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starRo · · cooler than kinda cool

If you can't listen to him live, hear him here

Up until a few days ago, I knew starRo for his relaxing tunes, California & Seduction. I did like House Party when it came out, but the SoundCloud ad in front ruined it for me – and I annoyed the shit out of starRo about it.

Going through his entire SoundCloud catalogue and explore.fm, I see where he’s taking his sound and I love it, every which way. I don’t see many (hardly any) producers do as well with one sound as starRo has done with a few of his […]

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Next to You

The soul side of house music

Finding a name and cover art is the biggest pain in the ass putting these playlists together.

Our “Next to You” playlist is all sexy house beats, but naming it with some variation of Sex & House (ex: House Be Sexy) gets old fast. You do want those keywords for discoverability, but the name of a playlist is its second introduction, the artwork is its first. Both are important to catch the listeners eye initially.

I just fell in love with the Flamingosis track, Next to You. It may not have the same vibe as the rest of the list, but the name couldn’t match it more.

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M*A*S*H

The best in pop vs the best in pop

The popularity of mashups have been quickly dying off since 2012, mostly due to major label pressures on SoundCloud and other music services. I miss ’em, so I finally decided to put together a list of my most favorite ones.

I split mashups into two categories. The first takes samples from many pop songs all compiled into one. The first few on our playlist are good examples. The other is a vocal track mixed in with an instrumental. It might not have as many moving parts as the other, but I bet it’s just as difficult to make it sound right, if not more. Putting two sounds together and making them sound like one is hard for any producer, let alone one working with sounds people are so familiar with.

Judge for yourself, but it’s important to keep in mind that mashups are for fun and don’t always sound the most polished.

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Late Night Beats

Switch on from dusk till dawn

Late Night Jazz was going for new producers’ takes on jazz, but we got some criticism on if they were really jazz songs. I even questioned a few, but all had some form of jazz style in it.

I stretched the style a lot more this time around, so we decided on a word not as narrowly defined. Some beautiful guitar, sax and piano playing on these 20. This kind of music is not getting appreciated enough. Here’s mine.

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A Taste of Minneapolis

What's next for the Twin Cities music scene

I grew up listening to Prince mostly because of my pops. Living in a suburb south of St. Paul for all of my childhood, I didn’t appreciate the Minneapolis music scene until I got out of it and left for college out West.

There I started to appreciate hip-hop and R&B on a much more personal level. Getting in much deeper with Prince, Atmosphere and other Minnesota acts towards the end of college, including Solid Gold, GAYNGS and Mel Gibson & the Pants. Finally, in the Bay Area I found Polica, Tickle Torture, thestand4rd, and most recently, Morly. Well, kinda.

I stayed in Minneapolis for a few years after college and covered my first show, Theophilus London at The Loft, in early 2012. There I heard one of the openers and fell in love (with her voice). It belonged to Katy Morley, now known as Morly. I remember tracking Astronautalis and her down to see if they had any music released. She didn’t, but I remember her telling me something was in the works.

Four years later and I run into her music while researching a post on Minneapolis (this one). Her voice is even more touching and her piano playing stands out more.

It’s good to have such talent sprouting from the Twin Cities. A lot of which have Prince all over them. Here’s a dozen or so and their songs.

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An OTHERtone Tribute to Prince

Minneapolis is in mourning all over the world

So many of Prince’s predecessors show a glimpse of his depth, only to keep sticking on the same track. It’s hard to get one sound down in this life, let alone two (don’t even get me started on three), but Prince did. So fuck the fans and go off on your own. It’s all yours until you make it theirs.

Here’s a good glimpse at Prince’s legacy from one of my favorite shows in music, Pharrell & Scott Vener’s OTHERtone on Beats 1.

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FREY ·· Next is G House

Deep chords and funky peoples

We were looking to put together a tech & ghouse playlist, but we realize that FREY was on half the tracks. Until we can get a dozen more artists to feature with him, FREY will introduce you to the sound. Reminds me of the next stage in ghetto funk. FREY is the next Bobby C Sound Tv.

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Rework the Soul

Remixing Amy Winehouse to Bill Withers

We’re starting to break our remix playlists into genres. Our first was relaxing hip hop remixes and now we’ve got soulful R&B, and some just soulful (we did have a tropical remix list in between).

The list of soul started off as general relaxing remixes, but it was pretty much all some sort of soul so we trimmed it down to that. Apparently I only like hip hop and soul now.

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Will SoundCloud Allow Remixes Once Again

And Figgy Goes Live!

While prepping for Figgy’s live debut, I went through his entire catalogue on SoundCloud, come to find half of it missing. SoundCloud has been more stringent on allowing sampled and remixed tracks recently, giving the major labels access to directly pull songs and even accounts from their service – Figgy was close to getting banned.

SoundCloud more recently introduced its Go premium service that includes offline, ad-free listening and a deal with the major labels that’ll increase their catalogue to compete with Spotify (it’s still in the works). What’s under the radar is that this deal may stop take downs for sampled and remixed songs and instead become a source of income for the labels – not that anyone gives a shit.

What we should give a shit about is producers will be able to keep their remixed and sampled songs on SoundCloud, probably at the cost of an ad. But at least we’ll get to use them for playlists. Until then, we’ve had Goldroom fill the void.

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SXSW 2016 · · Save the Austin Music Hall

And never let Bud Light back without a few other good beers on tap

The amount of music going on in a few small areas around Austin, supported by all the music tech that’s trying to help it flourish, makes SXSW the place where my two loves come together. Quite literally this year with my job and this blog. Both helped me find places to go and people to do it with, but SXSW could’ve helped a lot more.

The SXSW Go app could have better helped with both finding and keeping track of events throughout the night and day, as well as finding the people to spend it with – it’s where the future of live music is going. I did find a handful of good performances and the same amount of not so good, but mostly because of the people in Austin and their recommendations. Some seriously nice people.

Here are a few stories I had with them.

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