When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from NYC’s indie-electronic talent, Blonde Maze.
What’s it like where you’re living? I’ve been spending my quarantine in Florida with the fam. So the weather has been great and I’ve been able to take nice walks outside throughout the entire winter, which has been a great way to reset the head mid-day. It’s been a blessing to be with family during such times and to have my little pup with us, who is purely a bundle of love.
Have you learned anything during the downtime? I’ve actually spent some time trying to learn new production and mixing techniques during lockdown, and just sort of hone in on my sound and craft. Somehow I’ve been busier the past year than I ever have been before.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? My latest is “I Think About,” a collab with Attom. I think I’ve worked on more music this past year than any previous years. I got to release some projects I had been working really hard on and I’ve tried to be as vulnerable as I can with my newer work.
In the studio, what’s your set-up? Mostly everything I use is in the box. However, I have Yamaha HS8s for monitors, and a couple of MIDI controllers that I use when playing around with melodies – namely, the M-Audio Keystation 49-key MIDI controller and Novation Launchpad. When I move back to New York, I have a few things I’ve been saving up to buy, to start building a more sophisticated space for music.
What’s your creation process in the studio? I typically start with the main chords, sometimes only using a piano plug-in – my favorites have been Woodchester Piano and Una Corda, two beautifully crafted VSTs – and play around until I hear something I like. Sometimes I’ll then go into the MIDI editor and adjust notes until they hit just right. Once I’ve got the main chords down, I’ll experiment with changing their sound, or I’ll just play on top of the chords to find a lead melody or direction for the song. I usually build it up until I feel like I have something to go on, and then I’ll build the rest of the song around that, adding in drums, bass, atmosphere, vocals, etc.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? Typically, Pioneer CDJs and a mixer. At home, I have a Traktor Kontrol DJ controller that I practice on. However, when I play live-performance shows, I have a Launchpad, Drumpad, and Traktor F1 that I do live sampling on.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? One of the most surprising things I’ve noticed is that, during lockdown, people seemed to extend their working hours way past what they were normally. I’m all for working hard and spending time on your work, but it seemed like so many people who had a healthy work-life balance before this, lost it to the lockdown.
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I haven’t really done any performances online recently – I’ve kind of had my head in the production and writing of new tracks. I did a little 30-second or so acoustic cover of my song, “Not All Flowers Bloom,” but that’s the closest I got to a live performance. Some of my fave DJ streams this past year were Madeon at Secret Sky – those visuals were awesome – then, San Holo at Monster Energy Festival, and Lane 8’s set on the lake.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? I have discovered so much music, new and old, during quarantine. Some of my current fave tunes are: Emmit Fenn’s “I Can’t Believe I Had You,” Ryn Weaver’s “Stay Low,” Bloc Party’s “The Pioneers (M83 Remix)” and Elderbrook’s “Next December.”
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Well, I personally stayed sane by putting my head into my music and my health, and forcing myself to keep in touch with friends and family, virtually. Having goals for my career and actively maintaining my physical/mental health kept me on a forward moving path, and gave me something to put my full focus on. It’s easier said than done, but so worth it.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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