Mar 18

New Lessons From DJ Jazzy Jeff Out This Week

by in Fundamentals, Melodics, Music, New Lesson Tuesdays, Pro Tips

The legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff shares an inspiring Hip Hop instrumental called “Don‘t Forget” as his debut Melodics lesson. This instrumental was also used as the fourth track on Dayne Jordan’s debut album ‘Memoirs of Dayne Jordan.’

Like what you hear? Learn to play this beat made with one of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s drum kits from his personal collection today! Also check the trailer video we have put together for this lesson featuring some wise words from the man himself.

There is more insight to come as we have an in depth interview from Jazzy Jeff, hopefully arriving next week. So keep an eye out for that.

Finger Drumming Video Of The Week

A video posted by BeatsByjblack (@beatsbyjblack) on

Our finger drumming video of the week comes from the super talented BeatsByJBlack who flipped our Tall Black Guy lesson in Melodics. This kid is an up and comer so make sure to check out his Instagram page.

Finally the team are loving watching all your performance vids on social so keep them coming. Just post your video with the hashtag #melodics and we will find and regram / share them on our social channels :)

Mar 02

An Interview With Spinscott – Gives Advice & Answers A Very Important Question

by in Fundamentals, Interviews, Music, Pro Tips

Spinscott has just released his second set of lessons for Melodics users to enjoy. It has been an awesome 2016 so far for the American ‘Junglist’ with his incredible finger drumming performances at NAMM earning a lot of social media coverage. Scott was kind enough to answer a few questions about his musical journey and share what he has learned so far.

You uploaded your first finger drumming video to Youtube just under 4 years ago, and got an amazing response. What prompted you to upload this video and were you surprised by the reaction? 

I originally got my first drum machine for a Hip Hop production project in July 2012, but the first thing I decided to do was to try cutting up and playing classic breaks. (Junglist mentality). I had no idea that MPCs were used for live drumming, and coming from traditional DJ formats had never heard of “finger drumming”. I briefly searched youtube for live jungle, and couldn’t find anyone doing it with all one shot drums, so I decided to cut the breaks into single drums (one-shots) and film a quick video. I didn’t think it was a big deal, and was definitely surprised by the reaction. People requested more, so on it went.

 In a previous interview you said “I tend to consider myself more of a music fanatic & performer than anything else really”. Are you able to explain this a bit more?

Sure! In my opinion, terms like “DJ”, “Producer”, and “Remixer” have become largely ambiguous, and at the same time kind of limiting. Some DJ’s mix realtime, others use auto sync, some say “Live PA” and are triggering sequences and loops, others actually play Live real-time sounds, and it goes on and on. From the production perspective, that can mean something as complex as composing an entire track from scratch using all original and custom sounds, to something  as simple as combining a couple of sample pack loops together and releasing a track.  Regardless, I think it’s cool that there are so many ways that people can experience, create, and share music! For me personally, I think Music Fanatic & Performer best describe who I am, what I do, and how I do it. (although, I certainly consider myself a DJ, Producer, Remixer, Coffee Drinker, happy dog owner, etc.)

What was the first Jungle track you ever heard? What was it about Jungle that captivated you?

The first Jungle I heard was actually on a mixtape my sister brought home from a rave in 1995. It was by a DJ called Mastervibe. Having been a drummer since the age of about 5, I was instantly pulled in by the complexity of the drums, and the way that the melody, pads, atmospheres, etc played smoothly with the beats. Jungle just seemed to have so many different sounds and influences, and SO MANY rhythms that were not limited to what one could play on a kit. The track “I Can’t Stop” by Lemon D, pretty much sums up what I love about mid-90’s Jungle.

You’ve also previously mentioned that you used to drum along to drum heavy tracks in your car and not leave the car until you got every note right. Delve into this story and how it relates to the amount of time that you practice.

Ha! Been “dashboard drummer” since I got my license… probably to the amusement of people who’d pull up next to me on the road. I’ve always played and learned music by ear, even back in the marching percussion and jazz band days in school… so when I got those first Jungle tapes, it immediately became a task to master every note.  If you listen to mid-90s style Jungle tracks with Think, Amen, Apache, and other breaks a billion times and drum along, eventually they become burned into muscle memory. It also wears away the steering column and dash…  After a while, you can completely freestyle with all of the intricacies of the breakbeats. Each one has its own characteristics, and that all settles in with time. I have never really spent dedicated time practicing, because I am always drumming on something and challenging myself with the beats. Lately my new fun self-challenge has been turning the drum machine around 180 degrees and trying to play my programs upside down.

 What advice would you give to a person who has just downloaded Melodics and is wanting to get as good as you?

