Apr 28

Akylla Talk New Music, Creativity & Being Best Friends

by in Interviews, Music

Akylla is an up and coming electronic music duo compromising of the talented Sherry St Germain & Saratonin. Since combining creative forces Sherry and Sara have gone from strength to strength, successfully building their reputation musically and forging an even stronger friendship personally. This week Akylla has released their debut Melodics lesson ‘Invincible’. The track ‘Invincible’ is a yet to be released track which will be coming out on Big Top Amsterdam next month. Both Sherry and Sara were kind enough to answer a few questions about their journey so far as Akylla.

Tell us the story about how you both connected and why you formed Akylla?

Sara: The two of us met in our friend’s studio in Winnipeg, Canada. I was there taking some production lessons and Sherry was coming in to mix a track. She was coming and I was leaving and we started to chat. I had heard a lot about her (this rad producer chick from Vegas) from our engineer, and she had heard of me from him as well. Both of us had our own solo music careers for over the past decade so we were both genuinely interested in what the other was working on. We decided we needed to get together and jam, and I think it only took two times before we realized that this needs to be a real thing. We’ve never looked back since. And we aren’t just bonded over music now, we are best friends.

On to the name ‘AKYLLA’ according to your bio – (In numerology the name Akylla has the birth path 8 and its meaning is connected to balance between the material and spiritual.) – What is the significance behind this name for you guys? Is there a story behind why you decided to use it as the name of your group?

Sara: To be honest we didn’t learn about the numerology aspect until after we chose the name. The first meanings that we discovered from the name were “Intelligent Women” and “Eagle” both of which resonated with us. But what also mattered was the way the name sounds and rolls off your tongue, how it looks written out etc. It didn’t take us long to settle on Akylla.

Musical duos always have different ways of collaborating and creating. Are you able to describe your process in the studio when creating a track? How do you guys work together? Has it always been easy?

Sara: Yeah I think that’s part of the reason why we bonded so quickly. From the start, it’s always been very fluid with us in the studio. One idea leads to another, and most importantly we have so much fun! A fly on the wall will see us falling on the floor laughing, jumping up and down when we get excited about a drop we made etc. This doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously because we do, it’s just that there’s a very playful energy between us even when we need to buckle down into boss mode.

Sherry: Inspiration hits at all times but mostly I get all the music/production ideas out in the day and then do the singing and writing at nighttime. I’ll generally sing some jibberish. Then Sara will come in and decide what I’m saying and we’ll both write the song and arrange together from there.

Your onstage performances are full of energy and different gear. Are you able to describe your onstage setup? What gear do you use and for what purposes?

Sherry: I rock the MicroKorg, APC 40, Ableton Push 2, Midi Fighter 3D and the Komplete Kontrol.   I know it’s a lot of gear but they all compliment each other live and keep it challenging. My live set up also forces me to grow as a musician.

Sara: My set up includes 2 CDJ’s, a Z2 mixer (with Traktor), for DJing, and a Midi Fighter (with Ableton) for playing in percussion, synths, and samples live.

Watching through your ‘Shenanigans’ videos the MIDI Fighter makes numerous appearances.  What inspired you to purchase the controller and how does it help with your live performances? 

Sherry: I saw a video with Mad Zach he is one of my greatest teachers, but he doesn’t know it. I’ve watched all of his tutorials. He’s an amazing teacher, performer & creator.  

How has the art of finger drumming influenced your live performance skills? 

Sherry: Level up!It’s the next evolution of music. It went from musicians playing to not playing at all and now we finally have the technology to bring that back! Basically, as long as it lights up as you hit it, I’m down. 

You have just released your new lesson “Invincible” on Melodics. How did you discover the app and what benefits does it have for aspiring producers? 

Sherry: I was in at Ableton headquarters in L.A. I was trying to get a device made for me for playing live and my friend Cole over there said “Have you heard of Melodics? I think you’d love it” and that was it I’ve been hooked ever since. 

