters? How much money and time and effort and passion they put in to making that party? How, especially for smaller promoters, you may have essentially put them out of business, at least for the short term, as they will have spent thousands on flights, security, sound systems, DJs, bar staff and all the other things that make their night so wonderful. And that’s not even beginning to mention the amount that is lost on reimbursing ticket sales and the damage to reputations. But it’s not about the cash, it’s about the love, and that’s why it hurts us so much. And it seems like however much we seem to bend to your increasingly tough demands, it’s never enough. And it’s not fair.
We are not the enemy. We realise a balance has to be struck, as ultimately if the worst happens, it’s the police, the local councils, the venue owners, as well as the promoters who carry the can, who bear responsibility if a party gets out of control and people get hurt. But this very rarely happens, so why is there felt to be a need to pile on yet more legislation on our heads? Licensing special policy zones are a good example of this. Currently, if your business resides in the Shoreditch triangle or on a certain part of Kingsland Road, it’s now pretty much impossible to get any sort of late license. Yes, these areas have seen an explosion in nightlife in recent years, but lest we forget, you, the authorities, granted the permission for all these places to exist. If you had turned a few down, been a bit more selective before you handed licenses out like sweets, then anti-social behaviour could have been kept at a minimum. The situation we have now is that longstanding venues and promoters with excellent track records are being unfairly punished for the transgressions of a few.
To be honest, we are scared about what your next move will be. Rumours abound that these special policy areas are just a mere trial run for what will be a London-wide, Sydney-style restrictive licensing clampdown. Apparently you’re thinking about forcing all venues to prohibit people from coming to the party past 1 am, to stop serving alcohol by 3 am and to close the doors at 6 am. This will kill our scene, because it will be the nail in the coffin of what electronic music is all about the freedom to commune on a dancefloor, with like-minded people, to get our rocks off to beautiful music. Freedom, that’s what is important, and that’s what you are taking away.
In these times of austerity and blanket surveillance, it’s becoming increasingly easy to feel that all of this is a form of societal control, smuggled in under the blanket of “keeping us safe”, and an attempt to clamp down on movements and subcultures that appear threatening to the status quo. London is already has the most CCTV cameras of any city in the world, and it seems, that before long it will be impossible to go into any venue without providing personal details and having your picture taken, a bit like when you get arrested and charged for a crime.
And these increasingly tight regulations will have the opposite effect that you, the authorities intend. Already we are seeing an explosion of “illegal raves”, and that’s because people can’t afford to jump through all the hoops you keep introducing, and punters don’t want to feel like they are clubbing in a police state, so they make their own events, under the radar, to create a space where they feel free, without your interference, and away from prying eyes. Because you see, we are not stupid. We have been to parties in Barcelona and Berlin and Bucharest, and these parties are far wilder, go on far longer, with the minimum amount of problems, with far lighter touch regulation. We know what the atmosphere at these parties feels like, and we want the same for the city we love so much, that has for so long produced some of the best music in the world, across all genres. If these places can manage it without disasters occurring, then why can’t London?
Written by Peggy Whitfield
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Art is an expensive game to be involved in. Firstly, money is an essential tool to make sales and to even buy work from one of the many creatives trying to scratch a living. Parallax 10 an art fair based in Chelsea seek to bridge the gap between the artist and the consumer by knocking the reels of red tape that often separates the artist from their fan. Incurring more charges and middle men costs in the process, he business element of being a professional creative can seriously draw attention away from the processes of creativity themselves.
Running rom 11am till 5pm across the weekend of 27th and 28th July, MEOKO can recommend a visit to the West End to brush up on all the latest happenings from fresh artists.
In 2014, Parallax are turning 10 and offering an eclectic range of different disciplines for you to indulge in, from painting and drawing to sculpting photography and digital art. Artists can also sign up to the PAD (Parallax art Directory), meaning more doors opening between the artists and galleries, industry professionals. For the rest of us, the art fair is free to browse meaning we can get in touch with our creative sides and discover some of the best that the creative industries have to offer.
See you there! More information can be found at the official Parallax website.
Written by Joe Gamp
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It's Friday afternoon somewhere near Cambridge and upon sitting on a leather sofa, neatly situated In a specially built 'sound stage' room, it's clear judging from the menacing presence of 4 stand alone 300w speakers and treated, sound proofed walls that something magical is about to happen. To the left of the sofa is a Vivaldi Soundsystem, thought to be one of the loudest and highest quality systems in the world and manufacturers dCS (data compression systems) invited MEOKO to bring a stack of music to test the raw sound quality and sheer power of the audible juggernaut . Worth around £67,000 brand new, MEOKO found ourselves receiving a backstage view the intimate team of electronic engineers devising and producing the kit.
