I love it when a promo slides into my inbox, I pop it into Foobar, and it makes me smile. It’s like rediscovering a little bit of sunshine…even if the music it contains is moody, foreboding or has a touch of nasty.
That’s exactly what happened when Protect Audio sent me Survey’s new EP, Object Relations. Sure, I’ve featured the German duo and their music before, including their recent Steam Berlin podcast. They’re kinda blowing up now, with forthcoming releases on Noisia’s Invisible label and Trace’s DSCI4 too. But Object Relations has done my head in and even I can still be surprised at the craftsmanship of an EP when it jams my earholes. Is that hyperbole? Maybe, but I don’t give a fuck. I’ve had this EP in a constant rotation since it arrived.
I’ll stop yammering, but if you want to know more about Survey or their current/future plans, you can head on over to DnBA and read their interview with them. In it they discuss the meaning behind the EP’s title, Object Relations, state of Berlin, its drum & bass scene, and Hardy’s propensity for excessive gas.
I have raved on Shadowboxing on how AMAZING Ivy Lab is and the incredible material they have been releasing. I am also a huge fan of the Ivy Cast they do and the newest edition has landed for you all to enjoy. You can expect to hear classic hip hop (BCC WHAT?!?!) as well as some of the freshest DNB out there and it is a pure treat. Seriously for heads in Hip Hop and DNB, not that you need any incentive to listen. ITS IVY LAB!
My frequently infrequent tune of the day post for today is Total Science’s Remix of Villem & McLeod’s Putting Down Roots on Warm Communications. Why? Cuz that sub bass is killing me, cuz!
Also included on the EP are vocal and instrumental releases of So Addicted featuring work by my favorite vocalist, Grimm. Masterful release from Total Science, Grimm, EHL, and the Warm Comm fam. The EP is available on vinyl and digitally right now from Red Eye Records.
I’m not quite sure what a renaissance man looks like, but Dallas native Chris Lund comes pretty damn close.
For the past 14 years, he has been crafting a musical world that earned him slots at flagship events like Burning Man and South By Southwest. A college professor with two degrees, one in audio engineering and the other in music composition, his FUTURE party series is one of the busiest underground events in Dallas. His tunes have charted in the top 10 on Beatport, TrackItDown, Hype Machine and Juno, He’s putting the finishing touches a new album for his longstanding music project, Left/Right. He’s creating fantastical art installations and is has his sights set on learning how to blow glass. Chris also models and makes quilts in his spare time.
Alright, alright so I made up that the last part but I’m telling you: renaissance.
I’ve followed Chris’s career loosely since around 2005. We had some quality music-nerd bonding time 2 years ago at Meltdown Festival. That’s where I first I caught a glimpse of just how passionate he is about producing, curating shows, and djing in general. My curiosity piqued, I started paying closer attention to Left/Right and what Chris had going on. And on. And on.
Now I’d like to give the Shadowboxing audience a chance to get to know him a little better, because I think you’ll find him as fascinating as I do. Chris was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to give me a deeper look into his world. And that world looks like this:
You just came back from Burning Man. In 3 sentences describe your favorite moments of the event.
Overall this year was more personal and introspective for me. Some of my favorite experiences were interacting with strangers and learning about how people were making the large-scale, techy art we’re trying to push at FUTURE. If I had to pick 3 specific moments I’d say: first, our camp piling into a tank art-car and riding out to the trash fence at sun rise, dancing to the art car Kalliope, and finally spinning a super-deep set at Decadent Oasis and having people start dancing as the sun began to come up.
Left/Right at Burning Man Root Society 2012
Tell me about your FUTURE party. What can a newcomer expect of the night?
FUTURE is based on combining underground music and really immersive art-environments. Each event is pretty different visually and it’s been fun experimenting with new installations each time. The music co-founder Trespass and I try to push revolves around future garage, uk bass, and breakbeat. We’ve been really lucky to have a fantastic mix of crowds that attend…fashion people, underground music heads, and artists. Inclusivity is important to us- everyone is welcome!
Okay, that sounds hella cool. When’s the next one?
The next FUTURE night is a collaboration event with Full Access feat Gorgon City @ It’ll Do Oct 18th. We’ve been working to collaborate on that show for over two years now. We are happy to be supplying the art as well.
Various photos from FUTURE
What’s Left/Right been up to in the studio lately?
I’ve recently completed a couple tunes with Trespass that we are currently shopping. My biggest venture this year has been working on my own full-length album, TIME. I have 12 tracks about 80% done with a few singers spread throughout (including myself). The sounds range through a few genres (118-140BPM), but focuses on darker garage and broken beat throughout. Some of it I don’t really know how to define to be honest.
