Browsing Tag


Monthly Round-Up February 2018: Massive Attack, Festivals & More

What a month it’s been! In our honest opinion we’ve dropped some of the best content to come out of this site in the past month, and our video series have reached a level of consistency we’ve been striving toward for some time. Read on for the choicest cuts from the shortest, sweetest month in our monthly round-up. As always, our content is designed to help students and curious readers alike to gain insight and expertise in all facets of the music industry. To take this to the next level, head to our pages for schools in London, LA, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online.

Massive Attack – ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ Deconstruction. Live from Ableton Loop

Where else could we begin but with our latest and frankly greatest deconstruction video? Ski’s been on a roll recently with these but having sat on this one since Ableton Loop of last year, we were delighted to be able to share it in all of its HD glory. Sampling from records and bells, crafting beautiful string sounds using in-build Ableton packs, and calling in favours from friends in high places, Ski managed to respectfully recreate one of the best tunes of all time. Nuff said.

Point Blank’s Essential Guide to Festivals in 2018

To help us through the punishing winter months, our thoughts invariably turn to the summer. Of course, this means festivals and plenty of them. In the interest of helping you wade through the bloated calendar, we put together this list of our favourites, including headsy industry leaders, dirty little raves, paradisical getaways and the best of the good ol’ fashioneds in a muddy field (at least while Glastonbury has a fallow year).

DJ Ravine Studies at Point Blank

7 weeks into his studies, DJ Ravine’s vlogs have been a revelation. Around the office we can’t get enough of his insightful glimpses into the world of a Point Blank student, and they (like his production skills) just keep getting better and better.

PB Recommends #48

Our latest round-up of tracks on heavy rotation around the office and beyond. Isn’t music great?

Delve Into Phaeleh’s Live Show at XOYO

West country purveyor of lush, expansive sounds took us behind the desk at his recent show at London’s XOYO, and was kind enough to take us through his live set-up beforehand as well. An invaluable look at his process and an affirmation of the importance of the human element of performing.

If you enjoy this content, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to get into music production or take yours to the next level, then consider our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree in which you can learn everything you need to know about music production including mixing, mastering, composition and music business. We also offer an online alternative, our online BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree. You can check out our whole range of online courses 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 Monthly Round-Up February 2018: Massive Attack, Festivals & More appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here

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.

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

Read more here

Six Festivals Addressing the Gender Imbalance Head On

In 2015, an image of the Reading and Leeds poster went viral. It showed what the line-up looked like with all the male performers and bands removed – you probably remember it. What remained was depressing: just nine female (or female-featuring) acts remained, a potent symbol of the widespread gender imbalance that has become the norm in our festival and event programming. Sadly, mainstream rock festivals aren’t the only culprits; the rot has set in within the future-focused world of electronic music too. However, a kick back is in place: the rise of festivals with women-only (or women-majority) line-ups are seen by many as the quickest means of redressing the numbers – a direct and often DIY way of fixing a broken system.

It may not be the perfect answer – insularity and tokenism are two concerns levelled at these events – but it could be the only way to set change in motion. And it seems to be working. Last year experimental festival Space Time boasted a female-only line-up, booking the likes of Holly Herndon, Helena Hauff and Nik Colk Void. Czech festival Lunchmeat made a concession too, adopting a similar policy for a warmup event. Even big guns like Glastonbury are boasting a heightened commitment to female artists, and that was before the news last week that Glastonbury was introducing a women-only platform as part of their Shangri La area. At Point Blank we’re committed to providing the tools for people of all genders to get out there and affect change in our industry. As such, we’ve gathered up the festivals from around the world that not only represent platforms for new, female talent – take note, up and coming artists – but are models of how we can switch up the status quo.

The Sisterhood, Glastonbury


Ok, so it’s not a whole festival, but the news that arguably the biggest festival of them all was to introduce a women-only space hit headlines when it was announced last week. Unlike the rest of the festivals included here where men are both invited and encouraged to attend, men are not permitted. According to the official press release, The Sisterhood – which will be located in the festival’s Shangri La area – offers a place for women to network and connect while showcasing the best in female talent from the UK and beyond. Adding an additional layer of interest is the fact that the Shangri La’s theme this year is Media Manipulation. Considering the rise of online misogyny and accusations of reverse sexism (already, distressingly, levelled at the space) the actual existence of The Sisterhood feels deeply political. Line-ups are yet to be announced, but you can keep up with developments via their Facebook page.

