Resident Advisor Profiles John Barera (Milestones)

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With regard to massive looks, there are a few very sources of coverage of new music as credible as Resident Advisor. Upon visiting the city for Together Boston, one of their lead writers, Andrew Ryce, visited with our own John Barera. Barera, a local musician, producer and artist is one of our very favorite DJs and a resident at Make It New. The full article is well worth a read, but here’s some choice snippets:

On meeting John for the first time:

I met John Barera on the first night of Together [Boston], in a packed club where Robert Hood was about to play. Barera was friendly and outgoing, and our first real conversation was shared over a spliff he’d buried under a tree near the club.


John on getting one of his first DJ gigs at a club in Rotterdam:

“One day I sent Maassilo my demo, and I didn’t hear anything until one day I got this call. So I run down there—it’s just like, this meeting where all these people are sitting around stone-faced. I put on the demo and they’re like ‘OK, you sound good, we want to have you play.’ I was like, ‘what the f—?'”

On playing the mighty Panoramabar:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous,” Barera said, laughing. “I was shaking. At first when I went on I couldn’t even, like, play. For the first few tracks I had to be like ‘Dude, it’s cool.’ It was an amazing set, we had so much fun.”

On perhaps moving away from Boston:

Though he’s definitely on an upward trajectory, Barera doesn’t seem likely to move to New York, London or Berlin, as so many of his peers have done. He’s perfectly happy in his hometown, citing local acts like Bob Diesel, Casey Desmond, Kon and his fellow Make It New residents Alan Manzi and Baltimoroder as other great selectors in his midst.

Read the full story at Resident Advisor and get to know one of Boston’s hardest-working musicians. Then head over to our agency side and reach out to have John play your event or book him abroad!

Be like John and learn how to power your music through technology inside the lab.

Table Manners with DJ Rob Swift


We had a blast at Great Scott with DJ Rob Swift on the Friday of Together. People of all skill levels got hands on experience with a true turntablist master during the open scratch session!

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Table Manners is a new crew of local turntablists, who throw open sessions every month. We loved teaming up with them for this event and have our eyes out for the next one!

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If you were there, you can find yourself in the photo gallery! If you weren’t there, we’re sorry you missed it, but we have many more opportunities to learn!

Ableton Spaces: Generating Music with Plants w/Data Garden [5/17]

Our second Ableton Spaces workshop at Together 5 featured Data Garden explaining how they’re using the program to create music with signals generated by plants.


Our Data Garden hosts began by explaining that plants have more refined and developed senses than human beings. Plants sense chemical changes in the air, and the data they output can change based on any number of changes in a room. Multiple plants in a room will put out different data than singular plants, and a person entering a room can change the signal too. All of this was conveniently demonstrated by a crowd passing by the presentation space and completely changing the data output from the plant on hand.


A series of sensors attached to that plant were run through small pieces of hardware to send MIDI data to Ableton, essentially allowing the plant to “play” Ableton’s native instruments. Various MIDI effects, an arpeggiator and Live’s Simple Delay in Repitch Mode were also employed to create and process the plant’s sounds. Human reaction to the sounds being generated were also changing the data output, creating an elaborate cycle of biofeedback in the music.

Data Garden cited Brian Eno’s Music For Airports as a major inspiration for what they do. They described Eno’s process of composing the pioneering ambient work by winding various lengths of tape loops around an entire room and taking a nap in the middle of it, and called it similar to their own system. They set it up and simply allow the plants to play, uninterrupted by the human element.

Their systems work best on heartier tropical plants. Sensors must be attached to leaves of a certain thickness and shape, such that the plant is not harmed in the process. Plants, Data Garden explained, are much like pets. Humans have domesticated them and brought them into our lives for a reason.

Data Garden also previewed their next project: the MIDI Sprout. It’s a device that processes plant data into MIDI data to drive a keyboard or synthesizer without a computer as a middle man.


Ableton Spaces: Ableton Push with Jerome LOL [5/17]

1487376_645461535536548_1722171846115145060_nDuring day two of the Ableton Spaces workshops at Together 5, prolific producer Jerome LOL stopped by our District Hall headquarters to discuss and demonstrate the Ableton Push with some assistance from Ableton instructor Loudon Stearns.

The Push is a new breed of controller from Ableton that allows for a visual creative process based on patterns and shapes, which Stearns cited as creating a more familiar environment for a bass player such as himself. The Push operates on a unique principal of built-in scales, creating something of an even playing field for musicians – “more democratic.”

“When you show someone a guitar or piano, it is so much more difficult to pick up. While the push requires practice, it engages the imagination more and frees the mind from worrying about whether a note is out of key or not.” – Jerome LOL


Stearns is a Berklee professor and self-professed “harmony geek.” He appreciates the Push for different reasons that Jerome, viewing it as a valuable teaching tool that offers immediate gratification while still teaching the user about traditional harmony.

The Push, Stearns explained, is a flexible tool which changes what its knobs, buttons and faders do based on the context in which a musician uses it. It’s also a highly sensitive piece of equipment that can be used even for performances and compositions that require extreme dexterity and speed, recreating everything from tablas to speed-metal guitar riffs.


Jerome asserted that both Push and Ableton Live are amazing platforms for open experimentation, even in realms beyond what its creators envisioned. Among the features and plugins he cited as favorites were the Fade to Grey ping-pong delay with high-pass filter, the looper, the chain selector and the unique instrument racks.

Stearns stated that he believes DJs using tools like Push and Ableton often make better music than a traditionally trained and educated musician like himself. Traditional music, he said, tends to focus on the communication between the artists on stage. DJs, on the other hand, are much more in tune with communicating with the audience.

“With the Push you’re producing a beat on the fly as fast as you can in front of the audience and sometimes it sucks. But that is a part of the excitement of the Push.”