Archive for the 'Deep House' Category



Thinking About the Playedoh Label Showcase- Deep House Mix

So, with the Playedoh Records Label Showcase just a week away, I thought it was probably time to start thinking about which sounds deserve a spot in the digital crate.

Take a listen to the mix on Mixcloud and answers on a postcard please…

Tainted Jazz – Poncho Warwick – Guesthouse Music

Season Finale (Original Mix) – Juan Lombardo – Shelving Music

Can Get Witcha (Original Mix) – Dimitry Liss – Eyepatch Recordings

Hot (Original Mix) – Flashmob – Defected

You Make My Dreams Come True (Original Mix) – Jonny Bee – UM Records

Philosophy (Original Mix) – Deep Active Sound – Two House Recordings

Moruno (Original Mix) – Amyi – Deep Nota

Maximum (Joyce Muniz Remix) – Claptone – Exploited

Dharbour (Original Mix) – Animal Picnic – Delicious Recordings

Hope you enjoy!

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Fynn’s Autumn to Christmas Sounds

It has been long overdue time for a new chart on Beatport, so, without further procrastination, some of my favourite tunes of recent weeks that will likely be the cornerstone of my net mix and upcoming gigs:

Para Mis Amigos featuring Omegaman (Instrumental) – Omegaman, Empresarios – Fort Knox Recordings

Can Get Witcha (Original Mix) – Dimitry Liss – Eyepatch Recordings

NYC Sunset (Original Mix) – Jonny Bee – UM Records

Dharbour (Original Mix) – Animal Picnic – Delicious Recordings

No Sympathy (Original Mix) – Maya Jane Coles – Elite Records

Brotherman (Original Mix) – Detroit Swindle – Freerange Records

Deep is All You Need (Evren Ulusoy’s Cosmic Deep Dub) – Edmund – I Records

Child (NY Stomp Remix) – George Fitzgerald – Aus Music

Sunday Gathering (Dyed Soundorom Remix) – Hanfry Martinez, Terence:Terry: La Vie En Rose

Twisted Sister (Original Mix) – M.A.N.D.Y. – Get Physical Music

Hope you all approve!

Dharbour (Original Mix)- Animal Picnic

Released on 1st October on Delicious Recordings, Dharbour is the second track from the Bean City EP from Animal Picnic and I love it. In some ways I wish I didn’t, but I just do. Those incredibly 80s sounding synth chords and the bassline just work for me. Yes, it has a hint of Beverley Hills Cop-era cheese about it, but I have been listening to this over and over again recently. This is going on the next mix I think!

Redwood City EP out Now on General Release

With some great support from Amazing Beats (thanks Mark!), my first release on Deep Nota, the Redwood City EP, is now available from all good digital retailers!

Redwood City shows my love of the deeper and jazzy side of house music; from smooth electric pianos, lilting trumpets and soulful vocal accents inspired by the sounds of classic deep house to more progressive and contemporary driving basslines, chopped chords and breakbeats.

Going Live- PA and performance sound for the DJ

Now, given that this site is predominantly about house music, I don’t want to head into ‘mobile disco’ territory here. If you’re playing music out, then chances are that you are plugging into an existing system in your venue. If you’re playing big clubs, there will already be an installation waiting to go, and all you need to do is get set up with your tunes in the booth.

What I want to talk about here, are some of the situations in which the deep house dj might find themselves, where you are playing in small bars, really providing a background soundtrack for the night, rather than taking over the entire room. And it is these situations that can often require a bit more thought and preparation.

First of all, make sure what is expected of you and be clear on what your role is for the night. Talk to the manager and try and get a feel for what sort of atmosphere they want for the venue. If it is a bar, with people sitting talking, think about your volume carefully. I have heard a lot more people complain that the music is too loud than complain about it being too quiet.

Find out (ideally several days in advance) what the venue’s music setup is and work through a checklist of questions:

Do they have a built-in set up with an amp you can plug into direct from your mixer?

What type of connections?

How far from the amp will your setup be?

How long do your cables need to be?

