Destiny is Upon Us. Well, The EP Anyway.

If you got on about six months ago, it was hard to miss the annual remix comeptition which hosted with my label Addictive Vibe Records. The remix competition centered around my original progressive house track Destiny.

The track peaked at #1 on charts in the summer of 2014 – which was onviously exciting for me as it was the first time I’d had an original hit the #1 spot (I’d done it a few times with remixes). Out of the 17 total entries in the running one track stood out in the crowd with solid production value. Andy Line approached the competition with a light, summer dance beat, incorporating a few major elements from the original track.

After a few months of figuring things out with Andy (read: I forgot to send him the distribution agreement), and perfecting both mixes in the studio, we released a joint, two-track EP titled “Destiny” on Beatport, Amazon and iTunes and a bunch of other online shops.

Destiny was inspired in part by the progressive house sounds of 2009, my days of riding my Honda VFR750 in the Colorado Mountains, the movie Drive, and Birdy Nam Nam’s amazing tune and video – Defiant Order.

The idea was to create something flowing, with a steady build and a driving melody. I wanted to write something I could listen to on a highway drive in the rain.

The track has been positively received overall on iDJ and on Soundcloud, getting over 20,000 plays in a period of a couple of months with an aggregated review score of 8.5/10 on InternetDJ. Destiny is my first commercial release in over a year, while I worked on trying new production techniques in 2014 – I did release a bunch of free music on Soundcloud.

I’ve got a number of new electronic music releases in the works for this year – it will be an exciting one to be sure! Stay tuned and catch up with me on Soundcloud, Facebook or Twitter!

I am also planning on redesigning my website here again relatively soon, so please excuse the mess while I work on it. Stay cool.

Remix competition! Remix my original track, Destiny, for a chance to win $150 + a release on Addictive Vibe Records

Sonaris DestinyIt’s‘s 10th annual remix competition, and – for the first time ever, the tables have turned. I have participated in most of the remix competitions over the years, but this time around, I get to be the remixee!

There is a $150 cash (paypal) prize for the winner of the competition, plus the possibility of a release on Amazon, iTunes, Beatport, Google Music, etc… If the remixes are particularly good, I may consider releasing several of the remixes as part of an EP, via Addictive Vibe Records.

The rules: InternetDJ members have until Midnight Saturday October 4th 2014(ET) to download the sound pack, remix into a new song and upload it on this page to InternetDJ. After this day, the upload function will be closed and shortly thereafter the remixes will be filtered for nonsense and presented within the InternetDJ Voting Booth. Any electronic music style will be considered, including-but-not-limited-to: drum & bass, progressive house, filter house, breaks, chillout, ambient, jackin house, dubstep, trap, french house, etc… your mind is your limit.

The Voting Process and Prizes: InternetDJ members and visitors are welcome to vote on all the uploaded tracks. The top three highest rated remixes will then be delivered to Sonaris, who will select the #1 remix. This winner will receive the $150 paypal prize from InternetDJ. The winner may also have a chance to be released on Beatport/Amazon/iTunes. It will be up to Addictive Vibe Records to decide if the winning remix will be released. Addictive Vibe Records may approach two or three remixers to release an EP with the original + remixes. Any agreements between the remixes and Addictive Vibe Records are in no way connected to InternetDJ. If the remixes are good, you might get a release out of it!

Click Here for Official Rules and/or to Submit Your Entry

What the funk is Jackin’ House music?

configure-disc-jockey-disco-1504Jackin house is nothing new – in fact it was around in the 80’s. So, why am I writing about it today? It’s not exactly hot news, considering there is a wikipedia page dedicated to Jacking and jackin house, but it’s new to me – so let’s talk about it. I’ll be honest and say upfront that I didn’t go back and listen to all of the roots of jackin house, yet, or even listen to all of the “big” names producing and DJing it right now – ‘journalism’ now-a-days! Reason is, to me, the history is not as important taking a look – really, a listen, to the sound. This isn’t meant to be a history lesson on jackin house or a debate on its roots or origins, so much as a brief overview of what it is, and how you can make it.

