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Social Media Is Making Us Sick

Social media. One of the major milestones of our modern society, and also one of the major root causes of much of our suffering. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even count the number of times in the past that I’ve posted something online, just to sit there and repeatedly hit the refresh button hoping someone, ANYONE, would like it or respond with a positive comment. And I mean for HOURS ON END. Does this sound familiar to you? 

13 August 2019 Articles Read more

9 Vital Reasons to Disconnect from Technology a Little More Often.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. For the record, I am an electronic musician for a living. My entire income is based on the daily use of cutting edge audio/video technology, as well as the ability to connect to a worldwide audience via the internet in order to share my work (Don’t think that I don’t see the irony in all of this). However, the fundamental reason why I use this technology, is to connect with people emotionally via music, and maybe even more importantly, people themselves on a more personal basis.

9 December 2017 Articles  Summer Channel Read more

10 Extreme Changes That Have Improved My Life, Immeasurably.

Looking back at the last 43 years of my life, I realize that I’ve employed a lot of self-destructive habits in the past which I now distance myself from. Admittedly, I haven’t always been the man I am today. I often reflect on how lucky I am to have survived a barrage of near debilitating life experiences and events over the years (like child abuse & abandonment, drug addiction, etc.) which, thankfully, taught me a lot about the person I don’t want to be.

30 November 2017 Articles  Summer Channel Read more

How Sports Impair Human Evolution.

I know I’m gonna catch a lot of flack for this. History dictates that people (almost always) lose their capacity to reason when their way of life is challenged in any way, shape or form. It doesn’t even really matter how or why.

31 August 2017 Articles Read more

Learning To Trust Your Instincts

Some people call it intuition. Others call it instinct, or even a “gut” feeling. But no matter what you label it as, everyone one of us has experienced the sensation of “knowing” things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how.

13 July 2016 Articles Read more

20 “Rules” To Help You Live A Better Life

I wrote these “rules” a few years ago, which were inspired by many of my life experiences, failures, successes, and simple things that got me through my days. I hope they inspire you all as well.

1 July 2016 Articles Read more

Why Mastering Your Craft Is More Important Than Ever

In today’s crowded and largely underwhelming music industry, it seems like sidestepping the crucial, and often, time consuming steps towards true and enduring proficiency has become the norm. In the quest for overnight success, fledgeling DJs and musicians seem to have forgotten (or never really knew to begin with) what music is truly about. This is why it’s more important than ever to become really good at what you do.

15 December 2015 Articles Read more

What I Learned From Feeding The Homeless

Yesterday, Naomi Sioux and I took our Thanksgiving leftovers to the homeless of Ventura, CA. This is what happened, and how it changed my life forever.

Make no mistake, I’m no saint. I’ve been too wrapped up in my own little bubble all these years to lift a Goddamn finger and do anything that didn’t revolve around me. My fiancee Naomi, on the other hand, is the kindest person I’ve ever met, and it was her idea to box up our leftovers and personally deliver them to the first few people we encountered on the street. While it seemed like a noble gesture, I was a bit uneasy with the ‘personal’ aspect. I’m not sure why.

We split the food into eight separate containers and then got in the car and headed downtown.  It hadn’t even been five minutes before we came across two homeless men in a Von’s parking lot. As I parked, my heart started pounding and my mind started making up random excuses for why I shouldn’t get out of the car.

‘Maybe they’re not homeless, and we’re gonna offend them by assuming,’ I thought. ‘Maybe they’re gonna complain about what we brought them, or maybe they’re just gonna be weird.’ I started coming up with every excuse I could think of to just let Naomi deal with it herself. She wasn’t having any of that, though. “C’mon, let’s go,” she said.

It was obvious there was no getting out of this, and so I grabbed one of the containers and followed her. Before I even had a chance to process what was going on, she was already shouting, “Hey are you guys hungry?” One of the wary looking fellows got up from where he was sitting and walked towards us. “Yeah, thanks!” he said as she handed him the box.

