• A-Trak Discusses How Being a DJ Helps Him as a Producer

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    A-Trak
    A-Trak at Holy Ship! 10.0. (Credit: Miranda McDonald Photography)

    Fresh off the release of his single “Ride For Me” featuring Young Thug and 24hrs, A-Trak sat down with the legendary Pensado’s Place show.

    Back in December, the Fool’s Gold chief got a chance to tell his story in a comprehensive interview with Complex’s Blueprint series. This time, A-Trak focused mostly on music production and how DJing has influenced his work in that realm.

    On how being a DJ and turntablist has helped him as a producer:

    “My DJing definitely informs my production. The obvious way to explain that is just like, DJs know what works well in the clubs. So there’s a bit of that, but even on a very, an almost unconscious level, some of the programming that I do, if I’m chopping up a sound, my friends will say that I make it sound like it’s a scratch. I don’t even realize it, but my ear is so accustomed to sound manipulation and certain patterns. … But the thing that’s been interesting for me in recent years is I feel I’ve learned how to produce my scratching. So there’s a lot of full circle things going on … .”

    On his limitations as a producer:

    “One of the great lessons for me as I went more into production was to accept my limitations. It’s hard, and I’m stubborn, and I like to know how to do everything, but there are certain things that I’m not as good at. And I definitely still believe that I’m a DJ who got into producing, who got into remixing, who got into running a label, all these other things. And when I was learning how to produce, at first I really wanted to do everything myself. … I would drive people crazy, and by the way, even now today I’m a month and a half late delivering a remix. Sometimes I’ve very late delivering things because I stubbornly wanna do it my way or [do it] myself. And again, I’m in my element when I’m DJing. When I’m producing, I’m still trying to get the ideas out of my head, and sometimes there’s roadblocks.”

    Watch the interview below.

    Related: A-Trak Tells His Story in Comprehensive Interview

  • Meet Jose Luis, One of the UK’s Most Influential Latin DJs and Promoters

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    Jose Luis
    Jose Luis (Source: Jose Luis)

    Latin music is exploding worldwide, and one of the DJs and promoters leading the charge in the UK is Jose Luis.

    Born and bred in Venezuela, Luis has lived in London for half of his life. For the past 11 years, he has been DJing and promoting at his monthly La Bomba event at the O2 Academy Islington, which he calls “the original reggaeton party in the UK.” Luis has promoted shows with some of the biggest names in Latin music, including Don Omar, DJ Nelson, Plan B, Tego Calderon, and DJ Kazzanova. As a DJ, he has opened for stars like Daddy Yankee, Juan Magan, Calle 13, and Hector El Father.

    When Luis isn’t DJing and promoting, he runs Latino Life, a website focused on the UK scene. He’s also a founder and managing director of the UK Latin Awards, which “recognizes the contribution of Britain’s one million Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese residents.”

    We recently spoke with Luis about the UK scene and Latin music in general.

    How did you get into throwing parties?

    I was always involved in parties when I was in secondary school. I was a party animal and had a big record collection. I was into house, punk, and salsa music. When I first came to London, I landed a job at a Latino record shop called El Barrio. The owner was a promoter for Colombian acts in Europe. I learned a lot from him and started DJing. After a while, it was a natural progression to do my own thing.

    What styles of Latin music are played at your events?

    Mainly reggaeton these days, but with London being such a multicultural city, we mix it up with what’s popping here. It could be afrobeats, dancehall, hip-hop, Latin trap, etc. We sometimes have a room where we play more traditional Latino music such as salsa. But even salsa has got an urban treatment these days. There is a newish sub-genre called “Salsa choke” from Colombia, which is great and is gaining ground everywhere.

    Have your parties gotten more popular with the rise of Latin music?

    Yes, but there are also a lot of new people doing big events which kind of split the audiences a bit. But yes, the recent popularity of Latin music has increased the number of people at the parties for sure.

    Jose Luis
    Jose Luis (Source: Jose Luis)

    Where do you see Latin music going?

    Getting bigger and bigger. Latinos are not a race, we are a culture, and our culture is made of many influences, which allows new influences to be part of it. For example, right now Baile funk is having a comeback. The latest big hit from J Balvin is a remix of a funkeiro track by Brazil’s MC Fioti, which features Balvin himself (Colombia), Future (USA), Stefflon Don (UK), and Juan Magan (Spain). “Despacito” just got a Mandarin-Spanish release for the Chinese market, and the list goes on. I truly believe Latin music, at least in the UK, has arrived and people will embrace it.

