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Upcoming event   🇷🇺 JOOF Showcase, August 10, 2019

Career and industry insights from an underground Progressive DJ and producer based in Moscow.

Follow me on social media

Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

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The Science Of Sound

Wow, Boiler Room and Genalec made stunning and hilarious videos on reverb, delay, and distortion, full of the rave spirit of the nineteenth. Think of ‘Human Traffic’ etc.

I wasn’t sure which one to share at first, but damn it, they all are just so good!

Reverb:

Delay:

Distortion:

 No comments    94   1 mon   Boiler Room   Fun   Music production   Video

Do sports

After playing my recent Open To Close set, a few people asked how can I stay so energised playing such a long set, especially dancing hard in the DJ booth.

The answer is on the screenshot:

I don’t run much and certainly not a ‘pro’ in this field, but I’m sure that it is running that makes me so robust.

Do some sports guys, whatever fits you. And I believe, for DJs it’s a must.

 No comments    55   1 mon   I am   Running

Artbat @ Bondinho Pão de Açúcar for Cercle

I like listening to DJ sets, and sometimes I like to watch live videos as well. I usually keep them in the background when doing things, dancing to the beat.

And when it comes to videos, no one can compete with Cercle. I’m sure you heard about them, but if you don’t — definitely scroll through their YouTube channel. These guys organise performances is breathtaking places of France (and more recently, outside of it too) and stream live videos with insane production quality.

Anyway, I’m going to put some of my such videos here, and maybe some of you gonna like it too.

Today’s — Artbat’s set on a mountain in Rio de Janeiro:

Favourite moments: 7:48, 16:40, 21:55, 33:54, 58:10, 1:03:30.

 No comments    64   1 mon   Cercle   Progressive House   Video

Breaking from the shadows

Making mixdown and the final touch at Audio School

I have to confess: I’ve been procrastinating on making music for months. Pff, what months — the only one released track this year I made a long time ago in 2017, so practically I didn’t make any new tracks for more than a year. I moved to another country since then and then had another move, which of course affected my production environment, but frankly, this is just an excuse I told myself.

Bye-bye, Israel!

In reality, I simply couldn’t overcome myself for making something that I no longer enjoyed much. And only when I publicly announced that I’m moving forward musically, it became easier.

Where I’m going to musically

So, that’s about it. I just finished a new track, and it’s just awesome. A 123-BPM dark driving Progressive with melodic elements. In fact, I’ve made it two from scratch in two days, and plus a few more days for polishing and mixing. It’s very fast. And all because it is easy to work when you love what you are doing.

Ah yeah, I remembered about “not the best production conditions” excuse which I told myself: I made this track in a $20-in-ear headphones. Some of the cheapest headphones, literally (I use them for sports activities). That’s it, Dan, your bastion of excuses has now finally collapsed.

Here comes the trivial, but very important moral of this story: do what you like and don’t do what you don’t like. As simple as that. It sounds like Captain Obvious, but it took me a while to get to it. Try it too, it feels amazing.

do what you like and don’t do what you don’t like

In the coming weeks, I’ll do the mastering and sign the track on a label. It’ll be released by the end of the summer hopefully, so I’ll share the preview in a month or so.

 No comments    52   1 mon   Dance:Love:Hub   Gigs   United Kingdom   Video

How I prepare my DJ sets

Organising playlists by energy levels, vibe, and flow

It would be interesting to know how you prepare your DJ sets, how you decide which track will be mixed well with the previous one, how on stage you choose such tracks that were not included in your planned tracklist, etc.

Vlad Zabolotsky

How to organize your music collection in order to quickly pick the right track in the right moment out from tons of material?

Dj Nerva

Preparing for the performance includes a lot of things: negotiating with the promoter, visiting the venue (when possible), agreeing on a technical and domestic rider, researching the lineup and communicating with other artists, thinking through and launching an advertising campaign, recording a video invitation or a promo mix, working on social media and much more. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it, but today is all about the “creative” part, the music.

I don’t think of DJ as a creative profession, hence this word is quoted. I’ll write my thoughts on this later

Vlad, in order to answer the question of how I decide which track will be mixed well with the previous one, I have to explain the structure of my DJ collection first. A similar question was sent by Dj Nerva, so I will combine them into one.

Rekordbox and playlists

DJs play on various different media, apps, and gear: laptops, disks, flash drives, vinyl, smartphones; on Pioneers, in Ableton, Tractor, Serato, and much more options. Speaking of myself, I use three things: Recordbox, USB sticks, and Pioneer media players.

On audio formats support 

Here is how it works. First, I add music to Rekordbox on my laptop. Then I carefully tag the tracks so that they are automatically distributed among the ‘intelligent’ playlists, and sync these playlists to the USB sticks. Then in the DJ booth, I connect my USB sticks to the Pioneer players, and inside I see all the playlists exactly as I structured them on my laptop back home. And this is the key moment because thanks to these playlists I can easily find that very track I want to play next within a few seconds.

