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Any producers here from the 90's ??
Old 3rd July 2013
  #1
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Any producers here from the 90's ??

I feel electronic music is losing its mystery!
Back in the time when i started getting into it in the mid 90's, quality underground music could mostly be heard only live, at raves and clubs with serious DJ's, because regular folk would not be buying vinyl records or listening to such music in their cars. Then the DJ mix cd's started coming out and it was more accessible. But the mix cd's were only the top records or favourites of a dj.

Now with mp3's and online music/retail being totally mainstream, and with technology cheaper, its an easier hobby to get into and so cheap to buy records. A lot of producers are stars today which wasnt the case back then i think.

I got into production much later and i have always wondered what it was like for the real underground producers who were developing the sounds of Trance, House, Progressive house, Goa etc.

Even when i started out, softsynths were not so common and i started with a Roland JV2080 and JP8000 and DP2.1.

With hardware being expensive, how did the scene start ? Would producers rent out studios ?What were the techniques back then ? How did people come up with such original stuff. Some of those classic records are mental. I really want to know what the vibe was when the scene was breaking out, not starting in the early 90's but breaking out globally in the late 90's. I am more interested in the production and producer side of things. It fascinates me as these people shaped a new global culture/movement/system!

Would love to know more.
BTW, everything i wrote above is my perception, little bits i have read etc. Correct me if i am wrong please.

Would love to hear your stories.
Cheers
Old 3rd July 2013
  #2
Brown keyboards with green buttons- that did it.
Old 3rd July 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
I feel electronic music is losing its mystery!
Everything loses its mystery when you peel back the layers and discover how it's made. The magic, unfortunately, is gone.

Getting older doesn't help (now where did I leave my pipe and slippers....)
Old 3rd July 2013
  #4
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pinkerton's Avatar
 

I started playing around with synths back in the mid 90s. Although I was influenced by all of the electronic music, all I had access to was a 4 track, an mc303, some Yamaha toy keyboards, and some guitar pedals ... And I had no idea what I was doing, so it didnt really sound like the music I had in mind. You're right, though, before the Internet music was more magical, but that's because it was more scarce, you had to take what you could get at the store, and although there were tons of record stores, you still had to track down imports and special order if you had something specific in mind. But then again there was the experience of hanging out at record stores, many of which were staffed by people who were active in the rave/club scene and they would expose you to new music. I do t know how the Internet is any different fundamentally besides the fact of scarcity and the realness of it all, the smell of the records, the people, etc. it is a real shame we do t really have that too much anymore. There are record stores but they are not specialty record stores like there used to be.

And then there was the gear. I feel like being forced to use (bad) gear forced me to experiment and truly understand how synthesis works. Now it's all sample packs and presets, people getting into electronic music have more options than ever for experimenting, but since they aren't forced to do this to copy, they simply fire up the sample packs and learn nothing about music or sound. I feel like these people did kind of miss out on something special ... Then again there is some great music being released by newer acts, so artists haven't magically stopped being born or anything.
Old 3rd July 2013
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Ahhh, those were the days! My favorite artist of the time and still a favorite today is Simon Posford. He created the Hallucinogen albums with a couple of PC computers, numerous analog synths and I think an ECHO Gina soundcard. Very basic stuff but in my opinion the musical creativity from artists like Simon prove the point that it's how you use the tools in front of you not about how many or how expensive they are.

Here's an archived link to the old Hallucinogen/Shpongle website with some info about his studio at the time. Click on "the labs" at the top of the screen to see a few pics.
The official Hallucinogen site

I think that old school vibe still lives today with artists like "Boards of Canada" and "Air". They know how to create music today that has the essence of the past. There's a bit of that too from Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp from the band "Goldfrapp".
Old 3rd July 2013
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinMasters View Post

I think that old school vibe still lives today with artists like "Boards of Canada" and "Air". They know how to create music today that has the essence of the past. There's a bit of that too from Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp from the band "Goldfrapp".
Yeah, Air make some banging oldskool..

