Meet the artists behind Cypher 25: Remix A Dojo Classicpdj
Congratulations on the release of the Cypher 25 Remix a Dojo Classic EP! How much time did it take for you to complete your song on the EP and what did you learn along the way?
RIP Kenny: The bones for the remix came about in one long session, followed by many other smaller sessions to detail, mix + master the final project. Probably 40-60 hours in total. Honestly the coolest thing I learned in this project came about only after I had finished it and showed Richard (6TH STREET), where he told me the original was in ¾ time at around 112 bpm. It’s funny because I thought the timing was a little strange but warping it to 150 sounded right to me, and now after the fact realizing the math on that actually does work out just about perfect to make it 4/4 at 150! Had no idea you could even do that before writing this remix.
Schuz: The remix Luke Rain and I worked on spanned across several sessions. The production aspect itself was the quickest, but fine tuning the post-production pieces was the most time consuming. From this project, I learned about the plug-in Arcade from Output and the different capabilities of the software. Another takeaway, is now understanding the types of music that can be created from a successful collaboration.
Luke Rain: Yeah. we made the initial beat with the string sample and drums in November 2018, then pulled the song back out and changed it from a pop/reggaeton arrangement to more of a moombahton/dance arrangement in April 2020, and found out the vocal from Spiderhound’s tune I Love You Like worked perfectly on it. That year it got accepted for the Soundcloud cypher and in the Spring of 2021 it got reworked again, adding the current drop lead, reworking the intro and break & replacing and reprocessing a bunch of the sounds. So like 2 and a half years total with big breaks in between.
I learned that it’s worth it to replace or remake elements that aren’t working if the overall songwriting concept is there. ill.Gates let me know that he does that in a ton of his songs so I felt free to do that on mine, really saving the track in the process.
Slowform: This remix definitely takes the prize for the most time I’ve ever spent on a tune I think. The initial version that came out on the cypher mixtape took an average amount of time for me.. But then several months later when ill.Gates suggested I include it on my album, I wanted to dive back in and re-work it because I had learned a lot during that time away from it. I had no idea it would result in me re-writing the first drop at least 7 times before getting something I liked lol. So I ended up working on this one on and off for right around a year- sometimes taking a month or so off from it at a time to come back with a fresh take.
6TH STREET: Let me just start by saying it’s such an honor to be on this remix EP. When I heard that Dylan had a bunch of his OG songs up open for remixing I immediately started digging through the stems and the vocals of Nitro really stuck out to me. I was immediately inspired and this song came together in about a week – which is pretty fast for me. Once I got the main bass and groove dialed in, the rest of the track fell into place pretty naturally. The main takeaway for me from this track is to not overcomplicate the process. Once you find the main idea and it gets you excited, commit to it and move on.
Catawompus: During the writing process my remix only took me about a week. However, the bulk of my time was spent mixing it down. That took me several 8 hour sessions over the course of 2-3 months. I realized I had overcooked several sounds and had to go back to earlier sessions to reprocess. Now I know when I begin to overprocess sounds which has really helped me with my future project.
What were the most groundbreaking concepts that you learned while making your remix for the EP?
RIP Kenny: Aside from the time signature/bpm relationship I mentioned, I think the sound design, especially the layering of different bass sounds within the drop was the biggest breakthrough in this one. Automating a bunch of different stuff for each combination of sounds to get them to all play nice + sound huge.
Luke Rain: Some of the biggest lessons I learned were about the audio aliasing and digital distortions that can happen when warping and pitch shifting sounds, and to watch out for phase and balance issues that can happen with using EQ and filters. Also, I was reminded that the top end of the frequency spectrum holds a lot of the energy, so take it away sometimes so you can give it back!
Schuz: Personally, I was able to learn how to use Output from Luke and the different sound libraries and effects that can be used in tandem. This has helped me span across different sounds to include in my future tracks.
Slowform: Not to force something that isn’t working. It wasn’t until I deleted almost everything making up my initial first drop (and the several attempts after) and started with a clean slate that I was finally able to come up with something I could vibe with. If you have to ask if something is working for you, chances are it probably isn’t.. So don’t be afraid to delete what you had and come back with a fresh perspective!
6TH STREET: The biggest thing from me was adding some kind of movement to the main bass. Originally the main chunky bass was pretty static throughout the drop. It worked but when Dylan said to add some kind of change to the bass over time – the drop became a lot more interesting and fun to listen to.
Catawompus: I realized sometimes you have to take a step back and make those decisions on whether or not something is working with the other elements in the track or hurting them. Also, I learned that it’s important to keep familiar elements from the original to really make a remix stand out.
What are some of your favorite approaches for quickly getting a great idea down in the DAW?
