The Loop 2016 series of blog posts chronicles Mmmmaven’s Ableton intern and former student, Katharine Fountain, on her journey to Berlin to attend Ableton’s Loop Summit. Loop is three days of discussions, performances, presentations, studios sessions and interactive workshops aimed at exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of music, creativity, and technology. Click here to learn more about Loop, or connect with Katharine via Instagram or on Soundcloud .
The Art of Sampling
The final day of Loop kicked off with a presentation by notable producers Kirk Knight, Kyoka and Deantoni Parks, all of whom use samples extensively across a variety of musical genres.
As the number of tools for capturing and manipulating samples has grown and become more flexible, so too has the variety of techniques and usage of sampling proliferated. What are the different ways that music makers today work with samples?
Sampling is an essential part of any electronic producers workflow, be it processed field recordings or pitched and chopped vocals. It was interesting to observe the different approaches that each producer took to sampling as they created fresh beats live on stage while discussing their techniques with moderator, Tony Nwachukwu.
From Studio To Stage: Developing Your Performance Setup
The Art of Sampling was followed with a discussion pertaining to a question that many producers regularly ask themselves, that is – how am I going to perform this live? Moderator Mark Zadel was joined by producer/performers Daedelus, Kimbra and Quantic to discuss the ways in which they developed their live performances, and the challenges that they encountered along the way.
For me, a key takeaway was that although it can be tempting to try and do everything live in order to prove yourself (in a world that unfortunately, still tends to question the validity of live electronic concerts), it is important to play to your strengths and ultimately cultivate a set that is comfortable and fun for you to perform.
Other pearls of wisdom included:
- Think about how much time you need to practice – double it
- If you’re considering hiring a crew, hire a great live sound engineer first
- Always bring a backup set to the show
- Start small and gradually build your set
- If you can’t find the right piece of equipment to use in your set, don’t be afraid to reach out to the makers of instruments and musical equipment and share your needs. You are helping them to create better gear for everybody
Young Producers Roundtable w/ Kučka, Kirk Knight, and Guest Facilitator DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Out of all of the wonderful discussions and performances that occurred throughout the weekend, the Young Producer’s Roundtable was probably the most important and influential event for me.Joined by a handful of emerging artists from across the world, I sat in a circle with producers Kučka, Kirk Knight and the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff, and discussed the challenges and opportunities that young artists face in the modern music industry.
An issue that seemed to be shared collectively by my peers and I was the question of wondering if, and when your music is good enough to be shared with the public. At one point in the discussion, DJ Jazzy Jeff (who has worked with The Roots, Talib Kweli and Eminem, mind you) said simply, “you’re always going to be insecure about your music”. There was something about hearing those words come from somebody with nearly 30 years in the business that was oddly comforting to me. It’s easy to believe that everyone else is so much more confident and capable than you are, but in reality as artists, we all share similar doubts regarding our work, and it’s okay to feel that way.
We also got the chance to discuss some of the unique obstacles that female producers are confronted with. Apart from myself and Kučka, there were only 2 other women at the table – the land of music production is still a very male dominated field. I think that this is slowly changing, but for now we are still a minority when it comes to producing.
I found Kirk Knight’s drive and enthusiasm to be infectious – his passion and energy for creating music was very apparent, and I appreciated how humble and down to earth he was despite achieving great success at such a young age. I got the chance to speak with him one on one later on, and he encouraged me to just put out as much music as I can, and like Jazzy Jeff said, not to worry about whether or not it’s good enough. It’s important to develop a body of work, and allow your listeners to grow with you as you progress.
Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System in Concert
Loop 2016 concluded with a discussion and performance from Lee “Scratch” Perry and Subatomic Sound System. Jamaican born Lee Perry is a central figure in the evolution and history of reggae and dub music, and at 80 years old had more energy and stage presence than anybody that I’ve seen perform in quite some time!
Perry was the first producer to ever appear as an artist on an album cover, proving the creative capabilities of the studio as an art form itself. Producing music from his simple home studio, the Black Ark, and distributing most of it on his own independent Upsetter label, Perry inspired producers across all genres of music.
In addition to his own music, Perry has produced hits for the likes of Bob Marley & The Wailers, Junior Byles, Max Romeo, the Heptones, Gregory Isaacs, Junior Murvin, and The Clash. His lively and bassdriven performance was the perfect way to top off an excellent weekend!
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