I walked up to the other guy sitting in the wheelchair (who looked like he hadn’t showered in months) and with a lump in my throat I asked, “Hey, are you hungry?” He looked up at me and smiled, and then said, “Nah man, I love starving.” I could tell it was an attempt to be funny, which made me laugh and feel like shit all at the same time. I handed him the food, and with the sincerest look of gratitude in his eyes, he took it and thanked me.

After talking with them for a few minutes (and realizing how incredibly hard this actually WASN’T), Naomi and I gave them both hugs, wished them a Happy Thanksgiving and walked back to the car. At this point, my heart was a blubbering mess of goo, and I couldn’t hold back the tears as we drove past them, out of the parking lot and on to the next location.

We parked the car on Main Street, in the heart of downtown, and took the remaining six boxes of food with us towards the park. We immediately spotted a woman and her two dogs lying down in one of the farthest corners, and made our way towards her. As Naomi started interacting with her, I could see a man and his wife looking at us and pointing, not too far from where we were.

We handed out the rest of the food to different people around the park, taking the time to talk to each of them, giving them hugs and making them feel as loved (and as human) as possible, while the same guy from earlier kept laughing to his wife and pointing at us. I was beginning to feel self conscious about what we were doing.

As we headed back to our car, the guy started walking towards us, and so I decided to see what his deal was. He asked, “Are you guys from the food bank?” “No,” I said. “We’re just handing out leftovers to people who might be hungry.” “Well, you shouldn’t be,” he said. “These people are a problem, and the food bank rounds them up on Thanksgiving and deals with them.”

Wow.

Pangs of anger and frustration made my chest hurt while I quietly sized him up. His smug tone clearly conveyed his sincere belief that Naomi and I were ‘part of the problem.’ It took every ounce of restraint I had to not bitch slap the condescending smile right off his face, in front of his family. Thank God Naomi grabbed my hand and pulled me away, because that’s exactly what I was planning to do next.

At that point, I was not only entirely overwhelmed with sadness for each of the homeless people we had encountered that day, seeing their horrible situations up close as well as experiencing their immense gratitude for being able to eat, but now I was equally consumed with a new kind of rage I had never felt before. A rage against the idea that homelessness is “someone else’s responsibility” and how people who are trying to help others NOT STARVE, are a problem too.

Naomi and I were silent as we drove home that afternoon, except for a few “Wow, I can’t believe that just happened” comments here and there. I didn’t know how to process any of it. Every assumption I had about what the day was going to be like was wrong, and the overwhelming feelings of anger, guilt and sadness were almost too much to bear.

Later that afternoon, I realized that it wasn’t that smug idiot I was mad at. I was mad at myself for not doing something sooner. You see, years ago, when I was making a ton of money, living the good life in my spacious downtown loft in Los Angeles, I remember feeling the exact same way about the homeless problem in my area. It wasn’t until I lost everything and had to rebuild my life from the ground up, before I actually learned any empathy. And really, it’s taken nearly a decade since then for me to get to where I am now, emotionally speaking.

Yesterday, I learned that a little love goes a long way. These people aren’t scary. They’re HUMAN BEINGS who have stumbled into an unfortunate situation. They’re cold, hungry, tired and lonely. All it takes is one person to reach out, to talk with them, to give them a hug, or a meal (or both) and make them feel like a real person again. I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner.

Naomi and I are gonna start taking food to the homeless once a month now. It doesn’t cost much, and to be able to help someone in need is worth more than anything I could ever do for my own career. Truly.

But to be honest, part of it is that I’m just itchin’ for someone else to tell me I can’t do it, again.

Please. I dare you.

(Written by J. Scott G.)

What I Learned From Feeding The Homeless

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

29 November 2015 Articles Read more

The Analog vs. Digital Debate

Over the years, I have repeatedly found myself falling into one of the most passionate and annoying conversational traps known in the audio world… the argument over what is better –  analog or digital?

Being a reasonably optimistic kind of creature, I will make the broad assumption that most people in our little audio world have been dragged into this battle at one time or another, frustratingly challenged to take a stance in online threads or in late-night drunken personal discussions that have poorly attempted to intelligently address this question.