RIP Kenny: Working with a great vocal always makes the process so much quicker, as it becomes easier to find new interesting chords when writing under a vocal line. Then that reharmonization informs the melodic decisions for the rest of the track, and all that’s left are sound design and getting a good rhythm to the track.
Luke Rain: I like to prepare. In the past something that’s really helped me was making DAW templates full of drum racks and midi instruments so I have a ton of sounds to just grab and create with. Recently I’ve been reorganizing my loop library to help me out too. I used to leave samples I bought in the original folder trees and store the loops I composed based on what instrument or song element they were: chords, bass, melodies, etc. Now I have them grouped by BPM and Key so I can open a folder and choose from a handful of elements that will probably work together in a song. It’s causing so many awesome happy accidents! Then I have my drum, and percussion loops all grouped by BPM instead of by type as well, so I can quickly build a rhythmic escalation. It really speeds up phases one and two of the song process so I can spend more time writing leads and detailing.
Schuz: My approach is starting with a drum beat, adding a sub layer, then expanding the song from that point. This helps me build a fundamental layer for the next sections of the song that I start to build out. Another way to get an idea down quickly is just jamming on your midi keyboard or other external hardware to generate melodies or basselines.
Slowform: I pretty much always start with writing an intro whether I’m having a full writing day or just trying to get out a quick sketch in an hour or so.. Often that starts with finding an eerie texture or soundscape of some sort- often from Omnisphere. Other times just getting a dope impact or vocal chant or playing an interesting riff is what gets the creative juices flowing. If you start with a dope, interesting intro that builds tension in some way, the drop will often just write itself..
6TH STREET: I’ve always been a big believer in using your voice and recording the scratch ideas as you go. If your song and drop is singable, it’ll be memorable. Also, when it’s Phase 1 everything is fair game. Write quickly and say yes to everything. You’ll be surprised how quickly inspiration will strike when you say yes to everything.
Catawompus: I personally will pull in several reference tracks to get some ideas going. I typically start with a beat and add elements from there. I also enjoy using my Push to write some chords or melodies. In this track, I listened to the stems and decided what were my favorite parts to incorporate.
How do you approach Collabs? Do you have any best practices to share?
RIP Kenny: I find collabs always work best when you find a starting point you both love, then trade back and forth on your strengths to iron out the rest of the track. Usually passing it back and forth (or taking turns if you’re in the studio), to ensure you’re building iteratively in a cohesive manner. The best tip I could share would be to dial in on what NEEDS to stay, and let go of everything else. Two people always have more ideas than one, so there’s going to be a lot of deleting parts that don’t serve the track and you can’t get attached to any one thing if you want to finish the song.
Luke Rain: First, remember that the relationship with your fellow producer is way more important than any one session or any one song or beat you may write, so stay patient, humble and friendly.
Second, you both have skills and experience the other doesn’t have and will have ideas the other could never come up with. This can produce synergy, as long as you remember you will not always get your way.
Third, go into the process with a willingness and excitement to get uncomfortable. Growth doesn’t happen in comfort, and you can grow a lot as a producer (and as a person) by learning to creatively collaborate.
Fourth, HAVE FUN!
Schuz: From my experience, I think it’s best to set feasible timelines and goals for the project. Whether you have in person meetings or individual working sessions, having a date for each aspect of the song will help people be accountable. Also, understanding the reasoning why someone wants to collaborate with you in the first place is good to gauge their level of commitment before you start on a project. Sharing creating space with someone else takes time and if the individuals don’t mesh it can delay or kill the project all together. At the end of the day, it should be the aspect of collaboration or enjoyment to create art with someone else!
Slowform: Honestly I don’t really have many collabs under my belt.. Something I want to change this upcoming year though!
6TH STREET: Make it fun for both parties! Say yes more than you say no. Learn from each other and take the stance of a student. Lean into each other’s strengths.
Catawompus: I typically just reach out to people I like and ask if they wish to collaborate. I have a folder of WIPs on SoundCloud I share and see if they get inspired with any of them. One thing I highly recommend is sharing tracks that are 70-80% finished. No one wants to work on track with a kick and snare pattern for 2 bars and be expected to generate all of the ideas from there. I also think it’s important to be completely honest with people when they ask to collaborate. If you don’t want to work on something then just tell them.
Tell us about your Product(s) available in the Producer DJ marketplace.
RIP Kenny: The Get Dead Bass Pack is still my flagship product, 275+ basses, glitches, one-shots and more to add unique sonic texture to any song.
Luke Rain: Spice up your drum kits with classic percussion favorites and unique spicey foley: The Spice It Up bundle from Luke Rain & Porch contains the Spice It Up Percussion, Foley & Bonus Packs. That’s 25 percussion and foley instrument types, 50 Ableton and Reason Drum Racks, 541 loops and over 1600 One Shots.
