A few months ago we were ending our huge Remix Cohmpetition 2010, in which more than 200 young producers from all around to world gave their own vision of Derek Howell’s “Stride”. At the time “Stride” was still unreleased – Derek had just finished to compose it and gave us some hot and exclusive material – and today the EP finally arrives on Beatport. Even if we hadn’t included the “winner tracks will be released” promise in the prize kit – almost 5K dollars in top gear and a great track to be remixed were more than enough to attract a crowd – we knew that if one of the podium tracks would be good enough to be “releasable”, Derek would do it.
We were happy to see the submissions arriving and putting the overall quality in a high level, and now we close this cohmpetition in the most cool way: two tracks from the contest have been included in the EP alongside with the original, the remixes from Peter Martin and David Graña, respectively. N.W.D.K’s track, the big winner of this cohmpetition, does not fit Derek’s progressive house vibes and couldn’t be released, but he told us that he’s quite happy with his Receptor2 🙂 (click here to listen again to the original + winner tracks)…
To celebrate the release of “Stride” on Derek’s Master Lux Co. label, we’re publishing a big interview with Peter Martin (the guy in the picture below), from the USA, who grabbed the second place in this cohmpetition’s forum. He tells about his setup, working methods and expectations. Check it out, just below the pic:
When have you started with music production?
When I was younger I had an original Nintendo and would record music from one game to another using two cassette decks. Tried to mix them both together (with careful calculation of using the L&R jacks between two different tape decks) to make a new piece. I had never heard of house music, DJing or anything of that nature so I think it utterly bizarre to have this kind of nature even early on. In fact the only music that I really heard was from video games and my parents vinyl and CD collection. Fast forward (no pun intended) after my family first go their own home computer a year later with several attempts at breaking the software (this was Windows 3 mind you guys), I finally managed to gain an severe interest that year after proclaiming to my best friend and fellow computer nerd “I want to make wave files” with zero concept on how it was done. I utilized some terrible free program and Windows Sound recorder as my start after graduating from mom and dads cassette decks. Then a few summers of wasted time with mod trackers on the computer, poor sampling, and one high school talent show with a 8 ch sound craft mixer, two mod trackers (PCs) and 10 people raving out before anyone in my little school heard of ‘electronic music’ I was moved toward the next stage of development to a real studio.
My first real trip into a studio with proper kit was in 1995 when I was attending both high school and a local community university at the same time. I was enrolled to take private violin lessons from a quite esteemed teacher and the only way to get lessons from her that my family could afford where to take her private classes from the university. It was an honor at the time because I didn’t know anyone from my school doing both university and high school, still writing music, and working a job to pay for all of this. The university had quite a bit of equipment for the time, and it was the first time I’d ever seen a mixing board, and was totally amazed they had something called an eight channel ADAT, and a computer lab all full of keyboards. Then my friend Jerry who worked in IT that listened to Skinny Puppy and hardcore industrial showed me Rebirth 338, and a JP8080. That was it for me, and that’s how we got to where we are at today.
Do you also work as DJ (or have a regular music work/activity)?
I just don’t have the interest to DJ in a club anymore in a typical fashion, and even the laptop thing doesn’t excite me the way mixing vinyl/CDs did. Not that old of a fella either, and came very late in the game compared to many legends that made the transition successfully. Digital Djing never worked for me maybe because record stores closed down, and people don’t play vinyl anymore, I don’t know. There was a strong community aspect that is gone from this, and that I’d really hope to be apart of a community focused on the music again one day. Plus with the lack of true mastering makes the sonic quality of the music itself poor in more cases today. This is one mans opinion and might not be cut out to be a ‘DJ’ anyway in this case, but I can mix beats, scratch, and key match if your wondering.
I’m currently inventing a way to not only perform my music in a live way, but not in a way that other people have done. I’d like to create something with the foundation on composing a piece that is relevant that people connect to, then practice it, record it, and rehearse it over and over, then perform it. I have a rehearsal space, and a plan.
So on with my regular music activity is pretty basic and focused. Its me six to seven days a week, at least two to three hours in the studio during the week night (would be more but the day job prevents this) and sometimes up to twelve plus hours a day on my weekends. I don’t go out and party ever, or hang around random people for the sake of it. Its always music, study books on engineering, sound, music, theory, and lots of practice. Don’t even own a TV or have the internet at my house, don’t plan on it either.
