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Student Profile: James Walker AKA Cakewalk

It’s time for another student profile! We checked in with our former student, James Walker, to hear about his DJ career since graduating from Mmmmaven.

James AKA Cakewalk got his start DJing at Franklin Pierce University after teaching himself how to DJ using Youtube and online tutorials. He wanted to learn more about the craft, so he began searching for DJ schools in Boston. His search led him to Mmmmaven, where he began taking classes in 2012. Early on, James started exploring different genres and Mmmmaven helped him pull from these influences to find his own sound.

One thing that has stuck with me from Mmmmaven is “imitate, imitate, innovate”. In other words don’t be afraid to “sound” like or take things you really like from artists that you really love. Eventually you’ll find your own sound but still be able to show your influences in your music or sets.

Cakewalk is currently a resident DJ at the monthly parties, BINARY at Wonder Bar and Flight 617 at Good Life. He loves playing at BINARY parties because they are always packed with fun and energetic people. Flight 617 parties also appeal to him because of the diversity and high-energy feel that they have.

Cakewalk has accomplished some amazing things since leaving Mmmmaven, including opening for Purple Disco Machine at a BINARY party, playing at Boston summer party, Dancing at the Charles, and doing a set at Habitat Living Sound in Calgary.

James describes the type of music he plays as New Disco/ House. He likes to play any funky, feel-good music that will get people dancing.

When asked who his biggest DJ idols are, he cited Soul Clap and no regular play.

Listen to a mix by Cakewalk below:

 

As far as DJing goes, James considers it a part-time job for now. He works full-time as a Kindergarten Teacher’s Aide in Brookline during the week. Even though this job doesn’t primarily deal with DJing, he is able to network with people by inviting them to his shows and has even been able connect with other musicians through work.

James still maintains his DJ career by doing his monthly resident gigs and shows on the weekends as well. Luckily, James has summers off from his full-time job so he is able to focus on DJ gigs during this time. He definitely keeps busy DJing even though he considers it a part-time job.

 

Here’s some advice James had for aspiring DJs:

Work your hardest, but be patient too. That was definitely the toughest part for me, but just keep at it.

 

Catch Cakewalk at our new free event this coming Saturday (3/25) at Hojoko in Boston. Come in for one of their signature dishes, a designer cocktail, and some house music tunes.

3/25/17

FREE

Posted by: Tori Leche

Make It New with Antal [3/16]

Antal isn’t just a DJ’s DJ. He’s a guru’s guru.

Or, if you will: A maven’s maven.

At the beating heart of the Rush Hour empire, a Dutch institution that includes a distribution network and a record label but, first and most importantly, as a record store.

Rush Hour Records was founded with an incontrovertible love of new music, of all genres, and of all types. And now, after booking artist after artist that was inspired by, or signed to, or distributed by, the Rush Hour network we finally get to celebrate with its co-founder and leader. (See his recent feature at Resident Advisor, called “The Art of the DJ“)

We’ve said this before but this time we mean it: Expect the unexpected.

One look at his SoundCloud will show you why: South African Jazz, Brazil, African Cut-Up, Suriname Disco, Turkish Psych…

Make It New with Antal (Rush Hour) [3/16]
and Coralcola
Thursday March 16, 2017
9pm / 21+
$10 before 11pm

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George Fitzgerald and Martyn Announce #MakeItNew Residency

George Fitzgerald via Facebook — A while ago, the first promoters to ever book me in the US were the Make It New (Mmmmaven) guys. Flying into Boston for the first time and playing at a random bar on the other side of the river in Cambridge was all a bit of a leap in the dark for me at first. But there’s a reason why I’ve kept going back and so many other great artists do. From the crowd to the people behind the scenes, the vibe is special. Alex and I have been talking about doing a residency at the party for ages, so I’m happy to say we finally got our act together and made it happen! The first night will be on 27th April and every quarter after that. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Make It New Announces Two Int’l Residencies
George Fitzgerald and Martyn align with Boston

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — [Cambridge, MA] — Throughout its now 13-year history, Make It New, the weekly party at Central Square’s Middlesex Lounge, has never announced an official partnership with international guests.

Until now.

George Fitzgerald and Martyn are two producers who are quite familiar with Make It New, having both slotted numerous appearances under their respective belts. But now, the musicians are proud to ally themselves officially with the Cambridge institution.

What this means is both will play the venue regularly throughout the year, as much as four times annually, along with curating the experience with their own distinct tastes and musical curation.

“We already have three accomplished regional resident DJs: Baltimoroder, Coralcola, and Mike Swells,” explains Mmmmaven Executive Director Alexander Maniatis, “but adding these two in an official capacity puts our weekly party on a whole new and international level.”

