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On the career of an underground DJ and producer, music industry, and professional growth.

advice series  DJing  production  marketing  releases  podcast  gigs  behind the scenes  tools  and more topics

Follow me on social media

Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

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Music standards

Every music genre has its own substandard. And it is very important to understand that there are no abstractly “good” and “bad” individual sounds or tracks, but there is a matching or failing to meet the standards.

Listen to these two audio examples:

Which one is better?

The answer is: it depends on what we’re trying to do and what problem we’re trying to solve.

Speaking from the point of the nature of sound, in the second kick the sound is excessively distorted, flattened, clipped and formally unusable. But if a producer has set a goal to release a techno track, then that rough and formally useless kick is potentially more suitable for this purpose, because in some subgenres of techno it is so accepted. In general, we often make the sound objectively worse so that subjectively it seems better to us and meets certain standards.

It is also important to understand that such standards always change over time. The sound design, production techniques, and character of tracks that were relevant ten years ago are hardly the standard today.

Listen to a few examples:

In Techno:

In Progressive House:

In Psytrance:

Notice how the timbres of individual instruments have changed, and how the tracks sound as a whole. Of course, music is produced now for all tastes, including music that sounds like it was ten or twenty years ago. Writing ‘oldschool’ music on purpose is also fine if you understand what the musical standards were at the time and why you need to do it in the first place.

Does this mean that a young producer has to follow certain standards of sound? Not necessarily at all. Anything is possible, including ignoring the standards at all, especially if you just make music for yourself.

Nevertheless, it is very useful to observe the existence and change of these standards, both in order to follow them, if necessary, or vice versa, in order to know what to move away from.

Daniel Lesden & Enlusion

Kirill Smirnov aka Enlusion and I playing at JOOF Showcase in Moscow at Gorod Club, 2019

Enlusion and I have a lot in common, he runs Forescape Digital and I often play releases from his label in my sets, we played at the same events, so it was only a matter of time when we start a collaboration and make a track together. And so we did!

I’m excited to announce that our track will be released later this year, more details and a preview are coming soon.

 No comments    101   1 mo   Collaborations   Dark Entity   Teaser

Best of labels series

On Spotify, I have a special playlist where add all tracks played on Rave Podcast. I also have the ”best of my sets” playlists series with some of the favourite tunes from my Dj collection. And I also have playlists for each subgenre of my Psytrance Guide!

But I decided to go even further and put together playlists of my favourite tracks from important record labels I follow, like, and take inspiration from: JOOF Recordings (who would’ve guessed!), Forescape Digital, FSOE UV, Mistique Music, Iboga Records, Hooj Choons, Platipus Records, Anjunadeep:

Some of my favourite labels

The list is definitely not complete and will grow over time, but even now there’s already quite something to listen to: from oldschool to modern sound, from sensual to dark vibe, from slow-paced progressive groove to the most furious rhythms.

I’ll be glad if you discover something new or just enjoy some nice with these playlists.
Listen and save it to your collections:
spotify.com/user/daniellesden

 No comments    116   1 mo   my playlists   Spotify

My music channel in Telegram

I listen to music all the time during the day, most often on Spotify and Soundcloud, and I click ’like’ on the tracks I like. Makes sense, I know! :-) Sometimes these tracks end up on my playlists, but not always.

So, I made a channel in Telegram where all my liked tracks automatically go. You can think about it as recommendations, where basically Is ay, “Cool track, check it out!”.

Anyway, listen and join here: @daniellesden_music

 No comments    108   1 mo   Spotify   Telegram

How I use a to-do list

The main tool for the progress of personal and work projects

Earlier I told you how I manage my social media with Amplifr and how I manage a record label duties with Trello, and today I’m going to talk about another work tool – a to-do list.

What is that

A to-do list is an application where I write down everything I need to do. To-dos can be anything from small everyday tasks like “to buy a bread” to big and ambitious projects like making a course.

Approach

To make the list and the whole system work, I use a few simple rules.

Rule number one is to write down //everything/and preferably as soon as you can. Need to call someone, need to go somewhere? Write it down. Need to read something, buy something? Write it down. Need to think about something quietly when you have time? Write it down. At three o’clock in the morning a genius idea comes to you? Write it down. Well, you get the idea. If it’s not on the to-do list, you don’t need it.

Rule number one is to write down everything. If something isn’t on the to-do list, then it’s not needed.

The great thing about this approach is that it frees up your head. Once you’ve written it down, you can stop thinking about it and focus on something else. In general, it seems to me that the human head is not well suited to remembering a lot of things, at least mine is for sure. And with this approach, it’s simply impossible to have a scenario where you forget something because the app remembers everything.