The Electronic Music scene is a very male dominated environment. What has it been like navigating this world as a female duo?  

Sara: I think this is something that Sherry and I have been used to just from the music scene in general and so we are pretty thick skinned about it. But we would be lying if we said that it didn’t bother us to see such a lack of representation from women in this industry. It does, however, feel like the scale is starting to balance more, and we are extremely happy to not only tip the scale ourselves but hopefully inspire other females to step up if this is their calling.  

 What has been the best on stage moment you have both had so far since forming Akylla?  

Sara: Oh man, hard to pick one. I have always loved the live stage, but performing with Sherry is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. It’s the same as the studio in the way that it’s so natural and fluid. We feed off each other’s energy and both have the same work ethic about making our show as tight as possible. I will list one funny memory though. When Sherry and I were playing our second show ever together and this guy from the crowd comes to the stage and yells over to us “ ARE YOU GUYS BEST FRIENDS!? “. We thought it was hilarious and the fact that that’s what was coming through made us feel like we were doing something right.  

 Sherry: Sara just said it! I’ll never forget that moment. It’s like he could see the joy on our faces and had to ask us right in the middle of a performance, while I was scratching with a sine wave/white noise on the Midi Fighter. 

If you were stuck on a desert island for a year and could only bring three albums with you what would they be and why? 

 Sherry: Tough question.

1) Pink Floyd- Dark Side of The Moon 

2) Best of Iron Maiden

3) Best of Aretha Franklin        

Because I can air guitar to the first two and get into my zone with the queen of soul.

 Sara: This is so hard. But I’ll name a few albums I’m pretty obsessed with. 

1)Paul Wall & Chamillionaire – Get Ya Mind Correct (2002). 

This album came out well before either of them really blew up, but they capture the sound that exploded the Dirty South Rap genre. It is a sound that I just can’t get sick of. I played it all the time back then, and I play it all the time still.

 2)Radiohead – The Bends (1995). 

So much love for all the Radiohead albums, but this one, in particular, hits me very deep in my heart. Start to finish I love every song, and since I was 13 I’ve known every lyric.

 3) Tool – Lateralus  (2001)

Again, love all the Tool albums, especially the earliest ones. But there is something very special about Lateralus. It’s as though Tool broke out of the 3 rd dimension and decided to take us all with them. I’ve been lucky enough to see Tool (and Radiohead) four times.

You have collaborated with the likes of Excision and Steve Aoki. What other artists would you love to work together with in the future? 

Sherry and Sara: Zeds Dead, Alison Wonderland, Skrillex, Diplo, Kill The Noise, too many to name

What has been the biggest thing you have learned in terms of music production in the last year? 

Sherry: Multi-band compression is your best friend.  The OTT is Epic and makes everything sound so big and automation on the LFO tool swing/rate and filters are super rad for sound design stuff.  

What advice would you give to someone trying to make it as a professional musician? 

Sara: Just know that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication, but if it’s truly what you want to do the reward is worth the sacrifice. Also, enjoy the journey! Live in the moment and be grateful for every step. 

Sherry: Practice every day! To songs that you actually like. Don’t practice to some outdated system just to get a certificate. Some of the greatest musicians I know aren’t schooled “traditionally”  but they slay harder than most. Practice to the stuff you like so your mind stays stimulated and your heart is fulfilled. If you’re passionate about it, do THAT! Your passion is your purpose. 

Any other comments or shout outs you want to make? 

Sara and Sherry: Yes! We have teamed up with Bakermat and his label Big Top Amsterdam! Our track “Invincible” (which is also the track used for our Melodics lesson) will be released next month! 

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Apr 14

OddKidOut Talks About His New EP & Growing As An Artist

by in Interviews

It has been a big twelve months for OddKidOut. He has smoothly transitioned from an Instagram sensation to the festival line ups of SXSW and Firefly this summer. In regards to production he has also been busy with the creation and release of his  new EP called “Full Circle”. The Philly producer was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his new EP, what he has learned in the last year and his three new lessons on Melodics.

