• Watch: A-Trak Reflects on His Career and Performs a Routine at Serato

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    A-Trak
    A-Trak at Coney Art Walls in New York City. (Photo Credit: Mel D. Cole)

    Following the success of his Goldie Awards DJ and producer battle in September, A-Trak sat down with Serato to reflect on his career. The Fool’s Gold chief also performed a routine using his single “Believe” featuring Quavo and Lil Yachty.

    The seven-part interview series is broken down into the following topics:

    – Starting off as a turntablist
    – When he learned how to rock parties
    – How he discovered Serato
    – Where he gets his inspiration from
    – Why he improvises his sets
    – His evolution as a producer
    – Why he launched the Goldie Awards

    Watch the interview series and routine below.

    Related: Watch A-Trak Explain How He Produced ‘Believe’ Feat. Lil Yachty and Quavo

  • Finalists for A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Revealed

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    Goldie Awards

    After months of entries, A-Trak‘s Goldie Awards has chosen eight DJs and eight producers to compete in the finals in New York City on Sept. 7.

    The DJ finalists are John Beez (U.S.), K-Swizz (New Zealand), Kayper (U.K.), Miles Medina (U.S.), Rocket Jackson (U.S.), Rafik (Germany), Vekked (Canada), and Yuto (Japan).

    The producer finalists are DJ Brace (Canada), City The Beatmaster (U.S.), Fresh Kils (Canada), Holly (Portugal), MSCLS (U.S.), R!OT (U.S.), STFU (U.S.), and Young Sidechain (U.S.).

    The competitors will be judged by a panel that includes Diplo, Craze, Just Blaze, Mannie Fresh, and Destructo.

    The winning producer will get to release a song on A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold label while the winning DJ will get to perform at the Fool’s Gold Day Off festival.

    Check out the finalists below.

    Related: DJ Brace Enters A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Battle

  • Watch A-Trak Explain How He Produced ‘Believe’ Feat. Lil Yachty and Quavo

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    While fans often get to see A-Trak perform DJ sets, they rarely get to see his creative process as a producer.

    However, the former Grammy nominee has showed Genius how he produced his latest single “Believe” on a new episode of Deconstructed. The track, which features Lil Yachty and Quavo, currently sits at No. 7 on DJcity’s Hot Box chart.

    In the video, A-Trak says he recorded the song a year ago but stored it away for a few months. He breaks down the changes he made to it over time, including adding a playful sound inspired by the Rugrats theme song. A-Trak also recalls getting advice from his brother Dave 1 from Chromeo and Fool’s Good artist Promnite.

    Watch the video above.

    Related: Watch 1Mind Explain How They Produced French Montana’s ‘Unforgettable’

  • DJ Brace Enters A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Battle

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    After recently winning the DMC Online Team Championship with Vekked, DJ Brace has set his sights on A-Trak’s Goldie Awards battle. The Canadian turntablist is doing something different though, this time competing as a producer.

    The Goldie Awards is a new DJ and producer battle that will take place in New York City on September 7. Competitors will be judged by a panel that includes Diplo, DJ Craze, Just Blaze, Mannie Fresh, and Destructo. The winning producer will get to release a song on A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold label while the winning DJ will get to perform at the Fool’s Gold Day Off festival.

    To be considered for the live final, entrants must upload a one-minute video on the Goldie Awards website by August 6.

    Watch Brace’s entry above.

    Related: Vekked Enters A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Battle

  • A-Trak Encourages DJs to Be Creative and Open Minded

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    A-Trak

    With the release of his new single “Believe” and upcoming Goldie Awards battle, A-Trak stopped by Shade 45’s Sway In The Morning to catch up and drop a turntablism-friendly mix.

    During the convo, the Fool’s Gold boss explained that he created the Goldie Awards to push the art of DJing forward.

