Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sea Breeze

I just finished cutting a new disco-house track called Sea Breeze. The last time I made any disco or house was around early June of 2007.

It's been almost a year, but I still got it!

When I first began formulating the concept behind the Stegosaurus Rex project in 2005/2006, it had been roughly 2-3 years since I last made any music. I began making music around 2001 in high school, and due to the limitations of what musical equipment I had (basically, nothing) I made only trance music. Trance (the cheesiest kind) was still kind of big amongst some crowds in school, and that's all I made. It was easy, because everything revolved around 140 bpm, everything was in a major scale, and finding trance synth sounds was an easy job.

I worked under the moniker of MiXCHure in those days, and I produced the cheesiest pop trance.

However, in the back of my head, I always wanted to make disco/house music, which I began listening to around the age of 9 or 10 with an old mono channel Magnavox radio. I would keep the radio by my pillow and listen to old disco jams on Saturday nights while I drifted off to sleep.

It bugged me; why couldn't I make any house? Nothing sounded funky. Every attempt at house music ended up sounding like crappy trance.

I stopped the MiXCHure project in the summer of 2003 as I prepared to go to college. My computer died, taking with it all my source files for my music, and along with it, my desire for making music. The first two years of college were times of restlessness for me, because I had no outlet.

In 2005, I began making music again, under no moniker, because I did not intend on making a new musical project. At this point, I had studied some jazz and blues theory and understood a little bit better about the scales and chords that are related to disco and house.

I was, of course, pretty rusty, and I had with me a demo version of Fruity Loops, which did not allow me to save any of my source files. All my music in those few years sounded extremely amateur and simple, yet the main structure for house tracks became embedded in my mind.

I began to seriously pursue a music project again in late 2005, early 2006. I dubbed this project Stegosaurus Rex, and I began focusing on hip-hop and electro-house. Most people understood the hip-hop part. Most people didn't understand electro-house at all. To them, this was just "porn music" and they got a kick out of seeing what I could produce.

My experimentation with house music, however, was not limited to seeing this wonderful stuff as just "porn music" because I grew up loving the disco music aesthetic. I loved the thick, lush, layered sounds of classic disco. I loved the stripped and chopped-up elements of electro-house, as heard in the work of Daft Punk. I also loved it because it was just funky, plain and simple.

2006-2007 was a year of great strides with the house music, as I began sampling as well as learning how to program my own custom patches in different software synthesizers. I could control the texture of a dance track, making it hard and glitchy, or smooth and mellow.

I had conquered house music.

By this time, I had begun recording live instruments such as guitar and drums, and quickly moved off to producing experimental rock and more hip-hop because I was no longer limited to just synthesizers.

In the past few months, sitting down to make house has been hard, because something that started off funky would end up as hip-hop or rock, because I was compelled to slow down the tempo and then add samples or add guitar.

I decided to sit down and really stick to making a house track this weekend, because I wanted to see if I still had those disco-making skills.

I started out with some nice chords and string pads, and a nice funky bass. I layered the 909 over it all, for a great little beat.

Next, I fired up REAPER and stuck in some subtle, muted guitar arpeggios.

A little reverb here, a dash of delay there.

Voila! A deep-house track! Something a bit different from the other types of house music I had done before. It sounded so sublime, so subtle, so sexy, I had to call it Sea Breeze.

I guess I did the roots of Steg Rex proud. If only young little Max Chen in high school, making his trance music could hear what he would be doing in just a few years' time.

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