The last time we did a Q & A with you was April 15, 2016. How have things changed for you in terms of your music career in the past year?

It’s been that long already? I feel like a lot has changed in the year, specifically with my artistry. I’ve been focusing much more on my industry presence as both an artist and a producer. I’ve slightly veered off the hip-hop path (I’m still on it 100%), but have opened up my musical horizons to different genres and new musical environments that I haven’t touched before.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned over this time period?

I’ve learned so many things, but I think one of the most important ones was to be safely skeptical of what people tell you. I’m not saying not to trust people, but to rather assess what they are saying to you when you meet them and take it at face value until you get to know the person a little more. I used to get my hopes up and immediately think big things would come of these meetings but have recently realized that I need to be wary of what actually is the truth.

You will be performing at SXSW and Firefly this summer. What did it feel like when you first heard you will be performing at these events?

It was a great feeling, I’m so honored to be a part of both of the festivals. I had performed at SXSW two years ago so I was a little more taken back by Firefly since I haven’t even gone as a concert-goer. Honestly, I felt like my friends and family were more hype than me when I found out but that’s just because I’m constantly challenging myself and looking for the next big thing to do. However, I’m really grateful and excited to play…I’m counting down the days!

Your new Full Circle EP has just been released. Tell us about the EP and how it differs from your previous works?

The EP is different than my other music because I wrote it with two other people; 1403 and Mitch Beer. Immediately, the musical content was enhanced because these two are extremely talented and we understood how to work cohesively. 1403 is from London, so he brought with him those gritty vibes that acted as a counterpart to the more vibey sound that Mitch and I created here in the states. It’s what I like to a call a “genre-blender”. While some of my other music is obviously hip-hop or soul, the Full Circle EP wanders somewhere in between there and electronic music.

Was there a change in the way you approached producing this EP compared to your previous works?

Yeah, the way we produced this record was much different because we only had about a week. Tom (1403) came over here to the US for a week and that was when we basically constructed the whole project. Working in such a small timeframe was a little difficult, but also a great tool to keep the creative juices going. The project was really an organic creation that evolved over 7 days, and I think you can feel that in the music.

1403 features in a few tracks on the EP, adding richness to each track with his vocals. How did you guys connect?

Yeah, so 1403 is on every track, whether it was his vocals or an instrument he was playing. I was actually introduced to him through Mitch Beer; that’s how we all came together for the project.

What was it like working with 1403 throughout the project? What was the process of creation like?

It was “Wonderful”, ha! No, but in all seriousness, it was a delight working with both 1403 and Mitch. Musically, we all are on the same wavelength so it made the process very smooth. And from just a normal life standpoint, both are my homies so it’s always great to be around friends.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you have been listening to Anderson Paak’s ‘Malibu’ album a lot and loved how it fuses old school and modern elements. What other artists or albums have you been listening to lately?

I’ve also been listening to Rick Ross’s new album. That project is truly fire…I’ve had it on repeat recently. I’ve also been getting back into my Dubstep phase, as I’ve been listening to a lot of Excision and Datsik recently. I really listen to everything…this morning has been all about The Police aha.

What is the single biggest skill you have developed as a producer in the last six months?

The biggest production skill I’ve learned recently was how to utilize space, and that less is more. I found that I was over-producing my tracks when really the answer was just to incorporate more comprehensible parts that didn’t step all over the main lead.

You said in an interview for Creative Masters that you don’t like to describe your sound, but if you had to it would be a mixture between electronic and hip hop. It seems that has held true with your latest EP. Was that your intention?

Yeah, I usually try and stay away from genres or labels because I feel that it becomes limiting as a producer and an artist. I tend to say that I incorporate my soul into every track I make, that way I’m open to all sorts of opportunities. For this EP, it’s a direct incorporation of both my soul, but also Mitch and Tom’s as well. That was our intention….to make a project that was gestated from our creativity, and didn’t conform to any preconceived notions.