First point of advice would be to HAVE FUN! People succeed when they enjoy working towards success. What I love about Melodics is that it starts off very basic, and steadily increases in difficulty. I encourage people to focus on the style they like and are comfortable with, but also try the other lessons in styles they are unfamiliar with. Diving into new sounds is how new music and skill is born. If you really want to get accurate, try to start with the very first lesson in level one, and don’t just move on after getting a passing grade. Get a 100% perfect score 5 times in a row before moving on, and be obsessive about it.

I was constantly air drumming along with the records. Years later after buying the drum machine and learning it for a few weeks, I decided to try adding real-time Jungle rhythms over the mix, and that is where my format “Jungle Plus Drums” was born.

How did you find out about Melodics? What about the software intrigued you enough to make lessons?

I got an email from the CEO of Melodics, inquiring about my Jungle videos and a new lesson program, and I wanted to get involved immediately. When you have lots of content out there, people tend to ask how to learn and get started, and until Melodics I really didn’t have a way to show people how to begin finger drumming. The ability to share music and teach through Melodics lessons is something I am very excited about, especially because people can now try playing true 100% Loop-Free & Sequence Free beats. 

How have you seen finger drumming evolve since you have been involved with music and where do you see it heading?

It seems to be becoming a lot more common to see DJs hitting pads during sets, which I think is cool.  The convergence of traditional mixing and live performance is a primary driver in the electronic music realm, which can be seen as all of the major gear makers are adding pads to their new equipment. Also, the live elements bridge the gap between electronic music performers and other musicians. I predict that it will continue to grow, as there are so many different ways to integrate pads and finger drumming into projects. Just like scratching and creative mixing, it is another tool that can help differentiate a DJ’s performance.

If you really want to get accurate, try to start with the very first lesson in level one, and don’t just move on after getting a passing grade. Get a 100% perfect score 5 times in a row before moving on, and be obsessive about it.

 Your live performances have a bit of everything, with live finger drumming, mixing, a bit of scratching, and real-time remixing  being key components. What made you want to incorporate all these skills as opposed to being a traditional ‘DJ’?

Back in the late 1990s when I was spinning Jungle on vinyl, I was constantly air drumming along with the records. Years later after buying the drum machine and learning it for a few weeks, I decided to try adding real-time Jungle rhythms over the mix, and that is where my format “Jungle Plus Drums” was born. As I built full routines, I incorporated those into the show. Ultimately, being able to drum, spin tunes, and multitask in the booth makes things very fun, and every set is different and quite unpredictable. Sometimes I bring my bongos to gigs too and play on those with the music.

You are a skilled drummer. How has this helped with your finger drumming performances and what are the key differences between the two?

Thanks! Coming from a drumming background definitely is a great advantage to bring to the table, but I don’t think it is necessarily required to become proficient with finger drumming. Actually, I think hand drums (Bongos, Congas, etc) are more closely related to finger drumming than kit drumming is, however the standard drum rudiments apply across the board. Any experience with drums helps build chops, so where it really comes into play is from a stamina and endurance perspective, and obviously the rhythm is helpful!

You absolutely killed it at NAMM this year getting a lot of social coverage from the likes of DJ Tech Tools and Pioneer DJ. Tell us about your NAMM experience and how it has impacted the rest of your 2016.

NAMM was an amazing experience, and something I have wanted to attend for quite some time. When Melodics asked if I would do demos at their station in the Pioneer DJ booth, I decided to book the trip. I spent a lot of time working the booth and showing folks Melodics, and was asked to do finger drumming demonstrations on the Pioneer DJ stage and the AKAI booth. That was awesome, and it was definitely a highlight some of the DJ Tech Tools guys. NAMM was a great demand creation opportunity, and has led to several opportunities with manufacturers and for booking opportunities for 2016.

A video posted by DJ TechTools (@djtechtools) on

What has been your musical highlight so far since getting into the DJ game?

There have been so many great highlights with music, it would be hard to pick just one or two. Overall, the highlight in all of this for me has been the opportunity to share music with people, and meet other music fanatics through traveling to shows, releasing tracks, and pushing limits on my video routines. In 2015 I was able to tour through 15 cities/states in the US, and it has been great to see the audience on my channels expand at such a nice pace.

Name one place you have always wanted to visit and why?

Well, I have been to the UK twice, but not for performances. That would have to be the place I’d most like to bring Jungle Plus Drums sets to this year, as it is the birthplace of so many of the styles of music I love. As for visiting, I have always wanted to see the Phi Phi Islands.

In preparation for this interview I have watched a lot of your videos. In almost all your performance videos I have noticed there has been a gold beetle and a coffee cup or thermos in shot. What do they mean?

