THE DIGITAL ERA
I quite passionately mentioned about finding your own vibe and having the courage of your conviction In purveying said vibe before. What I didn’t tell you, is the leg work involved. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the process, but it can literally take days of your life, getting lost in the rabbit hole and it is SO addictive!
You can set off searching for one track and before you know it, you are £38 lighter with something weird and wonderful or forgotten gems that you’ve stumbled across in the process.
Nowadays, you have millions of tracks from every genre, remixes and re- releases, at your fingertips. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the digital era!
My go to for downloads, is Beatport (other sites are available) but I have also sourced tracks from Amazon, Apple and even SoundCloud! I know there are probably so many more, and I’ve heard of ‘music pool’ subscriptions but I’ve not yet ventured down that road myself.
You can search for a specific track, or in a specific genre or time period, or there are segments like the top 100 downloads or ‘editors choice’ etc if you don’t know where to start. Personally, I can honestly say I’ve never once looked at any of the ‘charts’. I don’t usually like the mostly played stuff for playing myself.
I have a very particular vibe.. my vibe. It’s not something I’ve tried for, it’s developed from the music I grew up with. The music that’s made me throw my arms to the sky or to the floor with my accompanying bassface, the music that’s moved me, even made me cry.
Bear in mind, I grew up with my grandparents so Country and Western, the BeeGees, Queen and every Sunday morning without fail.. on a crackly LP.. The Leeds United Anthem.. without… fail, was all I heard.
When I was at college, I loved all things Marilyn Manson, System Of a Down, Alien Ant Farm, Nine Inch Nails.. you get the picture. So you can see, my ears aren’t a one trick pony, but oh how I remember the first time I heard dance music, I couldn’t get enough. Trance … the now longest standing love of my life.
Having so many options at your fingertips, can be somewhat overwhelming especially if you have your finger in more than one genre pie, but one thing I will say, is take your time looking for exactly what flicks your switches. Don’t just buy what everyone else is, or try swipe all of your mates goodies, in my opinion you just won’t stand out (again, this is all just my opinion). I’m not saying what is right or wrong, I’m just passing on things I’ve taken on board either through experience or by talking to people in the industry.
The ‘vibe’ I was talking about before I started learning to mix, I wanted to play it because I missed it. I loved THAT beat, that lift, but trance has evolved so much that I’ve not heard it since the early noughties. So that’s where my searches started. But pretty soon, I was distracted by techno, tech-house and house. I really enjoy playing all of these genres but house and electroline are my favourites in terms of fun. It’s the stuff I would dance to every Sunday at Stinkies Peephouse, from 2004 – 2011 and it’s just so fun!
So when you start downloading tracks from all these genres and then come to putting a mix together, I found that sometimes, I’d start with a goal in mind, but end up playing something entirely different, because I have such a broad spectrum in my artillery. This has caused my mind to melt on more than one occasion, it still does. Not only that, I got it into my head that I needed to stick to the debut sound I’d made… luckily my trusty mentor and dead good mates stepped in to put me straight. You’re not bound to or by anything! Remember… be bold, take risks. Nobody wants to book the ‘journey man’ – (I can’t take credit for this little nugget, I only heard it the other week ha!)
BRING BACK FINGERING!!!
I’m absolutely gutted that I missed out on the days of waiting for a new delivery at the record shop. Spending hours, or a whole day stood sampling what wares they had, befriending the guys behind the counter to get first dibs. I’ve listened wide eyed and wanting to stories of old, and having started my Happy little Accident(al) journey with vinyl, I can categorically say, that flicking through screens of names does not, in any way, measure up to the experience of carefully fingering through shelves of wax. Selecting a plethora of tracks for your ‘record box’, admiring the art work on the sleeve and the feel of it under your finger tips on the slip mat.
The only plus side to the digital take over, in my eyes, other than not having to lug about a ton of weighty record boxes, is the cost. You could pay anything from £3.99 up to hundreds for a vinyl. You can pick up downloads for pence now!
BEWARE THE BITRATE.
“Bitrate, as the name implies, describes the rate at which bits are transferred from one location to another”
Now, I’m not ashamed to admit, I learnt this lesson by buying a track that was 190 kbps, and had a little meltdown when it sounded bob compared to the other tracks that I had.
Anything below a 320 kbps, isn’t really quality enough to play in a club, especially if it’s sandwiched between newer tracks, or better quality tracks. You’ll have to skilfully blend them with the EQ’S, and gain, if you’re playing at home, but on a club sound system they just won’t transpire well. WAV’s are higher quality but a different kind of file, that doesn’t hold any metadata, but that’s about as much as I know about that at the minute.
My parting nugget of wisdom for today….
When buying or downloading tracks, be cautious of radio edits. These have been shortened for radio play to save money, so you generally lose your intro and outro, which, unless you’re Jonny fast fingers (again with the finger theme) it can be tricky and a rush to get in and out of them in a set.
Join me next time, when I reveal the story behind the Stroppy Predator nickname, the importance of presenting your ‘brand’ – including how fussy you can get over a logo.