In the same interview, you talked about using the time you walk between places, shower and when falling asleep to plan and think about the past, present and future. Are you able to go into this process and how it has helped you achieve your goals?

Yes, this is a daily routine for me. The shower is still a sanctuary for me…I’m sure I piss off my roommate by being in there for hours at a time but there’s something so relaxing about hot water and it helps me think. And still, before I fall asleep, I always always always think about the next goal in mind. I think about how to get there, what I can do tomorrow to make that happen, and then imagine what I’ll do when I finally get to it. It helps visualize the goal and helps me stay focused on achieving what I want.

You have previously said that success for you, would be to redefine the way that people listen to popular music. Are you able to elaborate on this and what it would mean to achieve this goal?

Yeah, I really just want to share my uniqueness with the world. I would love to be writing tracks for the biggest artists, but doing it in a way that is unique. For example, you can almost always tell when an artist does a track with Pharrell (or the Neptunes), his sound is just iconic. I want to do the same thing with the way that I produce my tracks.

What excites you the most about releasing three songs off your EP on Melodics?

I’m most excited for the community to wrestle with some tracks that have actually been turned into real songs. Some of my past lessons have been beats and those contain invaluable lessons, but this round is almost more “real”, as the listener can play the lesson and then open up Spotify and listen to the real track.

Are there any tips you would give to Melodics users before playing your new lessons?

LOVE. YOUR. METRONOME. It’s the most important thing in music in my opinion; be one with the metronome. With all of my music, or anyone’s music at that, being able to lock into the groove is everything. I sometimes produce tracks off the grid that are still in a pocket, so in order to play that slightly swung feel, you need to master the metronome simply on its own. And I also just want to say thank you to everyone who has been messing with my lessons and thank you Melodics for allowing me to share my craft with the world!

Apr 05

Pro Tips: How To Use ‘Tags’ To Learn Faster With Melodics

by in Pro Tips

Over the last few weeks we have made a couple of significant changes to how content is structured in Melodics. We regraded every lesson to move from 10 lesson grades to 20 – and we’ve overhauled all the tags used to classify lessons.

These new tags are a way to navigate the main components and skills required for each lesson. They are broken up into three categories; Rhythm, Technique and Lesson Style. Using these tags, you can separate your training into these areas and work on developing each of these important skills.

Let’s say you want to strengthen your hand independence. All you need to do, is go to the lessons screen and filter by the tag ‘hand independence’. This will give you a list of lessons that we recommend you should play to build that particular skill. The lessons are filtered from easiest to hardest, which will allow you build your skills up gradually.

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Step 1

Go to the lessons screen in the app. On the left hand panel click the top dropdown menu and select ‘Tags’

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Step 2

Once clicked a list of our new tags will be produced on the left hand panel.

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Step 3

Select a tag – For this example we have selected ‘Basic Independence’.

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Step 4

Once selected all our lessons that have been tagged with ‘Basic Independence’ will be filtered on the lessons list to the right. These lists will be shown from lowest grade to highest.

Tagging is particularly useful it you want to work backwards from a really challenging lesson. Say for example you wanted to learn to play Spinscott’s Jungle Break Fundamentals Vol. 1, grade 19 lesson. This lesson has the tags Endurance, Discrete and Fast. To build up the skills you need to master this lesson, you can find lower grade lessons that have the same tags, and work on building up these skills. In this case, start by filtering by the ‘Discrete’ tag. This will give you a list of lessons that require you to play rhythms consisting of individual hits, where usually no pads are played simultaneously. Justin Aswell’s Daily Warm Up’s – 16th Note Accent, grade 8 also has the tag ‘Endurance’ so this would be a good lesson to start with. When you’ve got that down, play Buddy Peace’s Desert Burner lessons from grade 9 to 11. Spinscott’s DnB Roller, grade 12 introduces the ‘Fast’ tag. You’ll notice when you get above grade 15 all the lessons tagged ‘Discrete’ belong to Spinscott. This shows you that his finger drumming style is fundamental to the ‘Discrete’ skill. If you want to play like Spinscott then that is a tag worth filtering by.

