why garage is growing

This began as a response on Facebook to a friend of mine and I felt like more people should know my thoughts on why UK Garage is more respected now as a genre than it ever was before. I'm not an expert on UKG, but I've been listening to it for the past 3-4 years (and before that even, I just didn't know it yet..) and been noticing some exciting changes in its projected legitimacy and adoption.

lowest common denominator

We hear a lot of talk by musicians and other "insiders" (who are mostly either aficionados or amateur musicians who aren't doing this kind of thing full-time. I would be included in this list) about entropy in our musical lexicon. We hear talk about DJs not spinning vinyl anymore, thereby making DJing even easier than it once was (and more reliable). We hear about DJs not constructing their set in the same way as they used to, with less variation and care taken to the actual sound levels. The fact that there are people who are paid more money in an hour than most of us are paid in a day, and they aren't even really making sure they don't redline the mixer (which actually can cause damage, I've seen it in real life!) or take care to not ruin their fans' ears, is both sad and hilarious at the same time. After all, your fans aren't going to buy your music anymore if they can't hear it...

research and development

I feel like I've been posting a lot about code on this blog. It's mostly what I find myself writing about inside my text editor, but today I feel like I should change the subject a bit. I've been feverishly working on both The Wonder Bars' debut album as well as side projects with some of my friends here in the Philadelphia electronic music scene (in its various forms). One of the most fruitful collaborations has been with The Architech, a DJ I've known about for quite a while but which Philly is just beginning to get introduced to. He was one of the core guys behind the early raves at The Vaudeville Theater, where influential rave DJs like Brak (now Udachi) and Jen Mas performed in what seemed like uninhabitable conditions. This was all before my time as a raver, though, so if you really want to hear the full story you'll just have to come out to one of his shows and ask him yourself. He's a resident at Propaganda and the Bangarang! 4th Fridays monthly parties at The HeadHouse, and frequently plays the legendary PEX parties, including the most recent Heartburn at the Electric Factory.

incorporating ultrabeat into my workflow

Thanks to The Architech coming over and showing me some of the more interesting features of Ultrabeat, my drum composition has changed tremendously. I used to use ReDrum, a noble and wonderful little drum machine packaged into Reason, because of its familiar look-and-feel (its UI is modeled after the TR-909) and dead-simple feature set that was not only easy to comprehend, but easy to manipulate in a live setting. But composing in ReDrum has its drawbacks, and composing in Ultrabeat works better with the way I think drums ought to be composed in electronic music. However, this presents an interesting problem: since my live setup relies on Reason for drum beats, how am I going to get Ultrabeat patterns and sounds in Reason? So now you have Reason set up to read MIDI from Ableton, and to pump drum audio back into the sequencer through 3 separate tracks. This is the way I do things live and at home, and I hope it helps your workflow because it's certainly helped mine!