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On DJing, music, productivity, professional growth, and personal journey

Dark Entity (Hypnotic Mix) is out now

An ever darker version of my collaboration with Enlusion

Some interesting backstory. In 2021, Enlusion and I collaborated to create ‘Dark Entity’. While the original mix was a heavy-hitting dancefloor banger, I also wanted to have a more stripped-down version and that is how we made the ‘Heads-down Mix’.

Fast-forward to 2024, upon relistening to those versions I realised that I want something even more heads-down, more... hypnotic. So I sent a message to Kirill, and our dialogue went something like that:

— me: Let’s get rid of those acids, BXR-style snares and other extra sounds?
— Kirill: Hmm okay. But we’re going to add new melodies and a new bassline then, right?... Right?
— me: 😎

So there you go guys, Dark Entity (Hypnotic Mix) is out now, and Kirill is probably still mad that we didn’t add five more layers of extra melodies!

Preview:

Ask Me Anything 001

Building up a set, my DJ playlists, and opinion on the Trance scene

Welcome to ‘Ask Me Anything’, a new audio series where I answer your questions on music curation, the art of DJing, the music industry, record labels, behind-the-scenes, productivity, tech, and other areas of expertise and pretty much anything else, as the name suggests.

As you might know, over the years I’ve been pretty vocal about sharing knowledge and have written over a hundred of advice on my blog. So although this podcast is new, here I’m doing pretty much the same thing, just in a new format.

In this episode:

‘I would love to see how a DJ set builds up. Is it driven by the mood or more like new tracks / tracks you haven’t played before?’
‘It would be really interesting to understand the reasoning behind how you curate your DJ playlists’
‘How would you assess the current state of the Trance scene, including your thoughts on the quality of music being released nowadays?’

You can listen to a preview of the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Mixcloud, while full episodes are available exclusively to my subscribers on Patreon.

Timestamps of this episode’s preview:

00:00 Intro
00:48 Question 1
11:22 Support
 No comments    38   8 d   Ask Me Anything   Curation   DJing

Rave Podcast 148

The February podcast is here, bringing you a lot of heads-down grooves. This is the kind of sound and the tempo I really like now, and I hope you do too! The show also includes a couple of unreleased tracks from JOOF Recordings and Be As One, so plenty of fresh music here from the names like Wata Igarashi, Atlas, Coyu, Talfelt, DJ Dextro, Kashpitzky, Villa, Nordic Echoes, Alan Backdrop, and more.

Tracklisting:

00:00 Sigha — Black Massing (Wata Igarashi ‘Dusk Falls’ Remix) Token
04:25 Atlas — Caravan (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
09:50 Daniel Lesden, Enlusion — Dark Entity (Hypnotic Mix) Forescape Digital
15:14 Coyu — We Live In A World Full Of Rage (Original Mix) Suara Records
18:52 Talfelt — Motus Chao (Original Mix) Vitus’ Curse
26:40 Paragliders — Lithium 2 (Original Mix) Solieb Digital
27:35 DJ Dextro — Commodore (Original Mix) Second State Audio
31:03 Kashpitzky — Response (Original Mix) Be As One
34:00 Villa — Elysian Pool (Original Mix) Vitus’ Curse
36:15 Talfelt — Memories (Original Mix) Vitus’ Curse
39:16 The Groove Room — Surge (Original Mix) Numerus Records
42:25 Hardickoff — Hipotalamus (Original Mix) Soviett
45:34 Nordic Echoes — Starbound (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
49:37 Alan Backdrop — Vortex (Original Mix) Not On Label
54:04 Steffi — Individuals From All Walks (Rosati Remix) Candy Mountain
56:05 Kashpitzky — Romantic & Dead (Original Mix) Be As One
 No comments    45   10 d   Daniel Lesden   Music   Rave Podcast

First ‘Ask Me Anything’ recording session

Had a productive day recording the pilot episode of my new ‘Ask Me Anything’ series – and it was pretty fun (spoiler alert: I almost lost my voice by the end of the recording!).

Stay tuned, as it will be published next week!

My entire DJ collection: I’m sharing all of my 84 playlists!

Back in 2019, I published an article How I prepare my DJ playlists (which now has over 21K views), providing behind-the-scenes into the structure of my DJ collection. Since then, my collection has evolved, as it’s an ever-changing process that reflects my DJ needs.

And today, I’m sharing my entire DJ collection with my Patreon subscribers. This is something that sane DJs probably would never do!

So, here’s the thing. I have my DJ collection with over 7000 tracks on iTunes (‘Music’ app on macOS), which I use as the main hub for all my music. To keep all of the music sorted and to find tracks during my DJ sets easily, I keep all those tracks in over 80 playlists, neatly organised by energy levels and mood. This collection and the playlists are mirrored in Rekordbox, which is the main DJ software that I use to export music to USB sticks which I then plug into the DJ decks on my gigs.