    Do you see any potential between UK and Latin artists?

    That is kind of my focus at the moment — to create a bridge. If UK artists realized the potential they have in Latin America, they would be all making Latino influenced beats! It is hard because the UK is a very dynamic and unforgiving market for artists, so they need to be on the ball. But I would love to see people like Skepta, Lethal Bizzle or even Wretch 32 doing Latino collaborations. For some reason, I never paid proper attention to Wretch and recently started listening to him proper. I can see him collaborating with someone like Residente. That would be sick!

    What differentiates the UK Latin Awards from other Latin awards?

    We are the only ones recognizing UK based talent. The UK is such an amazing place for music. Latin music is being created all over the world, and the UK, having such a massive variety of genres, is not an exception. We wanted to give UK and European artists a platform for the world to get to know them better. Most, if not all the major Latino Awards are created in the United States, and we wanted to create a counterpart in the UK and Europe.

    What do you have planned for the future?

    I just keep working man! I am a believer in hard work. This year we are planning two free outdoor events. One has been confirmed in the South Bank outside the Mayor of London’s office. It’s a festival called La Clave and will take place on June 9. We’re waiting to confirm the second event, but if it happens, it could be a game changer for Latinos in London and the UK.

    Also, I just started a new show on Colourful Radio every Thursday. It is the very first urban Latin program on terrestrial radio or DAB, which is the equivalent to satellite radio in the UK. Once independent radio stations start playing it, it is just a matter of time until the big stations to do the same.

    2018 should see me doing more music production, too. I have about 20-25 tunes to release with my crew La Kasha, which is a DJ-percussion crew. We are doing some mad stuff at the moment, trying to create a London Latino electronic sound. We’re already talking to labels about releases. Hopefully, I can get that on the road. And we are taking La Bomba abroad again. It has been a minute since we did a tour and international gigs with a full crew. We already have something about to be confirmed in Germany where I have been working for the last 10 years. I think that will keep me busy for the rest of the year!

    Listen to Luis’ new mix below and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and SoundCloud.

    Tracklist:

    1. Rocky Theme
    2. MC João – Baile De Favela – Teriyaki Boys Blend
    3. Dennis DJ, MC Léléto, & MC Maromba – Automaticamente
    4. DJ Isaac – Jiu Jitsu
    5. MC Fioti, Future, J Balvin, Stefflon Don, & Juan Magan – Bum Bum Tam Tam
    6. Kid Kaio & Moradzo – Aranha
    7. MC Kevinho – Olha A Explosao
    8. Janessa – Tarraxa – JL Reggaeton Edit
    9. Shinehead – Jamaican In New York – DJ Panji Reggaeton Mix
    10. Daddy Yankee vs Ed Sheeran – Shakes of You – JL Mashup
    11. Daddy Yankee – Dura – Refresh Hype Intro
    12. DJ Nelson ft. Alberto Stylee – Flow Salvaje
    13. J Balvin vs Toto La Momposina – Ginza’s Curura JL Mashup
    14. El Chombo – Introduccion B – El Cosita Mix
    15. Tropikore ft. Tony Touch, Chipy D, & Nigga Sibilino – Om Curry
    16. Joe Arroyo – No Le Pegue A La Negra – O.M.F. Moomba Mix
    17. J Balvin & Willy William – Mi Gente – Dillon Francis Remix
    18. Lao Ra ft. Almighty – Me Gusta
    19. Eve – Who’s That Girl – Stavros Martina Moombahton Bootleg
    20. Pitbull – POW

    Related: Chuckie Talks J Balvin Collab, ‘Machika’

  • Honorable C.N.O.T.E. Explains How He Produced Trippie Redd’s ‘Dark Knight Dummo’

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    Atlanta producer Honorable C.N.O.T.E. has broken down how he made Trippie Redd‘s buzzing single “Dark Knight Dummo” featuring Travis Scott.

