Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to the Beginning

After taking almost a year hiatus in recording my DJ mixes I finally recorded a new one last night. For this mix I wanted to take it back to my roots and used turntables and CDJs instead of Ableton.  It is a tech heavy romp that gets pretty dark, but is well worth it once you make it out the other side.  I will try to post a track listing shortly.  You can download if from my iDisk here

Charles Cushman

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blogs that We Like - Wire to the Ear

Continuing on with what we like, here is a blog that I subscribe, Wire to the Ear. It has great tidbits on making music and showcases unique pieces of hardware. Check it out.

-Charles Cushman

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Podcasts that we like : ZeMixx

I stumbled across the Zemixx video podcast a year ago when I first started to subscribe to podcasts on iTunes.  I was blown away by the skills that Joachim had and the way the crowds responded to him.  Shortly after that I found that he also had a audio podcast that rocked it.  Each week I get a great mix of uptempo music that flows from house to minimal.

If you don't know who Joachim Garraud is, he used to be David Guetta's engineer and is now his studio partner.

Here are some essential links, check out his tracks below also:

Go to Beatport.comGet These TracksAdd This Player

Monday, February 25, 2008


After months of hype Beatsource is finally here.  Unfortunately I am waiting for my the payment from my last gig to clear before I buy more music, but a quick perusal of the store shows some serious potential.  Although they are lacking in some of the major releases, searches for Dr. Dre and Snoop were disappointing, they do have tons of underground and classic acapellas.  I am looking forward to checking it out and finding some key tunes.

-Charles Cushman

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mr. Orizo "Flat Beat"

A little tired tonight and couldn't pull my mind together for a solid post.  So here is a blast from the past thanks to Beatportal, Mr. Orizo's flat beat, one of the first techno songs that I wanted to own.

-Charles Cushman

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sean Nash

Over on the crack, I mean ALDJ I have met several great guys, but no one has inspired me like Sean.  A one time aldj, he has gone back to using CDJs for DJing, but is still using Ableton to produce with.  And produce he does.  It seems like at least once a week he has a new track that he is trying out, and each track is better than the rest.

What's really great is that a couple of his tracks have been released on an EP.  It just goes to show you that talent will be discovered.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Something for Nothing

Below is a posting that I cam across on Craig's List.  I found it to be, well, interesting.  As a sometime club DJ I am always interested in opportunities to DJ, and I have promoted parties at a loss just so that I could get in the door at a club.  However, as a mobile DJ I would never pay money to DJ.  It just does not make sense.  But that does not stop people from trying to get something for free.  In the posting below a couple is requesting a wedding DJ to play at their reception.  I understand being on a budget, my wife and I held our wedding in the backyard of her Dad's house.  Yet to ask for a professional to provide their services for free when you plan on having 200 guests....
This letter is for businesses that wish to branch out with new advertising ideas. We are thrilled to be getting married next year on August 30th. We have been together since our teenage years, now going on 6 years, and wish to start off our lives without wedding debt. I just graduated SDSU and am excited about my next venture and opportunities in life. My mom always dreamed of making me a fairy tale wedding but as a single hard working woman it has been difficult. Any help, products or services from you would relieve her of the pressure she is under. We will be having many of our young friends attending who will be great potential clients. I am well connected in my community through work and social events and would be thrilled to spread the word of your good deeds. How would you like to sponsor a portion of our wedding and reach new, exciting advertising avenues? This will be a large wedding with over 200 guests. We can discuss ways to promote your company if you partake in a part of our day such as limo, food, flowers, photography, videographer, linens, favors, chairs, chair covers, balloon or any free standing decorations, gazebo, DJ, etc. This will be a win-win situation for all involved. Not only will you showcase your fantastic work and /or products but also get the praise for it. You will be attaining priceless advertising for the day beforehand, during, and afterwards. Thank you in advance for making our day the best it could be.
a very hopeful and optimistic bride

Monday, February 18, 2008

EXY San Diego

Last Friday I DJed at EXY in downtown San Diego. EXY had a great vibe that reminded me of some of the restaurants that I loved in San Francisco. What really surprised me was their DJ set-up. I was not expecting much, but they had definitely thought ahead and planned for the laptop DJ. Both the mixer and the dual CD player were Denon. But what surprised me was that they had coupled the matrix input of the mixer with a patch panel.  Plugging in my sound card was a snap and once I selected the channels on the mixer I was up and running.  No digging in the back of the mixer.  Even better, for guys that brought their own TT's they had two channels set-up for that along with a grounding post.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Justify It

One of the major complaints that people have about Ableton DJs is that they have lost the interaction with the music because that are not beat matching. The rebuttal to that argument is that by using Ableton we as DJs have so much more power available to us through effects and multiple channels that our DJing sets have a potential to be much more exciting. Unfortunately, many Ableton users don't back that up, but instead do a traditional a-b approach that looses the organic nature of having to manually beat match but has no gain from using computers.

