While the outside world reels from increasing levels of coronavirus, and the sad stories of death and anxiety, we try to make sense of the new normal. Equally it is often a time to reach inside and see what is really important. Family, dreams, passions. One of the things that I have been researching heavily in the last few months is reassessing my approach to electronic music. And that starting next week I will be releasing Quinta. A set of remixes sharing my latest music leanings in the run-up to the end of 2020.
Back in the 2000s when I was DJing reguarly, it was the age of the CDJ and I was the proud owner of two Pioneer decks and a Vestax mixer bought almost as soon as I was settled into my first jobs in Japan. A fascination with graduating from early experimentations in high school dubbing dubious radio stations late at night with cassette tape players, the ability to mix storyscapes with a two-channel mixer was beyond cool. After twenty years following me around the world my mixer finally quit earlier in the year. Its quirks and missing parts were no longer funny when the sound starting going weird randomly, hissing and/or blaring out at me at intermittent intervals. It was time for something else.
Had seriously considered Ableton Live when living in Berlin, but never got around to it for some reason. Looked into it again, but was not enamoured with it for some reason. I was looking into DJing again, but interested in trying something new not just rehashing the past. The Traktor S4 mixer became the choice instrument – debated this choice endlessly. What won out was that I could attach my old CDJs to play my back catalog and consume/manipulate new online digital sounds seamlessly. I bought it. After some fun reminiscing with old CDs, it was clear from the sound the wear and tear on the old CDs was leading to some muffling and sometimes skipping. Difficult to produce high quality mixes with that vs clean-sounding tracks people could download online. Yes, I could have gone out and bought the CDs again, but more importantly although the tracks were great, it wasn’t as fun as before. Rummaging around record stores for new CDs was ok for a while, but something wasn’t clicking. When Tokyo went into soft lockdown, the treks moved online. Early interest in eg Technique in Shibuya and other hybrid online/offline Osaka record stores piqued my interest in what was called “funky” techno. A lot of other rabbit holes beckoned from raw/deep/hypnotic techno to dub and other leftfield/electronic sounds.
Then I did something different. Completely forgo my old collection (not necessarily chuck it all out like some DJs have done), the idea was to focus purely on recently released material online. This was refreshing. No baggage. No back catalog. Not bothering about beat matching with the sync function on the Traktor S4 was also new. I could focus on writing a story instead of obsessing over the anti-aliasing of the fonts in Illustrator. Decided to create mixes solely from interesting digital music released online in the last 2-3 months at most (ideally released in the last few weeks) then create a remix in less than a month after that purchase. That was my rule to myself.
Considering I’d been out of the game for so long, every track I found interesting was by someone I’d never heard about. I used to try to make sense of it, read up on the labels and their history, how this fit into the subgenres and labels I was used to. I soon gave up – why bother with an etymology of what I was hearing? My only interest was picking up a decent set of great tunes and then building a storyline from what I had. Whether my interest in the tracks themselves waned or disappeared within weeks or months was utterly irrelevant. Living to the beat of artists’ recent music creation online that I enjoyed and crafting a remix response to it was all the mattered. So followed many late nights after everyone at home was asleep. The result is Quinta., a set of remixes that represent my journey into newness with a new instrument.
More soon –