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A Samplers’ Journey To My New Album - The Meaning Of All Things - B(L)og 025

Here we are at a new B(L)og 025. Glad you’re here. Much appreciated! Today is the release of my brand-new album The Meaning Of Things. Really happy to bring this album into existence and for your listening pleasure.


Now on to the topic of today. Sample-based music is relatively obscure and incredibly niche to say the least. As that’s the case, the journey to establishing a presence as an artist who makes it is going to be one a slow burn over time. Today we’re going to revisit some of my sample-based albums the samplers used, and marketing techniques used to release them. I hope this chronological path will help you with your album making process.



The Daydream Sound I - 2002


This album was my very first attempt at being a solo artist. It was also my first crack at making a truly instrumental sample-based work.


I remember each song came from beats that I would play live while I was with my group in the early 2000’s. I would use “008” (track two) in particular as a soundcheck before we went on stage. It was just a poly-rhythmic beat and every time I played it my cousin and group member would be like -




Yo! Run that one again”.

That let me know that as odd as I thought it was, it was still relatable.


That was the beginning, and in retrospect, it was the only album of mine where the songs were tested and heard by other people than me before they were released. “Rele”, the lead off track was only in its skeleton stage when I would let my friends hear it and ask them what their thoughts about it were.


I was so heavy into sampling vinyl at that time. “VIWC”, the ending track had at least 20 separate records used to make it. Records from all types of sources and genres. It was really a diverse album. They were blended and mixed into a great song.


At this time all I had was the Ensoniq EPS16+ and Steinberg Halion (the original version). That was a whole lot of sampling power. The entire process of arranging each song was really a test to me. Out of all the albums this one really pushed me into a higher skill level.


I released this album on CD originally in 2002. I would walk around and give the CD out to people who I thought would like it. I would literally go to clubs and leave copies of it on people’s car windshields in the parking lot. I didn’t have any listeners and I didn’t know where to find people who would relate to it. I went to college radio stations as well. Some people liked it some didn’t.


As a matter of fact, everyone that I gave it to played in on the radio. It was really tough because the main way to get noticed was literally getting reviewed in a music magazine. That was a code I couldn’t crack. And furthermore, I didn’t have a way to distribute my home-made CDs anyway. I was just doing something I loved without a plan. I was discouraged. I knew the music was good but I couldn’t find the listeners.


9 years later, the world had completely changed. The internet became way faster. It became possible to sell music on the internet. Bandcamp in particular was the ultimate power shift. It gave any independent or major artist the ability to sell their music. All the artist had to do was promote themselves. By this time, I had people interested in what I was able to do with vintage samplers on YouTube and Facebook. Without realizing it, this became my listener base.


Long story short; On September 21st, 2011 I re-released “The Daydream Sound I” digitally and that’s when my music career really began as a solo artist.



The Daydream Sound II Passage to Alkebulan - 2013


Two years passed and I was ready to give an album a go again. By 2013 I had a small but growing buzz for my music. I had acquired an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler during this time and decided that it was going to be the main feature of this album.


By this time, I understood how to market a digital product. I coupled this album with a fictional fantasy story that I wrote based around two orphaned young twins on a planet called Alkebulan. They were mentored and guided by three sage like characters. The story recounts their adventures. It came complete with artwork and production notes that were all included with the digital download of “Passage to Alkebulan”.


As far as sampling I was still using records as source material with a good bit of out-door recordings mixed in. I remember still being aware of the fact that it was an instrumental album. It was definitely different from a beat tape (which were popular around this time) I knew I couldn’t rely on the beat tape crowd to embrace this type of music. All I could do was rely on the people who like my first album. And that’s what I did (in addition to something that else I’ll describe next).


I went full industry mode for the release of this album. I contacted music blogs, magazines and music reviewers. I ended up getting a few write-ups out it all.


On release day, the album coupled with the story and artwork made a very solid impression. And if there’s anything I could say of this album is that it really informed people about my style of music.



The Daydream Sound III The Origin of Silence - 2014


You’re going to notice a trend with this one but I’ll withhold it until later on. “The Daydream Sound III” was way more of a sample-synthesized album. I haven’t done anything like it since.


This album was made primarily with the EPS16+ and an Alesis Nano Synth. I ended up selling that very Nano Synth before the actual release date. This album to me was a test of how well I could use synthesized sounds with sounds. I realized how easy it was to just create without the pre-production required when you use a sampler exclusively. You don’t have to search for source-material when your working with a synth.


From a marketing standpoint. I continued the story I started with “Passage To Alkebulan”. To my surprise people wanted to know what happened next in the story. They were also listening to the music as they read the chapters. I found that amazing! I got a bit bolder with this release and decided to include a physical cassette as well.


Here’ the trend. 2014 was in fact a re-release of the album. This album was initially released in 2005. It was still the undeveloped ages of internet music distribution back then. So in the 2010’s I made a note to re-release all the albums that I made when I couldn’t find an audience. I wanted to see how “The Origin Of Silence” would do on level playing field.



