There are many inspirational people in the music industry these days, but many people overlook the electronic musicians/DJs. One person in particular that I would look to commend is Richie Hawtin. He is most widely known for being a techno DJ that performs under a few different aliases known as Fuse, Plastikman, and himself. He is much more than just a performing and touring DJ.
Richie Hawtin, in my opinion, is one of the new age techno pioneers. Growing up in Canada, right across the lake form Detroit, the Detroit techno scene was a huge inspiration for him. After the original techno pioneers left Detroit and moved elsewhere to pursue their careers, that left a void in the techno scene. Richie brought the scene back by doing what no one else was doing, by hosting legendary underground parties and playing a new, harder, and a more cutting edge form of techno.
As he grew in popularity he started his own record label call Plus 8, which has been been merged in to his new label called Minus. Minus started in 1998 and still exists today with some of the best known techno artists to date.
Some of his other interesting ventures include partnerships with very well known software and hardware companies for DJs. He has worked hand in hand with Allen & Heath to create more a intuitive mixer called PLAYdifferently Model 1. Native Instruments has collaborated with Richie to come up with interesting effects processing in their DJ software Traktor. He is a huge component of using Ableton Live for creating his songs as well as using it to play live. Richie is always trying to create and implement new music technologies into his workflow.
His passion for sharing his music and making the electronic music community bigger has lead him to create a way for fans or other inspiring musicians to track what he is playing in real time. He did this by creating a software that works as a conduit between Traktor and Twitter that broadcasts his setlist in realtime. During its beta testing it was called TwitterDJ but after it was perfected it is now known as RADR. His Minus record label and Native instruments worked closely together to optimize Traktor for this use.
Richie Hawtin has really immersed himself in creating an experience for his listeners. Enter is another one of Richie’s projects. Its a nightclub that is only open during the summer season in Ibiza. In Enter he created an environment for the patrons to interact with the music being played by playing with new technologies such as SubPac and a collaborative music control table called Orbit.
With all of his accomplishments thus far in the music industry there is still one thing that he loves the most, his love for music. This kind of passion and determination to create new and interesting things is something that anyone can look up to. I cant wait to see what he does next.
Known as the, “godfathers of dance music” of this new generation, Daft Punk has a very interesting story. The French duo may have started overseas, but they were definitely making a huge impact in the United States with their mix of electronic/disco/techno/pop sound. They have become a dance music icon and are easily recognizable to many by the robot helmets they wear.
With their earlier releases like Homework and Discovery album, they inspired many artists in the electronic music genre; artists like Air, Justice, Miss Kittin, and the more famous DJs Skrillex and Deadmau5. When Daft Punk headlined at Coachella in 2006, some believe that their performance was, “the Ground Zero of the recent EDM explosion” (McNulty, 2014). Naturally they became very popular and after a long hiatus of making new music, they scored the soundtrack for the Tron Legacy movie. A few short years later, in 2013 they released their much anticipated album, Random Access Memories. Although it was commercially a success and would go on to win multiple Grammys, to the hardcore Daft Punk fans its was a disappointment because it strayed from the sound they are known for.
When you listen to their music from when they started to now, you can see how they progressed. I love listening to their earlier albums because it holds a special place in my heart and brings me back to amazing memories. I am not a huge fan of their latest album and the direction they took it; however, from an engineering point of view it is done extremely well and in that regard it is appealing to me.
Something that I have learned from Daft Punk is that if your passionate about something take chances. They took their love of dance music and created something for others to love and listen to. Even though some of their songs may seem repetitive and simple, sometimes the most simple things in life are the most enjoyable.
If you ask anybody who started the electronic music genre, you will probably get an answer that sounds something like this,”Kraftwerk”. According to Simon & Schuster, the German group literally invented the man-machine sound and image (2001). During any of their performances they would be dressed in slacks, a shirt, and a tie and have very little movement because they wanted to portray themselves and their sound as like a machine a robot. Although their music sounded like something that came from outer space, they always had a specific theme or concept to each of their albums.
Because of this Kraftwerk was the most influential electronic group that started in the early 70s because they were doing things no one had ever heard before. They were able to get this specific, “machine sound” because they had to create their own synthesizers and sequencing drum machines. Without them taking it upon themselves to build their own instruments, Kraftwerk might not be the influential electronic band as we know them today.
With the release of the album Autobahn they grew very quickly in popularity. Not only did they become an international sensation with Autobahn but their next two releases, Trans-Europe Express and Radio Activity helped as well. They were a big hit all the way up to the release of the album The Man-Machine. This album didn’t do as well as they previously had done. The songs they had come up with for this album were ahead of its time and people just didn’t respond to it the same as their previous albums. It wasn’t until years later when The Man-Machine album was given the credit it deserved (Video File, 2009).
