Stamp The Wax is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a new ten-part edition of the platform’s Monday Morning Mixtape series, raising money for worthwhile causes.
The cassette-only releases have been compiled by a host of talented names from the electronic music world: Volume 1, Bradley Zero with Zipporah, raising money for Youth Music and SE15 Community Fund; Volume 2, CC:Disco! with Harri Pepper in aid of Casa T, Lisbon; Volume 3, George The Poet and Aaron L for African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust; Volume 4, Jenifa Mayanja and Mr Holiday in aid of MusiCares; and Volume 5, Pender Street Steppers with Rosie Ama for Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
Each instalment is accompanied by an original illustration from London-based DJ and artist Liv Ayers, who has previously contributed music and visual work to the Monday Morning Mixtape series, which has been running for eight years. The entire Stamp The Wax tenth anniversary cassette collection is available via the website’s Bandcamp until 9th November. Each double cassette is priced £14, or the full run can be bought for £45.
“Whether it’s through what we’ve made together, conversations shared offline or their own creative output, all five guests have played a pivotal role in moulding, inspiring and growing STW over the last decade. For them all to take part in this milestone project is a huge, huge honour,” said Stamp The Wax co-founder Aaron Levitt.
A new study by Black Lives In Music has revealed that the majority of Black artists and music professionals have faced racism and discrimination in their careers.
The survey is the largest ever conducted focusing on data from first hand experiences of Black musicians and other members of the music industry. It shows that most respondents had experienced direct or indirect discrimination, overt racism and micro aggressions.
Battling assumptions about what music they should be making and a lack of opportunities were regular occurrences. 40% of artists said they had felt the need to change their appearance, rising to 44% for Black women, who also face an average of £459 per month lower earnings than their white counterparts. Black women and people living with disabilities registered highest in terms of impact on their mental health, and overall more than 1/3 of those in the study believed their mental health had declined since starting a career in music.
The study exposes how 88% of Black music professionals agree there are barriers to their career progress, while just 49% have music-related qualifications compared with 69% for white artists. Three quarters of those who participated in the survey were dissatisfied with music industry support for Black artists. Just 38% earn their full income from music, compared with 69% of white artists, and well over half of Black music creators have seen white contemporaries promoted ahead of them, despite being more qualified.
“We see Black artists dominating the charts and making money, but [race and racism] still affects those artists’ careers, and the careers of Black execs working in positions behind the scenes,” said Sheryl Nwosu, a lawyer and chair of Black Music Coalition. “That is unfortunately the nasty business of racism. That is the nasty business of not seeing a person in front of you as an equal, not seeing the person in front of you as equally worthy as any other person.”
“I always say that you have to be obsessed with music and super passionate to be in a career like this,” said singer-songwriter Estée Blu. “Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense, especially for a Black woman who is of darker complexion. In this country, we just don’t see visibility for women who look like me.”
The Black Lives In Music report is now available to read in full, and includes several recommendations, such as the creation of an anti-racism support service for the music industry. Last year, The Recording Academy, which runs the Grammy Awards, and Color of Change launched #ChangeMusic roadmap, aiming to create racial justice within the organisation and wider music industry.
In May, Black Artist Database expanded its platform to include a number of initiatives aimed at helping people search, contact, and directly support Black-owned businesses and artists in the music sector.
A new electronic music museum, Our House, is opening in Amsterdam on Friday 29th October. The team responsible are touting the Amstelstraat site as the first truly modern museum dedicated to electronic music culture.
Inside visitors can expect six exhibitions and 15 installations, with contributions from Carl Cox, The Frankie Knuckles Foundation, Charlotte de Witte, Armin van Buuren, and Kevin Saunderson, among others. Flyers, photo galleries, interactive turntables, drum machines, documentaries and a 4D audio-visual experience — ‘The Culture Ride’ — also form part of the institution.
Fittingly, Our House is located at the address once occupied by iT, one of the Dutch capital’s first house music clubs which ran from 1989 through to 2002, later briefly reopening before closing permanently in 2004.
