A piece I've kind of always wanted to do - completely based on synthesized sounds, yet openly soulful and more importantly, intimate.
After resolving some past issues through a dream (as it happens with me once in a while), this is exactly what came out of it literally as I got out of bed that very morning. The original recording date was 6th of August and I thought I would continue in the same vein soon enough to produce an album in a couple of months but obviously that didn't happen, so I felt it would be a pity to leave it behind.
Those Rhodes chords and a few other predominantly "retro" keys came straight from the faithful old Yamaha DX7 IID, played by hand, whilst the other had been delivered by a combination of VSTs in Ableton Live.
The video is obviously there just to keep something spinning on YouTube, not much to see (though I did think before choosing what to put).
Originally based around the idea of me being an instrumental backup to Lebdi's vocals, my friend Sanja Ivkov and I had three performances this summer in Belgrade basically within one week (of which two were in the same venue). Having just one mic plugged into a Korg Electribe SX groovebox was again a surprise to some but the combination worked just fine and at least in my humble opinion we've managed to deliver quite decent performances, combining somewhat tribal percussion-based sound with energetic vocals.
It worked especially well on the main event at 6th of September, since the venue (club Fest in Zemun, across the river from downtown Belgrade) had a massive soundsystem considering the size of the place - and also a big support from the numerous crowd who came to see the show that also featured amazing Tearpalm with Crocodile Tears and foreign guests Hippy Death Suite (Belgium) and E.U.E.R.P.I. from Bulgaria, with whom Sanja and I did one impro track on the spot. Visual support was provided by Marina Rajić who also does pretty much all the VJ-ing for frequent Tearpalm performances. The two other events that were centered around the one I've mentioned before were held in Panicroom Žica, where we got this nice spontaneous shot from:
Left to right: Marina Rajić, Sanja Ivkov (Lebdi), Yours truly (Koneyn), Marko Dabetić (Tearpalm) - photo by Scila Haribdić
The track itself was almost entirely finished back in December of 2011 as a test for using Yamaha DX7 IID for the Rhodes electric piano and bass sounds, played by hand and then sequenced alongside everything else in Ableton Live 7. Dug it out many months later, added just a few more bits here and there, found some interesting footage to fit the theme and here it is now, hope you'll enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a fan of hunting, much less safaris. Same goes for colonialism.
On March 17th I flew all the way to Moscow to perform at AUX event, in Russia's leading underground techno club Arma17. I've been invited a month prior to the evening by Nikita and Sergey from do/nothing - a small but very active organization with general taste in music not too much unlike that of our own Asino Elettronico label. Before going into anything else, I really need to address the way they handled the whole thing - with perfect professionalism and sincere hospitality.
Due to flight schedule I couldn't see much of the city, which is a big shame since it's absolutely fascinating in many ways, but the whole experience at Arma17, which is amazing in it's own right, was so overwhelmingly positive that I simply couldn't ask for anything more. The audience and all the people there also seemed really friendly and in good mood, simply there wasn't a way anything could go wrong.
I've also had the privilege of being in company of Andrés Marcos Revellado and Patrick Walker (Forward Strategy Group), who are not only great performers but really friendly and fun people to spend time with. Speaking of time, it has probably been the only possible negative factor to the whole experience. As I've mentioned earlier, we didn't have much of it to explore the city, but then again we also had to be awake and fully concentrated until our performances, which were due at very early hours of the next day (me starting at 4:30, Andrés at 5:30 and Patrick at around 5:00 in another room).
When it comes to the technical side of things, I went on a plane carrying nothing but a slightly bigger laptop bag with my recently bought Korg ESX inside. That came as a surprise to most of the people, whose setup was based always around a laptop.
The performance itself went quite well, I believe, almost without a glitch. Having only one groovebox might seem like a quite minimal choice, but I think it works out in a club pretty good. Still there are more possibilities to explore with it alone, I don't think I'll be needing anything else for a while.
Unfortunately I don't have many pictures from the evening, but you can find quite a few here:
You won't see much of me (and half of other performers for that matter), but it's sufficient to get an idea of the great atmosphere over there.
The good news is that I have a pretty decent recording of the performance, straight from the mixer. That means I will quite probably release it as a live album - something what I have really wanted to do since I had started doing live shows. Stay tuned for that one.
A few weeks ago I went to Novi Sad, some 80km north of Belgrade, to play live with Associative (ex Xiqhhyiecryn), Andrei Korre (Nemanja Lazic) and Abadroza, all together under our Àsino Elettronico LIVE label. We've been developing this concept for almost a year now and the basic idea is to present people with something that seems simple and obvious but is apparently lacking nowadays - completely live club performance. No DJ-ing of any sort, just "you, us and the machines", as the poster for the event had already declared.
Each of us would perform separately with his own set of equipment, 50 minutes to one hour on average. If you can read Serbian, I strongly recommend you visit a blog entry by our friend Ves, if you can't read it, at least enjoy her video takes which are (despite all the sound distortion) far more faithful to the energy felt there than our "official" sterile recordings by the club, which are by the way in mono (don't ask me why, I am as puzzled as you might be).
To be honest, by the end of the evening I had thought I screwed up the performance a bit too much and had the feeling my friends were far better in every way. Actually I still feel much of it is true, but according to others it wasn't really like that at all and mistakes weren't as obvious to others as they were to me at the time. Still, performances like that of Associative really gave me the insight of how proper live electronic music in a club should sound and feel:
Which is why I decided to literally scrap everything I did and prepare future performances from ground zero. I've learned that making things sound good in a room only unnecessary complicates the live situation. Many small details are lost anyway and it's really important to keep it simple and straight to the point, lively and intense.
In case you are wondering, I've used the following equipment:
- Korg Kaoss Pad 3 for loop sets
- Korg X3R synth module with Behringer UMX25 for a bit of a keyboard action
- Behringer Xenyx 802 to mix it all together
There was one thing that, apart from musical style itself, separated me from others is the way I had to bridge annoyingly long gaps between tracks. The gaps are due to the loading time on Kaoss Pad, which takes one minute on average - quite too much to leave it in silence. So the only plausible solution was to playback prepared ambiental passages from an mp3 player. It did fit well but in effect it would cool down any excitement in crowd each and every time.
This shouldn't be a problem anymore since a new concept is on it's way (and one crucial new piece of equipment is already here ;). Quite possibly a new name also, for a sound that should be quite different.
Recently I got myself an old but still decently functional Yamaha DX7 IID. Out of the whole Yamaha DX lineup of synthesizers that changed and defined the sound of the '80s, DX7 was by far the most popular and accepted. Vintagesynth.com calls it "one of the most popular digital synths ever". It introduced FM synthesis to the widest possible audience, yet it got the reputation of being extremely hard to program (mostly because of it's unfriendly interface), so pretty much everyone stuck with presets that plagued great majority of records released at the time.
My introduction to powerful and extremely flexible FM synthesis was through Ableton Live's Operator which got me instantly hooked. To be honest, apart from FM (and my Korg X3R's own unique algorithm), I haven't got that much clue about more usual synthesis methods. Which is a bit strange considering how many people are in exactly the opposite situation. That's why DX7 seemed like the most natural choice for me, and is supposed to replace X3R in time. And I admit - it's also a bit of a fetish thing :)
The model I purchased is the second generation DX7 (tagged DX7 IID) with few considerable advantages, such as keyboard split and dual modes and pan control (the original was entirely mono).
All in all this is just one short post obviously meant for bragging. But I intend to seriously devote my time to this classic machine and for that purpose I opened up a separate page (see the link near the bottom of the right side menu) to stock up all the useful resources for like minded DX7 enthusiasts.