I also have that music collection and playlists mirrored on Spotify, and this is what I am sharing with my Patreon subscribers. While I can’t share the physical audio files from my music library for copyright reasons, even Spotify playlists are a pretty big deal.

First of all, that’s a lot of great music. A lot. Secondly and most importantly, this is my real DJ collection that I am actively using and keeping up to date – so it’s a great material for learning and inspiration to see how I organise my playlists, a real behind-the-scenes peek into the mind of a DJ. I’ve also recorded a video walkthrough to provide more explanation of my playlists.

If it sounds interesting to you and want to get access to it, consider joining me on Patreon (and have many more goodies besides this DJ collection): patreon.com/daniellesden

 No comments    52   20 d   Behind the scenes   DJing   Patreon

Rave Podcast 147

The January edition of Rave Podcast is available on SoundCloud, YouTube, and Mixcloud, while subscribers on Patreon enjoyed exclusive early access one week before. Individual tracks are also available on the Spotify playlist, and you can find links to all platforms below.

To start 2024 on a high note, and as we also get almost to the Rave Podcast’s 13th anniversary, I decided to make this episode 2 hours long. Expect a blend of raw, deep, and hypnotic techno and trance with a psychedelic twist. Enjoy the journey!

Tracklisting:

0:00:00 Whirloop — Departure (Intro) JOOF Recordings
0:01:13 Fabio Florido — Galactica (Luigi Tozzi Remix) Runa
0:05:23 Vladw — Teppou (Original Mix) Node Recordings
0:09:31 Bastian Bux — Neopisivo (Original Mix) Suara Records
0:13:38 John 00 Fleming — Baphomets Horn (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
0:18:28 Bitkit — Meteorite (Original Mix) Dacru Records
0:22:38 Rocky — Pass (Mindwave Remix) Echoes Records
0:25:42 Fabio Florido — Galactica (Original Mix) Runa
0:30:24 Duotekk — Zlow (Original Mix) Tip Records
0:36:27 Stef Mendesidis — Pain Killer (Original Mix) Klockworks
0:39:28 Luke Hess — E Grand Blvd (Fireground Remix) Dolly
0:42:42 Steffi — Primary Chaos (DJ Agitated Remix) Candy Mountain
0:46:29 Altinbas — Biosfera (Original Mix) Observer Station
0:50:08 Regent — Arithma (Original Mix) Planet Rhythm Records
0:53:48 Axel Karakasis — Day Zero (Original Mix) Remain Records
0:57:00 00.db — Orba (Album Version) Fektive Records
1:02:15 Triforce — Transmute (Original Mix) Zenon Records
1:07:31 Uncharted Territory — Odyssey (Original Mix) Stereo Society
1:10:29 William Arist — Form (Original Mix) Mutual Rytm
1:13:32 Kashpitzky — Timeline Off (Original Mix) Monnom Black
1:17:48 Anne — Zephyrus (Original Mix) Mutual Rytm
1:20:02 Raar — Blue Mitsubishi (Original Mix) Antiverse
1:24:32 Skodde — Quantum Travel (Original Mix) Flux Collective
1:27:44 Raar — Flashlight (Original Mix) Antiverse
1:31:54 INTT — Sanna (Original Mix) Amphibian Records
1:36:16 The Chronics — Mind Trip (Original Mix) Raw Label
1:40:49 Oprofessionell — Pull Up (HT Mix) UTE
1:43:38 Ki Dake — Fully (Original Mix) Betonstrand
1:46:27 Narciss — Purple Fiction (Original Mix) Space Trax
1:50:59 Cybernet — Enceladus (Original Mix) Gestalt Records
1:54:40 Modus — Harbu Darb (Original Mix) Stereo Society
 No comments    89   1 mo   Daniel Lesden   Music   Rave Podcast

Underground Trance Essentials Vol.8

As a Beatport curator, every once in a while, I create DJ charts within the ongoing series titled Underground Trance Essentials to highlight some of the best tracks from the newly added Trance (Raw / Deep / Hypnotic) genre. Whether they were released yesterday or a decade ago, these tracks unquestionably deserve appreciation.

In this instalment, I featured music from Wata Igarashi, Ipeo, Adam Pits, Volte-Face, Atlas, VBK, Mac Declos, Not Even Noticed, Samoh, and Reflex Blue.

Don’t miss out on this selection – take a listen: beatport.com/chart/underground-trance-essentials-vol8/801277

I’m also curating a Spotify playlist featuring tracks from these charts, making it convenient to enjoy them all in one consolidated place.

The paradox of luck

In my younger years, I firmly believed that my achievements were solely the result of my sheer effort and willpower.

My perspective has since evolved. Life, as I now understand it, is vastly more intricate. Human relationships, in particular, are remarkably complex. When considering the multitude of interconnected pathways leading to specific events or decisions, we encounter an infinite interplay of randomness.