I also try to formulate the notes so that is always clear what it’s about, even if I look at it a year later. It happens that you quickly add a to-do, and while you are in the context, everything is clear. And then you look at it a day later and think, “What did I mean by that?”.

For example, a to-do titled “Lord Of The Rings”. What is it? Read a book? Buy a book? To finish the book? Remind a friend to return the book? Watch a movie? What is there to do? It’s not clear.

To make it clear, I usually put a perfect verb at the beginning: read, buy, outline etc. But there’s a nuance here, too.

See, above I gave the example of the “remind a friend to return a book. But you can remind a friend, and he is like, ‘Oh, yes, yes, of course,’ and will be gone for another year. With this formulation, a to-do will be formally completed because you’ve reminded your friend, but at the same time, the book still remains with him. So in addition to making sure that the note begins with a verb, I also try to specify the ultimate goal. Finding out the goal is very easy – to answer the question ‘why?’.

In our case with the book, it wouldn’t be ‘remind to a friend’ (to remind – why?), but ‘return the book.’ Or not ‘call a hairdresser,’ but ‘make an appointment for a haircut. Or not ‘remind Tim about the prepayment,’ but ‘get prepaid for the project from Tim.’ Feel the difference? Such simple wording changes allow you to focus on the real purpose of a particular task.

The app

Next, I’ll show you concrete examples of how it all looks and works, so I’ll tell you about the application I use as well.

Over the years, I’ve used various programs: Apple Reminders, Things, Trello, Todoist, Monday, Wunderlist, and some others I can’t remember the names of. Right now I like Things the best.

Things website

May not be right for you.
All of the programs listed above are both very similar in nature and very different in detail. For example, Todoist is paid – with a subscription; Things is paid – with a one-time fee; Apple Reminders is free. Wunderlist integrates with Microsoft’s office suite, while Things works only on Apple operating systems. Trello, by the way, is a service I also use – though not for a to-do list, but for team projects.

If you choose a program for yourself, be sure to consider different options, because it’s not a fact that what I use will work for you. Here I am sharing a general approach and my experience with it, not advising a particular app.

So, Things. Here’s what the app usually looks like to me:

Things app on the computer. The names of some projects are hidden for privacy reasons. Most of the projects do not fit on the screen

At first glance, it may seem like there’s a lot to sort through, but in fact, everything is very logical and in its place.

Priorities and deadlines

For example, look in the upper left corner, where the coloured icons are. There, Things automatically sorts out to-dos into tabs, from which the priorities and deadlines are built:

You can quickly switch between tabs by pressing ⌘+1—5

Inbox. A place where I quickly write down everything before I forget. Some tasks also go here automatically, I’ll tell you about it later.

Today. Things I plan to do today. I usually make this list the day before, so I know exactly what I have to do in the morning. Tasks that come up during the day first go to the inbox, and from there I plan them for the next day or after, and thus the to-do list for today doesn’t grow during the day (with very few exceptions).

Upcoming. Things that are planned for the next days, sometimes months and a year in advance. I check in here at the end of the day to see what I have planned next, and make adjustments if necessary.

Anytime. Things that I haven’t set a specific start date, which means I can start them at any time. This is where I have the bulk of my deadlines: there is usually a hundred or two to-dos, sometimes more. The great thing about this category is that I always have something to do at any time. You know how it is: you go through some big project for hours, and then you realize that you’re tired, your efficiency has dropped, and you need to switch to something else. Or vice versa: you have done all the work for today, and the whole evening is still free, and you think about what to do. In both cases, I just open this tab Anytime, from which I choose small, pleasant things to do, and so I gradually progress on things.

Someday. Things that I would in principle like to do someday, but for some reason, I can’t start doing at any time, unlike the tasks in the category above. These are usually big projects that are interesting enough to come back to someday but are not yet important enough to start doing them.

Projects and areas

The system I described above helps to determine priorities and deadlines: what to do and when to do it. But when there are so many tasks (which is always the case with me), it can be difficult to figure out what belongs to what. This is where grouping tasks into projects and areas helps.

Projects. Big tasks that cannot be done in one sitting. For example, you can’t just make a new podcast episode in one take, it’s a lot of hours of work, which requires mixing the set, recording the voice, exporting, converting, making cover artworks for different formats, making videos, rendering videos, sending them to radio stations, uploading to Soundcloud, posting on social networks, and so on. So I combine such tasks into projects. The projects have a round icon on the left that gets filled in as you complete the tasks in it.

Areas. Projects don’t live by themselves, they somehow relate to some topic that unites them, and in Things, this grouping of projects is called an area. This makes for a simple and logical nested structure. For example:

Area → Project → To-do
Releases Binary Star Upload a preview on SoundCloud
Podcast 122 episode Record a voice
Booking Winter rave Negotiate the timetable

In the screenshot above, you can see that I use this structure for personal business, music, podcast, bookings, labels, events, tips, and a dozen other areas that have been left out. And it’s very handy.