I’ve been this way for a while with the hope people might think one day what I do is somewhat decent enough to support more of it.
What’s your (home)studio setup?
Oh its very modest as my means are not great to invest funds like some people I know that have been blessed with rack and racks of gear. I have to say this, if it wasn’t for my friends and family (whom bought literally everything for me to write, play and compose music) I wouldn’t be doing this interview, or wouldn’t even write music at all! My family bought my Mac Pro three years ago that I use Logic with, best friend Ray bought me some KRK V6s for my birthday a few years back, until then I was using a $30 pair of computer speakers for about five years. Mr. DeVore brought me a 49 key keyboard for the same birthday that I got the KRKs. I couldn’t afford any keyboard this whole time and only used my ear to write all my melodies and music up until then. Lots of point, and click. Besides what I’ve just listed its only Logic built in synths/effects, and a handful of third party bits.
What is your working method when starting a remix?
I hear the intent of the song, what the person is trying to communicate, and find a creative way for me to communicate the same idea of the song in my own language back to them and other people. I think of it in terms of language, as music is a language of communicating emotions, allegory’s, stories, or other stuffs. I’m only going to translate their ideas to my own and re-communicate their ideas through my own. I feel very much that its to serve the composition first, and have an accurate translation of the mood and theme and not a literal one second. If you spoke a foreign language like most people do a remix (literal translation) there would be far too many wars and international misunderstandings for us to take care of! I could go into a work flow of cutting files and getting my template of sounds/MIDI provided, but I’ll leave the descriptions strictly in the esoteric sense for this one.
How had you the ideas for this Stride remix? Why have you done it this way?
I didn’t have any ideas at first, but I tried quite a few things. I didn’t have any intentioned, plans, or ideas. I simply had the project spread out with careful planning to help with the translation, parts ready, and began to see what my sub conscience would write. That’s it, and lots and lots and lots of time. Spent close to 100 hours on this remix, some mixes are like 20 hours of time, some are 10. I don’t settle that’s for sure It took me a lot longer than I’d like, but I like the results. If I had more open time to work on it then I’d get it done in a week, and not two and a half.
Have you already produced original tracks? Where can we listen to your work?
Most recent release was done for a project that Glenn Morrison ended getting to release by the Anjuna Deep label. I think it came out already, not sure, you may have to look it up on Google, its called Disco Belle. Did some work for Microcastle last year as originals and a few remixes. I had some work on Armin’s label Electronic Elements. Few songs I did called Perfect Wave and Simply Blue people still like today. Many moons ago I recorded under the name “Jade” for Method (Baroque Records), that was my start. I’d do wonky titles like A Day In The Life of An Eastern Assassin after seeing a gregarious fung shui guy outside of the Manns Chinese theater say that phrase, or that is how the story goes anyway. I had no idea what I was doing, as I never have worked with a sound engineer or shown anything so those releases don’t sound too good, but you can hear the idea and intent I was trying to convey.
Which Ohm Force plug-ins have you used on this remix?
Symptohm and Frohmage, as those are the only ones I could get my hands on for this project. For two free plug ins, they’re simply incredible! The flexibility and musical manipulation of the Frohmage is amazing! I really don’t think people understand the crazy nature of what 16 band passed filters sound like, but this plug-in does it. Honestly I want to go down the street and ask strange people if they know what a multiple band pass filter, stacked with itself, with an evolution knob can do for them. It was the ‘frohmage’ on this sonic pizza, a key ingredient for me to communicate the ideas I had for this remix.
The Symptohm on the other hand at first was very frustrating with the concept of how to load samples and use the keyboard to manipulate the modulation capabilities. I like when things get frustrating when I get a new tool, it means I have something to learn and my ego does not like to think this won’t be as easy as it likes. Well, after several colorful words, more than a few experiments, and a couple of glances over the documentation I got the idea down of the beautiful playability of this instrument. A totally new concept to me and how to not only perform the notes required to make a melody or harmony but how to perform the actual modulation capabilities as the sole integration and intention of the instruments sound. Take that, with the ability to sample things, and you have a large pallet of musical options that at times is overwhelming what you can do. All from something you can do for free, how cool is that? I can not wait to get the full version and explore the entire scope of the program ability this instrument can bring.
