So i’m sat in my fresh, crisp, white with gold lettering ‘Serato’ T-Shirt (thanks guys) surrounded by suits on the train laying down my thoughts of yesterday’s day at BPM. Man, the NEC is BIG! Gosh, i’ve only seen it from the train before, once when I was on the way to the “Days Like This” gig (one of my all time favourites) and the other when I was on the way to Wales to visit DJ Tutor. I reckon they must have built it at the same time as the Airport (locals correct me if i’m wrong) as it looks just like one, albeit one that might house the top secret successor to the Blackbird spy plane. For two days (the final third day is today) the NEC has been home to BPM, a massive DJ and Production orientated show.
If you can picture a massive aircraft hanger with a central ‘club’ surrounded by a hundred or so exhibition stands around the perimeter you’ll get a vague idea of what it is. It’s NOISY, really noisy and no surprise given the subject matter. The decibel police are doing the rounds though, level meters in hand and ready to give the nod when you tip over the threshold. I was there of course with Point Blank, on hand to create beats on the stall and talk to the punters. We were right next to Steinberg, in attendance with some seriously good looking hardware controls (fingers crossed I should be getting my hands on these soon) that are designed for Cubase. This looks like a great step forward for Steinberg and they were getting plenty of attention. For us though, on the Point Blank booth it was all about the beats. Using ableton and the novation launchpad I created rhythms across a variety of club flavours, both downtempo and uptempo whilst Ben Bristow, our Serato expert, cut and scratched on top, often using the Dicers to add an extra dimension. It was a challenge but when it worked it really worked. Sometimes i’d need to use Ableton’s nudge controls to keep things in time when things drifted slightly and when I was syncing to Ben’s beats i’d use the tap tempo function and then bring my volume up into the mix to join his. It was a great experiment and we’ll work on improving it for any future shows. I’m still learning how to make the most of the performance angle on Ableton/Launchpad so all of this is great experience for me.
The other thing I was there to do was a seminar in one of the purpose built rooms just outside the main hall. This timetabled event was always going to be a challenge for me as the concept was to demonstrate beatmaking in a selection of styles decided by the audience. I was game though, so once the room was full I asked the question and what genre came back first? Deep House – no joke. So I kicked off with it and demonstrated some programming concepts, using a generic hip hop kit from the M1. Why? In order to keep things snappy I decided in advance to use this kit as it had a wide and varied selection of samples that would actually be usable across the styles. To go through sample selection as well as programming would have dragged the session out – the aim was to rinse through a style in 7 mins or so and the clock was ticking. So we moved forward, through Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Hip Hop (some nice top secret tricks divulged there) and 2 Step Garage. To put things in context on the last one I dropped in an M1 organ and triggered a bassline and heads were truly bouncing – it shows there’s still a lot of love for the sound. The crowd were great, very interactive and I really enjoyed the session, looking forward to the next time we get the chance to do the same.