Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ed Rowe Talks Favourite Hardware, Software, Albums and Artists

One of The New Beatmaker's favourite MC's of 2014 was Brooklyn's own Ed Rowe.

From being introduced to the instantly likeable MC via the Essenchill Records release 'Essenchill', to 'Changes' being crowned as one of our top 14 tracks of 2014, the MC has made a big impression on this site, thanks to his nimble lyricism, distinctive voice and social conscious outlook.

The New Beatmaker talked to Ed Rowe shortly after the New Year, and discussed his favourite hardware, software, music of 2014 and more.

Sidenote: Due to timing issues, the below was not included in the Roundup of 2014 as originally intended.  The  2014 round up, featuring M-Phazes, $1 Bin, Evil Alex, T-Funk and many more from The New Beatmaker family, can be enjoyed in full here.

Favourite hardware of 2014: Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones.  Just got these at the end of the year, but better late than never.  Everything sounds great through them, and it's making recording & mixing so much easier!

Favourite software: Ableton Live.  It's only the Intro version, but it's basically the only software I can seem to operate properly lol.

Favourite song of 2014: Rapsody - 'Hard To Choose'. I slept on her initially, but this song awakened me to how dope she is.

Favourite album of 2014: Not exactly HipHop, but that new D'Angelo album 'Black Messiah' is incredible.  Waited ages for his follow-up to 'Voodoo', but it was well worth the wait.

And the album of the year is...D'Angelo and The Vanguard's 'Black Messiah'.  The album of the year for The New Beatmaker, M-Phazes, Carvalho and many more participants of our 2014 roundup.

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: BJ The Chicago Kid.  Took the time to start appreciating his music earlier in the year, and haven't looked back since.  Somewhat of a throwback to the Jodeci era with that fusion of R&B, Soul, and HipHop, and I'm a big fan of that sound.

Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: The Bleacher Report app to satisfy my sports junkie cravings, and Soundcloud, as it's the place where I discover the best new music. 

Highlight of 2014: Collaborating with Sleep Sinatra and KVH on separate EPs.  I've worked with Sleep on various songs in the past, but to join forces for a whole project really solidified our chemistry on a larger scale.  Being fortunate enough to work with the very talented producer KVH was also a blessing.  Having him join Essenchill Records was just the icing on the cake.

'Change' is so eerily relevant to the current racial landscape in America, focusing on police brutality and the injustices black people suffer in America. 

Low point of 2014: This was kind of bittersweet, but making a song called 'Change' and having it be so eerily relevant to the current racial landscape in America (the song focuses on police brutality and the injustices black people suffer in America).

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: More music, better music, and most of all...more performing.

Protest songs in the form of 'Change' and 'Changes' / 'Change (Remix)'.  Rest in peace to Eric Garner and Mike Brown.  

Many, many thanks to Ed Rowe for taking the time out to chat and a big, big shout out to all the good people over at Essenchill Records.

Ed Rowe features on episodes Five, Six and Seven of 'Soundcloud Sessions': a back-to-back collection of future beats, hip hop, jazz and more.   

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'Live at Berklee': A.R. Rahman, Berklee Indian Ensemble and World Strings; Down In The Attic; Ludovica Burtone String Quartet

Live, Intimate Performances from the World's Largest Independent College of Contemporary Music

The New Beatmaker is very proud to present the latest in a regular series of videos capturing live, intimate performances from students and alumni of the world famous Berklee College of Music.

Firstly, legendary composer, singer-songwriter and music producer A. R. Rahman returns to Berklee with a breathtaking performance of 'Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera' from the Bollywood classic 'Swades', with the wonderful Berklee Indian Ensemble and Berklee World Strings.

Following up we have some great Bluegrass courtesy of Down In The Attic.  Check out their original composition, the rousing, spirited 'Bearapple' below, and be sure to check them out on Facebook too:

Last but not least, a gorgeous original composition from the Ludovica Burtone String Quartet, 'Blazing Sun'.  Be sure to check out more from this superb Quartet at

Many thanks to Berklee College of Music yet again. Be sure to look out for more 'Live at Berklee' in the coming months.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

D'Angelo & The Vanguard Live Review: D'Angelo & The Vanguard Celebrate their Instant Classic with a Triumphant Return to London

D'Angelo & The Vanguard Celebrate their Instant Classic with a Triumphant Return to London 

Performing for over two hours to an ecstatic capacity crowd, D'Angelo & The Vanguard's first of two nights at London's Eventim Apollo was a victory befitting of their instant classic 'Black Messiah'.

By mixing many of the highlights from the project with long-held fan favourites, D'Angelo and band kept the crowd on their feet for most of the night; from the funk-filled reworking of 'Brown Sugar' and perennial party starter 'Chicken Grease', through to the jazz influences of 'Sugah Daddy' and 'Back to the Future'.  The crowd only caught it's breath on the more slow paced numbers, such as the delightfully sweet 'Real Love'.

An energetic reworking of 'Brown Sugar' further energized the crowd. 

'The Charade' (complete with an American flag attached to D'Angelo's black biker jacket) was even more spellbinding and rousing live than on wax.  Likewise, 'Ain't That Easy', with it's Funkadelic swagger, was yet another highlight in a powerhouse of a performance filled with highlights.

'The Charade' (complete with an American flag attached to D'Angelo's black biker jacket) was even more spellbinding and rousing live than on wax. 
With band members including Chris 'Daddy' Dave (Adele, Beyoncé, the Robert Glasper Trio/Experiment) Pino Palladino (The Who, The Soultronics) Jesse Johnson (The Time) and Kendra Foster (Parliament/Funkadelic), The Vanguard's combined years of stage experience meant that the crowd was treated to a live show that combined raw funk and super polished professionalism that at times brought to mind James Brown's The J.B.'s. 

