Adam Jay on building live techno sets on Elektron gear – and why you should stay punk

The system has failed us, but not Adam Jay. He’s here to show us how he rigs up his latest live techno sets. And he can make 3 tiny waveforms on a $300 Elektron make you want to dance.

There’s some fantastic music here, so feel free to sit back or get up and let your smartphone’s step counter know you’re still very much alive. But if you’re wondering how anyone plays like this live, he talks us through his setup.

And yeah, if you need any added motivation to work on your chops as stay-at-home producer in isolation, this is like a free cross-training decathlon intensive master class. It’s not about amassing a lot of gear – what the Indianapolis-based artist with a deep Detroit soul has amassed is a ton of skill.

A single-cycle exercise

“The System Has Failed Us” is a live techno track that channels “frustration with our current global predicament”:

…how our leaders have failed us and how we must work together to overcome the reckless choices made by those who have abused their power. I could not sleep last night and had to get this out of my system.

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The track was a way to exorcise frustration, but also served as an exercise in minimalism:

[It’s] all single cycle samples. Trying to find out how far I could push the machine with the minimum amount of source material – and it’s only three separate single cycle sample .wavs at that, using them across 6 tracks on the Model Samples.

The rig:

  • Elektron Model:Samples, with 3 single-cycle samples (556 bytes in length!), across six tracks
  • “Heavy” LFO modulation for the kick and bass and hat (so you get them out of the same waveforms)
  • Model:Samples output hits an Alesis Micro Limiter and some light Octatrack effects (EQ/Compressor)
  • Midi Fighter Twister controller controls a bass equalizer (also hosted on the Octatrack).

In a nice instance of Elektron sonic recycling, those 556 bytes x 3 were originally produced by an Elektron Digitone (kick, bass) and Analog Four (hat). The samples were created by Taro, and you can grab them for yourself – they’re free:

A full-length set – and how it’s structured

That’s one track, but here’s an expanded set.

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I was really curious about how he puts the pieces together. So Adam details the setup for CDM. The basic idea here is to play the Model:Samples as the main sound source, but use additional Alesis hardware and some clever performance routings on the Octatrack for dynamics processing and (on the Octatrack) messing about with re-sampling loops and adding effects.

The Octatrack is the performance command station, both with additional loops, effects, routing the Model:Samples, and additional control via the MIDI Fighter Twister for hands-on encoder moves. The ingredients:

  • Elektron Octatrack is MIDI clock host, sending clock to the Model:Samples
  • Elektron Model:Samples is the sound source for “all the material”
  • Model:Samples signal chain: Alesis MicroLimiter > Octatrack AB input
  • Octatrack track 3 is a THRU track (Model:Samples with Compressor and EQ in the two effects slots)
  • Track 7 is a FLEX track, “recording/looping/mangling the T3/Model:Samples audio.
  • Track 5 is another FLEX track “with just some other very short loops previously recorded, made on the Model:Samples with heavy EQ filtering and Dark Reverb in the the two FX slots. Re-sequenced on Track 5 on the fly, as needed.”
  • Track 8 Master “has a dark reverb that I tweak during some of the dubbier bits.”

And then there’s control: “The Midi Fighter Twister controller goes through a USB MIDI host box to convert USB-A to 5 PIN DIN MIDI. The Twister controls Octatrack levels, EQs, reverb sends, allowing me to creatively mix between the thru and flex tracks, without any paging around on the Octatrack.”

Now obviously, keeping these tunes together means there’s some pre-programming – but then it’s about the ability to mess with it, thanks to the routing above. He explains:

Ultimately, each tune is a single Model Samples pattern, tweaked and freaked live. And the Octatrack is there to loop it, effect it, and mix the live-looped Model:Samples for transitions.

The conceptual approach is to use the 6-track limitation as an advantage and make sure each sound is a good fit, since there are so few tracks to work with — and to set up the patterns so they can be played live in interesting ways that keep moving and stay dance-y.

Hooks are heavily filter-modulated and the Model:Sample’s Pioneer DJM-style low-pass/high-pass filter is very beneficial in this regard. They often come from small recorded Analog Four synth phrases that have some motion in them already, modulating start point and/or filter brings them to life. Bass lines are often the same samples as the kicks, with the start point shaved to take off the attack, and then pitch/distortion/filter to get them grooving. The latch-able FILL mode often works as seventh track, mostly for pattern variation, as each tune is only a single pattern.

Cramming in as much dance-able content into each pattern was the key to keeping it interesting. The Octatrack just adds a bit of trickery-flair and keeps the transitions seamless. I was a DJ first, so my live sets have always had that mixed element to them.

Keep techno punk

Oh yeah, and Adam has a message for you: stay punk. Play cheap.

