Mar 24

Stro Elliot On Making Music With His Heroes & His Unique Playing Style

by in Fundamentals, Interviews, Pro Tips, Uncategorized

In early March Stro Elliot was kind enough to come into Melodics HQ while on tour down under. In just one afternoon Stro created a new Melodics lesson from scratch named ‘Eggs on Toast’ and even spared some time to do an interview with us. The conversation was full of amazing insights as Stro delved into his life as a musician and his unique approach to music production.

Tell us the story of how listening to Pete Rock growing up turned you into a finger drummer by accident?

When I started making and listening to beats I assumed that producers played all their drums at once. I thought this particularly when listening to how Pete Rock’s music sounded. He had such a loose feel, it sounded like a drummer was playing the drums even though I knew they were samples. So I’m listening to what he is doing and I’m assuming that he sat there and played through the whole track. Like a drummer would on a drum kit but on pads. So I taught myself how to play drums on pads. This is the way that many people see me play drums on pads now during my live shows.  I later saw a video of him (Pete Rock) in the studio and watched him program drums one finger at a time, one sound at a time. I then realised how he really did it and was like ‘you have got to be kidding me’.

Fast forward to a show I had the honour of doing with him about a month or two ago. When I met him we did the set and he watched me perform and he said “yo that is really bugged out the way you play the drums with your fingers”. I then told him the story. He said “oh that is really crazy, but now you have this great tool that is in your favour and you can use”. So all in all it was a headache in the beginning but at the end of the day I guess it was all worth it.

That is pretty incredible how you went from listening to Pete Rock to performing with him. Who are some other heroes of yours, that you have had the honour of working with?

I was in a hip hop group called The Procussions and we had a chance to open for a lot of our heroes. A Tribe Called Quest being one of them as well as Redman, Methodman, De la Soul, The Roots. We almost checked off everyone in terms of people we wanted to open for. In the last year or two I have had the honour of getting to meet these people and have spent a considerable amount of time with them. Working with The Roots in the studio for a week and Electric Lady out in New York. Meeting the guys from De La Soul, Jazzy Jeff and a few others. It has been a real blessing to be able to collaborate and pick the brains of some of my heroes.

Has spending time with your heroes become a new normal for you?

I don’t know if it is normal. I tell my friends that I have known for years, that there are these moments when you are around people who you revere and you forget that they are super heroes. I have a couple friends at home, that I will spend time with. We’ll hang out, watch sports, go out to eat and it’s not until I’m in the studio with them or a show, that I remember that oh yeah this guy is Superman. I’ve been hanging around Clark Kent all day, but I forget that he can fly and can see through walls.

Do you think that learning to play live gives you a better understanding of how to make beats than sequencing?

I don’t know if it gives me more of an understanding than it does inspiration and ideas. The same way a live band will improvise a song they play a million times live, I will do the same when performing in a live set. You know I may have created some piece of music, but when I’m performing it, I might get a different idea. Like this would have been cool if I did this in the original recording. So it gives me ideas if I want to go back and change some things if I haven’t released the track, or provide ideas of things I can apply the the next time I make something with a similar feel. So whether it be a little fill in here or a little switch up there, I can now apply this to the track I’m making. That way I think it’s more about being inspired and motivated to expand on what I’ve already done.

So through playing live you are able to generate a catalogue of ideas in your mind faster that can be applied to future tracks?

Yes exactly.

How does finger drumming affect your workflow in the studio?

For me it definitely enables me to get the idea out faster. You don’t have to stop every four bars or every eight bars. You can kind of just do what I call have a ‘jam session with yourself’. I will play around and be like okay that’s a cool sequence or chord structure, lets add a bass line to it, then I will just have a jam to it (on the pads), until something feels right or good over that track. Otherwise it would take me longer as I would have to sit there with a kick, a snare, a hi hat and if I do not like it I would have to repeat that process. As opposed to being able to play to it, until something feels good.

When I watched you ‘jam with yourself’ I saw the Ableton Session had three minutes worth of MIDI from you playing drums. From there is it a matter of going through what you played and taking the best four to eight bars?

Yeah exactly that. I will find a section that fits. Sometimes it will not be exact but it will be close. Then it will a matter of me replaying it or physically drawing or shifting things around until it feels the way I want it to feel. Technology.

I read in a past interview that you know how to play piano, guitar, trumpet & drums. Is that true?

The first instrument I was actually taught to play was the trumpet. Which was in middle school. This was because it was less noisy than drums for my parents. However my parents probably regretted that as trumpet is not very quiet either. I played it for 4-5 years. My father being in the military meant we moved to Germany for a while. Due to moving around a lot I did not have all my papers at the school. So they had no record of the instruments I played previously. So when the teacher asked me what I played I said ‘drums’. I figured this would be my chance to finally play the drums. By the time he figured out that I played trumpet he gave me the choice between drums or trumpet. At first I chose trumpet but eventually went back to drumming after more of the other students left.  After this my mother bought me a keyboard when I was 16. I was self taught with that instrument. I learned primarily through first learning a few chords and then learning by ear. I liked Jazz Fusion stuff and early soul, from their I would analyse the songs I liked and pick apart the chords that I wanted to play. The guitar I was given by Granddad at around the same time. I spent a summer with him in the Midwest and found his guitar in the basement, he never used it but said it was a gift from a friend. I kept picking away at it, but it only had three strings. So to this day, what I know on Guitar is very basic. But I feel like I can thumb around on the guitar enough to get the idea out if needed. As a kid that was what I was into, I just wanted to get my hands on anything that made noise. Anything music related.

What influenced your passion for music at a young age? Was it a certain moment or person?