Danny Stamp, a DJ based out of London falls into hat category. And this posting is not intended to bash on him by any means, far from that. In reviewing one of Danny's recent mix I told him that although the mix was decent, it did not take me to the next level and suggested that he break out of the two channel paradigm. Being the big man that he is, Danny listened to the criticism and gave four channel mixing a try.

Below is Danny's mix along with my review from the ALDJ forum:

Danny Stamp - Mood Music (tech/deep house)

Decided to do something different and try running a mix with 2 or 3 channels pretty much constantly on the go, with 4 active at some points. It's allowed me to squeeze in some tracks I otherwise wouldn't have been able to include. Tracklisting may be confusing as some tracks are only used for a small portion of the mix.

Download it here (right click save as)

Total time: 61:09

[01] Tarekith - Coil - [artist MP3 -]
[02] Andy Stott - Massacre - [Modern Love]
[03] Tarekith - Tidal - [artist MP3 -]
[04] Ricardo Villalobos - Primer Encuentro Latino-Americano - [Sei Es Drum]
[05] Rufus Wainwright - Tiergarten (Supermayer remix) - [Polydor]
[06] Gel Abril - Very Wrong (Chaim remix) - [Be As One Imprint]
[07] Cirez D - Teaser (Deadmau5 remix version 2) - [Mouseville]
[08] Marascia & Dusty Kid - Plumbi - [Boxer Recordings]
[09] Daniel Portman - White Russian - [Unreleased Digital]
[10] The Rice Twins - Goatee - [K2]
[11] Anja Schneider - Belize - [Mobilee]
[12] Danton Eeprom - These Eyes - [Fondation Records]
[13] Henry & Denis - Catabolism (Efdemin remix) - [Dessous Records]
[14] Efdemin - Just a Track - [Dial]
[15] Samuel L Session feat Elbee Bad - Off the Chain (main mix) - [Klap Klap]
[16] Andreas Heiszenberger - Perfect Moment (Efdemin's Cremant De Cramant mix) - [Brut!]
[17] Gabriel Ananda - Trommelstunde - [Karmarouge]
[18] The Rice Twins - Can I Say - [K2]
[19] Oliver Moldan Pres. Prawler - Club 69 (Jim Rivers Club 96 mix) - [Audio Therapy]
[20] Danton Eeprom - All I Can Say (Shonky's remix) - [Freak 'n' Chic]
[21] DJ Koze - All the Time - [Philpot]
[22] Paul Kalkbrenner - Press On (Joris Voorn remix) - [BPitch Control]
[23] Jamie Lloyd - May I (Quarion remix) - [Future Classic]

My review:

"So I gave the mix a solid listen this morning. First off I am impressed that you are making an effort to push the boundaries. It takes a lot to put yourself out there like that, and if you don't mind I want to post a blog about this.

I enjoyed your mix. I think that this mix had a much looser feeling to it than the last one, and the way the tracks came in and out it felt more traditional just because the rising energy. However, after 45 minutes of listening sonically my brain needed a rest from all the activity that was going on. I think it was Richie Hawtin that said that the silence is just as important as the music.

What I think you should work on developing is a balance of straight a-b mixing and layering of sounds (either as loops or just multiple songs). What I would suggest is start mixing a-b with a couple of extra channels left open. As you are playing and cueing songs you will hear things, maybe a riff, some drums, or a voice that stands out and makes you think, this would really work good withe the song that is playing. When you hear that, bring that element in. You can either loop that element throughout a song, or grab several elements and play with the transition. The key is to be free and experiment. by fine tuning your approach a little, i.e. I have 4 channels open to me, but I don't have to use them all of the time, you will let your mix breath. Overlay 4 elements and bring the energy way up and then drop that bass line for that key track and let it play.

You are definitely on to something here so keep up the good work."

