Clubbing TV has successfully produced and broadcast more than 1500 hours of live streams from all around the globe. Industry pioneers and some of the industry’s biggest players when it comes to streaming and TV broadcasting of festivals and DJ sets, they’ve helped usher in a new era of online festivals and events, the likes of which are now ubiquitous across the web. Their latest foray is a production masterclass from Starsky, a producer and DJ with numerous credits to his name on some of the world’s biggest labels. We checked in with him recently to find out more about his new show.
Were you locked down, how was it, what did you do with the time?
Yes, we were completely locked down in the UK from March for around 3 months, and just this week Liverpool has been put on more stringent rules than most of the country. I originally thought it was a great opportunity to create some content for my Patreon page and produced a series of tutorial videos showing how to programme synths in detail. It was something I’d been planning for ages, but just didn’t have the time. It’s amazing how much time is freed up when you can’t go anywhere. I’m also a big Moog fan and have quite a few bits of their kit, and as this year’s Moogfest was cancelled I decided to hold my own and uploaded a daily demo of some of my favourite Moog synths and effects. It was really just an excuse to play with some of my favourite toys that don’t get used often enough.
When did you first link with Clubbing TV – what did you first work on?
I first spoke with Clubbing TV in late 2019 – they were interested in having a music tech programme on the schedule and had seen my youtube videos where I review music technology with in depth reviews and comparisons. They asked if I could change the format to produce some shows that were not too techy and a bit of fun.
What is it about Clubbing TV that makes them a perfect foil for your character do you think?
In the first conversation I had with them they asked if I could make the videos light hearted while still demoing the tech and I completely understood the perspective. Most musicians or DJs aren’t in it for the technology, they’re in it for the art, for the fun and the enjoyment of creating something that others will enjoy. Dance music is about having a good time, but to make it you need to understand some of the technology to a proficient level and if you’re going to be spending precious cash on equipment you want to make sure it’s the right kit for you. So there’s a mix of relevant information and not taking everything too seriously. Things are necessarily going to get a bit nerdy at times, and I’m aware when the demos are about to enter the geek zone, which is where some of the light hearted moments I throw in are aimed. Every great DJ or producer is has a nerd inside, but uses that to create great sets or great tracks, we just need to embrace the geek and shrug it off when the track’s finally finished. If you’ve ever sat in a studio where a bunch of folks have obsessed over a single kick drum sound for hours on end you’ll know what I mean!
So you’ve done some awesome product and artist demonstrations so far — how do you choose which artists to cover?
It’s got to be something I can either hear a definite theme in the productions or understand how it’s made … plus it has to be something anyone can recreate on the kitchen table! For example, DJ Snake has that syncopated rhythm that is instantly recognisable. You don’t need loads of kit to make it, just a feel for the music and a DAW with some basic softsynths. After I’d finished that episode my 8 year daughter was in the car with me when a DJ Snake track came on the radio and she said it sounded like the demo I’d just made, without realising it was DJ Snake. That made me quite happy that I’d captured the essence of his productions. KiNK is another example of this. I’d watched a couple of his online live shows and was instantly drawn to what he was doing.. full live sets without using any backing tracks, playing everything live. I could see what he was doing, and how he made it sound so complex and why it sounded so good. It’s easy to demo and explain but not so easy to do for an hour in front of hundreds of people!
Are you just as passionate about electronic music now as you’ve ever been?
Absolutely, although I love all sorts of music its always the electronic stuff that jolts me like an electric current when I hear something brilliant, clever or new. It’s so much easier to access now, and so many people can make really decent tracks which makes great new ideas even more exhilarating.
Tell us about the new show – when you had the idea and how hard it has been to get off the ground?
The show is a lighthearted look at studio kit, synths, drum machines and production techinques. The idea is to help anyone getting into music production to understand the tools used by the industry and to help make decisions on what you need an why, without being too serious or becoming a university course in music tech. It’s been pretty easy to move to this from my starskycarr youtube channel but the biggest hurdle for me has been to reduce things down to 13 minute episodes. On YouTube I can ramble on for hours, but this has been a great learning curve for me to knock out all the waffle and get straight to the important info.
Why are you the right man for the job, what’s your background in production? Had you done much video work prior to all this?
I’ve produced tracks professionally since the late 1990’s early 2000’s for lots of dance labels in lots of styles. I’ve had releases on Mute, Distinctive, Multiply, Xtravaganza, 3 Beat and loads of others, with loads of remixes and writing credits. So I’ve a really broad background in creating dance tracks, and have been there to see the development from tape based recoding to DAWs. I’ve been producing YouTube tutorials, demos and reviews for about 5 years, but moving into TV production has been a new development. The main difference being I now record my face whereas previously it was only my hands. I was hoping I’d be spotted for a career as a hand model but that never happened!
