Tech pioneer of the ‘everything box’, Dolo Jones gives the rig rundown of his electro-pop production

A name that derives from ‘doing it all solo on your Jack Jones‘, Dolo Jones is a one man production in Manchester who sets himself apart from the conventional-ism of today’s electro music and looks towards the music that is ‘next’ – a vision embodied in his latest release ‘Stuck (In A Groove).’ 

Having supported the likes of Sean Kingston and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Dolo brings innovation to both audio and visual platforms. Starting off as a club DJ he quickly learned the art of what connects people in music, leading him to playing for audiences of over 1000 each week.

Now an artist whose knowledge of music tech accelerates him into music production on a futuristic spectrum, Dolo Jones produces his music predominantly on Synthstrom Audible’s Deluge – a product that, along with Dolo Jones’ influence, has since garnered the name ‘the everything box’ by electronic musicians.

We got the chance to interview this Manchester music mastermind about the tech used behind his music and the creative process he goes through to produce such innovative electro beats.

Q. Tell us about your relationship with Synthstrom Audible and also your
use of their product Deluge.

I first found out about Synthstrom Audible after looking for quicker ways of
getting ideas from my head and out into music. They were a brand new company
when I found them and had just launched this box called the Deluge that was a
synth, a sampler and a sequencer and seemed to do absolutely everything in-between.
It was exactly what I’d been looking for so I got hold of one as soon as I
could and started making videos, performing full tracks I’d made on it and putting
them up on YouTube. I got really into making them, and started adding my own
animations and video montages and just enjoying the visual side as well as the
music. These got a pretty nice reaction, including from the guys at Synthstrom who
asked if I might want to make some new music and animations especially for them.
I’m currently working on a few exciting things for their recently announced updates.
It’s great to be part of something so cutting edge!

DOLO TECH

Q. What other gear do you use? Any favourites?

I’m really into groovebox style pieces of kit, or anything that can be synced up and
play well together with other gear. This kind of automation really helps being that I’m
a ‘one man band’ (just an electronic one, so no big kick drum and cymbals on my
back!) Some of my favourite bits of gear I’m currently using (along with the Deluge of
course) includes a Roland TR8S drum machine, which is great for classic 808 and
909 style stuff, a Roland SH-01A – a nice emulation of their classic 80’s SH-101
bassline synth, a Novation Circuit and a Korg Volca FM. I also use a few smaller
gadgets like Monotrons and Pocket Operators to develop musical sketches as
starting points to tracks or just add a bit of extra character.

Q. What are your dream pieces of gear? 

Money no object, I’d probably join the queue of people on ebay in search of the
synth holy grail, the Roland Jupiter 8! These have been used on some classic and
groundbreaking music but are now so rare and sought after they’re fetching eye-watering amounts online – around £12,000, used! Other than that there’s TONTO,
an exhibit at the the National Music Center in the U.S. – its apparently the world’s
largest synthesizer! I discovered it online through a great emerging electronic artist
called Debby Friday. Its an immense vintage piece of kit, and obviously pretty
priceless!

Q. Tell us about your studio. 

I work in what feels like a little bunker in an alcove carved out of a back bedroom
space. I’ve got various pieces of kit there but my focus is typically to have bits of
gear that are very portable. This means that I can take one or two pieces and move
around with them – around the house, maybe outside, to a park or a friends house.
It sparks more ideas when you can be inspired by a change of environment. It also
means you can take your setup, or least some of it, and design a live set around it
that will be easy to transport when it comes time to gig!

Q. How do you choose the music you sample? How do you find a way to incorporate this into your own music? 

I’m glad you asked me this! I actually don’t sample! I create pretty much every
musical phrase I use myself. I grew up obsessed with sample based music,
especially Hip Hop and House tracks that used funk, soul and disco records as their
source material. I obviously wanted to emulate some of the styles I heard, however
as copyright laws tightened it just made taking an existing piece of music a legal
minefield. For that reason I stayed away from it. At times it can seem a bit unfair that
people with either the funds to clear a sample or just the confidence to risk avoiding
it have an advantage. However, I just find it a way more compelling and satisfying
process to make the music as much from scratch as I can, even if that takes longer,
I feel I’m expressing myself fully without the need to use other’s material. But I still
get asked where I sampled things from, which I find really funny and take as a
massive compliment!

Q. What would you like to see developed in terms of the music tech world and how music is produced? 

I think there’s a lot of interesting things happening with systems that can sense
body movement and manipulate synths and sound engines that are linked up to
them. These are really interesting for live performance and definitely get around the
common complaint that some electronic music performances simply look like
someone checking their emails!