So, from my somewhat limited experience, jackin house allows for quite a bit of creative freedom, not unlike many other EDM styles where the lines can be pretty grey, at best. The common thread I’ve found, between most tracks I’ve heard is:

  • old school drum samples – think punchy, dry kickdrums, almost obnoxiously loud open hats accented by high hats
  • very little release on the percs – I tend to do with with my percussion anyway, but in jackin house – aside from maybe the occasional cymbal, the percussion is generally pretty cut and dry with the release knob cranked down
  • blaring bass – it’s fairly common to hear some 404 sounding bass, or just really punchy bass instruments
  • funky basslines – the funkier and catchier the bassline, the better
  • repetition – a lot of the jackin house tracks I’ve heard use repetition quite a bit, but those that wind up being the most interesting are where there is at least some percussive or bass variation
  • vocal samples – in probably half, if not more, tracks I’ve heard there is some vocal sampling – again, this is a great place to get creative; some favor dropping the pitch on the vocals a bit to create a darker, hous-ier (is this a word?) feel – while others do a lot of vocal cutting and chopping
  • a lot of fun – jackin house is really bringing the dancy house music vibe back to the dancefloor which for a while has been dominated by high pitched whining synths, screaming sirens and bass drops – of which some, not all, but many are getting a bit fatigued

So, why should you care about jackin house? Well, for one, it’s definitely making a comeback. With the fast rise of standout female DJ Hannah Wants, with Chris Lorenzo dominating quite a bit of the scene with his basslines, with the pure fun and energy that jackin house brings back to the club, it’s hard not to be at least slightly infatuated with it. Is it a fad? Well, everything in music comes and goes, and comes and goes again, so yeah it’s probably pretty safe to say that the popularity of the subgenre will rise and then fall and then perhaps rise again with some new added twists. But, like any great party, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts!

For a quick and dirty lesson on what jackin house sounds like, check out Hannah Wants’ Soundcloud and listen to some of her outstanding jackin house mixtapes.

Sonaris Music Review: Old Memories by The Last Port

Old Memories The Last PortSome surprises are good. That was the second thought that ran through my head after listening to the first track of the four-track EP Old Memories, by Paris-based The Last Port. My first thought was “Whoa!” As the heavy, moody SKIES began with a spritly vocal, accompanied by a deep, heavy synth – shivers ran down my body in surprise.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of chillout stuff recently, stuff from Tycho, Com Truise and the like. I dig chillout music almost anytime, and as I’m preparing to do a little chillout work myself, I’ve been doing my homework. But, I digress…

SKIES is a great, chilled melodic track with a repeating vocal theme, deep atmosphere and heavy beat. The only thing I would have preferred to hear here is more accentuation of the percussion, as it gets lost behind the synths.

OLD MEMORIES introduces a cool, clean, crispy, trap-like beat with sizzling hats. Another vibrant, melodic and melancholy track – a great second track in this series. The transitions and breaks are fantastic, bringing out some of the more subtle elements.

EMPTY HEAD and NTHNGCHNGS follow the same “formula” – chill, melodic, vocal and relaxing.

All four tracks are fantastic and flow well together. I’ve listened to the EP on repeat several times and aside from some minor things which I could nitpick on the mix, the overall production is very solid: well organized, well composed, original and most importantly – filled with feeling, something a lot of today’s mainstream electronic music often lacks. If you’re in the mood to chill, head to bandcamp and listen to the whole thing, before you inevitably get a copy to listen to in the car.

Sonaris Music Review: deadmau5 while (1<2)

deamdau5 while 1 2It’s not what you’d expect. I’ll let the professionals say it, whatever it is, first.

“…the world’s most unnecessary Nine Inch Nails tribute act…” harsh words from Rolling Stone.

“Sprawling, ambitious and mostly well-executed, While (1<2) may confuse his fan base’s Ultra-attending electro house contingent, but deadmau5’s double album undoubtedly marks his most mature and forward-thinking release to date. ” said

The reviews are mixed, it would seem. Makes sense, because I think this album created some confusion among the media and fans. I’ll be the first to admit that, while I appreciate deamdau5′ work on a few different levels, I’m not the type of dude who follows the hype about an upcoming album. Whatever. I pre-ordered the CD on Amazon when I heard it was coming out in a couple of weeks. Not even entirely sure how I found out about it, because it wasn’t being promoted as heavily – at least not paraded in front of my face – as some of his previous works.

Anyway, I was definitely a bit surprised after sticking the first CD into my car’s probably sub-par sound system, fully expecting to be entertained with some chords and lively energy which often is heard in deadmau5′ works. What I got was pretty melancholy, relatively slow, ambitiously beautiful in its simplicity – but definitely not “EDM”. Whether that’s a good thing or not, is arguable – and honestly – I’m not going to get into whether deadmau5 “should” have gone in this direction.