    Released in December, the track has become Trippie’s highest-charting single, having peaked at no. 72 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

    Speaking with Genius, C.N.O.T.E. said the vibe of the track was inspired by war. “I think somebody was talking about [North] Korea bombing America or some sh#t, so I was like, ‘what the f#ck do that sound like?’ … Some of my beats tell stories. This happens to be one of those the beats that tells stories.”

    C.N.O.T.E went through the track’s entire storyline, breaking down each sound and the context behind it.

    Watch above and download “Dark Knight Dummo” on DJcity.

    Related: Watch Honorable C.N.O.T.E. Make a Beat by Sampling Random Records

  • Shecky Green: How DJ AM Became the Highest Paid DJ in the World

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    Shecky Green
    Jonathan Shecter aka “Shecky Green.” (Credit: L.E. Baskow / Las Vegas Weekly)

    Jonathan Shecter aka “Shecky Green,” the co-founder of The Source magazine and current Editor-In-Chief for Cuepoint at Medium, was recently a guest on the Reflections of a DJ (R.O.A.D.) podcast.

    A former director of programming for the Wynn, Shecky played a key role in negotiating DJ AM’s groundbreaking deal with Las Vegas’ PURE Nightclub in 2006.

    During the convo, the show’s co-host Crooked asked Shecky about how he helped broker the deal. Shecky discusses how the negotiations went down and how it raised the bar for DJs going forward. He also talks about how the death of AM marked the beginning of the EDM era.

    Reflections of a DJ is hosted by Las Vegas DJs Crooked, D-Miles, Neva, and Jaime Da Great.

    Watch the clip and listen to the full interview below. New episodes go up on Wednesdays on iTunes and SoundCloud.

    Related: DJ Scooter: WTF is Open Format DJing?

  • Chuckie Talks J Balvin Collab, ‘Machika’

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    Chuckie
    Chuckie at Exchange LA on Oct. 6, 2017. (Source: Facebook)

    Dutch legend Chuckie recently spoke with Billboard about co-producing J Balvin, Jeon, and Anitta‘s international club anthem, “Machika.”

    The track, which is currently No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, was also produced by Dutch trio ChildsPlay and frequent Balvin collaborator Sky Rompiendo El Bajo.

    In the interview, Chuckie explains that the foundation of “Machika” isn’t reggaeton like some listeners may think. Instead, it’s rooted in a Dutch Caribbean house style called “bubbling.”

    “Bubbling was born in the late 1980s when DJ Moortje, a Netherlands-based DJ from Curacao, accidentally speeded up a dancehall track during a club set …,” Billboard writes. “The rhythms of Jamaica [including reggaeton instigator dembow] have been favorites in the Netherlands,” Chuckie says. “Bubbling changed the speed to almost double the tempo.”

    “The sound of ‘Machika’ is [the sound] of the evolution of bubbling … A lot of the grooves are sounds I was using back in the ’90s. It’s kind of reinvented itself for this new generation of kids.”

    Along with his experience in the style, Chuckie also recognized the importance of mashing different cultures.

    “Now with the Internet, we’re all world citizens; [through music] we get to learn about other cultures and I think that’s beautiful,” Chuckie says. “They know that whatever I’m going to send them sounds different. It’s nice to have different flavors in a genre. That keeps it interesting for everyone.”

    According to Billboard, “Machika” has been rumored to be in the running to be used as a World Cup song. That makes sense, given the track’s high energy, fusion of cultures, and international appeal.

    Watch the video for “Machika” above download the track and its remixes on DJcity.

    Related: J Balvin, Jeon, and Anitta Drop New Single and Video, ‘Machika’

  • Calvin Harris Talks New Single, New Musical Direction, and Thoughts on EDM

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    Calvin Harris
    Calvin Harris

    Fresh off the release of his dancehall-influenced single “Nuh Ready Nuh Ready” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, Calvin Harris joined Annie Mac for an interview on her BBC Radio 1 show on Thursday.

    Among the many topics, the Scottish DJ/producer discussed what prompted him to move into a different musical direction on his last album. He also talked about how he feels about dance music and why he put Migos on “Slide.”