Unfortunately, it is the “intelligent” part of this discussion that has been so lacking, typically replaced with nothing more than hot lava spewing from the mouths of the most loyal adherents to whatever given “side” has won their hearts – or more likely just the side best describing their own studio space.

Since I am a bit of a hardware geek, I have always fallen on the “side” of analog when encountering this debate. I have always done so out of a sense of honor to my chosen passion, but in a way, it hasn’t always been the most honest. Part of me just enjoys stoking the fires behind ideas to see what comes falling out… and that makes me either a saint or an ass… depending on how much affinity you have for my position.

The problem here is that the entire debate is a bunch of bullshit, and has been for a long time. Why, you might ask? Because it has typically been built on the wrong argument.

There are endless articles and discussions that extoll the power, beauty, and warmth of analog in all its various flavors. Whether it be about analog synths, processing, summing, mixing, or WHATEVER other thing that makes analog amazing… it is all mostly true.

There are endless articles and discussions that extoll the power, beauty, and clarity of modern digital studio. The stunning power of well designed software synths, and the fact that a studio can fit into little more than a laptop… it is pretty damn amazing… and mostly worthy of all the accolades.

In all of that, for some reason, we keep asking what is better without ever defining what better actually means.

It is fact that some of the most breathtaking music the world has ever heard was derived from the use of lots of expensive analog gear, but it would be dishonest to ignore that there have been breathtaking albums created and written solely in the digital domain. At this point, that is a fact.


 “The problem here is that the entire debate is a bunch of bullshit, and always has been. Why, you might ask? Because it has always been built on the wrong argument.”


With the understanding that better is a really loose term, I will suggest that the truth behind this debate goes a little deeper and more personal than is typically given credit. Better for me is not necessarily going to be better for you… and that is really the issue. The thing that everyone seems to ignore is that the analog vs. digital debate is less about the sound as it is about the journey you take to get the sound.

Since I am admittedly a bit of a hardware junkie, I will describe what I mean from my vantage point.

Watching the digital world explode the way it has since my first days of recording to 4-track tape recorders has been mind blowing, to say the least. I still remember my first steps into Pro Tools, and the inevitable dive into endless plug-ins doing things that I could have never imagined doing with the crappy old hardware I used to own.

Over the years, the power and complexity of the digital age has rendered hardware almost a waste of time. In an age where you can load a brilliant AAX or UA plugin emulation of vintage hardware, it seems crazy for most to contemplate the sheer cost, weight, and practicality of the vintage originals. Whether you are thinking about classic pre’s or compressors… analog synths or drum machines… all of which are prone to the challenges of old age and service requirements… it seems, and possibly is, kind of a crazy direction to go.

That said, I have always loved buying old synths, and more recently have added things like classic pre’s, compressors, and more traditional guitar gear to the mix.  All said, I am happier with my studio than I have ever been. All of this crap is WAY better to me. My sound is better, my style is better, and I have tons more fun doing it.

Whenever I talk about this with my exclusively digital friends, the discussion inevitably moves to discussions about whether the emulated plugins sound as good as the originals. I think they absolutely do not, and while I think there might be a bit of jealousy wrapped into the discussions (hell, hardware is definitely more lusty than software), there is a fundamental point being made for emulation that is hard to argue against.

Regardless of whether the originals sound better in a comparison to an emulation, does that always add up to an obvious difference in a mix? Can I claim to pick out originals in a recording vs emulations? Would any of the subtle differences ever make or break a recording… or impact the power of the music in any measurable way? In most cases, probably not.

There are certain analog instruments or effects that I can pick out from time to time in a recording because their character is so defined… but about 99% of the time, I likely couldn’t tell the difference in the final product. Not enough to place a big bet on.

Then what is the allure with analog hardware? If the above is true, why do I think there is a good argument supporting its supremacy (for me)? It goes back to my earlier point, that the importance lies on the journey you take to get to your sound.

I have to say it, for me, using nothing but plugins is the most sterile way to accomplish the goal. The endless noodling around on screen, the sterility that a controller brings as the only interface to vastly different synths, and most importantly… the perfection, I hate it.

