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Any nomadic electronic music producers?


by @bavals | 5yr  | 12 comments

I am curious if anyone here is traveling while also working on their electronic music productions. I know there are a few โ€œrealโ€ musicians here (respek!), but I am even more interested in finding my digital brethren.

If youโ€™re out there, how do you manage to do it? Granted, it has become a lot more feasible in the past 5 years or so, but not entirely problem-free.

Do you have a more comprehensive set up at your home base that complements your mobile studio or are you 100% mobile? Do you have a MIDI controller in your backpack/suitcase at all times? What about the monitors? While weโ€™re on the topic, would you maybe care to share your setup (DAW, interfaces, controllers, peripherals)?

Hereโ€™s my situation right now: MacBook Pro with Ableton Live, AKG headphones, a simple/tiny m-audio MIDI controller, an Apogee MiC for recording samples & voice. So far, nothing for the digital interface (apart from the built-in one) or monitors.

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@yivva | 5yr

Unfortunately yes, it has been a while since I have tried to finish anything. I was wasting far too much time trying to achieve an impossible sound, and the frustration was affecting the rest of my life.

I figured I just need to wait for technology to catch up and get better at recreating the analogue sound and then Iโ€™ll jump back into it. It was so much more enjoyable with hardware, like I was simple playing the machines and having lots of fun experimenting and recording what sounded great. As opposed to hours of dissatisfaction and irritation of trying to get flat sounds to sound like โ€˜real musicโ€™.

As soon as itโ€™s not enjoyable, I didnโ€™t see the point.

Itโ€™s a shame, but on the other hand, stopping all the hours spent on music in my life opened up so much opportunity for other pleasures I had never explored. It kind of opened up my eyes to the rest of the world.

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@mattia | 4yr

Hey guysโ€ฆsorry to be late to the partyโ€ฆ here some of my humble experienceโ€ฆ

A) Iโ€™ve been producing electronic and house music for a while and managing my label in London remotely, some years agoโ€ฆ
Built a small home-studio and then dismantled it and composing on the goโ€ฆ

B) These days, hardware is just a style choice. I have hardware gear at home (keyboards, synths, microphones, speakers, controllers, audio interfaces, mixers, etc) but on the road I just stay with AKG headphones (soon to be replaced with Audio Technica, def. better now), I got a small Samson USB mic (amazing for podcasts, acceptable for voice demos and ideas); Akai mini-keys (I used to bring Maschine with me, but itโ€™s pretty useless, apart for live gigs, as you can do everything with the mini-keyboard or draw it on screen and you save tons of kilos and inspections). If you just need 1 audio input, thereโ€™s an amazing little box from Focusrite called VRM box. Essentially, it recreates (coupled with a free software) various studio monitor ambiences for mix purposes. But itโ€™s also a basic audio interface for 1 in/1 out.

C) These days, Iphone/Ipad apps from major brands like Korg, Arturia, Serato, NI, you can do everything you want in the box and in the phone.

D) Dunno if itโ€™s just a coincidence, but I took most paying client brands when on the road without gear. Of course my advice is:

  • if you are comfortable with the results, in case of smaller brands, own projects, libraries or internal use commercials (so they wonโ€™t be played with huge speakers in festivals or terraces), you can do the mix and master in the box (if you are used to, with excellent headphones and speaker environment simulators)
  • if you have to work with major brands/artists for public use, commercial use or whatever you know you need 110% quality, you can outsource part of the mix and the master. I did sometimes, with a partner I got in London.
    Same for editing video. And also same with audio if time-jammed: if you donโ€™t have the time to edit all the drops, builders, note quantify, fade-in and outs and all the editing stuff and you have the margins to do that, while taking on other clients and working on the creative side, do it. Yes ,you miss some bucks but you gain tons of minutiae-saved time, sanity and inspiration.

Anyhow, music as a nomad is not that reliable these days (as a static neither). Iโ€™m still seeking a new biz model to solve this shit.
Years ago, that was the reason I delved into online affiliate marketing and tech startups and I never managed to get out of that abyss. I was in a quest to find a new profitable revenue model for artists like me and these days Iโ€™m working on a nutrition and cosmetic startup, so you could imagine how far that road led me :wink:

But always remeber the why you startedโ€ฆ

Letโ€™s connect guys, we need to revive the music businessโ€ฆ

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@yivva | 5yr

Tried producing some stuff a few years ago while i was on the move. My problem was, I really like the analogue sound and could never get any software I bought to create effects (delays, tape echos, verb etc) sounding as real as the hardware I previously had so I kind of gave up after months of frustration. Iโ€™m sure itโ€™s possible, but just couldnโ€™t get that โ€˜rawโ€™, none digital feel to the music and I donโ€™t ship junk :slight_smile:

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@bavals | 5yr

@yivva Exactly how I feel, too. So, just to make sure I understand, there was no solution in your case? Did you just give up making music?