Automation

I wrote above that some tasks get to my inbox automatically. One such example is the advice series.

Advice series

It used to be that a person would fill out a Google Form with a blog question. I would get an email notification from Google saying, “Hey, you’ve got a new result on that form”. I got into the Google Dock and copied the question into my program. Of course, that kind of manual work sucks, not to mention the fact that I occasionally forgot to do it at all.

So I decided to automate this process through the Zapier. If you don’t know, it’s an automator for almost any app: you can tell it, for example, “take data from this service, do something with it, and send it over there”. It has another famous competitor, IFTTT, but I like Zapier more – I’ve been using it for a long time and for other apps too, so I highly recommend it.

zapier.com

Now with the advice series, it goes like this: a person fills out a Google form → Zapier sees a new line in the Google table and sends its contents to me in Things → I get a new, neatly designed to-do in the inbox. How good is that!

***

If you’re using to-dos too, tell me in the comments about your approach and the app of your choice, I’d love to read about your experience too.

 No comments    169   1 mo   Management

Anything is possible

Sometimes I get questions in the advice series that boil down to, “Can I do this or that?” or “Can I not do that?”.

For example:

Can I send a demo track to a few dozen labels at once?
Can a DJ not post anything on social media?
Can I not use equalizer?
Can I come to the club ten minutes before the start of my set?

That is, a person has probably heard that something should be done, but is looking for a way to refute it: “Are you sure it should be done? Maybe it’s not necessary? Can we do it differently?” And that’s okay because it’s good to ask questions.

And the answer is very simple: anything is possible. Anything at all. But every choice has consequences that are worth bearing in mind.

For example:

Can I send a demo track to a few dozen labels at once?
Yes, you can, but be prepared that your demo will either be ignored or signed to some third-rate label. Here’s the best way to send a demo.

Can a DJ not post anything on social media?
Yes, you can, but then it will be harder for people to hear about you, and your audience will grow slower. Because social media is important.

Can I not use equalizer?
Yes, you can, but then don’t be surprised if the bass in your track is sluggish and dull. If you at least check and cut the extra low end, it will be cleaner already.

Can you come to the club ten minutes before the start of your set?
Yes, you can, but then you won’t have much time left for “plan B” if something goes wrong – and a lot of things can go wrong. I recommend arriving early.

Anything is possible, but it’s worth bearing in mind the consequences of the choice

Note that in the examples above, I didn’t call any of the outcomes bad. Maybe you write music purely for fun, so you don’t care about releases on credible labels, audience growth, or performances? Well, that’s fine, because those things are neither good nor bad in and of themselves.

But if you have certain career goals in mind, then you have to consider the possible consequences of any of such “yes, you can”.

 No comments    119   1 mo   Advice   Career

Rave Podcast 122

February 2021. 10-year anniversary!

New Rave Podcast episode is already available on Soundcloud, YouTube, in the Spotify playlist, and on Patreon (with direct downloads, higher audio quality, RSS feed, no voice-overs, and more goodies).

Wow, that was quite a journey, isn’t it? Ten years, I can’t believe it!

This special three-hour episode includes a lot of my all-time favorite tracks, which I think perfectly sums up the whole point of the Rave Podcast — to share with you high-quality underground music.

Make sure you give it a listen:

0:00:00 Cloower Wooma — Blot (Original Mix) Blue Tunes Records
0:02:21 Luminesce, Miika Kuisma — Wave Of Life (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
0:05:10 Kostya Outta — Breathe (Original Mix) MNL
0:08:20 Ewan Rill — Alchemist (Original Mix) Bevel Records
0:10:57 Ioan Gamboa — Karla (Soulwerk Remix) Replug
0:14:35 Mike Griego — Solaris (Original Mix) Replug
0:21:01 Thnk, Pim Kos — Ominous (Extended Mix) Thnk
0:24:19 Don Ruijgrok — Melt (Original Mix) Driving Forces Digital Series
0:26:59 Pablo Gargano — Winter Funk (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
0:29:20 Solid Stone — Get On My Vinyl (Original Mix) Coldharbour Recordings
0:32:20 Rick Pier O’Neil — Back To Scream (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
0:36:23 Atrium Sun — Breath Of Heaven (Original Mix) Mistique Music
0:40:40 Johan Gielen — Say My Name (Tech Mix) High Contrast Recordings
0:44:10 Breeze, Quadrat — Hurricane (Relaunch Remix) Mistique Music
0:47:11 Drumcomplex, Roel Salemink — The Box (Alex Di Stefano Remix) Baptism
0:51:12 Mathov — Nabrisa (Ettica Remix) JOOF Aura
0:54:28 Klaark, Sisko Electrofanatik — Onium (Original Mix) Gain Records
0:57:44 Spartaque — Twin (Original Mix) He-Art
1:01:14 Sasha Carassi — Hanger (Original Mix) Driving Forces Recordings
1:04:59 Clint Stewart — Breathe (Timmo Rework) Terminal M
1:10:14 Matt Lange — Blackest Balloon (Original Mix) mau5trap
1:14:34 Tactic Tech — Angels (Original Mix) Drumlore
1:17:18 Vibrasphere — Waveguide (Original Mix) Tribal Vision
1:19:55 Age Of Love — The Age Of Love (Manuel De La Mare Remix) 542
1:21:43 Ozan Kanik — Back Ally Rally (Don Ruijgrok Remix) Gastspiel Records
1:25:40 Rex Mundi — Perspective (Original Mix) Cyber Records
1:29:07 00.db — Sasha Watching The Stars (Original Mix) Fektive Records
1:32:33 Gabriel Moraes — Opposite (Original Mix) Bassic Records
1:36:45 Vibrasphere — Morning Breeze (Atmos Remix) Digital Structures
1:40:11 Cosmithex — Polarity (Original Mix) Forescape Digital
1:44:36 Perfect Stranger — W (Klipsun Remix) Iboga Records
1:46:49 Beat Bizarre — Magical Realism (Original Mix) Iboga Records
1:49:49 Kalden Bess, UNDFND, PRML — Primary (Original Mix) Ground Factory Records
1:52:57 Rudosa — Dreamland (Original Mix) Suara Records
1:55:49 Goncalo M — Lord Of Chaos (Original Mix) Global Techno Movement Records
1:57:42 Sopik — BN002 (2020 Edit) Finder Records
1:59:48 Lukas Firtzer — Excessus (Original Mix) Exhale
2:03:26 Marco Bailey — Days Of Yore (Original Mix) Materia
2:06:35 Radiotrance — Tranceformation (Original Mix) Uplifto Records
2:10:18 Klangkuenstler — Engelsblut (Original Mix) Exhale
2:14:28 David Moleon — Ovalo (Original Mix) Patterns
2:16:18 Manmachine — Synthesize (Original Mix) Yellow Sunshine Explosion
2:21:23 Outsiders, Sphera — Matter Of Fact (Original Mix) Iboga Records
2:24:49 In Verruf — Too Much DMT (Original Mix) R – Label Group
2:27:24 Sonic Entity — Fabric Of The Universe (Original Mix) Expo Records
2:30:15 Steve Birch — See Through (Original Mix) JOOF Recordings
2:34:36 Art Of Trance — Turkish Bizarre (DBA Remix) Platipus Records
2:38:29 Ron Impro — Indian Rave (Nuwa Remix) Ithica Records
2:42:09 Lyktum — Mindfulness (Original Mix) Iono Music
2:44:40 Mac & Monday — Yoruba (Original Mix) Borderline
2:50:09 Brainchild — Symmetry C (Original 12” Mix) Eye Q Records
2:53:27 Dyen — Fantasy (Original Mix) Exhale
2:55:55 Vini Vici — Trust in Trance (Astral Projection Remix) Iboga Records

Dream train

Sometimes, before the sleep, I read a book to my son. It begins with a train coming through the darkness:

Clickety-clack!

As it should be – with a honking, roaring engine, clattering wheels, and a cloud of steam:

Wondrous sight!

I will not retell the entire book, and go straight to the finale (spoiler alert!): in fact, the train turns out to be a toy train, and everything that happened to it was in the boy’s dream.

It was just a dream. A book ”Steam Train, Dream Train” by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

I liked this simple idea so much that I wanted to implement it in a track. To make something powerful, straightforward, in a sense even monotonous – like a train that goes on and on without stopping; but at the same time mysterious and atmospheric.

Perhaps some people have already guessed. The phrases the dreams, dream machine and we can fly from my track A Train Into Darkness are a direct reference to this book and a subtle hint that everything that happens in the track is also a dream:

That’s why the track is intentionally hypnotic and even a bit dreamy, that’s what I wanted to portray. However, it turned out that this track works well not only in dreams, but when you are awake too:

Playing ”A Train Into Darkness”. A fragment from my set at Skazka Rave

That’s how, unexpectedly, even for myself, a children’s book became the basis for a serious track.

The single “A Train Into Darkness” will be released next Monday, February 8, and is already available for pre-order on Beatport and presave on Spotify:

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© Daniel Sokolovskiy, 2021
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