- Charles Cushman

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dimension Zero - God Part II

Here is another fun track that could be fun to play out. Check out God Part II

Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Description: Civil wars with chainsaws and robots. An Electronic Industrial Rock band plays a Nintendo synth with vocals performed by Jim Morrison's psychotic step-cousin. Big Band brass accompanies the 1940s noise massacre of women and children, this is Scythe.
Biography: Dimension Zero, a concept born from the inspiration of the European computer underground "demo" scene in 1992. Unlike traditional musical projects, Dimension Zero originated as an online distributor for graphical/musical computer demos created by groups like Future Crew, ACiD, and The Humble Guys.
Monty Singleton, the SysOp (System Operator) of Dimension Zero was fascinated by the possibilities of what could be created on a personal computer and began experimenting with electronically generated music. Raised with a strong background in classical piano and an addiction to computers, creating electronic music was a natural progression and Dimension Zero was born.

"My lyrics are reflective of my views and philosophies about my cultural surroundings more than anything else." Monty explains. Raised under strong religious and cultural influences from the small town of Layton, UT, Monty says his lyrics "Let me explore and analyze my thoughts under a microscope. It’s more of a discovery process about the society I live in and how that society shapes who I am. Hopefully this will help me learn more about myself and society as a whole."

Inspired from bands such as Depeche Mode, U2, Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Elvis, and Michael Jackson, Dimension Zero’s music blends so many styles that Artist Interviews’ writer Mauricio Saravia says "deserves to be in a category of it’s own." With worldwide radio airplay with hits such as "Static Space", having a remix hand picked by Chuck D’s founder Public Enemy from hundreds of other remixers, "Public Enemy No. 1 (Dimension Zero redu)" was included on the Japanese release of their album "Revolverlution", Dimension Zero has received critical acclaim from around the world. Fans include Germany's Snuff Pop Inc. founder Ant who called Static Space a "Masterpiece", and Gods Of Music reviewer Josh Richmond who said "Radio friendly, extremely good, and very impressive."



Monty Singleton



Dimension Zero has just released their electronic industrial debut LP, Scythe. "RePLiCa", a fan favorite on the new album, was CNET’s first #1 hit on their music service with over 10,000 downloads in one week. Garageband calls Dimension Zero "Epic Greatness."

Dimension Zero will be touring the West United States starting fall.

Scythe spawns a world of sound where civil wars use chainsaws and robots as weapons. Radioactive oceans surround a Big Band during the 1940 noise massacre of women and children. In a destroyed multiplex, an Industrial Electronic Rock band is playing a Nintendo synth with vocals performed by Jim Morrison's psychotic step-cousin.

Scythe can be purchased from CD Baby, iTunes, and digital resellers worldwide.

For more information, please contact Monty Singleton at


Raymond Simmons

Somehow I got on the mailing list for Music Submit. Most of the songs are great, but not many fit into the metronome project's area of expertise. Below is an afro funk track begging for a remix. Check it out.

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Description: Raymond Simmons is a drummer with a unique style. He was either born with rhythm in his hands or had an excellent teacher..GREAT!!-BjD Wishing Away Records
Biography: From the Black Light Explosion era in the early 1970's around the San Francisco Bay Area emerged Raymond Simmons, afro-styled conga drummer extraordinaire. For the past thirty years Raymond has played with dance classes, drum choirs, dance troupes, acting groups and reggae, blues and rock bands. He has had the pleasure of playing with Jimmy McCracklin, Carla Thomas, Marvin Holmes, Albert King and other greats. Raymond founded Select Records in 1981 with artists Masterpiece, Starlite, the Fabulous Playmates and The Original Ladies' Choice where he has been the featured percussionist. Raymond has released some of his famous techniques in Hot Percussion Licks. Raymond also endorses Select Maracas and Select Records T-Shirts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Xlr8r TV

Xlr8r has a pretty cool video podcast that I have been watching for a while and this week's episode they started a new segment called "What's Up Willits?" with Christopher Willits in which he shows his set-up for recording and performing with his guitar.  What's great about it is that he goes pretty in-depth to how he sets up Ableton Live to capture loops including how he runs the audio from the guitar into the program and how he sets up multiple channels to capture the loops.

What really caught my interest was the capturing of the loops on the fly. I am going to give it a try this weekend with my DJ set-up. This might be a great middle ground between the added interaction with the music that I feel with beat matching and the looping capabilities of Ableton. On a side note the pocket fader he is using in the video seems like a nice way to add multiple faders to my studio.

Get the video here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rolling Stone


"Cheap Thrills"

Jacko didn't get his twenty-fifth-anniversery version of Thriller out, so our man Herve (what? You don't know London's hottest DJ?) stepped in with this Justice-ified track,which peak with a big 'ol Thriller sample. All that's missing is Vincent Price and a pair of crazy contact lenses.

- Rolling Stone 1040 (Nov. 29, 2007)

After 10 years I am ending my subscription of Rolling Stone. There was a time when they covered electronic music. Sure the coverage was not as deep as the dedicated magazines, but it was there. I first heard of Mathew Dear through them. Over time the coverage has slowly eroded from a passing nod to nothing and along with so has my interest in pop music.