We're faced with a stereo that has the power to decompress mp3 to analogue quality through one of it's 4 pre-amp compression systems and deliver pin point precise sound, the company's CEO starkly warns me: "this is a different way of listening to music. You can hear everything... and I do mean everything. If it's badly produced or cutting corners, you'll be able to hear it on the Vivaldi. It really brings your music to life".
dCS are, sadly, a rare breed in this day in age. After the digital boom, Cambridgeshire's rich history as a home for audio specialist manufacturing took flight as demand for better sound increased as commercialised sales glanced over quality. The company which have run for over twenty years stake the claim as the most expensive and audibly powerful unit in the world. Hand tested, crafted and built in the dCS factory, it's fully centralised production model (plus promotion and usage of homegrown British standards) have made dCS one of the only companies to not compromise on their original mantra even in times of economic instability "Nothing But Only The Music".
Most of the guys at dCS do the industrial design here points out David as we embark on a tour of the factory, pre-listening session. "We make everything including the circuit boards and writing the software by the team in here" he points out as we "the guys we employ have been working in audio for 20, 25 years and they are skilled highly. They are world class engineers and there aren't that many people that can do what they can". We're standing at the end of a short corridor, with two doors on either side. "The room on the left is for ideas, whilst the second on the right is there for assembly and testing" pointing out the dCS's specific but simple manufacturing model and division of labour. "When we step into the workshop like atmosphere, we're surrounded by hardware of all shapes and sizes, middle aged men with soldering irons fixing together circuit boards and enough wiring to make the tidiest of people weep with anxiety."
The way this all start with is a kit of parts which then have to pass the first couple of test stages" he begins at a rack of dCS manufactured parts, "We leave all the fancy stuff like the casing until later and assemble it electronically and of course when it passes all of the tests". The only two components that aren't from the UK in this setup are the mechanism (that spins the disc round) and a network board that comes from Austria. Everything else is made in the UK we're one of the only companies of our kind that are doing that and we're really proud of that fact."
A blatantly obvious trait of dCS's brand is their insistence on quality of the highest order. "You have to be thorough because some of our clients out in places like Japan are literally inspecting the product with a microscope when it's delivered" laughs David. Not just quality materials and expert design, but a series of rigorous tests are designed to put the machine through its paces, starting with the basic 'soak test'.
"Some people want to access their music through a network drive, while others want to simply spin a disc; here, we do both" states David of the system's compression and conversion powers. "People like to own a physical product and sometimes you just want to interact with it a little more" he continues as we are struck in mesmeric awe by the velocity of sound, under the grip of Vivaldi's spell as it converts digital sound jacked straight from a macbook running iTunes into true analogue sound, rich detailed and widescreen. "I do feel that in the future digital sound may even become such a high quality playback that it will be on par with a CD" explains David. "The people who buy our stuff, they connect to there music, they enjoy it and theyy feel immersed by it" David points out, "so the format isnt always a problem. But the one thing you can't have with digital is a tangible product in your hand which digital will obviously always sidestep something more real.''
After guided around a series of tests, David showed us the gorgeous, sleek and solid design of the Vivaldi. "The front and unit case are made of hand carved, anodised metal" he informs, caressing the Vivaldi's minimal but futuristic facia, gleaming and shining in the light. "Again, we insist on perfection there can't be a single mark, blemish or mistake. It has to be completely perfect before it even gets assembled."
Meticulous yes, but you can be sure that best part of 100K is buying you bespoke quality to such a tight and professional level. After watching the dCSteam in action (and having been guided through their modest and tight knit factory)run by a total of around 20people in all we were in the listening room with the imposing sound stage setup, ready to listen to music in its greatest depth and clarity of sound. Listening to the likes of Orbital's Halcyon + On + On, Pan Pot & cari Golden's Captain My Captain and more diverse sounds from the likes of Jose Gonzalez and Bob Marley. Whatever you threw at the Vivaldi system, all of the converging power hits you square in the face. No mistake can be covered up by the musician on this behemoth there is no escaping the true sound of music you are listening to, be it psych-rock, dub reggae or slamming, driving techno.
With sound like that of the full Vivaldi set up, the colour and life within your music is on full display, in turn adding to the overall aesthetic of the listening experience. Captivating, arresting, demanding the Vivaldi is designed to capture your attention through near-perfect audible perfection.
If after ten minutes your mind starts to wander and you're not focused on the music, then something is wrong" explains David of his deep connection to sound and the products he dedicates his work too. "Music should immerse you and grab your attention fully whether you're tech buff, sound freak or not..." he states as this writer feels knocked back. And sure enough, he needn't worry too much the music sounds so crisp, so alive, that ignoring its prowess and heavy nature is virtually impossible to ignore. Now to save up that cool 67k.... for this obsessional music fan, that's money well spent.