I would consider myself an electronic music enthusiast and after hearing some of Kraftwerk’s work I do have to say its not something that I would listen to all the time, but their songs are very catchy and can got stuck in my very easily. What I find to be the most interesting about them is that they were able to create their own instruments and come up with a sound that no one else has achieved before. In that regard they are amazing to me.
As you may or may not know, today DJs are more mobile than ever due to constantly touring and always collaborating with other artists on new projects. They must be flexible with their time and smart about what kind of equipment they travel with when it comes to producing their next track. A lot of DJs have all they need with just a laptop but what if you needed to physically record something and wanted some thing even more portable and compact?
I recently came across this iOS software for an iPad, its called Auria Pro by Wave Machine Labs. Auria Pro is full Digital Audio Workstation on an iPad. It has all the same capabilities as your favorite DAW. Some features include recording, editing, mixing, comprehensive MIDI capabilities, sequencing, piano roll editor, real-time audio warping, powerful internal bus routing, audio quantizing, audio transient-to-MIDI conversion, groove templates, transient slicing, unlimited tracks, killer synths such as FabFilter’s One and Twin2, plus WaveMachine Labs’ own multi-format sampler, Lyra, and much more.
With your favorite microphone, an Auria compatible interface, and a lightning to USB adapter, it functions like a full studio. It also has the capabilities of using plugins as well. It comes with its own plugins and also the ability to purchase other plugin bundles from 3rd party vendors like FabFilter. Another pretty amazing feature about the Auria app is you are able to record from any other music app that you may have on your iPad. For example, if I wanted to record something in the Garageband app I can route the audio from Garageband to record simultaneously in Auria all within one iPad.
I find this idea really interesting because I would have never thought this kind of technology or capability would be possible on an iPad because of the processing power alone; however, with the power of the new iPad Pro this is an extremely powerful tool. For people that are new to DAWs this would be an easy way to learn how to work with audio and definitely a much more affordable approach. This is why I can see Auria being an option for DJs to work with. I encourage you to do more research on Auria Pro and all of the other capabilities it has to offer.
From the beginning of Marvin Gaye’s music career, he had accomplished a lot. He started as a session drummer and then later in his career he also had many releases in multiple different genres ranging from Motown, R&B, Jazz, and Soul (Marvin Gaye Biography, 2012). His most famous album, What’s Going On, has a very interesting story because of what it was influence by and its content.
Before the making of What’s Going On in 1971, Gaye was known for his popular and catchy tunes in the Motown genre (Marvin Gaye Biography, 2012). A few examples of his best hits prior to then include How Sweet It Is, It Takes Two, and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. After his duet partner Tammi Terrell died of a brain tumor, her death had a major impact on his life and would be a part of what influenced his next album What’s Going On (Cordy, 2013).
Before the idea for this album the first song, What’s Going On, was brought to him by Obie Benson of Four Tops. The Motown head, Berry Gordy Jr, did not want Gaye to record this song but after Gaye refused to record for six months, Berry proceeded to let him record it. After it became a big success Gaye was given the green light to record a whole album similar to the sound of this song (Cordy, 2013). The What’s Going On album had many influences. According to Cordy, “Gaye’s own troubles with drugs, police brutality, the return of Gaye’s brother Frankie from serving in Vietnam, violence, and pollution” are the influences behind this album (2013).
Prior to the release of the What’s Going On album, there wasn’t many artists in the Soul genre, speaking about social and political issues. Gaye was the one to incorporate these issues into his songs in the Soul genre. While listening to this album I was definitely impressed. I was impressed by the quality and the arrangement of the album, but also how pleasant it sounded while still talking about major issues. Another aspect of this album I thoroughly enjoyed was the transition from one song to the next. It was as if it was one song throughout and the transitions seemed seem-less. The whole album was well thought out worked extremely well together.
One specific genre or award category in The Grammy Awards that I find to be interesting is the engineering category. When people think about the The Grammys they think artists or performers are the only ones to receive an award, which is not the case. There aren’t as many categories for people who work on the album as there are for the artists but the engineering category, being one of them, has been around since this award ceremony was started. When it started in 1958 the category including Best Engineered Record (Classical) and Best Engineered Record (Non-Classical). What I find interesting about this is that it was called “record”, a record because that was the major form of how people were able to listen to music as opposed to today where there is plethora of different mediums to hear music. In the following years these 2 subcategories would be joined to be one category for the engineering award. It would turn into Best Engineering Contribution (Novelty), Best Engineering Contribution (Popular), then to Best Engineered Recording (Special/Novel Effects). After these few changes to the category over a 5 year span, from 1959 to 1964, Best Engineered Recording (Special/Novel Effects) stuck around for 27 years. Then in 1991 there was another change. The change was called Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical). This is still a category today along with another that was introduced in 1997 called Best Engineered Album (Classical). Whats fascinating about this change is that now we have the exact same awards today as we did when The Grammys were started. With one exception, the one word difference in the title, “Album”. I believe this to be because of the multiple forms of media we now have, as I mentioned before.