There was just something about music. I come from a family that is not musical. No one in my family played anything or sang. There are members of my family who are tone deaf, and can’t dance. So I was definitely the odd ball that came out of nowhere. However my parents knew I liked music and continued to play music as I grew up. But it was probably not until I was much older that they realised how serious I was about it. I’ve always felt like, without getting too deep that there must be a God because there is no reason for me to have this strong a desire to make music without anyone in my family playing music. I’ve always found this interesting as most of the musicians I’ve met come from pretty musical backgrounds, either their parents played or had a group friends they came up with that played.

So you have a big interest in music, you are learning a lot of different instruments. What happens next?

Because I was such an introvert as a kid, my parents and family did not recognise my passion for music until a lot later. I didn’t share it with anyone. They knew I liked it and would ask them for instruments, however they didn’t initially realise it was something that I would want to turn into a career. It was not until high school that I got active about it and found other people to play with and started doing things in talent shows. Those opportunities came from people I met at school or summer jobs. We would get together and jam, which kind of set a trend for me to find people that were artistic or created music and try to create a vibe from that standpoint.

So how long was it until you went from playing music at high school to touring with The Procussions?

It did take a minute. It was about three years until I met the initial members of Procussions. We had met before that but it was more of a hobby. They knew I messed around but it was not something we started to take serious until about 98/99. We came up with the name and started doing shows together and that has snowballed into a career.

And you have been on that trajectory since?

Absolutely that has been my whole life every since. I have never really had a Plan B for myself. Much to the worry of my mother. She is very happy and proud of what I am doing now but there was a period where her and my father did worry. No one wants to have the Bohemian kid that bounces from couch to couch and any doesn’t have any sure income and that whole scenario. But I think for myself knowing that I had no Plan B, forced me to find a way to make it work. This was the reason why I connected so much with another member of the group (The Procussions) Mr Jay, who is doing the same thing now and has many different outlets. I think we were the  two people in the group that did not plan for anything else. This made me take things more serious and be grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.

Did you ever doubt?

Yeah. There was a time I had really huge hair, soul patch hanging from my chin. After the group disbanded initially I was down and out. I cut my hair and got a real 9 to 5 for a minute. I worked for GUESS Jeans in Los Angeles. It was more or less a customer service type role, I answered phones and helped people with their orders. However the odd thing was I got fired during my training. I was like “who gets fired during their training. I’m learning to do the job and how could you get fired for learning”. But afterwards I had a very interesting conversation with my brother, I remember ranting and raving “I can’t believe they fired me. Here I am trying to do the right thing, trying to get my life together, getting a legitimate job, cut my hair and this happens”. Interestingly my brother was actually really mad at me he said “I don’t feel like that is what you are put here for, this is not was your calling. Everyone else can get 9 to 5’s but you are made for something more than that. So whether that means you got to work harder on the music thing or create a different circle of people around you. There needs to be something more you can do.” It turns out he was right.

Did you switch up your approach after this?

I did. It happened slowly. But the way I did it was treat my passion for music as a 9-5 job if you will. Making sure there was a certain level of productivity everyday, whether it turned into something or not. I went through the motions of making music and hitting certain targets. In relation to finding the right people, that happened more organically. I decided to go out in LA more, meeting more musicians and participating in different circles. The Procussions would eventually start working again and put out another album, but even in with that happening I would continue to be a working musician and connect with other like minded people as much as possible. They say a lot of the time in the industry that ‘who you know’ is more valuable than how talented you are, and I would say that has served me well. I’ve got a lot of opportunities based on my relationships with people and that is something I continue to do. I feel like I continue to create these opportunities to meet people who are influential but also just good people. So we can hang out outside of music as well.

What would you say to someone who has been inspired by your videos, bought a controller and are just starting?

I would be honest and tell him that the biggest thing in music for me was being a really big listener. I was nerdy in the essence I would read every line and note, I would watch people. Now days that is a lot easier than it was back in the day. There are a lot more resources with Youtube at people’s disposal to do this. So I would probably start there. Watch the people who are doing what it is that inspires you. But it is important to start from the standpoint of listening. Because as much as I would be honoured that someone would like to make music like me, it is also much more important that people develop their own style and sound. Just as I was influenced by someone and took it to a different place, I would hope this person starting out would do the same.

Today you made your first Melodics lesson. I was privileged enough to watch you make it from scratch. Can you tell us about the lesson and give some pointers on how to play the lesson?

Well it was good that I was given guidance on the tempo. Because I often feel I would struggle to be a teacher. I tend to start at Level 5 without releasing I need to teach Level 1-4 first. Initially I was like I would make something in odd meter time and just go nuts. But being given the number of 100 BPM was helpful as it gave me a vibe to start. While working through it chord wise I knew I wanted to make something that was simple to follow, but still felt good and that allowed me to be open with the drums and the way they are played. I knew going into it that if I made something a bit too muddled up, a lot can be lost in translation about what is going on with the drums and the rest of the music. With that said the overall process centered around making something in my own style that was simple but still interesting for people to play.

Could you give a brief description of the way that you layout your drums on the pads?

Well it is interesting in this particular lesson you get to see where I came from and where I am at now. In the live video you will see I have a lot tighter set up, with everything bunched together. Which came from the fact that I used to use the MPD pads from Akai that only had 16 pads. The pads were much bigger so it did not feel as tight. So with the initial part of the video the pads are arranged in this much tighter set. You know you have the kick right next to the snare, hi hat next to the snare, a clap above that and maybe what I call a snare ghost note under the snare. Now what I have found is that I have been able to open up my set up. On my live kit, you will see that I have the hi-hats on the outside of the pads. The kicks and snares are all below that as well as the toms and the cymbals and all the other bells and whistles on top. It kind of mimics the way I play the drum kit, you know having things in a open flow, even though it is me using two limbs instead of four. I like being comfortable and having a flow of feeling like I can go anywhere from the hi hat standpoint. So my set up being hi hats on the outside, kicks and snares below allows me to sort of have a natural flow with my two fingers.