How is the in-house system set up? Is it summed to mono or does one part of the bar get the left while another gets the right? (This actually seems to happen quite a lot…)

In some venues that are basically bars, there may be a small space suitable as a dancefloor, but without additional sound reinforcement there. One solution I have used in the past is to use a single powered PA speaker on its side, much like a monitor wedge for a foldback mix on stage. Many modern PA speakers are designed so that they can be turned on their sides like this and angled up.

In the case of deep house music, you can’t really skimp on your low frequency extension, so look for speakers that extend down to 50 Hz or below. In a lot of cases, this means looking at 15″ woofers supplemented with a high-frequency horn. Normally, this would cause problems as, once woofers get to above 10″ or 12″, the cross0ver frequency ends up in the middle of the vocal range, reducing intelligibility. However, for most styles of EDM, this shouldn’t cause too many problems, as the rest of the venue system should cover this range well, and the point of this speaker is purely to supplement the bass frequencies in one specific area.

You will also need to consider how to add this additional speaker to your setup. If your mixer has an additional set of outputs, you can sum the L+R pair using appropriate cables to your powered speaker. If not, using splitter cables is perhaps not the best option. If you use one pair of outputs to feed multiple destinations, you will change the impedance load seen be that output, this will attenuate the output, with the amount of attenuation varying by frequency. If your situation requires splitting the signal, consider using an inexpensive small-format mixer, most of which will offer multiple outputs in the form of main, control room, tape outputs and auxilliary sends. An additional useful purchase is a stereo graphic equalizer, allowing you to tailor the sound to the characteristics of the room. Remember that if you soundcheck early, the sound of the room will change as it fills up with people.

Perhaps the most useful tips are the basics: do your homework and find out about the venue system; take many more cables than you need, as well as a box full of adapters; ‘Greal’ your setup, using different colours of electrical tape to label your cables so you can quickly find your way around what can quickly become a complicated nest of wires; buy the best cables you can, the quality of the wire isn’t as important as the connectors and good ones will survive a lot more plugging and unplugging; always carry duct tape and a good few electrical extension cords and multiways.

Hopefully, in most situations when you dj out you won’t have to worry too much about the setup, and any additional equipment you add won’t be nearly as complicated as if you were engineering a live band performance and having to worry about monitor mixes, stage boxes, phase issues etc. However, reading about large concert live sound engineering is never a bad way to spend your time, and it’s always better to know a little too much than not quite enough!

Tell Me (Instrumental)- Andre Crom

The instrumental version was my pick of the three tracks on this release from Andre Crom, which dropped on the 28th May 2012 on Freerange Records. At a head-noddingly reassuring 120 bpm, it was never going to be a late-night dance floor stomper, but I can’t think of another tune I’ve heard recently that sent me away to another place in my head, a place I would much rather have been…

For some reason, the original vocal mix didn’t quite work for me in the same way. I think perhaps that extra addition to the track just tipped it towards being too prominent and attention-grabbing, whereas the instrumental just gets on and does its job quietly in the background.

Equally suited for late night play in a bar as you escape Britain’s rain-infused summers for the warmth of a drink and a leather sofa or for a nice spot next to a Balearic beach, this one will definitely be getting a lot of play and will be appearing in my next mix…

Take a listen at Beatport.

Audio ‘Engineering’?

In the April 2012 issue of Sound on Sound, the Sounding Off article –a regular column in which people can raise issues and air their thoughts- was written by Jez Wells, a lecturer in music technology. Jez currently has a fellowship with the Royal Academy of Engineering and is interested in collating the training, experience and skills that those who might currently be called ‘audio engineers’ have. It is an interesting read and makes some interesting points. You can find some of the responses to his column on his blog, and they do make interesting reading. Below are some of my thoughts (you might want to read the column first!):

My training is in research science, but I’ve always had a keen interest in music; starting from the childhood piano lessons, through playing guitar in indie bands, until I discovered deep house music and moving more into production and putting together a home studio. I was an assistant professor in viral immunology, but now work solely on music.

To begin with, I have no problem with the use of the term engineer in an audio recording context, regardless of whether someone has a degree or attained chartered status. You can be a great artist without going to art college, and look at the great science that has been done in the past by hobbyists, and the clergy in particular.