Q. How did you create your visuals?

I have no one way of doing things visually. I have a background in graphic design so
it really helps to be able to have an idea of what looks good and suits a particular
track’s vibe. My current favourite thing is to use chroma-keying in my videos to
create what’s more commonly known as a ‘green-screen’ effect. I regularly cover
walls and surfaces in my studio with tonnes of green paper and then film either
myself or my instruments with a green backdrop. Then I use various piece of
software to animate, montage and mash-up all kinds of imagery, then super-impose
it on the backdrop and make it as wild as possible!

DOOOOLO

Q. What, if any, were the differences in the tech you experienced when you were working as a club DJ to now working in your own production? 

I’ve been DJing from as young as I’ve been legally allowed in clubs so I was lucky
enough to catch at least some of an era where vinyl turntables were everywhere.
This went away with CDJs and then laptops and midi controllers taking over. I think
this helped some DJs into production, being that once computers were involved
there was some overlap in the skill sets. Then, vinyl came ‘back’ – some say it never
went away! Just like a pair of 1210s, everything works in cycles!

Q. What is it about your music that makes it the ‘next’ music? 

I’ve done what I’ve always been told is the truest way to satisfy you’re own musical
impulses – stayed making the kind of music that I love, rather than ride any waves
or current phases. I’ve obviously been influenced by genres with rich histories like
funk, disco and house and I’m fusing them together in a way that I don’t hear
many people doing right now. It’s just like the turntables I mentioned coming full
circle – each time they’re re-introduced they come with some new features. I’m
making things that have some heritage, but I think I’m twisting them differently, into
something of the past, present, and hopefully the future!

Follow Dolo Jones: 

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dolojones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamdolojones

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamdolojones

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/DoloJones

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2K93ctm

On a stage that has graced musical royalty, Alex Scheuerer prepares to launch his album… but firstly, he gives us the rig rundown behind it all

At a time when the British jazz scene is exploding with innovation and worldwide the jazz mentality is seeping its way into the mainstream, songwriter and guitarist Alex Scheuerer is soon to release one of the most impressive jazz albums of the year.

Set to launch his album ‘Between Heaven and Earth’ at Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club in London on 31st March, a club that has seen the likes of Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and is the stage where Jamie Cullum found fame as record execs from Universal and Sony tapped along, Alex gives us his rig rundown on how he achieves those genre crossovers, melodic sampling and how his equipment keeps up with his creative style of improvisation.

Q. Tell us about your studio? 

I have a Gibson 335, Tom Anderson Tele Serie, Gibson Les Paul and a Tanglewood acoustic guitar. I have got a few mics on Aston Origin, a Cascade Fathead, a Golden Age R1 passive and an Sm57. I write everything on my Fender Blues junior but if I have to record I always love to use the Fender Twin! As for software, I use logic for my demos. I have Kontakt 5 that I use quite a lot as well as Sibelius to score all my music.

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Q. What gear do you use? Any favourites?

My Gibson 335 in a Fender Twin. It’s the sound I have used on my album. I absolutely love the clean tone from this combination. Simple and very effective ! For my distorted sound I use the duellist overdrive by King Tone Guitar. I also tried to experiment a lot with the Strymon Blue Sky on my album.

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Q. What are the instruments that you find most essential? What do you think they bring to your music? 

I love grand piano. There was a Steinway in the studio I recorded at. I have asked my pianist to use it on two songs in the album. It sounds amazing. Whenever he was using it I changed my playing slightly in order not to clash with his playing. Guitar and acoustic piano can quickly start clashing if you are not careful as they are in the same register. I played more “pad” based stuff using the aforementioned Bluesky reverb pedal from Strymon.

Q. What (technology wise) would you like to see developed most in the jazz genre and other classical genres? 

With nowadays technology you can bring so much to jazz but it has to always be tasteful I think. When writing the music I even tried experimenting with a Seaboard! It did work but I didn’t keep it for the last version of the songs. I think jazz should always be a bit raw and not too produced. Then you can start adding some modern touches.

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Q. I know improvisation is very important to you, is there any equipment that helps you capture the sound whilst you improvise? Or influence what you can do next?

When I run out of ideas I usually turn on my octave pedal or my chorus CE 20 from Boss! Having a sound you like is one of the most important things when improvising – it will give you so many new ideas!

Q. Do you ever sample melodies and riffs etc from people/places that inspire you?

Always! I believe it’s really important to transcribe players that you like when learning an instrument. At the moment I am learning some George Benson solos!