'(Untitled) How Does It Feel' was the perfect end to a perfect night.   

Indeed, 'D's showmanship on the night gave more than a nod to 'The Hardest Working Man in Show Business'. He peppered his strutting across the stage and warmly shaking of many a fan's hand with nimble and energetic dance moves. He flirted and teased the crowd just the right amount, such as when he walked away from the mic as the audience sung 'girl, it's only you...'. Of course, he returned a few moments later to make good on his promise, with a fifteen minute take on '(Untitled) How Does It Feel', which had the audience in further raptures.

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rob Papen Punch-BD Review: 'Inspiration Soundware' Gives Dance Music's most Vital Element Extra Special Attention

Punch-BD Offers Amazing Sounds Straight out of the Box, with all the Processing Potential that you Could ever Want

Ask any producer, musician or beatmaker what the fundamental element is to any form of dance music, be it house, hip hop, EDM, or anything else, and they are very likely to say the kick drum, also known as the bass drum.

As the name suggestions, Rob Papen's latest piece of 'Inspirational Soundware' packs a punch, both in presets and in sound design capabilities.
Not only is this more often than not the 'drive' behind your beat, sitting in the low end of the frequency range, it's essential that the kick works with your bassline.

It's not an easy task.

Enter Rob Papen, creator of  'Inspiration Soundware' to help you out, with Punch-BD.

From the good folks over at

'Based around the BD module of the multi award winning Punch virtual drum synth, Rob Papen delivers a creative module to help you to produce the fattest sounding bass drums for your music.

Stacking bass drums is a popular technique used by today's music producers and Punch-BD gives you the ability to stack up to 6 in total. Divide the 6 BD pads over the keyboard or use them 'stacked' in tuned mode to produce creative new BD sounds for all styles of contemporary music.

Punch-BD delivers synthesized drums in the finest audio quality or you can choose to load in your own samples for complete flexibility. Each pad has its own distortion module with several distortion types as well as its own 3 band graphic EQ. What's more, each individual pad also has its own preset section next to the overall 'BD kit'.

Like its big brother, Punch-BD features four FX units each with many 31 types of top quality FX plus further filters, envelopes, modulation routings and more for crafting your own unique sound.

From Electronic Dance and Hip Hop to Soundtrack projects, Punch-BD provides a solid speaker-busting sound for your productions.'

The New Beatmaker has been happily playing with Punch-BD for a few months now, and I really couldn't agree more!

For those of you of the 'Too Long, Didn't Read' persuasion, I'll give you the conclusion up-front ;)

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired by the sounds, just as they come, for a very long time; and as they become a more experienced knob-twiddler, Punch-BD offers such an amazing number of effects and controls that they will be able to tweak - or downright mangle - to their heart's content for a very long time thereafter.

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired ...and as they become more experienced...they will be able to tweak to their heart's content for a very long time...

And what sounds they are, too.

There are too many types to mention in full, but here are just a few that have caught my ear: big, dramatic timpanis and distorted and mangled kicks; 808 style bass drum notes; hard kick drums of the more techno persuasion; tuneful congas; and all sorts of gnarly, angry, distorted beasts which will come in handy if you delight in the more abrasive styles of anything from EDM to Nine Inch Nails style industrial electronic rock.  Creating music for video games? Check out my example of what Punch-BD can do for you, below.

Layering drums to get a bigger, more dramatic, sound is a time honoured tradition, but it's one that is easily gotten wrong, with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out, ironically creating an weaker sound.

Rob Papen himself gets hands on in this must-watch tutorial:

With Punch-BD, the user is able to load up to six different drum pads at the same time.  Now, bearing in mind just how much trouble the new beatmaker can get themselves in to by just blindly throwing sounds together willy-nilly, Punch-BD comes with a huge amount of multi-layered pad combinations, meaning that the newbie can enjoy making tracks with impressive drums right from the onset and, as there knowledge and confidence in drum grows, they can then begin to design and layer their own sounds.

The same can be said for Punch-BD's generous to say the least processing capabilities.  19 - you read that right - types of distortion - EQ, filters, reverbs and the like for days, two LFO's and more, mean that the more capable sound design minded musician is not likely to get bored in a hurry!

All these dials and sliders however are sure to intimidate a new beatmaker, so mercifully the GUI has an 'Easy' page which shows far less of those scary dials and knobs.  Helpfully, the root note of the drum / layered drums is shown on this 'Easy' page, making it even easier for the new beatmaker to ensure their drums are in key with the rest of their instruments.  One thing that would have made this page even better though, would have been the inclusion of the search, or rather 'find' option, which is actually located at the bottom of the manager screen along with a host of other commands.

A videogame/action movie style soundtrack idea from yours truly, ALL drum and percussion sounds, including that 'whooshing sound', are from Punch-BD.  Choir is BigTick Angelina free VST, talking keys are Smartelectronix ASynth free VST.  

Another 'quick win' provided by Punch-BD is how quickly you can put together a bassline using the tuned stack function and a suitable bass drum, this technique is often used on tracks of a dirty South / trap style.  A bassline comprised of a 808 style bass drum notes is far more likely to sit nicely with similar sounds from Punch BD and would therefore alleviate the frustration of drums and basslines not gelling which, like drum layering, can often happen with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out (or missing altogether).  Elsewhere, a 'sequence' / 'tuned sequence' function plays up to four drum pads one after the other, which could prove to be a nice way of quickly building up a simple idea quickly or if you're otherwise suffering from beatmaker's block.

With more features than it's possible to detail here, Punch-BD is a piece of software that will provide both instant gratification and is likely to become ever more useful and inspirational in time.  At a very reasonable $59 at the time of press, Punch-BD is bound to be a big hit.

