Posts Tagged 'collaboration'

LoopMasters: Audio Producers, Check It!!

Loopmasters.com, the ultimate audio sampling site based out of the UK. “Loopmasters first came to light in 1999 under the ‘Beatnik Samples’ banner, which released 4 Sample CDs known as the ‘Modular Series’, and received excellent reviews in the UK and overseas by the likes of Future Music (Platinum Awards), Sound on Sound (5 star reviews) and many other magazines, mainly for the flexibility and general quality of these titles. The titles were distributed worldwide and were used by many recording artists, multimedia designers, library music producers and dance music producers.” In 2003 Loopmasters officially launched. They’re not your typical audio sampling web site. Loopmasters searches for well known producers to contribute packages of useable samples. We interviewed the Loopmasters team about their product. Check it out…

LG: Hey Loopmasters, hows the audio sampling business these days? Any big news?

LM: Good thanks, lots of great stuff coming out over the coming weeks, we launch Global Underground Sample Series, and we have some great artist titles coming out including a Hardcore pack from Breeze and Styles, trance from Jon 00 Flemming, and some great dance titles from artists like Meat Katie, Jon Carter, Funkagenda and many others!

We also just starting working with Industrial Strength records who have some great Drum and Bass, Techno and Dubstep libraries amoung others in the pipeline, so its exciting times here at Loopmasters with some fantastic new royalty free samples coming from some of hottest producers on the planet. We just took over a new office which also has a nice music studio next door, and have expanded our team to help with social media, distributor projects and some new ideas we have cooking – so watch this space!

LG: What do you look for in the producers that you get to upload samples to your site?

LM: Overall it has to be quality and inspiration every time, as we can help with technical formatting and content selection – overall the producers must have passion and really know their style, genre, or instrument. Apart from that they must be ready to give up their best sounds and musical ideas for the project without worry – as we know that we have to make our customers happy.

LG: Are there any recognizable songs out there that have Loopmasters samples in them?

LM: There are a lot out there for sure, but we prefer to generally operate like a doctor/patient relationship and keep our customers identity a secret.

LG: Anything in the Loopmasters future that we should be aware of?

LM: There is a lot going on here at the moment, we are lucky to have a great group of producers buying and trusting us to provide them with the right sounds, genres and formats – as styles change we have a constant challenge to find the best people to come up with the goods. Outside of our core business we are looking into supporting our customer base more and providing useful information and opportunities – so we launched looptv.net to give an industry focus for music production, artists and interviews. Also we have an exciting record label related project launching which will be new for us and hopefully something we will be very proud of.

In the meantime – watch out for upcoming releases from our Artist and Label series, along with some fantastic products from our partner labels – a couple to keep an eye on are Wave Alchemy, Push Button Bang and Drumdrops.

Thanks for the interview, Loopmasters. Make sure to check out their profile on MixMatchMusic where you can download several of their samples!

Tra.kz Artist Spotlight: Dreamlin Ft. Kim Powers (“Fort Gaze”)

1250235158_192ba0a303Fort Gaze” is the product of a collaboration between Dreamlin, an electronic music group from Belarus, and Kim Powers, a vocalist from the UK. These artists recently began working together, and this track is a great example of worldwide collaboration done right. This is something we can appreciate at MixMatchMusic, as each artist brings their own distinct sound into the mix. The result: a grooving downtempo jam with elements of soft-psych that will make you want more! Listen to Fort Gaze here.

Thievery Corporation’s New Album: Early Release on Facebook, iLike

Given the current chaos in the music industry, bands must find new ways to promote their music. From musicians using Twitter to connect with fans or partnering with brands to cross promote, we are seeing more and more examples of non-traditional music promotion and distribution. The artists who are willing to take risks and think outside the box, with their art and with their careers, are the ones we here at Evolving Music are most interested in.

One such band is Thievery Corporation. In addition to being a refreshingly unique group that fuses together a plethora of genres and cultural sounds, they are not afraid to speak their minds. Sure, everyone likes a good mindless “bump ‘n’ grind” tune from time to time, but you gotta respect the artists who choose to use their music not just as entertainment, but as a way to communicate what they believe and are passionate about (as we’ve covered in previous posts about artists such as Immortal Technique and Bataka Squad.)

The DJ duo, comprised of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, hails from Washington DC, which “has long been the home of a music subculture legendary for fierce independence, a staunch do-it-yourself work ethic, and conscientious social activism.” They definitely practice what they preach. The organic multi-cultural sounds of dub, reggae, lounge, afrobeat and Indian music, to name a few, may catch your attention at first if you hear Thievery’s music at a neighborhood cafe or in a European nightclub. But, their uninhibited socio-political messages and passionate desire to open hearts and minds will keep you riveted.