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@tangovagabond | 5yr

Iโ€™m following this thread because Iโ€™ve done some DJโ€™ng for Argentine tango events and played with minor mixing. One of my students actually built an online music selling clips and samples.

Part of me has dreamed about getting more into composing using sampling and current technology. I struggled as a kid trying to learn how to play musical instruments, but I still feel like thereโ€™s some part of me waiting to be expressed through music.

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@kirill | 5yr

I did at home, havenโ€™t on the road, but would like to. Was debating picking up a midi launcher like apc 40 or something like that, not sure if thereโ€™s something similar but smaller.

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@panoramica | 5yr

@bisonravi I brought gear with me for the purpose but havenโ€™t had a proper sit down yet :frowning: Anyway, I write found sound music and am carrying: a Macbook Air 11" with Ableton Live, Sony PCM D50 field recorder, mini tripod, Soundman binaural microphones & A3 adapter & bulky Soundman wearable wind screens, iPhone 5 running Touchable v3 (keyboard, faders, clip lauching etc), and Shure SE425 in-ear monitors. I use Dropbox to backup samples in case my laptop gets stolen (Iโ€™ve been burnt in the past with losing files through DRM which is another kind of theftโ€ฆ). I have a Voltaic solar panel with a cache battery thatโ€™s big enough to do a full charge of the Macbook, but battery life is definitely an issue for tent-based mixing, and Iโ€™ve become paranoid about wolves sneaking up on me when I have my headphones in! I also just bought a SanDisk 64GB USB3 memory stick which has been excellent for freeing up disk space as the Macbook SSD is only 120GB. I am unsure if you could stream samples off it but the computer should run smoother with a less cluttered harddrive anyway.

Some of the gear is quite bulky but itโ€™s fairly impractical to replace anything on the road. However I just bought a Samsung A3 phone as a backup / for testing, so may incorporate this too, but there is no Touchable for Android, and the benefit of Touchable is that it runs over USB so there are none of the usual WiFi issues.

I sold a bunch of gear when I left NZ - Blue Sky monitors, iPad Airs, NI Maschine, Ableton Push, Babyface etc. I donโ€™t really miss my old stuff, as Iโ€™d rather have travel experiences at the moment. I am taking some interesting samples so will have a lot of material when I get around to doing something with it. At the moment I donโ€™t feel like staring at the screen to do that though, which is another interesting thing about travelling.

Cheers,
Dan

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@tjwaldorf | 5yr

I try to make friends with local producers and usually someone knows someone who has a decent bedroom studio. Despite that, 90% of my production work is done with just headphones and DAW. Itโ€™s hard sometimes but itโ€™s a good excuse to focus on improving in-the-box skills. Definitely miss my instrument and my microphone, though.

Also I think Iโ€™m going to start contracting out my mixdowns because itโ€™s just too much guesswork when on headphones, so that will hopefully prevent a lot of frustration. Anyone have any exp with that?

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@bavals | 5yr

@twaldorf Thatโ€™s an interesting tactic (and probably more in tune with the whole โ€œsharing economyโ€ concept), and I think I should probably do the same, but I am still wondering how you go about networking in strange places.

Like, how exactly do you โ€œmake friendsโ€ in situations when youโ€™re totally unfamiliar with local scenes? (I imagine joining electronic production meetups in multiple cities could be one strategy, but it looks like most of them meet only once every 2-3 months, which doesnโ€™t really help those who are passing by).

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@eduardo | 5yr

Hi @bisonravi
Iโ€™m writing to you from Sun and Co (www.sun-and-co-com) , a coliving space in Spain. Next week, Ben from London is coming here. He is a music producer. I can give him your contact so you can both chat about this :wink:
Let me know how can he contact you.
Hope to see you one day around! :dancer::sunny:
All the best,
Edu

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@bavals | 5yr

Hey, @Edu! Maybe Ben could join this forum? Direct messaging is great for specific issues, but at this point I just think itโ€™d be great to have more musicians & producers here so we can have more music-related threads.

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@eduardo | 5yr

@bisonravi , unfortunately, Ben is not part of this forum.
Iโ€™ll send him the link just in case he wants to join :wink:

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