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Point Blank LA Instructor Sweatson Klank on His ‘Fine Lines’ LP

One of the best reasons to study with us at Point Blank, in Los Angeles or any of our schools including London, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online, is the combined experience of our expert instructors. We don’t use the term lightly, and everyone who teaches at any of our schools not only has a long CV but remains active in the music industry at the top of their game with ongoing projects, tours and collaborations. A prime example is Tom Wilson aka Sweatson Klank, who teaches music production at Point Blank Los Angeles. Tom has worked with some amazing brands and musicians, including Nike, Puma, Reebok and Ableton as well as Just Blaze, Flying Lotus, Kode9 and Little Dragon. His most recent album ‘Fine Lines’, which is the culmination of a year-long project with the excellent Friends of Friends, was released last month on May 25th and even features a collaboration with PB Graduate Anna Calvo, who he met when she was studying. We caught up with Tom to talk about the release and the spirit of co-operation that abounds at PBLA.

Hi Tom. So first off I would like to say congratulations on the LP – I really love its moody textures and sense of scope. You released ‘Like I Need You’ some months ago now with ‘Then I Was Me’ before that. How long has this project been forthcoming / when did it start to take shape as an album like this?

Thank you! The inception of the project took shape over a year ago. I signed with the wonderful Friends of Friends label and we strategized a release schedule and strategy for the coming year. It started with the ‘ Then I Was Me’ ep, followed by 2 double singles ‘Like I Need You’ and ‘Get it Back’. The last piece in the trilogy was the album ‘ Fine Lines’ which is essentially what we were building up to with the EP and singles beforehand.

What would you say you were trying to achieve with this body of work? Are there any themes or particular inspirations that have guided the work?

When I approach an album, I really want to make a cohesive body of work. I’m a huge record collector and I just love how old records often had a theme and continuity to them. So I aim for that first and foremost. Thematically, the record is really about the last few years of my life. In my opinion, music hits hardest when it’s from the heart. Without going into detail, I went through a lot in the last few years. So when I sat down to write, that came through in the music naturally. I’ve always aimed to make music that makes you feel something. Music that transports you out of your own element and into a different place. Similar to a good book.

What about technology, how did you make the album?

I use Ableton as my main DAW. I tracked vocals in Pro Tools and brought them back into the Ableton sessions. I like to use a combination of hardware and software. On this record, I used the Fender Rhodes, Juno 106, Korg poly 800, Dave Smith Prophet 6, Yamaha DX 7, a Fender Strat guitar, Kima Jazz bass, and a wide variety of guitar effects pedals. As far as software goes, I use Kontakt, Omnisphere, Dexed, Massive, Roland Cloud plugins and a slew of other stuff. When it comes to mixing, well that’s a very long list hahaha! I tracked and ran a lot of this record through a lunch box of API, and Neve pre amps, and then rounded some things out through a Manley Stereo Vari Mu Compressor for some additional warmth. The list of mixing software used would probably fill up 3 pages so I’ll spare you that one.

Fine Lines LP by Sweatson Klank

You worked with a Point Blank graduate in Anna Calvo for the single “Like I Need You’. How did you guys start collaborating? Did you meet at Point Blank?

Yes, Anna was a student of mine and she had a great voice and was motivated to work. We wrote the lyrics together in the live room at PBLA and she recorded the vocals at her home studio. I mixed the results in my studio. I love collaborating with my students. They are excited to work and since many of them have never had a release it makes it exciting to work with them and help them to shape there sound and get themselves heard. I have actually collaborated with a ton of my students here at PBLA.

Would you say that collaborating with students is something you find useful/important? It must be invigorating to see some talented people pass through that you vibe with musically.

It’s quite amazing actually. Every term there are a handful of students who I vibe with musically. When students are starting out, their music is so pure. They haven’t yet done it a million times, and so their musical ideas are so raw, in a good way. They often need guidance and direction to help them realize their full potential but its a two-way street. That is what collaboration is all about. I often get really inspired by a student’s talent or their approach to creation. I learn from them and they learn from me. It feels good to help people realize their talents and help them grow. So yeah, it’s a win-win situation.

How else would you say that your teaching has filtered back into your work as a producer?

Teaching has really helped me grow as a producer. For instance, I get inspired by students who just have this ability to pick it up so easily. I watch them grow and really develop over the course of the 3-6 months that they study with me. We all know that there a million ways to approach music making. Its easy to get stuck in a pattern as a producer and begin to feel like you are repeating yourself. Working with fresh talent like my students is a constant inspiration and reminder of the many different approaches one can take to songwriting and production. I always ask a student to tell the whole class what their process was in making a certain song. I think this helps everyone, myself included, to look outside their own approach and try new things.