    On what influenced him to change his musical direction:

    “At the end of 2016, I put out a tune towards the end … And it came out and did alright. And I was like ok, great. And then I realized I never felt so unexcited about what I was putting out in my life … I knew that I needed to take action for my own sanity because my entire life is making music. I don’t do anything else. So I was like no, I need to be elated with what’s coming out. So then the last album I did was a reaction to that. I was like, you know what? I’m just going to do whatever I want and I’m going to spend all the money I’m making in Vegas on features and I’m going to get everyone to do a hip-hop album … I’m going to put Young Thug on a Motown funk tune, because no one else will because it’s a waste of money. So that’s what I did.”

    On how his new musical direction affected him:

    “… what music is now, it’s like, what playlist is this going to be added to? Or, is radio going to play it? And I didn’t care. So it felt amazing! I was like, I know this isn’t going to be successful. And then, I don’t know how, but some of the tunes did well. I was like, that’s absolutely amazing! So I had an amazing year and I felt so good about it that I was like, I’m just going to keep doing this. I’m just going to do whatever I want to do.”

    On his renewed thoughts on EDM after taking a break:

    “The other thing that’s funny as well is that at the end of 2016, I was like I hate this EDM thing. I think it’s awful. And then after taking a break I was like nah man, I think it’s amazing. Some of the best producers in the world make EDM … they’re amazing and I love it. So it kind of refreshed my opinion of all that. Some of the best producers in the world are Dutch, you know? Face facts. It’s true.”

    On why he put Migos on “Slide.”:

    “I’m not going to do a trap record, like an EDM trap record, because that makes me feel sick. Just the thought of doing that. I can’t do that. I wanna do something with soul and something that I want to listen to again. So I’m like, I wanna put everyone on something that I think is gonna work.”

    Stream the entire interview here.

    Related: Calvin Harris and PARTYNEXTDOOR Drop Dancehall-Influenced Single and Video, ‘Nuh Ready Nuh Ready’

  • DJ Scooter: WTF is Open Format DJing?

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    DJ Scooter
    DJ Scooter at at 1 OAK in Las Vegas on Sept. 20, 2017. (Source: Facebook)

    DJ Scooter, a San Diego nightlife icon and member of the duo Scooter and Lavelle, was recently a guest on the Reflections of a DJ (R.O.A.D.) podcast.

    During the convo, the show’s co-host Crooked asked the question: WTF is open-format DJing? The answer may seem obvious, but Scooter and the hosts had different definitions.

    Reflections of a DJ is hosted by Las Vegas DJs Crooked, D-Miles, Neva, and Jaime Da Great.

    Watch the clip and listen to the full interview below. New episodes go up on Wednesdays on iTunes and SoundCloud.

    Related: DJ Franzen: Do DJs Still Break Records?

  • Bad Bunny Talks Breaking Barriers, Future Collaborations, and Getting Latin Trap on US Radio

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    bad-bunny
    Bad Bunny and DJ Lechero. (Source: Instagram)

    Rising Latin star Bad Bunny stopped by Power 106 on Tuesday for his first interview with a US hip-hop radio station. The 23-year-old, who burst onto the scene in 2016, is the leading voice behind the surging Latin trap movement.

    With the help of his Farruko collaboration, “Krippy Kush,” Bad Bunny has catapulted the once underground genre into the mainstream. In November, he broke language barriers when he enlisted Nicki Minaj and 21 Savage for the official remix of the track. The bilingual remix has been getting radio play in the US ever since, a rarity for a genre not considered radio-friendly.

    In the interview, which was conducted entirely in Spanish, Bad Bunny discusses breaking language barriers, his upcoming collabs with American artists, and his ambition to get Latin trap on US radio.

    Below are some of the translated quotes from his interview with Power’s DJ Lechero.

    His thoughts on his first interview on a US hip-hop station:

    “I’m proud because we’re doing big things. We’re achieving enough success to the level that we’re breaking language and cultural barriers. And, from different parts of the world, we recognize what the US hip-hop, rap, and trap markets mean. It’s introduced me to a lot of artists in those genres who respect me, and who I also respect. It’s huge for Latin music and for Latin people in general. I think it’s very important.”

    Future collabs with American artists:

    “I’ve got a lot of surprises in store. Some I can’t talk about yet. I do have a track coming out with Future and Anuel AA. … And what else do we have coming? Today, we’re going to be in the studio with Swae Lee. So, I’ve got some tracks coming with American artists that are going to be big.”

