8bit interview. Music from Brooklyn and Second Life.

8bitCihan Kaan is a Brooklyn native who in the early ninety’s made a ton of underground electronic music under the name 8Bit. In fact as he will tell you he’s the original 8bit. Last week I was chatting with Cihan and he mentioned he recently performed live in the online game Second Life. When he told me he made money I knew I had to interview him for Wire to the Ear.

You grew up in Brooklyn saw the rise of techno take place just blocks away from your house with Frankie Bones, Groove Records and the Storm Raves. Tell us in brief your interaction with the “scene” as it was called! Who were some of your friends and what were you guys all doing?

Yea, everyone lived within a two mile radius of each other, Sheepshead Bay/Canarsie/Marine Park/Avenue U. Lenny Dee of Industrial Strength Records had barbeques at his mom’s place (now a russian health insurance fraud clinic) with all the acts on his label so I was there as much as I could be without being invited, hehehe. Frankie and Adam were over on the west end of Avenue U and I had street beef with the west end Avenue U Boys (AUB) so I couldn’t really stretch over there too much without threat of escalating my beef (in a nutshell, my best friends brother was Avenue U East Side crew leader who was missing so ppl thought I had some connection to that). Heather Heart was making the Under One Sky zine and lived the closest to me and on any day you would see her wandering Neck Road with a tb-303, hunched over walking home. Thats a clear image for me because I was a drugstore delivery boy and I would see Heather all the time walking around with some vintage acid toy. Most of my crew was the “younger” lot of rave kids, so although I was one of the first promoters of Storm Rave I was primarily converting skaters and punks to the new rave scene of the time. There was never a full acceptance into the older generation of techno ppl, most of the kids I brought in were still wide-eyed about techno and there was a sense that this optimism made you less of a hardcore head. I don’t think that was true. After the Storm we all became NASA elite and I remember Moby performing every week. One night me and Moby talked about my new demo I was pimping around on Cassette (the OHMZ cassete) and he wanted to meet 8bit - Liveafter his show, but that night my bag of tapes got stolen so the transfer never happened. Later in the night I was depressed in the chillout room and Ernie (a kid who ran around with an Ernie doll on his neck) found the bag, but it was too late. Around that time I hooked up with Super Mario who was starting a hardcore label with Joey Jupiter of Atomic Babies and put out my first 8Bit record Tweeked, which he took privilege to completely cut apart to make DJ Friendly. That record actually is mostly all that red box you gave me along with the Oberheim you also gave me. The 707 I bought from the buy-n-sell for $50, and the Amiga I used for samples obviously was left over from before the scene. After Tweeked came out (it was a white 7″), Curious George and Deitrich Shoenemann from Prototype 909, hooked me up with job at Moby’s old label Instinct and I packed his records in boxes all summer. I hope that answers your question, I’m really flying over lots of details and probably forgetting lots of people along the way.

Tell us a few of the most memorable events (dare I say Raves?) or nightclubs from back then.

The Storm Rave in ’93 the warehouse in Shaolin was like the Thunderdome scene in Mad Max; burning cars, people dancing on rusty metal barrels. It’s a root memory I have I always mine from when I’m making a track. Frankie screaming into the mic that we were future. Never seen party like that since. Also, remember we had no style back than, so for the most part it was a diverse set of kids (not yet called ravers) all gathered listening to this new future music. It wasn’t a poseur thing at all — in all these academic papers on the rave scene I read about, people seem to forget that techno really emerged as a movement, not a style. It was Dinkins’ New York when you were still allowed to break in to places and bring in Speakers and equipment. Storm raves were always great parties but other events that stood out were the outlaw parties thrown around the neighborhood, the Gerritsen Beach swamp parties were nuts, not only could i ride my bike to the party, but everyone would be there and the music was insane, all in a swamp marsh. I tried to recreate that in the scene in “Refuse to Fight”8bit - Logo when the crew is staring into the fire, the video I directed for Frankie. Seems like parties were all over back than, under the highway, under the bridge, whereever we had access to a dark spot with concrete around.

Darker memories come later when I was too hopped up on psycedelics particularly at NASA, one night I lost my mind and the beats sounded like machinations from Hell and I thought the dancefloor was a shark infested pool. I actually leapt into my boy Evan’s chest trying to get some of his positive “E” vibes. Of course that didnt work and I quickly fell into a fear and loathing type of head and pulled a blade out on the guards who were trying to quell me (I was trying to jump into Dante’s chest, Scotto’s chest, etc). They threw me out and all i remember from there is walking around in the winter on the west side of manhattan with my clothes ripped off.