Superb preset sounds.
Seemingly endless process and control possibilities.
May intimidate new beatmakers to begin with.
EQ window a little small.
Total Rating: 4.5/5
This product is very much recommended by The New Beatmaker.
Buy at: 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Today's Future Sound Equipment Stolen: Please Donate and Spread the Word! The Charity Needs Our Help Today!

So, friends of the site Today's Future Sound (TFS) had equipment stolen from them recently. 

This, from the TFS Facebook page:

Someone stole from a charity that helps children.
'So this just happened during TFS staff meeting---not only did they smash Phillipdrummond aka Philthydrummond aka Pd's window, they stole the bag with 12 pairs of headphones, splitters wires, etc. that we use to teach the youth of Oakland every day. This is the second theft in recent months. Please consider donating closed ear headphones, buying TFS merch (hoodies, tshirts,) making donations or coming to our beat battle fundraiser (also Pd's 34th bday jam) on Saturday feb 21st. Please spread the word.

Buy clothing here: Http://

Donate thru PayPal or go to site and use PayPal button there: Http://

You can also donate thru bandcamp and pay whatever price you want for the free beattapes, and buy clothes there. Http://'

To paraphrase, TFS is a charity that believes in the power of music to transform and inspire youth to create positive change in their lives and communities.

TFS not only introduces young children to beatmaking as an art form, but also as a vehicle to communicate maths and science in a way that is novel and, I dare say, more engaging and entertaining to many of the children than textbooks and chalk boards are.

In addition, TFS uses rapping to promote positivity and to encourage children to recognise their own self-worth.

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Saturday, 7 February 2015

'Soundcloud Sessions': J Dilla Special, with Music from M-Phazes, Tall Black Guy, Mecca:83 and many more

Turn it up!

To commemorate what would have been his 41st birthday, here's a collection of some of the best J Dilla reworkings and homages, plus a few of his own classics for good measure.

Also, check out this special guest post that I had the honour of writing for bboytechreport:

Read 'J Dilla's Magnum Opus Continues to Inspire' here

Without giving too much of the post away here, my feature focuses on the following topics.
  • The context of 'Donuts'.
  • How J Dilla, a revolutionary producer in his own right, pays tribute to fellow iconic and innovative producers on 'Donuts' - the producers being Pete Rock, Rza, and The Bomb Squad.
  • J Dilla's mastery of the vocal snippet throughout 'Donuts' - how these snippets either explicity convey an emotion, or subtly add another, often haunting, layer to the track.
  • The paradox inherent in an audience consuming art from an artist exploring their imminent demise.
To check out the full article, click here.
For all guest posts, click here.
For all J Dilla posts, click here.
Happy born day to Nujabes too.  RIP.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

2014 Roundup Part Five: M-Phazes Talks Favourite Hardware, Software, Sample Packs and Music of 2014

The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce the final part of a five-part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.  Catch up on the previous installments here.

M-Phazes boasts a CV that includes Eminem, Sean Price, Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae and Kimbra.

His brand of 'melodic knock' makes him one of the most unique and sought-after producers in the game.  By combining classy instrumentation with big-but-tasteful drums and an uncanny ability to create and mix sounds with a perfect balance of polish and grit, he is able to craft tracks that satisfy hip hop die-hards, future RnB fans and the more adventurous corners of the mainstream.  

It's a great honour and pleasure to present M-Phazes' favourite hardware, software, music and highlights of 2014. 

To round up the feature, The New Beatmaker then reveals favourite sample packs and artists of 2014 and the most anticipated projects of 2015. 

M-Phazes (Production and Remixing Titan, Drum Sample Library Powerhouse)

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'Probably my Juno 106. Obviously it's not from 2014 but every year I use it more and more! It's a beast!'

 Classic Roland synths the Juno 106 and the Juno 60 put through their paces by SynthMania:

Favourite software of 2014: 'Cubase, iZotope and FabFilter definitely took the crown in 2014! Love everything about all of them.'

Favourite sample pack of 2014: 'Probably the Kingsway Music Libraries by the bro Frank Dukes!  There are some super inspiring sounds going on there: Cardiak put out some fire as well:'

Favourite freeware of 2014: 'It has to be TAL-Chorus-LX.  It’s a very simple plugin that emulates the chorus of the old Roland Juno synths.  It’s just nice to throw it on plugin synths to give them an old school analog vibe, but it’s great on guitars and even vocals.'

Favourite song of 2014: 'D’Angelo - 'Ain’t That Easy'.  It’s amazing from start to finish.  It oozes 70’s funk but is still timeless, D’s voice is as good as ever and it’s such a good opening track to his new album.'

An instant classic, 'Black Messiah' by D'Angelo and The Vanguard is M-Phazes' album of the year.  The album's funk-filled opener, 'Ain't That Easy', is M-Phazes' favourite track of 2014.

Favourite album of 2014: 'D'Angelo - 'Black Messiah'.  This album was possibly my most anticipated ever!  I know I’m far from the only one who thought that too.  The great thing is it lives up to those expectations and goes well beyond them. Musically it’s a masterpiece, and as a producer it’s so refreshing to hear an album not covered in harsh digital shrillness.' a producer it’s so refreshing to hear an album not covered in harsh digital shrillness.

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'Illangelo.  He did a lot, if not all of the ‘Weeknd’s’ production.  The guy is just ridiculously creative, amazing drum programming and crazy left of centre production - definitely an inspiration!  And he uses Cubase, bonus points!'

Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: 'Music Radar is my go to but I also hit up Pensados Place.'

Highlight of 2014: 'I’m going to have to say my Grammy nomination for Eminem’s MMLP2 – that was a pretty huge deal.  I’ve also done a fair bit of traveling over the past 12 months; mostly for work.  Japan, USA and Indonesia to name a few.  It’s been great to make music in other parts of the world.'