Ah, you saved the most popular question for almost last! There are many strategic and subliminal reasons why I use those objects in the videos… watermarks for authenticity and brand imaging are two of the primary ones. You may also notice that many videos have electric clocks in the background. That is to show that the video was recorded in realtime with no speed alterations. As for the Beetle, that one’s gotta remain a secret.

Like what you have read so far? Catch the latest videos from Spinscott on his Youtube channel and read our other insightful artist interviews here.

Also don’t forget to give his new lessons ‘160 Juke Jam’ and ‘DnB Roller’ a jam on Melodics.

Feb 17

An Interview With Eskei83 – Discusses Djing, Touring And Being A Champion

by in Interviews, Music, New Lesson Tuesdays, Pro Tips

Eskei83 is a German DJ and producer that was the winner of 2014 Red Bull Thre3style World Championship. His victory has catapulted him to the upper echelons of the DJ game which sees him tour the world doing what he loves. This week we were fortunate enough to ask him a few questions about his DJ journey, touring the world and get insight into what inspires him creatively.

Your hometown is Dresden, Germany. Tell us about the city and how it shaped you musically?

I started my club DJ career in a local club in Dresden. At this time it was the only club for hip hop, RnB, funk, soul, etc. I came there with just Rap records to play my first show, but the manager said I won’t need my records – they had a whole collection built in the DJ booth. I discovered a lot new music, new & old. I learned about the history of the music and about the tracks that made this club so popular. They had some tracks that nobody else in the city played. I learned a lot about selection, building a night & became creative because I was DJing Friday & Saturday each and every week for 4-5 hours straight. I tried to come up with a different set every week. All on vinyl records.

What made you want to become a DJ? Was it a particular moment,artist or song etc? How old were you?

I started getting interested in Hip Hop culture & Rap music when I was 14 and wanted to become part of it when German Rap got popular. I wanted to be part of the movement and was impressed by the DJs for each group. So I made my own beats and got turntables to record scratches on my beats.

What was the first DJ equipment you ever bought? What equipment are you using now for your live sets?

I started with belt driven Turntables and a 2 channel mixer with no EQ, only 2 up faders & 1 crossfader. That’s it. After my first gig on Technics 1210 turntables I knew I had to get them. I also got a Cassette deck to record my mixes.

Now I use a Pioneer DJM S9 mixer with turntables & Serato DJ, after rocking years with the Rane 62 in combination with a NI Maschine MK2.

What was the hardest thing about learning to become a DJ when you started out?

Bringing records from A to B :) But honestly it is to stay focused and rock the party no matter what. You’ll never have a crowd in front of you, where everyone knows you. So it’s about making people happy and showing them your way of putting songs together. I like to catch their interest with interesting songs, new techniques and live performances.  Staying motivated every night, even when you play for a half empty club or your equipment is not working – That’s the hardest.

You won the RedBull Thre3style in 2014 in Baku! Your winning performance had everything from Kanye West to Lenny Kravitz and even a shout out from Grand Master Flash. How long did it take to build that set and what is your process when creating your DJ performances?

I didn’t create a specific set for Thre3style in 2014. I learned the hard way in 2013 what happens when you are stuck in your set and not able to react to the crowd/venue/judges. Everything I had for Thre3style 2014 were routines that I had been playing in my previous shows. Some of them I had been playing for years already. In regards to my winning set I decided to put it together in Baku after watching the other DJs & judges playing and made last minute changes after soundcheck. I had my bits & pieces ready and just had to squeeze it into 15 min. And that’s the way I prepare my sets all the time. Also when I come across new ideas while improvising during my shows & live streams I try to perfect them in the studio later.

Describe what winning the 2014 Red Bull Thre3style felt like.

I’m very happy about the title. I’m even more happy about all the interest I have received since entering the competition. It opened many doors internationally and it helped a lot with promoting myself as a live performing turntable act than a regular DJ just playing tracks. They book me on stages now, give me space to do my little tricks here and there. The promoters that book me, know what they will get and its cool to get booked for this type of DJing.

How did you hear about Melodics? What did you like most about the program?

I know Sam Gribben from back in the day when I was working for Serato on trade shows like Namm & Musik Messe. We stayed in touch and I was really excited to see what he will come up. Last year he wrote to me about his new app a couple of weeks before the launch to get my feedback on it. I think this way of learning is awesome. I’m a big fan of the DJ Hero game, that is similar to Melodics – however Melodics is more professional. More about learning. In my first few sessions with the software I became better at finger drumming and had so much fun learning. Some people say I’m good at this – Melodics showed me that I’ve still got a lot to learn. And to practice on Melodics with the hardware you’re also performing on stage with is awesome. You learn new patterns daily and can practice them to internalize them.  The cue point drumming lessons teach how other DJs flip classic drum loops. The lessons from DJ Day introduced me to a new way of breaking down a loop. Really dope.

