Listening to and thinking about social dance music is interesting. I know that I primarily focus on “listening-type music”, and if you listen to some of my songs like this one (shoutout to A-zu-ra) you’d probably agree that they aren’t “dance-type music”, despite being really great and enjoyable. And that makes sense. After all, I’m not really an “energetic” person, so stereotypically I’d prefer listening music. Not necessarily “quiet” music, but listening music. This also relates to how I like listening to EDM, but am not really into the whole rave scene.
That said, I make dance-type music too, and it’s really interesting comparing my songs to a lot of the other songs that are played at FNW, Jammix, what-have-you. Granted, I have to make the exception for some WCS stuff I’ve been to (since they play some pretty energetic stuff sometimes), but it usually is a world apart in the feel.
Lullaby of Flame is still my #1 most well-produced song ever in terms of just how clear the mix is, how everything punches through, how it’s so full and everything just fits together so perfectly. And if you listen to it and compare it to a lot of other waltz music that’s played at social dance, it’s just totally clear how different it is. It’s a different genre, really.
A lot of it is in the percussion. So many songs I hear out there just don’t have the -punch- that you need to create a driving rhythm. You can’t really get that if you’re just recording a bass drum or whatever. I use my sampled kick drum and overdrive it, and it just hits you in a way that is totally different. Of course, the rest of the perc is important too. If you compare the original version of Erin Shore to my remixed version (still a WIP) and take a listen to the drum solos in each, you can see what I’m talking about. Totally different feel.
But it’s not just the percussion either. The way I put together the elements of a song is done so that the soundscape is very full, but not mudded up. Everything has its place. In Lullaby of Flame, you have the main lead melody and arpeggio on top, a layer of strings backing it, a middle-range bassline, and then a sub-bass on the bottom, plus all the percussion. And they all combine to make a chorus where everything just fits into place and you have this full, full sound that is still very clean. It’s really great.
I guess part of it is the quality of the instruments too. The chiptune-type synths I use really cut through the mix–they’re really crisp, as opposed to if you had violins or something. Part of that is because of their “digital” nature…pulse waves, after all, are the strongest type of sound possible, since they go up and down so sharply, without any “smoothness”, so they’re really crisp.
I guess another part of it is just because my songs are louder…haha. And I mean louder not just in a sense of turning the volume knob up, but louder in a loudness wars sense (sorry, all you loudness wars haters), as in compressed loudness.
But I think overall it’s just the =feeling= that I put into the music, you know? I mean yes, you can point to all of the mechanical details, but really those are just tools for me to express things through the sound you’re hearing.
So yeah, it’s really interesting to think about the differences, and compare the two styles. Especially when I hear songs that don’t work as well out on the dance floor. I know some of my songs aren’t perfect for the dance floor either–for example, Together is an =amazing= song, but in order to make it easier to waltz to you have to take the tempo up a bit, which makes it lose the strength of its “message”–but the -feeling- of my music is still quite different. You could say my songs just have -stronger emotion-. I hesitate to say that they’re “louder” in what they say, because I don’t like that adjective, but they’re definitely -stronger-, I would say.
Anyhow, I don’t mean to play myself up, but I know people receive my music really well, but really, you guys are only hearing the tip of the iceberg. You’ve never danced to this, for instance. So I think it’s important for me to keep working on this album of mine, and to show it to the world someday. Because it’s so different. It’s this whole world of electronic music that you guys aren’t a part of and haven’t really explored much at all, but that I’m deeply connected to. I’m not going to go so far as to say that it’s “better”, but…I sure am fond of it, and I think you will be too.