A lot of stuff was sampler based, I guess I depends what you're talking about. I know for a fact some producers back then just started out with a single sampler, like a s950.

I imagine people got jobs and payed for the gear like they do today. From what I know about the very early 90's, the rumours are that gear ended up in 2nd hand shops etc etc, much like it was about a decade ago.

I wasn't producing back then, but I was DJ'ing (at the end) and around a few producers. Some had rented studios in places like the Custard Factory in Birmingham, but they were pretty big at that point , funnily enough, I never asked them where their money came from.. I do not think it was from trust funds....
Old 3rd July 2013
  #7
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Eric J's Avatar
I started with a JV1080 in the late 90's after DJing for much of the decade. I made several tracks just with the JV1080. I still have it in the rack, even through I never use it. Too much sentimental value to sell, I guess.
Old 3rd July 2013
  #8
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Jim Stout's Avatar


Here was my set up in 1993 with my brand new ASR-10 ($2700) that replaced my EPS.

All gear all had their own "personalities" and to me... that's what really drove this creative explosion.

The hardware allowed for a lot of happy accidents to occur. It was a fun and frustrating time for sure.
Old 4th July 2013
  #9
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Entrainer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
I feel electronic music is losing its mystery!

With hardware being expensive, how did the scene start ?
Would producers rent out studios ?
What were the techniques back then ?
How did people come up with such original stuff.
Would love to know more.
Old 4th July 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entrainer View Post
The irony is strong in this one. Missed it I did.
Old 4th July 2013
  #11
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GearAndGuitars's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Stout View Post


Here was my set up in 1993 with my brand new ASR-10 ($2700) that replaced my EPS.

All gear all had their own "personalities" and to me... that's what really drove this creative explosion.

The hardware allowed for a lot of happy accidents to occur. It was a fun and frustrating time for sure.
Nice... "fun and frustrating" for sure... I'd work for two days just to get a sound that can now be done with a couple of plugins in a few minutes...

this room saw a lot of EDM/Electro, Industrial/EBM, various remixes and producing a couple artists.



Old 4th July 2013
  #12
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anigbrowl's Avatar
 

OP, you should probably read this thread. As should everyone else, of course - it's waiting for your glittering contributions!
Old 4th July 2013
  #13
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
Then the DJ mix cd's started coming out and it was more accessible. But the mix cd's were only the top records or favourites of a dj.
I seem to remember more people swapping mixtapes than buying CDs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
With hardware being expensive, how did the scene start ?
Not all hardware is/was expensive.In the 90's there was an abundance of cheap hardware that people could afford, hence the explosion of electronic music..

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
Would producers rent out studios ?
Of course they would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
What were the techniques back then ?
A lot of the same techniques used now.
You'd need to be a bit more specific as some one making DnB will use many different techniques from some one making acid house.
Surely your not looking for a list of all techniques used in all genres of electronic music from the 90s ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
How did people come up with such original stuff.
They used their imagination instead of going online to see what everyone else is doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
Some of those classic records are mental. I really want to know what the vibe was when the scene was breaking out, not starting in the early 90's but breaking out globally in the late 90's.
Which scene ? There are many different scenes in electronic music, some of which were winding down, not breaking out by late 90's
Old 4th July 2013
  #14
Here for the gear
Brings back memories!

I played a few raves in the early nineties and things were quite a bit different. It was a new scene and I think everyone was open to new ideas and nothing had yet been set in stone. I think the bar was lower than it is today.

Back then, if you didn't have rich parents, you had to beg, borrow or steal to acquire the necessary gear! Everything is much more accessible today and that's probably what takes away the mystery/novelty.

