Welcome to the website of Matt Barker: music producer, runner, digital artist, father and all-round motivationalist. Actions as loud as words. Be the change you want to see.

// NEWS


Deadlines... 

I've been given a 2 week window by the producer to finish the legit remix of a new track by a well known vocalist. Really exciting! It's early doors on the remix, but I received the vocals through yesterday, which I've been working around to reinvent the track.

Took the MIDI parts provided to me, changed the intrument of choice and slightly changed the chord arrangement to make it a bit darker. After applying some plugin effects, in essence that's the main riff of the new track right there. We continue..

In other news, me and Al finished the latest Seismic Waves track last night. After wondering which direction the track would take for a few sessions, a random bit of cut and paste with a few elements in the wrong place worked wonders and half the track was completed in about five minutes. Genius :-)

'Splintered Sails' now has a beginning... 

After cramming in some monumental studio sessions over the last week, I've finally finished the opening track of the new album. Exhausted but a small price to pay to give the album it's opening act.

'Stop Off n Go' is an energetic progressive track, which includes guest vocals from one of Yorkshire's emerging talents, MC Ricko.

Lyrically, his contribution to the finished track is the business. I relished every minute of chopping, slicing and looping Ricko's session material, to oblivion and back again! This track benefits from some really powerful Ableton plugins, which really gives the finished mixdown some significant oomph. Stay tuned to hear some exclusive preview material soon...

The Studio... 

This post's for all you tekky geeks out there, so give it a wide berth if you just wanna listen to the music!

Took a step back from production this weekend to concentrate on configuring the studio setup. Been trying to sort it out for years and finally it's getting somewhere.

Everybody has their own way of working, but the main piece of software both me and Al use for sequencing is Propellerhead Reason. The GUI and manipulation of internal devices is fantastic. The only thing it doesn't allow for is importing of VST plugins, so I use Ableton Live to manipulate sounds in this way, which I then import back into Reason as processed wavs. I use a variety of programs to master the loops, wavs and tracks, such as Adobe Audition, which all go towards giving me the mixdown of that final track.

Now this weekend has been all about configuring the performance setup rather than any production time. I've wired in Virtual DJ and my custom presets into the back of Ableton Live. In addition to having my USB mixing console for the two decks in VDJ, I've assigned my USB MIDI keyboard a stack of Ableton Live presets to manipulate the output from VDJ into the master output. Gave it a trial run at the weekend and the potential for live performances is massive! There's the option to switching from VDJ to Traktor, as well as outputting from Reason into Ableton instead of vice versa, but we'll leave that revolution for another day. An unwanted issue was with my 64 bit machine not being compatible with some 32 bit software I use, but working around this...

Despite all this tech, I've still got one of my vinyl turntables and a multitrack cassette recorder in the studio, as I still find myself looking back before looking forwards from time to time. There'll always be a bit of old skool in there somewhere.

An equally big part of the revamped studio is the decor. Thrown a load of tat out and redecorated it a bit, complete with an Epicentre-eque colour scheme. It probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it makes me feel like it's a place to escape from everything and focus completely on music. Now let's go play...

MC Ricko and the Robotic Stutter Machine 

Spent all last night splicing, stuttering and vocoding the MC Ricko vocals onto the opening track of the new Epicentre album. Got a kinda Jaytech and Dinka sound going on with it and the energy is amazing! It's lunchtime and I'm at work now, so just having a sneakies with earphones at my desk, which might explain the head bobs to those sat opposite me....

Also trying to put the wheels in motion with a long overdue collaboration with a couple of guys from way back. Would be nice to tip the hat to something old to create something new if we can work it out...

Finding the time 

Been looking at VSTs for Ableton to complement the presets I have for Adobe Auditon and Propellerhead Reason. Learning a lot and love the fact that I'm taking the best bits of each piece of software to enhance the final track. Processing power is no longer a problem, so studio sessions are zipping along at pace now...

If time was infinite I'd have laid down three tracks in the last week. Really frustrating having to balance everything going on at the moment. That said, I managed to squeeze in an hour's editing of the MC Ricko track last night and it's really finding it's bounce now. Sometimes the best laid plans pale in comparison to a random click of an effect button and this happened here. Created an amazing distortion synth out of absolutely nothing! I'm going to make it the opening track on the album as the vibe is perfect to set things off for the rest of the stuff...

I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas to come round. I've got loads of new toys I want to share with my mates but got to be patient. The tracks are really coming along now and because I've waited rather than spoil the surprises the end product already sounds much better. Please bear with me, this is the biggest music project I've ever attempted and the goodies will be worth the wait :-)

Pieces of the Puzzle... 

There’s a fundamental difference between making a standalone track and making an album. This isn’t just a collection of tracks bundled together - there has to be an introduction, a gathering of pace to the middle and a concluding end, with the odd twist in direction along the way. In that sense it’s probably no different to writing a book or directing a film - and it’s a much tighter, focussed way of making music.

So I’ve taken a step back from producing tracks in isolation to see what pieces of the puzzle I’ve got – and it’s enlightening. Unbelievably, I’ve got 22 tracks in various stages of progress. Something’s got to give and I need to chop that number down considerably, but straight away I’ve also spotted significant gaps in the album that need filling to make the transition from each track work. That in turn has sparked the idea for two more tracks, but these will hinge key parts of the album together. It probably took about 30 minutes to take stock of all this, but it was a pivotal part of the creative process and one I wanted to write down to remember when it’s done.