Click the links below to listen more:

Soundcloud:  https://soundcloud.com/alex-scheuerer

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AlexScheu/videos/      

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexScheuererMusic/

Website: https://www.alex-scheuerer.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

A musician whose music has been heard by billions and his videos by millions – Otis McDonald gives us the Rig Rundown of his music

With over 7.6 million views on Youtube, 3 million streams on Spotify and 3 million streams on Soundcloud, Otis McDonald (the performing name of Joe Bagale) is everyone’s favourite musician – yet you might not know his name.

By making his music accessible on Youtube’s royalty-free audio library, millions have used his original music in their Youtube videos and for sampling copyright free and with previous well-known releases such as ‘Otis McMusic’ and ‘Not for Nothing’, Joe is now set to release his forthcoming album ‘People Music’ – an album whose 10 tracks are picked by his fans from the 15 track snippets uploaded to Youtube. In an interview he talks us through the tech he uses, his techniques of sampling and his start to finish methods of producing the innovative tracks he’s best known for.

What gear do you use? Any favourites? 

I’m kind of a gear junkie, especially vintage gear. So I have a lot of favourites. The newest gear I own is my front end interface/A to D. I’m running 2 UAD Apollo Quads. I heavily use their console software, which allows me to use some choice plugin processing while tracking various instruments. I couldn’t do what I do, without this setup.

In terms of mic pres I have a vintage 4 channel Neve 1073 (my pride and joy) from the 70s and I also own a vintage 2 channel Telefunken V672, from the 60s. Microphones I have Vintage AKG D12, D19 and D20 mics from the 50s and 60s (I’m a Beatles nut, so I had to have the same drum mics), Royer r121, Coles 4038, Neumann U87, Stam SA47 and some other studio standard mics.

I use fender guitar amps (Princeton and a Deluxe Reverb) and vintage Camco Drums from the early 60s (I’ve had these drums my whole life. They’re the first drums I ever played when I was 7 years old). My keyboard and synthesizers are Suitcase Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer 700, Juno 106, Sequential Circuits Six-Track and Novation Bass Station II. Finally, my drum machines: an original Rhythm Ace analog drum machine(think
Sly Stone ‘There’s a riot going on’), a TR-08(boutique version of the TR-808) and my
most prized drum machine, the Linn Drum(that I had hot rodded by Prince’s long time
drum machine tech with the original LM-1 sounds, new tuning knobs and full midi
capability).

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What are your dream pieces of gear? 

There are so many pieces of gear, but I do dream about owning as vintage Neve
Console and a Studer A800 tape machine.

What would you like to see developed in terms of music tech? 

I’d really like to see more recording software integration with tablets. For people like
me, who tend to do everything by myself, the use of an iPad as a remote system has
been essential to my process. But that doesn’t help me with being able to tweak my UA preamps and plugins. I’d love to see a wireless control over the UAD Apollo, so you can
mix on the way in while standing at which ever instrument station. I have been able to
make this happen utilizing something called Luna Display, but what would really take it
over the top is if there was a way to take advantage of the 3D touch that is built into the
iOS devices. I’d love to be able to feel the faders and switches when using these virtual
emulations of the vintage gear. Maybe I’m the only one, but I think Universal Audio has
changed the game of DAW recording with the Apollo by making it feel more like an
analog studio with their Console application, but why not take it one step further?

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Track cover art of  ‘Everyone Behind The Beat’ – track 4/15 of the 15 Youtube tracks 

In terms of your sampling, what genres and styles do you like sampling most? 

I really only sample myself or projects that I produce. That said, I’m into all genres and
styles of music and I can find some cool in pretty much anything. I will say, I tend to lean
more towards samples with minimal drums, so there’s room to add drums on top.

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Otis McDonald’s bedroom converted studio

Your method of sampling techniques and recording snippets and sampling them sounds really interesting, could you elaborate on this process and on what tech you use for this? 

When the sampling thing started is when I was commissioned to make tracks for
YouTube’s audio library. Dilla, Madlib, and Q-Tip are amongst my favorites when it
comes to beats, but given the fact that this music was gonna be royalty free, there was
no way I could sample other records. So I started writing and recording little 30 seconds snippets. Then I’d saturate it with tape hiss and vinyl pops, etc. and then take that sample, chop it up and bring it in to Reason(5) via recycle and then rewire it back into ProTools so I had the ability to find a new sequence with my midi controller.

Sometimes I’d speed it up or slow it down because I’m a huge Beatles, Prince and Sly Stone fan and I love vari-speed effects. I was just playing around until I found something that inspired me to start writing, or more accurately, finding the harmony and the rhythm. Kinda like jamming with myself. I found it so liberating.

These days I’m using Serato sample for sampling. So much easier and way more
powerful. I’m still making lots of beats, but I’ve also been slowly introducing my fans to
my full length songs. This sampling technique has really just turned into a composition
tool for me. Sometimes I don’t even use the sample in the finished track. It’s been great!

