Which Comes First: The Musician or the Machine?

korg ms2000

The relationship between artists and their gear is as unique and developmental as it is complex.

The intricacy of this relationship is the latest topic of focus for Thump in their fresh new article, Which Comes First in Contemporary Music Technology: the Musician or the Machine?

In the article, Thump explores the ever-evolving relationships between musicians and their machines to get to the bottom of the question at hand: are musicians evolving in response to technology, or is technology evolving in response to musicians?

With major production tech brands releasing new hardware, machines, and accessories every year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of your options, and by the struggle to determine which pieces will really bring your craft to life.


For some, today’s speedy onward-and-upward market means a slew of new opportunities for creative expression and expansion. For others, it can feel more like it’s dictating the ways that artists are able to express themselves.

Thump caught up with 8 of the scene’s top DJs and producers, including Shawn Rudiman, Gunnar Haslam, Erika, and Mmmmaven’s own John Barera, and asked them to weigh in on the divisive topic.

So, what do the artists think? What comes first: the musician or the machine?

Most seem to be in agreement on a couple of aspects. Namely, that there is no simple answer to this question because the balance is in constant fluctuation. Ideas influence machines and machines influence artists, but this just as often works in the opposite direction as well.

Another common sentiment is that the music always comes first. Whether it’s artists adapting to new technology, or new technology being adapted for artists, the love of music and creation is always the driving force in the process.

john barera

According #MakeItNew’s resident DJ and Boston-based musician John Barera, machines are definitely evolving with respect to better meeting musicians’ needs. He also believes that there is a lot of room for misunderstanding when it comes to the relationship between man and machine, especially when artists are just starting out.

I think there is a misconception that you need certain technology in order to make certain music; what you really need is musical ideas and skills, coupled with a motivation to get things done.

Barera also points out the more positive impacts of this high-speed growth and evolution, noting for example that lots of new synths coming to the market now have a greater emphasis on portability and functionality for live sets – which is great news for artists who don’t want to travel with a big heavy synth for their sets.

He also credits this rapid tech growth (and the Moog Minitaur) for the refinement of his awesome techno synth sounds in his sets and production.

For the full story, check out Thump’s full article here.

Want to tackle the machine? We fully admit it takes guts! That is where instructors like Wigz can help!

Make it New with Roman Flügel [THU 3/10]

Make it New w/ Roman Flugel
We keep bringing Roman back to Make It New because he never disappoints. A consummate professional, gifted musician, and, of course, incredible DJ. All catered to do one thing: Give you a night you won’t soon forget.

But you don’t have to take our word for it…

“Flügel’s deft hand takes all the elements of a house anthem and turns them into a simple sigh.” – Pitchfork
“Flügel’s icy keyboards and piano flourishes sneak through like flowers through the cracks in the hard, grey cement” – SPIN
“Always rich with intricacies and subtle flourishes, Flügel’s music typically straddles several electronic micro-genres often within any single creation.” – Resident Advisor
“They’re examples of Flügel’s unique sensibility, deft touch, and expressive, unmistakable voice.” – Pitchfork

Make It New with Roman Flügel
Special opening set from resident DJ John Barera
Thursday, March 10th
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA

Listen to his Soundcloud below and preview one of his mixes, then come prepared for something special on March 10th!

Make sure to also keep up to date with Mmmmaven’s other events, and DJ & Production classes. You can even swing by for a free introductory lesson. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Make It New with Robag Wruhme [THU 2/4]

Make it New w/ Robag Wruhme
One of the greatest accomplishments of #MakeItNew’s 11-year career was hosting the US debut of the amazing Wighnomy Brothers. It was a long-time coming as founder David Day had contributed to a film that included the duo (Speaking in Code) and Wruhme’s Hamlet-sampling “Wuzzlebud KK” blew our minds back in 2004 (early guest Bryan Kasenic aka DJ Spinoza dropped it to a raptourous extent).

The duo of Robag Wruhme and Monkey Mafia closed the night lacing in the entire acceptance speech of Barack Obama over house beats and soulful echoes. It was pretty incredible.

Why is all this relevant?

Because now, Robag is back.

We’re happy to host the return of this Jena, DE wunderkind. Robag’s meticulous style and his deliberate dedication to the mix is all a rooted in his hip-hop technique. A public screening of Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo in his then-communist hometown set his talent on a path that now holds him as one of the finest techno selectors in the game today.

Needless to say: We’re gushing.

with residents John Barera and BaltiMoroder
Thu February 4th
Middlesex Lounge
315 Massachusetts Ave.
Central Square Cultural District
Cambridge, MA

Listen to Robag’s playful New Year’s mix to get yourself acclimated while you wait, and make sure to RSVP on Facebook!

Want to learn to DJ? Don’t forget to take a look at our DJ and Music Production courses, and keep up to date with our other events. Email me with any questions!

Polina’s Top 5 DJ Sets of 2015


Whether you know it or not, Polina is crucial to our operations. As Director of Hospitality for Together Boston (and year-round at #MakeItNew), she meets and greets many different artists from around the world. More importantly, she’s the Director of Marketing and Communications for the school and lab, keeping up with the latest in digital trends to propagate our mission: to extend technology to musicians everywhere.

It so happens she’s a huge fan of drum and bass, broken beats, and raw techno. So, without further adieu, here are her top 5 DJ mixes of 2015.

1: Om Unit


Stylistically I hope to have brought the more etheric side of my work to the forefront for this selection, making it, I hope a good repeated listen. I think the best mixes take their time and fill a space around other tasks rather than demanding your entire concentration for an hour or more.

2: Loxy

Cylon: Podcast005 Pt1 Applied Sciences Division

3: Martyn


Panda Bear – Surfer’s Hymn (Actress Primitive Patterns Extended Mix)
Point G – Too va Oo
Rhythm II Rhythm – Mellow Magic
Trevino – ?
Paul Johnson – Feel my MF Bass
Ricardo Villalobos – Lugom-ix
Pacific blue – industry pt 2
Doms & Deykers – Fonts for the People
Gesloten Cirkel – feat Liette
Nitzer Ebb – Join in the Chant instr
Rhythmus Gunther – Pronto
DJ Richard – Benzos
RAC – Neo Rio

4: Daniel Avery


5: Roman Flügel


Connect with us on MixCloud, SoundCloud, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Let’s have an amazing 2016!