Do your finger drumming skills help with other instruments when you are producing tracks in the studio?

I had an instance about a week ago. Where I was helping a friend of mine by laying down some guitar. I noticed that I did feel a little bit looser, than the previous times I had played on guitar. I remember there were a couple licks, where I was like that’s surprising, I couldn’t do that before. So maybe unconsciously there could be a benefit to me utilising my fingers more through playing with the pads. This could be potentially opening up the way I play keys as well as guitar. So there may be a connection there.

What does the rest of 2017 have install for you?

I hope there’s more music ahead in terms of creating it and playing it live. As of now that seems to be the case. I have always liked travelling and there’s already plans for more shows stateside and potentially overseas, so I am really excited to be doing that. Hopefully I will be releasing a new project by the end of 2017 as well which would be cool.

 

Oct 25

The Sellfy Music Production Bundle

by in Uncategorized

Need new sounds for your production library? Well you are in luck. Our friends over at Sellfy present the Sellfy Music Production Bundle. Including premium sounds from Decap, Evil Needle, Danyal, Brightest Dark Place, Juku and Steklo Acapella this bundle is essential for aspiring producers.

In the bundle you will get:

– 8 Drum kits

– 2 Massive presets packs

– 2 Sample packs

– 7 Vocals

– 1 Stem pack

Royalty Free

All these products come with Sellfy Music license, which means everything inside can be used completely for your creations.

Special Offer For Melodics Users

This pack is usually priced at $260 but is currently available at $25 for a the next 24 hours.

Click here to claim the deal.

Oct 07

Melodics: Introducing Courses – A New Way To Learn

by in Uncategorized

After months of requests we are proud to announce that our brand new feature Courses is here.

Courses are curated paths through Melodics lessons – covering genres, techniques, musical concepts, and more! We think that this new addition will give users a new way to structure their learning and build skills faster.

courses

Free Courses

Introduction to Melodics 

Get started with Melodics & finger drumming. This course will lead you through a selection of our free content, covering a range of genres & techniques. Start growing your skills, get a feel for what you like… and what you need work on!

Hip Hop Basics

The realness, the foundation. Take a short trip through Hip Hop history covering breaks, boom bap and soulful beats.

Subscriber Only Courses

The Evolution of Hip Hop

From break sampling, golden-era boom bap, and neo-soul, through to future beats, trap, and more – play your way through Hip Hop’s history in this course.

Independent artist

Separating your hands & fingers to play complex arrangement is a huge turning point in getting better at finger drumming – this course walks you through lessons which allow you to build this necessary skill, skipping between genres, BPMs, and exercises.

Off the grid

Put some wonk in it. Part of finger drumming is building up a feeeeeeel for the track – do those hats need to sit back a bit? Would that bassline work better dragging? Play this course and challenge yourself to make it work when it’s not exactly on-grid.

Cue Point drumming for DJs

Flip tracks, create dramatic build ups, and take your DJ set next level. Cue Point drumming is taking off with mixers like the Pioneer S9 and NI Z2 becoming increasingly popular – build the skills you need to master this surprisingly difficult technique.

This is only the beginning with more courses scheduled to arrive in the upcoming weeks. If you have any ideas for a course let us know via the Feedback section in the Melodics app.

 

 

 

 

Sep 16

Beat Breakthrough 002 – Decap

by in Uncategorized

In our second ever instalment of Beat Breakthrough we talk with San Francisco based producer Decap. When it comes to making beats Decap goes way back making his start at just 13 years of age. Find out about three beats that have shaped Decap’s progression as a producer.

What is the oldest or one of the older beats that you can find? Tell us the story behind it.

Beat Name: “Believing in D.E.A.T.H.” 
I made this beat in the summer of 2000 at age 15 when I started getting serious about making beats. I made the drums in a really old version of Fruity Loops and recorded the sample chops on my Boss SP-202 into Cool Edit 96. I can’t remember the exact sample, but it was off a record I bought at a local flea market.

A beat that represents a turning point in your production career?

Beat Name: Feeling
I made the skeleton of this beat in 2014 in like 10 minutes. I ended up releasing it as a single in 2015 (after spending 3 months tweaking it), alongside a video of me performing it on Push with Ableton. I feel like this track helped solidify my solo music career. A transition from behind the scenes producer, to artist and live performer.

The latest song or beat you are most proud of. And why? 

Beat Name: Wake Up!

I just made this beat this year. I feel like the music, sonic quality, and quirkiness represents where I want to take my sound. I’m proud of this track

Play Decap’s brand new Melodics lessons entitled ‘Samurai Homecoming’ now!

 

Sep 09

5 Future Bass Tracks You Should Listen To

by in Uncategorized

This week Melodics has released brand new lesson Future Bass lessons called ‘Aurora’. To mark the occasion the team has decided to share five future bass songs that we rather like.

1. Lindsay Lowend – GT40

With one of the best producer names in the Future Bass scene, Lindsay Lowend dropped GT40 three years back.

2. Hayden James – Something About You (ODESZA Remix)

Hayden James with the original and ODESZA on the remix. Doesn’t get much better than this.

3. SPZRKT & Sango – How Do You Love Me

Sango has made numerous collaborations with singers and rappers in his short career. His LP with SPZRKT entitled ‘Hours Spent Loving You’ was a masterpiece.

