Welcome back to another edition of Point Blank Student Success. In May we chat to three students/graduates about their successes and hopes for the future. This month we champion the power of collaboration with the duo Warung and the Umbrela collective, both of which have found inspiration in teaming up with others. We compile these every month showcasing students that have studied with us for any length of time and at any of our locations: London, Los Angeles, Ibiza, Mumbai and Online. If you’ve studied with us at all and have work you would like shouting about, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org describing what you’ve been up to.
Umbrela is a collection of Point Blank students and alumni working together to try and further each other’s profile and career. As seen with so many collectives in London music and beyond (think the 22a label or even Fat White Family and associated bands), collectives tend to benefit everyone involved, so it’s exciting to see some PB students heading down this route. After the release of their debut compilation ‘Before the Rain’, we caught up with founding member Gus Borch to have a chat about what they’re about and what they would like to achieve.
Hi Gus, could you start by telling me how you guys discovered Point Blank?
I believe most of us in Umbrela discovered Point Blank online through YouTube, watching various tutorials etc to expand our production horizons. At least that how it was for me.
What was your experience with music like before that?
Personally, it was very DIY – just learning by trying out different things in Ableton and doing small collaborations with friends. And of course, watching a bunch of YouTube tutorials if I were doing something completely new.
What would you say was the biggest thing you took from your studies?
The biggest thing I believe is when learned about advanced composition techniques which really blew my mind and gave me so many tools to make my tracks way more interesting. But from what I have heard between everyone in Umbrela, it’s the overall experience of learning everything from composition, mixing, mastering and the business of the music industry – basically, everything you need to know about the modern music industry – that has really made Point Blank worth it.
So you’ve just launched this collective with a load of other PB students. How did the idea come about?
We have been working on the idea for Umbrela for a long time. It started when Roberto Lagerman (Crowse, PB alumni) and I had the idea of a collective that could work to help promote and share our music. Making it easier to break through the noise of the industry by having multiple people helping and sharing each other’s music to their own networks – giving each artist access to a whole new fanbase. [In the past] we had both tried and failed in our hometowns (Copenhagen, Denmark and Perugia, Italy) to create this type of collective – but
now based in London and attending Point Blank, suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by incredibly talented and open-minded people who all had a great love and passion for music as well as a goal of doing music full-time. It was the perfect time to start a collective!
What would you say Umbrela is all about – what do you stand for / aim to achieve?
I believe that Umbrela is all about bringing out good music without restrictions. This sounds quite simple, but I believe it’s very important that we have no limits. We don’t have a major label somewhere controlling what we can or can’t release – we can do whatever we want.
I believe that freedom is very important for everyone involved at this stage of the project, where we are all building audiences and releasing our first tracks and larger projects. Having no restrictions in terms of genre, track length etc. just makes the whole thing so much more interesting and unique. Also, it’s sharing a common passion with good friends – it’s more fun doing it together than being alone.
How has the reaction to the first compilation been so far?
It’s been great! Numbers are so far a quite positive for our first compilation, ‘Before The Rain’ , on which we have all done a track each – we even got Diplo a download code the other day at a Boiler Room show! (S/O to Ryan Hall / 3Four) it was a crazy stunt!
Besides that, it has been great! Everyone we have shown it to so far has been very excited about it – so it’s a great start!
What have you guys got in store for the rest of 2018?
We are exploring a ton of different fields right now. Preparing individual artists’ projects to drop over the next coming months, a brand new singles concept which we are quite excited about, as well as some remixes of our ‘Before The Rain’ compilation. We are also looking
into doing some live events in the near future hopefully – so a lot in store for the future!
With over ten releases since they graduated from Point Blank, the duo known as Warung have certainly been busy in the intervening time. They have also played in several cities across the states including Miami, LA, New York and Boston. With their first self-published release out recently, we thought it a good time to reach out and see what’s been going on for the pair.
Could you tell me how you discovered Point Blank?
It was actually under quite random circumstances. Aaron was djing under a different solo project and one night there was another artist in the booth who had had a few too many. He kept asking if Aaron had heard of Point Blank while Aaron was playing. He eventually wandered off but had asked enough times to make Aaron want to check it out.
How much previous experience in music had you had when you studied with us?
We both grew up with music in our households. Coincidentally both of our dads were guitarists. From these influences, Aaron gravitated towards djing and began playing in the local club circuit. Dillon began producing when he was 16 but in a very raw form. Having felt we both took djing and producing as far as we were going to on our own, we agreed it was time to join a community of like-minded artists to continue to grow and learn, a la Point Blank!
Are there any things you learned with us that really stick in the memory?