Now I’ll tell you about the key playlists that make up the structure of my collection.

Energy levels

First of all, after adding tracks to Recordbox, I assign them the energy level. This is the main criterion. The most important thing here is that the level of energy is how I feel the tracks and not a formal thing like the tempo or anything like that.

How usually DJs do

Here I want to make a little detour and tell how DJs usually do. Most DJs pre-select the required amount of tracks in advance and arrange them in the order in which they plan to play. So that is complete predestination. Of course, such pre-planned sets can sound great at home, but they might be completely inappropriate on the dancefloor.

It may seem that only newcomer DJs do this, but no: even those who have been performing for more than a decade are doing this, so it’s really common. Some DJs even record the whole mixes in advance and during the performance they basically fake, but this is just so wrong so I won’t even discuss it.

More proficient DJs don’t prepare sets in advance in such way but select tracks right during the set looking at the crowd in front of them. Most often, they use tempo as a plain simple criterion for choosing the next track.

So it turns out about the following. Let’s assume the following track is playing on the dancefloor:

A DJ thinks: “Aha, 122 BPM. The dancefloor is going on well, everything is fine, let’s not slow down the pace.” He is looking for the next track in his digital library of hundreds of tracks, scrolling and scrolling that rotary knob, and he finds this — a track in the same key and even two BPM faster:

Obviously, the energy on the dancefloor went down; people going out. Lowering the energy during a set down is fine if you know why you are doing this. But if the DJ from the example above wanted to keep the driving vibe, then this is a failure.

Or here’s the opposite example. Suppose a DJ is playing such melodic progressive:

He does not want to speed up the tempo, so he finds the track in the same key and even one BPM lower, and in addition also from the same record label:

Do you get it?

It is clear that the energy is partially correlated with the genre, and as a result — with the tempo. But the relationship of energy level and the tempo is not always that obvious, and it is not always predictably linear.

This is why relying simply on the tempo of the tracks and thus mechanically select the next track for mixing is clearly not worth it, and hence I organise my tracks by the energy levels instead.

So, now going back to the energy levels I use in my Rekordbox. In total, I make five levels:

Deep
★★ Build-up
★★★ Driving
★★★★ Peak-time
★★★★★ Banging

Experienced guys might have noticed that these names resemble a type or time-slot of a DJ set: opening, warming, “peak-time” and so on. Indeed, speaking of the energy level, I immediately think about the scenarios for using a particular track. In other words, I ask myself: “At what point of the event would it be appropriate to play that particular track?”.

For example, I can easily put a driving track in the middle of a warming-up set if I realise that I need to cheer-up the dance floor a bit, or vice versa – put a warming-up track in the middle of the night, if I decide to give the crowd a little rest.

energy level is how I feel the track

Inside the energy level playlist, I make four more sub-playlist nested according to what I call vibe and the flow:

Dark Hands-up
Dark Heads-down
Melodic Hands-up
Melodic Heads-down

And here the most interesting part begins.

The vibe

“Dark” and “melodic” are more or less intuitive terms, although the names are very nominal. This is emotional ‘colour’, the mood of the track.

First, a couple of obvious examples. Here is the “melodic” — think of rainbow, butterflies, flower meadow:

And here’s the “dark” — twilight, anxiety, hypnotism:

Please note that these tracks even have the same key, but how different their mood is.

But there is also a less perceptible difference. This is especially true for Techno, where a pronounced musical part is not always present.

Listen to this:

Is it “dark” or “melodic”? Someone can say, “what are you talking about, there are just a kick, bass, and hi-hats, how can you understand anything?”. For me, the answer is clear: if while listening to the track I’m smiling like an idiot, then this is “melodic”.

Now listen to this track. I specifically chose a similar style and even the same artist to shift the focus of attention only to the vibe:

To me, this track is colder and more aggressive, hence clearly “dark”. And if you think there’s not much of a difference when listening at home, there is a huge difference on the dancefloor.

The flow

“Hands-up” and “heads-down” are pretty unique entities, and I didn’t see anyone using these terms for their music libraries.

To me, this is all about the structure of the tracks: build-ups, breakdowns, pitch-rising effects, big drops, climax etc. In other words, how the tracks flow.

If the track goes smoothly, and you can just dance and keep dancing without being distracted by the breaks and big drops every minute or so, then this is the “heads-down”. In a sense, we can say that the heads-down tracks are more monotonous. This is not very accurate, but sufficient for a general understanding.

What is Progressive

If there are constantly some breaks, new leads, intense breakdowns and all those big things where people literally put their hands up, literally, then it’s “hands-up”.

Below are a few examples:

Pay attention to the breakdown in the middle and drop at 1:30. This is “hands-up”.

Another example:

You probably realised by now that this is “hands-up” too.

