Last week, the winner of the very first of Beatport’s Beats In School competition was announced. Beats in School is a collaborative venture involving a who’s who of electronic music heavyweights. Naturally, Point Blank is included as well as Pioneer DJ, Mixcloud, the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM), Future Music Magazine and more. We are offering a free online course of choice to the winner of each edition of the competition.
For the first round, Beatport teamed up with Circus Records to dig in to the hidden talent in the world of Tech House. Contestants were asked to produce an original track and include in a mix matching the style of the label. The winner was TAYA, an Australian DJ and Producer from Byron Bay. TAYA’s winning mix is a luscious blend of smooth and deep house tracks, and his original the perfect example of the hypnotic ebbs and flows that define his mixes and sets. As it turns out, TAYA had studied Music Production Diploma with us online already, so we couldn’t wait to catch up with him to chat about his journey so far and what we can expect from him going forward.
Beats In School Winner TAYA
Hi Taya, So you’ve just won the Beats In School competition. Can you talk me through the winning track and mix?
I’d only found out about the competition from a friend about a week before the submissions closed. With the original time for submissions being 6 weeks, I obviously had a bit of work to do so I jumped into the studio and got a beat going straight away. Firstly I built a drum groove in Maschine studio and also layered my bass line using my Moog Sub 37 & Spectrasonics Trillian. Once I was happy with an 8 bar loop I built the rest of the track around that.
The inspiration for this track was flowing freely and I found I didn’t get writer’s block once throughout the whole process, which is pretty uncommon for me. The end result has a groovy, deep, progressive, tech vibe with the occasional vocal pad, complementing the atmospheric melody I had made in Native Instruments Reaktor.
I’d also polished the track off with a home mastering chain I’d made in Izotope’s Ozone.
What about your set up and writing process generally, any quirks or rituals that you follow?
My studio consists of a Moog Sub 37, Maschine Studio, Virus TI2 Rack, ADAM A7X with 10” sub, Novation Mininova, Novation SLMK2 and thanks to Beatport & the Beats In School sponsors I have a new AKAI MPK & Allen & Heath Xone K2
When starting a new track I get the drum beat and bass working together, then build around that. Initially, I’ll try to get the idea out as soon as I can so the vibe of the track stays smooth. I will always try to have the whole song written within 3 days. If I don’t get the idea out ASAP it turns into a continuous ball of infinite changing sound (this is not ideal).
There are quite a few “rituals” that I follow but I think the top 3 important ones for me are:
I have a template in Ableton live that I made so I don’t have to muck around every time I start a new track (It’s a huge time saver!) I have 6 groups set up as Kick, Bass, Drums, Synth, Vocals, Fx. I also have a few return FX that are Short Reverb, Long Reverb, Sort Delay, Long Delay, NY Compression, Vocal Return FX. I use mostly return FX as it frees up my CPU dramatically.
I will apply the same groove from the Ableton groove pool to everything in the track. This way the beat will have that relaxed, natural swing but all the elements still flow together.
And the last thing is I will move the milliseconds out, from about -0.10ms to 0.10ms for most of the tracks. This gives a track the feeling that it isn’t just a computerized beat as if it were played live, ultimately giving the track more life.
You studied an online course with PB before. What was the course like and how was it useful for you?
I studied with Point Blank in 2013 when I made the transition from Logic to Ableton.
The course I did was the Music Production Diploma which was made up of 4 modules, focusing on Ableton Live Production, Deep House Production, Sound Design and Mixing Dance Music. I’d never used Ableton live before I started the course and had no idea how to use the program.
I’ve done a lot of music study but this course is by far the best I’ve done. The teachers are really clear, easy to understand and to the point. By the time I had finished, I knew absolutely everything about Ableton Live and most important, my workflow was quick and flawless, so I could get my ideas out of my head and into Ableton within minutes.
A really good thing to note is that when you do a course with Point Blank, you know you’re getting the taught the correct way to do things. There’s so much false information on Youtube and the web so you have to be careful that you don’t learn and practice the wrong way. With the knowledge I’ve taken from Point Blank, I am confident in the techniques I use in my compositions.
