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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I love Arsenal

Posted: June 12, 2011 in Mixtape, Music
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Known as one of the most popular bands in Belgium, Arsenal, the group of John Roan and Hendrik Willemyns, was featured in the hit series ‘Six Feet Under’ and praised in the United States by celeb-bloggers like Perez Hilton or Kanye West. With already many sold-out performances at the Ancienne Belgique, Arsenal knows that people expect something that will last.

When Arsenal claims to have traveled to make their third mysteriously titled album ‘LOTUK’, they are not exaggerating at all. Their first album ‘OYEBO SOUL’ drew upon the streets of Brussels for its inspiration and their second album ‘OUTSIDES’ slightly pushed those borders. For ‘LOTUK’, however, they decided they needed to push themselves further. They needed new challenges, new horizons. That is how Arsenal ended up where they did, caught up in a moment that helped define the birth of ‘LOTUK’: piss drunk in the northernmost realms of Finland, lying on their backs in the dark on a frozen lake, gazing up in wonder at the ‘Northern Lights’.

The funny thing is that they never planned to go there. They originally headed for Norway, setting up a studio in which they laid down the foundations for what became ‘LOTUK’. But Hendrik Willemyns and John Roan, finding themselves restless after a short while, decided to see what happened when they headed further north. It’s unlikely that their plans at this stage included frozen lakes and total inebriation. But the experience was not wasted on them: it resulted in what later became an instrumental album used for the soundtrack of a Belgian TV-show, ‘De Poolreizigers’.

This wasn’t the only reason that their Finnish expedition counted as more than a wild weekend in the Arctic: it is mainly the place where the seeds for ‘LOTUK’ had been successfully sown. When work recommenced for the follow-up to ‘OUTSIDES’ (which reached 30 000 sales in Belgium alone and was voted twice ‘Best Live Act’ at the ‘Rock Werchter’ festival), they knew they had to maintain this sense of adventure. So as well as blending contemporary club, rock and pop sounds with music from around the world in a way and with a sound that can only be described as Arsenal’s, they decided this time to invite a number of their heroes to collaborate with them.

How did I accomplish my musical mission trying to catch this unique Arsenal sound in another mixtape?

  1. Make a selection of the finest tracks from all 3 albums
  2. Determine average number of beats per minute (>110BPM)
  3. Put all tracks in an audibly pleasant order
  4. Practise each transition until it sounds right
  5. Record your live mix from intro till outro

The following tracks were carefully selected and mixed:

Arsenal “OYEBO SOUL”

  1. Mr. Doorman
  2. Longee
  3. Amelaka Motinga
  4. A Volta

Arsenal “OUTSIDES”

  1. Saudade (Pt.1)
  2. Saudade (Pt.2)
  3. Buy In Late
  4. Submissão
  5. Switch

Arsenal “LOTUK”

  1. Egun
  2. Selvagem
  3. Estupendo

This is the complete playlist of my I love Arsenal set:

  1. Saudade (Pt.1)
  2. Saudade (Pt.2)
  3. Mr. Doorman
  4. Egun
  5. Buy In Late
  6. Selvagem
  7. Longee
  8. Submissão
  9. Amelaka Motinga
  10. Switch
  11. Estupendo
  12. A Volta

Keep in mind that this mixtape is only a glimpse of what Arsenal is capable of. In the first place they are a live band that raises temperatures to boiling point in every club, hall or festival. So when you get the chance, try to get a ticket and see them performing live on stage in front of a delirious audience. I’m sure that you’ll have the time of your life!

Arsenal - Oyebo Soul Arsenal - Outsides Arsenal - Lotuk

This mixtape was recorded live at Bar Tapa (Turnhout) during the weekend before my actual gig at Overdose, the official afterparty of the Antwerp On Stage 2011 festival hosted this time by TK Projects (Stereo). The place to be that Wednesday night was Publik, a small club near De Stadswaag in Antwerp and formerly known as De Cinema. As a member of the new Stereo Sound System deejay collective, I played back 2 back with Myno and Dimystic. Prinz (Café d’Anvers, Push It Records) and Supreems (Blast Your Ghetto) were spinning the decks as well. Our first public performance as Stereo Sound System had to be some sort of an eyecatcher. We dressed up in black ties, black trousers and white shirts. Even without the black sunglasses, we were looking just like the main characters in Quentin Tarantino’s cult movie, Reservoir Dogs.

Recently I’ve started buying music online, because you just can’t find everything exclusively on cd anymore. Buying single digital tracks is also more efficient and less expensive than looking for a good album or collection in a regular record store. Nevertheless I’ll never quit buying cd’s, because I like the sound, the artwork, the physical touch and the apparent endless search for that ultimate cd on a Saturday afternoon in your favourite record store. It might sound stupid, but I’m pretty sure every vinyl junkie or any music addict out there will agree with me.

Most of this mixtape’s tracks come from Beatport, today’s biggest online store for various electronic music. It starts rather deep with some Soul Migrantz tracks and remixes. In the middle it sounds more tech and by the end it evolves into real progressive sounds from Trentemøller and a new upcoming Belgian talent, Leesa. Based in Gent, I saw her performing last year at Play & Produce 2010 (see also my previous blog post). She won various contests, signed at Atmosphere Records and recently released her first EP’s: Dinosaur and Au Revoir Mon Coeur. Full of talent, both as a deejay and producer, I’m pretty sure she’s going to hit the charts soon. She can count on my full support, wishing her all the best and a successful career in music business.

Yesterday I went to another edition of Sneaker Freaks, a popular party concept by Tom Smeyers (Solano, Guesthouse Music) at De Firma in Geel for the love of funky-deep-chicago-jazzy-westcoast house music. It was a special night, because Tom was celebrating his 29th birthday and had invited some special guests: Raoul Belmans (Swirl People, Aroma Records) and Soul Migrantz (Calling Chicago, N.E.W.S.). I had a great time and want others to enjoy the same positive vibes. Therefore I’ve called this mixtape I love Sneaker Freaks.

Sneaker Freaks

Play & Produce

Posted: December 5, 2010 in Event, Mixtape, Music
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On Saturday the 20th of November I went to Play & Produce 2010 at Vooruit in Gent. This one day event, organized by Poppunt, is the place to be for all electronic music scene lovers with workshops, masterclasses, mixtape feedback, photoshoots and lots of gear (software + hardware) to get your hands on. Every visitor gets the chance to meet with other deejays, producers and electronic musicians sharing the same passion.

A couple of weeks before, I participated in a mixtape contest and won my own professionally recorded DJ-clip at Play & Produce. I got the chance to play with some high-end Pioneer Pro DJ gear: 2 CDJ-2000 players and 1 DJM-2000 mixer. My set was recorded live from multicamera positions and behind me there was a led-screen showing various beat-synchronized images. I can say that it was a hell of an experience and thanks again to all people who made this possible!

While waiting for the actual DJ-clip video and photoshoot results, I can already post the audiotrack of my Play & Produce set. All tracks are signed to the Om Records label, which is one of my favourites ’cause they know how house music should sound like in all of its subgenres and styles.

Om is a San Francisco based music and lifestyle company. We are artists and producers of music, design, fashion and events for a global community of forward thinking people. From our humble beginnings in 1995, Om has grown to become a highly recognized and respected brand in the global music scene. Om is designed to create remarkable music and cultural experiences, which both entertain and build a sense of community.

The following tracks were carefully selected and mixed:

Om Winter Sessions – Mixed by Justin Martin

  1. Mike Monday – I dream of ducks
  2. Soul Avengers – Don’t let the morning come (Justin Martin & Claude Vonstroke Remix)
  3. Jochen Trappe – Organic
  4. Martin Brothers – Stoopit
  5. The Bald & The Beautiful – Back Down

Om Winter Sessions – Mixed by Johnny Fiasco

  1. Uneaq – Day Dreamer
  2. Rosie Brown – Bliss (D’s Boom Bap Bleep Remix)
  3. Mastiksoul – Just a feeling
  4. DJ Disciple meets David Tort & DJ Ruff – Deep Underground
  5. Mark Knight & Mtv feat. E-man – New Reality (Jesse Rose Mix)
  6. Johnny Fiasco – 101 (Joey Youngman Remix)
  7. Jacob London – Não Obrigado

Om Miami 2009 – Mixed & Compiled by DJ Fluid

  1. Ramon Tapia – Can you dig it
  2. Florian Kruse & Elmar Schubert – Despegue
  3. Mike Monday – Salieri Complex (Club Mix)

This is the complete playlist of my Play & Produce set:

  1. Mike Monday – I dream of ducks
  2. Uneaq – Day Dreamer
  3. Jochen Trappe – Organic
  4. Rosie Brown – Bliss (D’s Boom Bap Bleep Remix)
  5. Soul Avengers – Don’t let the morning come (Justin Martin & Claude Vonstroke Remix)
  6. DJ Disciple meets David Tort & DJ Ruff – Deep Underground
  7. Florian Kruse & Elmar Schubert – Despegue
  8. Mark Knight & Mtv feat. E-man – New Reality (Jesse Rose Mix)
  9. Ramon Tapia – Can you dig it
  10. Mastiksoul – Just a feeling
  11. Mike Monday – Salieri Complex (Club Mix)
  12. Johnny Fiasco – 101 (Joey Youngman Remix)
  13. Martin Brothers – Stoopit
  14. Jacob London – Não Obrigado
  15. The Bald & The Beautiful – Back Down

Enjoy this deep house mixtape and experience the funky and tech house flavoured tracks. Leave your comments and share it with your friends for the love of house.

See you at the next edition of Play & Produce in 2012!

Om Winter Sessions

Stereo The Contest

Posted: July 20, 2010 in Event, Mixtape, Music
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A couple of weeks ago I participated in Stereo The Contest organized by TK Projects at my home town Turnhout. I had been selected among 14 other deejays to perform on stage and play a 20 minutes DJ-set. Every participant had to stick to one out of 3 different styles:

  • electro
  • house
  • minimal / dubstep

A professional jury consisting of music business members had to select one winner in every genre. Brian-V, a well-known house DJ and owner of the Prime Records Belgium label, had not only been invited to play at the afterparty, but he fulfilled a crucial role in the selections after the contest as well.

To prepare for this contest I took the opportunity to join DazZs Audio (Jordi) and Wezzelby (Wesley) during their promodays at fashion store Labels. I had a great time spinning records, distributing flyers and making lots of fun. I could already drop some tracks and watch the people’s response in the streets. This helped me when picking the right records for my electro set back home. I wanted to make it sound dirty without loosing its funky character. To highlight this even more, I chose Kraak & Smaak‘s brand new track called ‘Dynamite’ to kick off with. You’ll be sensing the same groovy beats throughout this set.

This is the complete playlist of my Stereo The Contest set:

  1. Kraak & Smaak – Dynamite (Original Mix)
  2. John Acquaviva & Lützenkirchen – Zombie (Original Mix)
  3. Boys Noize – Oh! (A-Trak Remix)
  4. John Acquaviva – Monster (Original Mix)
  5. Jin Sonic & Dive – Play (Wolfgang Gartner Dub)
  6. Acid Jacks – Awake Since ’78 (Original Mix)
  7. Savant Garde – Trigger Happy (Olivier Giacomotto Remix)
  8. Dada Life – This Machine Kills Breakfasts (Original Mix)
  9. Kid Dub – Tetris (Tocadisco Edit)
  10. Wolfgang Gartner – Front To Back (Original Mix)
  11. Deadmau5 feat. MC Flipside – Hi Friend (Original Mix)
  12. LFO – Freak (Original Mix)

During the afterparty at Club 1900, I shared the decks with DazZs Audio (Jordi) and Wezzelby (Wesley) again. These guys already have a strong reputation as DazZelby, thanks to their quick mixing skills, original track selections and self-made mashups.

Conclusion: the first edition of Stereo The Contest was a great success and I’m looking forward to the next one. Bonkers!