“Together with more than 150 international artists, promoters, creatives, producers, curators, operators and DJs, we have worked for the last two years on the realisation of the collection,” said Our House co-founder, Jeroen Jansen.
Elsewhere in Europe, Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) is also set to open this month. Meanwhile, UK heads can still check out London’s Horniman Museum, which is currently hosting ‘Dance Can’t Nice: Exploring London’s Black Music Spaces‘, which includes content on garage, grime, bashment, jazz, and more.
Duval Timothy has announced a new album with Rosie Lowe. ‘Son’ will be released on Friday 12th November, and you can listen to the title track below.
The new album was recorded in London and Free Town, Sierra Leone, between 2019 and 2020, the two cities where Timothy — a fine art graduate from Central Saint Martin’s college — is based. Lowe joined the artist for one week in February last year to create the tracks, bringing friends Daniel Koroma, Tom Herbert, Coker, Kandeh Bangura, Valetine, and Chino Greene along for contributions.
Musically, the record gives a strong nod to Lowe and Timothy’s love of choral music, layering ovals and instrumentation including piano harmonies, while also employing the heavy use of sampling. It is inspired by ideas of ‘true colours’, identity, and social expectations as to what it means to fit in.
A children’s book, created by Timothy, is set to accompany the release, which will be published by the label behind the album, Carrying Colour. This latest outing follows his work on the score to Akinola Davis Jr’s short film, ‘Untitled’, and ‘Help’, last year’s album featuring the likes of Mr. Mitch, Lil Silva, Melanie Faye, Vegyn, and Twin Shadow.
The buzz online makes it clear: plenty of people still want the immediacy of the Roland SP-404 sampler. An MKII has been long anticipated – not to mention leaked – so let’s get directly into what’s new, and find out what else you want to know.
The SP-404MKII is really a major third-generation improvement on the SP-404 original – still with that instantly-recognizable design (and some vintage Roland lettering), still with the effects that made it popular, but now with a workflow that expands (but doesn’t complicate) the 404. And “MKII” even makes sense, as this is a much bigger leap from the 404s before than the SX was over the 2005 original.
There is, in theory, an MKII coming this direction and I’m touch with Roland, so glad to answer any questions you’ve got. I won’t even make you sit through a video, either. But I know from years and years of people playing the 404s and begging Roland to make a new one just how important it is. It’s just got a workflow that’s different from other stuff out there, and even in the age of endless software options, and evolving hardware competitors, it’s a category all its own.
As you can see straight away from the images, the MKII keeps the recognizable form factor of the 2005 classic SP-404, down to that signature layout – 4×4 mini-pads at the base, four knobs on top, circular display with rounded buttons on either side.
It just now looks a lot less toy-like, and the central display is a nice high-res OLED instead of, uh, three LED segment numbers. Let’s check the rest of the specs, though, past the obvious cosmetic features…
By the numbers
16 GB internal storage (including preload, but seems you can delete that).
16 minutes per sample – so, yeah, finally Roland has an entry-level sampling device onto which you can load long samples and backing tracks. (The total user sample time – not per-sample, for everything – is 6 minutes of stereo on the MC-101/707, by contrast.)
Tons of storage slots, too – 16 samples/patterns x 10 banks x 16 projects = 2560 samples or patterns, each.
25 seconds “skip back” sampling captures the last half minute of anything you’re performing.
Native 16-bit WAV, AIFF, MP3, plus FLAC + M4A on the app.
2 input effect types, 37 multi-effect types.
SD card slot is available for import/export and backup/restore – now, you can’t actually expand past that 16 GB, but thanks to the storage and maximum sample length limit, you’re fine for most use cases (at least most 404-style use cases).
I/O – line out and in, mig/guitar in and out (1/4″ only, no XLR, but it’s a low-profile unit).
MIDI minijacks, in and out – guess we’re going to have to start just carrying minijack cables for MIDI instead of full-sized MIDI DIN.
USB-C connector both for audio and MIDI. (Finally!)
And it runs on AAs – both alkalines and rechargeable NiMH, or over USB to anything else. (There’s a 1.5A bus power supply and AC adapter in the box, too, so there’s kind of no way you can’t power this thing. I’d say you can’t use solar panels, but you probably can via that USB-C port.)
