14 posts tagged

I am

Love, hate, principles, and other odd things about myself. Caution: all posts under this tag are full of subjective opinions which might hurt your feelings.

I don’t give Skype lessons, and here’s why

Some people asking if I give one-on-one Skype lessons on Psytrance production. I suppose I’ll be asked this question over again, so let me put my answer here to make everyone’s life easier.

A shot from “Prometheus” of David learning new information

In short, the answer is “no” — I don’t give Skype lessons. I’m sorry. But I guess this statement might cause even more questions, so I would like to give a little explanation and tell about the motivation behind my decision.

I was always surprised that there was no place a young music producer could ask a question and get an answer from someone who knows the industry. Typically, producers don’t share their secrets not to mention that most of them simply out of reach. Some forum boards with helpful communities are still out there, but most of them are abandoned due to all traffic is driven away to social media.

That’s how I launched the “Advice” section with a sole mission — to help aspiring producers like myself.

I never intended to be a full-time tutor, I’m an acting music producer first with a lot of other things to do. Practically, it means I have to choose wisely whether should I spend the bits of available time on a Skype lesson or the “Advice” blog because I can’t afford myself doing both.

And if you look at this question of choice from the mission’s perspective I set myself — to help other producers — the answer is obvious. Writing a blog which thousands will read is much more efficient than spending the same time talking with just one person.

But to push this mission even further, I would like to make such system that will be scalable and independent of my availability. This is why I’m thinking to make a full educational course.

As you can see I have quite bold plans on education but there is simply no room for personal teaching. At least for now.

2017   Educational course   I am

What I do

A brief introduction for new followers, in simple words

Playing a DJ set in Moscow, 2013

It’s kind of funny that I have a fancy press release with “official” biography and all, but none of the press mentions, nor my social network pages nor the website tell what I really do in a simple way. Perhaps, some people subscribe to my blog by RSS not knowing about the radio show I host, or some others have no idea what I’m doing in the first place?

I would like to take a moment to put together everything I do and briefly introduce myself. And since this blog is a bit more personal space than any of my other pages on the web, I thought it’s a perfect place do this here.

Music

I’m a professional electronic music producer since 2012 and a passionate music lover for the whole life. The music I make can be tagged as Psytrance and Progressive, although it’s not quite fit the boundaries of one particular genre. So far I made two full-length studio albums and dozens of singles released on various record labels which considered as one of the most credible labels in the underground Trance scene.

Radio show

To keep myself in a good shape as a DJ, I host a monthly radio show called Rave Podcast. It’s broadcasted on Digitally Imported radio every first Tuesday of a month and showcases underground music and featuring guest artists from all over the world.

Touring

Touring worldwide and playing at the festivals and clubs around the world is what I do and one my ultimate career goals. I’m open for new potential gigs, Digital Om Production now handles my bookings.

Education

Education has become a big part of my life since I started the “Advice” series where every week I answer the questions people send me on music production, marketing, music industry, and other aspects of the music career. Now I’m on a mission of creating an educational course for music producers to help them succeed in the music industry.

A&R

I work as an A&R Manager at JOOF Recordings as well. I listen to incoming demos, communicate with the artists and help the label to keep things organised.

Blog

At some point, this very blog is also become one of my projects I care about. It’s a platform allowing me to speak with the audience on a much personal level, share the knowledge and my career’s progression over time. If you here for the first time, here are some of the blog’s tags I’d suggest exploring first: Behind the scenes, Time traveller’s archive, Track of the week.

Feel free to get in touch whether it’s a collaboration offer, a booking request, a demo for the label, or you just want to say hello. I read every single message and typically reply within a week.

2017   I am

Telegram me

You probably know what I think of instant messengers: I hate Facebook chat, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, and all that crap. But oddly enough, I find myself enjoying using Telegram, even for business. 

Instant messengers vs. email for business communication

Telegram is fast, reliable, and has a great desktop and mobile apps. No ads, no Facebook-style-hiding-messages, no distraction. Plus public channels, flexible notifications, quick file transfers, instant cloud sync, and more. It is the best messaging tool.

If you’re using some messaging app, I recommend switching to Telegram. You can find me there as @dsokolovskiy, feel free to get in touch.

Update

I’ve also created a public channel to share my music updates, news, and blogs. If you prefer to read Telegram channels instead of Facebook and other media, welcome here: @daniellesden.

2016   I am   Telegram

Don’t do shit

What principles do you use in your work?

Daniel 

In pretty much everything I do, I’m trying to use a principle that sounds very simple: don’t do shit.

Don’t do shit
Less is more
Vinyl vs. sync button

The definition of “shit” is very subjective, but basically, it means having a sort of inner quality control system that doesn’t allow you make a half-assed product.