Written by Joe Gamp
Pictures by Caterina Berardi
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Eclecticism is the way. While many others have found a source of inspiration, Marlowe has always appreciated different genres from hard metal, to hip-hop, reggae and most of all psychedelic rock. Eventually, when he encountered electronic music, he found himself having a natural talent, other than a craving, for production. Since he started Dj'ing in the 90s, Marlowe has been bringing his eclecticism into the long-lived creative partnership with Gregorythme - Digitaline - which has received worldwide acclamation for the perfectly studied live sets, which soon attracted the attention of big name of the like of Luciano. Looking for a way to rework his beloved psychedelic sound into a new, more groovy one, Marolwe has now undertaken a solo career. His debut EP, Moonshine Heater, was released on Cadenza last year. MEOKO sat down with Marlowe to talk about his new adventure, what influences him and how he is further developing his very own style.
Marlowe thanks for stepping to MEOKO for an interview where in the world are you and what’s been keeping you busy of late?
Actually, I'm living in Barcelona, before I was living in Berlin for 6 years. I'm working everyday in my Studio and do many other things, but my principal activity its to think about how I will find a new idea and make a new track. It is always a new challenge and it's what I like in my job.
It’s been stated in information about you that you maintained a really eclectic musical upbringing, going through many forms and stages of music from hip hop to metal and beyond. What is it about music that makes you tick in general?
Yes, I like all kind of music when its sound good to my ears, I specially like crust/punk and extreme metal, but I'm also a big fan of Hip Hop, old Funk and Reggae and of course electronic music. Since I started listening music I have always been naturally interested in all kind of sounds, thus I developed an eclectic taste. My principal focus is on harmonic sounds in the melody or on rhythm, they both fells the same. If you listen to some extreme metal you can find harmony in the sound, as you would do in classical music and psychedelic music from the 70s, this is what I'm looking for. Even the "new" Hip hop/RnB, I like it a lot… all those new sounds they produced, it's brilliant.
What was the defining moment when you discovered electronic music and began to explore dance and DJ culture?
It was late 90s, when I started to go clubbing. But the very first moment I realized I wanted to start producing music was in Zurich, during the Street Parade, in the late morning when I listened the dj set of this guy whom I didn't know before Ricardo Villalobos. That set had changed a lot of things in my ears/head, so I decided to undertake a career as Dj and tried to find a way to produce that kind of organic sounds and minimalistic esthetic, it was the beginning of the process.
Listen HERE for MEOKO's latest podcast by Marlowe
As one half of Digitaline you are used to working in the studio in a collaborative manner and working alongside Gregorythme how do you approach producing when you are on your own? Do you find it tougher without bouncing ideas off another person?
When I'm working on my own, I'm really starting a track without a precise idea of what will it lead to. Generally the idea takes form during the production process as it happens to many others, I guess and that's how I manage to make a track… of course my mood is the capital thing when I'm working.
Hailing from Switzerland, the country’s club scene seems to focus on the more glamorous side of clubbing, with lots of the underground clubs still not recognized in cities like Basel and Lausanne.
Is dance music slowly being accepted by the Swiss society as a whole? Do they have a relaxed attitude to our beloved scene?
I think in Switzerland the club culture is really strong and has been accepted a long ago. In Lausanne, Zurich and Basel there are lots of underground clubs really appreciated by society and you can see this good attitude that Swiss people have towards electronic music represented in many festivals (Caprices, Street Parade,etc), which focus more and more on electronic music and clearly show how much it is being appreciated.
How would you in your own words explain the difference in sound, style and aesthetic between your Digitaline and solo works?
With Digitaline, we played really minimal sounds with psychedelic melodies and a solid aesthetic of groove. I try to make something like that with "Marlowe" but in a different way. Maybe the idea its to rework that kind of sounds making them more appropriate for the dance floor, working more on the groove and FX sounds and on the atmospheric melody.
After the minimal explosion around 2005, people started to turn towards the ‘deep house’ sound as it became increasingly popular. Do you think that, essentially, dance music’s many genres are too fractioned off and too separatist?
To be honest, I do not focus on any of such styles. It is like in rock music, you have so many styles, but after that it's just a label that people gave to music. I am quite sure you can find good tracks for each style and of course it is good being able to mix all the styles together, specially if Dj'ing. Right now, Techno music is coming back and it doesn't change nothing for me, it is just a trend and trends usually disappear as quickly as they appear.
How much of an impact did your big hit, Moonshine Heater, have on your solo work? Do you plan to ever take your sounds to the live stage as you do with Digitaline?
It depends on the tracks, but I try to include all the tracks I produced and released in my live act, so to have a big bunch of possibilities and it's really fun to play music that nobody else has, specially when it's your own. It is a really a great feeling and also a good challenge for me.
What can we expect to hear from you when DJ? Do you focus on melody and rhythmic tracks to play out?
When I play DJ, I like to play energetic and groovy stuff. I like especially the old stuff.
Speaking of DJing, what is your schedule looking like for the rest of the year in terms of bookings and releases?
Actually, on terms of booking I’ll be touring in EU and enjoying my time. I have an EP "Moody” that came out on Nite Grooves (King Street Sounds) on the 23rd of June, and I also have a release on Visionquest later this year and of course there will be more coming on different labels.