4. Cashmere Cat – Secrets + Lies

Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat ascended into prominence in 2013 with a string of popular remixes. Since then he has gone on to collaborate with The Weeknd.

5. Flume – Take A Chance (Featuring Little Dragon)

A future bass list would not be complete without a song from Flume. The Australian producer continues to grow, with his signature sound heavily influencing the next crop of future bass producers.

Extra

Sam Gellaitry – Long Distance

Had to add in an extra tune from Sam Gellaitry. At only 17 years of age this Scottish producer shows it is never to early to make amazing music.

Want to learn the fundamentals behind making Future Bass beats? Try our brand new lessons ‘Aurora’ available on the Melodics Software.

Aug 27

An Interview With Leonard Charles: Talks Career, Dilla & His Basement Studio

by in Interviews, Melodics, Pro Tips, Uncategorized

Going right back to the beginning what moment/person got you interested in music?

Witnessing how excited my parents were when they came home from a Jimmy Smith concert in the 80’s.

From this point how long was it until you started creating your own songs and beats?

I started writing my own music at high school and then made my first beat with Kutcorners (Serato) in 1998, we borrowed a Boss SP202 from our local music store from our friend who was the manager of the store (he now works for Ableton).

You have appeared in many different musical bands and projects over the years including Open Souls, She’s So Rad and now Leonard Charles. All these projects are distinctly different in terms of genre and sound. Have you always had such an eclectic taste? Are you seasonal in what you listen to?

I just listen to what I like on any given day. I have a fairly decent record collection so in the morning I just reach for the record I want to hear. I usually end up working on music influenced that record when I get to the studio.

With all that experience under your belt who is the coolest person you have met in your musical  journey so far? Can you explain what your first encounter with them was like?

A huge part of my musical experience I owe to Dave Cooley. He is a mastering engineer / producer. He always has time to share knowledge and is a genuine person within the global music industry. The first time we met he invited me to a recording session he had at Sunset Studio’s in LA working with a band called Silversun Pickups. They gave us a some tips on riding the busses in LA.

Tell us about your project ‘Basement Donuts’. What inspired the project initially and how did it evolve?

Inspiration for Basement Donuts is all J Dilla. People who know me know how important J Dilla’s music is to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say he has influenced every single piece of music I have released or produced. I was invited to perform at a night to raise money for the Dilla Foundation and so I decided to make it a special performance and remake J Dilla’s album Donuts but in my own way. The most important thing about J Dilla’s music is that it is unique to him so in order for me to serve the music right I needed to make my version unique to myself. I feel confident that I achieved this, I was hesitant at first because I really didn’t want to step on the toes of one of Hip Hop’s greats. I had the honor of playing some of my tracks from the release to Guilty Simpson and  he was feeling it. That seal of approval was enough for me to know I was doing the right thing.


The bulk of this project and a lot of your music is made in your basement studio. What was the first bit of equipment you bought for it and what gear do you have now in your studio?

The first equipment I bought was an MPC2000 and a turntable back in 2000. I have a bunch of gear now but the main things I use are: Ableton with Push. Roland Rhythm330, Roland MP600, Moog Voyager, Roland Chorus Echo, UAD Apollo, UA LA-610, Akai MPC3000, Fender Rhodes, Fender Jazz Bass, Fender P Bass, Fender Coronado, Premier 1075 drum kit, the list goes on.

In 2008 you performed at the ‘MPC Championship of the World’ under the name Jeremy Ota. Are you able to tell our viewers more about this event and the hours taken to build your cardboard MPC suit?

Haha, The event used to be held every year in New Zealad. It was an invitational MPC beat battle. A week out from the event all the competitors are given the exact same samples and get to make whatever they want to out of the samples given. I decided to do a tribute to all the Hip Hop I love by manipulating the samples they gave us and remaking classic beats. Some of the beats I made were even by people I was competing against.

You have helped design lessons for Melodics in the past primarily in the Chiptunes and Classic Breaks genres. What is it like having a Leonard Charles lesson released?

It’s cool. I really like the educational element to Melodics and I love building lessons that push peoples imagination. I hope that some of the elements from my own lesson will inspire people to go and create music.

What can Melodics users expect from your “Can We Go Back” lesson? Do you have any tips for how a newbie should approach the lesson.

I think a good approach is to go and listen to the godfather of modern funk – Dam Funk. Then go back to the lesson and just feel the drums. The drums are so important, the way the kick sits in the rhythm.

Who are the three artists you are listening to the most right now?

Mulholland – he has a studio above me so I hear his music all day.

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)

Common

What advice would you give to an aspiring music producer or beat maker?

Be yourself.  Respect the architects/ creators of the music you are making. Look to the past for education and look inside yourself for creativity. When it is time to make music forget the world around you and just feel what you are doing, get in the zone, that is where the magic is.

May 13

An Interview With Beats By J Black – Discusses His Production Story And Rise To Fame

by in Uncategorized

We were lucky enough to get an interview with the talented Beats By J Black this week to commemorate his first ever release on Melodics. He discusses his rise to fame online and delves into his production story so far.

You started producing six years and saved up to buy a Casio WK-3000. What made you want to get into production in the first place and do your still have that keyboard?

What made me want to get into production was being the kid in high school that made beats with mechanical pencil on the cafeteria table at lunch time. I got a lot of cred for that” and no I do not have that key board anymore.

What gear do you use now for your production? Are you still exclusively MPC?

The gear I use now is a MPC2500 and Maschine and I record into Logic.

You stated that you are inspired/influenced by the likes of ‘Ace Hood’ and ‘Araab Muzik’. Can you delve into how they have inspired you?