But, then again...I'm old ;.o
Old 4th July 2013
  #15
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pinkerton's Avatar
 

I remember the music I thought I would be hearing at a rave was nothing like it actually was ... I went in expecting like, block rocking beats or crystal method or something ... Then I get there and it's all house, which was completely alien to me, but then became the greatest thing ever once I started rolling.
Old 4th July 2013
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
A lot of the same techniques used now.
[...]
They used their imagination instead of going online to see what everyone else is doing.
To add to this: one important difference was that automation wasn't as prevalent (you'd quickly saturate the MIDI inputs of older synths) so you either chose only one thing to automate (I recall the modulation wheel being a favorite - you could usually assign it to a lot of targets, even on sample-based synths) or none at all. For instance, filter sweeps with a Juno-106 - we did those just by routing mod wheel to VCF, and it happily processed any incoming MIDI.

The result is that you can't/won't be likely to fill up your tracks with 8 bars of automated repetition. To add variety you need alternate motifs/structures, to extend the length you need to think of other things than merely lazily copy-pasting (of course, being able to copy and paste still means that sometimes you get motifs stretched beyond their tolerable length but hey, you have to do something to get that 7-minute club edit done).

As for using imagination; certainly, there were conventions. There is however a very telling quote from Roger Linn On Swing, Groove & The Magic Of The MPC's Timing - Attack Magazine - great interview by the way!

Quote:
To me, this is part of a bigger topic. I notice many musicians spending countless hours learning how to microscopically edit their music in order to get it to sound right. I can’t help but imagine a skilled drummer quietly chuckling inside when they see someone going to so much trouble in order to avoid learning to play the instrument skillfully. At a certain point, it might just be easier to focus on developing the skill to play it in realtime. If so, an added bonus is that you’d be able to play live with other musicians, which is quite a lot of fun and the resulting serendipity can be wonderful.
Emphasis mine.

You have people asking what expensive compressor to use - as if they have solved the first problem (is the track any good?) already (or if they consider that as a given). And then you hear the result and it's the zillionth ****ty deep house clone with sampled minor 7th chords that has no movement, no groove, tells no story and is not going anywhere - but hey, it perfectly adheres to all the strict rules and conventions of the genre, because god forbid that you'd be coloring outside the lines.

In '98 we made a trance track and it had a pretty gnarly breakbeat in the middle of the track before it went back to 4 on the floor again. And that was even conservative by early 90s/mid 90s standards. You're not going to hear anything like that in whatever rigid format now passes for "EDM".

edit: nyne, also read https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...-late-90s.html - the topic covers a lot of what you're asking
Old 4th July 2013
  #18
Wildfunk
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
... quality underground music could mostly be heard only live, at raves and clubs with serious DJ's, because regular folk would not be buying vinyl records or listening to such music in their cars.
You forgot the radio shows, I've recorded 1 - 2 tapes every saturday. Also there were enough cd compilations (not mixes) with good underground stuff available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
Now with mp3's and online music/retail being totally mainstream, and with technology cheaper, its an easier hobby to get into and so cheap to buy records.
Yep it's damn cheap and there are million of edm fans around the world, but as you can see the sales do not rise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nyne View Post
With hardware being expensive, how did the scene start ? Would producers rent out studios ?What were the techniques back then ? How did people come up with such original stuff.
Amiga + Soundtracker + Samples/Sample CDs + DAT





There are many popular breakbeat tunes just made with the equipment above:

Old 5th July 2013
  #19
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EofN's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildfunk View Post
You forgot the radio shows, I've recorded 1 - 2 tapes every saturday. Also there were enough cd compilations (not mixes) with good underground stuff available.



Yep it's damn cheap and there are million of edm fans around the world, but as you can see the sales do not rise.



Amiga + Soundtracker + Samples/Sample CDs + DAT





There are many popular breakbeat tunes just made with the equipment above:

This sounds like one of the worst composed and most derivative sounding dnb tracks ever.
Old 5th July 2013
  #20
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by EofN View Post
This sounds like one of the worst composed and most derivative sounding dnb tracks ever.
Was "DNB " even a term back then ?
I thought it was still being called hardcore or jungle back in '92.