I have found that I am reading less and less about the new bands that they cover and completely skipping the coverage of hip-hop. So when I read the above quote it was the straw that broke the camel's back. How can anyone know about the electronic scene if there is actually no coverage? Even when a DJ / producer like Switch is involved with a main stream act such as M.I.A. the only reference to him is that the beats he produced will probably hinder her ability to be mainstream. This is despite the fact that Switch had a banner year and tore up the charts.

One problem I had was that for the longest time I didn't know what I could replace Rolling Stone with. I was not aware of any magazines on the electronic side that covered art, culture, politics, and music, although mainstream, like Rolling Stone does. In the end I think I have a replacement, Xlr8r. I bought an issue of the news stand and loved it. They cover everything from electronic to punk and even include a CD with the mag if you subscribe (why can't Rolling Stone do that?) Let's see what happens.

- Charles Cushman

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Some Random Mixes

My friend is about to do some travelling so I uploaded some mixes for him. If you guys have some free ears check them out:

The mixes are:

-The End Parts 1 and 2: This is a mix that I made last spring for my drive from SF to SD. While not strictly progressive, it has that feel and slowly ebbs and flows over the course of the mix.

- The Tajamhal Sessions: This is a mix from a couple of years ago that showcases how I see downbeat music, it flips from funk to trip-hop and hits some D'nB on the way.

- Bottle of Wine 1 and 2: Big room house mixed 2x2 style with Scottie Kaotik

- Final Version: This was for a contest, that was later canceled, and is my take on soulful house.

- Groove Tickets 1 and 2: More contest entries, this time I was a finalist.

- Live at Assembly: My first taste of fuzzy bass lines, at the halfway point I head towards the main room progressive sound.

- Mix Club: This will be the next official podcast once the redesigned web page is completed.

- Progressive 090505: Another multi hour prog mix made in '05. I just found this the other day and realized how many old records that I have that I still love.

BTW, all of these mixes were recorded live with no preplanning except the "final version" file.

- Charles Cushman

How much should an artist make?

Here is an idea that has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while, "How much should an artist make?"  In pretty much every music rag now days there is an article on either the industry being in a downturn or how disappointing the first day sales were. 

Where did we lose focus?  To be successful in the music industry is it all or bust?  It seems as if a musician is deemed a failure unless he or she is making millions, but why can't we be successful for just making an honest wage?  If a musician, producer, or DJ can make enough to live successfully off their music, let's say $50,000 a year, is that not successful?

It may appears that the music industry is failing, and it is sad when a small record label closes, but I am looking forward to the future where a group of people can start a label on the internet for a minimal investment.  If the label takes off then they can make their money back through selling the tracks, merchandise, and touring.  Sure they won't be making millions and buying airplanes, but if you are doing what you love...

Of course the argument against this is that without the major labels screening out the crap how will the average know what to listen to?  But isn't that what Radio and club DJs are supposed to due?  Find those great tracks and share them with the world? 

- Charles Cushman

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thursday Night at the Tavern

Maybe it's my age, but for some reason I don't like going to bars. Now that is not to say that I don't like getting a drink, but bars are too loud to talk and the music generally is not good enough to dance. Yet I can be seduced to go out. Last Thursday my friend called, said she was in town, and asked if I was free to go out that night to the Taven in Pacific Beach.

I am not going to go into the details of my night out, although there are some good stories such as my friend forgetting his ID and driving all the way back to the North County to get it. What I do want to discuss is the music that the Tavern was playing. Early on in the night they were playing upfront hip-hop with some classics thrown in. I am not sure if the DJ was using DVJs or some other kind of software (he was not visible in the DJ booth), but the mixes were seamless and the corresponding video for each song was playing on select TVs throughout the club. However the music was being presented, it was working and the dance floor was full the entire time I was there.

With management making such a positive decision to have good music in their club it was disheartening that at 12:30, when the clubbed switched over to house music most the tracks they played were 5 years old. They even played "Shut the f^@& up and Dance!" That song was great, I bought two copies of it, but it definitely sounds dated. I know that I can not expect the newest Trentemøller track but come on... There have been loads of great up tempo vocal house tracks that have come out in the past couple of years that should work just as good for a college crowd.

I don't really care about a bar playing outdated music; there is a general trend to play old dance music and this reinforces listeners' negative opinion of it. DJs, even at the run of the mill bars, need to continue to push the limit. Introduce new songs. It is too easy to cave in and say "The punters only dance to what they know." But then we might as well be jukeboxes.