On those AAs, Roland estimates 2.5 hours continuous use – 3.5 hours on NiMH. But if that’s not enough, I’d look hard at the USB port and a power bank.
In short, this hardware is everything most samplers – from Roland or its competition – aren’t. It’s busking ready, in that it actually will run on batteries. It has massive sample storage. It’s got built-in effects. And it’s still set up to be easy to use and immediate, not a menu-diving labyrinth.
And then there’s the editing. Now that it has that OLED display, you get zoomable waveform views, real-time audio chopping right on the hardware, and an auto-chop feature (that last one I’ll have to test). There’s envelope and pitch shift. You also can re-record patterns and effect layers, which you couldn’t do before, so resampling workflows are now a thing. Plus if you’re jamming and do something inspired, you have that last half-minute of sound saved.
The other appeal of the 404 is obviously that it’s a big multi-effects toybox. So, in short, Roland are bringing the old effects back, and adding some new ones.
“Legacy” classics: Vinyl Simulator, DJFX Looper.
New: Lo-fi, Cassette Simulator, Resonator.
And new with the mic/guitar in: Vocoder, Audio Pitch, Guitar Amp Simulator.
2005 is almost long enough ago that some people will want those old SP-404 effects for nostalgia’s sake; they’re there. I’m talking to Roland as I’m curious about the internal architecture and where this fits in with the company’s hardware engineering strategies generally and what the guts are based on.
There are also expanded sequencer features:
Adjustable input quantize
Adjustable shuffle / custom swing
Pad Link now lets you tap one pad and trigger multiple pads
BPM-per-bank – so to switch tempo, you can switch from one bank to another.
You can also chain patterns into sets for automated playback.
Customization and Cloud
Wait, you can customize the logo when it starts up?
Also, they’re going to make a downloadable faceplate template, so … if anyone wants a CDM IDM edition, let me know.
There’s also now a companion app and of course – this being 2021 Roland – that links to Roland Cloud Manager. The big thing there is expanding file format compatibility beyond what is available on the hardware itself. That includes the aforementioned FLAC (nerds!). But you can also convert SP-404SX and SP404A projects.
Roland Cloud is pushing sample content, too, so they promise more downloads there.
Price, availability, and how this stacks up to SP-404 history
Roland took a new direction in 2000, paring back the feature-crammed 90s sampling workstations to stuff that was friendly to quick looping and sampling. It began with the BOSS “Dr. Sample” SP-202 and SP-303 (hi there, Fat Boy Slim), but then they took the hands-on sampling and friendly form factor and dial-in effects and upped everything with the SP-404:
96 patterns (or 24 without external CompactFlash)
29 effects types
772 minutes of sampling on a 1GB CompactFlash card
The original was no slouch, even by today’s standards – and is mainly limited only by some basic sequencing features and a lack of modern effects. It’s also more limited in I/O – mic input, but no guitar in (line in only). MIDI IN, but no MIDI OUT. And of course no computer connection, which may be the biggest inconvenience now. It’s also, well, homely in a 2005 Roland way.
It’s a lot of fun as a sampler, and quickly established that simple workflow. Plus you get a lot of effects: tempo-synced looper, Subsonic, reverb, delay, and that Voice Transformer.
Wih the SP-404, in other words, Roland had a worthy rival to KORG’s Electribe series with a character all its own. And since then, Roland has basically been sticking to that SP-404 template:
The 555 is the 404 expanded, essentially – Loop Capture, USB audio, WAV/AIFF, a phandom-powered mic in (which you still don’t get on the new 404), and yeah this was the D BEAM wireless and V-LINK VJ era. It was also intended to work as a computer companion, with Cakewalk SONAR (Roland owned Cakewalk at the time).
You also got new effects – Super Filter and DJFX Looper.
I actually would not mind seeing an MKII of the SP-555, honestly, maybe with vocal features targeted on that mic input. (For now, it seems the equivalent of that is the Verselab MV-1. It’s got the mic in; it’s got the vocal effects.)