How have you use it/them?
I used the Frohmage to do simple filtering work, but got bored, and it evolved into creating a large portion of the atmospheric beds. Turing up the bands, adjusting the tone, EVOL, and cutoff made some incredible and unique sounds. I wish I could have had time to implement more ideas using this one tool. Its one of those tools that you have too many good ideas that would work, but the canvas or time for that matter was the only limitation. That’s very rare as sometimes you have a bunch of tools or ideas that don’t work together, and don’t convey the message. Ohmforce tools don’t have this problem when you know what your doing.
The Symptohm was something I knew I had to use, even though it broke me out of my typical comfort zone with composition and synthesizers. I tried several different things, and due to the limited capabilities and inability to fully manipulate the modulation assignments it was a source of my great frustration on this mix. Again, and generally speaking its when I get frustrate and work through it while remaining positive that in the end will yield a much more interesting result than not learning it. I took quite a few samples of either loops with the project, and or one shots I created from the original music parts of Derek’s. I ended up only using the main bass line, loaded in a strong sounding preset, and simply played it over the drum and atmospheric bed in loop mode. Needless to say it was the most fun I had in a long time with my clothes on, and the ideas for structure soon took hold very quickly after that thanks to Symptohm.
In what do you think the Ohm Force plug-ins are different from others?
They don’t take any of the musicality (or sound quality) away which is absolute key, and don’t consider them plug-ins as much as I do musical tools. I say musical because that’s what they are, they don’t act simply as as a filter, or delay. They greatly impact in creating a more musical conversation between the composer’s idea and end listener’s experience.
What are your musical influences?
God, love, family, life, and the Bach (in this order).
Have some great recordings of Glenn Gould playing Bach, its something I listen in the morning when I fix my tea.
I don’t care for pop music, rock music, rap, or hip-hop, if that’s what your asking. Do I appreciate them? Maybe, I respect the hard work and dedication that goes into these things. Its hard, very hard to do these and translate an idea or concept to people from idea to the record. That I can appreciate, but I hear most musical communication these days as people yelling at each other, or yelling how much cooler they are than the other guy. Or these ‘loudness wars’ where people compete to try to out yell the other fella. Would I work with some of these people that wrote other ‘styles’, depends, and it really isn’t up to me at the end of the day.
Music should convey a sense of bridging the divine with the secular world, but this is only one mans opinion.
David Gilmore is an awesome guitarist, Hayden’s farewell Symphony is very touching to me for personal reasons, Mendelssohn, Grieg (Heart Strings), oh my gosh I can go on, oh yea and I like Turkish music too.
Bach is STILL the foundation we all stand on in Western Music, whether people like to admit or not.
If you’d choose one or two producing/mixing trick/technique you always use, to share with the Ohm world, what would they be?
Dynamic range is your best friend, and if you want to get your music noticed, its not how loud you make it, its how you make it loud (Bob Katz said that, took it to heart).
Learn how to properly gain stage is number one that and keeping headroom on the mix bus, and for everything that’s good keep the dynamic range to the music. Why?
Peak limited music is getting exhausting to listen to, with the worst being club music. I don’t get it, and I don’t go to clubs any more because of the hyper-limited weak sounding square waves passed as music. The musicality is getting totally awesome with the tools but its like everyone burning or overcooking their food and everyone liking burnt food. If I wanted to listen to square blocks of sound I’d stay at home and save the money, wait i do that already. Though there is zero bitterness in this opinion but had to state it as a big point to make on putting back dynamics, and musicality into records we love. Take a squashed track and hear it on the radio, then take a good tasteful master on the radio, well kids the tasteful ‘more quiet’ master sounds better even on the radio and stands out!
Charles Dye is working on some kind of foundation that I pray gets more notice for dynamics.
What are your musical plans for 2010?
There are already some plans on colabs with some artists like Derek, Josh Gabriel and Peter Lank so far. And we’re all waiting for the Ohm Studio beta-test, there’s a lot of buzz about it. Had an album (two years of work) that I was planning on shopping and releasing this year that was lost. It was sad, very sad to say the least. Not giving up because of it, and am restarting the whole process from scratch with a better outlook, a more positive attitude, and a direct approach at serving through music. Thank you and God Bless!