3/6 of these teasers are on the LP including the title track, Time:
And here’s a teaser of pt 1 of a two-part single (I’m singing on pt 1)
What kind of music did you grow up on?
I grew up on classical music in a household that didn’t listen to much rock/pop so my first experience with electronic music was Switched On Bach by Wendy Carlos; I wore that tape out as a kid. The other big one was Prodigy – Fat Of The Land in junior high, and then in high school I discovered the rave scene of the early 2000s and bought turntables. I started producing electronic music almost immediately after graduating college with my music degree.
Chris Broke It @ Meldown Festival, Ft. Worth
Tell me about what keeps you busy outside of curating amazing parties and djing shows.
I have two jobs. My primary job is via my business LeftRightAudio mixing, mastering and production lessons. I work out of my studio in Deep Ellum at Rockit Labs (same studios as Paul Paredes, Demarkus Lewis, Chris Jumble). I also teach two to three Audio Engineering classes each semester at Collin College in Plano.
What are some of your other projects? Because I know this can’t be it.
Team Awesome @ Lizard Lounge, Dallas
What are you focusing on for the rest of 2014?
So besides finishing the album I’m also doing a full visual rebranding for Left/Right, starting on some remixes, and generally pursuing FUTURE art. I’m improving my interactive kinect installation, projection mapping skills, and building a fire sculpture (hopefully learning to blow glass)! Some of these will be funneled into my performances as they develop. If I’m lucky, I’m also hoping to finish my band Chris Broke It’s album this year too. The eternal struggle is too many projects, too little time (thus the name of the album).
2015 Left Right world take over? Yes?
Haha- yes! With a little help from my friends.
To keep up with Left /Right check out these sites –
Edited by Derek Johnson
Sometimes, in the face of it all you have to put on a tune and just let it wreck your brain. Today, that wreckage is being wrought by Dillinja’s Violent Killa (Valve Recordings, 1997).
It’s a bit late in the afternoon, but Shadow Child just posted up this Nick Olivetti promo mix for Food Music. I guess the colloquial term for this flavor of house music by some purists is “UK Jackin” instead of bass house or tech house, but I don’t really care because I’m rather enjoying it…
Welp, ebola has officially landed stateside for the first time ever and it’s in Dallas! My hometown has long been known as the “Metroplex,” and had the very unofficial nickname of “Assassination City” since 1963, so why not add another moniker like Pandemic Town, Hemorrhagic Hamlet, or the Ebola Belt to the list? Can’t hurt right?
So how does Ebola tie into music and this blog? By, cheekily, sharing three live sets by Virus Records alumni from 1999 to 2002 that were on the same CD back-up as the Full Cycle sets from earlier in the week.
Enjoy and, as Douglas Adams famously wrote, don’t panic.
A dubplate and mastering specialist, DJ and promoter, Henry Heatwave is a steady force in Bristol’s rich music scene. Henry tells us about how Dub Studio came to life, his influences…and his portable lathe!
What made you decide to get into mastering and cutting dubplates?
I have always had a fascination for sound. I used to create gigantic speakers in my bedroom when I was too young to go clubbing, and I remember when I first used a graphic equaliser to tweak the sound. My friend brought it round and showed me how you could control precise bands of sound to tune the system, and I was blown away; I used to play with that EQ for hours! I guess from then on I always took a keen interest in what it takes to make things sound good, but it wasn’t until I left Uni in 2003 that I had the opportunity to set up a dub cutting studio. At the time my main focus was on cutting dubs for myself and The Heatwave, but demand was so high that it kind of took over my life. Within a few weeks of setting up the studio I was cutting dubs for people like Roni Size, Clipz and Krust, and that’s when I started to learn a lot about mastering.
How did you learn?
I basically learnt on the job, it was a pretty chaotic time, but shortly after I opened the studio I met a guy called James Ginzburg who convinced me to take it a whole lot more seriously and opened my eyes to the possibilities that lay before us. He introduced me to a guy called Joe Jarlett who taught me most of what I know about sound engineering, and together we started taking orders and sending them out. It was a steep learning curve, and one that continues to this day. I still refer to Bob Katz’s famous book on the subject of mastering, and I lurk around on Gearslutz for more specific advice, and LatheTrolls for info on all things vinyl-related. Of course I can’t forget Ulrich Sourisseau, who came up with a fantastically simple and effective system for cutting vinyl dubs, and provided me with most of the equipment and knowledge I needed to get set up.