Araab Muzik opened the gate for us finger drummers, he actually made beating on a pad a career and Ace Hood ,he has that “go get er” attitude and he’s all about motivation!

You have an uncanny ability to take an existing track and flip it. Whether it be a DJ Jazzy track or a remix of Flume. What is your process when flipping a beat? How do you get so much feel in these songs?

I listen to a lot of older music, I grew up around a older influence so my taste in music is older than my age, not that music has an age limit on it.

The amazing videos of you playing your beats live is a huge contributing factor to your large following on social media. What made you start producing these videos and at what point did you start to blow up?

I’ve been doing these for videos for 2 years and started blowing up in December 2015. What made me start was friends always video taping me when I jam out so I thought id shared with everybody

This week you are releasing your first ever Melodics lesson. What can your fans expect from the lesson? Do you have any tips for them?

Be as loose as you can! And don’t just follow the squares follow the rhythm.

A video posted by Melodics (@melodicshq) on

2016 has been a big year for you already getting featured on social for Akai and collaborating with 9FIVE and fellow producer OddKidOut. What does the rest of the year have install for you and where are you wanting it to go?

Canada , Australia , New York, Atlanta , Colorado is were I will be in June through August for shows and workshops helping people learning how to produce. Plenty of collabs in store . I really want to visit Brazil!

If you were stuck on a desert island for a year and can only bring three albums with you. What would they be 

1) Jay Z – Reasonable Doubt

2) De la soul – AOI: Bionix

3) The Fugees- The Score

What advice would you give to someone who saw one of your videos today and decided they want to make beats like you?

Stay consistent , the crazy part is you don’t have to be that good. Just stay consistent and good things will come.

Beats By J Black brand new lesson ‘Soul Shaker’ is now available for all premium members on Melodics.

Make sure to follow him on

Facebook

Instagram

Youtube

Soundcloud

Apr 19

The Mysterious Story Of The Sleng Teng Riddim – Involves David Bowie, Reggae & a Casio Keyboard

by in Uncategorized

This week Melodics is bringing you ‘Sleng Teng’ lessons and a series of Loopmasters lessons entitled Django. While all our lessons have rich histories the story of Sleng Teng is particularly unique.

The Sleng Teng Riddim is iconic for bringing reggae into the digital era. While relatively simplistic this sample was originally a Rock preset on the 1985 Casiotone MT-40 keyboard.

The keyboard was bought by reggae artists Kingy Jammy and Wayne Smith with the rock preset being used as the bassline for their 1986 track ‘Under Mi Sleng Teng’. The interesting thing was that Smith didn’t even want to buy the keyboard but did so due to financial reasons.

The person who created the preset is a Japanese engineer but the name of Hiroko Okuda. In subsequent interviews Okuda has stated she based the preset on 1970’s British Rock song however refused to say which one. While there are a few theories as to which song many believe it to be David Bowies 1972 song ‘Hang On To Yourself’.

Another interesting fact about Okuda was that she said she listened to a lot of reggae while at University. Perhaps these influences may have subliminally emerged when creating this preset.  This piece of information combined with the fact that King Jammy and Wayne Smith never intended to purchase the MT-40 keyboard in the first place make this story even more incredible. Maybe it was destiny.

Here are some high profile songs that have used the ‘Sleng Teng’ riddim since.

So now that you are schooled up on the history of this weeks lessons it is time to play them for yourself. As always feel free to post any videos of you playing Melodics on social media. We love sharing your content on our channels.

Facebook 

Instagram

Twitter

Youtube

See You Next Tuesday

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Apr 15

OddKidOut Talks Dilla, Beat Making, Instagram & His New Melodics Lessons

by in Interviews, Melodics, Music, New Lesson Tuesdays, Uncategorized

At only 20 years of age Butch Serianni also known as OddKidOut is the youngest person ever to release a lesson on Melodics. A drummer since age six and beat maker since his early teens the Philadelphia based producer has gone from strength to strength.

Showcasing his beat making talents on Instagram over a year ago has seen OddKidOut earn 65,000 followers and a feature on the websites main channel. This week OddKidOut was kind enough to discuss with us his influences, beat making process and of course his fresh new lessons ‘Amore’ now available on Melodics.

The city of Philadelphia where you are from has been a big influence on your sound and upbringing. You have previously said how the ‘In the pocket Philly soul groove is what makes you feel truly at home’. Are you able to provide some song examples for people unfamiliar with the sound?

Of course, literally any Root’s album is exactly what I’m referring to. QuestLove is one of the people who opened me up to the natural swing. If you listen to the way he drums, specifically on one of the Root’s less popular side projects called “Dilla Joints”, you can hear how he sways the beat behind the metronome but still holds time based on feel. Speaking of Dilla, most of his beats emulate the same formula. Usually the hi-hat and snare will be pushed slightly back or forward, and the kick will be almost exactly on time. It creates a natural feel, instead of a quantized, robotic groove.

Your name ‘OddKidOut’ has been integral in building your fanbase. You have said you wanted it to build a community for people who feel different from the crowd and eradicate them from being stereotyped as ‘weird’. What made you want to take this approach and how does it relate to your own personal story?

Well growing up, I was always very sociable and had a lot of friends, but I always felt like I wanted to do something different. I played every sport and lived like a normal kid, but it wasn’t where my heart belonged. And this feeling is still inside me as a 20 year old in college. I don’t really care about going out to parties, or getting drunk on the weekends. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, but for me I just felt like I would much rather spend my time being creative and innovative. I still have a very large group of friends, an amazing girlfriend, and I definitely go out from time to time. But I felt like the odd one out because no one else wanted to hop in the studio and be creative on a Friday night. And what always irked me was that the social construct trains us to look at the small amount of individuals who actually do worthwhile things as outcasts, or “not as cool” because they don’t conform to what the norm is considered. I want to eradicate that because it’s bullshit.