Additionally, their diverse team of collaborators – singing in numerous languages, playing funky instruments, and each adding their own cultural thread to the musical quilt – give the band a truly unique sound. Not to mention their live shows, which can be pretty freakin amazing.

Photo by openeye

Their upcoming album, Radio Retaliation, purportedly takes their politicizing to a new level. According to Rob, “There’s no excuse for not speaking out at this point, with the suspension of habeas corpus, outsourced torture, illegal wars of aggression, fuel, food, and economic crises. It’s hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up.”

If you are on Facebook or iLike you’ll be able to stream Thievery Corporation’s new album on September 19th, before its official release on September 23rd. This is the first time the two social networking giants have ever worked together to promote an album.

Given that this album is particularly focused on the band’s disgust with the current state of American media, their decision to skip the middle man and go straight to their fans via the internet is appropriate, both for them personally and for the industry as a whole. According to Hilton, “We chose iLike as the platform to debut this record because it offers us a direct vehicle to share our music and communicate with fans worldwide, free from editorializing or whitewashing of our messages.”

For the fans among you, or those interested in gaining further insight into the artists and their message, keep your eyes out for a series of videos in which they introduce and discuss the album, which will be available exclusively on iLike. In the meantime, check out the title track on their MySpace.

To quote Rob Garza once more, “… if you can get people to question the things around them, just a little, then that’s not such a bad thing.”

On that note, here’s the title track from their 2002 “Richest Man in Babylon” album:

Weezer + YouTube = A New Era of Collaboration

Weezer seems to be having a love affair with YouTube lately. As I was rewatching “Pork and Beans” today, I started thinking about how the video is a testament to the fact that user-generated content has become ubiquitous. Ordinary people have become viral celebrities (or ceWEBrities, as some are calling them). So much so that real celebrities are collaborating with them.

P&B was “written by Rivers Cuomo as a reaction to a meeting with Geffen where the band was told it needed to record more-commercial material. Cuomo remarked, ‘I came out of it pretty angry. But ironically, it inspired me to write another song.'” [Wikipedia] Reminds me of Sara Bareilles and her “Love Song” inspiration that we mentioned in another post

Other than being a catchy song with the “familiar, self-assured lameness” of Weezer’s glory days (as Marc Hogan of Pitchfork Media put it), the cast of the music video is peppered with many of the oddball YouTube celebrities that we love to hate/hate to love. For those of you who aren’t so addicted to YouTube that you recognize all the characters, here’s a helpful version of the video with clickable annotations.

Their making a video like this (whether it was just a fun idea or a clever viral marketing ploy) coupled with Cuomo’s mission to make a song together with YouTube users is, to me, indicative of a new era of collaboration that is rapidly gaining traction – one in which fans want to interact with their favorite artists in new ways, musicians are willing to be more accessible to their fans, and where ordinary people have many more opportunities to do creative things, share them, and possibly achieve more than just their 15 minutes of fame.

Why Evolving Music Needs Obama

Evolving Music is about change. Evolving Music is about Mixing and Matching the talents and visions of different people – regardless of their age, race, musical background, geographic location, beliefs, or gender. Evolving Music is about working together in the spirit of collaboration, challenging convention, embracing new technologies, promoting transparency, and participating in the free exchange of ideas.

Whether you agree with his politics or not, Barack Obama is a great example of these ideals. I think that Evolving Music could benefit greatly from his leadership. To all those who share the vision of a completely new music industry unencumbered by greedy record labels and a new musical landscape where musicians and music lovers alike have unprecedented opportunities to connect, create and discover music I say: Yes, We Can.

While other politicians inevitably get caught up in mudslinging and hate campaigns, Obama is consistent in his messages of Hope and Change. Not to mention that he handles criticism with dignity and humor (and in this case music):

I think we need someone like Obama to support this (r)evolution. He has a technology plan based on refreshing ideas like open and transparent government (imagine that!), aggressive support of broadband access, etc. The speed with which technology is emerging is mind boggling and we need someone who understands the digital age and its implications to keep encouraging the kind of collaborative and open-minded innovation taking place today. More and more, through social media and access to information online, “the people” (as trite as that phrase sounds, I feel it rings true here) really are becoming empowered and we need someone as young, hip, and savvy as Obama to lead the way down an entirely new path.

Music Builds Bridges

Over here, we like it when things are thrown together and stirred around for a new outcome. And nothing says “mix and match” like the annual Bridge School Benefit held every year at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. Started by Neil Young as a fundraiser for the Bridge School, a school focusing on the education of children with very specific needs, the benefit is always one of the highlights of the concert season. Because of several of the basic principles of the Bridge School and the benefit, the event always turns into a sharing and communal concert celebrating life, happiness and the pursuit of education.