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The ever present want for human connectedness, free living and peace on earth is no new concept and we only need look back to the 60s for proof of this. Ever since December 21 2012, when the strangely accurate Mayan calendar ended its third and final cycle allegedly predicting the end of the world, was proved not to be true, it brought more to believe the alternative explanation a beginning of a new age. In a time now where the guitars of Woodstock are replaced with the records of many a DJ bag, the spirit is omnipresent and growing at a huge momentum. But how genuine is this movement?
Let me cast your mind back to an article Elite Daily published in February: Could it be?
“Millennials are the new generation of Hippies, but with better weed..”
The writer painted a picture of a youth similar to that of the counter culture movement of decades ago ‘We are the new free spirits, the new lovers, the new revolutionaries. We are the children of the herb, the sisters of the ganja and the brothers of the pipe. We are just passionate kids with an idea of living life another way.’
Many commented on the naivety of the article and passed it off as ill informed, ‘dumb’ and with one too many drug references. Look closely and it states that the author is in fact a comedy writer, making the piece a parody. However, look at the zeitgeist of modern culture and it seems that we’re all in on the joke.
There is a new wave of thinking emerging that can actually be identified everywhere . For example the widespread use of aromatherapy. The practice, often used to aid meditation and promote wellbeing is now no longer kept for spa days and bohemian students, as scents are selling like wildfire. It only takes a wander on any high street to see the vast array of candles, oil burners and incense sticks appearing in stores. Even new outlets are appearing with the sole intention of selling a scent. A similar attitude can be also seen with crystals, vitamin/herbal supplements, herbal teas and vegan type diets as customers demand is reflected on the stock shelves. Once seen as nonsense, the want for natural wellbeing in products shows no signs of wavering.
This stripped down appreciation is present in music culture too. In the UK, most certainly America and un questionably worldwide, electronic music is enjoyed and growing at extraordinary amounts. Whether it be underground house and techno to all guns blazing EDM, there is an overarching ethos to the culture which is based on acceptance, respect and community, formed from its 1980s roots. American clubs fought race and sexual preference prejudices where the UK raves were faced with political barriers as these adversities no longer exist for the youth of today, the current wave of appeal for the culture could lie in the attached ideologies instead.
Compare then these raves, to the large scale music events of past and we get to see that the association with the counter culture hippie movements aren’t so ridiculous.
Just like the 60s, fuelled with psychedelia, electronic music events are no stranger to spiritual symbolism. One example on a smaller scale is the humble triangle, plastered over branding for events worldwide and most famously accompanied with the third eye for the Visionquest logo but the likes of festivals such as Burning man and Day Zero provide a chance to dive headfirst into an alternative way of life. If it is these sorts of events that are now attended by the masses, the youth and those who will go on to eventually gain power in higher places, then surely this outlook will continue.
But could this be a rose tinted viewpoint?
Some would argue the reality of the popularity of electronic music culture could be best summed up as Breaksmag suggested in its article ‘Deep house and deeper v-necks’:
‘Here we do things properly. Here, you’d never find homogenous crowds, all white, all 20-something, the men wearing the same River Island shirt with plunging necklines that display, glinting against tribal tattoos, a silver spoon on a necklace, and the women parading in a uniform of arse-bearing hot pants, flashing sideboob and pouting like an erotic army dreamt up by a sweaty-palmed teenager in the throes of his vinegar strokes. Our clubbers are experienced.
When did this happen? …But there’s no point railing against the tech-house TOWIEs, whose DC10 nostalgia inspires them to whip off their vests and flex at the opening strains of “Hungry For Power” (the Jamie Jones remix, natch). Mock them as you may, this is their scene now. Disclosure are at the top of the charts… You just wait until they stop skipping over Moroder’s monologue then they’ll have the history down too. Dance music is no longer underground, no longer different. It’s like the mid-90s all over again, only with sing-a-long deep house filling the main floor at Oceana in place of endless spinbacks of “Firestarter”.
A trend rather than a lifestyle statement, gone could be the days of genuine compassion for one another, and the recent tragic Parklife festival events prove this selfishness culture outright. Any link with the original morals, let alone spiritual values lie on a superficial level, and mean as much to some as the bindi (purchased from a high street store) they wear on their heads.
This superficial attitude can also be seen on the internet as a new breed of music blog has emerged Youtube channels are created with the sole purpose of showing electronic music videos, and as Thump pointed out recently, the images accompanying the tunes certainly don’t promote equality for all. More suited to be in lads mags than a website for music lovers, provocative women grace the screens, used to attract an audience where music isn’t the main priority. Rather than creating communities interested in sharing music and lifestyle ideas it is another hub for gawking men and the image conscious.
Just as the explosion of social media can be used to make the world instantly more connected, it is also to blame for a surge in vanity culture. Rather than being a generation of soul searching youths are we actually growing more and more selfish, worried more about our looks and our social media presence than the future?
One person concerned about the future is Russel Brand, when last October he began to use his fame as a public platform to spread his message of a need for a spiritual revolution. (Most notably on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxaman).