To me, the two-disc LP sounds like something deadmau5 wrote for himself, but really wanted us to hear. As a producer, I get it. As a producer who doesn’t like to stick to the same formula for too long, I really get it. Sometimes I just get bored of doing the same thing over and over – I know I can do more. Whether more should be done, and how it should be done is always a grey area.

Obviously, many fans become fans because they like a particular track or at least a style of sound an artist is putting out there. So, to take some fans of progressive house and then suddenly offer to feed them dubstep might be a hard pill to swallow. There will be some fans who will ultimately be turned off by an experiment like this. There will be new fans found. There will be fans who listen to the album and say “It’s not for me, but I get it and I appreciate the effort.” At the end of the day, none of that really matters, in the grand scheme of things.

As someone once wisely pointed out, the only constant in the world is change. deadmau5 is not the first or the last, by any measure, to make a departure from the usual formula. This is a good a time as any for deadmau5 to branch out and show he’s capable of more than just pushing play and repeating the same successful formula over and over. Like an actor, a producer is only as valuable, in the long run, as he or she is versatile. Experiments like this are required, timing is the only barrier.

That all said, on to the music itself. I initially thought the first CD would be a bit more mellow, artistic, experimental, expressive, etc… and the second CD would be full of grand slam energy. Again, I was mistaken. Both discs on the double LP flow smoothly, the whole thing meticulously planned and structured – as are deadmau5′ track themselves. The “production value” if I can just throw that general term out there, is as high as always. Basically, it sounds like deadmau5 is taking all he’s learned about structure, combining various musical elements and mixing and creating a new package, saying “this is what I can bring to the table with the skills I’ve acquired from working on electronic music”.

The result of this effort is a well crafted project. Perhaps like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories this album is either ahead of its time or the timing just isn’t right for this type of record. The main difference between RAM and while(1<2), aside from the name, is the distinct lack of a big single or two to help propel the album in the charts. Is while(1<2) a tribute to Trent Reznor? I’d say that’s pretty far fetched, as many different influences can be heard here – Eric Prydz’ Pryda immediately comes to mind.

The album is filled with moody melodies, interestingly placed sound effects, and repeating motifs. The album maintains a constant theme of change by touching on various genres of music and expressing various emotions – of which there are many – while keeping a consistency through structure and mix. My overall take is that the album lacks energy, it feels fatigued in some places, like it’s giving up. It feels like a lot of salad and not enough meat. But, at the same time it introduces some interesting new production ideas, which – in my humble opinion – is something a good album should do.

while(1<2) is not just a message to the casual listener, but a signal to EDM producers which subtly suggests “Hey, why not try something new and different, for a change?” I’ve defended Daft Punk’s RAM and I’ll defend while(1<2) because while these albums may not be the summer energy DJs crave, they provide the catalyst for generating new ideas in EDM.

Now, if only deadmau5 released a remix/sample pack of the album for producers to mess around with! While the record itself isn’t particularly dance-y, there are so many interesting elements to play with, that it’s honestly a remixer’s dream project. Whether deadmau5 will choose to let people manipulate the sound he crafted, to mess with his feelings, is to be seen. In the meantime, I’ll take a Moment To Myself and listen to the record a few more times – soaking in the mesmerizing dynamics for which the mau5 is known.

Edit: Decided to take a stab at remixing something from this album with a downtempo/chillout take on Superbia.

Sonaris Music Review: The Witches Son by Cinder Ghost

“The Witches Son” is the title track taken from Cinder Ghost’s upcoming E.P “The Witches Son” – due for release August 10th.

Even though the majority of my own projects are in the mid-bpm range (between 125-132 usually) I often find myself drawn to the slower tempo when relaxing or trying something new. Something about the lower bpms which allows for more “feeling”, atmosphere and ambiance. Don’t get me wrong, there are many house producers who achieve amazing ambiance, but something about the spacing between the beats in slower tempo tracks is just pleasant.

This single from Cinder Ghost achieves that which I personally enjoy about downtempo/chillout electronica. The track starts off with a nice, filtered, warm ambiance. The bass wraps my ear canal, like a warm blanket on a chilly day. The reversed synth melody supports the plucking melody, the vocals fitting neatly between the layers. This relaxing chillout track is a great first entry for the upcoming EP. Check it out, below – there is even a [limited] free download of the WAV file available, at this time.