OCDJ - Your Fiddle-beatz project is really a great example of electronics and acoustics mixed. How long did it take for you to write and record?
KF - The majority of the melodies were written when I moved to Toronto in the fall of 2015. Over the next couple of years, I used these melodies as a “playground” to explore arranging and beat making in Ableton. The pieces evolved over time, and by 2017, I decided to re-record the acoustic instruments and fully develop the arrangements to form a cohesive album. Overall, it was a slow process, but fulfilling to be able to create freely without a deadline or business agenda. To me, each piece was an emotional outlet, reflecting what was happening in my life at that time. To be able to write this way was a real luxury, since creative projects are often overshadowed by the pressures of making a living as a musician.
OCDJ - What challenges (if any) did you face? And what would you say was the hardest part: beginning/middle/end etc?
KF - Honestly, one of the biggest challenges of making this album was the amount of computer work involved. I had to take a lot of days off computer work in order to give my back a break. This can be incredibly frustrating since it really slows down the process. It is challenging for me to prioritize my physical/mental health when I hit a creative streak!
In addition, this was the first solo project I had attempted, so it was a challenge making all of the executive decisions, and knowing when the compositions, arrangements, and mixes sounded “good enough”. There’s no instruction manual to tell you when the songs are done, so you really have to know what you are listening for, and know what you like.
Finally, I know relatively little about recording and electronic music production, so there was a lot of trial and error going on from beginning to end! This resulted in a pretty slow workflow, which made it challenging to stay motivated long enough to actually complete an album.
OCDJ - How long have you been playing and how much would you say your fiddle experience plays in to your production. 50/50? More/less
KF - I have been playing fiddle and piano since the age of 7, so the majority of my musical knowledge and experience comes from years of music lessons and performance opportunities. Musical intuition takes years to develop, so I believe that my past experience as a fiddle player played a large role (more than 50%) in the production on this album. That being said, there is still so much to learn about the technical aspects of recording and producing. I would definitely love to take another course in music production…maybe at Off Centre?! ☺
OCDJ - How does genre play a role in your creativity? Are there any musical specific influences that you would site?
KF - I listened almost exclusively to fiddle music as a child (nerd alert), right up until university. I had hit a bit of a wall musically during high school, so began studying Kinesiology/Nutrition at Western University. Half way through my degree, I was exposed to some pop/electronic artists, including Imogen Heap, Reverb Junkie, Ellie Goulding, Bjork, and Coldplay. The sounds and production on these albums sucked me in, and I had to find out how this music was made! I would say that the exposure to pop/electronic genres during this time definitely reignited my passion for music, and sparked my curiosity in music production.
OCDJ - How did lessons at Off Centre benefit you the most?
KF - After a year of touring near the end of my degree, I had become very inspired musically and was eager to start creating. I didn’t want to go through years of additional schooling, so looked for a brief and affordable course to get started as quickly as possible. Off Centre was a perfect fit, so I moved to Toronto’s East end. The “Full Producer” course was very well structured, and helped me navigate through Ableton. All of the instructors were cool to work with, and their own original music was inspiring (still diggin Erik’s “Circles and Squares” album)! I would highly recommend Off Centre, and wouldn’t mind going back for another course myself!
OCDJ - What's next? Any specific production goals for the next few years?
KF - I plan to take another music production course within the next year, to speed up my workflow and improve my beat making. I will continue plugging away at new compositions/arrangements, and would eventually like to make a 2nd Fiddle-Beatz album. I think I would learn a lot from collaborating with others, so would love to work with a vocalist or producer at some point!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT KERRY:
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OFF CENTRE'S PRODUCER PROGRAM
We are very proud to present to you our Second instalment of "Off Centre Selections" which is a podcast entirely made up of songs created by graduates of the Full Producer Certificate Program.
Genres and influences are of course very wide in range. Expect anything from Trip Hop, to Trance, and EDM, to instrumental film soundtracks.
Congratulations to all the featured artists for their impressive efforts:
0:00 Micky Myers - Six Feet Over
2:31 FIddle-beaTZ - Shadow
5:30 Akeil Fields - Downtime ft. Bella Rose
9:48 Carli Cottrell - Cancer
12:42 Deadweight - Lakitu
16:15 FIddle-beaTZ - Leave
19:41 Creelo - Aquarius Ft. Hafs al-Ghazi
27:07 AKA - Remix of Zeds Dead X NGHTMRE - Frontlines Ft. GG Magree
30:48 Akeil Fields - Canada's Most Blunted
34:06 Carli Cottrell - Short Term Memory
In September, Off Centre DJ School graduates were showcased over four days at Fan Expo Canada 2016 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Their DJ skills were greatly received by the 130,000+ pop culture fans in attendance. The weekend was in a word - awesome! 15 current and former student DJs rocked the decks for 4 days of masked hero and villain intensity by bringing energy, creativity and entertainment to the event. The talent was evident as the students took the stage with confidence in front of the lively crowds.