I often heard a popular argument in the conversations like this, people say: “why should I do more if the outcome is the same?”. Indeed, why? Well, to me the answer is clear: because I can.

Never agree on “okay” result because this way you won’t get anything new out of it, you won’t learn. Pushing yourself to the limits is the only way to grow.

You’ve made a track but it doesn’t quite feel good to you? Well, it’s good you have that feeling because you are probably right. Now go ahead and tweak it, or make a new one from scratch, until you sure this is the best you can do. Because you can.

Same goes with design, copywriting, development, management, even the way you compose an email or help your spouse with the housekeeping. This principle applies to every aspect, both in career and personal life.

2016   Advice   I am   Personal development

Psytrance and a vegan pasta bolognese

Some thoughts about some music we hear under the ‘Psytrance’ tag today 

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In the last few months we’ve seen pretty strange tracks occupying the top spots at Beatport’s Top-100 Psytrance chart: some Big room House, Pop EDM Vocals, Uplifting, Hardstyle — well, pretty much everything but Psytrance!

And it makes me think about how I should react on this, because frankly, I’m not quite sure. I have two different views on this.

“It doesn’t feel right”

One part of me hates when things aren’t in place or named in a wrong way.

For example, I love pasta bolognese and I don’t have anything against vegans, but I get absolutely mad when I see yet another recipe of a “vegan pasta bolognese”. What the hell is this? Meat is the essential part of this classic meat-based sauce recipe, if you took it out it won’t be a pasta bolognese anymore. That vegan version can be same delicious or even better, but please just don’t call it a bolognese then!

So when I hear the tracks like this under the ‘Psytrance’ tag, it makes me feel the same as I would see a vegan pasta bolognese:

It seems they think that having that “kick-bass” pattern is what makes it Psytrance, but it doesn’t. When I see this one spotting at #1 Psytrance chart, it just doesn’t feel right to me from the listener’s perspective.

“Music evolves whether we like it or not”

Nevertheless, some other part of me tells me this: if you ask anyone who pioneered Psytrance back in the early 90s starting in the form of Goa Trance, they will probably tell that all modern Psytrance aka “Psy-Prog” is shit. Maybe for them modern Psytrance is not “Psytrance” anymore, same as now we see those “Psy or Die” songs and thinking it’s not a Psytrance too?

Future Ducks of London – Why Psytrance has Become Shit

While we trying to use the same tags and genres to describe music, music evolves and going far beyond the original words that used to describe it. It already happened with House, Techno, and Trance music, now it’s Psytrance’s turn.

Maybe all those genres and tags just don’t work anymore, so a better solution would be simply ignoring it?

Funny enough, when I think of my own music I can’t fit into Psytrance genre alone too. Enuma Elish has almost Uplifting-like breakdown which is not typical for Psytrance as we hear today; Surreal more belongs to classic Trance or even Techno. In fact, I never sit in the borders of a single genre.

Getting out of comfort zone

Bottom line

Let’s ignore all those labels, charts, tags that Beatport and some other industry companies trying to put on music. Love the artists and tracks, not genres. Love the music, not a tag on it.

2016   I am   Music industry

“Still fresh!”

Or why you shouldn’t treat music as a consumable

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I see many producers post their tracks saying “Still fresh!” or “Grab your copy while it’s hot!”. I know exactly what they mean, but still, it sounds kinda creepy to me and I want to explain why.

As an A&R, I often see producers that want to release their music ASAP, otherwise, it becomes “old”. Although I totally share excitement about each and every release and looking forward to it being released, I’d like to clarify one thing.

Producers, if you submit a demo expecting it being released within a month “because oh no it’s getting old”, then you either have a lack of understanding how a record label works, either have a wrong marketing strategy. Or both. Yes, planning ahead and creating a proper release strategy is something that you should do (or your manager, if you have one).

What record labels do. A story from the first-hand experience

As a result of such “release-more-and-asap” mindset, we accustom new generation of listeners to treat with music as a «consumable», something that you should use quickly while it’s fresh and then just move to trash bin.

Look at the discography of some greatest artists like John 00 Fleming, Astrix, Protoculture and Beat Bizarre just to name a few, they crafted their albums for years. And you know why? Because good music doesn’t have “expired date” and “best before” labels. Music made with love, skills, and passion sounds amazing even after a decade being released.

Sweet Fine Crystaline by Protoculture is one of my all-time favorite tracks. Released in 2006

Let’s respect music a bit more, it’s a form of art, not expendable material.

On cover image: what the hell pizza is doing there? Luckily, unlike of pizza, music is great even the day after tomorrow. And ten years later, too. 