For instance, if you were to ask me how I obtained a Global Talent visa to move to the UK or how I found my dream job, my honest answer would be that I simply got lucky. And this sense of luck extends across almost every aspect of my life.

But what is luck, exactly? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the force that causes things, especially favourable events, to happen by chance, rather than through one’s own efforts or abilities.”

So where does luck originate? If luck is the force behind chance occurrences, then it follows that nearly anything beyond our direct control can be seen as luck. Even factors like birthplace and parental circumstances, which are apparently beyond one’s control, fall within this realm of luck too.

However, if everything is attributed to luck, one might logically conclude, “Well, since most of these events are beyond my control, I might as well do nothing!” Yet, here lies the paradox: that’s not entirely accurate!

In reality, I believe making efforts towards any endeavour increases the likelihood of getting lucky.

Consider the job application process, for instance. If someone wants to find a job but takes no action whatsoever, the chance of finding a job is rather low. Though not impossible, it would require tremendous luck. Conversely, submitting a hundred job applications significantly increases the probability of success. However, even in such a scenario, achieving success isn’t solely attributed to relentless efforts. The hiring decision ultimately rests with another individual or a collective group, which, in essence, is luck.

Strangely enough, after realising that many factors of my life can be attributed to luck, it motivated me to work even harder. I think recognising luck doesn’t diminish our efforts; it shows how chance and our actions are intertwined. Luck shapes our experiences, but our efforts increase the odds of good things happening, and understanding this mix can help us carve our unique paths.

Good luck!

Music genres aren’t binary

Oftentimes when some people think about music genres, they think binary. It’s either this or that. It’s either House or Trance. It’s either Techno or Psy-Trance.

But I think today’s variety of music genres is too vast and too complex for that. Music genres have evolved and diversified so much that categorising them into strict binaries requires a bit of different thinking.

When we think of music genres, we’re considering a multitude of elements that contribute to a track’s identity. Elements like rhythm, sound design, tempo, melody, and even cultural influences all play a role. It’s not just about the primary beat or the dominant instruments; it’s the intricate blend of these components that creates a unique sonic landscape.

This is why I think of genres as a spectrum, like the adjustable sliders in photo editing apps.

For example, a track might have the driving beat of Techno, the atmospheric elements of Trance, and the rhythmic structure of House, all blended together in varying proportions. Which genre should this track belong to, in this case? That’s the tricky part – it’s up to identifying the proportion of those elements on the imaginary spectrum, or sliders.

The practicality of genres as guiding stars in navigating the expansive realm of music remains undeniable. As a DJ, I still rely on genres to discover fresh tracks. Nevertheless, it’s equally crucial to acknowledge the mixture of styles within tracks that extend beyond the confines of the notion of genres that we know today.

I think recognising genres as a fluid spectrum rather than strict binaries helps to embrace the diversity and intricacies that make music a constantly evolving and endlessly fascinating art form. And this mindset certainly helps in my decision-making process behind curation.

 No comments    135   1 mo   Behind the scenes   Curation

Why time-blocking doesn’t work for me

There is a popular technique in the productivity space called time-blocking where you allocate specific blocks of time to accomplish particular tasks throughout your day. It involves scheduling blocks of time on your calendar dedicated to specific activities, which, supposedly, helps in better managing your time, staying focused, and ensuring that important tasks get done.

A random picture from the Internet illustrating time-blocking. Source: todoist.com

For me, it’s never quite clicked.

I use my calendar to add events, not tasks. Events are things that happen at a certain date and time, like meetings or appointments; there is nothing to do about them, they are just there to serve as reminders and assist in planning while considering availability.

While I do acknowledge the benefits of grouping tasks, like handling emails in bulk rather than reacting to each new arrival, I find the concept of rigidly scheduled time for tasks unappealing.

Consider this: a designated one-hour slot to address emails, as depicted above. Let’s say I efficiently manage everything in under 30 minutes. What then? Should I rush into the next block or switch gears entirely? Or take a breather? Conversely, some tasks might overrun their allotted time. In such instances, do I shuffle the blocks to compensate? Or compress subsequent blocks? None of that makes any sense to me, and this is why time-blocking as a system so easily falls apart for me.

Some tasks require deep, interrupted, focused work, and when I’m in that mode, I prefer riding that flow rather than being disrupted by arbitrary block transitions. For some tasks that require less concentrated focus, I find it comfortable to tackle them sporadically rather than allocating an entire block, there are moments in busy days when carving out a dedicated block feels unfeasible. And sometimes I feel that I’m leaning toward specific tasks over another, let’s say being in a writing mood rather than doing admin stuff, which ends up being much more productive for me.

So while time-blocking serves many, its rigid structure doesn’t align with everyone’s work style. For some, like myself, a more flexible, task-driven approach better accommodates the flow of work demands. And I think understanding one’s unique needs is one of the key elements for productivity.

 No comments    146   2 mo   Productivity
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