- Charles Cushman

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Looping on the Fly in Ableton Live

Here is another subject that keeps coming up over at the ALDJ forum, looping on the fly in Ableton without using a mouse or keyboard.  Ableton's looping capabilities is one of the key reasons why i use the program.  Being able to create loops on the fly on time and not having to monitor them as they play is a great asset.

From the ALDJ Forum:

"Here is a tip for looping on the fly that I though most people already did. I thought this one was kind of easy, but based on this quote and a conversation I had with someone else maybe it is not so obvious:

In Live 6, to loop on the fly assign a midi button to the "Track Status Display" for each track that you are using. Then also assign a midi button to the loop on-off, start point, and end point button. I have my global quantization set to one bar, but if you want to create finer loops set it for something smaller.

To capture a loop on the fly hit the button for that track's status. Note that the status button only works if the track is playing. Now that you can see the wave form for that track hit the start button where you want the loop to start and the end button where you want it to stop. If your warping is tight, you now have a perfect loop. To exit the loop turn off the loop button.

A couple of notes.

- Make sure that you are looking at the correct song before you start the loop. Every now and then I loop the wrong track and it takes a second to realize what is going on.
- If you hit the track start button the track will go back to the beginning.
- If you turn off the loop, but realize it was the wrong moment as long as the playhead is in the loop brackets you can turn it back on.
- If you are not sure where you want the loop to start you can "ride" the start button, i.e. hit it over and over to it feel right. The loop open bracket will just keep on moving. Then when you feel that you have it right just close the loop. This works because the loop automatically defaults to include the entire song."

-Charles Cushman

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hard NYE

New Years Eve.

It has always had a special place in my heart.  As a kid I loved running around all night and bashing pots with a wooden spoon; breaking a couple of spoons and denting, if I remember correctly, one pot.

Then there was the period in my life were NYE was a night alone at home watching the "Year in Review" shows.  Those were not good years.  A fire would build up on my soul, "Why am I here?"

Eventually the time came when I was capable of getting out of the house and since then I have tried to make each NYE better than the rest.  I have been to giant Soma shows to Giant NYEs.  Traded away my Christmas time soul so that I could take new year's day off to go to Day One.

Last year though, I stayed home.  Just  a couple of drinks at a local bar and fell asleep on the couch with the wife.

This year, things had to be different, and they were.  At first they were not shaping up to be.  It looked like it would be a repeat of last year.  The line-up at Giant's party did not excite me, and my wife refused to go to Together as One to see Sasha and Digweed.  Then I saw it, on MySpace of all places.  Hard NYE.  Justice.  Peaches.  Others.  Need I say more?  I didn't even have to sell it to my wife, she LOVES Peaches.   To make the deal even sweeter a friend of mine hooked me up with a room at the Angelino.

We arrived at the hotel at 4 and were amazed by the room and the fact that were scored a view of the ocean.  After taking some time to clean up, and a lot more time to find a place to eat we were off.  I do have to say this.  My iPhone was invaluable in not only finding a restaurant, but to also get us there and to the show.

This was my first time to the LA's Art District, and immediately upon pulling I was impressed with the event staff.  Somehow they had scored permission to use the parking lot for a shipping company as the secured parking.  The only hang-up getting into the event was the usual pat down.  It seems like this is the one area that clubs and concerts never adequately man.  Eventually two extra lanes were opened and we got in.

Once in we bee lined for the bathrooms and the bar.  These were next to the second stage so we listened to A-Trak spin some bouncy beats for a bit before checking out the main stage.  It turns out that we had missed the opening DJ, but after a couple of minutes Peaches took the stage and proceeded to rock.  

It's funny, everyone describes Peaches as an electronic artist, but seeing her live it felt much more like a punk show than any electronic act that I have seen.  Sure a synth was providing the bass line, but the screeching guitars and pounding drummer seemed to have a much heavier presence.  I was surprised to not see a pit going during some of her heavier songs.   As we got closer to the new year the crowd began to swell and at midnight the stage was pretty much overran much to the band's delight.

With Peaches' set over, it was bar time again.  We were able to check out some of 2 Lives Crew and they appeared to have the same energy as ever. 

Back at the main stage Justice had taken over and the crowd was bouncing.  There hard electro sound was rocking it.  This was in spite of some technological difficulties (The sound cut out a couple of times.  The mids and uppers had cut during earlier sets, now it was nothing, overdriven amps?).

Unfortunately I was not able to stay for the entire event, but I am looking forward to next years party.

-Charles Cushman