In its day, at least, the expanded form factor and features for the SP-555 meant it was positioned as a bigger sibling to the SP-404, not a successor. That upgrade came with the SX:
The SX update to the 404 is the machine with a more modern sound engine and effects. (Of course, you might like the used original if you want a lo-fi sound – note that lo-fi effects are exactly what Roland has added to the MKII, albeit simulating retro gear. Everything goes around.)
More pattern features.
Sub Pad introduces rapid triggering.
It was also what we’d call in technical terms “generally less fugly,” though maybe loses some of the original’s quirky charm.
Why was it called a Linear Wave Sampler? I’m sure there’s an answer to that, but yeah, it’s weird. (Nonlinear wave sampling?)
Reading the PR from 2009, it’s also clear that Roland recognized the SP-404 line was becoming versatile enough as to be used sort of by everyone — allowing “DJs, musicians, and sound engineers to trigger samples and jingles and apply effects on the fly at the club, gig, or theater.” Well, that’s broad.
It was also much easier to import sounds on the SX, and shuffle and quantize were more flexible.
All of this means that the SX was really the biggest update before today.
The SP-404A was probably the least auspicious update in Roland’s sampler history – it’s basically an SP-404SX with a new black-and-green paint job and some different effects. (The “A” stands for “AIRA.”) Making matters duller, it launched alongside two genuinely cool Boutique series products – the TR-08 and SH-01A.
But the fact that people still sought out the 404A suggests that the SX was already a pretty decent upgrade even a full hardware generation later. Just if you are looking for a used SX or A, they’re identical and you should get whichever is cheaper and/or in better condition.
2021 – SP-404MKII
This is a heck of a sequel. It’s just a huge leap forward in storage, display, sequencing, and effects features, without dropping what made the original appealing. And it remains one of the most playable, immediate samplers on the market in any category.
I think it also manages actually sampling in a way stuff like the MC-101/707 just does not. (The machine in Roland’s current range that maybe is the direct competitor, as noted in comments – the MV-1.)
The big difference is, you have a lot of new options for what to sample with – including software and iOS apps, to say nothing of advanced offerings from Elektron, 1010music, Novation, and others.
So do let us know what you want to know.
Experienced SP-404 users with questions?
Heck, why not – owners of gear from Elektron, software, and others? These days, I’m not sure there are any hard barriers between markets.
Oddly the best 404 history isn’t on Roland’s own site but Reverb.com:
A series of rare Studio 54 images, along with a new 8-bit video game based on the seminal New York club, have been developed into NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in collaboration with the SuperRare marketplace, raising money for charities in the process.
The first part of the project comprises four visual works, each featuring digitised film photographs, collages, and mixed-media slide shows celebrating the heyday of New York disco, none of which have ever been seen before.
Pictures were first captured by Bill Bernstein, a Big Apple nightlife photographer who garnered a reputation for shooting inside Studio 54 from a documentarian’s perspective. The content itself focuses on the dancefloor, party people, and High NRG sound pioneer, Patrick Cowley, who, among other things, produced for iconic vocalist Sylvester.
A separate NFT, centred on post-disco institution Paradise Garage, also features in the series of drops, which culminated with a final sale on Monday 11th October, coinciding with National Coming Out Day in the US. The project also precedes Bernstein’s new book, ‘Last Dance’, which dives into New York nightlife between 1977 and 1981. Proceeds are being donated to LGBTQ+ organisation, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute.
In addition to the photo-based offerings, SuperRare Labs has collaborated on a new 8-bit video game based on Studio 54, ‘PIXEL 54’, again delivered as NFT works. Split over four drops, with the last landing this Friday 15th October, each features a unique, loopable pixel art animation, produced by Uriel Gomez and Victor Athayde, known for their work with Netflix.
Contents also include original music featured on two new releases from offshoot label Studio 54 Music, which launched last year. ‘Night Magic Vol.1’ comprises anthems from the eponymous club reimagined by contemporary disco heads, namely Razor-N-Tap boss JKRIV and DFA producer Morgan Whiley. Tunes by Don Ray/Cerrone, Voyage, and T-Connection have received the re-edit treatment.