6TH STREET: I have a vocal recording and mixing template that’s super useful for getting your head around tracking and organizing vocals. I also made an Ableton rack called the RC-66 (my version of the RC-20 haha). It’s main use is to add some analog movement and warmth to otherwise sterile and “too perfect” sounds.
Slowform: I created Subs and Wubs Volume 1 which had over 50 deep, dark, and distorted slowform basses to instantly get the inspiration flowing. As well as 7 bass instrument racks that serve as a great starting point to play around with to generate infinite outcomes. Get your stank face ready.
Who are you listening to for inspiration these days?
RIP Kenny: Barren Gates, Hollow, Alter, Qoiet, but also just a lot of rock/metal stuff unrelated to electronic music to help inspire me in different directions.
Luke Rain: So many good dance and bass tunes are coming out lately. I really enjoyed the recent albums from ill.Gates, Mr. Bill, LSDream and Marshemello, and I’ve been bumping some Griz, Droeloe, Big Gigantic and Zeds Dead. I also dig listening to old school hip hop and RnB on the radio, and new pop and hip hop too. Really diggin how Dua Lipa makes songs that are at home on the radio, club or a rave.
Schuz: EvoluShawn, Dub Elements, CHIMPPA, ATYYA, GRIZ, So Sus, Kotek, and others
Slowform: Truth, Supertask, Nils Frahm, thook, Tsuruda, CharlestheFirst, Enigma Dubz, Amon Tobin
6TH STREET: Kasbo, Said the Sky, Illenium, Ford
Catawompus: Meduso, Mersiv, skeler, charlesthefirst, Josh Teed
What are your top 5 favorite VST’s at the moment?
RIP Kenny: bx_rockrack, the Archetype amp sims, Vocalsynth (try it on non vocal stuff!), Spiff/Soothe, but honestly Serum + Serum FX are the bread and butter.
Luke Rain: Melda’s Wave Shaper and Saturator, Soothe2, Pitchwheel from QuikQuak and… Brauer Motion from Waves.
Schuz: Reaktor, Output, FabFilter, Europa, Serum
Slowform: Portal, mWaveshaper, Omnisphere, Thermal, GClip
6TH STREET: Soothe2, Metric AB, Gullfoss, Fabfilter L2 (is so freaking good), Good ol’ Serum
Catawompus: Portal, Valhalla Vintage Verb, Vital, black hole
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
RIP Kenny: One more single coming out November 19th, then for winter this album I’ve been working on for over a year is going to start trickling out, with a bunch of singles and then a full album drop with visuals + story combined sometime in spring.
Luke Rain: I’m gonna start dropping some bootlegs, mashups and edits I’ve been making for my DJ sets to Soundcloud and YouTube while I finish songs to release monthly in 2022. Also, last fall I released my Trap Jesus “Merry Trapsmas” beat EP, and I’m going to promote that again this holiday season.
Schuz: More new music being released and updates regarding the project
Slowform: My debut album, Presence LP, is releasing on 11/12/21. After that I will be releasing either one or two more singles before the end of 2021. And in 2022 you can expect monthly releases from me. I am also playing a set for the November Dojo TV House Party where I will be debuting a BUNCH of unreleased tunes as well as tracks from the album 🙂
6TH STREET: I have another release in the works coming out this December! Also big news, my wife and I will be moving to Dubai for 3 months for an exciting dance opportunity. We’re going to continue to make music and make connections out there to see where music can take us internationally! Connect with me on Instagram (@6thstreetmusic) to follow those adventures!
Catawompus: Working on a personal and a collab Ep with another producer dojo member.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
RIP Kenny: Not much else, just keep your eyes peeled for the album! It’s something I’ve conceptualized for a while, worked tirelessly on, and really showcases what I’m about as an artist. Should tickle the ear drums real nice 😉
Luke Rain: Watch RIP Kenny, Tesko and I on The Human Music Podcast. We break down tons of producer topics and make Rick and Morty references, lol. And we’ve had almost everyone on this Remix EP as guests. Catawompus, we gotta have you on next!
Schuz: Passionate about making music and making this a lifelong journey!
Slowform: I’m excited to see what this next year brings. Thank you to everyone listening to my music and supporting this project. It’s been such a wild ride so far, and I feel like it’s only just started.
6TH STREET: You guys all rock. Stay inspired and keep on making dope music. Thanks for all the support with this Dojo EP!
Catawompus: I appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen to my music. All my music can be found on my SoundCloud and Bandcamp. All my music is free but if you would like to purchase my last Ep, 50% of all my sales will go to Thorn. Thorn builds technology to protect children from sexual abuse.