Have Gig Bag, Will Travel or Where in the World is Carmen Rizzo?

hht back stage perm 1Carmen Rizzo checks his cell phone one last time as he boards the plane at LAX.  This is the first of several flights that will take him half way around the world over the next 24 hours – from Los Angeles to Perm, Russia .  He’s got a text message from the people he’ll be performing with in Perm; they want him to come back in 10 days for another show, and they need his commitment immediately.  He’s taken slightly aback – he’s not exactly sure what he’ll be doing onstage when he arrives this time – but he agrees to make the return trip, figuring that as long as he has the right assemblage of tools, he’ll be able to handle whatever situation is thrown at him.

This is typical for a road warrior like Rizzo.  The Los Angeles-based producer, DJ, record label owner, and radio show host is a rapidly-rising global brand, sought after for his wide range of skills that have earned him two GRAMMY nominations.   He’s worked with the likes of Seal, Coldplay, Paul Oakenfold, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alanis Morissette.  He’s a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).  He also DJs a radio set heard by 14 million listeners each month on the highly influential KEXP 90.3 FM in Seattle.  With so many irons in the fire, he’s become extraordinarily flexible, yet fastidious in his preparation, maintaining a strict work ethic that sees him keeping regular hours in his home studio during the week and, whenever possible, not working weekends to spend time with his children.  But this last-minute request is not unusual for Rizzo.  He’ll just roll with it.

Continue reading Have Gig Bag, Will Travel or Where in the World is Carmen Rizzo?

Cakewalk Launches Holiday Gift Guide for Musicians

GiftGuideIt’s that time of the year again! Time to show family and friends just how much they mean to you with a gift from the heart. This year, you don’t have to go far to find the perfect present for the music lover in your life. We’ve created our own Holiday Gift Guide to make the process of gift shopping much easier.

Visit Cakewalk.com today to see our list of recommended products for singer-songwriters, DJs, record collectors and Guitar Hero fanatics. Plus, reward yourself with a treat and check out our Holiday upgrade bundles for existing Cakewalk customers.

V-Studio 100 Hits Store Shelves Worldwide

The portable music production studio, SONAR V-Studio 100, is now shipping worldwide!

The second product in the SONAR V-Studio line of integrated hardware and software by Cakewalk and Roland is a compact, feature rich, music production studio that enables musicians to create, record, produce, and perform music with or without a computer. SONAR V-Studio 100 is ideal for the musician, singer-songwriter, MC, producer, or engineer on-the-go, regardless of whether they use a Mac or PC.

How will SONAR V-Studio 100 fit your production needs? Read on to found out:

Continue reading V-Studio 100 Hits Store Shelves Worldwide

Day 2: The Future Producers of Hip-Hop Battle It Out

Live From One Stop Shop Music Producers Conference Phoenix, Arizona, Day 2 (May 9th… 1am overlooking Phoenix city lights from a Jetblue red-eye to NYC)

Hope everyone had a Happy Mother’s Day! Day 2 technically starts at 12:00am from yesterday so I will pick it up from there. We found ourselves at Club PHX with Sha Money and many of the talented producers and artists who attended One Stop Shop. I have to admit, I had no idea that Phoenix was such an after-hours kind of town. The club was packed and as always when hanging with a bunch of musicians after midnight, the conversations flowed candidly about gear, projects and the state of the music industry.  Everyone I spoke with agreed that no matter how much turmoil the music industry is facing, it’s an amazing time for musicians who want to take control of their own music (and future) by empowering themselves with tools such as Cakewalk. As you will read later, this proved to be true from the OSS Beat Battle.

My wakeup call rang early. Seth Perlstein and I caffeinated up and prepared for what was to going to be a very busy day. The second day of the “V-100 Challenge” brought new talent early and with fury as MC’s jumped on the Cakewalk mic like it was nothing. I was amazed with some of these cats when I asked them if they wanted to hear the beat first…  or warm up… or something…  nope – these dudes would just step up to the mic and throw lyrics like they had been there all night practicing. Today we had some MC’s representing Boston, Phoenix, Florida, Dallas, Queens, Brooklyn and even Mississippi.  I’m glad I’m not the one deciding on who is walking away with SONAR 8 Producer. Thanks to all the cats that participated and please check Youtube this week for a V-100 video montage.