How do you use cue point drumming in your live sets? How do you see this skill evolving in the future?

I use it very often to create surprise rhythm changes to popular tracks, do tone play or just jump through the track. People love it when they can see what you’re doing. I like creating something with the sounds they just heard before and understand easily. Plus it’s a dope visual element too, easier for them to understand: you hitting a pad and a sound comes out the speaker.

Scratching is more complex to understand for the regular viewer/listener, because you are moving records & fader. I love both techniques though.

I think Finger Drumming is famous already and people are interested in learning it. There are big names like Araab Muzik that made it to festival stages “just” with finger drumming. That’s amazing. To incorporate a simpler style of finger drumming into my Dj set makes it more unique and I think more & more DJs are catching on.

You have released a set of cue point drumming lessons this week for all Melodics Users. Can you give a bit of background about these lessons and what users can expect?

These lessons are actually the rhythms that I use when I play live. In these lessons I use a track from Elènne who is on my label Crispy Crust Records. The song came out late 2015. The patterns work with all kind of tracks and I use them couple of times in my sets with different tunes on all kind of tempos.

If you could give advice to a DJ just starting out what would it be?

Have fun learning and don’t get distracted when some techniques you’re trying are not working. Sometimes it takes repetitive learning to master a new finger drumming or scratching technique. I’m learning all day and try to get at least 10 minutes practice a day.

You perform over 150 shows a year all around the world. However you have previously said that you ‘rarely get to see the city you are playing in’. Is this one of the hardest parts of being a world famous DJ? Are there any other downsides?

I travel a lot and I have so much fun doing what I do. I’m blessed to be able to go and party with crowds from all over the world. The positive feedback on my shows is what keep me going. But yeah – it’s sad not having enough time to catch up with friends in the city or do exploring/sight seeing. I’m at the airport in Vancouver at the moment and didn’t managed to see my Thre3style family Kenny MacIntire & FlipOut. Another downer is to not being at home with your family. I wasn’t home to spend Valentine’s Day with my girls this year. But I’m on the way home now and happy to see them soon.

What is the most rewarding part of being a world famous DJ and touring?

Going to places you never been to before and realising that people already know who you are and who love what you’re doing. Also to inspire people and get a positive reaction is what really keeps me going. If I’m down & exhausted from touring I need just one cool track, idea, inspiring video, or positive email/post from fans to go back to being creative. It’s cool to see that I can give something back to the scene and keep people inspired.

Tell us about your label ‘Crispy Crust’.

Crispy Crust is the label I founded end of 2014 with the Drunken Masters from Munich. We met each other in 2013 and had the same vision. I’m a big fan of them as DJs but also as producers. It was logical to team up and to create an outlet for the music we make, love and want to support. That’s Crispy Crust.

Final question. If you were stranded on a desert island for a year and could only bring three records what would they be?

I think it would be a Q-Bert Super Seal scratch record and two J Dilla instrumental sampler to cut over it. After a year practicing I think I would be a lot better than I am now.

 

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Jan 27

Interview – THUGLI Talks About Trap, Production & Life

by in New Lesson Tuesdays, Pro Tips

THUGLI made up of Tom Wrecks and Pat Drastik, are an exciting production/DJ duo from Canada.  Joining forces back in 2012 the pair have taken the trap scene by storm. Their unique live shows and affinity to Trap music long before it went mainstream are one of many aspects that set them apart.

This week THUGLI are releasing their first ever lesson on Melodics called ‘Overtime’. We wanted to ask them a few questions about this lesson as well as get some pointers on their music production process.

How did you find Melodics and what intrigued you about the project?

Tom: We discovered Melodics at Jazzy Jeff’s Playlist Retreat this past August. As soon as we heard the concept we were down. It’s such a creative an innovative way of learning pads, timing, flow etc.

What hardware and software do you use in your production and live shows?

Pat: For our production we use Ableton with a slew of plug ins. Live show were on 4 X Technic 1200’s, 2 X Rane 62’s and 2 X Pioneer SP-1.

A mix Thugli did for DJ City in 2014 showcasing their unique DJ set up and scratching prowess.


How have you used finger drumming as apart of your creative process?

Tom: It’s definitely starting to change our live sets creatively. It’s allowing us to incorporate more routines, tone play into the mix. Making us think outside the box a bit more about what we’re going to play and how we’re going to deliver it. Melodics has totally helped keep us sharp on the pads as well.

