EDM star Calvin Harris takes us into his studio for an intimate nose at his production work-flow

 

             "Guess you guys aren't ready for this yet....but your kids are gonna love it!....."

             "Guess you guys aren't ready for this yet....but your kids are gonna love it!....."

What goes into making a trendy dance tune in 2017?

Let's be honest, most of the current dance music being audibly sprayed into the charts can sometimes sound quite generic and music-by-numbers. It's been quite sometime since we were treated to a real adrenaline-raising dancefloor smash that breaks boundaries and punches convention in the ears. That may in fact offer some kind of explanation for the very reason this previous post I made, exists.

Honestly, recent music from the likes of Avicii and David Guetta has done nothing to prop up the gradually increased snobbery towards the genre.

Not since the early 2000s has anyone really taken a chance, and done something outside the typical realms of 'doof doof' beats and whiney DJ Snake clone synth sounds. 

I remember at the time just how perfectly fresh the side project from Thomas Bangaltar sounded when Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With You" faded in at Ministry of Sound in the summer of 1998. I had a similar rush when first hearing Spiller's anthemic "Groovejet" started to move feet in an otherwise mainstream Soho late license bar.

As a pimply and undernourished nerdy student, I produced a few pieces of what some might consider the pre-cursor to modern EDM, using something called a tracker - a free piece of software which utilised the quickly evolving stereo audio chipsets of the hugely popular 16 bit generation of home computers. 

Two huge 90s dance hits were produced using the same software I spent hours in my bedroom perfecting. One of which was this one, from Urban Shakedown.

I've recently started revisiting my teenage dabbles, and have been using more modern DAWs for my own remixes and re-edits for inclusion in my sets. I feel they add a more 'exclusive' and 'appearance' feel to even the most intimate and private of gigs.

In this era of music production, it's not difficult to put together a professional sounding beat. The dance charts are filled with them. 

It is, however, quite difficult to really stand out with a tune that's doing something a bit different. 

That's why this video is quite a nice watch. 

 

Think what you like about Calvin Harris' talents as a songwriter or performer, but you can't fault his commitment to his art as a musician. The guy can play actual instruments, and in this video, you can see him doing just that, as he licks out a riff on a guitar, and plonks out a few chords on a piano.

 

It's shifting the goalposts on a process we very much take for granted, and throwing in a surprise.

Nice work, Calvin. 

Not only is this a pretty cool glimpse of the inner workings of a top EDM producer's lair, but it may even inspire a few geeks to actually learn the basics of playing an instrument.