    Whether Latin trap will make it to radio:

    “It’s a daily battle that we’re facing, but I rest assured that the moment is coming when we’re fully on just like every other genre. And we won’t have to change the format or the style. I’ve been saying it since I started. And little by little you can see the change and that people are more open-minded to it. Radio programmers are becoming aware of our impact and that the people want our music on. So if the radio is for listening to music, and people want to hear Latin trap, Bad Bunny, and the other artists also making hits, then you have to give the people what they want.”

    Watch the interview below.

    Related: Enrique Iglesias Drops New Single and Video, ‘El Bano’ Feat. Bad Bunny

  • Jermaine Dupri Talks DJing and Producing on ‘The Breakfast Club’

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    Legendary producer, rapper, and executive Jermaine Dupri recently paid a visit to The Breakfast Club show. Despite an awkward beginning, in which he was asked about his ex Janet Jackson, JD discussed some DJ and producer topics.

    The Atlanta native said it was a “huge honor” to be recognized for the Breaking Barriers Award at this year’s Global Spin Awards.

    “It brings me back to my first days of actually even wanting to be in the music business. Even before I wanted to be in the music business, I wanted to be a DJ.”

    JD went on to say that he was nervous about DJing live when he was younger.

    “[When] you make mixtapes, you can stop and press play and record and start over. But I used to be scared to go live … Because I DJ on turntables … If the needle skip, if the wind blow, if the power go out, it’s a lot of things that you gotta think about when you DJing and you’re the person that controls the crowd.”

    When asked about the recent allegations that record labels aren’t fairly compensating producers, JD replied that producers have brought it upon themselves.

    “There’s nothing cool about giving someone something that you created, and then they make money off of it, and you don’t. But these producers have to understand that [some of them] started this … .”

    JD cited the producer of O.T. Genasis‘ platinum hit “CoCo” as an example. The producer sold the beat online for only $200, according to JD.

    “They doing this themselves because they want the world to hear these beats so bad, that they putting themselves in these types of situations.”

    “You gotta get the business right from the beginning … Ultimately you don’t know what’s gonna happen with [your] beat.”

    Watch the full interview above.

    Related: Shawn Prez Discusses the Global Spin Awards on The Breakfast Club

  • The Stereotypes Share Their Story, Give Advice to Aspiring Producers

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    The Stereotypes
    The Stereotypes at work in Santa Monica, CA. (Photo source: Wikipedia)

    Jonathan Yip and Ray Romulus, members of the Grammy-nominated production and songwriting team The Stereotypes, recently told the group’s story on Randy Jackson’s podcast.

    Best known for working with Bruno Mars and Far East Movement, The Stereotypes are up for three Grammys this year. They’re nominated for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), and Best R&B Song and Song of the Year for Bruno’s “That’s What I Like.”

    The Stereotypes’ most recent productions include Bruno’s “Finesse,” Pitbull‘s “Jungle” featurng E-40 and Abraham Mateo, and KYLE‘s “Sunshine” featuring Miguel.

    How they overcame their “down period” after achieving success with Far East Movement:

    Jonathan: “… we really were struggling and we needed to figure out how we’re gonna survive. And so, where we went, we went to [South] Korea. We stared doing K-Pop. … They accepted us because they knew our resume and they knew that we were the guys who worked with Far East Movement.”

    Working with different kinds of artists:

    Ray: “That’s why we created and worked on that Pitbull record, ‘Jungle,’ because we really wanna collab with a bunch of different artists. Putting Pitbull, E-40, Abraham Mateo, like you would never would think to put those guys [on the same track].”

    How they also want to work with new artists:

    Ray: “Everyone’s trying to shoot for like the biggest artists that are out right now, because honestly, every producer and writer is trying to shoot for that. And what better to do than to make your own [artist].”

    Advice to aspiring producers:

    Ray: “Going back to the Bruno sessions, it didn’t feel like we were making music. It didn’t feel like we were working. It just felt like friends together making something that we love. … So, surround yourself with people that are just like-minded and have the same goals and that want to go in the same direction. … And don’t only just be concentrated on the creative side. Be on top of your business …”

    Listen to the interview on iTunes or PodCastOne.

    Related: Watch Pitbull and The Stereotypes’ ‘Jungle’ Video Feat. E-40 and Abraham Mateo