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: 'I really want to learn piano and guitar, I am kinda lazy with that stuff though.  Hopefully 2015 will be the year that I can make it happen.'

Thank you very much to M-Phazes for taking the time out to answer my questions and all the best for 2015.  If you're not doing so already, be sure to follow him on soundcloud and cop his drum kits from The Drum Broker today:
Buy M-Phazes' 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries.
Oh and speaking of Soundcloud... 

'Soundcloud Sessions' Special: The New Beatmaker Selects 14 of M-Phazes' Hottest Tracks

It was M-Phazes' skill of blending musical genres and qualities that made ‘U & ME & Everyone, We Know’ one of The New Beatmaker's 'Top 12 Tracks of 2012'.

His roller-coaster ride of a remix of Kimbra's '90's Music' is one of my 'Top 14 Tracks of 2014'.

M-Phazes further channeled his inner Teddy Riley and DeVante Swing for two other massive remakes in 2014: his astounding reworkings of Jane Child's 'Don't Wanna Fall in Love' and Tammy Lucas' 'Is It Good to You', both of which took pride of place on 'Soundcloud Sessions' shortly after release.

These anthems, and other classic flips and productions from the man himself are neatly put together above for your listening pleasure.

For more 'Soundcloud Sessions' click here.
Follow The New Beatmaker on Soundcloud here.

The New Beatmaker Favourite Sample Pack and Artists of 2014 and Most Anticipated Projects of 2015

Favourite Sample Packs of 2014

As if Billboard Awards, Aria Awards, Grammy nominations and a portfolio of work with the cream of both underground legends and household names isn't enough, M-Phazes' drum sample packs are some of the best in the business.  If you haven't done so already, you owe it to yourself to cop them here today.  His 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries are The New Beatmaker's favourite drum sample packs of 2014.

Do your beats a big favour: get yourself M-Phazes' 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries today.

The New Beatmaker Favourite Artists of 2014

D'Angelo: To paraphrase M-Phazes, I have never anticipated an album as much as I did 'Black Messiah'.  Truth be told, I would have been happy with a good, nay, a decent album.  Given how many issues the artist has allegedly had to work through, the demons he has allegedly had to conquer, I was just happy that D'Angelo was in a good enough place to even release an album.  The fact that it's the best album of the year on it's own merits makes D'Angelo's return and victory all that much sweeter.  Welcome back D, we missed you.   

Flying Lotus: 'You're Dead' would have been The New Beatmaker's album of the year pretty much any other year.  From the awe-inspiring intro 'Theme', to the hope and wonder of closer 'The Protest', this concept album weaved together survivalist determination ('Never Catch Me'), mysterious, haunting mysticism ('Coronus, The Terminator') morbid social satire ('Dead Man's Tetris', 'The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep') and, like 'Black Messiah' showed that the art of the long-player is far from dead.  

Extra points go to FlyLo for his enthralling live show, which I was lucky enough to catch at The Roundhouse, London.  An amazingly immersive audio / visual treat which left much of the crowd dumbstruck in awe, this was the live show of the year, and another reason to crown Mr Lotus as one of the best artists of 2014.

Flying Lotus: I freaking saw this! Live! Epilipsey Warning: Readers with epilepsy should avoid this video.

M-Phazes: Last but certainly not least, there was more than one reason I reached out to M-Phazes to be a part of this final roundup post.  From this year's 'Camden Arc' brilliance; to the shelf-life of tracks like the stunning 'U & ME...' and 'Somebody I Used to Know' remix; and the amount of times I have reached for his drum samples, I feel like my enjoyment of music as a fan first and a creator second have both been very enriched thanks to M-Phazes this year.
Most Eagerly Anticipated Projects of 2015

If you haven't guessed already, M-Phazes 'Camden Arc' - along with heralded releases from those other perennial The New Beatmaker favourites Evil Alex and J'Von and Ackryte - is The New Beatmaker's most eagerly anticipated record of 2015.

Many thanks once again to M-Phazes, $1 Bin, Sev Seveer, Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Carvalho, Phil Phlaymz, Khalid Golding and J. Rizzle for taking part.  Same time next year? ;)

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

2014 Roundup Part Four: $1 Bin Talks Favourite Freeware, Sample Packs and Producers of 2014

The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce part four of a five part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.

Part Four: Friend of the Site $1 Bin Talks Freeware, Sample Packs and Artists of 2014, The New Beatmaker Shares Freeware Favourites of the Year.

$1 Bin's sublime D'n'B tinged remix of The Soundmen / Aven Lava's 'Bermuda' (featured here) was an instant favourite of The New Beatmaker.  It was love at first listen and it's subsequently become one of my favourite remixes of 2014.  Bravo.

$1 Bin's 'Drum Ensemble Vol.1' is an absolute treat.  At the time of release I had this to say:

'This kit...which mixes fun and function...would be well worth checking out even with a price tag.'
With such a strong remix under his belt, and a drum kit that was one of my favourite freeware releases and sample packs of 2014, it was only right that we ask the rising star about his favourite freeware, sample packs, and artists of the year.
Favorite Freeware of 2014: '1. Luftikus by lkjb 2. IVGI by Klanghelm 3. Saturation Knob by Softube.

I came across the Saturation Knob about 2 weeks ago. I’ve used it on every track that I’ve made since then. It really comes in handy when you’re trying to get that “gritty” sound into something. Try putting it on your master channel. Thank me later.'

Saturation Knob: one of $1 Bin's favourite freewares of 2014.  Many thanks for the heads up!