From the two examples above it may seem that the hands-up is always something melodic and cheesy. But for the vibe we have another criterion, and here we are talking only about the structure. Just both of these tracks are “melodic hands-up.”

Here is another “hands-up”, but this time it’s “dark”:

And now let’s take a listen to “heads-down”, for contrast:

Can you feel how much smoother this track is?

If it seems to you that heads-down is necessarily something slow and deep, here’s a driving Psytrance example:

Note how this track just is going and going without the interruption, you can close your eyes and just dance without the breakdowns.

Speaking of breakdowns, listen to this track:

Here the breakdown is stretched for a minute and a half, but notice how smooth and even monotonous it is, again, if we compare it to breakdowns in the hands-up tracks.

Therefore, knowing the energy level, the vibe, and the flow of the track, I can fully control the direction of the set. And thanks to the playlists, I know exactly where the next track is. This classification of all the tracks and new arrivals in my media library is the main work on the preparation of my DJ sets.

 No comments    153   1 mon   Advice   Behind the scenes   DJing   Pioneer   Rekordbox

Where I’m going to musically

Important message to promoters, labels, and fans

Playing a 5-hour set is easy when you play what you love. On my recent Open To Close set

After introducing Rave Podcast with a new format last week as a sort of re-launch, many people keep asking me where I’m going to musically, do I change the genre, and where is Psytrance after all? This is true that I’ve been making and playing Psytrance mostly for the last seven years, so these questions are totally understandable and make me no surprise.

Let me give you my honest answer.

The main driving force and the reason why I choose to pursue a music career is genuine excitement from music I make, play, or listen. A pure and simple joy.

The problem is that I didn’t felt it that way for the last year or so, in Psytrance in particular. Every month it was a pain for me to find even ten to fifteen tracks that I would really love to play, there was a few but the rest were just ‘fillers’ to fill the time gap in my 1-hour mixes. It made me really sad and it was certainly not the way I wanted it to be, so that’s when I decided to put Rave Podcast on pause and take a little break.

Stepping aside

Don’t take this the wrong way. The global Psy scene is flourishing at the moment. And there are certainly some amazing talents that keep making fresh music, and I still have my love for Psytrance. But I don’t like the majority of productions and the overall trends where it’s going musically, it’s just too generic and boring for me. It’s just not inspiring to me as a DJ to play same feeling tracks with pretty much all the same predicted sounds and cliché.


A typical distribution by genres in my Beatport carts. The numbers say it all

The Progressive scene, however, is fresh air to my ears. Every week my Beatport carts are full of amazing, high-quality and forward-thinking releases that truly excites me. Ironically, I played Progressive in the early sets in 2011, even some older Rave Podcast episodes had a lot of deeper music, so it all comes naturally to me. In some way, I’m going back to my roots.

So, what’s next?

Listen to the first half of my recent 5-hour Open To Close set. Listen to the new Rave Podcast episode aired on DI.FM last week. Listen to my Opening set for Astrix back from December if you missed it. This is where I am musically at the moment, and this is what you can expect to hear from me in the near future. My own productions will follow along, too.

I understand that this might upset some people who’ve been following me for years as a Psytrance producer. I also understand not everyone going to like my new transformation, sort of speak. But I’d rather be honest with you guys, and most importantly, be honest with myself.

 3 comments    85   2 mon   Behind the scenes   Career   I am

One month to London. First-tier tickets sold-out

Playing a set at Dance:Love:Hub back in 2017

A great party is made by many factors, but eventually it all comes down to the passion and the professionalism of the promoter. Emma from Dance:Love:Hub is exactly that type of person, she’s probably one of the most committed and devoted to the underground scene promoters I know. Emma is running amazing events, and it is my privilege to be headlining a Dance:Love:Hub party in London for the second time on June, 15.

The new venue is Five Miles Warehouse, Seven Sisters with a great cafe/bar at the front and a purpose-built dance temple in the back. A dancefloor set on rubber isolators, with bass cushioning in the back wall and a custom-built sound system.

We’re one month away from the date but the first-tier tickets are sold-out already. Please make sure to contact Emma at dancelovehubtickets@gmail.com or send a message to Dancelovehub Facebook page to get your second-tier tickets before sell out too.

See photos and more from my last gig in London by Dance:Love:Hub tag.

 No comments    27   2 mon   Dance:Love:Hub   Gigs   United Kingdom

Rave Podcast new schedule on DI.FM

Since 2012, Rave Podcast was broadcasted on Digitally Imported radio Progressive Psy channel. But the latest edition brought a new format and a new schedule.

Rave Podcast now on DI.FM!

From now on, Rave Podcast will be aired on Progressive (and not Progressive Psy) channel on second Friday of each month at 21:00 CET, so the next episode will be on June, 14. Add this to your calendars to make sure you do not miss it. And let me put this loud:

2nd Friday of a month 21:00 CET, Progressive channel.

 No comments    58   2 mon   Rave Podcast
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