Marlow – This Is It

Mid tempo electronic music is getting ever more popular, and Marlow’s latest EP is a great example… Continue Reading

Make a Track Without Leaning on the Genre

It’s getting a little hard to hark back to the days when dubstep was an emerging sound that was quietly gathering acclaim as a movement that housed some of the most creative and forward thinking electronic musicians in the world; impossible to pigeon hole, on the cutting edge of production technique and ideas, dubstep was an antidote to cookie cutter music and a constant pallet cleansing experience. In under six years from first poking its head above the parapet and getting hit by its first signs of mainstream acceptance, dubstep has become a victim of its own success and the public face of the genre is perhaps now amongst the most formulaic of any music in recent history, based almost solely around the visceral effects of hard synths and wobbling drops and eschewing any pretence of smart songwriting.

Keep the blueprint, change the tools

The original genre luminaries have largely disowned dubstep as an allegiance and are busy behind the scenes creating the same new, exciting music they always were, albeit without calling it anything in particular. The important point is that as soon as you define a genre by a specific sound as opposed to an approach or a philosophy, the walls close in, freedom gets reduced, and what was once an exciting, edgy side to a broad spectrum of music suddenly becomes cliched and, without different audio aesthetics to bounce off, samey sounding.

Still with me?! Good. This assignment is all about remembering what it is you love about making music by removing the most overused technique you have from your audio pallet. Do you make dubstep, and do you abuse that wobble formula a little too much? Glitch and breaks, and sit a little too hard on those auto beat stutter plugins? How about hip hop, and stuck sampling the same sounding records, with the same chops…

Throw it out! Try and approach the same goal with your music, without using your most overused tool to get there. Take a look at these examples of tracks that exemplify what I’m talking about:

Examples

I’m a nut for detroit hip hop, and to extend a cliche, J Dilla changed my life. A particular track that had a huge effect on me, however, was Slum Village’s Tainted, produced by Karriem Riggins. The soul, swing, and unmistakeable groove of my favourite sound is all over the track, but rather than being a sample based outing, the lead line is a live played electric piano. Getting the confidence to play instruments to create grooves rather than rely on records made me think about how I liked music to sound in a whole new light…

If you need any further inspiration to think outside the box and expand your style, Boonie Mayfield has taken the concept of moving from sampling vinyl to playing samples he would have looked for and run with it:

I’ve laid into dubstep a little bit today, but the truth is that because ‘dubstep’ was just a label that meant many things to many people, there’s really no canonical way of retelling ‘where it all went wrong’. At its most basic, though, I’d characterise dubstep as a genre that relied on laid back, even half time drum patterns, with the rhythmical drive dictated by bass. To that end, James Blake fits the bill and his particular brand of sub bass heavy, borderline experimental music is simply an approach to the same end as anyone else experimenting with halftime percussion and floor shaking sub frequencies…

We’d love to hear your assignments, as always. Let us know in the comments too if you’ve any particularly nice examples of music that is exemplified by its approach rather than simply aping the most popular contemporary sound!

Yung Miss – The J. Dilla Project

I know that Dilla tribute projects are ten a penny… perhaps more. It’s always easy to listen to some Dilla beats, but all too often the artists who jump on the tracks just aren’t up to scratch – and even when they are, the aforementioned glut of projects means that there tends to be a definitive version by that one emcee. Continue Reading

C2C – Down the Road EP

You may or may not know that in addition to all things music production, I’m also a turntable nut. C2C have thus been on my radar for a long time, considering they’re in strong contention for the greatest turntablism group act of all time, completely dominating the DMC Team Championships for pretty much the entire time they competed.

Unlike many excellent turntablists, who for whatever reason have either kept their DJ and production identities firmly separate or not quite been able to commit the excitement of their live performances to record, C2C have been able to cross over into the world of production and merge their quick fader fingers and record hands seamlessly into the mix.