Click on the links below and get voting on Youtube for your favourite album tracks!

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCej6bRv8lR48AEbQvdb_9Cg

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/OtisMacMusic

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/otismacmusic

Website: http://www.otismacmusic.com/

Rig Rundown: Black Planes take us into the studio

The Seattle music scene is probably pretty similar to the Manchester music scene. The winter weather here is rainy and dark with low cloud cover and a fucking relentless low pressure system bearing down on people. That kind of weather makes you feel like you can be inside your basement making music and you won’t be missing anything.

Black Planes spend a lot of time making music – whether its recording their album material or rehearsing for their live show – so we caught up with the reverb-heavy psych behemoths, just before their US tour to give their rig a proper rundown.

At the core of their sound are some classic analogue and digital instruments: from lead guitarist Dan Gallagher’s 1957 Fender Stratocaster to the Jupiter 8 and Juno 106 Roland synthesisers in the studio.  What Black Planes then do, however, is route those instruments through a heck load of pedals to get their signature sounds: Fender Deluxe Reverb, Fender Princeton, Animals Bath Tub Reverb,  JHS Panther Cub Analog Delay , JHS Overdrive , Electro Harmonics Big Muff pedals – the list of fuzz and sonic modification goes on and on…

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So what’s going to happen now that they’re taking things on the road? First of all they have two sets: one with a bass player and one without: “We like if both ways. It’s a different sound to play a live gig with guitar + looper pedal, synthesizers, and a drummer. Just three of us playing and singing all the parts. We can do it either way…and we like elements of both.” 

The list of effects and processing in their live set is reduced: TC electronics vocal processing ‘floor pedals’ for the vocals, and sythesiser-wise they keep it simple – “We use a JV1080 and a controller live. Gallagher programmed the sounds used on the LP and saved the patches. We also use a Novation Bass Station 2 for arpeggiated bass lines live…for those occasions that we don’t have/want a bass player live.”

So there you have it – Black Planes complete Rig Rundown! Check out their website below for all their tour dates…

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0FZkiUZJswsfgUt3MBV1nS?si=6hjk8T0lRPO3TWyPALxXww

Youtube:  https://youtu.be/QRYT0ynm8HA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theblackplanes/

Twitter: @planes_the

Website: http://www.theblackplanes.com

 

What’s changed in techno between today and the 90s: Paul Hazel let’s us know

In 1994 Melody Maker dubbed Paul Hazel as “the future of British techno” when he released his Post-Detroit track Test Pattern on Rotation. Now over two decades later, the long awaited Ray Saul remix of the track has just been released (check it out here) and Hazel is back on the scene, so we thought we’d check out what kind of gear he’s working with these days – and how it compares to when he was starting out.

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So what has changed?  – “Technologically, more-or-less everything.” Hazel tells us. “I started working in studios at the tail end of the analogue era.” Like many artists Hazel recalls the age of analogue synthesizers and studio gear nostalgically, “I was striping tape with SMPTE code and all that malarkey”- but he also remembers the difficulties of these instruments: whether it was slow computers, buggy software or the Atari ST which he used as a sampler: “it had this massive external drive which sounded like a Hoover. Madness!”

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Jump back to South East London in the early 90s, where Hazel set up his first studio in his flat on the Old Kent Road and you can see why he lived in the cheaper end of town – computers didn’t come cheap. He built his studio on Macs, running Opcode Vision (a midi-sequencer), but he mostly used hardware sound sources: “Akai S1100, Roland JD-800 synth, Korg Wavestation, a rack of outboard gear…” he lists them off.

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Today though, a lot has changed in how he makes music: “I don’t really have a “proper studio” at the moment,” he tells us. “My gear is set up in my dining room.” Like a lot of musicians these days, Paul has opted for a smaller, more compact setup: software-wise he works off a laptop using either Pro Tools or Logic with two main plug-in suites: FabFilter and Soundtoys. “I also use MetaSynth and Virtual ANS for sound design.”

Hardware-wise, here is Paul Hazel’s current complete rig-rundown:

Audio interfaces: Avid Mbox Pro, Behringer UMC404-HD

Mixer: Allen & Heath QU-16

Synths: DSI Prophet 12, Moog Sub 37, Roland SH-101, Roland TB-03

Drums: Roland SPD-20, Roland TR-8

Other: gongs, Neumann TLM103 microphone, a couple of guitars, Yamaha clarinet, various old boxes, etc.