Who is it for? What will people learn?
The show is for anyone interested in creating their own tracks, anyone who has a laptop and some software and is wondering how to actually put tracks together, or wants to learn how to use the synths, drum machine, samplers and other bits of studio kit. If you’re thinking of investing a new synth, for example, what sort do you need, and why and how would you use it, what’s the difference between various types of synths and what does all that impenetrable language actually mean? Hopefully by watching a few of these you’ll start to understand the terminology, the technology landscape and different ways of creating tracks.
How is it broken down, what gear do you use, what style of music do you make?
Each episode is different, depending on what I’m looking at. I may just give a brief overview of main functions or reasons for price differences if I’m comparing a few options. But if I’m looking at a single bit of kit I’ll try to go into a bit more detail, and then show how it’s used in context, which normally means putting a simple track together. In one episode I’ve just made I created a minimal techno track using only a $95 miniature synth and a drum machine I picked up for £230.
What did you use to learn these things when you were coming up?
There was literally nothing to help you learn the equipment and production techniques except reading manuals and experimenting, which really isn’t an efficient way of doing things. It can take months or even years to accidentally discover a little production trick yourself, and just seconds when someone show you how to do it. Swapping ideas with people is best, and working alongside someone is by far the best way to pick up new ideas. Looking back I wish I’d had more opportunities to collaborate from the beginning.
Is it easier or harder now for artists trying to break through with all the tools and social media etc, or does that just mean more competition?
It’s so much easier to make tracks now. I’ve just recorded an episode called ‘Do it Like and Old Skool Raver’ where I show the basic essentials needed to create a track in the 90’s. It probably comes to a minimum of £8k, more like well over £10k and once you add a couple more synths and outboard gear probably actually £15-20k. You can do all this on your phone now. Obviously production is more polished these days, but the difference in availability of the basic kit is stark which means there are so many more people doing it. But there’s still only the same percentage of talented people so I think it probably evens out with everything considered. Those that stand out will have the best ideas like they always have. But more people probably think it’s going to be an easy route. If you’re serious, you’ll still need to create a buzz, work with local talent, generate a name for yourself, just like musicians always have.
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
My latest interest is in modular systems, something I’ve put off for years as it’s a dangerously expensive and addictive habit. But I’m looking forward to entering a new way of approaching sound design. My first patch on my mini system made me realise what I’ve been missing, and immediately opened my eyes to how certain tracks were created. But it is a rabbit hole I’ll have to be careful not to disappear into for too long.
What 5 tunes have you been listening to on repeat this year?
I tend not to listen to individual tracks, but my favourite things at the moment are:
1. Sleaford Mods new album All That Glue. Great snarling punk peoms with laid back beats. This is my latest go to album.
2. I’ve recently rediscovered LCD Soundsystem – I love the lyrics and the synth parts. If I’m going for one that always makes the hairs on my neck stand up I’d pick ‘Yeah’. Try listening to the synths from 4 minutes to the end. It’s 5 minutes of pure mad evil synth and drum genius.
3. I have to put Sasha in here, the Late Night Sessions Presents Sasha: Scene Delete is a perfect chillout album with fantastic production. It’s always good to fall back into this and let it wash over me, good for those lockdown moments when you need to leave 2020 behind for a while.
4. Stephan Bodzin’s Singularity has been given a fair bit of air time recently, as I’m thinking of demoing how to make something similar on the show… plus it’s a great track
5. I really like the vibe Roisin Murphy’s last few releases, a sort of laid back quirky disco sound. ‘Incapable’ was the latest. As her new album Roisin Machine has just been released I imagine that’ll be on heavy rotation for the next few months.
And finally, what else have you got coming up at Clubbing TV that’s really exciting you right now?
That’s always a bit up in the air until I actually sit down to record it. I normally mull over a few ideas for ages before actually pinning them down, but I think showing how to create a Stephan Bodzin style track would be good. He uses the Moog Sub37 which I love, really digging into the features to make evolving melodies and soundscapes. Trying to squeeze that into 13 minutes will be an interesting challenge.
Keep up with Clubbing TV on Facebook and Instagram and tune in to Starsky show on /www.clubbingtv.com/ or watching the channel’s showreel at: https://pro.clubbingtv.com/