You must be feeling relieved and happy with the release of the LP, but you don’t strike me as someone to rest on their laurels. Will you take a break or are you already on to the next project? Either way, what can you reveal about what that project may be?

Ha, you’re right. I am already hard at work on the next projects. The first is a huge beat tape that will likely be out early fall on Friends of Friends. I speak on this a lot in my classes, but the fact is, not every track has to develop into a full-blown song. It’s fun to just make beats and tracks without the pressure of structuring them into full-blown verse/chorus/bridge type of arrangements. Beat tapes can be a fun way to showcase a different side of your production. I really look forward to dropping that. Of course, I am also hard at work on my next “REAL” album. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s still in the development phase, but all I can say about that one is that it will be different. Super excited to see how these new ideas and songs develop!

What else is in the pipeline, do you have plans to tour this record at all?

Glad you asked. I’m preparing to launch my label Tone and Manor later this year. We already have 4 great releases done and in the bag. Its taken a while to get everything prepared and ready but its going to be fantastic! In fact, our first release will be a compilation, introducing the world to all the artists we plan to work with and release in the future. Many of whom are Point Blank graduates!! We have full releases coming from Billie Fountain, Vané, and Verbless who were all students of mine and who I have worked closely with on their records. Look out for that in the fall as well!

Thanks Tom!

We hope this leaves you feeling inspired and like Point Blank is somewhere you want to study. Tom himself teaches Introduction to Music Production as well as Creative Production and as part of our software offer in LA you can currently receive free copies of NI Komplete & Ableton Suite Worth $1,350 when you enrol. We also offer courses in mixing, sound design, DJing and more. For more info get in touch by calling 323 282 7660.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Point Blank LA Instructor Sweatson Klank on His ‘Fine Lines’ LP appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Behind The Scenes at Point Blank: Graham Silbiger

You’re probably aware that all of our expert instructors here at Point Blank have a wealth of experience in their fields, often with a concurrently running music career alongside their teaching and a vast bank of experiences to draw on when engaging with students. What you may not know is that much of the backroom staff are successful musicians, DJs and engineers too, which we think is a key reason for the fantastic services we offer. The last subject of one of these ‘behind the scenes’ features, for instance, was studio assistant Ricky Vianello who, when he’s not helping students set up equipment or offering advice, is one half of the pulverising techno duo Tapefeed. This time, we collared our content developer Graham Silbiger to share some of his experience and wisdom with us. Graham has over 30 years experience as a working musician, is a highly respected bassist and DJs at gigs and on radio too, time permitting. Read on for one of our favourite editions of this series full of anecdotes and choice advice.

Hi Graham, can you start by telling me what your role is at Point Blank?

Yes, I am content developer in the development team. Meaning I create content for the Virtual Learning Environment both for the online courses and for the London school. That could be anything from creating a Logic project, writing about Gibson and Fender guitars or describing or explaining how modes work. Anything we put in the degree I create content for.

What would you say that you like about working here?

I really like working in the office, I think there are some great people here and they are fun to be around. The actual work is great because I have a lot of autonomy to put in what I want to put in, and I get to use all my experience and years in the business and offload a lot of it.

Obviously, you’ve been a music person for a really long time – could you tell me what your first experience in music is?

Going back to the beginning, I really wanted a guitar when I was 10. My folks weren’t going to buy me one, so I would sit with a cassette player and a Simon and Garfunkel cassette and sit with my tennis racket pretending to play ‘The Boxer’. In the end, I did get one, but my first real music experiences were I guess with my band Small Change when I was about 13. We were a rock n roll band and shortly after in 1977 became a punk band. The older brother of the guitarist got himself expelled from school for having pink hair and we thought he was a hero so naturally we followed him. We did things like hospital radio when there was such a thing, we did gigs as well at that age.

So you were playing guitar?

Initially, I wanted to be the guitarist but the band wanted me to play bass, so for the first year, I had to use my Gibson Columbus copy and play the basslines… Eventually, I got an SG copy bass, and I started playing bass properly.

So the bass has been your instrument since?

Yeah, I’m a bass player. I’m also a guitarist, I play drums, collect percussion instruments and I can produce a bit using Keyboards. But bass mainly. I’ve played lots of different styles but I’m not really into soloing, I’m more of a groove merchant.

I also know that you DJ quite frequently you’ve mentioned it to me before but would you say that reggae was your intro into not just DJing but soundsystem culture as well?