You are the co-creator of #FACTInstaBeats hashtag which has an Instagram phenomenon for beat makers to get exposure. How did the idea come about and how did you get it off the ground with FACT Magazine?

So after about 2 months of posting my videos, I received a DM from Fact Magazine from a guy named Max Schiano. He essentially told me he had an idea to create a hashtag for Instagram beat makers where we could all share and feature each other. Together we came up with the #FACTInstaBeats hashtag and we both began working to promote the tag. Fast forward almost a year and now it has over 10,000 uses. The greatest part about the hashtag is featuring other artists. I will go through the hashtag, pick my favorite video of that week, and write a little bio and send it over to Fact. When they post it, the videos usually get over 20,000 views and to see how happy it makes the person who I’ve posted brings me so much joy. I love helping out other people who deserve the recognition.

A video posted by Butch Serianni (@oddkidout) on

You stated in an Instagram interview that you used the format you learnt for drums and transferred it to the pad controller. Was this an easy transition? How long did it take to adjust and to begin churning out the beats you wanted?

It was actually a really easy transition. I was always the kid who obsessively tapped on his desk during class and was constantly smacking items around to make different sounds. Even when I would walk, I would be snapping my fingers to the beat of my footsteps. Everything for me is rhythmic. So as soon as I got my Maschine, it was pretty much a go. What has been a struggle for me, though, is learning how to split my fingers up. I often play with my fingers together to emulate drum sticks, but I’m now training myself to split my fingers to utilize more pads at once.

Talk about the importance of the track ‘All Good’ by J Dilla and how it has influenced your musical development? Is this your favorite Dilla joint of all time? Man, this beat honestly means the world to me. It’s impossible for me to say it’s my favorite Dilla beat of all time, but it’s certainly in the top 5. It was so impactful because at the time when I first heard it, I had never listened to music like that before. I distinctively remember hearing it…my mom and I were driving to a gig I had in Delaware (I was still too young to drive) and I had randomly purchased the “Yancey Boys – Instrumental” album before the drive. I plugged my iPod in to the aux chord and played through the album, amazed the entire time, but really was blown away by “All Good”. Even my mom was like, “Woah, what is this, it’s beautiful”. The way Dilla samples the horns and then fits the beat behind it, ah it’s so simple yet so powerful. That’s what inspires me the most about Dilla; using so little to make so much. And when your mom is vibing to a hip-hop beat, you know it must be really special.

You have described live instrumentation as being ‘A natural feeling and connection between the mind, the soul, an instrument. Some of that gets lost behind the quantization of computers’ Are you able to explain this quote in more depth? How has live instrumentation/finger drumming helped with your music production skills and beat making?

Being a drummer, I was born in to the world of live music before I knew anything about electronic music. So my understanding of music is rooted in natural grooves. I feel like now a days, a lot of music that is popular sounds like it was gestated from a computer and has no real soul, no feeling of a few people in a room making sounds that are not exactly on beat, but in beat on their own. Again, everything has it’s own place and can flourish, but I just like to produce music that is one take, so as to capture that raw groove.

Tell us about your track Amore and what Melodics users can expect to learn by going through your lessons?

Amore is a love song that was inspired by my girlfriend, Addie Jonas. So users can expect to be learning a song that has a lot of emotion and a lot of passion infused into it. Speaking from a technical side, the users will explore how strings can be utilized in hiphop beats, and can also analyze how I orchestrate my drum patterns. From the kick drum, to the snare and hi-hat, each section will be split up and broken down so that the users can see where things such as open hi-hat’s should occur, or how the snare should be placed in reference with the metronome. 

What was it about Melodics that inspired you to want to get involved? How do you think Melodics helps beat makers?

The thing I love most about Melodics is the fact that it teaches. As a producer who is self taught, I always found myself watching videos of Dilla, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, just to study what they were doing on their MPC’s and then I would go and adapt my own rendition of it. But with Melodics, the capability to see exactly just what the beat maker is doing is light years better and is set up in a way that is informative and educational. There aren’t an abundance of sources that educate beat makers, so Melodics is definitely doing something special. And to be one of those artists that gets to contribute is an honor.

You were featured on Instagram’s main account which you said was one of the coolest things to happen in your young career thus far. Are you able to explain this story and the impact that it has had so far ?

Yeah, so a worker at Instagram, Alex Suskind, runs the Music channel for Instagram. He sent me an email and basically told me that he loved my videos and wanted to feature me on @Music’s page. So that in itself was a huge honor and I was so excited, but about 3 months later, I received another email saying that the editor of the main account for Instagram wanted to feature me as well on the main channel. And when I got that email I was smiling from ear to ear. I’m very, very thankful to Instagram and everything they have done for me. They’ve given me a huge audience (the video they posted received over 4 million views) and have been nothing but extremely helpful and nice throughout the whole process. I’m hoping to stop by their headquarters when I’m in California this summer!

A video posted by @music (@music) on

The release of your Within EP has been a success. What did you learn from the project and what do you want to do even better for your next body of work?

WITHIN EP was a learning experience for me. To be honest, it was much more successful than I had anticipated it to be. I was really hoping to get at least 20,000 downloads by a few months, but I ended up getting 50,000 in the first day and 500,000 in the first week. It really blew my mind. It was a great first release because it was very introspective and kind of carved a path for my career to build upon. Now that my audience understands who I am more clearly, I think that future releases will make more sense. That being said, I want to capture a different vibe for my next project; my debut album. I want the focus to be more on music that is appealable to all genres. I don’t necessarily mean pop, but I want to create songs that make you bob your head rather than make you think. That being said, I’m happy that the EP was the way it was, and I’m really excited to share a more brighter side of myself on the next project!