Favorite sample pack of 2014: '1. !llmind BLAP KIT Volume 5 2. Urban Fire Vol.7 3. $1 Bin Drum Ensemble Vol.1

I’d like to say that my drum kit is the best (lol) but that would be me being bias. To be honest I’ve used a lot of sounds from the BLAP KIT last year in my music. The kit is just so relevant to what I grew up with and what I’m trying to do musically now. Illmind is killing the drum game with his kits. I’m a fan.'

'I’ve used a lot of sounds from the BLAP KIT last year in my music. 

The kit is just so relevant to what I grew up with and what I’m trying to do musically now. Illmind is killing the drum game with his kits. I’m a fan.' - $1 Bin
!llmind BLAP KIT Volume 5 is available from The Drum Broker here.

Favorite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: '1. Sonny Digital 2. DJ Lil’ Man 3. $1 Bin

Sonny Digital has produced 3 songs this year that have given me that “GOT DAMN WHO IN THE WORLD MADE THIS TRACK!” Feeling. “Future – Covered In Money” “Que – Fuck Around” & “Rae Sremmurd – Up Like Trump”. Anytime a producer can give me those feelings multiple times in one year not only do I become a genuine fan, it also inspires me to step my sound up.

DJ Lil’ Man is doing a lot for New Jersey. I really like how he conducts the parties in Newark. His presence is felt amongst the youth. The music he makes goes hand and hand with it, whether it’s a remix or an original dance track. Everything stays right in its own lane. I respect that a lot.

I had to put myself last because I can’t wait for the world to hear these beats that I’ve been making for my album. Prepare yourselves. Enough said.'

Enough said.  I'm eager to hear the new material and try out all the freeware that $1 Bin recommended above.  In the meantime, here are my top three freeware favourites of 2014.

The New Beatmaker Freeware Favourites of 2014

$1 Bin's  'Drum Ensemble Vol.1': This is an absolute gem of a free drum sample pack.  I'm quite partial to it, if you hadn't already noticed! 

Voxengo's range of freeware: There is absolutely NO NEED TO ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD CRACKED SOFTWARE when you are able to get, guilt-free, freeware like that offered by Voxengo.

From a multitude of spectrum analyzers all with particular specialties and uses, through to their handy track-to-WAV recorder, capturing your track in real time, perfect for capturing those magical 'one-off' moments when jamming which are hard - if not impossible - to recreate; through to all manners of reverb plug-ins,Voxengo has you covered.

Computer Music Magazine: Not quite freeware, but included every month on this must-have magazine are all sorts of instruments and applications from some of the biggest and best names in music production.  There's a tonne of royalty-free samples included every month, too. 

Cockos REAPER: Again, not quite freeware, but this DAW is an absolute powerhouse and beyond a bargain, with a personal use license of $60 at time of press, and a free uncrippled evaluation license. Use it for free to start with, then buy the license when - not if - you fall in love with it.

Many thanks to $1 Bin for getting involved.  He had a great 2014 and here's to hoping he has an even better 2015:

Catch up with parts one to three here.

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Saturday, 31 January 2015

2014 Roundup Part Three: Sev Seveer Shares his Favourite Hardware, Software, Artists and More

The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce part three of a five part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.

A The New Beatmaker favourite and an artist who features again and again on 'Soundcloud Sessions', Sev Seveer's brand of production mixes hip hop, dub and electronica influences and creates something very personal and unique in the process.

This very personal, unique approach is most evident perhaps on his 2014 project ''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star''.

Said Sev upon it's release:

'''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star'' is the soundtrack to my dementia-riddled late-grandmother’s journey through cosmic space at age 91.  It is the sonic narration of my experience caring for a person who has lost their mind.'

At the time I described the project as thus:

'Masterfully composed and performed, ''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star'' is another first-rate edition to Seveer's body of work and a powerful exploration of the complexity and, at times, potential fragility of the human mind.'

An uncompromising yet masterfully executed offering, ''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star'' is a The New Beatmaker favourite album of 2014.

With all of this in mind it's an honour to share Sev's highlight's of 2014.

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'Assuming that you mean new additions (because I love my 2000xl/ SP404 every year), I incorporated two new pieces for a lot of stuff I did in 2014 – the Dr. Sample SP-202 and, the TableBeast TBSK1. I noticed one day that my roommate Norman ( had a 202 buried in his room and he told me that he never used it. I hooked it up to the rig and it was immediately put into play, and, I've certainly got my money's worth (even cooler is the fact that there was no money involved, “moneys worth” in this case is pure metaphor and has no literal meaning!).

The 202 has a sound that is unlike any machine I've worked with. and using it to enhance character low end / percussion / drums is absolutely the way to go. OG cats know about the 202 and it isn't a huge discovery or anything, but in an age where cats just buy gear because its popular (cough, 404), it was nice to show and prove that the old machines with limited functions are just as effective in the lab.

My neighbor Dr. Goom ( put me on to the modified Casio SK1 known as the TBSK1, made by a group called SynthKiller. He came over and we did a collab track with the one he owns and I remember being completely floored by the sound that came out of it, especially as it relates to the legendary shittiness that is the traditional Casio SK1. It's a circuit bent piece that has a patch bay built into into it to allow for modular synthesis. A Frankenstein zombie SK1, if you will. I ended up borrowing it for few weeks and eventually went on to record a large portion of the free-form sequences in ''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star''. The TBSK1 is a great place to start if you are looking to get into hardware modification/circuit bending type stuff. Just make sure you have a “break budget” so you can buy doubles of your hardware in case you clip the wrong wires!'

The TBSK1 is a great place to start if you are looking to get into hardware modification / circuit bending type stuff.  Just make sure you have a “break budget” so you can buy doubles of your hardware in case you clip the wrong wires!'