As for the mixing and matching…take multiple well-known and wealthy musical artists. Sprinkle in some lesser known artists that deserve some spotlight. The resulting line-up always covers an incredible spectrum of genres, and as a result, brings in one of the most diverse and eclectic concert going crowds you might ever see. Then, you make all of the artists, even those known for rocking hard, switch to acoustic for the event. Finally, you have all of these musicians and music fans coming together to support and donate to children that, for the most part, they could never imagine being in the shoes of.

So just how diverse are the musicians? This year’s show featured Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, My Morning Jacket, John Mayer, Tom Waits with the Kronos Quartet, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis and Metallica. Yes, Metallica, at an acoustic show.

I missed Regina Spektor’s set.

But we’re there in time for Tegan and Sara, which was one of the groups I was interested in seeing. Virtual nobodies before and now starting to bud on the national music scene, Tegan and Sara is one of those groups that got sprinkled into the Bridge School Benefit of 2000, which is where I first heard of them. Scared little children on a stage, they still put on a duo acoustic set that prompted me to download their music and get into them. Now, 7 years later, here we both were at completely different parts in our lives. I’m in the middle of telling some people, “I saw them for the first time when they played Bridge School,” when they tell the crowd, “the first time we came here, it was for Bridge School and we were 19.” It was nice to see them make their Bridge School return, now quite a bit more mature, with a band backing them, and a second cd to draw music from. They bicker on stage a bit, but I believe they do this to entertain the audience, although, sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing as you end up feeling that you’ve walked into a private family meeting. The highlights of their set are “I was 19,” “Like O, Like H,” and “Back In Your Head.”

Eddie Vedder and Flea were supposed to play after Tegan and Sara, but due to personal problems of Vedder’s, they had to cancel and were replaced by My Morning Jacket. I have never heard of this group before, and if the set they put together yesterday was any indication, I never want to again.

John Mayer, at least in my personal opinion, falls into that annoying category of singer/songwriters that succeed due to mass marketing, cheesy songs, romantic expectations and a sound simple enough that the general public goes, “oooh, this is really good!” Someone tried to compare Mayer with Dave Matthews at one point, and I almost threw that someone off a balcony. The lyrical depth isn’t even close. The guy that sings the “Had a Bad Day” song, John Mayer and Jack Johnson should get together to form a pop sensation super band in which all 102 songs of their catalogue sound vaguely similar and they go quadruple platinum because of how easily digestible their music is to the public. But hey…that’s just my opinion, right?

For the set, it’s Mayer and two other guitarists. Mayer comes out trying to act very relaxed and nonchalant, sits down on a stool, gives a raspy “How you doing out there?” to his female admirers, and proceeds with a set that sounds like a frat boy playing guitar in the middle of campus hoping to get noticed, if not laid. He pulls out the same raspy voice on the majority of his vocals, I can’t tell the difference between the songs other than slight tempo changes, and while they try to disguise it with tricky camera work, every guitar solo of even remote musical complexity is done not by Mayer, but by one of the other two guys on the stage with him. I’m about to give up the set as a complete washout when he closes it by covering “Free Fallin.” It’s a nice touch, but he comes dangerously close to screwing this hallowed classic up by failing to sing the chorus with anything remotely resembling Petty’s range and energy. If you ever want to listen to John Mayer, I suggest going down to your local campus and looking for a guy playing guitar…he may not be as well known, but hey, he could be the next John Mayer, and if not, he’s certainly more affordable to see in concert.

Following Mayer we have Neil Young. First off, you can’t say anything negative about his set because he puts on the event, his songs are as old as the Amphitheater itself, and he’s always Neil. You can’t say much positive though because bands have a tendency to lose their effect after multiple shows. Neil plays at every Bridge School, so I think I’ve probably seen him 8 or 9 times now. He’s solid, and you have to give him one thing…he’s extremely consistent. The only thing he didn’t break out last night was the big stand-up organ I’ve seen him use from time to time, but this is probably due to the fact that he usually closes the show and this time went in the middle of the sets. I don’t recognize any of the songs, but at the end he tells the crowd that it’s mostly new material and he doesn’t expect anyone to have recognized any of it.