I also think that the quote in the article that said “the audio ‘engineers’ you describe are generally not scientifically trained” was perhaps off the mark. I don’t know of any engineers who are scientifically trained; that is not their job, and it shouldn’t be.

Science is an abstract concept, which uses experiment to derive a set of conclusions, which establish a working theoretical framework. Engineering is concrete; engineers take this framework and apply the knowledge to a tangible output. The scientists come up with the rules of fluid dynamics, the engineers build the plane, the scientists work out the laws governing transmission of forces, the engineers build the bridge. Building a bridge is not a place for experiment.

As for the comment about miking a guitar amp, for from being non-scientific, that is the essence of scientific discovery. Pure experimentation is what science is. If you look at the philosophy of the scientific method as put forward by people like Karl Popper, knowledge can only come through experience. If you don’t try that other mic at that other distance at that particular angle off the axis, you can’t know if it will sound better or not.

The major sticking point I see with the term ‘engineer’, is that is purely, and perhaps arbitrarily used to define the people either side of the glass. You can make a very convincing argument that hearing a guitar part and knowing that it needs a 3 dB peaking cut at 2.6 kHz and that compression from a Distressor will sound better than from an 1176 is an artistic skill, rather than an engineering one.

My own personal thoughts are that the recording engineer is artist, engineer and scientist; it takes intuition, technical knowledge and knowing how to experiment to do the job. Engineer is just a job title. They may not be able to play the musical parts, they may not be able to build a mixing desk, they perhaps inhabit the middle ground, maybe they should be ‘artineers’…

Good Ol’ Days (Frank Sebastian Remix)- Alex Deep & Alistair Gillespie

Released at the end of last month on Gooseneck Records, I’ve spent a good amount of time listening to this over the last few weeks, as I wasn’t quite sure whether I was a fan of it or not, or if it would languish at the back of the virtual record box. However, I now have a decision, it’s a grower, and I love it.

At first, I wasn’t sure about that extra kick drum hit at the seventh eighth note in each bar that kicks in (please excuse the pun) from the first bar. I’ve never been a fan of mixing that, it always sounds, to my ears, a bit less than smooth. The acoustic bass elements add an edge of uneasiness as well when in isolation, and uneasiness isn’t something I usually want from my deep house.

Everything changes when the filtered EP chords and vocals come in though, and we’re back in familiar deep house territory. The EP chords are the big switch for this track: when they’re there, you have classic, smooth house music; when they go, you’re back to that harder-edged uneasiness.

All the time though, my foot kept tapping and my head kept nodding, and I suppose you can’t ask for much more than that…

Find it here on Beatport.

Chris Minus- Finding Spaces (Marc Cotterell’s Late Night Mix)

Released at the end of last month on UM Records, this is my choice track from the Finding Spaces EP from Danish producer Chris Minus.

This track, for me, is what deep house is all about. A simple and elegant selection of sounds, a straightforward arrangement, lacking even any real breakdown, and then you have those two filtered chords that are the substance of the track.

With those elements in place, it’s deep house business as usual. The main synth is complemented by a simple humming-like vocal line, which provides just enough interest without becoming obtrusive and dominating the mix.

I really do like this track, it is the perfect example of how, if you pick the right sounds, you don’t need to have overly complicated arrangements and complicated effects trickery to make a track interesting; although there is enough ear candy here to keep things moving along. This should be a staple of bar sets everywhere.

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Headphones Review

DT-880 Pros are pretty well reviewed already –they’ve been around for a while, after all- so why should you read this one? Well, first of all it’s another opinion and, secondly, as far as I can find, no-one has talked about their suitability for house music production on the road using an Apogee One as an interface. I’ll assume that you’ve read some other reviews and product descriptions, so I’ll not repeat all of the basics and just concentrate on my experience with these headphones.