In digital, everything sounds perfect and the same, every time… and it annoys the hell out of me. For example, a minimoog emulation sounds like one possible variant of a minimoog every – single – time. The same with most every emulation. It is as if the flow and organic nature of life is endlessly frozen in time to one specific moment that we are stuck with forever. I own a lot of analog synths, including many years with a real minimoog… and the plugins are garbage in comparison. I feel the same way about just about all emulations, they have no soul and are generally uninteresting to me.

Now it would be fair to point out that I sound like I am contradicting myself… that I said it is hard to tell the difference in a recording…etc… and that is all still true. This is the crux of the issue.

When I write what I write, part of what inspires me is all the rough spots in analog equipment. I get excited by having to keep shaky oscillators in tune. I get excited by overdriving processors that would fall apart if treated that way as a plugin. I hate all the beautiful guitar cab emulations in their perfection because there is nothing better than mic’ing a cabinet up unconventionally and finding that beautiful sweet-spot you would never have hit in software. To me, the chaos is part of the paint I am using to make the picture, and digital kills so many levels of that… for me.


 “… cause you can use all the hardware (or software) in the world, and if your lasting contribution is being a self-righteous prick who writes shitty music, who really cares?”


To me, the sum of all of this chaos is what makes analog instruments and recording a more breathing and emotional experience in comparison the sterility of working only in digital. The movement of the sound, the work of the process, the different feel of every surface and knob I interact with. It is all part of a beautiful symphony that I am connected to… and it is hugely important. I will stand by this till the day I die.

Still, this isn’t about whether analog or digital technology is “better”. This is far more about the process that comes from using the gear… and how it happens to resonate with me.

Even with all the variations and differences I can hear if I compare a plugin to an original, once frozen in time, it can become much harder to tell. The impact for me is on the front end, not as much in the final recording… which is why the question regarding what is “better” is so personal.

Clearly, there are endless masses of amazing modern artists that have grown up creating their music completely “in the box”. They have an emotional connection to it that would only be distracted by dealing with a bunch of old hardware. They make music that is every bit as compelling, and it sounds every bit as brilliant. It just isn’t how I like to do it.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what the tool is anymore. They are all brilliant in their own way, but will still be overshadowed by the true brilliance that comes from their use in the right hands. The key is finding the tools that help you develop the best workflow to get to that magic we are all chasing as artists. Spending your time on that is far more useful than bitching about whether analog or digital is better… cause you can use all the hardware (or software) in the world, and if your lasting contribution is being a self-righteous prick who writes shitty music, who really cares?

(Written by prophei)

1 November 2015 Articles Read more

14 Ways To Get Better Mixdowns

Do you struggle with mixdowns? If so, you’re not alone. Many producers and audio engineers, fledgling and seasoned alike, do as well. Of course, mixing music “the right way” is relative, and people have varying opinions on what they think sounds good. But there are a few basic rules that most great mixes adhere to, regardless of what style or genre they originate from.

Many times, the majority of mix problems people encounter are directly correlated to their mixing environment, but there are a few additional tricks that I’ll be discussing here, later on, that will help take your mixes to the next level.

So let’s get started!

