Conversations About A Scorching Festival Season Curated By Matter

The Producer Dojo Cypher 014: Festival Season EP debuted as the #1 Dubstep release on Beatport and I had a chance to speak to the very talented artists who made it happen.

Matter

Dustin, really nice work on curating Cypher 014 Festival Season. What can you tell us about this Cypher Challenge and what important lessons did you learn along the way?

Well the cypher was designed to be more of a showcase than a challenge. When I first started getting it ready for launch I already had a good idea of who would be able to make it on if they submitted track(s) based on my experience working with them in one on one sessions. The whole idea behind it is getting great tracks to play on big sound systems that can really fill a room and make a crowd really feel the moment (or forget it entirely) when it’s happening. It was called the festival season cypher because festivals are usually the places with those sound systems and the mood is right as far as a crowd setting goes to play massive songs.

I think the biggest thing I learned throughout curating the cypher was that you can’t please everyone, especially when you’re trying to create the best possible cypher. I had about 100-110 tracks submitted to me over the time the cypher was active and I ended up using only 8 of those tracks on the actual mixtape. Needless to say, a lot of people were not happy and felt like they were cheated out of a cypher spot because most of the other cypher mixes have at least double the amount of tracks on them. That’s nothing negative against their skill as producers or writers but I really wanted this to be the best of the best release as far as what I got for submissions. The actual EP has 2 artists that I think are going to make leaps and bounds in the next year, UHNK and Tyraze. This also really felt like a coming out party for Zodiak who in my opinion has his best track he’s ever made on this release. 

Tell us about your song “Nation” that you wrote for the Cypher.

The song itself actually just started out as a loop that I would use to transition between keys and bpms in my shows while maintaining a steady beat. However, once I knew I was going to be running this cypher, I quickly started brainstorming 1,000 different ideas of what I could do with this. I think over the course of 3-4 studio sessions I got it written and finalized the arrangement because again, there’s so many different ways I could have branched out from the intro drum loop with the bassline. The track in its final form is very straight forward as far as festival-style bass music goes. I wanted to combine a lot of elements that were current right now in the low bassline, loud/bright sustained basses for a drop, and a short distance between drop 1 and drop 2. I really wanted to find a rapper to put on the intro and build up but with only so much time to finish the cypher track that wasn’t able to happen. I did find a great vocal sample though which states clearly “this generation rules the nation” which I feel has a strong connection when people hear it live because at a lot of these festivals the majority of the audience is most likely going to be between the ages of 18-30 and we’ve become a very self-empowered generation of people socially, and politically; mostly thanks to all of the different forms of social media we’ve utilized most of our lives. When all of those different elements come together in the melting pot it’s easy to pour out something that feels really good and is fun to listen to. 

Do you have any special shout outs/nods of recognition that you would like to give to any Ninjas for their efforts on this challenge?

I don’t think it’s fair to give out recognition to any one ninja because everyone put in a massive amount of effort; even those who didn’t make it. Most people attempted to make the cypher between 2-4 times between writing the song, revising it, and adjusting the mix. It would be extremely unfair to just nominate a few people when everyone gave this cypher all they had in the tank to try and make it on. The people who made the cypher did a few things that really helped them get on the cypher which I feel is much more important to highlight than individual efforts. The most important thing any ninja can do to get on a cypher is to study the person who is curating the cypher and identify what they are looking for before they go and create something to submit.

Going through the cypher director’s soundcloud and their likes on soundcloud is a great way to understand their taste in electronic music and provides a great way to identify similarities in songs they like and songs they think are good. Most people don’t think about this and they jump into portraying their vision and their music on whatever they think the topic is. However, having the experience of working on a project for Disney, I learned a lot about what it actually is like when you’re creating a track for someone else’s curation. Disney didn’t want me to produce a Matter track they could use but rather they wanted me to use my skills as Matter to create a Disney track. This is the approach I recommend to all ninjas who are really reaching for that red belt and of the few people I’ve told this strategy to in one on one sessions, they’ve all made it on to cyphers they were working on that month.

The other big thing is having a well produced track. There were some songs that had really strong potential but I couldn’t put them on the cypher because the production quality wasn’t high enough to sound good on those big sound systems I mentioned earlier. I’ve said it time and time again, as much as being creative matters with music, execution is the most important part. If you have a great idea but can’t execute it all you’ve got is potential. For any ninja struggling in this area I highly recommend watching all of the weekly downloads on mixing, mastering, and phase 3 as well as going into the class of 808 video log and watching your favorite sensei’s videos where they’re working with someone on mixdowns. I ended up cutting 6-8 songs from the cypher in the later stages, and another 2 while I was creating the mixtape for it because you could hear the production quality drop off between songs. If any ninja focuses on studying the curator’s taste and executing the production of their cypher song there is no reason they can’t make it on.