DT 880 Pro: Build Quality, Comfort and Appearance

Let’s start with comfort. Despite being a bit heavier than its main competitors, the Sennheiser HD650s and the AKG K701s, these are comfortable ‘phones. There isn’t too much downward pressure on the top of your head; the inward pressure feels reassuring, with a feeling of closeness without causing any discomfort, even after long listening sessions. The material used for the padding is smooth and soft, and doesn’t make your head too sweaty, which is always a bonus.

Appearance is pretty good too. The ‘phones come in a nice foam-lined zip up case and look the part. If I have any complaints, it’s that the cradles that support the cups look like a bit of a design afterthought, and the exposed cabling looks thin and fragile, but then, these headphones are cheaper than both the AKGs and the Sennheisers.

Build quality and potential long-term functionality is where I start to have issues. First off, the cable is non-detachable, being moulded into the bottom of one of the cups, so any wiring issues are going to be complicated to resolve, with higher repair bills, as described in this review. If I’m being honest, I don’t think any phones at this price point should have moulded cables, particularly those with ‘Pro’ in the name.

I’m also not sure about running that thin little cable from one cup to the other by tucking it under the detachable headband. Those cables seem very delicate, and I’m genuinely quite concerned about them snagging on something at somepoint, having them pulling out of the cups, and expensive repair bills resulting. Not sure that this feeling of breakability inspires confidence in a pair of working headphones. Compared with my Sennheiser HD555s, which were a third of the price, this cup to cup cabling arrangement seems poor.

The size adjustment is also a bit clunky, with the cup, brackets sliding back and forth in not a particularly smooth way. This is something I expect to be doing a lot of, as, with the ‘phones fitted to my head, putting them back in the case means that the moulded cable is at quite an extreme angle, and under a lot of stress, due to the snug fit in the case, so, to minimise that, I have to push the brackets back in again. Then, every time I resize, I’m concerned I’m going to catch the cables with my fingers.

DT 880 Pro: Sound

The sound performance is where the DT 880 Pros redeem themselves. These are the best ‘phones, from an accuracy perspective, that I’ve heard. The HD650s are perhaps more exciting to listen to, with the more ‘hyped’ bass response, but for critical mix decisions, I’d feel more comfortable trusting these; everything just seems more flat, and ‘egalitarian’ in the mix. Bass is low and extended, but feels well controlled. These are exceptionally good sounding headphones for the money.

Listening through an Apogee One after allowing a good length of burn in time, playing a variety of tracks showed this to be a good, reliable performer, from Alison Krauss to Maya Jane Coles, via KT Tunstall, Teenage Fanclub, Jacqueline du Pre and The Pretenders. I enjoyed the level of detail, accurate soundstage and the depth of the mix that was presented. Great performers.

DT 880 Pro: Deep House Production

So, the real reason for using these ‘phones, those late night deep house production sessions when using monitors is out of the question. After firing up Ableton Live 8, plugin 112 dB’s excellent Redline Monitor plugin into the master effects, I got to work. I can’t remember the last time I found it this easy to dial in a good kick sound. I usually layer two or three, and filter and eq to get them working together, then compress. I had a sound I was happy with in next to no time. Balancing and eqing my layered clap and snare hits was a breeze, and before I knew where I was, I had the bass sitting comfortably in a hole and, to me at least, a reasonably complete groove going on.

As I’ve discussed in a previous post, I would rather mix on good headphones than cheap monitors in an untreated room; these ‘phones have raised the bar as to what good monitors in a good room are. I can see myself spending a lot more time mixing on these, the level of detail available to make those critical decisions and hear those little distortions is fantastic. Combined with the Redline plugin, I really do have the confidence to make mix decisions on these.

DT 880 Pro: Summary

Well, the sound is spectacular, I feel happy mixing on these, and would much rather mix on these than speakers that are getting to a less than modest price point. The issue for me really is that feeling of delicacy, and, if there is a problem, a large repair bill. Despite the protective case, I can’t picture myself travelling with these ‘phones, which is a shame as it would be fantastic not to have to waste hours remixing everything when I get back to the studio. Unfortunately, I think I’ll stick to my K271 mkIIs for the road, even with their lack of bass response, purely as they feel more robust and have a detachable cable. Oh, and their closed back so I’ll annoy fewer people in coffee shops!


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