Favourite software of 2014: 'I discovered the power of Waves' “Vocal Rider” plugin. It's a pretty dope algorithm that provides live-analysis of transients in your wave form, say a microphone recording, as they relate to other sounds going into your master bus. The result is kind of an automatic ducking function that brings clarity to vocal sequences that occur during busy parts of a mix, as well as quieting vocals when the mix is in a sparse sequence. It gets really cool when you start to use it on non-vocal segments, almost as a side-chaining insert as opposed to linking buses.'

Waves ''Vocal Rider'' plug-n: Sev Seveer's favourite software of 2014:

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'This year was really dope as far as meeting new artists who I respect, admire and am inspired by. My crew and I at Push Beats booked Selfish for his first beat set in forever, and he is one of the greatest beatmakers to ever come out of Chicago, or the midwest, or the country for that matter. He stays relatively lowkey, so getting to share the stage with him, that was a proud moment. I also got a chance to meet my homie Phantom Thrett from out in California.  Great singer and beatmaker who is highly talented, I had the opportunity to host him here in Chicago for a few days and that was great. There's so many more though! The list could go on and on.'

Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: 'Between The New Beatmaker and Beats of All Nations, I don't really feel as though I could for much more from any website or blog. The write-ups and coverage that these two sites provide for artists such as myself is invaluable, and I'd take two websites that do great work over 1000 websites that simply repost material. Beats of All Nations went so far as to publish my project as it's first official release as a label.'

Highlight of 2014: 'My highlight was obviously the release of Constant Elevation: Odessa Star, as I have never managed to release a project in whole. But I also really enjoyed SXSW early on in 2014, and rocking a sold out Door Number 3 (venue here in Chicago) for a beatshow was really special, especially the last one where my brother got to see me play for the first time. Also, when Chief Beatmaker reached out to me to release on behalf of Feelin' Music (workin on my release for them right now actually), I was made so much more confident to know that my music is beginning to know no boundaries and that Chicago isn't the end all be all.'

Low point of 2014 / New Year's music resolution: 'I don't really dwell on low points. The year was too successful for that to be a thing that matters. I will say that I was disappointed to not be able to travel outside of the U.S for bookings this year. Hopefully 2015 will bring that, so my 2015 resolution is to leave the USA to play beat shows. Peace!'

Thank you very much to Sev Seveer, you went above and beyond with your answers. Be on the lookout for part four, coming soon.

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2014 Roundup Part Two: Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Carvalho and Phil Phlaymz

The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce part two of a four-part five part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.

Join The New Beatmaker and our very special guests as we share our thoughts on the best music, artists, hardware and software of 2014.

Part Two: Artists and The New Beatmaker Friends Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Carvalho and Phil Phlaymz Share Their Favourites of 2014 and The New Beatmaker Shares Some of the Best Music of the Year

Part one saw the The New Beatmaker catching up with two of my favourite DJs, bloggers and writers of 2014: Khalid Golding aka KO and J. Rizzle (be sure to check that out here).

Now, I welcome five artists that I consider very much part of the family: Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Carvalho and Phil Phlaymz.

Evil Alex (Maestro of the Atmospheric and Uncompromising)

Chicago's Evil Alex made a great first impression with the 'Hate' EP, back in 2012 which The New Beatmaker lavished praise upon in a 'Your Beats' post.  A year later, he wowed me even more, with his first LP 'iGeneration', one of the best albums of 2013.

An intelligent album full of haunting beauty and raw power, the album was so good I wrote about it both here and here.

Whilst it was a relatively quiet year for Alex release-wise, his single 'Right Now' is one of The New Beatmaker's favourite tracks of 2014 and, along with M-Phazes' 'Camden Arc' project and an as-yet-untitled collaboration project from J'Von and Ackryte, Alex's sophomore album, the tantalizingly titled 'Sounds in a Vacuum' is The New Beatmaker's most anticipated album of 2015.

Evil Alex's 'Right Now' is one of The New Beatmaker's favourite tracks of the year and, along with M-Phazes' 'Camden Arc' and the latest from J'Von and Ackryte, Alex's 'Sounds in a Vacuum' is The New Beatmaker's most anticipated release of 2015.
With all this praise lavished upon the young multi-media artist, it was only right that we ask him for his own picks of the year.  Here goes:

Favourite Hardware of 2014: 'Still the MPC 1k: it's a great standalone that can work with a DAW seamlessly.'
Favourite Software of 2014: 'Pro Tools. (I'm biased - it's what I learned to use first).'
Favourite song of 2014: 'Panda Bear "Boys Latin."'
Favourite album of 2014: 'Run The Jewels ''Run The Jewels 2.'''
Favourite artist of 2014: 'Nortronicks.'
Favourite blog / website or app of 2014: 'The WholeWorldBand app developed by Kevin Godley.'

Check out Evil Alex's favourite app of 2014, WholeWorldBand app, by the legendary Kevin Godley, here.

Highlight of 2014: 'I'm not sure.'
Low Point of 2014 'Losing the first version of 'Sounds in a Vacuum.''
Music-based Resolution of 2015: 'Finishing the new record.'

The New Beatmaker's heart goes out to Evil Alex over the loss of the first version of 'Sounds in a Vacuum' and congratulate him for bouncing back.  Many thanks for taking part Alex.

Be sure to check out Evil Alex here:  

walkingshoe (Multi-talented musician with a sound just as unique as his skills are diverse)

The New Beatmaker had this to say about fellow Chicago beatmaker walkingshoe's debut EP 'Blastphemy' early last year:

'Throughout 'Blastphemy', Walkingshoe exhibits a strong ear for melody, a fine knack for chopping and manipulating samples, and a great understanding of how tension and release make for engaging music.'

'Blastphemy', released on French label Cosmonostro - more on them in a moment - turned out to be one of The New Beatmaker's favourite projects of 2014, so it was only right to invite the man himself to talk about some of his own highlights of the year.  Here's what he had to say:

Favourite Software of 2014: 'ACID Music Pro 4.0.'
Favourite Musician and Album of 2014: 'St. Vincent ''St. Vincent.''