Inspiration comes from all over so its hard to pinpoint exactly, but the Jamaican sound system scene is probably the biggest overall influence. My dad was involved in a sound system called Unrulee Rockers when I was a kid, and I remember one of the selectors Dr. Maynard describing how he used to get specials cut onto acetate and I thought that was so cool. Now I am honoured to be cutting Dr. Maynard’s dubs all these years later. On the technical side, it has to be King Tubby. Not only was he a highly skilled electronics engineer and vinyl mastering engineer, but he also produced some of the most amazing music I have ever heard. Later on in his career he starting producing some of the early dancehall in Jamaica, and ran several record labels. He was the sort of engineer who was heavily involved in the music scene, and that’s the sort of engineer I want to be. He achieved great things against all the odds, and when I have a challenging day, I think it must be nothing compared to what he was up against.
Tell us about one of your more challenging cuts.
My job is all about problem solving. There are two parts to the problem of cutting a successful dub. The first is purely mechanical, the second part is purely acoustic, but the two parts of the problem interact. I have to ensure the cutting stylus cuts nice, clean grooves that are the right depth and the right distance apart. Then I need to make sure the dub is not too loud, or too quiet, and does not skip or distort. Sound is linear, and the limitations of vinyl are blurry, so unless you do a test cut of each track its almost impossible to guarantee a good cut each time. After 10 years of cutting I am pretty good at spotting problems before they arise, but having said that, if I hear a problem during a cut, I have no qualms about aborting the dub and starting again – sometimes it’s the only way to get a good sound.
Generally though, if a track has been well mixed it will cut to dub fine. Typically, problems only occur when the relative dynamics of the various components of the music are at odds with each other, either because the mixing is sloppy or it was heavily compressed to mask some problems. For example, if de-essing a wild vocal is making the hi-hats sound dull, you have a problem that is not easy to solve. It may sound OK in the box, but on vinyl you will either have distorted esses, or dull hi-hats. The same goes for any part though, if you suddenly have a crazy flute solo in the middle of an otherwise quite steady piece, the level will have to be lower throughout whole track to give room for that solo. That’s OK if dynamics are the order of the day, but most people want it cut loud, without realising that the cut can only be as loud as the loudest part.
I can’t really remember any particular track that stands out as being difficult, but when it comes to genres, DnB has to be the hardest. Things seem to have calmed down a bit for DnB dubs, but there was a time when I was pulling my hair out every week trying to cut ever louder dubs for people. Each time we reached a new loudness limit, someone would want to try and squeeze a bit more out, to keep up with the likes of Andy C and Dillinja. For me it was like being stuck in a negative cycle of compromise and reduction in quality, where people seemed to have forgotten that music is about enjoyment, not competition. A few years ago I got fed up with it all and decided to establish a house level that I would not exceed. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I lost a few clients in the process, but I recovered soon enough. I hope one day all mastering engineers will follow suit, because a whole raft of music is being released now that just sounds terrible.
Name-dropping…who are some people you’ve worked with?
Its a pretty mixed bag really. Last week I was cutting for Neek here in Bristol, and Bass Foundation over in New Delhi. This week I am on a stack of dubs for rockabilly DJ John Gough, then later in the week I am cutting a bunch for Riz La Teef, Boofy and a few people I have never heard of (sometimes my clients only give me their real names). Other familiar names I have worked for in the past include Pinch, Joker, Rob Smith, Clipz/Red Light, Peverelist, Gemmy, Guido, Roni Size, Daddy G, Krust, SUV, Die, Cyantific, Nutone, High Contrast, Danny Byrd, Logistics, Mr Benn, Queen B, Kowton, Vinyl Junkie, Flynn and of course Flora (RIP I still can’t believe you are gone) and more recently people like Vandal, RSD (again), Dubkasm, Kahn, Neek, Ossia, Batu, Lurka, Boofy, Hi5Ghost to name just a few of the local artists I am working with at the moment.
Most of my clients only cut dubs with me, so a lot of the work I do goes uncredited, but if you want to hear some stuff mastered to the Dub Studio house level, see: soundcloud.com/broken-audio
What else do you get up to?
Following in the footsteps of King Tubby, I like to get as heavily involved in the music scene as I can. I like attending nights like Young Echo here in Bristol, and I just got back from Outlook with The Heatwave which was amazing.
I like getting out and about giving lectures and live demos and I have built a portable lathe for that purpose. It’s my dream to cut dubs live from a mixing console, to create unique one-off dub cuts, but to do that I would need to travel to studios with a dub cutting lathe, which I can now do!
Also, it occurred to me a while back that I am in a pretty unique position in the Bristol music scene, rubbing shoulders with such a broad spectrum of artists, so I am trying to document as much of it as I can, with a view to making a film about it at some point in the future.