  1. Buy a good pair of studio monitors. If you can’t hear music the right way, then you’re always gonna be shooting in the dark. Period. A flat frequency response is a must. Quality monitors have come down in price over the years. If you can afford one, get a matching subwoofer. Headphones are great if you want to hear the minute stereo characteristics of your song, but they’re not something you should mix in 100% of the time.
  2. Set your studio up in the best configuration possible, according to the space you have available. Putting a pair of studio monitors in the corner of your room isn’t gonna cut it. If you want achieve world class mixes, you have to set your room up correctly, or else you’ll constantly be running into phasing/imaging issues.
  3. Buy or build proper acoustic panels for your studio. Fabric, egg crates, or foam won’t help you. If you wanna tackle your sound problems, you have to go the extra mile. Nothing has improved my mixes more than building a professional set of wall and ceiling panels. It’s not as expensive as you might think. For about $600 and a bit of elbow grease, you can get your studio sounding better than you’ve ever heard it before.
  4. Listen to a ton of music so that you can compare it against your own mixes. I used to avoid this like the plague. Mostly because I was disappointed with how my music sounded, compared to tracks I held in high regard. This was a huge mistake. Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to A/B every 5 minutes or so, during both the creation and the mixdown process. It’s become second nature at this point, and it’s paid off in spades.
  5. Make sure to constantly mono your mixes. One of the hallmarks of a good mixdown is when the majority of it’s sonic energy “floats” smack dab in the middle of your speakers, like a ghost. If you mono your mix, and most of the sound disappears, that means you’re running into phasing issues. I have a box that my studio monitors connect to (The Big Knob – made by Mackie). It controls the volume of my speakers, but it also has a little button that monos the mix. If you don’t own a device like this, then use a plugin within your DAW on the Master channel (at the end of the plugin chain). Try monoing the tracks you A/B with too. This will give you a better sense of how other people record their music.
  6. Don’t mix loudly. Mixing loudly will not only fatigue your ears, but you’ll be fooling yourself into thinking that your mix rocks. The nominal volume to monitor music at is about the same level you’d watch TV. Once in awhile, you can turn your mix up louder to see how it sounds, but keep it at a normal level for the majority of the time. Also, make sure to take frequent breaks to reset your ears. Nothing ruins a mix faster than tired ears.
  7. Listen to your mixes on as many sound systems as possible. The “car test” is always the defining factor for whether or not I’ve nailed a mix. The reason the car is such a de facto standard for so many people, is that it’s a common denominator. If your music sounds good on the smallest (or worst) system available, then it’s probably a decent mix. Earbuds are a good test too. It’s what most people listen to music on these days.
  8. Start with good source material. We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t polish a turd.” Well, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. If you don’t start with professional grade source material, then there’s not a whole lot that mixing is gonna do for you in the end. It’s always better to start with big sounds that you can subtract from, rather than having thin sounds you try to bulk up later on.
  9. Don’t always reach for a limiter when you want to achieve loudness. One of the biggest mistakes fledgling producers make, is using a limiter on everything to make their tracks louder. I assure you, nothing makes your mix sound more lifeless and/or fatiguing. Sure it might be loud, but so is a jack hammer (and we all know how pleasant that is to listen to.) Learn to use compressors, overdrive and tape saturators correctly. They’ll help with volume and add character to your source material to boot.
  10. Learn to use sidechain compression. Having a problem getting your drums to pop through your mix? Try sidechaining some of the music tracks with your drums. This will create the illusion that all of your sounds are popping through. You can do this with a lot of different material. Can’t get the vocal to cut through the guitars? Try sidechaining the guitars with the vocal. Don’t overuse it though, because it’s not a fix-all solution.
  11. Filter your audio tracks. Having trouble getting your bass to sound tight? Try going through all your audio tracks and using a high pass filter to get rid of any low frequencies that might be competing for head room. You’d be surprised at how much low end rumble there is on tracks you’d never expect would have it. Don’t filter too much low end out though, or you’ll cut into the meat of your sounds. My general rule of thumb is any frequency below 40 hz can be cut completely. Everything above that, you’ll have to experiment with.
  12. Mono everything in your mix below 160 hz. Bass doesn’t work very well in stereo. In order to get tighter mixes, you’ll want to make sure that the lower frequencies of your track are coming straight out of the middle of your speakers. I use Izotope Ozone Imager or Brainworx BX Control to do this. Give either of these a try on your Master channel and see how it instantly changes your mixes for the better.
  13. Group your tracks. Putting your tracks into groups is a must. Not only from an organizational standpoint, but also as a way to control a group of sounds all at once. Sometimes a little bit of compression on a drum group sounds better than trying to compress all your drums separately. Try playing around with this to see if it’ll work for you.
  14. Learn different methods for stereo widening. Once you have the bulk of your song in the middle of the speakers, you’ll want to go back and make some of your sounds a little wider. A lot of people go for stereo widening plugins as a default solution, but this can create unwanted phasing issues. Try panning to start with (auto-panners are great), as well as reverbs or delays that create a wider stereo image. Remember to keep monoing your mix so that you don’t lose any energy. This is a very delicate process, and it takes time to master. Don’t overdo it.