Meanwhile, ‘Help Yo Self’ is a forthcoming maxi-single from Jitwam & TEYMORI, with tracks focused on mental health and self-help. A portion of royalties, plus 10%, will go to Sound Mind Live, which works to open dialogue around mental health through the power of music.
Roland has officially introduced the SP-404 MKII, a major update to the SP-404 sampler design with a vivid OLED display, 17 expressive pads, expanded effects, fluid sequencing and sampling, and a massive sample library.
Here’s what they have to say about it:
“Lightning-fast boot time, project loading, and sample import will have you knocking out beats in no time. Plus, 16 GB of internal storage give you ample space to store your creations or have your favorite samples at the ready. Whether you’re a beatmaking newbie or an SP pro, you’ll feel right at home with the intuitive layout and classic SP effects, plus a revamped sampling and sequencing workflow, Skip Back Sampling for quick performance capture, DJ mode to mix beats live, and more.
The SP-404MKII makes on the go beatmaking even easier. With its lightweight-yet-rugged design and expanded features, this unit is ideal for making amazing sounding beats on the move. Run it on AA or mobile battery power, capture audio from or stream directly to your mobile device via USB, or collab with a partner using the dual headphones outputs and mic/guitar input.
With the SP-404MKII’s vivid OLED screen and zoomable waveform view, sample editing is smooth?as silk. Chop up samples by tapping out edit points in real time?or?slice samples automatically.?Then finesse them with envelope and pitch shift.?Use the new resampling workflow to re-record patterns and effects layers for detailed sound design. And with?Skip Back Sampling, you can?preserve?those?fire?moments by capturing?up to 25 seconds of audio from your last?jam.?Now, it’s never been easier to?dial in and?cook up?beats?the moment inspiration strikes.”
OLED display for visual waveform editing, full menu access, and more
17 velocity-sensitive, RGB pads with no-click design for smooth playability
Faster workflow with quick startup and load times, 16 GB internal storage, low-latency pads, and rapid sample editing
Compact, ultra-lightweight design (2.6 lb./1.2 kg) with versatile power options: USB-C, mobile battery (via USB-C port), six AA batteries, or AC adaptor
Extensive onboard effects, including SP classics like Vinyl Simulator and DJFX Looper, new Lo-fi, Cassette Simulator, and Resonator effects, and dedicated Vocoder, Auto Pitch, and Guitar Amp Simulator effects for the mic/guitar input
32-voice polyphony, 160 samples per project, and 16 internal projects for expanded programming possibilities
Blazing onboard sample editing with real-time or auto-chop mode, auto BPM detect, envelope, pitch shift, and resampling for layering sounds and phrases
Pre-loaded sound library with 144 high-quality, professionally recorded samples and patterns
Extensive customization options with removable metal faceplate, downloadable outline template, multiple screensavers, and personalized startup logos
Upgraded I/O includes 1/4-inch line in/out, 1/4-inch mic/guitar input, 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch headphones outputs, and 1/8-inch TRS MIDI in/out
New resampling workflow for re-recording with various effects for detailed sound design
Audio capture and streaming supported with mobile devices and computers via USB-C
Skip Back Sampling to automatically capture up to 25 seconds of audio from your last performance
Bus FX for layering multiple effects, with customizable routing for creating intricate sound textures
Adjustable quantization and shuffle percentage across multiple note resolutions to customize swing
Pattern sequencer with the ability to create full songs with BPM per bank, ideal for running backing tracks or programming performances
Chain patterns for automatic playback and use Pad Link to trigger up to four samples with a single press
DJ Mode enables new approaches to live performance by manipulating and mixing two separate audio files
SP-404MKII editor software for Mac and Windows provides direct sample access, detailed waveform editing, sample management, pad assignment, and import of MIDI files and legacy SP-404SX and SP-404A projects
Pricing and Availability
The Roland SP-404 mkII is expected to be available in November 2021, with a street price of about $500.