Since this interview is for a music tech blog let’s talk gear. Compare how you made music in 1994 to 2007. What was your computer set up then vs. now? Continue reading 8bit interview. Music from Brooklyn and Second Life.

Great pro-audio videos from Tech Stuff on Qoob.tv.


Qoob.tv is an Italian video website that partners with MTV Europe. It has it’s own internet shows and networks and it also allows users to upload content. One of the gems on the site is an in house show called Tech Stuff. They have produced ten excellent electronic music related videos.

Some of the subjects covered so far include a visit to Jomox in Berlin, Sherman Filter, Moog Music, Analog Synthesis, Theremins and more. The videos are all well produced and worth a visit.

Tech Stuff is a documentary of 10 x 4 mins episodes on the techniques, the artists and the mostTech Stuff bizarre instruments which have made the history of electronic music. Why is it that bands such as Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk use equipment from more than 30 years ago? What are Theremin, Moog and generative music? How does a filter work? How is sound digitalised? Who were Robert Moog and Lev Termen? Did electronic music already exist in the 1920s? How is a vinyl record pressed? And what about the future? These and many more questions find their answer in Tech Stuff, with rare footage, performance excerpts and interviews made to appease the needs of the International sound enthusiasts. – Tech Stuff, qoob.tv

Here is the 5 minute Jomox video interview with founder Jürgen Michaelis. In the video he mentions they still have a shop open in Berlin. I’m going to have to make a trip over there as soon!

Ableton Live Skins and the Ableton Live Skin Editor.

Ableton Live - Skin Editor

I love the Ableton Live GUI (Graphical User Interface). It’s vector based so you can resize it dynamically in real time. It allows you to stretch and open/close different areas within the workspace. For example show or hide theZark - Red Skin for Ableton Live file browser or stretch the clip view up to view larger waveforms. If you go to the preference panel (command-,) and click the “Look Feel” section you will see in the Colors section you can choose different Skins. In Live 7 you have 25 Skins to choose from. But did you know you can download more off the internet? And did you know there is a Mac and PC editor that allows you to make your own Skins?

To download more Skins head to: http://sonictransfer.com/ableton-live-skins/
For the editor software: http://sonictransfer.com/ableton-live-skin-editor.shtml

You could call me a Skinhead because I downloaded about 20 of these. Ableton gave Sonic Transfer the official “go ahead” so I wouldn’t worry about these mucking up the Live code or anything. My version of Live never crashes. When I play a live show I like to put a nice red Skin up. In the studio I usually use a grey and pink skin.

Ableton Live - Skin PreferencesFor Windows users:
The Ableton Live Skins folder is located in Program Files\Ableton\Live\Resources\Skins.

For Mac users:
The Ableton Live Skins folder is inside the Live application. Right-click (or ctrl-click) the Live application and select Show Package Contents to access the Skins.

Adding A New Skin:
After you have found your Ableton Live Skins folder, you can copy any skin file into it. If you are running Live, you will need to restart it before it will see the new skin. Once you start Live, click on the Options menu, then click Preferences. Go to the Misc tab and select your skin under the Appearance section

One feature that I would like to see would be the Skin attached to the song. So for example if I put a really dark purple Skin on a gothic song I am working on the next time I load that song up the Skin loads too. I got stuck on the “Battleship” Skin for a while. Do you have a particular Skin your addicted to?

Acoustic Feedback simulator plug-in by Softube.

Acoustic Feedback - Plug-in

Do you remember my post “Feedback as a sound source.“? I talk about how it can be useful to add feedback into your sterile digital recordings. Up until now I have had to aim my microphone at my speakers and hit record. One major thing I don’t like about doing that isiLok the chances of blowing a woofer are pretty high when using Yamaha NS10Ms. So I was really pleased to see a new plug-in called Acoustic Feedback by Softube which simulates feedback.

I wanted to try the demo today but when I got to the download page I realized it requires an iLok. This maybe a deal breaker for me because I’ve lost dongles and USB Flash Dives in the past. I’m also out of USB ports on my Macbook Pro. I don’t want to get into the whole copy protection debate. I don’t steal or pirate software. Companies have the right to use iLok or Syncrosoft if they so choose.

Release your inner beast with the first realistic guitar feedback simulator on the market. Go from moderate and subtle to rampant and wild by the twist of a knob (or two). To break new musical ground, try inputting a synthesizer, a violin, or even your mother’s grand piano. – www.softube.se

I really want to hear a drum machine and vocals run though this plug-in. Acoustic Feedback is $99 USD and is available in Native formats for VST/AU/RTAS, Mac/PC.

