Why I use hardware to write Techno.

Basically it comes down to playing the flow of Techno rather than constructing Techno in an interrupted, disjointed and separated mess. Each of my machines is an instrument that is played and jammed with just like any other instrument. I just can’t get that same feeling when sitting in front of a computer.

The other thing that steers me away from using a computer is the short upgrade cycle and compatibility issues. The never ending headaches that come from software becoming unstable after every Operating System upgrade and then the hardware issues that come from manufacturers that decide to remove ports or change ports which leave many people pulling their hair out (I am looking at you Apple).

I am still using hardware that I bought over 15 years ago to write and play Techno and I expect that I will still have these machines after another 15 years. Just consider the old Roland 303, 909 or 808, if you can find one for sale, it is worth a lot of money and still very useful after all these years. I can’t say the same for previous laptops I have owned. My change to using Apple computers has been much better than the Windows computers I used 20 years ago, but, they are still a headache and I have little respect for Apple regardless. So I aint no Apple fanboy thats for sure. I just try and get the best and most reliable tool for the job. There is no loyalty from me to either Apple or Microsoft, I just don’t trust them.

When I first started writing and playing Techno I had every intention of staying strictly in a hardware environment. Cost and portability has limited my expansion in this original direction. However, I do find the use of the computer as very handy for creating my Live mixing environment even if I cringe every time I play and experience the usual crashes or glitches. I have learnt how far I can push a computer on stage and how much load it can take, so the glitches are getting rare and reliability is improving. Still, the computer is nowhere near as reliable as pure dedicated hardware.

I also hear that folks say things like, “Hardware has too many limitations” and other such perspectives. I don’t see that at all. As I follow and understand the genre of Techno I have never found any limitations with the hardware I use. The limitations have always been in my own head, my own knowledge and abilities. I find that I can do the same production techniques used in a computer only environment. When I learn and understand a particular technique I then work it out on the machines.

Here is one of my latest Live recordings for you to chew on. This one was played Live, on the fly, using the Korg Electribe EMX-1. I have had this machine since 2005 and although I have found it the most challenging machine to learn I feel I am now able to get the type of sounds I like. It is not a sampler and so I find the ‘fixed’ sound library to be the challenge when it comes to Techno. I just had to accept what it is and focus on that rather than what it is not.


It’s all good folks…

I got over my DAW issues and we made friends again. I decided to stick with Reaper and walk out on Ableton. It’s not that I don’t like Ableton but it is too damned expensive for me to upgrade at this time and I don’t really need all the functions it has to offer anyway. I just need to create a live mixer for my machines and Reaper does this in it’s grass-roots kind of way. Reaper looks better as well.

I am now busy crafting a new set finally and I did push out a little test video recently here;

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I also had a major revelation with how I want to play. I watched a video of DVS1 and how he just lays down multiple decks in that Jeff Mills old-school way as well as how DVS1 described the BPM he likes to play with – at 131 BPM. I used to play at about this pace and once again I tried working at 131 BPM rather than 125BPM it made sense to me and I felt it was a better pace.

I also watched an old video of Jeff Mills and in it he was describing his perspective on the Minimal sound and his direction there. I like the part where he talks about how it takes a person about 2-3 minutes to really lock into a groove and for the mind to start to work with the sounds and create its own sonic understanding. This is what I like about the really loopy stuff that may initially seem monotonous but is actually very subtle and has its own movement that sort of forms up out of nowhere. I don’t need any flashy hooks or dramatic flares, I just like the sneaky subtle flow of a track that permeates.

That’s why I liked Techno in the first place. So that is where I am heading…