Ghost in the Machine

Fred LaLande

Like many artists, Fred LaLande’s musical education began at home. And though he’s played several instruments since the age of 12, these days the Montreal-based artist spends more time on the keyboard creating experimental electronic music and less time in bands. LaLande’s solo career centers on the manipulation and layering of samples from the public domain. The result is an alien species of sound”dark, futuristic, a little frightening, and completely entrancing. Take, for instance, Clomplexity, where metallic textures spin and ricochet through the slow genesis of something unknown and terrifying. Things continue to fall apart in Andromeda. Synthesizers wail as they melt, air raid sirens sound in the distance, and a salvo of electric guitars is fired off. But even after such a battle, traces of humanity remain. On Here Again LaLande builds a softer, more utopian soundscape with whistles, yawning textures, and the dull chime of bells. Living through the second coming is pretty exciting, but you’ll be glad for a little post-war relief.

Ultra 2012

Over the weekend, 160,000 ravers gathered in South Beach Miami for the 2012 Ultra Music Festival. Taking the crowd by surprise, the event attracted several iconic celebrities, all of which shared their appreciation for EDM.

For starters, Madona’s introduction of headlining DJ/EDM producer Avicii was quite memorable.”Electronic dance music has been a part of my life since the beginning of my career,” she told the crowd. “I can honestly say a DJ saved my life.” (A reference to Junior Vasquez.) Lastly, she proposed a question for the audience: “I have a few questions for you,” she shouted. “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly? Are you ready to dance? Are you ready for the next DJ, motherfuckers?”

19 year-old Porter Robinson and 17 year-old Madeon performed memorable sets as well. The YouTube sensation and glitch-electro DJ tore up the UMF Korea Stage. Despite their age, these youngsters have acquired an incredible fan base over the last year. Robinson alone has opened for Skrillex and Tií«sto, topping the iTunes dance chart, and sold out his own headlining tour.

Afrojack brought some celebrity buddies as well. During his awesome performance, rumored girlfriend Paris Hilton and rap buddy Lil’ John waved to the crowd and showed their support.

Fatboy Slim broke some local rules by mixing LMFAO‘s “I’m in Miami, Bitch” into his set. However, I’m sure most of the natives didn’t mind because the performance with inarguably amazing – as you can see in the video below.



Kraftwerk Announce Residency At MoMA

Krautrock fans rejoice! Kraftwerk, the four-piece band known widely as the pioneering force in electronic music, is set to perform an eight day exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, each night dedicated to an album from their discography. “Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8” will explore the sonic and visual elements of the Düsseldorf group.

According to the press release each evening consists of a live performance and 3-D visualization of one of Kraftwerk’s studio albums”Autobahn(1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981), Techno Pop (1986),The Mix (1991), and Tour de France (2003).

The exhibit will not pull entirely from these albums though, as Kraftwerk plan to follow each performance with additional compositions.

Check out some classic videos of Kraftwerk after the break; a band that was well ahead of their time, both creatively and technically.


Simon Cowell To Create DJ Talent Show

What happens when the main stream music industry realizes that electronic music is no longer the fodder of Eminem one-liners? Or reserved for the underground clubs? The Rhiannas and Ke$has of the world start making (shitty) pop music based around traditional dance tracks, and Simon Cowell thinks making a DJ talent show will be a good idea.

Last week it was announced that Simon Cowell’s newest assault on the music industry would come in the form of a DJ talent show, hoping to find the worlds greatest DJs. Cowell also stated that DJs are the new rock stars, it feels like the right time to make this show.

While the majority of the DJ community, and EDM community at large is up in arms about their beloved culture being destroyed in the hands of the talent show mogul. I’m not as angry. Confusion would be a more appropriate word to describe my reaction to the news.

The DJ community has gone through quite the change over the past ten years. A pair of Technics turntables with a stock mixer was the universal set up, and DJs would bring their crate (remember vinyl?) full of handpicked tunes they thought were perfect for that given night. Those were the tools, everyone had them, and how you used them was what separated you from the pack. Everyone from hip hop turntablists to trance gods could play on a pair of Technics. With the advent of technology, DJ equipment evolved at a rapid pace; no longer were jockeys required to lug around heavy records from gig to gig, but they could start using CD players, and later software combined with a dummy vinyl record to manipulate their digital audio files much the same way as they used to do with traditional vinyl. Since the early days of digital, the field has changed even more. Now some jockeys are spinning on nothing more than a circuit board with a few buttons, knobs, faders and free spinning platters (an attempt to keep the disc in Disc Jockey). Which begs the question, what exactly is a DJ?