Superb arpeggiator history video from Spectrasonics.

Eric Persing - Spectrasonics

Spectrasonics has been creating a series of videos for it’s upcoming super soft synth Omnisphere. The latest video is quiet excellent. Eric Persing knows how to get you excited about a product. The video takes a time line tour of arpeggiators in vintage synths. You get to see a Moog Modular, Roland Jupiter 4, Jupiter 8, Juno 60, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, Roland JP-800 and Access Virus all “arping” away.

I like the implementation of the step sequencer/arpeggiator in Omniphere too. The “oh nice” moment comes when he drops a Jazz midi groove template into Omnisphere and the arpeggiator locks to it. The Omnisphere arpeggiator also has a swing parameter which is vital in today’s electronic music.

To see the video click on “Continue Reading…” because it’s a Quicktime I didn’t want to have it slow down the main page of this site (it autoloads). Continue reading Superb arpeggiator history video from Spectrasonics.

Making Groups in Ableton Live is really easy.

Ableton Live - Group Channel

One of the best things about Ableton Live is its flexible routing structure. People coming from other DAWs or beginners overlook how easy it is to make Groups in Live. I like to have each of my drum sounds (snare, hi hat, toms) on separate channels each with their own relative volume, panning and effects. I then put them into a Group channel to control the overall volume of the drums with just one fader. The Live User Manual calls Groups “submixes”:

Suppose we have the individual drums of a drum kit coming in on separate tracks for multitrack recording. In the mix, we can easily change the volumes of the individual drums, but adjusting the volume of the entire drum kit against the rest of the music is less convenient. Therefore, we add a new audio track to submix the individual drums. The drum tracks are all set to output to the submix track, which outputs to the Master. The submix track gives us a handy volume control for the entire drum kit. – Ableton Live 7.0 User Manual

Take a look at the screenshot above (click it to see it in a larger size). Create your drum channels or any audio or midi channels you want to have Grouped together. Next create an audio channel (Command-T). Name your new audio channel “Group” (Command-R to rename). On each of the channels you want to be part of the Group find the Output Chooser drop down menu and select “Group”. The Output Chooser menu is directly below the label that reads “Audio To”. The last thing you need to do is set the Monitor to “In” on the Group channel. This way you can hear your new drum Group!

Do you use Groups?

Apparently I can live in the 80s forever. Jeff and Jane.

Jeff and Jane

One result of the internet invention is I can find a constant flow of electronic songs recorded in the 1980s that I never heard before. Now I want to point out that I know several million electronic songs from the eighties already so this is an astonishing fact! Synthpop, new wave, ebm is my freak obsession. I seek every word of every song and every synth note played from that decade. I’m dumbfounded when IJeff and Jane - Flesh come across something that I never heard of before.

Don’t worry, my blabbing is leading this blog post somewhere… Yesterday I decided to jump around in MySpace to find some new music. I click on a friend or artist I know and then just randomly click on one of their friends and see what I can find. We all do that right? To me this replaces going to a record store and searching the bins or even dial surfing on the radio. I landed on the Daft Records page because Daft Records kicks ass (it’s the Belgian electronic body music label run by Dirk Ivens). The top friend in their top 8 is a band called Jeff and Jane. As soon as I saw the black and white scanned photo they used as their profile picture my eighties radar started going off so I had to click. This is one of the songs on the Jeff and Jane MySpace page called Los Alamos:

Some of you are thinking right now… eeew that was shitty. I however think that song is fucking awesome. When he sings, “You’ve got lots of political power!” I knew I had to grab everything these guys made I could find. That lead me to click on their website officialjeffandjane.com and discovered you can download a lot of there music for free!

The band performed in venues in Boston, New York and Philadephia. The music was electro-pop employing early Roland synths and the TR808 drum machine. For some performances, Wally Gagel appeared on drums with Russ Smith on bass. In 1985 the band stopped performing and recording. In 1986, Jeff started to direct music videos and Jane produced video art. Both were teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. – officialjeffandjane.com

I had to share Jeff and Jane with you. This is what music is all about… discovery, feeling, memories, getting fired up! What’s so cool about finding an old song like this is you can open Ableton on your laptop, add some tape noise, retro synth and drum machine vst’s and shoot for a similar sound.

There is great music happening in 2008 (MGMT, Justice) but my heart still lives in 1988.

