How-to video goes from masking-tape groove to euphoria
Making electronic music has changed drastically in the past decade or so. Beats that used to be programmed and manipulated in real time are increasingly constructed on screen, and sampling has grown from a matter of spit-and-chewing-gum into something approaching an exact science. That's not to say that one method is better than the other, but music makers reliant on a GUI may find that the interface can become an obstacle to attaining a certain kind of looseness: Composing on screen, it's easy to build a track as though stacking Legos, all right angles and perfect joins.
The Bulgarian producer KiNK (Strahil Velchev) offers a more off-the-cuff, intuitive approach in a making-of video for his new single "Hand Made," which comes out on Rush Hour this week. Beginning with a locked groove, created in scratch-DJ fashion with a dot of masking tape stuck to a vinyl record, Velchev proceeds to construct the beat around it, dropping in drum-machine patterns and using filters to sculpt the loop into a throbbing, gelatinous mass. You can see (and hear) how his tactile tactics lend an unusual sense of slippage to the groove: Synchronized by hand, not MIDI, the loop drifts slightly above the beat, lending a barely perceptible dynamism to the rhythm, and Velchev's real-time manipulation of the filters adds a visceral oomph that's hard to replicate with a mouse and computer keyboard.
That's not all there is to it, of course; the final track was edited and mixed on PC, collaged together out of the session's most compelling moments and incorporating dubbed-out vocals from the singer Rachel Row, who demonstrates her own techniques in the video's latter half. You can see a longer version of his jam on this video. Both clips offer a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at the process of making electronic music — and ample evidence that there's no better way to make this stuff than by getting your hands dirty.