Just shows how many people have copied them if you think it's one of the most derivative sounding dnb tracks ever.
Old 5th July 2013
  #21
I started producing and making music in the early 90s, it was hard and time consuming, but fun, as it is now still. Bloody expensive though, I had an EPS then an ASR10 as another poster mentioned also, and some ****ty microphones. All strait to DAT.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GearAndGuitars View Post
Nice... "fun and frustrating" for sure... I'd work for two days just to get a sound that can now be done with a couple of plugins in a few minutes...

Everything literally took forever, I was just using hardware sequencers, didn't have an Atari. I do not miss editing/arranging a whole track on a 10x20 lcd screen, thats all I'll say.

.
Old 5th July 2013
  #22
Gear Head
 
martin909's Avatar
Eight weeks working in a freezing cold chickenprocessing factory got me my S-330 in 1992.
The main reason was that the SC55 did not have TR-909 samples, only TR-808. I still curse Roland for that.
The sampler boosted my possibilities. I started with 909 samples from an S950 finally in 1993 was able to sample a real 909.
The funny thing is that I by then realized I did not need the 909 to make decent music. Good old times...
Old 5th July 2013
  #23
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valis's Avatar
Hardcore or jungle indeed. Probably no clue what slammin vinyl is or what era that tune is from eh...
Old 5th July 2013
  #24
Jose Ramón Alvarado Villa
 
Don Solaris's Avatar


Started with Amiga 500 in 1992. 4 channels, 8bit, up to 28kHz or so. At one point we figured out that we can sync two Amigas for incredible 8 channels!

Bought ESQ-1 and Quasimidi Technox in 1994. Sold it. Saved money for 1 year. Bought XP-50 in 1995. Samplers? It would take a bank robbery to afford one back then.
Old 5th July 2013
  #25
jmi
Gear Head
 

In those days, a good amount of artists were not so worried with gear and production, from my experience in the techno scene at least. And, lot of people, me first had no clue about producing, only trial and errors...
Lot of pretty ghetto set up, cheap gear with barely no treatment, wired to some low end mixer (everything in the red zone of course)...
My first setup was roland R8 sequencing an akai S950, some guitar pedals and a boss bx16 mixer... :°

Nowadays for each track you have a bunch of effects, compressors, reverb etc...
A lot of records were not properly mastered as well, straight to dat > vynil.
Sometimes, the raw and magic could be achieved this way, but face it, a lot of records from that era are pretty crappy sounding for actual standards... Monitors and Sound Systems often were quite awfull too, so it should fits with the music i guess it was part of the charm... : )

In other hand, in that time it was not so hard to earn some money with records...
Old 5th July 2013
  #26
Wildfunk
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by EofN View Post
This sounds like one of the worst composed and most derivative sounding dnb tracks ever.
I don't know how old you are but this is a) not D&B and b) it was a real banger back in the days.
Old 5th July 2013
  #27
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duvalle's Avatar
 

techno in the 90's = FUN ;-)

this is me in 1994/95 in the studio.



lol ... wish i had more pics from back then ...

i always found it difficult to get information and gear in the 90's.
no ebay, no gearslutz ;-)
Old 5th July 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EofN View Post
This sounds like one of the worst composed and most derivative sounding dnb tracks ever.
It's not DnB, it didn't exist back then, it's oldskool hardcore.

It's not derivative it's part of the blueprint.

Well done though.

It's about 92-93.
Old 5th July 2013
  #29
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GearAndGuitars's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by msl View Post
Everything literally took forever, I was just using hardware sequencers, didn't have an Atari. I do not miss editing/arranging a whole track on a 10x20 lcd screen, thats all I'll say.
.
Yeah, that was my 80s studio... Late 80s... a W30 for hardware sequencing, a couple of synths and a four track cassette deck. Lots of notebooks and calculators were used in those days... and all the sounds you could fit on a single 1.4mb floppy disc! Good times.
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