2016   I am   Music industry

Train your body

To keep your mind calm

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As a music producer and kinda geek guy, I spend most part of the day sitting at the computer. It was the same since my teenage, and now being almost a 30 years old, I start feeling consequences of such computer-lifestyle in a form of the back pain. I realized the fact that this must be changed and began to run. Hah, I remember was nearly died when ran my first one kilometer, especially taking into account my bronchial asthma. Now I’m able to run 10 kilometers, and it’s amazing: I not only feeling much better physically but also my mind seems more calm and concentrated after all stress it gets throughout the day.

I’m telling all of this for one reason: all music producers, geeks and nerds around, I call you to do some physical activity! Gym, yoga, cross fit, whatever. I found running is the most accessible sports activity because all you need is just a pair of shoes and some banging music in the headphones (well, the last is optional). Do it, and you’ll see the difference.

Don’t forget about your body while pursuing your dreams, whether it’s a career or some life goals. Listen to what it tells. It’s never late to start, so as a famous advertising slogan says — Just do it!

2016   I am

Vinyl vs. sync button

What makes you a better DJ

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Over the past several years I’ve been a witness of numerous debates around the sacred topic: a “real” mixing on a vinyl versus “fake” mixing using sync button. And very recently a new ‘demotivator’ picture popped up in my newsfeed that instantly flew across all social media, so I thought I had to write this.

In all those internet battles people seems to forget one simple fact. Yes, beatmatching is the core principle of DJing and the very basics of mixing technique, but it alone doesn’t make you a good DJ. Whatever you beat matching in old fashioned way, or sync button does it for you, there are plenty of other factors that professional DJ should learn and care about: music selection, perfect knowing of his music library in general and each track individually, sense of taste, the ability to feel the crowd and guide them through the musical journey, the way how he interact with the people on the dancefloor, how he behave on the public, and the list goes on.

Once you master all of these, your choice of gear becomes absolutely irrelevant. And it works the opposite way too. Let’s say, If you mixing on a vinyl like a cool bro, but you have no idea how to feel the crowd, you sucks as a DJ. If you play using sync button with a ton of other modern tools around, but all do you is just staring at the laptop’s display, you sucks as a DJ, too. As simple as that.

The only reason I see people still play on a vinyl is nostalgic/romantic feelings of that particular person about “good old days”. And it’s totally fine, as long as you don’t put an equality sign between “vinyl” and “better”. It’s no better than any other way of mixing, it’s just different. Someone adore retro cars, someone prefers modern and more practical vehicles, but neither of them doesn’t make you a better driver.

Same with the writers: if someone prefers to write old fashioned way with a nib pen and inkwell, it doesn’t make him a better writer over those who type on a keyboard, just like I do at this very moment.

As for myself, since the childhood I was thinking about electronic music as a frontier of the future: science, technologies, intergalactic travel, you know, all that stuff. So it was natural to me to evolve my setup along the way, trying out new things and new technologies. At the moment I’m fully satisfied with the current setup with Ableton Live and MIDI-controller, but who knows, maybe someday I’ll step further to the new generation of Pioneer digital players, or something even newer.

Don’t get stuck in the past, but be open minded and courageous to move forward. The future is so exciting!

2015   DJing and performance   I am

Less is more

I use principle “less is more” and it works great in every aspect:

  • In music production: less plugins means in-depth knowledge of each device, less CPU usage, easier mixdown. And budget savings, too.
  • In radio show: less periodicity mean more diversity in tracks and guest mixes. This is the reason why I’ll never turn Rave Podcast into a weekly show.
  • In web development: less features means more attention and polishing for other important functions, as results — launch on time with no bugs.
  • In workouts: less exercises means more focus on each muscle group.
  • In food: eat less at once (but more often) to stay healthy.

Do less to get more.

2015   I am   Management

Why I ask to buy music

Weird things. Artists ask to buy their music while getting almost nothing from it in terms of income. At the same time, music is free all around: releases appear on ‘piracy’ websites literally in a few hours after out on stores. So looks like no one is happy with buying music as artists get no profit and listeners can download same tracks for free? Well, not really.

I keep getting asked over and over again when I’ll be playing in different parts of the globe: Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Serbia, Canada, USA — the list goes on. People do want to hear my sets, but current gigs list is not big yet. So how music sales can affect on the gigs?

Every time someone buys a track, it goes upper in the charts. And being in Top-100 chart has a practical meaning: top positions in gets more attention, from both listeners and professionals of the industry. So, perhaps, party promoters take a decision in artist bookings by looking at Top-100 chart too? I’m not saying that music sales affect gigs directly, but it does in some way for sure.

If you want to hear my sets in your town, in your favorite clubs or festivals, the best way to motivate promoters to book me is to show it’s worth it! So if you want, go get your copy of my latest EP here → http://bit.ly/ThruTheStarsEP

Taking this opportunity I want to thank everyone who already supported my release as it currently spotted on #17 in Top-100 chart. Thank you!

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2015   I am   Music industry
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