What is the most important bit of advice you can give to aspiring producers and DJ’s?

Pat: So cliche to say this, but be true to yourself. Make the music you want to make. Play the music you want to play. Let your personality shine through it all.

Tom: Also practice a lot!

You are about to release your first lesson on Melodics called ‘Overtime’. Tell us a bit about the track.

Tom: This track was originally a remix we did for ASAP Mob. It became one of our more popular remixes so we decided to make an instrumental version of it. It’s one of our personal favourites so we’re really excited about being able to recreate it with the lesson!

The remix that THUGLI did for A$AP Mob back in 2014. Click to around 0:55 to hear what part of this track has been used for the instrumental.


How did you guys first meet?

Pat: We both met in our teens at a park near both of our houses. We used to skateboard there with all the neighbourhood homies.

Tom: We were both really into music, Pat had already begun DJing and I was into making beats. I started DJing, Pat started making beats. It’s been quite a ride ever since!

What was the craziest gig you ever performed at and why?

Pat: We’ve had some pretty crazy ones. Really hard to pinpoint one. If we had to, maybe Digital Dreams in Toronto. It was one our first big shows at home to a crowd of a few thousand all going absolutely bananas the entire hour set. Very surreal.

You both have been producing Trap style music long before it hit was popular. Have you been surprised about Trap’s rise into the mainstream? Where do you see the sound heading to next?

Pat: That sound has had its feet planted for some time now but as it started to really grow it was surprise. Not that we didn’t think it could, We just didn’t think it would so fast. Not sure if there’s a definite route for it. It’s taking shape in many forms and heading down all kinds of different paths. That’s what’s dope about it. Constantly evolving and changing.

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

Tom: Only a year. That’s not too too bad. We can at least return to more music later so… Home Alone soundtrack, Cast Away soundtrack and Survivor the TV show soundtrack haha.

THUGLI’s new Melodics lesson ‘Overtime’ is now available to play for Melodics users. So login now and learn one of our best trap lessons yet.

Follow THUGLI on:

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud

Dec 10

Melodics New Play Screen And Navigation

by in Melodics, Pro Tips

Ever since launching back in October our design guru Adam and the rest of the team have had a goal to revamp our play screen. We are pleased to announce that we have done just that. The purdy new layout is now available to all Melodics users. We put together a quick video to give you a glimpse of the play screen and also steps on navigating through Melodics.

If you are still seeing the old layout do not fear it just means you are on one of our older builds. To update automatically just leave Melodics running for ten minutes. Or go to this link and re download the app.

The new play screen design is the first of series of additions we  are making to the user interface to make Melodics even better. If you have any particular ideas or feedback feel free to provide it in the comments section below.

Nov 12

Use Melodics To Improve Your DJ Sets: Cue Point Drumming Lessons

by in Melodics, Music, Pro Tips

For the next five days all Melodics Premium DJ content has been unlocked and can be played by all our users. In these lessons you’ll learn the art of cue point drumming and how it can be applied across a range of  tracks in your library, to create interesting flips of an original beat. These skills will set you a part from all the other ‘laptop DJs‘ out there and make your next DJ set fresh to death.

When applying our techniques to your own tracks make sure to keep these steps in mind.

 1) In your DJ software, choose a bar within the track and set 4 cue points

2) Set the four cue points on the 4 beats of the bar – typically the 1st kick, 1st snare, 2nd kick and 2nd snare.

3) Make sure you’ve practiced the pattern you want to use in Melodics and your timing is on point

To give you an idea of this in action we have included videos of three very different songs all using the same pattern from our lesson ‘Cue Point Drumming Lesson 1′.

Cue Point Drumming Lesson 1 – applied to Jay Z – Dirt Off Your Shoulder (82 BPM)

Cue Point Drumming Lesson 1 – applied to Disclosure – White Noise (Featuring AlunaGeorge) (120 BPM)

Cue Point Drumming Lesson 1 – applied to Led Zeppellin – Kashmir (81 BPM)

The pattern used across these examples is one of many that are included in Melodics waiting to be tried out. Melodics will teach you these different patterns through lessons that gradually increase in difficulty.

Once you feel all trained up the next step is to try what you have learned with your DJ controller/software. So set the cue points to the pads on your controller and get drumming. We recommend also looking at the Serato Flip which will help you to capture and loop your cue point drumming live.

We would love to see what kinds of flips you are able to do with tracks in your library using the techniques you have learned in Melodics. So send us through some videos using the hashtag #Melodics and we will find you on Instagram and Facebook.

If you have not downloaded Melodics yet do so now :)