It was. Back in the 70s London subculture was essentially driven by reggae music, until punk came along. punk came along with the same kind of ideological agenda as reggae, and it resonated with a whole new audience. I started going to soundsystems in 1983/84, to [Jah] Shaka down in Deptford. There weren’t a lot of North London white boys, there was maybe five of us who were regulars. But that was my introduction.

I’ve always thought punk and reggae form quite a symbiotic relationship in a way. And a lot of the most interesting music, particularly dance music, comes from those twin pillars of dub and punk.

Yeah well, the punk attitude, and then this whole idea of producing music to enjoy in a given environment. When reggae was produced, when King Tubby or Lee Scratch Perry or any of the other greats were making music, they were doing it with the soundsystem in mind, they knew what they were trying to do. It’s hard to describe really but when I used to go to Shaka it was as close to a true religious experience as I’ve had in music.

So I know you had some success with a band called Savajazz. Can you tell me a little bit about them?

So my oldest friend, Gav, who was in Small Change with me when we were 13 – it was his older brother that was expelled from school – and I kind of discovered funk music. At the time, there were a bunch of bands like A Certain Ratio that were punk bands but had songs that sounded like a funk riff. So there was this idea that you could be playing quite angry sounding music but it could be quite groovy.

Savajazz was an attempt to do something that inspired us from the American music of the late 70s and early 80s. We were a bit like Chaka Khan mixed with Earth Wind & Fire mixed with Funkadelic and Cameo. We wanted to be articulate and funky but we just wanted to do something a little bit different. In fact, what we’d done was invented ourselves as a rare groove band before that really happened a few years later.

You’ve also done a fair bit of session work. I saw that you had worked with Soul II Soul…

I was on Soul II Soul’s ‘Club Classics Volume 1’. I played bass on the track ‘Feel Free’. I got that gig because I was going to Soul II Soul at the Africa Centre at the time so we knew about them. I was in Camden with my bass one day and I saw Jazzy B and HB sitting at this empty stall in what was then called the traders market, opposite the electric ballroom, with a  box of 7″ records in front of them. I went up to them and said: “are you cutting any dubplates for the sound?” And they said, “no, but we are recording because we want to release some singles, so why don’t you come to the shop?” And that’s when I started working on that.

I saw George Michael on there as well.

Yeah, I got a recommendation from my very good friend Toby Pittman who’s a fantastic guitarist, engineer, producer who works out of Air Studios. He’d been working on tracks on George’s album because the other two producers were also housed at Air. He recommended me, I went to Air and recorded three tracks for that records, and one made it onto the album. [laughs] So I’ve got an album credit on George Michael’s ‘Patience’ album as well.

Brilliant. Was he there?

He wasn’t there, but he signed the cheque anyway…

More recently you’ve been gigging with Vibration Black Finger…

G: Well the sad news there is that the particular gig coming up on the 5th of June just got pulled because they’ve cut it to one date rather than two, but we will get another date out of the Jazz Cafe. Working with that project has been fantastic because its creator and core member is Lascelles Gordon, who is for me as much a pillar of the music establishment as Giles Peterson. He’s a very unsung hero. He was the founder of the Cat in the Hat Club along with Barry Sharp. He was also a founding member of The Brand New Heavies, and probably the music inspiration too. He then went on and did several other things that I’ve worked with him over the years on, but he’s just one of those guys who is a really influential music person and never compromised in what he wanted to do.

Graham playing with Vibration Black FInger at Worldwide FM

What other projects are you involved in at the moment?

I’ve started working with a DJ and producer who goes by the name Dear Earth, he’s on Balamii Radio now and again, and he’s started working with Ed Badon Powell’s sons, Marley and Wazoo. Marley runs the label for Rhythm Section and Waz is the drummer, a fantastic drummer. What’s great for me is that I’m getting to work with younger people and I’m really enjoying that.

What would you say you are most proud of over all of those years.

Sticking to my guns. I’ve been in lots of projects as a career musician, and I’ve not gone chasing around trying to work with pop stars. I’ve tried to work in bands writing my own material with other people, which is what I’ve always believed in doing. Also, I’ve learned a great deal and gone beyond being a bass player.

If you were going to ask me what single thing I’m most pleased to have played on, that’s a little more difficult, but there are things that make me smile. Doing a track for Big Youth on the Tough Scout label was great because used to listen to them when I was about 13. There’s lots of stuff you haven’t mentioned – lots of one-off singles with bands I’ve been in. Those are the things that don’t have the most profile but are the most satisfying.

That might play into this last question. What would one piece of advice would you give to any aspiring musicians?

Given that you always meet the same people on the way down, as you do on the way up… don’t behave badly.

Thanks so much for your time Graham!