UHNK

Alex, tell us about your track, “Pimp Hand” on the Festival Season EP. How long did it take you to create and what did you learn along the way?

So I found a sample that said “hit em with my pimp hand” and decided to make that the theme of the track right away as it seemed like a perfect vocal for the drop. This track for me was about a lot of bass layering with different textures and rhythms in each layer. The basses in the first drop have about 5 layers. I made most of the track in a day, and spent another 2 weeks replacing sections to make them all more vertical. This is one of those songs that would just kind of come out of nowhere in a live set and hit really hard. I also really noticed how much a high frequency register rhythm affects the rest of the rhythm underneath it. You can have a really vertical sounding bass and drums but the overall danceable rhythm is relative to how all the other sounds interact with that primary rhythm.

Is there anything else that you would like to share or promote?  

I have an EP coming out later this year that I’m really excited for. Some of my best work is on there so don’t miss it!

Tyraze

Mike, your track, “Soulfire” is  a real heater. Tell us how long it took you to make this song and did you learn anything new in the production of this track?

I think It was only a couple days I submitted my first draft of the song after Dustin (Matter) posted that he would be curating the next cypher. I really liked the theme already and had a strong idea in my head. I made the first drop and sent it in. I think he said he liked it? But didn’t mention that it was a definite pick. I usually don’t like to make my songs one drop only so I went back and finished the second half of the song and that took about another week I think. I submitted the full song, and Dustin said he really liked the second drop and it would sound great when he threw his master on it. So all in all it came together in a little over a week. 

Ohhh yes. I learned that there was a whole stage of production I wasn’t doing after the arrangement was done. I needed to go back and do a lot of eq’ing to the basses and bringing their volumes back up to appropriate levels afterwards.

Is there anything else that you would like to share or promote?

Look out for more cypher releases from me in the coming months, it only gets better. And an EP either later this year or early next year.

Zodiak iLLER

Jesse, not only did you create the incredible tune, “Out of Time” for the Festival Season EP, but you also designed all of the visualizers and banners for the release. How do you balance all of your side hustles and Music production? Did you learn anything new during the production of “Out of Time?” 

Yeah balancing all my hustles is pretty fucking crazy right now. I work a full time construction job, am working 30+ hours for the dojo most weeks and am consistently releasing new music.

There really is no “how” to balancing it. Everything comes down to “how” bad do I want this to be my career for a very long time. I wake up before 6 am every day and do something that is at the very least productive. I use the 2 hours I have before my day job comes to crush my soul to practice graphics, catch up on Zodiak and Dojo Socials, oh yeah I also manage the dojo Twitter, just one more thing I do. Buuut yeah, I practice Djing in the morning, test my mixdown from last night and leave myself detailed notes. Pretty much any night time session stuff I do early.

Making the visuals can be a HUGE task for many people, but I love it. I’m being paid to make art, how fucking cool is that. They do take some TIME though, like I have worked some literal 28 hour days between the day job and making videos for us.

What I learned during the process of making Out of Time is, sometimes you HAVE to get out of your own way. I was feeling super down for about a month, nothing wanted to come out musically and I just felt stuck. Then I asked myself “How” bad do I want it, last year my song Rise of Serapis was very well received I can’t not be on this year’s festival cypher. So I sat down and was like okay, I know I can make a headbanging ass drop no prob lets start there. Made a solid drop. Then I was like I know I can write good chords and melody, get that out of the way. Then I know I can make a huge sub that evolves throughout the song let’s do that. Then I know I can arrange just fucking do it. So I broke it down into bite size pieces that seemed less scary to put together than to make all at once. After all that I had this shell of an EDM track that bored the shit out of me so I needed to find a vocal to give it some soul. I was out of time to turn my song in, so I just made the song about being out of time and doing your best in the moment.

Is there anything else that you would like to share or promote?

Uuuhhmmm yeh, I make cover art, music videos/Visualizers, social media posts and so on, as well have been hired to make pop beats for people and ghost produce. Hire me.

Cypher 014 Festival Season curated by Matter

Download/Stream the Festival Season EP

Listen to the Festival Season SoundCloud Mixtape

Complete List of Artists on the SoundCloud Festival Season Mixtape:

00:00 – 2:00 @Uhnk – “Pimp Hand”

02:00 – 03:28 @gnvrlymusic – “Bop”

03:28 – 05:15 @zodiak_iller – “Out of Time”

05:15 – 07:00 @Tyraze – “Soulfire”

07:00 – 09:18 @yewzofficial – “Unity”

09:18 – 11:35 @matterbass – “Nation”

11:35 – 12:55 @cryptochronica – “Festiballer”

12:55 – 14:06 @houseninjamusic – “Unbreakable (edited)”