For the members of Producer Dojo, the monthly collaborative mixtapes (aka cyphers) provide opportunities for learning and networking for all and increased exposure for those who make the final cut. The monthly challenges accelerate personal growth by setting a precise set of guidelines to work within. Many participants have praised the various mixtape parameters as helpful, because they greatly reduce a lot of the distracting possibilities that can prevent a track from getting finished. Tyson Lunn (aka Nintendeaux) was the curator of the October mixtape – “Audio Scrabble Cypher 7,” and he shares with us in this article exactly how he doubled everyone’s production output through his innovative and collaborative cypher challenge.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, and a variety of different challenges with our monthly cyphers at Producer Dojo. Each cypher has introduced a new challenge to all of us; starting with “sample this!” then on to pay homage to your favorite movie, to “never use the same sound twice” to creating a soundtrack for your favorite outdoor activity. So when the time came for “Cypher 7” I was tasked with creating a set of rules that pushed all of us even further. As a music producer, you’re inherently bound to end up using techniques over again, and to have a routine to your music production process. How do you get outside of that box? For Cypher 7, I set out to create a challenge that would put all of us in foreign territory instead of just sitting down and cranking out a tune like you would any other day. Instead of stepping outside of the box, I decided to just take the box out of the picture.
In the game of Scrabble, the fun begins when other people use their letters to expand on other people’s words. I wanted to apply this same idea to music, limit everyone’s resources, and just see what happened.
We set two deadlines: first you had to submit a beat by the middle of the month, it didn’t need to be totally finished or polished. Each submission was then given a partner and asked to finish the beat by incorporating their partner’s sounds into their beat. The finished beats were then submitted by the end of the month for quality assurance. Initially, I was hoping to reinforce skills with sampling and working with audio, as opposed to just throwing a VST on and adding something totally new. Once the final product was finished though, it became apparent how interesting this whole project actually was: This cypher evolves.
From the standpoint of looking at this project as a whole mix, and seeing the stems used through multiple tracks back to back, the illusion of two tracks being one full song is there; each submission put their own spin on their partner’s song to change up the vibe and keep the mix from getting boring.
Working with another person reinforced a sense of community inside the Producer Dojo. It opened communication between partners, and even created some real life friendships.
The unexpected collaborative relationships were more important than the cypher final product. Each track on this cypher is going to be labeled as “track name (featuring “partners dj name”) and will give each producer that extra little bit of reach on any platform it happens to be uploaded on. I was unbelievably impressed with all of the beats submitted for this cypher, and while not all of the submissions made the final cut – the level of growth across the board was phenomenal.
I need to give a few shoutouts to everyone who went above and beyond on this cypher.
As far as personal growth goes – I really want to give a shout out to like.water for his tune (first track in the mix) for expanding his sound arsenal and having made his first beat using an 808. The track is a perfect fusion of beauty and banger.
Baphometrix went all out, and finished two beats for this cypher creating one of the heaviest tracks on this cypher with Spiderhound, and also creating something in an alternate bpm allowing another submission to make the cut that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to mix in.