The recorded interview has reached over 10 million views on Youtube and on searching the internet it seems a majority of commenters are in agreement. With the nature of newsnight, the topic of conversation was mainly political, with Brand admitting he has never voted due to finding the process irrelevant. Albeit not a change of a wholly spiritual nature, the constant pendulum swinging of UK votes suggests that the public are feeling the same, which could be a factor leading to a search for alternative ways of thinking, and an open mind to what people like Brand have to say.
Perhaps the most notable happening on the worldwide cultural radar is the latest plans by Obama to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. Could this be the largest public, serious acknowledgment of ‘saving the planet’ pretty much ever? There have been political parties and protest groups dedicated to the cause but no serious plans have actually been put in to action until now. It seems that perhaps this new wave of thinking truly is starting to become reality, slowly but surely.
It is hard to decide what is happening and only time will tell. I’m sure there have been times when a similar feeling has been prominent in popular culture, but maybe now with the power of the internet, we finally have the source to spread alternative information and theories worldwide, enough to perhaps lead to a change. In the light of recent worrying headlines, this could be a step in the right direction, which is needed in order to save the world from looming disasters. Regardless of the seemingly superficial appropriations of spiritual culture, one thing is for sure and it’s the fact it is widespread and people are aware. As the higher powers seem to be taking action, this could be the tipping point to cause a genuine change of some sorts, of a ‘spiritual’ level. Maybe not a revolution, but as many believe the Mayans suggested, a human evolution could (or should) be slowly creeping up.
‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it’ Albert Einstein.
Written by Eileen Pegg
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If a prize was to be given out for most captivating PR campaign in Ibiza, then no doubt Richie Hawtin's Enter would be a top contender. Simple techniques and concepts have proven to be effective as the brand's unmistakable black dot logo showers the island, be it on beach balls, towels, street signs or on the skin of punters in the form of a temporary tattoo Hawtin has got it covered. Following the opening party two weeks ago, things are heating up as we get ready for the third installment of the third season of Enter.
Enter prides itself on being not only a place to dance but to have an all round experience. This is carefully crafted through differently curated rooms all providing something unique, a perfect choice for the different stages of the night if you arrive when the doors open and stay until the doors close, then you'll want to be taken on a journey through your 12 hour marathon, and Enter provides the goods in droves.
The journey begins with the much loved Sake bar, the only room that is open until midnight. This brings a rare opportunity for the early birds to see one of that night's headlining acts up close and personal, in a dodges and dives through the crowd.
As the guest headliners come and go however, the Sake bar will always remain the domain of trustworthy residents Hito and Bella Sarris. Both have graced the bar since the opening of Enter and know just how to get the crowd swinging, fitting the vibe of the room perfectly. This week features Bella Sarris B2B with Fernando Costantini, a perfect sound harmony to follow the opening set by Maceo Plex. It will be intriguing to see if he plays out his new tracks, released on Hawtin's M-nus label which were inspired by the Enter experience itself.
The terrace this week will see French trio make their Enter Ibiza debut, no stranger to Ibiza but perhaps more used to the booth at DC10 it is always a treat to see the way artists approach new nights to them.
If you want to be immersed face first in techno, then the main room is where to head, where this week Marc Houle will be showcasing live performances of his new album ‘Cola Party’.
It is hard not to get sent in to a frenzy as this room is geared to play with your emotions. A constantly evolving light show in sync with the music grows gradually more intense as different elements are added dancers come and go, ice cannons cool you down and keep you on edge and bombs of black dot confetti are dropped. It is special to see Hawtin play in a place where he has total control, and this week he will be joined by Luciano for a b2b set.
In addition to the dark, cave like ‘Mind’ room, the newest addition to 2014 features a place to encounter interactive technology. Always an advocate for the latest gadgets, what Hawtin has up his sleeve for this area is anyone’s guess, but it makes the concept of a chill out area much more interesting.
Upon entering Space on a Thursday night, prepare to be transported deep into the depths of Richie Hawtins world, and that’s not a bad place to be.
Written by Eileen Pegg
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A party that celebrates and encourages their residents and guest DJs to freely express themselves through their music. Where intimate gatherings of friends and newcomers come together to hear ingenious wax wizards. Even though this party is only 1 year old they have already brought Voigtmann, Audio Werner, Nicolas Lutz, Peter Glasspool, Praslea, Giovanni Verrina, LamÂche, Isherwood, Francesco Del Garda, Greg Brockmann & Robin Ordell to the beautiful City of Brescia in Northern Italy. This is LOFT, a party ran by two friends who's soul focus is the music.
Their next event is the celebration of their 1st birthday with guest DJ's Alex Picone and Francesco Del Garda. Alex has played alongside living legends such as Ricardo Villalobos, Richie Hawtin and Luciano and has had his productions supported by Raresh as well as Senior Villalobos. A true veteran who will be the perfect icing on LOFT.'s birthday cake.