Throughout all the years The Grammy Awards have been around there are two years that stick out the most to me, 1982 being one of them and 1983 being the other. For Toto 1982 was a big year. They nearly won every major category that year. They won Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Producer of the Year. Although they did not win Best New Artist or Best Engineered Recording, their album Toto IV was the reason for J. Garszva, B. Schnee, E. Scheiner, and R. Nichols winning Best Engineered Recording. Although Toto never won another award after that year they still achieved something great in 1982. Another great year for a certain individual in 1983, named Quincy Jones, did really well. He won 3 out of the 5 major categories; Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Producer of the Year. He has won many other awards over the years for his works with Michael Jackson as well as his own. In total he has won 27 awards throughout his career and many nominations as well. Out of both of these years I would say that out of all of the nominations for Producer of the Year 1983 may have been the wrong choice. Quincy Jones was one of the the nominees in that category for his work with Michael Jackson that year. I think Quincy should have won it for the shear fact that the work he did with Michael Jackson is amazing and timeless.
The Beatles, known for there trendy pop music, take a step out their normal style and explore the new sound of a Psychedelic rock with their album Revolver. Throughout this article we will take a look at what influenced this new sound, some techniques went into the recording of this album, and how I feel about this album as a listener and as an engineer.
Before The Beatles released one of their most famous albums, Revolver which is widely viewed as one of the first, if not the very first, truly psychedelic rock album (Hlavaty, 2011), was already known world wide. They were widely known for their, “cute and cuddly image that had dominated earlier in its career” (Beaudoin, 2012), but during a break from their extensive touring the members of the band started using drugs such as marijuana and LSD (Ingles, 2006). The use of these drugs had a heavy influence on the making of Revolver. During their sessions in the studio a lot of new techniques were used to get the sound they were looking for. Techniques like artificial vocal doubling, reverse tape effect, and using a leslie speaker on vocals. These techniques were so new that they were being done on the fly and the technology of the studio had a hard time keeping up (Hlavaty, 2011). The artificial vocal doubling was done by copying a vocal track and delaying one of the tracks by a coupe milliseconds, Also sending a vocal track through a leslie speaker gave a strange effect that some say it made it sound like it was underwater (Ingles, 2006).
In my opinion, Revolver, is a fantastic album. A lot of people consider it to be one of the greatest albums of all time. Although no one can say for sure what album is the greatest, I will say that it is definitely up there. I was enticed from the beginning because it starts out with an extremely catchy sound, but throughout the rest of the album it has such a wide range of different sounding songs I needed to know what came next. Nowadays the recording techniques they used back then are much easier now and have somewhat become a standard sound in most songs. The fact that they were able to come up with accomplish those techniques back then is amazing by itself. I have heard the majority of The Beatles most popular songs and didn’t really consider myself to be a Beatles fan, but after hearing this album in its entirety from start to finish, I am now.
What is there to say about the album Pet Sounds performed by The Beach Boys? Many people would say that Pet Sounds was one of the most influential albums in Pop music. We will be discussing the sound of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and what his influence on the album was, what makes this album different and unique, and finally some personal opinions on what I think about Pet Sounds.
Before May 1966, when Pet Sounds was released, The Beach Boys were considered mostly to be Surf music or Pop music. It wasn’t until Brian Wilson heard one of the Beatles album, Rubber Soul, that took their sound in a different direction (Anderson, 2006). This new sound would be classified as Psychedelic rock because of the use unconventional instruments.
Brain Wilson is one of the founding members of The Beach Boys and the man behind the making of Pet Sounds. He had taken a break from touring with The Beach Boys and during that break wrote what some people say is the best album of all time, Pet Sounds (Pet Sounds). He was the primary composer in the band and composed all the songs from Pet Sounds. The instrumental part of the song Pet Sounds, was originally intended for a James Bond movie; it was going to called Run James Run.
This album wasn’t like anything that anyone had heard before. Brian had used a multitude of different instruments. To name a few he used bicycle bells, dog whistles, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans and barking dogs (Pet Sounds). This album was considered to be so great that it inspired on of the greatest bands of all time, The Beatles, to make an album. The Beatles producer George Martin said, “Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened….Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds” (Greene, 2014).
After listening to Pet Sounds multiple times here are my thoughts about it. Even though it was considered to be one of the best albums of all time, I wouldn’t totally agree with that statement. When I hear Pet Sounds I don’t hear Psychedelic rock, I hear something that has a folk feel to it and I don’t really relate to that. Although I may not like the music itself I do have to say that the way that it was recorded and engineered is fantastic. Particularly the vocals is what I like the most. In the end I think The Beach Boys and especially Brian Wilson did a great on the album Pet Sounds.