St Vincent: walkingshoe's artist of the year, her eponymous album is his favourite album of 2014

Highlight of 2014: 'Releasing my first official EP, 'Blastphemy'.'
Favorite App: 'Putt the Planets' on Amazon Fire TV ($0.99).'

Many thanks to walkingshoe for taking part, his highlight of the year was definitely one of The New Beatmaker's too.

Be sure to check out walkingshoe here:

So, turning back to Cosmonostro...

T-Funk (UK's Electro-Soul Specialist)

London's T-Funk is another artist that made some of The New Beatmaker's favourite music in 2014.

Released in the Holiday season of 2013 on Cosmonostro, his 'Nebula' EP delivered on the potential of his earlier output, with The New Beatmaker saying this at the time:

'T-Funk's tasteful blending of 90's RnB influences with hip hop knock and ambient style synths to be a highly rewarding and addictive mix.'

An instant hit, T-Funk's 'Nebula' is another of my projects of the year.
The UK producer and musician T-kindly shared his highlights of 2014 with me recently.  Dig in:

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'Fender Stratocaster.'

Ever seen a Fender Stratocaster Get Made? 'A Strat is Born' (Credit:

Favourite software of 2014: 'Apple Logic.'
Favourite song of 2014: '80's Babies ''I Digress.''
Favourite album of 2014: 'D'Angelo & The Vanguard 'Black Messiah.''
Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'Häzel.'
Low point of 2014: 'Creative block for the whole of the Summer.'
Highlight of 2014: 'Releasing three collaboration tracks early in the year.'
Music based New Year resolution of 2014: 'Work with as many people as I possibly can - working with other artists is always more enjoyable.'

I'm certainly looking forward to hearing more from this exceptional talent in 2015, whether as a solo artist or in collabo's.  Happy New Year T-Funk, and thanks for working with me on this one.

Be sure to check him out T-Funk here:

Carvalho (UK Singer-songwriter who mixes the message with music)

Fellow UK artist Carvalho became another instant The New Beatmaker favourite of 2014 with his album  'All the Things You Know To Be True?', which mixed wit, warmth and social commentary with a welcome nineties style soul and funk sound.

Here's what the man himself had to say about a 2014.

Favorite Hardware of 2014: 'Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo Audio Interface, because its compact easy to carry around with your portable studio. Great quality and sound.'
Favourite software and / or sample pack of 2014: 'Logic Pro for me: it does what it needs for making beats. Some good plugins as well.'
Favorite freeware of 2014: 'LMMS - Linux Multimedia Studio: The choice of instruments and plug- ins is broad. There is an on-board beat and bass editor that removes the need for a separate drum sequencer.'
Favourite song of 2014: 'D'Angelo 'Betray my Heart'.  The whole of this track is so soulful that I have had it on repeat since its release, very inspiring.'

Instant classics 'Betray My Heart' and'Black Messiah', Carvalho's favourites of 2014:

5. Favourite album of 2014: ''D'Angelo, 'Black Messiah'. It came as a breath of fresh air and it's very relevant and poignant to our times.'
6. Favourite Producer / Beatmaker of 2014: 'Knox Brown, check him out!'
7. Favorite App of 2014: 'Garage band on my I phone 6, I make beats on the move with it''
8. Low point of 2014: 'My home studio is not up and running yet.'
9. Highlight of 2014: 'Getting licensing deals for my music.  I also started writing new music for EP / album tentatively titled "How we came to be".

''D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' came as a breath of fresh air.  It's very relevant and poignant to our times'.   -Carvalho

Congratulations on the licensing deals and for the creative streak you're clearly on. The New Beatmaker looks forward to hearing the new tracks.

Be sure to check him out Carvalho here:

Phil Phlaymz (Charismatic MC on the Rise)

New York MC Phil Phlaymz came to The New Beatmaker's attention with 'Get 'em High' a meditative piece that was highlighted in 'Your Beats' here.

Phlaymz has a strong, vocal delivery which has a nice balance of grit, warmth and brightness - more about that in his answers below.

This year Phlaymz made good on his earlier potential with 'Mixed Greens Salads', a raunchy, infectious and melodic collection which further confirms Phlaymz place as one of the artists to watch in 2015.

It was only right that we ask Phlaymz to get involved in our 2014 round-up.  Here's what he had to say:

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'It would have to be the Scarlet 6i6 audio interface and Yamaha HS7's I purchased. The interface has an awesome sound to it. If you have a bright voice/Mic combo, the 6i6 will really compliment it.'
Favourite software / sample pack of 2014: 'I don't really hunt for software and samples like I used to. My favorites are my favorites every year: Waves SSL compressor and the drums and samples that I've had since forever. Still haven't went thru them all yet ha!'
Favourite freeware of 2014: 'That would have to be the PSP vintage meter. It's a dope little meter.'

PSP Vintage Meter is a dope little meter, says Phil Phlaymz, many online agree with Phil's verdict:

Favourite song of 2014: 'Club goin' up...on a Tuesday!'
Favourite album of 2014: 'Mixed Greens Salads' of course, ha! Ab-Soul's These Days is a very close second.'
Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'That would have to be anyone who contributed to 'Oxymoron' and 'These Days'. Very dope albums.'
Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: 'That would have to be The New Beatmaker of course! A close second would be the Forbes page on Facebook.'
Low point of 2014: 'The Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions.'
Highlight of 2014: 'Releasing 'Mixed Greens Salads''
Music based New Year resolution of 2014: 'My resolution is to promote the hell out of 'Mixed Greens Salads!' Peace! Thank you.'

