Sunday, March 25, 2018

Behind The Beat Episode 1: Blockhead

Behind The Beat is a new series I had the idea to do, in which I go through, analyze and dissect instrumentals. Decided to kick off the first episode by taking a look at the new Still DOE single "Blockhead." I'm thinking in the future if I do more computer-based beats I should record a screencast rather than the bootleg style (still holding it down with the basic point and shoot, might upgrade in the future to something more versataile), but time will tell. And it also depends. Sometimes I'm using hardware and the DAW at the same time.

For this series I feel like I can never run out of episodes to do. I want to try keeping each episode at between 5 and 6 minutes, which I think is not too long and not too short, just a quick breakdown and a few in-depth things. Also dropping the science on what I use to produce, some of the stuff I sample, hidden gems and secrets, mixing tips, tricks and techniques.

There's no schedule for these episodes, basically whenever I feel like filming one. It should also be interesting to load really early project files as well as more recent classics.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Still DOE - Blockhead prod. Malakai Beats


Head over to the brand new Still DOE website, stilldoe.com. On the main page look for the audio player and peep the exclusive track 'Blockhead' from the upcoming album Elevator Music For Different Dimensions.

Organization and Record Care


I felt like it was time to write a piece like this, after I had finally (at least somewhat) seriously attempted and succeeded in organizing the crates.



I just decided to do it by genre.  Nothing is in alphabetical order, but I made an effort to group all albums by the same artist together, so you might come across a stretch of James Brown in the soul section sandwiched between a Marlena Shaw and an Isaac Hayes record.

Sometimes it's hard to decide what genre something is, so I decided to group a bunch of stuff together, like all 'instrumental' music (classical, orchestral, easy listening).  Yea.. I have a lot of those records.  If I was going to start getting rid of stuff it would probably begin with far too many wack Lawrence Welk albums and other items I would just blindly grab up back in the day on my 10 for a dollar steeze.



Amassing a bunch of records has taught me a few things.  First is to not pack them too tightly, they need room to breathe.  Ring wear is a common occurrence for this type of storage.  More obvious things, don't stack them and store them, because that's how you get "tacoed" or warped records.  Having some record store grade vinyl sleeves is also recommended to protect the cover art and cardboard against the elements.  I've had issues with moisture in the past, mold starting to form on records etc.  That kind of problem can creep up unexpectedly.

When cleaning records, I use an old groove brush to get most of the dust off.  If liquid is required (caking or grime),  I use a solution of roughly 10:1 distilled water and alcohol (reagent chemical grade works best) and 1 drop of Triton x100 or similar surfuctant in a spray bottle.  Microfiber works fine.  I have an old record cleaning machine but I never use it, I prefer to just clean records by hand if I have to.



As for keeping the stylus clean on a turntable, these days I lean more toward keeping it dry and using the Magic Eraser technique.  Basically you cut off a little wedge and "drip" the needle into the eraser.  See various Youtube videos and articles for more info.

Someone recently asked about the shelves I use.  These are your standard deal units you can find at Home Depot for between 20 bucks and 40 bucks.  Get the ones that include the cubbie dividers.  The only modifications I made were closing off the ends of the shelves by fastening small boards via zip ties.  It's a kind of halfway elegant solution but it works.



The idea behind the dividers is that, like it or not, the records are gonna lean one way or another depending on where more of the weight is coming from.  As with not overcrowding the albums, it's important to keep groups or 'cubbies' of them equally weighted, more or less.  Without the dividers, one can see how an entire shelf would be swaying to one side with the records closest to that side taking on the weight of all the other records.  Overtime, this is how warping can occur.

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If I really wanted to, I could go further in the organization and divide records within each genre alphabetically, which would be the next logical step.  But I feel no real need to, I can now more easily find jazz records for example, or new age albums.  I know where all the spoken word, comedy and other miscellaneous types can be found.

Not knowing where anything could be found was alright for a while, anytime a record was taken out it would just be put back in another random spot.  I would basically 'dig' my own crates when making beats and looking for samples.  Now it seems like a good idea to be able to find stuff in particular more easily.  All earlier attempts to do organization of any kind had failed, or just seemed daunted and too involved, so finally taking the several hours to sort through every record to find a place for it now feels like a worthwhile accomplishment.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Still DOE - Tunnel Vision prod. Malakai Beats

New single/promo video from the upcoming Still DOE album, Elevator Music For Different Dimensions: