Paying Homage… Soulwig – “Parallel”

In my 10+ years of producing music, I’ve come across a lot of interesting people. Even though I credit myself as being self-taught in everything from the basics to more advanced techniques, I did get some (a lot) of help along the way, from my peers. Some of them went on to do amazing things, and some remain hidden secrets of the deep underground music world. (TL;DR)

One person, in particular, who taught me quite a bit about mixing sound, compression and how to derive quality out of my productions was a guy named Phoakis. He doesn’t go by this alias anymore, clearly he has closed that chapter (as I once did too, when I felt I had matured enough, musically). One day, hanging out on Internet DJ, like we used to “back in the day”, he posted an amazing track which I still have a hard time getting out of my head. Then, he disappeared… musically anyway, he was still around on MySpace and Facebook but decided to delete all of his projects, much to my dismay.

For several years I prodded him to keep writing music, come up with something new, release on our new label (AVR) which we were just starting to grow. He kept saying he is busy with this and that and I had all but thought he was done with music for good. Then, out of nowhere, two weeks ago I get a message in my inbox, it’s from Soulwig and it’s asking me to check out a new project he just finished, and “check on the mix”. I could barely believe it, so I rushed to check it out and–to say I was not disappointed would be quite an understatement.

What I found was a near perfect deep house track, much in the same vein as his previous projects but a more refined, mature version. From compression to atmosphere to vocal effect usage, this track is embodies the underground deep house vibe. Since I’d first listened to it, I have been totally addicted, playing it on repeat (if fact I listen to it now as I write this up), analyzing it trying to capture the secret of what it means to make a good dance track, what it takes to create something which inspires.

This track is not released anywhere, and you’d be hard-pressed to stumble upon it yourself, so I present it to you, as a gift. You  now have the chance to listen to this track for the first time. Savor the experience: turn off the lights, turn it up on your system or in your headphones, let your imagination take you where it will and… just enjoy.

TL;DR My friend and mentor writes amazing music and you should listen to it.

Sonaris Music Featured on The Denver Post’s Reverb Music Blog + New Track

It’s like I told Eryc after I’d read the article… I occasionally submit my music to blogs for review and I never quite know what to expect, sometimes praise sometimes critique, sometimes just and sometimes I feel like they never even heard me. This time, I feel like someone heard, and listened.

I’ve gotten some nice write ups from a few great music blogs before, all of which I greatly appreciate. Whether you like it or not, if you want to get heard, you have to put yourself out there, there’s no other way. As difficult as it is sometimes – as an artist – to willingly and methodically open myself up for criticism, I believe that no matter what gets thrown at you, you can learn from it – get something out of it. I’ve gotten some great reviews and some pretty lukewarm ones. Those who really were turned off by my demos probably chose not to write about it – I don’t mind if you do.

In any case, no one had written about my passion, my music quite like Eryc Eyl of The Denver Post’s Reverb music blog. I’ll let you read it yourself, if you like – won’t spoil it for you. But, I wanted to give Eryc the credit he deserves – for an article which takes a chance on an unknown local producer. I respect people who are willing to give someone like me, or many other underground producers, a chance to get some exposure. Good or bad, it’s refreshing.

You can read Eryc’s Reverb article here!

Eryc featured my new project, Pandemonium, in the article. Pandemonium, which has also been featured on the Acid Ted music blog, is filled with turbulent emotion and comes straight from the depths of my mind. All I did was write it down and arrange it. It’s gotten some interesting feedback from peers and innocent bystanders, so check it out and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Sonaris – Pandemonium (Original Mix) by Sonaris

Lady Gaga – Born This Way – Album Review by Sonaris

I bought the new Lady Gaga album today, on Amazon ($0.99 for the entire album), and I’ve listened to it a couple of times. I’ve been feeling verbose lately, so I figured I might as well unleash it on a page. As an added bonus, I really wasn’t a fan of Lady Gaga to begin with, really didn’t feel much of her older productions, and I was also kind of irritated by the fact that everywhere I looked – with my ears – there was a remix of some singles off of her last album. Don’t get me wrong, I love stuff as much as the next guy, but stuff my ears with it every day and I’ll want to toss just at the thought of it.

Anyway, I know a few Gaga fans and they’ve have been trying to convince me to see that she’s not as awful as I would like to think, and that I should give her music a chance. So, I figured today is as good a day as any to start with a fresh slate and listen to the album. I got the album from the Amazon MP3 store, all files (I assume all of them anyway) are 256kb compression which is “pretty good” quality, for the average end user anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a 320kb off of Amazon before, so I’m not sure they even sell them, but suffice it to say that 256kb is good enough sound quality for an iPod, which is what the majority of people will listen to this on, anyway.

Now to the meat of the album:

I really didn’t like the title track, Born This Way. No matter what I think of the lyrics, it just seemed to be haphazardly thrown together, structurally. Especially around 2:35 and 3:40 there was so much sound happening at once that the vocals were completely overpowered by the music. Kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.

I really dug the beat, and the overall feel of Government Hooker. Really deep electro sound, it has a distinct underground vibe to it that is somehow irresistible. Then, at 1:42 the snare kicked in and holy shit is it distorted. Had to double check my headphones to make sure the speaker wasn’t blown. Nope, just a weird, un-complementary distortion on the snare. Why is it there? What purpose does it serve? No idea, but it comes back around 3:00 just in case you missed it the first time around. Minus that annoyance, the track is pretty solid, and I think I can overlook the distortion because I am a sucker for a hard, raw sound.

Judas was a poppy track, which I’ve already heard and I wasn’t really feeling it this time around either.

I enjoyed the guitar backing to Americano, and the lyrics were kind of fun and enjoyable for the most part. I liked the use of Gaga’s voice here, it felt organic, original and unforced. There were some parts where once again Fernando Garibay blasts my ears with a wall of sound, with a bit much distortion for my taste. I mean, it works on some tracks but let the voice shine here. Plus, after Kanye West distorted damn near the entire My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it isn’t all that original anymore. Overall I enjoyed this track, though – the ripping bassline is a nice touch. I could see some club play for this easily. Of course it reminded me of  Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Americano, since that’s been playing damn near anywhere I have wound up for the last 3-4 months. Who cares, it’s pop…

Bloody Mary was an interesting slower track. Compared to the rest of the album, it felt decidedly slower and lacked some energy of the tracks surrounding it. Maybe I’m just not crazy about the placement, but this may have been one of my favorite tracks on the album actually. The vocals were allowed freedom, with some interesting electro-style backing and pleasantly strange use of vox fx. I would have to say that this track is well produced and has a nice clarity of sound.

Somehow, Bad Kids, reminded me a lot of Madonna, and I felt like it tried too hard to sound rebellious – it was a bit too obvious and seemed like trying to reach out to a hard-to-reach demographic. Not much more I want to say about this one, didn’t really feel much about it.

Heavy Metal Lover is a track which kind of caught me off guard. I actually was confused if this was Gaga for a minute, it felt like a crazy German robot techno party. Super hard, raw sound, the bassline accenting the flanged vocals. I got the chills on this one and had to replay it a few times. I enjoyed the hook on this track quite a bit. Then again…. 1:30 some extreme distortion and overcompression. But, I figured if you drop this on a big ass soundsystem it would probably sound kind of amazing. This is probably my favorite track on this album. There was something very Mylene Farmer about this that reminded me of childhood, nostalgia and first exposure to pop music done right.

The rest of the tracks on the album were kind of average, standard pop music fare with Lady Gaga vocals. If you’re a fan you’re going to like it no matter what I say, and if not, there are still a few tracks which I think warrant some attention for creativity and rawness. The album does come with a little PDF booklet, which has a few nice photos and some lyrics I think. Not a big selling point, but as an added-value I actually rather liked the idea.

Surprisingly, I didn’t really like any of the singles off the album, but deep inside I found a few very worthwhile gems. If I, as a skeptic and basher of mainstream pop, lately – paid full price for the album, I might have come away disappointed, but at $0.99 the album was well worth the money, even if solely because I was able to discover Heavy Metal Lover. After listening to it a couple of times, I had an interesting thought. Get the vocals for every track out there and let underground artists pick at them and see what comes out of it, then take some of the more promising re-edits or remixes and put out an alternate version of the album? I know I’d want to take a stab at HML. Is there a Sonaris bootleg of Lady Gaga on the way? I wouldn’t bet on it, but who knows…

Get the album here: Lady Gaga – Born This Way [+digital booklet]

Sonaris Review: “Intellect: Techno House Progressive”

I’ll start off with the good news and the bad news. The good news is, this is quite possibly the single best documentary / tutorial DVD available for emerging DJs and producers. The bad news is, it’s is damn near impossible to get a copy.

I was lucky enough to grab a brand new copy on Amazon back in 2005, for a fairly reasonable $20 or so. At this point, there is one copy for sale, and it’s going for almost $100! (I am not the one selling a copy, nor will I ever part with mine.) Never did I think that a DVD can wind up being a financial investment, but I digress…

Since I never have been, and probably never will be, a DJ, I was kind of skeptical of purchasing this at first. But, the extremely impressive list of interviewees got me. I really don’t think there is a single other production out there which features as many big, classic names as this feature does. I mean, just look at the line-up: Paul Van Dyk, Timo Maas, Juan Atkins, Deep Dish, Orbital, Miguel Migs, Steve Lawler – just to name a few (and some which aren’t even listed, like Colette). As far as EDM goes, these are household names.

Intellect: Techno House Progressive

Everything about this DVD kicks ass. It’s a 2 disc set ([1] description from Amazon):

“Disc One includes a 30-minute inspirational documentary about the ‘art of the DJ’ and ‘what it takes to make it’ featuring interviews with over 40 of the world’s greatest DJ talent including Paul Van Dyk, Deep Dish, Timo Maas, Orbital, Steve Lawler, Derrick May, Sandra Collins, Hybrid, Doc Martin, Ming & FS, and many, many more! This disc also allows the viewer to pick and choose from 34 of the full individual artist interviews to view and experience.”[1] No matter if you are a DJ, producer or staunch clubber, you will find some very good inspirational advice, hilarious anecdotes and some downright trippy stories here. I have watched this disc over and over, probably ten times or more, and every single time I walk away motivated to create, to push the limits and to keep working on music.

“Disc Two features the very first tutorial to ever focus on techno, house, and progressive DJ’s. Nigel Richards of 611 Records takes the viewer step-by-step through every level of DJ’ing – from the most basic equipment setup all the way to advanced mixing on three turntables. Also included are 8 bonus topics focusing on specific aspects of DJ’ing and producing dance music featuring tips of the trade by artists featured on Intellect. “[1] This part of the documentary is as informative as it is oftentimes hilarious! Even if you don’t DJ, but are a producer, this is absolutely a must-see. You will see what DJs are looking for, in terms of beat structure, and learn how to create tracks which are easier for DJs to mix.

I noticed that the film is directed and produced by Barclay Crenshaw. In doing some background research, I found that Mr. Crenshaw had worked on such films as Con Air, Batman & Robin and The Truman Show prior to creating this documentary. (Is Barclay Crenshaw the same person as Claude VonStroke? No way to tell for sure, but it certainly would make sense.)

The whole DVD is done very professionally, and really sets a standard which any future documentary and tutorial feature should follow. Never before, and not since, has there been an electronic [dance] music expose like this. As I said, unfortunately this is a very hard DVD to find, but – if you can get your hands on it – you will not regret it in the least.

My full-length album – Arreliari – is out on iTunes, JunoDownload & DJDownload!

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally done and ready for your enjoyment! I started work on this album midway through 2009 – and – a little over a year later, I am proud to present you with my first ever full-length electronic [dance] music album – Arreliari.

Sonaris - Arreliari Album Cover

Inspired by various events in the past year, this album is an eclectic compilation of progressive house vibes, electro house basslines, trancey melodies and general feel-good awesomeness – suitable for many moods. A few of the tracks on the album are ones which have been publicly released previously, but are now remastered by a big name studio in NYC, and made to sound even more awesome, for your listening pleasure. All other tracks on the album are totally unheard before originals, which I think – and hope – you’ll enjoy. As an added bonus, I was very lucky to have exclusive remixes done by axisONE, Draconum and Alex Biagi (all from the Addictive Vibe Records crew) included on the album. (The axisONE remix of Sputnik was featured on the world-renowned Beta Nightclub‘s “Homegrown” compilation earlier this year – along with some heavy-hitting tracks from other talented producers).

The album is also inspired by many people, and I couldn’t have finished this project without the support of those around me, and those reaching out to me through the internets. I greatly appreciate all your input, feedback and criticism. All (100%) of the proceeds from this album will go toward improving my music software, and hardware upgrades. I know that pretty much anyone can find and download the album for free, and I won’t try to stop you from doing so, but please realize that making music is a time-consuming task and, no matter how much I love the process – and hate to have to admit this – it can be a somewhat expensive endeavor, as well. So, for those of you who pick up a copy of the album from iTunes, or any other online store… thank you for supporting my habit.

Last but definitely not least… enjoy the music!

Get the album on iTunes!

Get the album on DJDownload!

Get the album on JunoDownload!

“Arreliari” is trademarked and copyrighted (2010) by SonarisMusic & Addictive Vibe Records and distributed, world-wide, exclusively by Music Just Music (phonographic copyright 2010). Any licensing and distribution questions should be addressed directly to Music Just Music. Album cover art  design by David Baker. A special thank you to Santoki for being my biggest fan and my inspiration for creating beautiful things.

Article: Unblocking A Writer’s Block [2010 Remix]

Foreword: I wrote this article a couple of years ago, for my peers on InternetDJ, and for myself – to read over later. Over time, I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on it, and a few blogs have re-posted it for their readers. So, I thought I’d go through it, clean it up and revise it a bit, and add a few new tricks. Enjoy!

Writer’s block is something which hits hard in the literary department, but producers and composers are not immune, either. There are cracks in the brick wall of creative dullness, however, and they must be exploited. I’ll start this article off with a quick throw-back to the past to try and analyze this epidemic which can hinder your creative genius. I’ve met a lot of people have gone through the same ordeal, so I thought I would try to lay out my thoughts in a concise manner and maybe help some emerging talent overcome this disease…

Continue reading “Article: Unblocking A Writer’s Block [2010 Remix]”