A great book that helped me tremendously with my mixes is “Mixing With Your Mind” by Mike Stav. I can’t recommend this enough.

You can also check out Music Studio Setup and Acoustics as well as Audio Recording Techniques on lynda.com.

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” – Pablo Picasso

(Written by J. Scott G.)

14 Ways To Get Better Mixdowns

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

13 September 2015 Articles Read more

Why Schmoozing Is A Waste Of Time

Whether it was with a boss, a friend, or a potential business connection, we’ve all gone out of of our way to blather about our work—past successes, current projects, future goals—in the hopes of feeling important or making a connection that may prove valuable down the line. If you haven’t, then you’ve at least been on the receiving end of it.

But schmoozing is an epic waste of everyone’s time. Here’s why:

First, announcing your plans to others satisfies your self identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work required to complete the task. A study by W. Mahler concluded that people who talk about their intentions, are less likely to make them happen in real life.

Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been guilty of this in the past (and, sometimes, the present—especially when it comes to going to the gym).

Second, if you have time to schmooze, then you’re probably not spending enough time doing what you should be doing.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a very successful artist a few years back. He told me that he rarely ever went out, because he was constantly in the studio making music. The rest of us, myself included, were going out to clubs on a regular basis to schmooze in an attempt to stay relevant in the public eye. In retrospect, I realize that he had spent the bulk of his time doing what really mattered, which was mastering his craft.

You see, he knew something back then that I didn’t — that If you become the best at what you do, you don’t have to schmooze. People will flock to you.


“… if you have time to schmooze, then you’re probably not spending enough time doing what you should be doing.”


Schmoozers are especially protuberant on social networking sites. We’ve all been the victim of digital schmoozers, the people who don’t have anything special or unique to offer, but still desperately seek as many “likes” as possible on Facebook in order to create a false sense of significance.

Unfortunately, Facebook likes don’t amount to much these days. Not only is Facebook making posts increasingly more difficult to see, but likes can be bought by anyone with a little cash to spare.

Here’s a suggestion: How about spending less time on the Internet trying to accumulate likes, and more time doing things IN REAL LIFE that make you likeable?

Now, don’t confuse schmoozing and networking, because they aren’t the same thing. In my experience (especially in the entertainment business), the schmoozer makes small talk and weaves a symphony of lofty ideas that never come to fruition. The networker, on the other hand, is looking to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, and usually follows up down the road with a finished product.

The schmoozer is usually looking to get something from you. The networker is hoping to give you something of substance in return. There’s a huge disparity between the two. Which one would you wanna work with?

This dog-and-pony show is a lot like the world of dating. When we meet someone new, we put our best face forward and talk about the “amazing” things we’re doing, while trying to hide our imperfections and shortcomings. This never works out because in the end, it comes down to this simple fact:


“How about spending less time on the Internet trying to accumulate likes, and more time doing things IN REAL LIFE that make you likeable?


If you want to attract quality people, you must bring something palatable to the table in order to make it equally worth their while.

If you’re a person of action and your work is top notch, you’ll command the respect of your peers and they’ll take you more seriously, especially if you’re willing to forge symbiotic relationships with them. Until then, keep the chatter to a minimum and your nose to the grindstone. You’ll be glad you did—and so will everyone else.

(Written by J. Scott G.)

Why Schmoozing Is An Epic Waste Of Time

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

20 August 2015 Articles Read more

17 Ways to Survive and Thrive as an Artist Today

Surviving as an artist in the modern age is tricky. Trust me, I know, I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years with varying degrees of success.

But with a little bit of strategy and discipline, you can survive—and even thrive—as an artist and creator these days. I’m going to show you how.

When I was touring the world as a musician more than a decade ago, making money wasn’t an issue. The music industry had coin to spare, and fans were buying our CDs and coming to our shows in droves. Not only that, the TV, film, and video game industries were paying top dollar to license our music.

Today, things have changed quite a bit. Because we live in a world dominated by “profit margins” and “bottom lines,” money isn’t being thrown around anymore like it used to be. Internet piracy and streaming services like Pandora have created an enormous financial void for the majority of recording artists, who once depended on sustainable royalty checks to make ends meet. To make matters worse, a declining world economy has thinned the wallets of the fans who doactually want to support their favorite artists.