Aside from the mix down techniques, which helped with Dillons raw productions (ahem) and still does, we learned the importance of flow. For us, “storytelling” throughout a track is what creates the vibe, gives a tune character, and opens up the potential for a track to live on beyond a release date. We constantly remind ourselves of this so that we can continue to grow and improve upon that principle. I don’t think we would have understood the importance of that without Point Blank. Our latest EP is our biggest attempt at making sure that idea is reflected in our music – so thanks!
Tell me about Warung… How did you get started?
Warung was actually started by chance. We were both invited backstage to a Shaun Frank show. At the time Dillon was actually working on a tune in the green room, gave me an earbud, we traded contacts, and we haven’t stopped working on tunes since. The idea itself for “Warung” goes back a bit further. Aaron was travelling in Indonesia and kept noticing every local shop was called a “Warung”. Eventually, he found out it meant “small family run business” which are very entrepreneurial in spirit. For about a year it stuck in his head as he wanted to start something new musically with the Warung idea and more importantly the meaning behind the word. As we know, starting something from scratch is no easy task especially in the music industry. Warung represents that – a new musical project started up from scratch with the intent to create something that can remind others of it.
You’ve been touring quite extensively, how have you been finding it? Any gigs in particular that stick in the memory?
Yea, fortunately, we have been approached by some great people to share our new music. We had an awesome time recently in LA where we played two shows back to back. The second show was with some other artists we had only met online so it was great to finally meet in person. Hell of a night (slight headache the next day) that was! We are excited to go back at the end of June for round 2.
What’s in the pipeline? You say you want to make Warung into a brand – what do you mean by that?
Lots in the pipeline. We have some releases coming up (can’t quite spill all the beans there yet) but we are excited to be a part of a Brooklyn based collective (OKNF- check them out) compilation in June.
But ya – back to your Warung question. I think we just want to share the meaning of the word “Warung” with others. Especially in this day and age people start up new projects and ventures all the time, but they often lose momentum for a variety of factors. Our goal is to create a supportive community where people are reminded that if you work at it long enough with the right amount of drive you can turn that bedroom idea, that vision, into something bigger. Those Warungs we mentioned earlier in Bali are the lifelines of the families that run them. They work so hard together to sustain them and it was such an inspiration to Aaron, that it made him realize it’s possible to start something from scratch, nurture it, and share it with like-minded people. So if Warung becomes a brand while spreading that message then that’s an added plus! Slowly, that message has been spreading and we are pumped to see where it goes.
Lastly, we wanted to say a quick thanks for having us on here. We have been following the student success blogs for a while!
With releases on labels like Flemcy in London, Totum in Spain and Klexos in Brazil, Mystik Vybe is making waves in all corners of the earth. He’s also recently been playing in London and over in Barcelona for Off-Sonar.
Could you start by telling me how you discovered Point Blank?
I discovered Point Blank online. I watched many tutorials on YouTube about music production and many tracks deconstruction. I found them very helpful and easy to understand.
What was your experience with music like before that?
Before I started studying with Point Blank I was more into DJ-ing. After the Burn Residency Final in 2015, I decided to focus more on music production. The best way to build a career as a DJ is to release good music.
What would you say was the biggest thing you took from your studies?
Every course I’ve done with Point Blank was very important to me. I started with Minimal Techno followed by Electronic Music Composition and Native Instruments Maschine. I’ve learned a lot from every course and from every tutor I’ve studied with.
You’ve had a few releases out now on a few labels, which came first and how did you get connected with the label?
First label I released music with was Flemcy Music. I sent them a few tracks, they liked them and decide to release an EP with 3 original tracks named “Mystik EP”, followed by a few remixes and a compilation. I’ve also had music released on Totum Music and recently signed a new EP with Klexos Records and a new track with Deeplomatic Recordings.
Obviously the Deeplomatic release is a big one – how did that come about?
I am a big fan of Alex Ferrer and Deeplomatic Recordings, always found myself in their sound. In my opinion, the best way to get a record label’s attention is to send them good tracks. That’s what I did. And they decide to release one of them. Is gonna be out on 10th of September, part of Deeplomatic Flavours Vol.3.
How would you describe your approach as a DJ, and do you have any tunes that never leave your bag (or indeed usb stick)?
Always have tracks that never leave my usb stick. Some tracks never get old and fit any crowd and any event.
What have you got in the pipeline for the rest of 2018?
I have many new productions waiting to be signed and released. In this business, unfortunately, you have to wait. For example, if a track is signed today, you can wait 6 months or even 1 year to be released. This is how it works. But, the reward is amazing.
Successes such as these are common among our students and alumni. We can teach you how to DJ like the best of them at any of our schools. If you’d like to learn how to produce, then we can build your skills from the ground up with our range of degree programmes, including the latest addition, the BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice. All of our degrees are quality assured by Middlesex University, including our online alternative. For more information contact us via our contact page.
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This post is included in Student Success