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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 Gotham, the New York City-based electronic talent lstnght (aka Henry Rater).


lstnght, New York, N.Y., Undermind

What’s it like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time? I’ve been in New York for most of the pandemic. I think we can all agree that it’s been one of the worst years in a long time; but, we’ve all found ways to cope and manage the stress of the situation. For me, that was writing music. I had been working odd jobs in New York for a few years until the lockdown, and despite the situation I finally felt like I was in a good position to put a lot more time into my art.

Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? All of my work vanished. All of the gigs I had lined up disappeared. I was living off savings for six months until I found a remote position in music editing.

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? The modern musician must be multi-faceted. Live shows are an integral income stream for the majority of musicians, as streaming service payouts tend to be anemic. The pandemic crushed that revenue stream. This reality often contributes to the high levels of anxiety and depression among many artists as they’re forced to treat themselves as small businesses, instead of focusing on development of their creative process. Thankfully, I’ve been able to adapt. I utilized my professional network and have done music for ads, editing for podcasts, writing music for other artists’ brands, teaching kids and adults how to record music. I do a lot of work for Undermind, which is growing into one of the most exciting labels in New York, managing the streaming platforms, making sure it’s consistent in quality and presentation.

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? My latest release is the “Not Enough” EP on Undermind… Patience, and not working in a creative vacuum. I can’t stress how important both of these points are. There’s immense pressure in the music industry to be releasing music consistently. All major labels have release schedules set a year or more in advance, and independent artists are expected to keep up. I’ve seen so many artists, myself included, rush projects because the music was really good, but they end up doing themselves a disservice because their art lacks a visual narrative or some detail work that would take their artistry to a new level. Be kind to yourself. Separate creativity from business. Maintain realistic goals and keep yourself accountable. Work with people who will push you to make even better art.

In the studio, what’s your set-up? I work off a 15-inch MacBook Pro in Ableton. I have too many plug-ins. I’m the crazy cat mom of plug-ins. I use the Soundtoys collection, the SSL channel strips and compressors, VPS, Softube’s Modular, the u-he synth collection, the Arturia synths and a few Kontakt libraries. For hardware, I’ve been using a lot of the Moog Subseq37, Korg’s Minilogue XD and the Slate Digital M1 for vocals.

What’s your creation process in the studio? Being prepared is essential to working quickly and effectively in the studio. I have organized MIDI libraries, custom preset libraries and customized audio-effect racks. I start with percussion first; this is the foundation of all club music. I fine-tune these sections until they feel almost standalone, something I would be comfortable with looping live in a set. Then, I set about creating gradual effect in the song, teasing out harmonies and building into the melodic theme. I mix while I work, but make sure not to focus too much on the mix until the production is complete.

What’s your typical DJ set-up? I use two Pioneer CDJs with an Allen & Heath or Pioneer mixer. I love the Allen & Heath – it has some incredible filters and a great analog sound. I’m a fan of the built-in audio effects in the Pioneer, although they can get a bit stale and easy-to-identify, if overused.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Dogecoin.

Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I haven’t, but I check a lot of streams when I’m not producing. I’ve enjoyed sets by Oliver Koletzki, Dixon, Einmusik, Jonas Saalbach, Anfisa Letyago, Daniel Neuland, Mia Mendi, and Philipp Straub.

Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Dave Seaman’s “Thonk! (Whitesquare Remix),” Marc DePulse & Steve Parry’s “Lokalmatador,” and Einmusik’s “Dune Suave.”

Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Your health is what’s most important. We all have vices, but make sure to make healthy choices regarding your physical and spiritual being.

To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.

DJ Times Magazine is copyright © 2021 by DJ Publishing, Inc. www.djtimes.com

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