TAYA’s competition-winning mix including his orginal track
You cut your teeth in the ‘doof’ scene in the Australian countryside. What can you tell me about that and how do you think it compares to what you’ve have heard or seen of the UK rave scene?
This is true, I’m what the call a “rave baby” I was bought up going to bush doofs from a young age. Given this, I’ve always progressed with this genre but taken the bits I like and created my own funky, techy cross-breed.
As for the UK & AUS scenes, I’m sure they’re quite similar. The parties in Australia though are all mostly held in remote Australian bushlands and have quite a cosmic earthy vibe. The closest neighbour is usually at least 30kms away so no one can complain about the sound being too loud.
Playing at those kinds of parties makes very different demands on you as a DJ. What did you learn from that time that you’ve carried into your DJ sets since?
One very important thing I learnt and have carried on from my rave days is to create a journey for the crowd and tell a story with your sets. I feel like crowds are best when they are following the journey of your set, so make it interesting for them.
You moved to Berlin a few years ago, what did you learn from that experience?
In 2012 I moved to Berlin purely because I wanted inspiration, to find my sound again. I’d gotten bored with psytrance music and felt like I had lost my passion for electronic music. I didn’t particularly know what I was looking for but I knew I had to throw myself out there.
The wide variety of smooth 4×4 beats that Berlin had to offer helped me get my passion back for electronic music and recreate my sound again.
What advice would you now give to your younger self just starting out?
Finish every song you start, don’t get distracted by continuous, pointless partying and take every opportunity that comes’s your way, you never know where it could lead!
As part of your prize, we are offering an online course of your choosing. Which one are you going for?
As I have already taken the Music Production Diploma and I have used Native Instruments plugins frequently for most of my music career, I think it’s a no-brainer that I choose Complete Native Instrument Sound Design. I’m also lucky enough that Native Instruments donated a copy of Komplete Ultimate 11 as one of the prizes for the beats in school Competition! This has complimented my Maschine studio very nicely.
You’ve been more successful as a DJ than a producer in the past, but this win demonstrates your obvious talent for both. Do you have any production-specific goals from now?
2017 has been the most successful year for my production, with the release of my Debut EP: ‘Perception’ through Aussie label Bassic Records as well as 2 remixes, 2 originals on VA Compilations and my forthcoming EP ‘Valhalla’ dropping Late November.
The next step for me will be the biggest in my career so far, my debut release with Circus Recordings. With Yousef mentoring me and the exposure the label guarantees, it will be a huge step for me with credible exposure on the production side of things.
For me, being able to collaborate with some of my all-time favourite acts, learn their techniques and hopefully share with them some of my own, are important personal goals.
What have you got lined up in the coming months?
The Beats In School competition is keeping me busy, with more and more prizes arriving at my doorstep it feels like Christmas. The next couple of month I will be busy learning all how to use the new pieces of hardware & software they are sending me and incorporating them into my workflow.
On top of all this, I have my “Valhalla” EP east coast Australian tour coming for the summer season. My schedule is looking quite busy, playing an array of Australian festivals including Subsonic, Earth Frequency and Bohemian Beat Freaks among others.
Thanks Taya and good luck!
TAYA’s first release on Circus will follow his upcoming ‘Valhalla’ EP on Bassic Records
With hard work and the help of Point Blank, there’s no reason why you can’t get these same kinds of opportunities. If, like Taya, you live outside of places with Point Blank schools (London, LA, Mumbai & Ibiza), take a look at the full list of our remote online courses. For further information on any of our courses, contact our Course Advisors here or call 0207 729 488 in the UK, 323 282 7660 in the USA or +44 20 7729 4884 from anywhere else.
Also if you fancy yourself as a future trance star, don’t forget to apply for the second round of Beats In School, this time in association with Anjunabeats. Included among the prizes is your choice of online course with Point Blank, so there’s no excuse not to enter. The competition closes on 13 November.
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