Both Fitzgerald and Martyn have released critically-acclaimed full-length albums, plus play routinely to excited fans around the world. These crowds gather at the world’s top clubs: Fabric, Berghain/Panorama Bar, De School, Nitsa, and The Warehouse Project. Naturally, they both own their own labels as well: Man Make Music and 3024, respectively. Each represents a different type of vibe with the same mission: To keep sound at the forefront, developing and recreating music, with an emphasis on fresh. Of course, this is the very essence of the night called Make It New.

“We’ve worked hard to officially partner with two of them–two very considerable crowd favorites, for sure–and are happy to welcome them with regularity,” says Maniatis. “With these two, most importantly, you never know what to expect.”

Except brilliance.

From BBC Radio 1 to acclaimed collaborations, from chart-topping singles to boundary-bashing LPs, Fitzgerald and Martyn officially add considerable weight to Make It New’s already regular heft.

As they say: Stay tuned.

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How to create clear reverbs / delays for vocals and leads in Ableton Live

Getting a reverb to sound natural and clear can be one of the hardest things to tackle in mixing a track. The hardest part about working with wet, long decay reverbs is getting them to not mud up the original source sound that is being run through it. Unless you want this muddy sound (in which case you would want to use an insert) your best bet is to send your track audio to run through an auxiliary track rather than use an insert. An aux track is a track that does not and cannot actually contain any audio files, but it is a channel to run audio through rather than actually hold audio tracks itself. This makes aux tracks very useful for reverbs, delays, and parallel compression. Aux tracks are very useful because they let us not only send multiple things to the same reverb but they also let us process the audio coming into the aux track separately. This technique works exactly the same for delays but for the purpose of illustrating this technique we will use just a reverb.

Here are the steps to creating a clear vocal/synth reverb:

1). To give a lead or vocal line some reverb first we must send it to an aux track. To send any track through one of the aux channels turn the knobs in the box labeled “sends” above the meters in session view.

2) The next step is to low pass filter or low shelf the highs of this reverb aux track. This low pass filtering is important because it makes the reverb more realistic. The high end is, in most cases, unnecessary for reverbs because its not only unnatural sounding, but it also clutters up the high end, which makes your lead line or vocal melody compete with its reverb for the high end of the spectrum. In most cases its best to have darker, warmer reverbs. A good rule of thumb to find where to shelf or cutout high frequencies in the reverb is to find the highest note this lead plays or vocalist sings, take a look at an EQ on the main track signal and find where it reaches its highest point in the EQ. Then low shelf or filter out the high frequencies that are found above ½ the highest frequency of this highest note. So if your highest note of your melody creates a signal that comes into the reverb at 5K, most of the frequencies above 2.5K in the reverb should be either lowered with an EQ, or completely filtered out with a low pass filter, depending on your personal preference. This is a short, slipshod way to get a more organic and warmer reverbs. Using low pass filters or EQs to cut out the high end makes it possible to make your reverbs wetter and deeper without compromising the high end.

So if this is my EQ on the vocal/synth track, we can see that the highest frequency of the highest pitch in the vocal/synth line is around 11-12K.

So when we EQ or low pass filter our reverb, we should be lowering or cutting out frequencies above 5.5K – 6K.

3) Once you have low pass filtered or lowered some of the high end in your reverb with an EQ, the third step is to use side chain compression on the aux send. If you don’t know what sidechain compression is check out this article here:

How To Use Sidechain Compression in Ableton Live: Tutorial

 

If “lead 1” is being sent to “reverb 1” then set a compressor on “reverb 1” and set the side chain to “lead 1”. For this one the EQ input is unnecessary because we aren’t looking to find only the transient of the lead as we do when we high pass filter our sidechain input of kick drums. When we throw a compressor on the reverb/aux track and set the sidechain input to the lead or vocal line we have sending to it, this forms a loop where the signal that is being sent to the reverb is also the same signal compressing that reverb. The track is being sent to the reverb but every time the track passes the threshold it compresses the reverb, which reduces the gain on the reverb. With this technique it is possible to have super clean sounding reverbs that are very lush and thick but won’t be muddy when the vocals need to be clear.

 

This view gives us a very clear view of what is going on all at once. On the left we have a vocal/synth track, which we can see is being sent to the Send A. Suppose we have a signal coming into the reverb aux channel around 7K. This would mean that we cut out or lower all frequencies above 3.5 K. Keep in mind, this formula is not a rule, but instead its a tool and is not meant to be followed exactly, it is just a general guideline. In this screenshot, we can see Aux/Send track A is highlighted, and in the built in EQ of the Max convolution reverb, we can see all frequencies have been cut out above 3.5 K. This can be accomplished with Ableton’s stock EQ as well, or the EQ built into the stock reverb as well as illustrated here:

These three steps are very essential to creating a realistic but well mixed and clear sounding reverb. The low pass filtering makes it more realistic and the side chain mixes it to keep the reverb from muddying up the clarity of the vocal line.

Want to learn more? Come in for a studio tour!