It’s a question that I can’t begin to answer, but something that the EDM community will have to figure out in this meteoric rise to the forefront of the music industry. Is Cowell up to the task? We certainly hope so.


Electropolis: Improvisational Songwriting

Okay, so you’re at your digital audio workstation (DAW) ready to make a killer tune. You’ve been playing around with your setup and put together an awesome loop or two, but now you’re wondering (or maybe even confused about) the direction the song is heading in. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before, and have even said, F*** it, thus leaving a perfectly awesome loop useless for public display. Unfortunately, these dry spells can be difficult to overcome without prior conceptualization. However, there are a couple of simple techniques from that boring thing we call music theory that are pretty helpful for improvisational song-writing”in fact, these ideas can be applied to any genre, style or whatever ‘word’ music’s typically categorized under.

Musical dynamics and phrasing are two essential aspects of composing that all musicians take into consideration either consciously or not. Dynamics simply refers to the volume of sound, as well as its the stylistic execution over an entire composition. A “phrase” consists merely of a single loop and the term “phrasing” refers to the organization of two or more loops. For the most part, both of these “theories” require a macro perspective verses a micro. To simply put it, whenever you create a loop, you’re engaging in a detailed micro process of song-writing. When you organize a series of loops, you’re viewing the production from a macro standpoint. The problem we’re referring to regards the initial creation of a direction to “phrase” your loops. Therefore, if you’re experiencing this common dilemma, try experimenting with “dynamics” to inspire new ideas for musical direction. Hey, it may be your bus ticket to somewhere other than the sixteenth repeat of a single loop.

For example, lets say you made a loop and want to accomplish one the following: a) create another verse, b) transition a loop into a rhythm change, c) go for a key change, d) create a break down or build up, e) increase the emotional impact of the chorus. The easiest way to trigger inspiration for all this stuff is by channeling your instruments/devices through a mixer to experiment with muting and soloing particular tracks. Another way is by making a minute’s worth of copies and mapping your MIDI controller to your synth or device’s Filter, LFO, Mod Envelope, Filter Envelope or any other parameters your wish to test out.

From here, it’s pretty straight forward. Simply play the track and see what comes out. Essentially, alternating these parameters effects the dynamics of the song, as well as the tonation of the instrument. You can really get complex with this stuff and create some radical changes, however it’s not aways necessary. Remember, music is meant to be listened to so use your own judgement about the appropriate time to get wild. Plus, the unexpected is what creates that sought after emotional punch in the face. The point of these experiments are to inspire your compositional direction and if you come across another way of essentially playing the same thing, simply record the loop with the desired alternation.

Once you’ve created a couple different versions of the loop/s using dynamic and parameter alterations, try to become aware of too much repetition. As stated earlier, experiment with muting tracks and devices via mixer to break any repetition. However, don’t be afraid to completely change up various musical aspects such as the bass line, melody, chord progression or rhythm. Just make sure a radical change is reasonably spaced apart and is used as a new section within the song’s form. (e.g. a bridge or breakdown.) Phrasing these newly created loops shouldn’t be super difficult after you’ve played around and automated dynamic alterations and articulations via synth parameters.


Electropolis: How to Create a Customizable Arpeggiator

Here at OurStage, we recognize the time and patience it takes to humanize an otherwise blocky MIDI protocol. If done right, DJs, producers and digital masterminds can synthesize incredible soundscapes of textures and colors otherwise impossible. Due to their techy nature, it’s been a rough ride for “society” to determine whether these electronic artists are actually musicians or musical engineers. Whatever you choose to call them, they’re making music that people of all tastes seem to dig. Therefore, Electropolis is dedicated to inspiring your musical evolution by providing original editorials about the latest buzz within the e-music world. See ya in the studio!

Arpeggiators…if you’ve never seen or heard of one, it’s simply a device that plays a sequence of ascending or descending notes, at a particular speed, within their chordal structure. However, many artists throughout the electronic music culture debate their use kinda like a game of tug-o-war. On one side of the rope, many argue that using randomizers and arpeggiators replaces the compositional challenge of making music. In contrast, the other end argues that these devices simply provide textures as the DJ works on other aspects of musical dynamic. Regardless of what side you’re on, arpeggiators and randomizers are commonly used in popular trance and techno music. For example, Darude’s Sandstorm is probably the pinnacle of the techno genre.