Their latest EP – Down the Road – has been available for a couple of months, but promotion has been limited to their homeland (France) until now, when they’re gearing up for a big ole global release. What we love about C2C isn’t just the aforementioned ability to blend turntablism into their records, but their general ear for taking different sounds and mashing them into a coherent whole to create an almost genre transcendent record. Elements of hip hop, soul, dubstep, jazz, big beat, and more besides pepper the EP, and it sounds fantastic.

The video to F.U.Y.A. is pretty sweet too – not simply for the clever concept, but for giving you an idea of the separate parts of the production process. Check it out, and go get the full EP from iTunes, unless you want to wait for the UK Vinyl release on the 7th of May…

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Boonie Mayfield: Boon Documented

After independently releasing one of our favourite LPs of last year, Black Koolaid, Boonie Mayfield is back with another project – this time on film. Doing things independently has gone way past just music in the past couple of years, with independent video makers utilising platforms like YouTube and Vimeo to create their own video shows, series, and even banding together for independent online video networks. Boon Documented is reality TV without the wannabes, and gives viewers an insight into Boonie’s life and musical path. In this first episode Boonie makes the dream of many a soul producer a reality and buys his own Fender Rhodes, and we get to go on the journey to find, collect, and install it with him. Boonie and friends’ talent and enthusiasm is portrayed superbly  throughout the show, and we’re really excited about having an interesting, independent video series to watch over the coming months. Watch it below, and subscribe to Boonie’s YouTube channel to get new episodes delivered to your YouTube homepage as they become available! (You’re subscribed to the Oh Drat YouTube channel too, right?!) You can also read our interview with the man himself here when you’re done…

Himal - Makin' Moves

Himal – Makin’ Moves

Just a single track today, but we hope that Himal’s Makin’ Moves is indicative of his forthcoming EP. The track is rich with tonality, a fact that’s likely attributable to the combination of artists involved in the composition.

Himal’s soulful, modern sound is given impressive width and depth

Kensaye the producer, Andrew Yeates on keys, Jack Stevens on bass, previously featured artist Cherri Prince on backing vocals, and Mr Dex providing scratches allows not only each instrument but the character of the player to bring the track to life, and each element – along, of course, with Himal’s soulful, modern sound and simple laid back lyricism – is given impressive width and depth in the recording by Kensaye. Enjoy the free download!

Colonel Red

Colonel Red – Rain a Fall Remix Contest

We’re big fans of Tokyo Dawn Records, a label that spills out at the seams with funk, soul, and boogie talent.

Tokyo Dawn have decided to offer up the vocal stems to Rain A Fall for a remix competition

Stable regular Colonel Red’s latest album Keep Walkin’ is packed with inventive, inspired neo soul, and the label have decided to offer up the vocal stems for Rain A Fall – a classy melting pot of jazz, g funk and r&b – for a remix competition. Entries don’t have to be in until the very end of the year, and winners will be picked for a TDR released remix LP along with prizes and a chance to work with Red on an original track. Give it a go by downloading the stems from here!
Colonel Red – Rain A Fall by Tokyo Dawn Records

Boonie Mayfield

Interview: Boonie Mayfield

Boonie Mayfield, aka Boon Doc, came to prominence through his YouTube videos; considering most beatmaking clips are lucky to break a four figure view count, the fact that one of Boonie’s is approaching a million views is indicative of something special. Despite years of putting in work (and putting out videos) he’s only  just released his debut LP, but as you’ll see from our review we were relieved to find it was worth it. We caught up with Boonie for a chat on production style, advice, perseverence, and a whole lot more…

 

Oh Drat: Was creating something that more than ‘just’ a beat tape something that was important to you?

Boonie Mayfield: Yeah, it was really important. Basically, I’ve been on the YouTube scene and everything like that for the past four years, and people have been waiting forever for an album.