Graham plays a key role in the development of the courses here at Point Blank, especially with the new degree programmes in Music Production & DJ Practice and Music Industry Management. He also produced a great deal of content for the online degree in Music Production and Sound Engineering. Find out more about how to enrol, or book yourself a studio tour, by speaking with a course advisor.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!


The post Behind The Scenes at Point Blank: Graham Silbiger appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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PB Recommends #49: Tessela, serpentwithfeet, Ciel and More

Point Blank Recommends is our monthly guide to the finest releases from across the musical spectrum. The office has been canvassed to find the tracks taking up permanent residence on our staff’s turntables and streaming platforms. London label Whities continues its ridiculous hot streak with tracks from Tessela and label favourite Lanark Artefax. ‘Glisten’, by the former is especially gorgeous: a dreamy cloud of warmth, liberally splashed with cut and paste vocal snippets and playful tinkering with pitch. Elsewhere, hi-def ambience makes its way to you via Dream Catalogue (Sangam), Toronto’s Ciel continues to confidently make a mockery of the confines of genre and Adult Swim Singles ups the ante with two stunning releases by Jaques Green and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.

With the changing of the clocks, we have, in Britain, emerged from winter’s icy grip at last. The temperature is rising and the evenings no longer spent in complete darkness. This seems to be reflected in the music we are listening to at Point Blank too – you’ll notice an increased volume of warmth, ambience, and bright melodies. Suzanne Kraft has long been a stellar purveyor of sounds in this vein and it’s great to include the hazy ‘Accelerate (Middlesex Edit)’ here. So too, is it to include the latest offering from Dutch repress masters Music From Memory. You can’t spend all day listening to ambient sounds and have any energy to get anything done though, so we’ve thrown in some variation as well: Mytron and Ofofo supply some more oomph with their tropical offering, Let’s Eat Grandma lay the motivation on thick with the stadium-sized ‘Falling Into Me’ and Puma Blue serves up a slice of loose, jazz-flecked sleaze. Special mention also must go to serpentwithfeet, who may well be the owner of the most amazing voice we’ve ever heard.

For more music, tutorials and class insights head to the Point Blank YouTube channel. We hope these sounds inspire you to take the next step in your music making, and whatever that means to you, we can provide the guidance you need at Point Blank. Our most comprehensive course in production is our three-year degree programme in London: BA (Hons) in Music Production & Sound Engineering, and we also offer an online alternative. Perhaps making tracks isn’t your thing, in which case have a look at our radio and DJ courses to focus on selection. If you’d like to know more, you can find all the ways to contact us here.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post PB Recommends #49: Tessela, serpentwithfeet, Ciel and More appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Nine Labels To Look Out For In 2018: Point Blank’s Essential Guide

It’s time for another ‘essential guide’, and this time we’ve picked out a few of our favourite record labels, both old and new, that we feel will bring the heat this year. The scene is in rude health, with styles and sounds cross-pollinating at a greater rate than at any time in recent memory. With that in mind, we want to show some love for the labels that pique our interest every time a reminder from Bandcamp or Juno lands in our inbox. Keeping up with labels, and finding sounds you love is a key tenet of being a good DJ. Learn about this and more on any of our DJ courses.

Local Action

Home to well-respected artists like Deadboy and DJ Q, the last couple of releases found on London-based imprint Local Action have both represented and pushed at the boundaries of electronic music in and out of the club. At the tail end of last year, Manchester producer Finn unleashed his devastatingly euphoric ‘Sometimes The Going Gets A Little Tough’ EP to widespread thanks and praise, while this year has already seen the release of Orlando’s excellent debut LP: a fascinating mix of sweet dancehall, breezy club sounds and feather-light soundscapes. If releases continue in this vein, it’ll be a stellar year.

Orlando by Orlando


Midland’s new label championing up-and-coming artists is just one release old, but it’s already introduced us to two new producers to keep an eye on in Peach and Jay, who each produce very strong debuts. Peach’s track is a dreamy slice of high-energy house whereas Jay’s is pure restrained toughness. Graded will continue to release Midland’s own tracks, and Regraded will stick to weirder climes – stay tuned to Intergraded for more quality club tracks from the fringes.

Introduction by Various Artists

Central Processing Unit

The self-styled spiritual successor to Warp Records has been on a hot streak recently, with two outstanding releases already in 2018, and a third slated for release next month. For many, 2017 was the year electro returned to centre stage in the world of dance music, with Helena Hauff and DJ Stingray the biggest names flying the flag and legions of others following suit. With their tireless release schedule over the past few years, there can’t be many institutions that have done more to champion these sounds than CPU, and in 2018, with electro here to stay, they stand to reap the benefits.