Francesco on the other hand is one of the most exciting DJs around at the moment, his experience and confidence to elegantly execute transitions and layer complex contrasting rhythms seamlessly has gained him a reputation amongst followers who have aptly named him 'The Wizard'. Experiencing timeless moments is not an every day occurrence but if there is someone to pull it off at the moment it's probably going to be Del Garda (If this guys not on your radar, then check him out).
BA:RS and Pabie will be playing a b2b2b set which I'm sure will cover an eclectic range of music judging by what I have heard from these guys play previously. LOFT. also have a mix series, their latest episode is from resident Marco Maranza, the mix alone makes me want to be on the dance-floor from opening doors, so as to not miss out on anything special. David Chew Toy and Gabro are also LOFT. residents that are not on this line up but are also expressing their own individuality regularly at LOFT. gatherings and can be checked out in the mix series.
The venue and sound system is also very important to the LOFT. community, the Bozak AR-6 and custom sound system are both great characteristics that create LOFT.S warm sonic atmosphere, in the summer they reside at open air venue Vinile 45 then move to Disco Volante to hibernate for the winter.
19th July 23:30 to 06:00 missing it would mean missing out.
MEOKO caught up with Act Natural Head Honcho Jamie Ward regarding the brand's beginnings, current ventures and future plans. London based but already making moves across Europe with its roster of up and coming DJs and producers that have already established a chasmic, murky sound which continues to evolve with every release. This is much more than just a label, agency or party this is a collective of sonic archers with many a string to each bow.
So Jamie Act Natural has a label, booking agency and radio show as well as running events in London and Europe, you must have big aspirations for the brand?…How did the creation of Act Natural come about?
I'd like our music to reach as many people as possible but there is no master plan, in an ideal world it would be great to do this full time instead of fitting it around a 9-5 job but the main thing is to just have fun with it. I did the first event at Hub Club in February 2010. As soon as I learnt to mix I immediately wanted to throw a party, at the time there was so many of us going out regularly it just seemed like a good way to get everyone together. From there I started dabbling with making music and then decided to form a label of the same name.
How would you explain the labels sound?
It's all house music but I wouldn't say the label has a sound as such. It's just a reflection on my taste really, we have had a lot of the stripped back stuff recently which I love but over the next few months we will be mixing it up again.
The label has had a great response on online stores such as Beatport with several of your releases having charted, what is it about the Act Natural sound you think people are feeling?
I can't take the credit for our music getting a good response, we are just a platform for the artists, they are making the music so the praise definitely lies with them.
Are there any artists specifically that inspire the labels sound or that you would like to work with in the future?
I think I take inspiration from many sources, there is so much good music coming out at the moment from new artists as well as established names. I wouldn't say there were any artists that directly influence the overall sound of the label though.
What are your plans with the radio show on Hoxton FM?
The main idea is to bring in a mix of guests from well established names to up and coming talent as well as record labels. Our first show we had Livio & Roby come in which was cool and this week we have Detroit Legend Eddie Fowlkes joining us. We have lots of other great guests in store as well so hopefully people will tune in, our slot is every Saturday 8pm-10pm.
What have you got planned over the coming year with Act Natural?
Well we are going to be launching act natural limited soon which will be a vinyl only output with a limited press and very limited promo, we want to do something a bit more special for the people supporting the vinyl industry. We are also doing our first full album which will go out on a double vinyl and comes from DoubtingThomas, it's definitely some of the best music we have heard this year so that's really exciting.
If you could hold a showcase anywhere around the world which venue would you choose and why?
There are so many amazing clubs and spaces all around the world I would love to do a showcase in, so this may seem like an obvious one but Space in Ibiza would be great. It has so many different rooms, you would have lots of scope to programme the DJ's. Different vibes/themes in each room, it would be like a mini festival.
You have also recently hosted a collaborative showcase with Newfact Music, if you could host your dream collaborative showcase with any label of your choice which would it be? and why?
There are so many great labels that I follow and support but I don't think there's one in particular I would consider a dream to collaborate on an event with. I am planning one with my good friends at Limited Records towards the end of the year which I am looking forward to.
You also produce yourself and have signings to Alboratory, KOTE Records and Innocent Music and have recently played in Slovenia, how was that as an experience?
Slovenia was lots of fun, Aney. F who runs Innocent brought me over to play and was such a gracious host. The party was great as well, nice intimate outdoor space and the crowd were so responsive. I think we'll be working together a lot in the future, Aney is going to do a vinyl release for me and my next release is coming out on Innocent in August.
Last of all if you could only ever listen to one piece of music again, what would it be and why?
Haha always a tough question to answer but the 3 songs that instantly pop into my head are:
The End Of It All - John Tejada
May I - Jamie Lloyd (Quarion Remix)
Disco Volante - Ida Engberg
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So you want to get the most out of your productions but have heard that another DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) has more to offer than the one you are currently using. There are a handful of DAW's that come highly recommended e.g. Apple Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase etc, but which is the right one for you? Speaking from personal experience there are benefits and weaknesses of each, this article will focus on two DAWs (Logic Pro and Ableton) specifically as many house and techno producers swear by one or the other.