In between the action of the rap battles, we were pretty psyched to connect with some great producers in the game who stopped by to say hello and get a 1 on 1 taste of the new V-700, that is creating quite a buzz in the Hip Hop world. Neither Seth nor I had ever met Pete Rock and it was a pleasure to connect with him as well as Don Cannon, Just Blaze and Drumma Boy.  Throughout the day there were some pretty heavy panels going on as well.  Sway moderated a panel I caught in the afternoon with RZA, Just Blaze, Pete Rock, Steve Lobel, and many other pioneers in the game.  It was interesting to hear these guys comment on modern production and the state of the music industry.

Later on in the afternoon, we were approached by Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Arif Gursel, along with Sha Money who offered us an opportunity to demonstrate the V-700 right before dinner in front of all the conference goers.  It was a bit of work breaking down our booth and setting back up on stage but it was well worth it.  Seth Perlstein took the stage and did a great job going through some of the main features of the controller, interface, phantom synth and also fielded some questions from the crowd.

In the evening, I interviewed Lee Bannon who has been using SONAR and Project 5 on his recent project with Talib Kweli. Then we checked out the finals of the beat battle and it was crystal clear to me that we are in the middle of a music revolution.  Basically, any undiscovered producer could submit beats for this competition and it was ridiculous how crazy-good the final four contestants were.  Some of these new age producers are really thinking outside the box, that is outside the box with how they are constructing the beats, and the sounds were very refreshing to say the least.

Thanks again to Sha Money and I definitely recommend this conference to any up and coming Hip Hop producer for two main reasons:

1) It’s a great place to easily network with some name brand guys because the vibe is “we’re all in this together”.

2) It’s a great place to get your work out there if you really have an amazing talent.

Belgium’s Squarelectric Releases Debut Album

SquarElectric is a duo, consisting of Belgian drummer/producer Michael Schack and DJ/Electro wizz Steve Pittoors.

In the early 2000s, Steve and Michael met backstage at music festivals in Belgium and sometimes at an Antwerp petrol station filling up their cars. By 2005, they started exchanging musical ideas and their first demo track, “Sex & Death”, immediately turned heads on Broadjam.com.

Both being perfectionists and total music addicts, they continued composing, recording and tweaking their compositions, which resulted in a finished first “solo” album for both of them. Through their joint connections, this SquarElectric album features guest appearances by Chuck D (Public Enemy), Joseph Bowie (Defunkt), Hans Dulfer (Candy’s dad) and David “Tweeky” Ahlund (Stockholm, Sweden) among others. It even includes a Chinese traditional love chant, totally remade into a challenging high energy “Drum’nBass’nSynth” track named 1000 Years.

For more information on the Squarelectric’s new album and to hear their latest projects, check out: http://www.myspace.com/squarelectric

Artist Impression: Producer & DJ Sharkey on V-Studio 100

Sharkey has performed and produced with such heavyweights as Eminem, Everlast, Mickey Petralia, Mario Caldato Jr., Jedi Mind Tricks, The Black Eyed Peas, and Wyclef Jean. His first solo album “Sharkey’s Machine” featured guest appearances by Cannibal Ox, The Pharcyde, Grand Puba of Brand Nubian and Cherrywine from Digable Planets.

2008’s Monster Maker with C-Rayz waltz was a critically acclaimed foray into the world of alternative hip hop.  In 2009 he’s set to release Dastardly with 2009 Grammy-nominated artist Kokayi.

Based in Maryland, but doing regular sessions in NYC, Nashville, and LA, not to mention DJ sets, we thought Sharkey might appreciate a sneak peek of the V-Studio 100…but we didn’t expect him to try to walk away with it.  Watch the video to hear his impressions and more.

Artist Impression: DJ Johnny Juice on V-Studio 100

Producer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and long time SONAR expert, Johnny Juice was an original member of the Bomb Squad at the age of 15, and has been doing productions for Public Enemy, Reverend Run, and countless others ever since.

The man is always working; his credo is “sleep is for the dead,” so he’s always looking for tools that speed up his workflow, travel with him,  and sound great…and if they can combine more than one function in one device, even better.

Because of his long history with SONAR and relentless schedule, we asked Juice to put the V-Studio 100 through its paces. Watch the video to find out if it passed his test.

“This unit is ridiculous.   I can bounce with it on the road and use it for backing tracks AND recording, and then import my work when I get back to my studio right from the SD card.”