Here’s another example. Want to learn to play Soul Shaker, grade 16 by Beats by J Black? That lesson uses the tags Syncopation, Finger Independence and Swing. Using the tagging system, you can see that a good way to work towards this would be to play these lessons, starting with the first, and working your way up through progressively harder and harder lessons – Broken Boogie – Drums, grade 7, From Home to Work and Back – Drums, grade 8, Sovereignty, grade 8, Caxixi, grade 10, Island Breeze – Drums, grade 10, The Umm – Drums, grade 13… Soul Shaker, grade 16.

Below are all the new tags in Melodics, a definition of each one, and a example of a lesson that uses this tag.

Tag Description Example lesson
Advanced Independence Both hands have two or more fingers simultaneously operating on different time signatures or note divisions. Bass Kleph – Pad Fever Grade 17
Arrangement Playing a whole song through different sections. Often features multiple instruments and switching between parts. Oddkidout – Amore Grade 8
Basic A basic beat or rhythm, usually straight ¼ and playable with one finger. No more than two pads. Gaslamp Killer Oscilalting Lucifer (Beginner) Grade 2
Basic Independence You are using more than one hand or finger but they are operating on separate note divisions. Justin Aswell – Daily Warm Ups – 8 on a hand Grade 5
Basic Syncopation A basic beat that shifts the normal accent, usually by emphasising the offbeat. ASADI – PTM Level 1 – Drums Grade 3
Bassline Lesson plays the bass part instead of drums. John Tejada – Demux – Bass – Grade 5
Cue point drumming A phrase sample from a song, plays as one shot segment following its own tempo. Soul Flip – Beginner – Grade 7
Discrete Consisting of distinct or individual hits. Usually no pads are played simultaneously. Fab Four Technique – Tim Kroker – Grade 6
Drag A feeling of playing behind the beat. Drunken Masters & Karol Tip – Calories – Vocals – Grade 6
Endurance A long pattern that often requires some degree of physical stamina to perform. Live Evil – Bang That – Grade 8
Fast A fast tempo or needing physically fast movements to perform, often both. Spinscott – DnB Roller – Grade 12
Fills A cue point drumming technique for re-arranging a song using different rhythms. DJ Day – Impeach – Strobing Flip – Grade 8
Hand Independence You are using both hands but they are operating on different time signatures or note divisions. Eric Lau – Mars Guitar – Grade 9
Layout Very lesson-specific physical arrangement of samples on pads. Can be complex to remember and often requires difficult sight reading. Decap – Feeling (Condensed) – Grade 9
Melody You are playing the melodic or harmonic content of the song. Usually a lead, samples or chords. Leonard Charles – Can We Go Back – Rhodes – Grade 5
Pocket Locking in with the instrumentation / groove of the song. Drumming is very solid and has great feel. DJ Spinna – G. Tar Joint Drums – Grade 9
Polyrhythm When two or more rhythms are played simultaneously. Carl Rag – Goes Around – Melody 1 – Beginner – Grade 7
Rudiments Developing the basic principles of drumming. Tim Kroker – Connect 4 Pt.1 – Grade 10
Shuffle Rhythm is created by leaving out (resting) the middle note of each three-note triplet group. Oddkidout – Dreams (Beginner) – Grade 7
Swing Rhythm is created by dragging the off beat note. BeatsbyJBlack – Soul Shaker- Beginner – Grade 5
Syncopation A beat that heavily shifts the normal accent, usually by emphasising several offbeats. Buddy Peace – Caduceus – Grade 8
Triplet A group of 3 notes played in a different note division than the regular beat. A Light Bit Lighter – Grade 11
Unquantized Rhythm is mostly unrestricted from any timing grid or note division Jeremy Ellis -Bliss #1 (Beginner) – Grade 9

Try tagging today and let us know how it helps you learn in Melodics. If there any other parts of the app that you want tips on, let us know via the comments section below.