    Scratching with current sounds:

    “… I don’t want scratching to be an old school thing. I don’t want people to look at the way I DJ and be like ‘Oh you brought it back.’ To me, scratching always sounded futuristic. There’s subtle choices you can make as a DJ whether it be the sample that you actually scratch. We don’t have to still scratch on the ‘ahh’ and the ‘fresh’ from ‘change the beat’ and some James Brown shout. Music sounds more synthesized now so the samples that I scratch on, I’ve been choosing sounds that are more synthesized too.”

    Adapting to modern DJ technology:

    “A couple of years ago I started using the CDJs for those shows where maybe there’s strong winds and crazy vibrations or confetti being blasted on the stage. I remember just standing and thinking, ‘Why am I removing a confetti from the vinyl and the needle when I should just be performing for this crowd.’ And it just made me realize that I had to adapt to the evolution of equipment…”

    Being creative and open-minded overall:

    “I personally love turntables, and I hope turntables stay available to people for a very long time. But I also don’t want potentially, aspiring kids, people who want to become DJs, to think that they have to have a Technics 1200 to scratch. … Or even if it’s not literally scratching, [people should] learn how to come up with their own tricks. To me, it’s all about scratching and turntablism and just like the hip-hop approach to DJing that’s very subversive and taking equipment that was made to be used one way and using it another way. It’s always about that creativity and flipping what’s in front of you. … I wanna challenge the new generation to come up with new, original tricks on any kind of equipment because I don’t want [DJing] to be a legacy art form.”

    Watch the full interview and mix below.

    Related: Vekked Enters A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Battle

  • Vekked Enters A-Trak’s Goldie Awards Battle

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    With under two weeks left to enter, Vekked has submitted an entry for A-Trak’s Goldie Awards battle. The five-time world DJ champion made the announcement on his Facebook page.

    “Currently on a coast to coast Canadian tour, but I decided to come out of solo DJ battle retirement one last time to take a shot at A-Trak’s Goldie Awards. I put a little spin on a routine you may have heard before… this time with even more Mortal Kombat, some Street Fighter, Earthworm Jim, and NBA Jam.”

    Vekked told us that he connected an Xkey Air keyboard to Serato Pitch ‘n Time via Bluetooth to control the pitch of the Sega loop.

    The Goldie Awards is a new DJ and beat battle that will feature six DJs and six producers competing in their respective categories. The competition will be judged by a star-studded panel that includes Diplo, DJ Craze, Just Blaze, Mannie Fresh, Destructo, and Mija. The deadline to enter is August 6, and the live battle will take place at Brooklyn Steel in New York City on September 7.

    Watch Vekked’s routine above.

    Related: Watch Vekked and DJ Brace’s Final DMC Online Team Routine

  • A-Trak Launches New DJ and Beat Battle

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    A-Trak
    A-Trak at the We the Future Festival in Puerto Rico. (Photo credit: Steve Garfinkel)

    A-Trak has launched a new DJ and beat battle called the Goldie Awards. The Fool’s Gold chief first announced it on DJcity’s MikiDz Show back in May 2016.

    “The Goldie Awards isn’t the same old DJ battle,” A-Trak says in the trailer for the event. “We’re allowing literally any piece of equipment you want to bring. We’re welcoming anything that’s part of the art form of DJing now in this day in age.”

    The competition is “designed to reflect the genreless, borderless, and limitless nature of music today,” according to Thump, which is a co-sponsor of the battle.

    The Goldie Awards will feature six DJs and six producers competing in their respective categories. The DJs will be judged on originality, creativity, technical ability, music selection, crowd response, and stage presence. The producers will be judged on originality, creativity, technical ability, musical range, and crowd response.

    Judging the categories will be a star-studded panel that includes Diplo, DJ Craze, Just Blaze, Mannie Fresh, Destructo, and Mija. Harlem rapper Dave East will host the event.

    The winning DJ will get to perform at the Fool’s Gold Day Off festival, and the winning producer will release a song on the Fool’s Gold label.