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The main change between now and then? “Today’s equipment incredibly reliable, powerful, and compact by comparison,” Paul says. So while these photos of his current rig don’t have that same nostalgic 90s tint to them, the functionality of the equipment almost makes up for that fact…

Paul Hazel will launch ‘Test Pattern Redux’ at Swansea International Festival Fringe on October 5.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/paul-hazel

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UComaon08YnvyD0BmvDaIizQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paul.hazel.31

Website: www.paulhazel.com

The Drum Diaries: Uno Prism’s Emma Welsby

Just a glance at Emma Welsby’s resume will explain the smorgasbord of influences that can be found in Uno Prism’s music. The artist, who was born in Manchester, boasts a classical background in percussion, a credit on a number one dance album, and an expertise in vibraphone, and that’s only half the story. We sit down with Emma to find out about her drumming story, from the beginning all the way up to her most recent single under the Uno Prism pseudonym…

I started playing drums and percussion aged 12 at the suggestion from my parents that I had good rhythm. They were probably sick of my violin scratching noises. I went to a masterclass to see Evelyn Glennie and found out what a marimba was, so went to get a lesson on one.  This opened up the door to vibraphone and marimba playing.

Aged 15 I became a scholarship percussion student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music junior school.  I also participated in a vibraphone masterclass with big jazz vibraphonist on the scene, Arthur Lipner.

Aged 17 I appeared on BBC TV on Fame Academy Bursary Grant award show where I had got to the list 20 out of 20,000 applicants to win £32k to go towards a musical education.  I made it into the last 10 but not the last 5 (positive spin needed!)  This same year I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston to do a marimba course with marimba players such as Nancy Zeltsman and Nanae Mimura.

Aged 18 I started the classical degree at the Scottish conservatoire, but deciding I was more interested in popular music, I diverted and did a popular music degree at Paul McCartney’s LIPA in drums and percussion.  During this time I recorded on a number one hit album playing marimba on a track, I recorded percussion on a track that ended up at no 7 in the iTunes jazz chart (6ixtoys Prodigy remix!). During this time at LIPA I was also in BBC Young Musician of the year where I got to the quarter finals without a teacher at the time.

Left LIPA, got a job playing for Harley Davidson motorbikes playing drums in a tribal drums and bike engine sample show playing at biker festivals across Europe. I was supporting acts like Fun Loving Criminals, Small Faces and Wizard. Off the back of this I ended up recording with the drummer of the Fun Loving Criminals on his private work.

During this time I was also playing vibraphone and singing in a live drum n bass band, literally rocking out in drum n bass clubs in the UK and even ended up playing in Latvia (the story is stupidly rock n roll if you want more on that….).  Vibraphone has never been seen in such venues nor ever in drum n bass believe and it raised many eyebrows, if not all of them.  This was due to the visual aspect, but also I liked to swing my hair and rock out quite hard whilst doing it (not very classical).  This pic best describes it, two rappers, a synths/electronics guy and bass player, we created some weird visual scenes:Playing Vibraphone - Credit Nik Bryant.png

This got me a sponsorship with drum lights, a now defunct American company that was making drum kit responsive lighting.  I contacted them after seeing KJ Sawka who plays for Pendulum using them in a demo. I asked drum lights if I could try it with my vibraphone and they agreed and sent me a load.

Now I’m a bit more focused on my own song writing and Uno Prism is my soul purpose now (and life is not so extreme!).  I want to bring vibraphone more to the surface and show it to people who like good music, but may never have seen or heard of one before. Adding singing into the mix is a new angle to what I do so this is a huge journey for me now too.

Follow Uno Prism:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCES3I1I3C7hkYCs_KcaJQ-w

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unoprism/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/unoprism

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unoprism/

Website: https://unoprism.com/

Canadian pop punkers Rare Americans share guitar and bass tutorial video for their recent single Moss Park.

Guitar & Bass Playthrough: Rare Americans – Moss Park

Pop-punk pioneers Rare Americans have released a play through of their recent track ‘Moss Park’. The Canadian trio released the harrowing song about Toronto’s infamous park on June 29, alongside a music video. Now, the band have dropped a guitar/bass tutorial, guiding players through their single. Front man and guitarist James Priestner demonstrates the track’s main chord progression, (Bm/F#m/A/E), before handing over to brother/bassist Jeff and lead guitarist Lubo Ivan. Though the chord progression is simple and the structure is easy to pick up, as James says, it’s all about finding the groove and the punchy bounce of their pop punk….

Watch the video for Moss Park below:

 

Follow Rare Americans:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-919911504       

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzCTW3k3_ItdqxdVaeXn2IA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RareAmericansFP

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/rareamericans/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rareamericans/          

Website:  www.rareamericans.com