Zero Zero One by Secret State


Run by Red Axes, Garzen Records is a respected champion of the grubby, punky sounds that seep through their own brand of sleazy rollers. The latest release on Garzen encapsulates this perfect, with three straight punk tracks by Deaf Chonky given machine-makeovers by the Axes themselves and label affiliate Manfredas. If any more of their particular brand of hot-weather heaters come tumbling this way again this year, we will be most pleased.

Deaf Chonky EP by Deaf Chonky


By now Príncipe Discos should be a firm part of your lexicon, home as it is to the giants of likely the most exciting style of club music to emerge in the last decade or so. Batida is the Lisbon-centric sound indebted to the Angolan roots of kuduro and tarraxinha and you can trace the scene’s past, present and future through these releases from the likes of Nervoso, Marfox and Lycox. The first release of this year sees Adrix splicing in sounds from further afield like jungle & grime, taking Príncipe’s output to bold new places. In our opinion, the label at the very top of the pile shows no sign of slowing down yet.

Álbum Desconhecido by P. ADRIX


‘Take your broken heart, make art!’ says the brief message on Dublin label Patrúin’s Bandcamp page. So impressive are the tracks on their two releases to date, all from new and hitherto unknown artists from Ireland, it’s easy to believe they are spurred on by some seismic heartbrake. They guested on Charlie Bones’ Do! You!! breakfast show on NTS Radio in January too, carrying an armful of forthcoming cuts on the label which make the prospect of 2018 very exciting. ‘Tóg do chroí briste, a dhéanamh ealaín!’

V/A – Meryl by Patrúin

Firecracker Recordings

Another label that’s well established by this point, it also seems Firecracker are incapable of putting out any bad records. Last summer they gave a platform for DJ Sports’ superb debut LP, Modern Species, a warm slice of drum and bass both fresh and dripping in umami nostalgia. Their first release of 2018, ‘Pattern Transform’ by Other Lands, is truer to the Moodymann-indebdted roots of the Edinburgh imprint, but is no less instantly joyous.

FIREC025 Pattern Transform by Other Lands

West Friends

South London record shop, bar and moody basement dancefloor Rye Wax began dropping records around this time last year. Shop favourites and close pals Medlar, Ishmael, FYI Chris and Tom Blip all dropped sublime dancefloor fuel in time for summer last year, while their first compilation record, called ‘Simply The West’ of course, kicked off 2018 for them. Exclusive dubplates are lined up for Rye Wax’s record store day event ‘The Run Out’ and there’s plenty more in the pipeline from West Friends old and new. Watch this space.

Simply The West Vol.01 by West Friends

Peach Discs

Peach Discs burst into existence with the same assurance and self-confidence as honcho Shanti Celeste shows when she steps behind the turntables. The first release, her own, matched triumphant bursts of light, irresistible breaks and an innate understanding of what makes the best house music special, and the standard remained at the same place thereafter. After Toronto’s Ciel supplied the latest infectious and joyous Peach Disc, we await the next with bated breath.

PEACH004 – Electrical Encounters by Ciel

Hopefully, there’s plenty here to keep you busy exploring for a short while, whether you’re looking for new sounds to play out or inspiration when it comes to making your own tracks. If so, we can give you the tools needed to express yourselves on our music production courses. Starting and maintaining a label can be one of the most rewarding experiences in music, and we can help with that too – why not take a look at our courses in the Music Industry. Any questions? Just give us a call on +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Nine Labels To Look Out For In 2018: Point Blank’s Essential Guide appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Point Blank’s Essential Guide to Festivals in 2018

So here we are, barely two months into 2018 and still in the throws of the northern temperate zone’s long winter. Still, there are signs that our corner of the earth is rousing from her slumber; the days are getting longer, and supermarkets have been rid of Christmas songs for long enough that it’s just a faint memory. And of course, festival lineups are beginning to rack up. As our attention returns to the promise of enjoying the outdoors, so too must we begin to consider what to do with all that sunshine. Read on for Point Blank’s essential guide to festivals in 2018. Fair warning – none of them are in Croatia.

If you’d like to play at places like these someday, we can help you at every step of the way, be it learning your craft, getting gigs or navigating the industry in the right way. Check out our school pages for London and online for more info.


Any guide to what festivals to attend wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Amsterdam promoters. They have gradually built up from a series of small parties to become the generally agreed-upon industry leaders. The fact that weekend tickets for this year’s festival sold out in just minutes is a testament to the reputation it has garnered over the years.

In interviews, the organisers maintain that the festival is special because of the line-up. That’s where it all ends and begins for them. Sure, the setting could hardly have been purpose-designed any better, and is remarkably central in one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic cities, but it is the music that people visit music festivals for, and this party is always soundtracked by the exciting, the forward-thinking and the technically-gifted.