If user-friendly, quick, creative workflow is what you desire perhaps Ableton will be better suited to you. Its basic interface and 'drag and drop' mentality is perfect for beginners but also experienced producers that are working to time schedules or just want to get rough ideas sketched out. It comes with some great features including a variety of sampler's and synthesisers. My favourite of which is Drum Rack, this is basically a large number of empty samplers in one common instrument; simplicity at its finest. This allows the user to construct whole rhythmic arrangements of many samples in one step sequencer, while being able to control each parameter of every individual sample separately, allowing even the average beginner to build complex poly-rhythms.
Another great aspect about Ableton is its straight forward side-chain trigger. If you prefer to side-chain your kick and bass line then a simple click of the side-chain function on the compressor and voila' the bass volume will duck when the kick plays avoiding frequency clashes that make your mix sound muddy. In Logic this is much more long winded as you must trigger the side-chain with a muted audio sample on another channel that sends a signal through a bus in order to get the same result. There are other options also but just as tedious to set up and slower to react, so I would suggest Ableton wins a point for this one.
Logic on the other hand brings plenty to the table in its own right. Its physical modelling synthesiser Sculpture is in a league of its own allowing users to replicate timbres of instruments with options like pluck which replicates strings as if you were playing a harp or guitar as well as strike that allows you to achieve a similar timbre to hitting the skin of a conga or bongo. The full potential of this synthesiser baffles me but the parts I have just skimmed over are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Another great feature about Logic are its free plug-ins ('EQ's, Compressor's, Reverb's etc) the quality of Logic's Space Designer and Ableton's Reverb are at complete opposite sides of the spectrum. Space Designer sounds like an elegant series of echoes that can be shaped to create a unique sense of space, whereas Reverb sounds like '8 bit', 'white-noise' that clutters the samples clarity.
I have only mentioned a few of each of the DAWs features and already feel that there are far too many colours in-between for this to be a black and white observation. At this point I would explain the difference between the two as undertaking experiments in a scientist's laboratory with pipette's, beaker's, gauge's etc or making the best of an Introduction to chemistry kit. Granted you perhaps get better results out of Ableton if that is what you are used to but with a full understanding of the periodic table and all of its elements I can't help but suggest that the laboratory wins every-time. This analysis is not to be confused with regards to live performance because I am aware Ableton is unrivalled at launching stems and syncing hardware equipment through midi mapping and macro controls, this is merely focussed on production.
When remixing other producer's stems Ableton offers intuitive time-stretching options as well as one of their strongest features Envelope Automation. You can automate a section then bounce it to a new track on Logic if you want only that pattern to be automated that way, but the process is laborious as it takes longer to do and if you want to change it later you must still have the original MIDI pattern, whereas in Ableton you don't even need to bounce it as an audio file you can just automate the MIDI pattern in envelope mode and its done.
This certainly saves time with regards to precise automation techniques which helps when you are working to a deadline for a label, but if you have constantly changing automation throughout your music then both programs are pretty similar give or take the odd nuance. Though if you are a producer that feels like making the move to Logic or a new producer considering Logic over the other available DAWs then I would personally suggest Logic Pro 9 over X. I know that Logic have improved their software in some aspects and even offer completely new features in X, but I find the interface very off putting in a similar sense to Pioneer mixers, when did looking at a spaceship or a more modern 'skin' help creativity anyway?
I have attempted to be as objective as possible and not overwhelm you with a biased onslaught. This comparison could go so much deeper but I am not looking to write an encyclopaedia on every positive and negative of each program, though am very interested in all of your thoughts regarding this subject. Which program works for you and why? Which features do you wish that one program had that the other doesn't? Please feel free to share the article along with your question on the post, theres no right or wrong answer just personal preference.
Written by Michael Ainsworth
Under the MEOKO Microscope is a feature series on MEOKO where we bring you new and emerging talents that are breaking through.
We caught up with Undersound resident Harry McCanna this week. If you are not too familiar with his productions, mixes or live sets then you have three reasons to read this interview and check out his 'Soundcloud' page. Harry's productions exemplify rhythmic precision and standalone outside the confinements of pigeon-holed styles. Preferring to generate original quality rather than regurgitated quantity he releases rarely but always with clinical class. He can be found regularly toying with the ears of the Undersound audience. A humble, placid guy that speaks volumes through wax.
Picture by Daddy's Got Sweet
So you have a residency at 'Undersound', how did that come about?
Well I met Kimbo and Giovanni who run Undersound quite a while before the party started. We were often at the same nights around London and just got chatting, mainly about music. Just before christmas 2011 Kimbo told me that they were going to start a party and their plans for the first Undersound. I can remember thinking to myself "I wish I was playing". Luckily enough, a few weeks later they asked me to play at the afters, and after that they asked me to stay on as a resident.