Doing all the creation on the Model:Samples is also a big middle finger to those who like to poo-poo low cost instruments to make themselves feel better about their $3,000 synthesizer expenditures – the people who call instruments without a long list of features “cheap plastic toys” and never add anything of substance to the conversation.

Techno should be more punk, more visceral, and more pushing what you have to the limits. Some of the most inspiring stuff I’ve ever heard in my life came from an old friend on his Roland R-8 [drum machine] through an AIWA boombox. I’m all for Elektron and Korg and Roland and Novation pushing out inspiring, capable instruments to the masses. Everyone should have the option to be able to express themselves and get their message across, no matter what their budget is.

This narrative that now that Elektron is more appealing, and more affordable to people who can’t afford the Digi or big boxes… that the “glory days are over”? Oh man, I couldn’t disagree more. The most creative, brilliant, and under-served people I know are the ones who can only afford the $299 instrument. Even before the pandemic, they were struggling, disadvantaged, living life day to day, check to check, working multiple jobs. They are no less deserving of quality tools to express themselves.

I would argue that creating this lower entry point to far more people is when the glory days actually begin. Far more music will be made on these boxes by a greater number of people. And that number will include more young people, and more disadvantaged people than before. This excites me the most. Their voices are equally valid and should be equally valued. If that reach, that influence on the populace is less “glorious” than a metal case with more LFOs, then I think some have lost the plot.

Music is here to connect humans together. The connection I have with someone else I do not know, when I hear and enjoy their music… it’s like nothing else in the world. Why on Earth would anyone want to keep the gates up on that? Why would anyone want to wall themselves in with only the people who can afford more expensive tools?

For some musical evidence of that, Adam has pulled off not one but three exceptional, forward-thinking electro albums on Detroit Underground, including this year’s terrific Inoperable Data (a title that kind of sums up our brains right now, too).

Have a listen. No further witnesses; the defense rests.

You might want to have a look at that one, too, as there are videos for every single track:

And for still more Adam Jay action, check the mastering credits for the likes of Mike Parker, Noncompliant, Daniel Troberg, and Kero. (To butcher the 1980s BASF ad, Adam didn’t create some of the music you hear. He’s made some of the music you hear bang harder.)

Thanks, Adam, we may be checking in with you routinely in these strange times!

Insomniac keeps rave-a-thons coming with Escape Psycho Circus stream

Insomniac keeps rave-a-thons coming with Escape Psycho Circus streamIvan Meneses For Insomniac Events 7

Insomniac may not be hosting live festivals, but the events giant is doing its best to keep fans entertained and music content alive despite the ongoing lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizer will be broadcasting another virtual rave-a-thon this weekend, this time featuring their Halloween brand, Escape Psycho Circus.

The upcoming rave-a-thon will be Insomniac’s fifth week in a row hosting a themed virtual party to celebrate their flagship festival themes. The announcement follows the recent Nocturnal Wonderland virtual rave-a-thon, hosted by Pasquale Rotella. Rotella took to Twitter to announce the upcoming Escape Psycho Circus themed event, slated to run this weekend, April 17 and 18 from 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. (PST).

The event saw more than 3 million viewers tuned in to Insomniac Events’ YouTube Channel. Past festivals virtually celebrated also include Beyond Wonderland, Countdown, and HARD Festivals. No lineup has been announced yet, but featured artists will likely follow before the end of the week.

Featured image: Ivan Mendes

Zeds Dead, Channel Tres, REZZ, and more slated for multi-stage virtual festival Room Service

Zeds Dead, Channel Tres, REZZ, and more slated for multi-stage virtual festival Room ServiceRoom Service Poster 2020

Following the success of Digital Mirage, Proximity has returned for another virtual festival in partnership with Trap Nation and Chill Nation. The three-day endeavor Room Service will take place April 24-26 and feature a plethora of artists across diverse genres, from Yungblud, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Chromeo to Zeds Dead, Channel Tres, GRiZ, Borgore, and more. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the event’s partner charities working to support those impacted by COVID-19, Sweet Relief and Feeding America—following on the success of Digital Mirage in its $300,000 fundraising efforts.

Room Service looks to take the virtual festival experience to the next level, with its multi-stage highlight. Utilizing The Nations’ behemoth Youtube platform, its genre-centric channels—including their most popular Trap Nation and Chill Nation—will operate as separate stages and allow for simultaneous streaming. The weekend festivities will also encompass live programming such as studio sessions, artist interviews, and fundraising.

The massive roster of electronic talent will encompass Dombresky, k?d, Netsky, Lido, Malaa, CloZee, REZZ, Oliver Heldens, Sullivan King, WHIPPED CREAM, and many more.

Find out more information and RSVP here. See the full lineup below.