This year, that amounts to a huge list of live sets from Mount Kimbie, Shackleton, Phase Fatale and Karen Gwyer, plus festival favourites in Helena Hauff, Floating Points, Shanti Celeste, Young Marco and Juju & Jordash. Two opening concerts featuring Tangerine Dream, Four Tet and James Holden & The Animal Spirits are announced so far, and there’s still the night programme to come. It’s no exaggeration to say Dekmantel is the world leader right now, so if you can get your hands on a ticket, there’s nowhere else you need to be.

Green Man

It’s no secret that dance music has infiltrated practically all aspects of the musical landscape. Whether its the USA embracing EDM or four-to-the-floor returning to dominate pop production, all signs from the last five years suggest it is here to stay, front and centre. Among these signs is the rise of the dance music festival. Despite the history of outdoor raves, festivals have traditionally been the stronghold of music made with live instrumentation, but the flip-side of the rise of the dance festival is a real decline in festivals in a more traditional mould.

One festival that bucks this trend is Green Man in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Port Meirion’s Festival Number 6 in North Wales is comparable due to the country of its location and the similarly wide scope of its programming and tends to get more attention due to the town’s unique architectural style (that of an Italian village) and vibrant colour scheme. But the natural beauty at the banks of the river Usk is at least its equal, resulting in a dreamlike atmosphere that stays true to the hippy dream of the likes of Glastonbury festival over the border.

There is much still left to announce, but of the already announced acts there are plenty to get the mouth watering. Fleet Foxes and Mount Kimbie each released some of the most accomplished albums of last year. Joining them are the inimitable talents of John Grant and Anton Newcombe (the renegade psych-preacher figure at the helm of The Brian Jonestown Massacre) as well as the all-conquering War on Drugs. John Talabot’s presence proves the festival doesn’t completely shun electronic sounds, while Public Service Broadcasting will fittingly tell the story of the Welsh mining industry’s decline, having released ‘Every Valley’ in July of Last Year. An idyllic escape on this green island.

Field Maneuvers

The self-styled ‘dirty little rave’ returns for its sixth year, somehow still carrying a best-kept-secret reputation. FM is a special weekender due to its absolute commitment to that which makes parties enjoyable. You don’t put on a festival for four successful years without gathering some attention, and you get the feeling that should the organisers please, they could increase the capacity beyond the 700 mark and sell out comfortably. But the reason they don’t is the same reason it stands apart. The site is tiny, less than a five minute walk from one end to the other, which makes it impossible to lose anyone, plus all of the organisers and security’s effort is put into encouraging a friendly and welcoming atmosphere – the recurrence of so many names on the lineup year-on-year is a testament to this – which trickles down to a sense of freedom and safety from judgement that goes a long way to fulfilling its promise of reviving the spirit of rave.

They’ve yet to announce the line-up this year, but given his appearance at every edition thus far, you can bet on Auntie Flo being in attendance. So too Ben Sims, Ryan Elliot and Mark Archer, who have scarcely missed a chance to visit this field somewhere north of London. And of Course Jane Fitz, who since 2014 has curated the Field Moves tent.

Tickets are still on sale but don’t expect that to stay the case long, especially after the line-up is announced. Take a chance on this one.

Oasis Festival

In recent years Morocco has started to become something of an unlikely festival destination, though perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. The country has a rich musical history (the yearly Gnaoua festival in Essaouira is a fantastic showcase for some of this), and although most Moroccans don’t drink, you can grab a beer or a glass of wine in bigger towns and cities easily enough. Connections with the world of dance music are beginning to ramp up as well – James Holden’s widely-adored ‘The Animal Spirits’ took much inspiration of the musical traditions of the Gnawa, previously explored on collaborative projects with Maalem Mahmoud Guinia. Oasis festival in Marrakech is entering its fourth year in 2018, and Moga festival is tipped to return to Essaouira this year two years on from its successful first year.

We would recommend either if Moga does go ahead, but as much more is known about the Oasis in 2018 at this point that’s what we’re focusing on here. As with previous years, the festival’s first phase of line-up announcements sees a collection of respected stalwarts and those who made waves in 2017. Perhaps taking their lead from last year’s Dekmantel, they have paired several DJs for b2b’s designed to complement each other. Derrick Carter b2b The Black Madonna is a pairing we’re particularly excited by – the pair have been residents at Chicago’s Smart Bar simultaneously, and are highly respected ambassadors for House music’s city of birth, so sparks should fly for this one.

