I love Kraak & Smaak

Posted: March 17, 2012 in Mixtape, Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

I always wanted to create a digital mixtape in Ableton Live on my home desktop pc without the need for any external devices or analog machines. Knowing that I could tweak each detail of my mix until it sounds exactly like I want it to sound, made me really curious and excited about the possibilities, so I gave it a try. It took me some time to get familiar with Live’s workflow (Session vs Arrangement View), but I found a couple of useful tutorials on the net which helped me a lot.

“How to make a DJ mixset using Ableton Live?” [ Source : Robert Green’s blog ]

Ableton’s Automation functionality makes it possible to create a high quality mixset.

  1. If this is the first time you’re going to mix full length songs, go to Preferences – Warp & Fades. Set Loop/Warp Short Samples to Warped One Shot. Set Default Warp Mode to Complex. This will do the best job handling full length songs overall.
  2. Create a directory on your desktop and put all the tracks in there that you would like to use. Create a new project in Live and save it in the same folder.
  3. Go to Live’s Arrangement View.
  4. Drop an audio file into an audio track and place the beginning on the first measure of the project.
  5. After your song is imported and analyzed, you can set/fix the warp points and BPM of the track. How to do this properly, you’ll find in the next section about “The Fastest Way to Warp a Track in Ableton Live”.
  6. To mix in another song, just add a new audio track, drop another audio file and start warping again.
  7. Now it’s time to determine how both songs are going to be mixed together. Move the second song to where you would like the transition to begin. In Live you’ll find all (and even more) options that you already know from a regular (hardware) mixer: fading in/out, gaining low/mid/high, looping, sampling, effects, …
  8. To automate the track volume, select Mixer and Track Volume. A red line appears across the whole track. By transforming its shape, you can control the volume change of the track.
  9. To automate EQ changes, use f.e. the EQ Three device from Live’s Audio Effects and drag it into the track. Instead of Mixer, select EQ Three and control GainLo, GainMid or GainHi by drawing dots onto the red line(s).
  10. Keep on adding new tracks and dropping in songs, following the previous steps until you have completed your mix. Make sure you get the warping right for each new track, otherwise you’ll have problems several songs later due to a cumulative effect.

“The Fastest Way to Warp a Track in Ableton Live” [ Source : Ableton ]

Ableton’s Warping functionality lets you easily timestretch tracks for beatmatching, mash-ups and sampling.

  1. Drag an audio file (wav, aiff, mp3) into Live’s Arrangement View, from Live’s Browser, directly from iTunes or from your desktop. Live will attempt to auto-warp the file. If Live gets it right, you’re done. However, if you want to ‘tighten up’ the warping, or if Live did not get it right, please follow the next steps.
  2. Double-click on the clip. The clip’s waveform will now be visible below. To launch the clip, click the yellow triangle. Now you need to find the first beat or ‘the one’. Zoom-in to the area where you are hearing ‘the one’ using the magnifying glass above the audio file.
  3. If the first beat is wrong, double-click on the transient above ‘the one’ to create a yellow Warp Marker. You can double-click on a Warp Marker to remove one as well.
  4. Right-click on that Warp Marker and select Set 1.1.1 here.
  5. Right-click again and select Warp From Here. Live generally gets it right at this point. You can turn on the metronome to hear that the track is warped correctly throughout.
  6. Turn on the clip’s Loop button. Set the Loop length to 4 Measures. Set the Loop position to 1.1.1.
  7. You’ll hear a four-bar Loop. You can click on the word Length to zoom into that Loop. You can click and drag in the Tempo field to change the tempo of your Loop.
  8. You may want to play with the Warp Modes for better sound. Complex or Complex Pro are best for mixed-down songs. Use Beats for drums and Tones for instruments like guitar, vocals, piano and so on.
  9. Click on the Loop bracket to check the rest of the track and make sure that it is correctly warped. Use the ‘arrow up’ and ‘arrow down’ keys to move through the rest of the song. Add, adjust or get rid of Warp Markers if necessary.
  10. Repeat those steps for every new track you want to add to your mix.

“How to change the Master BPM Tempo throughout the mixtape?”

If you want to slow down or speed up certain tracks to let them fit better in your mix, you can automate the global tempo in the Master channel.

  1. Go to the Master channel of Live’s Arrangement View.
  2. Choose Mixer from the Devices drop-down list.
  3. Select the Song Tempo control property of the Mixer.

I’ve used the following devices from Live’s Library:

  • Audio Effects – EQ Three (GainLo / GainMid / GainHi)
  • Audio Effects – Looper – 1 Bar Phrase
  • Audio Effects – Audio Effect Rack – Performance & DJ – Fade to Grey
  • Audio Effects – Audio Effect Rack – Mastering – Neutral Mastering

The following tracks were carefully selected and mixed within Ableton Live:

Kraak & Smaak “Boogie Angst”

  1. Money In The Bag (K&S Remix)
  2. One of These Days (feat. U-Gene)
  3. Keep On Searching
  4. Jolie Banane
  5. Hello Big Mama

Kraak & Smaak “Plastic People”

  1. Bobby & Whitney
  2. Squeeze Me
  3. Plastic People
  4. Enzo
  5. Ain’t Gonna Take It No More

Kraak & Smaak “The Remix Sessions”

  1. Mark Rae – Medicine (K&S Remix)
  2. Dorfmeister vs MDLA – Boogie No More (K&S Remix)
  3. Jamiroquai – Electric Mistress (K&S Remix)
  4. Kraak & Smaak – Everything is Plastic
  5. Chris Joss – A part in that show (K&S Remix)
  6. Max Sedgley – Devil Inside (K&S Remix)
  7. Zeroleen – All Good (K&S Remix)
  8. Jamiroquai – Seven Days in Sunny June (K&S Remix)
  9. Kraak & Smaak – No sun in the sky (Noogman Remix)

This is the complete tracklist of my I love Kraak & Smaak set:

  1. Kraak & Smaak – Jolie Banane & Enzo
  2. Mark Rae – Medicine (K&S Remix)
  3. Kraak & Smaak – Plastic People
  4. Max Sedgley – Devil Inside (K&S Remix)
  5. Kraak & Smaak – Keep On Searching
  6. Kraak & Smaak – Bobby & Whitney
  7. Zeroleen – All Good (K&S Remix)
  8. Kraak & Smaak – Everything is Plastic
  9. Chris Joss – A part in that show (K&S Remix)
  10. Kraak & Smaak feat. U-Gene – One of These Days
  11. Dorfmeister vs MDLA – Boogie No More (K&S Remix)
  12. Jamiroquai – Electric Mistress (K&S Remix)
  13. Kraak & Smaak – Squeeze Me
  14. Kraak & Smaak – Money In The Bag (K&S Remix)
  15. Kraak & Smaak – Hello Big Mama
  16. Kraak & Smaak – Ain’t Gonna Take It No More
  17. Jamiroquai – Seven Days in Sunny June (K&S Remix)
  18. Kraak & Smaak – No sun in the sky (Noogman Remix)

If you like crazy breaks and funky tunes, Kraak & Smaak won’t let you down ’cause it’s not gonna get any funkier than this soon. Try to attend a gig of Holland’s hottest live act and you’ll know what I mean. I want to thank Wim Plug, Mark Kneppers and Oscar De Jong, who are the studio core of Kraak & Smaak, for doing a great job making killer tracks and remixes for the body, mind and soul. Especially for the fans and mash-up lovers out there I’ve included my personal mash-up of ‘Squeeze Me’ and ‘Money In The Bag’. Check it out!

K&S - Boogie Angst K&S - Plastic People

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