Use Twitter as a promotion tool for your music.

Twitter is a service that fits somewhere between email, instant messengering and micro blogging. If your a musician or record label you can use Twitter as a promotion tool. Twitter has RSS feeds and badges so each of your posts can instantly be placed across the internet at several locations at once. Twitter is also a type of social network and you can follow friends or companies your interested in. You do so in a public time line made up of a everyone you are following. It’s a fun and addictive experience. Let’s take a closer look.

I created a Twitter profile for my music studio. I use this profile to promote whatever is going on in the studio, new releases and even important wire to the ear blog posts I made. Posts are limited to 140 characters of text which I think is brilliant because you are really forced into stating simple moments and facts. I input entries vie my Twitter page online but you can also post Twitter entries by using software on your Mac or PC, IM clients or mobile devices like cell phones, etc…Twitter - Things to Come RecordsYou can see my Twitter page here:

But you do not have to go to my Twitter site to see the updates. Take a look at all the locations those posts travel to:

On this blog Wire to the Ear look on the far right column:
“Things to Come Records Studio Updates”.

At the Things to Come Records homepage in two locations…
First on the homepage under the “In The Studio” section:

And at the bottom of the studio page:

On my MySpace page on the left hand column there is a grey badge titled “What am I doing?”:

At the official website for The Horrorist on the bottom of the studio page:

On my Facebook profile on a turqiouse box in the left hand column titled “Twitter”:

As you can see your Twitter posts can take on any look. You can use the official Twitter badges or style your own using CSS. You can also choose how many recent updates should be listed.

The video above is a really great way to grasp everything Twitter is about. Highly recommended.

Use Animoto to make music videos from photos.


There is a website called Animoto that lets you upload or import a set of photos and music and then it will churn out a slick music video for you. Usually when I get back from a live performance the promoter or fans will send me some photos of the show. Why not get these into music video form onto YouTube? Great promotion no?

Of course you can take the time to create a music video from still images in Final Cut Pro, iMovie or Adobe Premier but Animoto is super easy, fast and effective. Here’s how it works: Head over to Animoto - The HorroristAnimoto.com and sign up for an account. Click “create video” on the top left of the window. Next, you choose “30 Second Video – Animated Short” or “Full Length Video”. The 30 second clips are free to make. If you want to make something longer it will cost you $3.00. There is also a yearly subscription fee for $30.00 which allows you to make as many full length videos as you like. Now you either upload your photos or import them from flickr. Remember my post “Why every musician should have a flickr pro account.“? Here’s another reason why! You can also import photos from Facebook, Picasa, Smugmug, and Photobucket. You can choose a few photos to be featured by adding a “Spotlight” tag on them. Then you add your music and hit “finalize” and Animoto does its magic. A great new feature they just added is the ability to send your creation directly to YouTube.

You end up with a pretty neat music video. Fancy transitions with zooms and pans make your static photos come to life. The thing I personally like is how fast the process goes. Take a look at this short clip I put together from still photos from my show in Espenhain, Germany at Praezisionswerk and my song Now Destructor:

There’s nothing stopping you from using promotional photos and a talking soundtrack or an interview. Why not create a video of your album covers or event flyer’s?

“Animoto is definitely a slick, fun, easy way to compile your photos into energetic videos.” – Harrison Hoffman, CNET

There is one thing I don’t like about the service and that’s the fact that they slap the Animoto logo at the end of the video. The logo appears even at the end of full length videos you pay for. I contacted them to see if there was a way around it and they told me no. Oh one more thing: use Firefox, Safari gave me trouble.

Tim Xavier’s Manmade Mastering vinyl cutting room.

Scully Lathe

Here is a special photo set from my friend Tim Xavier’s mastering studio. He cuts vinyl with his unique Scully/Westrex 3D IIa cutter. There are only a few places in the world like this left. Due to Tim’s overwhelming success in his field especially with dance music this studio and his dog Sigmund recently moved from Brooklyn to Berlin. Some of his clients include Ritchie Hawtin, KiddazFM, Complete Distribution, Zuvuya Recordings and many more.

In the studio, Tim cuts on a Scully/Westrex 3DIIA cutter that is outfitted with a high powered magnet, and uses a Manley Massive Passive Tube EQ for equalizing. The Scully lathe has been modified with a Vinylium pitch computer (Stuka) for spacing grooves, which allows him to cut more time per side at a louder volume. (please see prices section for time constraints). – manmademastering.com

To enjoy the full photo set from Manmade Mastering LLC on flickr: click here