The festival leans to the luxury end of the spectrum, with champagne bars and baccarat among the attractions at the site’s relaxing pockets in the shade. Great music in a great setting is the bedrock of any good party, and Oasis has both in spades.


Last year’s inaugural edition of Houghton Festival felt special. Previously, if you wanted to keep dancing for longer than the regular 3 or 4am cut off, you had to leave these shores and head for a country with more relaxed licensing laws. When Craig Richards and Gottwood Festival got together to organise Houghton Festival at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, the goalposts were well and truly moved, with a license for 24-hour music all weekend. The result was that people could dip in and out the dancefloor at their pleasure, which in turn encouraged a more relaxed atmosphere than the race-to-the-finish vibe of many British festivals. Extended sets of 5 hours or more were the norm, and DJs made full use of the freedom that allowed to take their sets in unexpected directions. Having put all of that together with consistently weighty speakers, and an idyllic lakeside setting, a benchmark was set.

Richards, the esteemed DJ and longtime (former) Fabric resident has built up an enviable address book over the years, and given that first tier tickets last year started at just £80, one assumes many of the massive artists on the bill must have agreed to play for a discounted fee. This year’s tickets started at almost double that, but the initial line-up announcement looks no less impressive, with Monolake playing live, along with Nathan Fake and Smagghe & Cross. Many favourites from last year return to the bill, including Margaret Dygas, Optimo, Ricardo Villalobos, Cosmo Murphy, Saoirse and Nicolas Lutz.

Practically the only gripe levelled at the festival last year was the paltry effort to include female DJs on the bill. We’ve only had the initial lineup announcement thus far for 2018, with more names on the way, but as it stands it’s extremely disappointing to see this unchanged. Houghton remains on this list because last year it felt like a watershed moment for UK festivals, but, in 2018, to have just 8 women on a bill of 80 is not good enough. If this is addressed in the upcoming additions, then fair enough. If not, it will a sad reminder of progress yet to be made and will tarnish an otherwise fantastic addition to the calendar.

Le Guess Who?

Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? flies the flag for those pushing at the outer membrane, in the tradition of All Tomorrow’s Parties (RIP). Every year they ask a diverse group of artists to curate several shows around the city, allowing for a programming about as wide-ranging as you are likely to see anywhere. Last year the list of curators included the wiggy Seattle hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, who brought with them the murky poetry of Gonjasufi, and Astro-jazz royalty in Pharaoh Sanders. Perfume Genius, of the same city, with his poignantly revealing yet anthemic indie rock, was responsible for the inclusion of Aldous Harding and Cate Le Bon.

Another curator was James Holden, who, as well as performing with The Animal Spirits, shone a light on the Gnawa great Maalem Mahmoud Guinia (mentioned in the Oasis festival recommendation too), London jazz’ man-of-the-moment Shabakah and the Ancestors, and the cosmic genius of Hieroglyphic Being. There was much more besides, but this serves to demonstrate what an amazing breadth of genius was on show last year.

There’s no real info about what’s on this year, but the festival tend to announce the programme in stages. Honestly though, this is one weekender you would do well to trust, especially given that tickets are currently just over £100.

Festivals play a massive role in the economy of music, and there are few greater pleasures in life than wandering around some magical place, with all those man- and woman-hours put in, and discovering something new that you would never have done otherwise. They can be amazing to be a part of as well, and we can help you get there. Learn to produce with us and you could be playing live somewhere like Le Guess Who? Hone your DJ skills in our studio full of Pioneer DJ gear and you could be spinning records at Field Maneuvers someday. Or study live sound engineering with us and end up a key component of a festival like Green Man. Whatever your into, call us on +44 20 7729 4884 to talk to a course advisor, who would be happy to help.

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The post Point Blank’s Essential Guide to Festivals in 2018 appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Influence or Plagiarism? Legal Battles in Music (w/ Radiohead, Marvin Gaye, Zomby + more)

This week we learned that the experimental rock band Radiohead are suing Lana del Rey over similarities between her track ‘Get Free’ on her 2017 album ‘Lust For Life’ and their 1992 debut single ‘Creep’. People’s reactions have been mixed on the matter, with die-hard fans of both artists rushing to their defence. Western music is essentially based on 12 notes, so among the countless variations, there have been a good many similar tracks – Radiohead themselves had to credit The Hollies as writers of Creep, due to the similarity of their 1974 track ‘The Air That I Breathe’. In any case, we thought it a good time to have a look through famous instances of legal disputes and accusations of plagiarism in music. Read on for a rundown of some of the most notable cases.

The legal side of music is a convoluted business – if you’d like to get a proper grasp on it, as well as the many other intricacies of the industry, take a look at our Music Industry courses.