Thank you to Phil, check out more from Phil, including 'Mixed Greens Salads' here.

The New Beatmaker's Favourite Music, Lowpoints and Highpoints of 2014:

Wow, there is not enough space to mention every single project I've loved this year, but here are just some of the ones which come to mind as favourites from a very fruitful year:

The New Beatmaker's Favourite albums of 2014

Shameless plug, all of the below artists have featured on The New Beatmaker at some point in this year, be it in 'Soundcloud Sessions', or via dedicated features.  Read the below then get searching on The New Beatmaker!

D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah', The New Beatmaker's favourite album of 2014: 

In no order aside from Best album of 2014: D'Angelo: 'Black Messiah'
Flying Lotus: 'You're Dead!'
Nunca Duerma: 'Shapeshifter'
Vapor Eyes: 'Outparcel'
Nortroniks: 'The Northern Tropics'
Time Travelling Toaster: 'Sinus Rorus'
walkingshoe: 'Blastphemy'
T-Funk: 'Nebula'
Lanzo: '4000dB'
Central Parks: 'East VS West'
Es-K: 'Serenity'
Sev Seveer: ''Constant Elevation: Odessa Star"
Radius: 'Time Travel Is Real (A Prelude To Japan​.​.​.​)' 
Victory The Producer: 'Zuocai "The Sound of Victory Vol.1'
M Slago: 'Old Jonesy'
Bless 1: 'Love'
LAKIM and J'Von: 'Left'
Ackryte: 'Fly Opus'
K15: 'The Black Tape'
Mecca:83: 'Ain't Done too Bad'
Black Milk: 'Glitches in the Break'
Drew OfThe Drew: 'Green'

A favourite track of 2014 'Pull Me Down', off 'Green', a favourite album of 2014, featuring Joana Teters, a The New Beatmaker favourite singer:

Mad Satta: 'Comfort'
Carlo Muscat: 'The Sound Catalogues, Vol. 1'
Chrome Sparks: 'The Meaning Of Love'
Bill Laurance: 'Flint'
Takuya Kuroda: 'Rising Son'
AR Wesley: ''92 Drug Flow'
Žiga Murko: 'The Green Room'
Sombrero Galaxy: 'Midnight Ghosts'
Ed Rowe & KVH: 'Reflective Melody'
Pomo: 'The Other Day'
Kaytranada: 'Instrumental Hip Hop is Dead'
Run The Jewels 'RTJ 2'
Freddie Gibbs / Madlib: 'Pinata' and 'Pinata Beats'
Phil Phlaymz: 'Mixed Green Salads'
Jacob McCaslin & The Jaywalkers: 'Look Both Ways'

Honorary mentions - albums not from late 2013 or 2014, but still The New Beatmaker favourites in 2014:

Evil Alex: 'iGeneration'
J'Von & Ackryte: 'Aqua'
Carvalho: 'All the Things You Know To Be True?'
Boonie Mayfield: '...Presents Solomon Vaughn'
Malice & Mario Sweet: 'Enjoy:Like:Love'
Cor Stidak: 'Treatises of a Pendulum Slave'   

The New Beatmaker's Top 14 Tracks of 2014 

Here are some of my immediate favourites of 2014.  Shameless plug: For a more comprehensive list, check out 2014's 'Soundcloud Selections' editions! ;)

Flying Lotus: 'Coronus the Terminator', neck-and-neck with D'Angelo for the best track of 2014:    

Flying Lotus: 'Coronus the Terminator'
D'Angelo: Any song on 'Black Messiah'
Ed Rowe and KVH: 'Change' RMX
Kimbra: '90's Music' M-Phazes RMX
Evil Alex 'Right Now'
Mick Jenkins: '11'
Pomo: 'So Fine'
Bill Laurance: 'Swag Times'
Drew Ofthe Drew: 'Pull Me Down'
Jacob McCaslin: 'Crossroads to Nowhere'
#MASSACR: 'Show-N-Prove'
AR Wesley feat. Mike Regal: 'Jazzmine'
Cor Stidak and Es-K: 'Bloodmoon and Brandywine'
DJ Shadow 'Six Days' Wigzen ReVision RMX 

Labels of the year:

Expansions Collective, Essenchill, Young Heavy Souls, Cosmonostro, Huhwhatandwhere.

Low Point of 2014

World affairs:

Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions.
The deaths of Rich Nichols and Praverb the Wyse.  

In memory: Richard Nichols and Praverb the Wyse.

As a fan of The Roots since around 1996 it pains me to say that I could barely listen to '&TYSYC'.  Please, miss me with that 'high art' / 'you are clearly not intelligent enough to understand it' rubbish.  Secondly, it breaks my heart to see The Roots play backing group to some of the 'artists' they are on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'.  'We're losing sight of what garbage mean' indeed.

Highlight of 2014

Personal: This has been the biggest and best year so far for The New Beatmaker, thank you so much to each and every one of you.
World affairs: The best of the internet: social media bringing out the best in people, from fundraising, to raising awareness for good causes, etc.
Music: The return of D'Angelo, and in such fine form.
This has been the biggest and best year so far for The New Beatmaker, thank you so much to each and every one of you.
I got some great feedback on the first 'remix' that I put online! My submission for the official Indaba Music Takuya Kuroda 'Afro Blue' remix competition.

My remix of Takuya Kuroda's 'Afro Blue'.  Put together over four hours, on the day of the deadline, on headphones (my speakers had blown the week before).  Takuya Kuroda's 'Rising Son' is one of The New Beatmaker's favourite albums of 2014.

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: I aim to have at least one track that I am happy enough to premier online by the end of the year.  Stay tuned.

Thanks again to Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Phil Phlaymz and Carvalho for taking part.
Read part one here and be on the lookout for part three coming soon.

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