OddKidOut’s brand new lesson ‘Amore’ is now available on Melodics. As a special offer users can access these lessons through using the promo code ‘OKO-MELODICS’. If you have not downloaded already feel free to do so with this link. Finally check out the trailer video below to get a feel for these lessons.

See You Next Tuesday

A video posted by Butch Serianni (@oddkidout) on

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Mar 09

An Interview With Buddy Peace – Talks Creativity, Beat Making & The Songs That Shaped Him

by in Uncategorized

Starting out as a DJ back in 1993, Buddy Peace has naturally progressed into the realms of beat making and production. Known for his attention to detail and his ‘collage like’ offerings, Buddy continues to push musical boundaries. This week were able to ask Buddy a few questions about some tracks that have inspired him through out the years, and also delve into his creative process when it comes to production and DJing.

On your Youtube Channel you have a series of Finger Drumming videos called the ‘Bag Lunch’ Sessions. Each episode sees you finger drumming in a different location including a schoolyard, train and even a rooftop. Can you give a bit of insight into what inspired this series and the eclectic locations?

I really wanted to make some battery powered pad-tapping performances where I wasn’t bound by plugs and mains outlets, just me outside with a battery powered sampler and a recorder. They weren’t all rigidly rehearsed, mostly I just familiarised myself fully with my pad arrangement and got a rough idea ready, and then just powered through. They were made around some of the coldest times of year too and the will of myself and that of the cameraman didn’t hold out to laborious sessions, so I made them as quick as I could. I just wanted to have something interesting in each session, just different and pleasant or somewhere I passed by a lot in London. The train one was fun, and the rooftop one was cool because of the time of day. You can get some lush sunsets round London sometimes.

You stated in a previous interview “Some ideas I have start rattling in my brain and I can’t work on anything else until they’re finished, I get proper tunnel vision on things like that.” Are you able to explain this and how it relates to your creative process?

It’s a process that still retains control over me to this very day… Sometimes I have ideas that grab me by the collar and won’t let me go, and I’m basically a slave to them until I’ve seen them through – not all the time, but usually with the bigger ones that’s how it goes down! I’m a little better these days with time division though actually. I had to spread my efforts around a bit more efficiently to get certain things done, but yeah I do get that locked on tunnel vision thing happening a lot!

You have also been asked if you could have a scotch with any musician dead or alive it would be Jason Molina? What about his music or as a person inspired you? Do you have any songs from him that you would recommend to people who have not listened to his music before?

Ahh… That’s a musician choice which, in retrospect, I wish I had made differently. I said that before he died, and as far as I’m aware his death was very much connected to alcohol. That was devastating, I guess you can only know so much about certain artists but I definitely didn’t know that his private life travelled that path. I was lucky enough to see him play solo before he passed, and it was pure magic. I knew his music so well before then, but what hit me was the way that literally on the first second of him singing his first note, the entire venue – which at that point in the show was full on noisy and chatty – completely fell silent. His voice quite literally shut the whole place up with such quickness and it gave me chills. He and one of his bands (‘Magnolia Electric Co’) made one of my favourite songs ever, which is called ‘Farewell Transmission’. Again, something that just hits you from the very first chord as soon as the track starts. I’m getting goosebumps thinking of it, I have to play it now! So yeah – check that and the whole album, as well as the album ‘Didn’t It Rain’ (by his band ‘Songs:Ohia’), and his solo ‘Pyramid Electric Co’. All gorgeous, all haunting as all hell, and just wonderful bittersweet, soulful, end of the day perfection.

We all have songs that shape us musically as we move through life. Are you able to give some insight into the relevance of these two songs and this album for you personally?

Yeah that’s my trio of childhood right there! Wow. Basically my first 5 years distilled into three track titles. ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ triggers a very exact memory in me as a toddler, sitting playing with cars sitting by the radio. I’m right there as soon as I even think of it, it’s like memory synaesthesia or something. ‘The Show’ was one of the first rap records I full on fell in love with. My brother bought it and we rocked that 45 for all it was worth. As for Dire Straits, that was a firm fixture in the car stereo on many road trips for me as a kid. As far as Adult Orientated Rock music goes, I’m sure that still has power in it to melt me into tearful mess as a full grown man. Ah I can’t front, I still like them!

You’ve worked with many great emcees in your career so far from Sage Francis, Buck 65 to B.Dolan. What for you is the most inspiring thing about collaborating with others when creating music?

It can cut through a lot of the voices you have in your own head when you make stuff solo, which is a good thing indeed. I don’t mean necessarily negative voices either – just those judgmental ones and some that want you stay on that familiar road. When you work with someone else, especially in the same room, you have so many intangible benefits and conscious/subconscious cues happening that all add to the end result (I mean, if you get on, of course!). I think I’ll always enjoy the process of working by myself first if I’m truly honest, but I love the differences and the enjoyment of working with others – it really is a refreshing process and gets you out of your own head.

You have previously said that it all started with DJing for you. Tell us about who ‘DJ Chronic’ is and your first mixtape in 1993?

Haha, good lord. DJ Chronic was the ever so awesome name I gave myself in my very first year of DJing with a Technics hi-fi turntable with pitch control and a Soundlab DLP-3. I was reading a ton of hip hop mags and listening to non-stop rap radio and was crazy inspired by it all and so I gave myself that name after all that weed I wasn’t smoking and started drawing graffiti ganja leaves on everything. My graf was okay actually back then but yeah, that name was shortlived (probably lasted like 6 months) although I did keep scratching and mixing.

