Saturday, April 26, 2008

So You Wanna Be A DJ: Part 3

So now you've got the basics and setup, you've chosen your weapon of choice. What really sets DJ's apart from one another is their production. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to mix two records together but you have to acquire real skills to become a professional DJ/Producer. What creates a fan base is your music. Look at any of the greats, pioneers if you like, [BT,Paul Van Dyk, Erick Morillo, Deep Dish, Nick Fancouli, Robbie Rivera] and you'll see that none of them are just DJ's. More or less any top DJ you look at will have a mini empire of their own. Including their own sound, their own label, in fact it takes a great team working hard to make a great DJ. So what you really need to do is start making music, this is what's gonna get you gigs. [well good ones anyway]

The first thing you should do is spend time listening to as many producers and DJs as you can and decide which direction you'd like to go in. Pay close attention to the arrangement as there is a formula to this. It really pays off spending time listening to music and learning from your heroes because it can take months to even years to really find your niche.

Because I use Logic [and Logic kicks ass], I'll be talking about how I use it to make music. This doesn't mean of course that you can't use one of the many other daws out there. There are plenty of other great platforms, some of which I have mentioned previously [ableton live, fruity loops, acid pro, reason, nuendo, cubase...] that are great for music production as well.

Choosing Sounds:
This is really up to your personal taste but starting with great sounds is key. Whether you're making them from scratch or sampling you'll want to make sure the sounds are clean, undistorted, and suit the mood you intend to create. I think less is more. One of the easy traps to fall into is using 46,000 sounds in one track because you keep finding things that you like and you get too attached to sounds to let them go. I try to keep my arrangements minimal, sometimes with as few as 10 tracks for the whole song. This gives each sound an opportunity to stake its claim on the sonic space it occupies while also pushing me to make sure that my sounds are hands-down-kick-ass every time.

For beginners, a great way to start sketching is to set a 4 bar loop in your sequencer, and run through preset sounds whether they be apple loops, fruity loops, synth presets, etc. Just getting into the groove of hearing what types of sounds compliment each other is an invaluable tool. In fact i know producers who make a great living never touching a computer, mix desk, or synth, but rather just knowing exactly the type of sound that will take a track to the next level.

Once you've got an idea for the sonic experience you want to shower your listeners with and have identified the sounds that rustle your feathers, you're ready to start laying down a groove.
I'll get into the specifics in a couple weeks when we'll discuss how to make a kick throb and what will make your synths take flight.

In the meantime head over to my website and sign up on the mailing list to get your free track I'll be sending out on the first of May.

I've also just bombed my MySpace player with fresh tracks so head over to or my website to have a taste.

luv and bass, DJ RAP

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What can I say about Miami this year? as a veteran,( Ive been going for over 10 years) I've seen alot of changes, people seemed to be wise to it it now, for example, it;s so damn expensive that people really plan their 3 to four days,( hotels cost from 200 to 800 per night) it used to be that everyone went for a week and we all moved like a crazed herd from one party to the nest, totally united. now we are all fragmented, no more long waits to get in, no more attitude from the bouncers. we trust brands now, not the DJ, we believe those promoters that throw quality not quantity. everyone thinks this business is easy, but ask those who lost money if they think that's the case now. Is this good or a bad thing? well we shall see....for me it was good, I knew where to go and when to be there, I knew who I wanted to see and ignored the rest.I got so much business done that for once it actually helped my label and career...meetings at 9am on the beach can't be a bad thing except for the fact I was in bed after my sets most nights. I know, I know, lame. still, I played 5 shows that were wicked and the early bird certainly catches the worm....
Best party? JUICY..... and can I say how fucking cool ROBBIE RIVERA is? I'm so happy to see him and his team doing so well, they worked hard for it.
I met up with my artistes sanchez and the shockers and joey modus and we all performed together at EUPHORIA which was awesome..... I love those guys,after the show wearing wigs and having a blast we went to OPIUM GARDENS where we hung out some more with PAUL VAN DYK. who is also the most incredibly cool, nice cat, I wanna say thanks to all at his camp for being so very hospitable.... now, earlier, at the IDMA awards I had won an award for BEST DRUM AND BASS ALBUM, 'BRAVE NEW WORLD" this was collaboration of myself and KENNY KEN and HYPE, RANDALL, G SQAUD , DJ SS, and many more....we made this eons ago, so it was really nice to finally get recognized....( and I got to wear a dress which shocked many).....especially my publicist LAINE. Now this woman is a force to be reckoned with, and boy, does she get the job done. We have been through alot together and sometimes it was tough, but she always does everything out of real love and passion for this scene and is a fierce supporter of electronica. So, THANKS YOU LAINE!!!!
I could go on for hours about the good times but I can't really print it, no doubt you all have stories far superior to mine anyway.......whether it's a good thing or a bad thing is measured by the memories you will take home with you, whether it's an award, a new boyfriend or a hangover or just a plain grand old time....see you next year!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So You Wanna Be A DJ: Part 2

As promised, here is the second edition of my propa journal series "So you wanna be a dj," where I'll be talking about my production setup in the studio. Many of you know that most successful DJ's not only spin records, but produce their own music as well. This is a must!!! And while there are many different ways of doing this, it's becoming easier and easier to produce great music from your bedroom, bathroom, garage, wherever the mood strikes.