“a lot of the stuff I was hearing I thought I could recreate and it would sound like something I would sample”

I’d started using Ableton to do live sets and originally Black Koolaid was gonna be an instrumental album but it was gonna be ‘normal’, you know, and what ended up happening was I was practicing one of my sets I was gonna do for a show, and I burned it on CD just to ride to and see how it sounded, and I was like “you know what? This is gonna be Black Koolaid. A listening experience where everything flows”… I was more excited about the album once I decided that.

OD: Gotcha – so when it comes to the way everything flows, what are you using? Did we hear Stutter Edit in there, or is it custom stuff in Live?

BM: Ahaaa! (laughs) A lot of people have been asking that, and I’ve been kinda keeping it a secret! I use a lot of the effects that are in Ableton, but there are a couple of programs… I’ll give one of ‘em away, The Finger from Native Instruments. I set up the automation to the faders and pads and do all that stuff live.

OD: I gather you had a bit of bad luck about 18 months ago when your studio got turned over – it must’ve felt like the end of the world at the time, but what did having to build your set up from the ground up again do for your sound and approach?

BM: I’d just started to dabble in Logic around that time, and at the time I was rebuilding the studio there were just so many VSTs and AUs that were coming out that I was just researching, you know, “what VST has really good sounding horns?” and all that stuff, and I built a pretty good arsenal of a lot of instruments that sound to me really authentic. Although I love sampling I kinda got a little bored for a while, and at the same time learning all this music theory and getting better with keys and all that, so a lot of the stuff I was hearing I thought I could recreate and it would sound like something I would sample – that’s what started happening after I got robbed. After it happened I think a lot of people thought I was was gonna lose my mind, and to tell you the truth I did… for like an hour. Something in me just kept on telling me “this is not over”. Truth be told it was kind of a struggle for a bit, but I wouldn’t take it back at all.

OD: It’s good to hear that it kind of turned into a positive experience, I guess.

BM: Yeah, it definitely did! (laughs)

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Boonie Mayfield - Black Koolaid

Boonie Mayfield – Black Koolaid

Soul is a term that a lot of producers seem keen to have associated with their music – browse any repository’s soul section and you’ll find a glut of music that… well, isn’t soul.

When Boonie Mayfield calls himself a Hip Hop and Soul producer he means it in the truest sense

We’re not purists per se, but I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to call hip hop beats with soul samples soul. When Boonie Mayfield calls himself a Hip Hop and Soul producer however, he means it in the truest sense of the word. Black Koolaid features 23 cuts, three of which sound like they’ve been pulled straight off old Buddha and Stax instrumental sessions. For my money they’re actually the strongest points of the LP, but that’s not to discount the other 20, which are slices of neck snapping prowess with a definitely Detroit sounding bent. Filtered chords, rimshots and fingersnaps are the order of the day, but there’s enough variation to ensure things stay interesting throughout and with Black Koolaid’s pay-what-you-like price tag, there’s very little reason not to give this a chance to woo you.

Available directly from booniemayfield.com, take a look at a video performance from the launch party below – and we’ll have an exclusive interview with Boonie on Oh Drat next week, so stay tuned!

Supraphonics

Supraphonics – Supraphonics

Classical, sun soaked instrumental funk and soul music seems to more or less something that is only heard in the 70s sections of record stores or in the hands of covers bands.

would – or should – you sample this?

So, it’s with a not inconsiderable amount of surprise that we came across this self titled album comprising solely of instrumental music from Supraphonics, a Portland based funk band. For a moment we wrestled with whether the question of whether or not the Supraphonics sound was a little pastiche, before pulling ourselves together and remembering all the unashamed genre music that we’ve been happy to lap up from more electronic climes. That question made way for another, then; would – or should – you sample this? One one hand it’s barely finished gestating (and Chris’s ‘vinyl only’ self imposed rule precludes him from even considering it), but on the other, if there’s inspiration what’s to really stop you? After all, a genuine J Dilla classic, Busta Rhyme’s Show Me What You Got, sampled Stereolab’s Come Play in the Milky Night mere months after its release.

What do you think?

 

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