Because of all these frustratingly prohibitive factors, the middle class of creators has taken a serious hit.

The term, “artist” is notorious for provoking skepticism and prejudice among a broad spectrum of people. Artists are often looked down upon by “productive members of society” as lazy, unmotivated, or poor. Perhaps this is because artists sometimes focus on the creative aspect of things to the detriment of good, solid business practices.

And the truth is, without a solid foundation, artists may never get past living hand to mouth.

What must we do to survive? How can we make it work when there are so many odds stacked against us?

  1. First and foremost—and I can’t stress this enough—be unique.Nothing makes you less valuable than being a copycat. Sure, you might make a few bucks here and there by replicating what other people do, but when the trend changes, you’ll be back to square one.
  2. Stand for something. There’s a quote that I love: Don’t worry about being successful; become meaningful and the success will follow. When you create meaningful art, people will want to be a part of that.
  3. Find time to center yourself once a day before you get started. I’ve found that meditation is extremely helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Nothing is more difficult to overcome than a troubled mind.
  4. Keep practicing. The more time you invest in your art, the better you’ll become. Virtuosos aren’t made in a day (or even a year).
  5. Without coming off as desperate or aggravated, constantly express the importance for art to others, and the need for them to support it. Without art, life would be dull and mundane—and without support, artists struggle to do what they do best.
  6. Cultivate a fan base and make yourself accessible to them. Let them know who you are and what you’re about. Document your processes so that you can create empathy and loyalty among them. Invest time in them. Be sincere. There’s no room for a “rockstar” attitude.
  7. Create tiers of affordability for your work. You might want to sell that $5,000 painting, but make a few smaller ones that your other fans can afford, too. The little stuff adds up.
  8. Build a professional and comprehensive online presence. Nothing says “I’m not a pro,” like a chintzy website. If you can’t afford a custom website, there are myriad WordPress templates that you can purchase for very little that cater to a broad spectrum of needs.
  9. Put your portfolio on websites that cater to what you do. For example, musicians have sites like Soundcloud and bandcamp. Visual artists have deviantart. There are tons of them out there. Figure out which ones work best for you, and then make your work available. How is anyone going to know about you otherwise?
  10. Work on a variety of projects that relate to what you do in one way or another. For example, I teach on lynda.com make music for film and TV, create sample packs, produce other bands, and so on. Don’t limit yourself to one avenue of income. Be flexible. The experience and connections from all those things will come in handy later on.
  11. Budget your time. There are only so many hours in a day, and beyond burning yourself out creatively, it’s important to spend an equal amount of time on all aspects of your life as well as your career. Balance is key.
  12. Create a strategy that will form the basis of your business. Invest time in researching proven methods that have worked for others like you. Remember, you’re not the first person to do what you’re doing. Someone else has already laid a lot of groundwork, so learn from their mistakes and triumphs. Reach out to them, if possible.
  13. Network with people and local businesses. Figure out who you can create mutually beneficial relationships with. Social media isn’t enough. You’ve got to get out there and make real connections. A good solid network is the key to success. If you’re not a people person, read this. It changed my life.
  14. Use crowd-sourced funding to fuel big projects once you have a fan base, or find a benefactor. Create tangible incentives for your fans to invest in you. Ask them what they want. If you make it exciting and worthwhile, your fans will support you.
  15. Create a budget using Mint or QuickBooks—and stick to it.
  16. Never stop learning new things. Invest time in learning things that relate to what you do but are outside of your expertise. For example, I’m a musician, but I’ve learned Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, web design, and so on, so that I can call on those skills as needed. They will always come in handy. Remember, knowledge is power.
  17. Lastly, be patient. Building a flourishing career around your art takes a long time, and you’ve gotta be willing to stay the course—so don’t give up!

In closing, I just want to show you a picture of a poster that I have hanging on my wall called “The Road To Success.” I look at this once a day, and nothing I’ve ever found has so elegantly illustrated all the ideas I’ve just shared with you. Good luck!

(Written by J. Scott G.)