Sad Grrrls Fest

Courtney-Joy Fry 5

“Sad Grrrls Club started because I was a little disillusioned with constantly being the only non-male performer on shows I didn’t book,” says Sad Grrrls founder Rachel Maria Cox. Originally conceived as a bunch of musician mates getting together to tour, the project resonated with the growing dissatisfaction with lack of diversity and quickly grew in scope. There’s been a Sad Grrrls tour, a mini fest in Sydney, a club, and record label. This year the festival is planned in both Melbourne and Sydney. “Overall my mission with Sad Grrrls Club is to promote diversity, inclusivity and safety in music.” Excitingly, she’s not ruling out the expansion of Sad Grrrls Club beyond Australia in the future – stay tuned.

The Other Festival

726e8ff0-057e-0134-e753-0a315da82319If Sad Grrrls is defined by its DIY spirit and underground ethos, then New York’s The Other Festival is a glossily mainstream – all sizeable budget and aspirational A-list line-up. Founder Dee Poku-Spalding was inspired to set up the festival as a response to the surfeit of male artists at music festivals but The Other Festival has broadened its purview to take in all areas of the creative industries. The inaugural weekend event, which took place recently, married panel discussions and workshops with a separate evening programme covering a varied spectrum of electronic music.

Ladies of Hip Hop Festival


Founded in 2004 by Michele Byrd-McPhee, the Ladies of Hip Hop Festival is an event that  explores hip hop culture – and women’s relationship with it – while providing a platform within a scene typically dominated by male voices. International hip hop artists are invited to perform and teach, while attendees can participate in workshops, performance and discussion. With splinter events in Europe and, most recently, Los Angeles, the reach of the festival continues to grow some 12 years since its inception. Want to help? They have an Indiegogo campaign.

Female:Pressure Perspectives

It’s no surprise that female:pressure, an organisation whose MO is to raise awareness of the disparity between male/female representation in the music industry, would create their own electronic music festival. Inaugurated in 2012, Perspectives is held in Berlin and was a direct response to the lack of female performers being booked around that time. “We were considering a mixed line-up,” says one of the organisers, Akka Miau, of the project’s inception. “But, I believe our whole team still sees that the balance hasn’t been achieved yet, therefore we will keep supporting women until the equilibrium is achieved.” Taking place every other year, with the next event due in 2017, Perspectives includes audio/visual workshops and panel talks alongside its stellar music programme. Excitingly, Akka notes the situation is getting better, in terms of people willing to do something about it at least: “In the past few years we witnessed the emerging of various female collectives, which is a great sign, the situation is really changing”.

Pandora Fest


There’s a great line on the Pandora Fest website, a response to the awful stats (The Guardian, who Pandora Fest cite, calculated that in 2015 the percentage of male festival headliners was 89.6%): “We were annoyed – we go to a festival for a good time, not to think of stuff like this.” The response of the organisers was to programme a seriously diverse range of acts, including mixed groups, among the beautiful surrounds of Duncarron, Scotland. There’s also the option to camp overnight for the full-on festival experience. You can head here for more details, and keep an eye out for next year as they accept artist submissions.

Bonus mention: Finding the Female Headliner


Of course, the real marker of success will come when mainstream festivals start booking a more balanced and diverse range of artists. A growing awareness of the unacceptability of all-male line-ups is permeating but still some promoters continue blame their booking policies on a shortage of female artists (the “PJ Harvey/Florence/Bjork was busy/too expensive/didn’t have an album out” argument). Promoter and journalist Ruth Barnes is making it her mission to ensure this argument is null and void. Finding the Female Headliner is based out of Dalston venue Birthdays, just down the road from Point Blank’s London base. By offering up a grassroots platform to female performers, Ruth hopes to nurture the next wave of festival headline-ready talent. The line-ups of these monthly events are staggeringly diverse, with artists drawn from hip-hop, folk, indie and the gaps between. If you’re interested in participating, you can find out information via the FTFH Facebook page.

At Point Blank we’re super proud to be helping the next generation of female producers, artists and industry figures prepare for a successful career in the music industry. If you’re feeling inspired and want to join the ranks of PB alumni like Monki and Nicole Moudaber, our BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering degree is the pinnacle of what we offer and gives you a 360-degree view of your options in the industry. Our courses are developed by professionals who have worked with Pharrell Williams, Chemical Brothers, Swedish House Mafia and Massive Attack. Modules cover music composition, DJing, live sound engineering, music business and much more. Validated by Middlesex University, you won’t find a better way to immerse yourself in your passion for music. Enrol before June 30 and you’ll save 10% – just enter the code PB10 when you enrol.

Register to Access Free Courses, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, 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 Six Festivals Addressing the Gender Imbalance Head On appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

Read more here