What was the first equipment you used for Djing and production. What set up do you have now?

That janky mixture of turntables I mentioned above, as well as I think a Kam mixer, which had one of those shitty built in samplers. You’d sample in and boom, an instant low-grade low-bit barely audible sample at your fingertips. It was fun sampling gunshots though, I had a time with that. My first sampler was a Yamaha SU10, which is dope for loops and things but not a lot else. I did make a lot on it though. It was all Akais after that. I now use mostly laptop but I still have a gang of controllers and pad-based toys around me, loads of Novation goodies, that kind of stuff.

What advice would you give to a person who woke up this morning and decided that they want to become a hip hop beat maker like you?

It helps to have a core love for it, which won’t be shaken by either fame or setbacks. Some people can blow up quickly, some people can take a while, but it’s the same with most areas of music and creative arts – if you’re in it for that fame then you’re missing the most interesting parts. It sounds simple but love for what you do, and of course skill and practice, will take you a long way. You’re also off to a good start if you know music – music in general, as much as possible from all areas. I think in my day things were a little more walled off than today, and it was harder to widen your musical perspectives as you couldn’t look anything up on the internet which was a far off sci-fi idea for many of us. There really aren’t any excuses to broaden your interests these days which is awesome. Get inspired by it, it’s amazing.

The word ‘collage’ has often been used to describe your productions and mixes. Are you able to give a bit of insight into this and how a mixtape by DJ Riz played a role in this development?

That Riz mix triggered all of that in me for sure! Goddamn, that tape. That thing was insane. I was into the Steinski stuff from years ago, which I heard on old radio shows and my brother got me into old jungle which I always recognised samples and breaks from, and I just loved the idea of taking chunks of music and contextualising them into whatever form you like. I wanted to start doing that soon as possible, and Riz was a huge inspiration scratching-wise. I love hearing it now and knowing what’s going on – back in ’93 I was just having my wig pushed back by an avalanche of 80’s and 90’s rap and wasn’t sure what were the tracks and what were the mix parts (I did know some of it though at that point from radio tapes and such). Later on I got into DJ Shadow, Skratch Piklz and all them, Beat Junkies, Madlib, Mr Dibbs, DJ Signify, and stuff like that. Lots of DJ stuff but mainly around drum heavy and psyche bits and pieces. I think that’s why I fuck with Gaslamp Killer and the Low End Theory squadron these days. I love all of that stuff so much!

How did you find out about Melodics?

I met some wonderful people through Novation, and was invited to perform a demo for their Launchpad Pro, and Sam from Melodics got in touch with them who got in touch with me, and that was basically it! Sam showed me what it was about and talked me through it, and I was all in. It’s such a great idea and to be honest, a long overdue one! There are a lot of pad-pushers around and with so many innovations in controller technology and interface improvements, it’s an area that’s really growing and developing in such an exciting way. I’m really glad Melodics are here!

You are releasing your Melodics lesson called ‘Disco Frost’ What can Melodics users expect to learn from these lessons?

That one was a steady uptempo jam which is a goodie for just hitting certain pads simultaneously which can be trickier than it looks. It’s not a complex one by any means, but I use mainly separated chops and not whole chunks of beats or samples that often and that’s what this is really. I have a ton up my sleeve though, you’ll hear those soon!

A video posted by Melodics (@melodicshq) on

How has finger drumming changed the game for both producers and DJ’s? How do you incorporate it into your work?

It’s kind of what I said above really, the changes in technology mean that you can chop beats very quickly, and you’ve probably already got your controller there ready and waiting for you, so right there you have so many barriers to creativity broken down instantly. From there you can just jam and bat ideas around with those chops, and it’s a cool way to get that rhythm in your hands. Also with DJing meaning different to things to people now, you can use pad controllers to control a DJ set which can be a set in Ableton, so again, you can incorporate all that stuff into a set so easy. I like to do just that actually – recently I’ve really been enjoying making sets using vocals and drums and just layering things up in Ableton, with parts in there to allow me to rock some pad-drums live. It’s so satisfying and while I’ll always love turntable DJing, after doing that for around 20 years or so this way is a really interesting change up for me. I’ll always want some kind of turntable element and I don’t want to change forever or anything, but having a new take on it all is mad exciting.

I understand you have been spending a lot of time in South East Asia and have visited all sorts of locations and places like Bangkok and ‘Noble Remix’ – What has been the most inspiring part of your travels so far and what was your reason for visiting this part of the world?

I can’t believe there was a signpost for ‘Noble Remix’. So dope. My girlfriend is over there a lot and we try and roll as a unit for the most part, so we end up hitting parts all over the place there and digging all over the place. I’m a big fan Zudrangma Records / Studio Lam and everyone involved, they’re a great crew who really put in work for that side of the world and I played at Studio Lam back in 2015 which was fantastic. It’s just madness, such a busy and frenetic place but with such dope musical heritage. They have some beautiful music in their past and right now in the present and I’m always so heavily inspired whenever I leave there, just tons of ideas floating around my head. I discovered Khruangbin in early 2015 too who use a lot of cue points from Thai music, and I’m a huge huge fan of them.

You are stranded on a desert island for a year and can only bring three records with you. Which ones would they be?

Stars Of The Lid: ‘The Tired Sounds Of…’

Public Enemy: ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions…’

Curtis Mayfield: ‘Curtis Live!’

Make sure to try out Buddy Peace’s new lessons this week and also follow his work on ->
> Soundcloud
> Bandcamp
> Instagram
> Facebook

Other Melodics Interviews
> Thugli
> DJ Day
> Eskei83
> Spinscott