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Dillon Francis and BabyJake remain undefeated with ‘Touch’

Dillon Francis and BabyJake remain undefeated with ‘Touch’Dillon Francis BabyJake 2

Recently Dillon Francis and BabyJake showcased impressive house chops on their lightly spirited track “You Do You.” In a quick follow up, they’re showing off their collaborative versatility with their second effort. “Touch” sees Francis and Jake take a modern approach on the retro-pop sound. It’s a feel good bop that ups the duo’s undefeated joint record to 2 – 0.

“Touch” adds to Francis’ massive output over the last month, including multiple live streams every week from Francis and friends like DJ Hanzel and Diplo. Additionally, Francis and BabyJake shared an affectionate music video to accompany “You Do You.”

Premiere: Roel Salemink – Eskes (Carl Cox Pure Remix)

Premiere: Roel Salemink – Eskes (Carl Cox Pure Remix)Elephant Studio Carl Co

Roel Salemink is no stranger to Intec; it thus feels right that his first release of 2020 would land on the storied imprint in the form of Eskes. The eponymous single, a euphoria-inducing melodic cut, was so catchy that the label co-founder himself, Carl Cox, opted to put his own touch on it. The resulting Pure Remix is what we have the pleasure of premiering today.

“Eskes” stands on its own as a club—or should we say, solo rave anthem. Its cheery topline with touches of acid beneath bring to mind carefree, nostalgic moments. Continuing on this tip, Carl Cox changes up the instrumentation, ups the tempo, and adds in arpeggiated, orchestral harmonics to boost the cheer factor further. Piano stabs additionally heighten the nostalgic sentiments conveyed in Salemink’s original. One might agree that Carl’s remix is evocative of his bubbly personality beyond the decks.

Order a copy of “Eskes (Carl Cox Pure Remix)” here

Photo credit: Elephant Studios

Tomorrowland officially cancels 2020 event, eyes 2021 return

Tomorrowland officially cancels 2020 event, eyes 2021 return67666033 10156870334899177 5641950949346902016 O

That’s it—the nail in festival season’s coffin. Tomorrowland has officially cancelled its 2020 event, postponing its 16th run until the summer of 2021. After what looked to be an imminent postponement debated at length by local Belgian authorities, Tomorrowland has released an official statement announcing the event’s total cancellation. Tomorrowland will return next year, running two back-to-back weekends on July 16 – 18 and July 23 – 25. Ticket holders will be contacted individually in the coming days with specific refund details.

Tomorrowland is the latest festival to fold its 2020 iteration altogether, following Burning Man, Ultra Music Festival, BUKU, Governors Ball, and many more. Read the festival’s full statement below.

The People of Tomorrow has been a large, lively, and warm global community for more than 15 years. We share the same passion: listening to great music, discovering magnificent places, making new friends from all over the world, enjoying life to the fullest, and looking after each other as one big family. It makes us unique. It makes us who we are in everyday life. And it ensures that we can overcome the greatest challenges together.

Tomorrowland 2020 had all the ingredients to become one of the most outstanding editions: unseen creative ideas, brand-new indoor and outdoor concepts, an amazing lineup, and – as always – the most beautiful international crowd in the world.

Unfortunately, due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, these are exceptional times for all of us. In recent weeks, we have had a lot of consultation with the local and national government in Belgium and with a panel of international experts about the two festival weekends we are all so passionate about. It’s our mission to unite souls from all over the world, but it’s also our top priority to look after the well-being, health, and safety of the People of Tomorrow, our partners and suppliers, our neighbors, the artists, and our team.

With a lot of pain in our hearts, we have to inform you that Tomorrowland cannot take place in 2020. We understand and support the governmental order that has just been issued. The 16th edition of Tomorrowland will take place in the summer of 2021 (July 16–18 and July 23–25).

This situation is extremely hard on us all. As a community, we are sad, disappointed, and angry – but also hopeful, because we know that we are much stronger than this setback. What we started together in 2005 became a strong global symbol. We will triumph together and will continue to unite.

But first we have to ensure that the event industry overcomes this. Tomorrowland – just like all other major events – is only possible thanks to a network of hundreds of suppliers and thousands of collaborators, working for over a year toward our beloved festival. A lot of talented artists, creative companies, and hardworking and passionate people – including our own team – are now in the eye of the storm and are going through difficult times. We will need to be resilient, support each other, and be flexible to ensure there will still be an event industry at all.

Anyone who was planning to experience Tomorrowland in July 2020 will now have dozens of questions. That makes perfect sense, and we fully understand. 

Every Main Buyer will be contacted by email and within the Tomorrowland Account with more specific information in the following days. 

Despite the enormous disappointment, we would like to call on everyone again to follow their local government’s guidelines closely. Stay at home, wash your hands, and keep your distance from one another. Do it for yourself, your loved ones, and the exceptional medical staff all over the world who are working around the clock.

Take good care of each other and stay safe.

Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever,


Major Lazer lay infectious dancehall spin over The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’

Major Lazer lay infectious dancehall spin over The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’Major Lazer The Weeknd Blidning Lights Artwork

The Weeknd’s After Hours has, by all measures, been the most successful record of 2020 so far. The album made history propelling The Weeknd to the top slot on five Billboard charts at once. Now, in case the inescapably catchy “Blinding Lights” isn’t still lodged in your head after spending nearly a full month atop the Hot 100 chart, Major Lazer is here to offer their own take on The Weeknd’s shimmering 80s pop-inspired smash with a complementary dancehall spin on the track.

Following a quick tease of the remix on a recent livestream and then a folk-leaning endeavor with Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford on “Lay Your Head On Me,” Major Lazer are firmly back within dancehall territory once again to take on The Weeknd’s sweeping heartbreak ballad. Swapping the original’s uptempo clip for breezy percussion and soca-inspired rhythms, Major Lazer give the Canadian R&B star’s After Hours standout an extended shelf life with an aced new remix effort.

Tomorrowland 2020 officially cancelled due to coronavirus

Tomorrowland 2020 has been officially cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of rumours and deliberation, it was revealed today by Belgium’s National Security Council at a press conference that all large scale events would be banned until 31st August.

“With a lot of pain in our hearts, we have to inform you that Tomorrowland cannot take place in 2020,” the festival shared in an official statement. “We understand and support the governmental order that has just been issued.”

Tomorrowland has, however, shared the official dates for next year’s festival, which will take place from the 16-18 July and 23 – 25 July 2021. 

Tomorrowland has also shared that all tickets purchased for this year’s festival will be carried over to 2021, though no information has yet been given about the possibility of getting refunds. “As a general guideline, we can already say that all tickets will be transferred to Tomorrowland 2021,” the statement reads. “This is not an easy operation, but we will strive to email everyone personally within the next week and provide an update in your personal Tomorrowland account. Please also visit, where we will keep you updated about the next steps.”

You can read Tomorrowland’s full statement below. 

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Burning Man 2020 would also be cancelled.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen innumerable festivals cancelled or postponed, and countless clubs closed indefinitely, DJ Mag are asking our readers — if they can — to support venues and other nightlife causes that are under threat. We have curated a support directory here, demonstrating the ways you can help. 

Beatport adds David Guetta, Tiësto to second edition of ReConnect

Beatport adds David Guetta, Tiësto to second edition of ReConnect12 31 18 DavidGuetta@BNY ByPoselskiPhotos 11

Beatport has announced phase two of their second installment of ReConnect, adding the likes of David Guetta/Jack Back, Tiësto, ARTBAT, and Flight Facilities to an already stacked lineup for its upcoming live stream event.

Featuring 36 DJs streaming for 36 hours in 36 locations, the April 17 event released a phase one lineup with heavy hitters such as Macro Plex, Boyz Noize, Claude VonStroke, Kaskade, and SOFI TUKKER. The event will be streamed on Beatport’s Twitch channel starting at 1 p.m. PST April 17.

The first ReConnect raised more than $180,000 for the AFEM (Association for Electronic Music) and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, as 8.5 million viewers tuned to see RÜFÜS DU SOL, GRiZ, Nina Kraviz and some more of dance music’s biggest names throw down for 33 straight hours.

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Photo credit: Poselski Photos

San Holo shares lulling third installment in ‘stay vibrant’ collection [Stream]

San Holo shares lulling third installment in ‘stay vibrant’ collection [Stream]San Holo Freddy Mercury Stance Goldrush Rukes

An amorphous outlet for new San Holo material that is not bound to an EP or studio album, stay vibrant has provided the producer a platform to share new music with his fanbase each Monday. After initiating this reliable release schedule on March 30 with “(if only i could) hold you,” San Holo ushered in the week of April 6 with “don’t forget to breathe today,” and has most recently completed a trifecta of fresh singles with “in the end i just want you to be happy.”

The reason for the stay vibrant archives is just to have a place where I can post music that I make that doesn’t necessarily belong to an EP or album or project.


Offering a less effervescent look at San Holo’s creative capacities, the third addition to the album 1 maker’s stay vibrant collection foregrounds the textured tin of guitar chords. There’s a soft, lullaby-like pulchritude to the subtle installment that allows the multi-instrumentalist to tap into his guitar sensibilities.

As a musician, I make a lot of music and obviously there will be tracks that I make that will fade away or drown at some point, which is a shame because I believe one of my strongest assets is the fact that I can actually make music in all kinds of genres.


In departing from the twinkling brand of future bass that San Holo has popularized, “in the end i just want you to be happy” does more than just offer listeners “a peek” inside San Holo’s “musical mind”: it also showcases his inventive proclivities with comforting resolve.

Photo credit: Rukes