Something to consider, again, is that all the pieces of gear I'm listing here are not necessarily what you have to use, it's just what I use. There are plenty of other alternatives that may fit your budget, platform, or personality better. That said...

Part 2: Production Equipment
DAW: The centerpiece of any music production setup is a DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] which is what you will record into, edit with, and mix and master your music on. [If you're way ahead of this, stay with me, I just want to get everyone on board]
I primarily use Logic Pro 8 by Apple, but that doesn't mean I don't get my hands into Albeton Live on a regular basis either... It really depends on what exactly I'm doing in the studio. If I'm starting from scratch and I just need to get an idea down on disk quickly I'll use Ableton. I'll also use it if I want to do some experimenting with time stretching or pitch shifting as Ableton was born to do that stuff. Logic, however, is a massive program that allows me to do everything from recording vocals to sequencing beats to mastering my final mixes, and its gotten really cheap in the last few years too, you just need a mac to run it. Speaking of which...

Computer: This really should have been up there before daws but in my book its gotta be a mac. I'm sorry but there's just no comparison to working on a mac. They're designed for this stuff. I've got a G5 [one of the last great PPCs!] sitting in my studio now. I swear they should induct one into the rock and roll hall of fame for all the work they've done in the industry! ha! I have had countless little fights with buddies of mine re this issue and believe me.......I went "SPARTA" when it comes to this...... mac, mac, mac.

Monitors: As I mentioned in my last post I'm using a pair of NS10's alongside some KRK VXT8's that I got recently. I think it's a very good idea to have 2 sets of monitor speakers so you can listen to your music through different sounding systems, this will give you a better perspective on how your music is really sounding and give your ears a chance to refresh if you're getting burned out listening to the same 4 bars over and over and over again.

Controllers: While you can program each note individually in the midi hyper editors I hugely prefer to bang out parts with my fingers on a midi controller. This is just a keyboard that sends notes through your computer to your daw so you can record and play virtual software synths. I use m-audio's keysation 49. It's simple straightforward and plug and play. I've also got a Yamaha Motif that is always standing by should I want any of the sounds out of that, and I've also got it hooked up so I can use the weighted keys to play piano parts.

Audio Interface: Your audio interface is what you'll plug your monitor speakers into and record acoustic instruments through. Right now I'm using an m-audio Firewire 410. Great little portable box with tons of inputs and outputs, the analog/digital conversion quality is fantastic on these as well.

Mic: For a Mic I'll plug an m-audio Sputnik direct into my 410. [man you know I'm sponsored by them but they rock.... truly.!] That sputnik man, great mic. Great mic.

The most important part of my set up really boils down to the plug-ins and " toys" you have....
There are so many fantastic ones that I could write a chapter on this alone. but, lets start with my fav, native instruments. Why are they the best? Because you can make an entire record with this native alone. Reaktor itself should be classified as an entire  suite of it's own encompassing more power in one plug-in than in all of reason combined. The quality of the sound that comes out of Reaktor is unreal, and that's just a starting point. From there you have " massive "which is just that, a massive synth with unlimited capacity for creating diverse sounds. Then there is FM8, Elektrik Piano, Akoustik Piano, Guitar Rig [which is awesome for so many things OTHER than guitar], Battery [omg, fantastik sampling for percussion and other sounds, with a fantastic library to match,  anyway, I will stop  having a technical wank, go find out for yourself man. It really is the shit.
 I will get into all the other goodies I use in a later blog ( can't give all my secrets away in one night lol!)

So that's the basis of my production setup, tune in a couple of weeks for the next installment.

This is Propa Advice from yours truly, DJ RAP. Tune in on the 1st and 14th of each month for new entries. For my next blog I'll let you in on my techniques to mixing as well as production in the studio.

luv n bass, DJ RAP.

-by the way, all the people on my mailing list get free tracks on the first of every month [that's today!] as well as goodies in their inboxes. so head over to my website [] and sign up so you can get music TODAY!