Gold Revelation - 2015


It was time to level up to a vinyl release as well as a short form offering. Two songs with a straightforward style. A testing ground for making a record without sampling from vinyl. For this I employed the Ensoniq ESQ-1for the melodies. The Akai MPC 2000 Classic was used heavily on both songs for outdoor samples and everything else. You can really hear the timing of the MPC make itself known in the recordings.


It was a great experience getting the vinyl records together and coming up with a packaging scheme that worked with my design ethic. This really pushed me into becoming and online storefront. Shipping products became an operational reality. And unbeknownst to me, I really enjoyed it. One of these days I’m really going to open up brick and mortar store.


The release day was pretty crazy. I got really great feedback that came from people that I didn’t know. Then it hit me. My audience was growing beyond the people who I was actively marketing to. It was a great time!



Formations In Rhythm - 2015


Now that I had proof that a sample-based album using outdoor/foley sounds was something that I could do, I started to speed up my work rate. Within the same year I began “Formations In Rhythm” A really quick flow of recordings that I gathered from unfinished music recorded over the years. It was an Ensoniq Trilogy album. On top of that I had just got the Elektron Octatrack and used it for “Adaima’s Sea Creatures


I had license to do what I wanted to as far as sound exploration and I ran with it. To keep things moving, I kept it as a digital release. That’s the amazing thing about digital music. You can get it out on the street without any wait time.


Again, the story was continued and that in a way fueled my work rate. I remember releasing this album without and warning. No promo, no nothing. On release day I was like. “Yo! New album out now!”



Company In Your Head - 2015


It’s still 2015 at this point. I still can’t believe I made so much music that year. Anyway, I was on a creative mission. “Company In Your Head” was me giving the Octatrack the drivers seat.


I kept it really light for this album. I didn’t continue the story. No bonus material included with the album at all. I just got it out the door. This was the rate of output that I wanted to maintain. 3 albums a year. I figured the more I establish myself as a recording artist the father my reach would be. And it worked!


This album resonated pretty heavily with listeners. It was completely exploratory I did whatever I wanted to. I sang on it. I included sound collages and at the end I was still nervous. Was I going to be able to be myself and get away with doing my own style of music? Would people get bored? Would people think I’m weird? Eccentric? Unstable? These were my thoughts and as that was the case, I figured


“I better just release this one and see how it goes. If it fails, I’ll just move on.”


ReFresh - 2017


Work in my personal life was ramped up to an incredible demand. I couldn’t keep up with the pace that I had set. It was a very busy time. I could only see myself releasing one song. I had never done that before. Not only that; I didn’t even think I had the time to really mix one song either.


A generative straight to two-track mix came to mind. I was really getting into MIDI CC control and that sort of thing, so a meandering sound exploration collage was the idea. One day I hooded up the ASR-10 & ESQ-1 together. I whipped up a few evolving samples via transwave synthesis and used the output of ESQ-1 and sent it straight into the ASR-10 as a live input. It was a sequence that evolved all on its own. I got my Zoom recorder out and recorded a long performance. All I had to do was press play and the instruments did their own thing.


The result was an ambient, immersive, calming and wandering. I was really happy with it. I don’t think I even had to do much to master the recording. I released it again without warning and went back to my day job.


The response wasn’t overwhelming. I couldn’t really complain through. There was no promotion and only one song. I also knew that singles weren’t my thing. Not for the music that I do. The silver lining is that the people who like “ReFresh”; Really, really like it. That’s good enough for me!



History Never Gets Old - 2019


A lot changed. I retired from my day job. Switched DAW’s from Cubase VST/32 to Ableton Live 9. And decided to make an album with even more outdoor found sounds. I knew that I needed to return to marketing and promoting my music. I got kind of lazy with that over the past couple releases.


I tried to make the type of music that would teach me something. I wanted to push my skill level to a place that I hadn’t previously. I used almost every sampler I owned. It was a liberal creative work. I figured that I needed to create something that would make an impression. Ableton was so new to me. It offered so much control. I was more open to taking risks and doing things that would take awhile in Cubase. I was learning and creating at the same time. At some point during the end stages of mixing I was like


“I think this one’s going to do well.”


I did a proper promotional run with pre-orders. I knew who liked my music and who didn’t. I was eager to get this one to market. Cassettes were ready. Everything was ready to go! On release day it was the best response yet. People got it! They were like


“I finally get what you’re on man!”

The second general response was;


“How did you make this? What sampler did you use?”


Which Brings Us Up To Now - November 24th, 2022


3 years later we’re now here with “The Meaning Of All Things”. An album that I’m really pleased with. I think this album represents the best of all that I’ve learned throughout my artist career. From the music, right through to the extensive bonus material included with the album.


The samples and sample synthesis on this album are through the roof! The care taken with balancing the overall source material passed through several samplers both antiquated and current was an absolute pleasure.


I want to say so much about it. And I have. I’ve written and entire production dairy that’s included with the album. More importantly I want to hear your opinion of it.


Let me know what you think.



Thanks for reading!


TDS


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