Is there a sound or style you like to play at under sound that you wouldn't normally play or get to play at other parties?
I often find that at Undersound I push myself more. We have a crowd that is very open to new ideas, so it's the place that I can experiment the most. At the same time I want to make sure i'm really giving my best. Kimbo and Giovanni both have a really great knowledge of music, so that keeps me on my toes. I try to make sure i'm bringing different ideas each time, but still keeping in a style that I feel comfortable playing in.
I caught your set at 'Keep On Going' a couple of months back and was captivated throughout, especially by some of the unreleased productions you were playing that I later found out were your own, what kind of set-up do you produce with? With regards to the software you use and any analog or digital synths or drum machines that you like to play with?
Thank you, i'm glad you enjoyed the set. In regards to my set up I work on 'Logic Pro 9', with a 'Presonus 44VSL' and a pair of 'Yamaha HS7's. I have a couple of drum machines 'Korg ER-1' and 'Vermona DRM1 MKIII'. I also use a little 'Mooer Reecho' guitar delay pedal for adding a more live element to some tracks.
Is there anything or anyone that specifically inspires your production style?
In the time i've been DJing and producing i've gone through quite a few different styles and sounds. There's different elements in each one that I've loved and I try to apply these in my own way, to better myself.
From 2008-2010 I was listening to a lot of the UK steppy stuff that was coming out, that got me really excited. I can remember hearing the music 'Hessle Audio' was putting out for the first time and thinking "what is this"? but in a good way. The whole UK scene that has come from Garage, and Garage itself continues to influence me now. It's that rhythm, really works for me.
At the same time labels like 'Perlon' and '[a:rpia:r]' really strike a chord with me too, and of course I can always take influence from Herbert or Villalobos. There's a whole wave of labels and artists working at the moment that really inspire me too. I feel because it's happening now, I can see what is possible and that pushes me to work harder on my own tracks.
Finally, one of the main things that I don't think I'll ever stop taking influence from is the scene in London. There's such a great selection of different parties and music every weekend, and the extended group of people you meet across this scene are really inspiring. You can share ideas and hear different views every time you go out, from people of all different cultures and backgrounds.
In the past year you have recorded mixes for 'nightclubber.ro's Unknown 500' series as well as 'Project London', 'Ibiza Global Radio' and now 'YAY Italy', what do you aim to express when constructing a recorded mix?
I find recording mixes at home a real struggle. It often takes me ages to even get an idea together, and then even longer to get a recording I'm happy with! Each time I try to go through a variety of styles, not really settling on one sound for too long. The main thing for me is that it flows well, even if there are some quick changes in style I try to keep the energy consistent.
When listening to other mixes which mix series or DJs do you find most interesting?
There are so many mix and podcast series now, I find it quite hard to keep up! I probably don't listen to as many as I should really. When I do, I tend to listen to mixes from friends and people I know - Sam Bellis, Joe Williams, Antony Difrancesco, the Odd boys etc. there's so many great djs in London. I always enjoy mixes from Francesco Del Garda, Alexandra and Mattia Lapucci as well.
You have a track coming out called 'Clearer Skies' which is a personal favourite of mine, which label is this due out on? And do you have other releases coming out soon, if so when and on which label?
At the moment there aren't any real plans to get this out. We have the Undersound net label 'UndersoundLAB' and I think it could work on there, but there's nothing concrete as of yet. My track 'Ordeal' will be out soon on the next 'Delooped' release. It's a double pack VA with some really nice tracks on, i'm really happy to be working with these guys. There's a couple more possible releases soon, maybe a full EP or two, but i'm not saying anything yet.
I see your playing in Pescara, Italy later this month sounds like a great opportunity, what party is that for?
Yeah i'm really looking forward to Pescara, i've not been there before but it looks like there's a great scene there. I'm playing at a new party called 'Kulture', it will be their third one. The first was with Isherwood and Francesco Del Garda and the second one is this week with Riccardo Buccirossi and Domenico Rosa from Imprints Records. I'm playing with a really good DJ called Niff, I've met a couple of times through the Undersound boys and he's a lovely guy, it's going to be a lot of fun.
I will be very surprised if you are not playing in Europe a lot next year. Which venues would be your top 3 to play? And why?
Thank you, that would be nice. My top three would be Robert Johnson, Panorama Bar and Guesthouse. I've been to both Robert Johnson and Panorama a few times each and both have such good atmospheres. Listening to music in Robert Johnson was like listening to music at a friends house, it felt really familiar, comfortable almost. Panorama Bar I think is the holy grail for many dis across Europe. You have a fantastic crowd to play to, a big system and what looks like a nice booth to dance around in. I've never actually visited Guesthouse, but it seems like there's a constant after party going on there, and I like that.
Last of all, if you could only ever listen to one piece of music again, what would it be and why?
Ah man, this is the ultimate question, I think about it quite a lot actually. There's so much amazing music, it's almost impossible to choose. Probably something by Radiohead There There or Weird Fishes maybe, but don't hold me to that.
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