Radiohead vs Lana Del Rey

The most recent high-profile case of accused plagiarism (Ed Sheeran’s ongoing disputes over many songs notwithstanding). Radiohead are reportedly suing Lana Del Rey over the similarities between ‘Get Free’ and ‘Creep’. The songs share the same chord progression and, crucially, similarities in melody. Many commentators take issue with the fact the band are (again reportedly) asking for 100% of the publishing rights. Radiohead themselves were forced to add Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood of The Hollies as co-writers, and the pair own a percentage of the publishing rights to ‘Creep’.

Both artists have famously loyal sets of fans, which is a large part of the level of attention. Listen to Consequence of Sound’s comparison below to see what you make of the similarities.

Boddika & Joy O vs Hannah Wants

A big story in 2016 was the alleged similarity between Boddika’s VIP of his own track with joy Orbison ‘Mercy’ and Hannah Wants’ ‘Found The Ground’ from her then-forthcoming Rinse release and FabricLive Mix. The dispute took on another dimension when a number of notable artists (Eclair Fifi and The Black Madonna among them) argued that the accusations were indicative of an inherent sexism in dance music – a concern that continues to bubble to this day. This piece on Thump delved into this angle in detail.

‘Found The Ground’ has largely been removed from streaming services but you can listen to ‘Mercy VIP’ below.

Marvin Gaye’s Estate vs Robin Thicke and Pharrell

The most high-profile case in recent years, until the current Radiohead and Lana Del Ray dispute, was when the estate of the late, great Marvin Gaye sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over the similarities between their massive hit ‘Blurred Lines’ and Gaye’s 1977 track ‘Got To Give It Up’. The bassline and beat feel similar but ‘Blurred Lines’ actually followed a distinct melody. This was a landmark case though as the courts ruled in Gaye’s favour based on studio arrangement, which hitherto had not been possible. listen to the tracks’ intros below to hear for yourself.

Reark vs Zomby

In 2012 a relatively unknown producer called Reark uploaded a loop of a track called ‘Natalia’s Song’ to Soundcloud, claiming that he had written it in 2007. Minus a few changes, it is the same track as Zomby’s 2011 single of the same name. The story goes that Reark had been communicating with Zomby over Myspace, and the two agreed to collaborate on finishing the track. Zomby then took over on his own and ended up releasing it solo on 4AD. Zomby’s argument is that Reark was essentially only responsible for the vocal samples and that his changes had edited it sufficiently for him to fairly claim sole authorship.

The Rolling Stones vs The Verve

Perhaps the most famous of publishing disputes was when The Rolling Stones claimed 100% of the publishing rights to The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. The track is unarguably the band’s biggest and has gone on to be one of the most recognisable of the last three decades. The track samples an orchestral cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘The Last Time’ by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. Richard Ashcroft et al had actually cleared the sample with The Rolling Stones prior to the release, but the older band claimed that when it was released, they had used a much bigger chunk of the track than agreed. Whatever the case, giving up 100% of publishing for a sample of a cover, that sounds very little like the original song, seems quite severe. A good lesson for any artist that uses sampling to be aware of the law.

Listen to the two tracks below to see how similar they sound to your ears.

The Turtles vs De La Soul

No list looking at disputes over plagiarism can be complete without a case of straight-up sampling, especially from a time when Hip Hop was much younger and the now outdated view that sampling is devoid of creativity held greater sway. De La Soul are perhaps the best example to use as their early albums spent over a decade unavailable to buy or stream digitally. This led to them giving away their first six albums for free in 2014.

This particular example involves the sample of ‘You Showed Me’ by The Turtles on ‘Transmitting from Mars’ by De La Soul. It was just one of many samples used on all of De La Soul’s early albums that led to their digital obscurity. The Turtles were one of the strongest critics of the use of sampling however, calling it “a longer term for theft”. Listen to the skit containing the sample below.

Chuck Berry vs The Beach Boys

One of the classic examples in Rock N Roll, which as a genre is rife with derivatives of blues. the Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin USA’ bears a lot of similarity to Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’. Berry was eventually credited on ‘Surfin USA’ and himself once told Brian Wilson that he loved the Beach Boys track, proof that it can sometimes end amicably.

The one thing all of these examples have in common, is that the tracks are great, demonstrating that, regardless of influence, good songwriting will always win out. If thats something you’d like to learn, check out our Songwriting course in London, or even a combined Singing and Songwriting course. For more info on this or any of our courses, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or call us on +44 20 7729 4884.

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If you register with Point Blank, you can access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

The post Influence or Plagiarism? Legal Battles in Music (w/ Radiohead, Marvin Gaye, Zomby + more) appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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