Next up is one of the primary reasons I bought tickets for this Bridge School, and the performance of Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet delivers. For those of you who don’t know the Kronos Quartet, they’re the group that performed Clint Mansell’s arrangements for Darren Arronofsky’s movie Requiem for a Dream based on Hubert Selby’s book. But when you mix a legendary, eccentric and out there rocker like Tom Waits with an incredibly proficient and polished string quartet like Kronos, the outcome is something spectacular. I’d almost want to dub this Chamber Rock. They come out and open with the theme song from HBO’s The Wire, which is stellar. He also plays some old time blues songs with the Quartet behind him straying into some dark and menacing arrangements. He plays a variety of songs with completely different sounds. One sounds like a Gotan tango song laced with arsenic, and one takes on the style of a macabre show tune. There aren’t a whole lot of succinct words to describe this performance, but it was one of the more interesting musical collaborations I’ve seen and ranked right up there with last year’s Trent Reznor/string quartet performance (although Trent didn’t use Kronos, so he loses some points there). After Waits leaves, I feel like the energy in the place is knocked up a few notches, and I’m wondering if they can bring him out for another set.

Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the other main reasons I bought tickets for this show. He’s one of the few truly incredible icons and musical prodigies that I had yet to see in concert. He comes out with a slower walk, a pair of glasses, long hair slicked back off his forehead and sits down at the piano. Now, he’s older, so you can tell his fingers can’t take the speed and ferocity he used to be known for, but he’s still a master musician. He comes out playing old hits and most everyone in the audience is moving with him. He at points lapses into a deep Southern twang, and almost consistently refers to himself in songs as “Jerry Lee.” He can’t dance at the piano like he used to, but the voice in his songs and the way he attacks the piano give you a clear idea of who he used to be as a performer, and just how much, even this late in life, is still there for him. His set is remarkable, and in conjunction with Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet, the price of the ticket is well justified. The highlights of his set include “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You Win Again” (Hank Williams cover), “Your Cheating Heart,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.”

After Lewis finishes up, Metallica comes out to close the show. They, like Tegan and Sara, have made two Bridge School appearances, and I’ve been lucky enough to be at both. They came out and played 5 covers and 3 originals. Thanks to KFer (not KFed!) for the info…They started with “I Just Want to Celebrate” (ironically used in the final episode of 6 Feet Under, making this an evening where two tracks from HBO series were played) then played Nazareth’s “Please Don’t Judas Me.” Personally, I found it excellent and amazing when they covered Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” right before Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms.” Following this, they went into “Disposable Heroes,” “All Within My Hands,” and Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” before closing their set and the show with “Nothing Else Matters.”

All in all, it wasn’t the most impressive Bridge line-up I’ve ever seen…My Morning Jacket and John Mayer could have definitely been left off the guest list. But seeing Metallica acoustically, Jerry Lee Lewis for the first time and the unreal performance of Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet made this a very successful, diverse and memorable Bridge School Benefit. See y’all next year.

Sure, You Can MixMatch…But Can You Mix?

In what can only be called an avalanche, the world wide web is being buried under the stampeding snow of social networking sites. Myspace, facebook, hi5, friendster, linkedin…all of these seek in one way or another to organize your many relationships, quantify and qualify them, then help you make more by spying on the profiles of all the people you know or would like to know through a friend of yours. This way, you can not only be friends with the people you know, but you can stalk them effectively too!

As we’ve been over numerous times, MixMatchMusic carries the goal of introducing musicians to each other through the site, and then allowing them to share, swap, compose, compound and create new music using not just the power of collaboration between musicians, but also harnessing sequencing abilities to use all the music on the site to make what you want to hear. The primary and important goals of MixMatch revolve around introducing people to new sounds and musicians and allowing them to create new music and ideas using 2.0 infrastructure and the power of new sounds and ideas.

Also coming out of the Bay Area is the new start-up, Fuzz.com. Luckily for all involved, Fuzz’s goals do not conflict with MixMatch, but rather supplement them. I bring you Fuzz.com today because they have a very interesting new tool that could be a lot of fun to use…the virtual mixtape. Remember when we all used to make mixtapes for each other? Then it was mix CDs, and now it’s like, “here, try my playlist!”…well, the good folks at Fuzz.com have created a way for you to upload your mp3s, make a mix tape (complete with customizable mixtape artwork!) and then send it to friends who can also download your music. For someone who was a huge mixtape maker back in the day, this tool is not only very neat, but also, in my mind, a wonderful juxtaposition of old school style with new school techmology.

The idea behind Fuzz is a site that allows musicians and friends of musicians to interact in a social network atmosphere through uploading music, blogging, reading and writing reviews, talking about upcoming shows and sharing music. It’s basically Myspace for music lovers, whereas MixMatch is like an online collaborative GarageBand. I see a beautiful future where artists from all over the globe come to MixMatch to find other like minded musicians, creating new and interesting collaborations of genre and sound. Following the release of their MixMatchMusic based CD, they trot happily off to make a profile on Fuzz.com as a full and complete band, spreading the word of their release and upcoming concert tour through the musical social network. Of course, by that time, MMM will have most of the same components in place AND allow you to create music online, but they’re great people for trying, and just the type of website that the MixMatchers see working with in the future.


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