We partnered with local giving organisation 'The Umber Goose Project' who donated a cash prize for the DJ who rised to the occasion and maintained their composure even in the trickiest of mixes. It was a difficult decision with all the DJs having brought their A-Game, but it came down to two DJs who performed on multiple days, Sanzhar Zhorabayev and Andis Francis!
We would like to thank the Fan Expo organisers and the Toronto Metro Convention Centre for the opportunity and a special thanks to all of the colourful characters who amped up the experience with their impromptu dance moves!
Huge round of applause to the Off Centre crew:
Nalae & Jared, DJ Ki, DJ DC, DJ Panda, Maestro Sanjik, Yegee Lee (Violin), Ava Zhu, DJ Andis
Chainsaw, DJ Kevon, Sirens & Satyrs, Sentry Swank
RECAP VIDEO HERE!
One of the early producers to really break out of his shell internationally from Canada at the turn of the century is Alan Lam, better known as Stranjah, and more recently Skeezer. With over 15 years of experience behind the boards, the savvy veteran is still currently churning out some of his finest material to date. His early production endeavours were clearly influenced by house, low-end hip hop production and various other forms of earlier bass music. Splashing onto the scene initially with then-partner-in-crime Gremlinz, his music found its way into the hands of legends like Goldie, L Double and Doc Scott, all of whom were keen on playing his music out in their sets and ultimately signed him to their respective imprints Metalheadz, Flex and 31 Records.
A favourite here at Off Centre Alan inspires students in Ableton Foundation and our Full Producer Program.
"Don't Cha" wanna give this remix contest a try? ;) Follow this LINK for a chance to win some fantastic prizes including a $250 OCDJ gift card. DEADLINE IS MAY 28th
Sound architect Matt Thibideau has a wealth of Synth knowledge pouring out of his modular brain. We grabbed a bucket to hold some of it and realized it wasn't enough so we decided to get him over to OCDJ for a highly anticipated weekend workshop happening July 18th. Here's a taste of the man's knowledge.
OCDJ - It's time to abandon ship and you've got only 2 minutes. Which synth is going with you? Why is it so special?
MT - That is a really tough question. It may be the Oberheim OBX, or my Roland System 100m modular.
Both for very different reasons. The OBX is great at lush sounding polyphonic stabs, chords and bass sounds. I tend to turn to it a lot because it sounds alive. No two notes really sound exactly the same.
The Roland System 100m is a great compact modular synthesizer that can dream up pretty much any sound, it could be drums, bass, bleeps, or weird sound fx. With the ability to connect it via patching and
so many different synthesizer parameters, the sky is the limit.
OCDJ - You were recently featured in a documentary about modular synthesizers. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What was it like being approached to be in it?
MT - I dream of wires is a great documentary that explains the disappearing and then return of the modular synthesizer in music. The Artist Solvent (who put the movie together) got in touch with me after knowing about my music in the local scene here in Toronto for years. What drew them to include our studio was that we have the Synclavier (an early digital sampler that changed the way music was made in the 80's).
It is a great documentary for both the enthusiasts and people new to synthesizers as it gives some insight into the history of some great machines and how people use them.
OCDJ - Are you opposed to digital gear or have you found a way to fuse the two worlds together?
MT - I do use some digital gear, mostly in the form of hardware (Samplers, FM and Wavetable synths). I also do use a Mac with Protools. It pretty much acts like a big tape machine and editing suite with midi control.
So in this way the two worlds do come together. All of my sounds tend to come from external instruments though. It is a comfortable way of working for me I guess.
OCDJ - Are there places in Toronto you like visiting to get inspired?
MT - I tend to leave the city to get my inspiration, but have walked around outside to record different "natural" types of sounds. I tend to record and take this back to the studio for
a lot of experimenting and manipulating.
I do visit the lake shore a lot as a bit of an escape from the city.
OCDJ - Besides navigating around mountains of synths at your awesome studio, do you have another passion?
MT - I enjoy my bike rides, and going to the gym when I have time. Listening to lots of ambient music and working with other like minded artists.
Performing live and travelling makes me happy too.
"Never be afraid to try working at a lower sampling rate"
OCDJ - Our students go bananas over tips. Do you have a drum programming or synth tip you'd be willing to share?
MT - 1. Erase the presets, Avoid sample packs, and build your sounds from the ground up.
2. Make kits of drum sounds using synths and sample them into different devices.
3. Never be afraid to try working at a lower sampling rate. Recording and sampling sounds in 8 bit, and 20khz can produce interesting and sometimes
OCDJ - What can participants expect from your "Intro to Modular Synths" workshop?
MT - Participants can expect to explore all of the aspects of a smaller "moog" styled modular synthesizer.
This will include the Oscillator, Filter, Amplifier and Envelope. We will talk about how they all interact and some of the history of the synthesizer.
OCDJ - Any last words or projects coming up you'd like to tell the world?
MT - My Brother and run a small label called Obsolete Components with many different recordings done with modular and hardware synthesizers. We have plenty of music to share with the world here.
We will also be heading to Europe this August to perform some of that music live.