    To enter, entrants must upload a one-minute video to their Instagram or YouTube accounts with the hashtag #GoldieAwards and fill out the application on the contest’s website by August 6. The judges will then select six DJs and six producers to be flown to the live battle, which takes place at Brooklyn Steel in New York City on September 7.

    Get more information, including the competition’s rules, at the Goldie Awards website.

    Watch the trailer below and grab your tickets for the event on June 9.

    Related: A-Trak Reacts to Possibility of Expanded of Laptop Ban on Flights

  • A-Trak Reacts to Possibility of Expanded of Laptop Ban on Flights

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    A-Trak
    A-Trak performs at the 2016 We The Future Festival in Puerto Rico. (Photo credit: Steve Garfinkel)

    Expanding the ban on electronic devices in airplane cabins to more countries could force A-Trak to change the way he DJs, the Fool’s Gold chief wrote in a op-ed for Mass Appeal.

    “If I had to check in a laptop, which my entire DJ profession resides on, the risk of that bag being delayed or lost is high enough that it would probably force me to rethink the whole way that I DJ,” A-Trak said. “There are obviously different set-ups for DJing. There are DJs with just a flash drive or [an] SD card. I could fit that in my pocket, and I wouldn’t need my laptop as much for that.”

    A-Trak’s article was in response to a recent meeting between US and European officials to discuss expanding an existing ban to European countries.

    In March, the US and UK banned devices in cabins for flights from a number of Middle East countries. The ban was based on intelligence that the Islamic State was developing a bomb that could be hidden in electronics.

    US and European officials have since decided to forgo a ban for European flights, but A-Trak’s commentary is still insightful.

    “There was a point about three years ago where I decided to start using CDJs for some of my shows,” A-Trak wrote. “I still [use a laptop] with Serato as far as the song selection, but as far as the hardware equipment, I started using CDJs more because I had to accept and realize that there were certain conditions and certain venues where it became so cumbersome to be the only guy asking for turntables. It’s a handful of us still asking for turntables; it’s me and DJ Snake and Craze and Jazzy Jeff. That’s it.”

    A-Trak added that he, like many DJs, has a backup plan in case there’s a problem with his laptop.

    “I can just plug in an SD card and play a set. Maybe it’s not quite as technically fancy as what I’ll do with my preferred set-up, but I can play. At least I can give people a show.”

    Yet, despite his ability and willingness to adapt, A-Trak recognized that ditching his laptop all together would be difficult.

    “I spent years and years and years and years already converting my turntablist meets party-rocking style from vinyl to Serato. To have to rethink that to yet another technology, essentially, that would represent a lot of work.”

    Updated on May 22, 2017 at 6:02 p.m. PDT

    Related: US and UK Ban Laptops and Other Devices in Cabins From Some Flights

    Posted in DJ Culture, Music Tech
  • A-Trak Discusses the Business of Remixing

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    A-Trak
    A-Trak performs on the 2016 Gold Gone Wild Tour. (source: Facebook)

    Forbes recently interviewed A-Trak about his career as a remixer and the business of remixing. The article, which comes a week before the release of his In the Loop: A Decade of Remixes compilation, provides valuable insight for aspiring and established producers alike.

    The Fool’s Gold chief started off by discussing the impact that remixing has had on his career:

    “What’s interesting to me is that the remixes, all the remixes over the years have played such a role in me delving into production. When I was only a DJ, a very technical DJ, I dipped my toes into production through remixes at first. It’s by doing remixes that I learned how to produce, and over the years I made a lot of friendships with other musicians by either remixing them or having them remix me or just by being a part of that ecosystem that remixes create. My record label, Fool’s Gold, was founded just about a year after I started doing remixes. For me, they were the shift that happened in my career around the same time while I was getting into production, trying things out through mixes. Even now, the original music I’m making comes from remixes.”