17 Ways to Survive and Thrive as an Artist Today

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

11 August 2015 Articles Read more

The Secret to Being an EDM DJ: Advice for Newbies

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been asked over the years, “What advice would you give a newbie who’s just starting out in the EDM DJ business?”

It’s a perfectly valid question, but no one ever wants to hear my answer. Especially these days …

When I started making electronic music over 20 years ago, it wasn’t “cool” by mainstream standards. In fact, the local music store in the town I lived in as a kid, which sold primarily guitars in those days, laughed at me for pursuing a career in electronic music. Fast forward two decades and now you can’t throw a rock without hitting a DJ or producer.

So, here we are in 2015, and EDM has become the most widely accepted genre of music on the planet. Why?

For starters, it’s relatively easy to make compared to, say, rock music, where you’d need a studio and at least three halfway talented musicians to make anything resembling a song.


 “The problem with the current state of affairs in the EDM world is that everyone is trying to copy everyone else.”


Secondly, it’s the path of least resistance. Most mainstream DJs have set the bar pretty low for what people accept as a “live performance” these days. This has resulted in a barrage of kids trying to follow in their footsteps—kids who aren’t looking for anything besides fame and glory.

The problem with the current state of affairs in the EDM world is that everyone is trying to copy everyone else. The system that’s been set in place rewards the copycats and discourages the pioneers who are trying to do something new and unusual.

Another problem is that the technology has gotten so good now that it’s made people lazier than ever. We have the greatest music tech that mankind has ever seen, and we use it to simply “get by.” It’s a colossal bummer.

Of course, this isn’t true of all DJs. Take DJ Craze for example. Here’s a guy who essentially manipulates turntables like musical instruments (it’s called turntablism), mixing, scratching, sampling—executing incredibly difficult tricks on the fly, which results in no two of his performances being alike.

So what do I say to newbies who want to DJ? I say, “What makes you unique?” (And no, sorry, throwing cake at people doesn’t count.)

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had to ask myself this very question several times over. It wasn’t an easy answer for me, either. Admittedly, after doing music for two decades, I’ve sort of distanced myself from making tunes for the dance floor and have gravitated towards electronic music that is formatted for a real live performance (keyboards, drums, vocals, etc.) But I’ve continued to make DJ mixes in my spare time because I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for EDM.


“Think long term instead of aiming for short-term success because pioneers last for decades and copycats come and go.”


I take more a thoughtful approach to my mixes. Instead of downloading the most popular tracks on Beatport, I try to find fairly unknown music that fits a premeditated theme, like a concept album.

For example, one of my latest mixes was called “The Last Mix You’ll Ever Need.” I created a custom intro, then took a bunch of songs I loved, mashed them up with other songs I loved, and then added samples from movies, speeches, and so on to try to convey something greater than what any of the songs by themselves ever could. The result was something I was very proud of:

The Last Mix You’ll Ever Need

If you like, you can download the Ableton session to see how I did it.

Another recent mix I did was called “Life Is Still Beautifuller, Still”—the third in a series called “Life Is Beautiful.” Again, I created a custom intro using the theme from “Gladiator” mashed up with a Deadmau5 track. Then I added a ton of samples I found on YouTube, as well as various movies.

Life Is Still Beautifuller, Still.

Look, no one ever said that being original was easy, and frankly, it’s a difficult time in the evolution of EDM to find a niche that no one has thought of yet. But with a little vision, drive, and creativity, I’m certain you can come up with something that will set you apart from the rest.

You’ve gotta ask yourself, why would you want to be a carbon copy of someone else? Wouldn’t it be so much more fulfilling to be known as a pioneer? Think long term instead of aiming for short-term success because pioneers last for decades and copycats come and go.

Here’s the thing, though. Being original takes time (and courage), so don’t be lazy and don’t give up!

Also, learn your tools inside and out!

And most importantly, don’t forget that music isn’t about doing what’s popular; it’s about doing what’s in your heart. (I believe they call that art.)

… and for God’s sake, people, leave the cake at home.

(Written by J. Scott G.)

The Secret to Being an EDM DJ

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

24 July 2015 Articles Read more

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