The Power of 4 

Made some real progress on one of the tracks for the album this week. Like a lot of the tunes on here it has a bit of a history with me and it's good to see it finally transferring from my mind into the sequencer. I'm trying to get the balance right between dub tracks and vocals. This specific one has vocals in it, but I might release a dub version in some format as the track would probably work well like that too. I layered in a completely new riff the other day and it's made the track so much better. Vocals tonight, tra la laaaa.

The Power of 4 then. The magic number. Aside from my own stuff, I'm working with three different producers on various tracks too. The first Phil Urry collaboration is nearly complete. It's an old skool remizzle from the early 90s and I'm really happy with the sound it's got. It literally just needs a few effects layering over the top. As I put it to Phil, at one point it needs a tonal slide effect similar to a boulder falling down onto Wyle E Coyote, as he holds out a cocktail umbrella. You get the idea! Phil and I are gonna work on an album track next, with a similar vibe. This'll work really well, as I want it to complement some of the heavier tracks on the album.

The latest Seismic Waves tune is now completed. 'Shishen' is dominated by a pounding bassline, which works really well on the track. For me and Al, is burnt into our ears as it used to play constantly when you opened up the project file until you switched the channel off. Worth it though :-)

I'm gonna tease you with the final producer, as it's all early doors yet and hush hush. That said, we're working working on a Deep Dish sounding bootleg of a classic riff from a bluesey rock track never used any where else to my knowledge, along with another track which potentially could be absolutely massive. Exciting times :-)

If all this isn't enough, I'm in the concept stages of development for the Epicentre album cover with Shabobchik designer and DJ Steve 'Disco' Newsome. I have a clear idea for this, based on a classic Golden Age album cover from the 1970s. Disco's is like the Ralph McQuarrie to my George Lucas. He's helping give me vision to my sounds.

So there you go. Promising times. Hopefully going to post some music from this lot in some form or another very soon. Keep checking the website and be the first to know :-)

Unfinished Business 

Canadian DJ and producer Joel North is a good friend of mine. We've collaborated on a few projects, including the track 'Polaris' which featured on the Nexus EP, as well as submitting various mixsets to his radio broadcasts.

We started a follow-up track a year or so ago, 'String Theory', which was about 75% complete and really needed finishing off. The main driver behind this tune was Joel, who provided me with some amazing sample stems to play with. Would sound amazing in a club. Anyway, dusted it down again last night, added a few new elements and filters and we're not far away from the definitive article.

In other news, Seismic Waves wingman Ali Rumba now has a weekly residency at Tailor Made - the new Electro night at LA's in Hull. Expect plenty of fresh tuneage and the place to road test all these goodies :-)

21st Century Collaborations 

As far as studio sessions go, last night was treading on new ground.

Phil Urry came round to collaborate on a new track, complete with his box of tricks. I plugged in my keyboard, fired up Reason and other sound apps. Then Phil booted up his lappy, wirelessly connected his iPad to use it as an input device with loads of music apps loaded up on it. We then transferred loops between Reason and Phil's Ableton by establishing a wireless network between the two computers, hooking both machines up to sync the output to my mixer.

After Phil went home, I worked on the Reason files and Phil did the same with the Ableton project file. We then established an online Dropbox account to share the files, which we can then sync up. Hot shizzle! Really looking forward to what tracks come out the other side....

Snow Patrol Track Completed Tonight 

Finally finished mastering a completely new version of a Snow Patrol track tonight, which will be licensed on the new Epicentre album. Feel like I've taken a snapshot in time and this tune really resonates with me no matter how many times I hear it.

Can't wait to share it with you all.

Something old, something new... 

Still having fun making MC Ricko sound like a droid. In other news, I've been working on a hybrid drum n bass meets prog rock track, with a sprinkling of deadmau5. On paper it sounds like a train crash but its freakin amazing! Finny - this has your name written all over it We can talk it over when we meet up in Leeds for the Rainband EP launch later this month :-)

Got a lot to thank Phil Urry for. We were the Hull equivalent of Deep Dish and BT, being classmates at school who lost touch, then met up again though a mutual passion for DJing and music. If I didn't know Phil, I wouldn't know most of the DJs and producers I've had the pleasure of working with over the last 5 years or so. I've remixed his tracks and he's remixed mine, so next thing to tick off the To Do list is a proper collaboration. Next Thursday's booked in and we'll see what we can lock down in the next week or so...

MC Ricko Studio Session In The Bag 

Studio compadre Ali Rumba lined up a sample session with Ricko last night. After some cable issues were sorted out, went to work with Rumba on Ableton, Reason and Audition to morph them into pure evil and back again! There's some promising material here and looking forward to splicing, dicing his vocal loops all over the place :-)

Epicentre Website Goes Live 

Well the one-stop portal for all things Epicentre is born. I'm a proud Daddy :-)

If there's anything you guys can think of which will add some pizazz to the site, leave me a comment or send me a message and I'll try n sort it out for ya.

Let's go play ...

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