    Though A-Trak said that remixing transformed his career, he added that most remix deals these days are outdated:

    “Remixes don’t necessarily pay that much, and more than anything on the contractual level, deals for remixes are very antiquated and do not reflect the reality of remixing nowadays. What I mean by that is, in most cases, a remixer gets hired to create a remix as essentially a work for hire job. They get paid a flat upfront fee upon delivery, and they don’t get royalties on the sales. From the perspective of the record industry, if I’m remixing a song by band X, and then my version of the song sells, technically to the record industry, the song is still band X’s. The band and the record they will collect royalties. There’s generally no publishing for the remixer. The only side that has started to change a bit in recent years as remixes have become so influential and so ubiquitous and prominent, certain managers and certain remixers and producers with a lot of clout that know that their remixes will move the needle for the original artist, they are able to negotiate a few percentage points of publishing, which comes in handy if the remix gets a sync license or into a movie or something.”

    Despite the lack of compensation, he said that remixes are a great way to learn how to produce:

    “In a lot of ways, [remixes make] it easier to literally finish a track, because you don’t have to start from scratch. If you’re a producer who is just learning to make tracks, a lot of budding, upcoming new producers like to start off with remixes because it gives them a starting point. That’s why I started too. This is a generation of bedroom producers, where you can be a producer by just having certain software on your laptop. It’s a simple as that. You don’t have to have fancy equipment or buy studio time. You can install any kind of software onto your laptop and you’re a producer. Making a song from alpha to omega is challenging. If you do a remix, you are already grabbing a piece of vocal and musical instrument parts that not only exist but that are already good. It’s from a song that has already worked in some capacity. You’re taking a piece of something that is already catchy at in some way and you are decorating it with your production and giving your take on how you would’ve produced it. It’s a really efficient and fun exercise.”

    A-Trak also noted that remixing is an effective way to establish a career as a producer:

    “If you look at Kygo, he did a remix of ‘Sexual Healing’ by Marvin Gaye, which was originally an unlicensed remix. It became so popular that it got millions of plays online and now he has a huge career. The remix was made legit and the vocal was cleared and it was sold as well. Robin Schulz remixed that song ‘Waves‘ by Mr. Probz a few years ago. Huge song, it was all over the charts. I’m pretty sure that was his first production that got heard. To see that happen, that in itself, the efficiency of the remix as a tool to put your name on the map, it compensates for the fact that we as remixers don’t really make that much money off the remix. The rationale is that if you put your name on the map, then you’re able to do production work and original work where you do have songwriting points and royalties and everything. Your musical output can go from there.”

    But regardless of all the benefits, he believes that remix deals should be updated:

    “I think remix contracts should change. I think it’s apparent. I think it’s ridiculous that the songwriting component that goes into legitimately every remix nowadays is not recognized contractually. When I say contractually, I mean in terms of compensation.”

    As for A-Trak’s favorite remix that he’s produced, he said that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll” is an “obvious standout”:

    “In the booklet [of the compilation], I tell the story about how I spent six months obsessively tinkering with it, and the label almost turned it down when I delivered it extremely late. Looking back and laughing about the fact that this thing almost never came out, and it’s my most popular track. Even when it first came out and was kind of popular, two years later it got licensed for a movie and became really popular. All those unpredictable twists over the years make it what it is.”

    He also mentioned his remixes of Bob Moses’ “Tearing Me Up” and Sébastien Tellier’s “Kilometer.”

    Related: Watch A-Trak and Tommy Trash’s ‘Lose My Mind’ Video

  • Watch A-Trak and Tommy Trash’s ‘Lose My Mind’ Video

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    A-Trak and Tommy Trash have released a creative video for their electro meets disco single, “Lose My Mind.” The track is the duo’s first collaboration since their 2012 anthem, “Tuna Melt.”

    Watch above and download the song on DJcity.

    Related: A-Trak to Be Featured on Revolt TV’s ‘Respect the DJ’