This past May, Avicii’s hometown of Stockholm made the commendable decision to rebrand its iconic Ericsson Globe—a place where Avicii himself headlined in 2012—to the Avicii Arena in honor of the late dance music legend. To follow through on the Avicii Arena’s intention of shining a light on mental health awareness, the Stockholm venue has now announced its debut event in remembrance of Avicii with the For A Better Day concert on December 1.
Scheduled just four days shy of the two-year anniversary of the Avicii Tribute Concert, For A Better Day will be hosted in partnership with the Tim Bergling Foundation within the 15,000-person capacity venue and is planned to be an annual event each December. The mission-driven event will see performances from Swedish artists like Galantis, Miriam Bryant as well as Ella Tiritiello and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who shared a chilling rendition of “For A Better Day” when the arena name change was first disclosed. The For A Better Day concert will be conducted by Stefan Olsson—who led the Avicii Tribute Concert from 2019—and will feature “tributes to Avicii’s musical heritage as well as collaborations and surprise guests” in addition to other mental health awareness initiatives. Klas Bergling shared a powerful message about mental health along with the For A Better Day concert announcement, stating,
“I hope we succeed in creating a feeling that we really do this together, because it is only together that we can make a difference. Young people are our future and we must be afraid for them. It is unacceptable that they are getting worse and that suicide rates are rising in that group – and it is our duty to do what we can to break that trend.”
For A Better Day tickets will be available here on October 13 beginning at 2:00 PM EST.
David Guetta has won the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll 2021. Guetta has retained the No.1 spot that he claimed last year, a decade after he was first crowned the world’s No.1 DJ back in 2011.
The Frenchman now joins an elite grouping of Dutch DJs — Martin Garrix, Tiësto and Armin van Buuren — who have won the Top 100 vote three times or more.
“It’s wonderful, I’m so happy,” David said to DJ Mag about his win. “To do it two times in a row as well — it’s the third time, but two times in a row is pretty crazy. It’s been an incredibly busy year for me, but it’s always nice when you work hard to feel like people can see it.
“I’ve been doing this for so many years, since I was playing funk records as a teenager. It’s amazing to be able to pursue your passion, and I just hope — cos I also started from nothing — that being No.1 after all these years is an inspiration to kids that are bedroom DJs like I was.”
As part of this year’s Top 100 DJs campaign, DJ Mag once again held Virtual Festivals every Saturday and Sunday during the voting period. The streams — which included sets from David Guetta, KSHMR, Timmy Trumpet and Miss K8 — racked up well over 5.7 million views in total.
The Top 100 DJs results were announced live on stage at the Top 100 DJs Awards, presented by AMF, which took place at Amsterdam’s AFAS Live. Guests at the event — and the millions watching the live stream around the world — were treated to performances from Afrojack, Alan Walker, Armin van Buuren (Highest Trance DJ), Avalan, Christina Novelli, Don Diablo (Highest Future House DJ), Carnage/GORDO (Highest Returning DJ), Mariana BO, MORTEN (Highest New Entry), Oliver Heldens and W&W.
Also announced during the Top 100 DJs Award show were two editorial choice awards, selected by DJ Mag’s editors to recognise the contribution of artists making a significant impact outside the scope of Top 100 DJs voting. Japanese artist Qrion — whose rise since debuting on Anjunadeep in 2019 has been meteoric — was presented with the Future Star award. Detroit techno architect Kevin Saunderson — fresh from rebooting his E-Dancer project with a remix album on Drumcode and appearing on the cover of DJ Mag North America — was given the Lifetime Achievement award.
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected a lot of elements of the international electronic dance music scene, but it doesn’t seem to have dented the enthusiasm of dance music fans — an incredible 1.3 million people voted in the Top 100 DJs poll this year, matching last year’s total, cementing Top 100 DJs position as the biggest music poll in the world.
Most voters in this year’s Top 100 DJs came from prime clubbing age ranges, with 40% of votes coming from 18-24-year-olds and 40% from the 25-34 age range. However, with clubs and festivals still closed or cancelled for most of the year, a lot of participants in the poll clearly based their votes on live-streamed sets or past favourites.
You can read David Guetta’s Top 100 DJs 2021 profile here.
The photo used in this article is from the Top 100 DJs 2020 ceremony
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