Dave Smith brought us all closer together; Sequential and MIDI legend has died

Dave Smith was someone who brought all of us in electronic music instruments closer – and I don’t only mean through his contributions to MIDI.

News reached us yesterday that the legendary engineer had died at age 72. I’m not at all surprised that it happened as he was doing what he loves, following up a trip to Berlin and Superbooth with a modular synth event in Detroit. Dave was perpetually reaching out to others.

Here’s the official statement from our friends at Sequential:

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died.

We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists.”

I expect every obituary will begin the same way – Dave founded Sequential, makers of storied Prophets, instruments beloved by artists, and was known as the “father of MIDI” for his contribution to the specification that allowed standard expression of musical ideas and interconnected devices. And all of those things are true, and staggering in the impact they’ve had.

Of course, whenever you peel back the history, music technology is always about what’s interconnected between these names, forgiving any strained MIDI metaphor. People flocked to Dave as the face behind these truly prophetic instruments, true. But Dave’s utter warmth and energy, a sheer joy in making instruments, is what lit up all these projects. Synth engineers are not known particularly for their outgoing nature, but Dave consistently made an impact on anyone he met, even briefly.

Add to that Dave’s major contributions to polyphony, wavetable synthesis, soft synths, panel design, interaction — the list goes on.

For all the praise and criticism, what few of us have really talked about with MIDI is the cultural transformation that came along with it – not to music, but to the industry. It was a gesture of real cooperation and collaboration, that to this day can have an almost magical effect – “hey, these two boxes I bought that come from different makers are playing together or staying in time.”

If that sounds like a hyperbola, even Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics fame said as much, describing the first MIDI demo for the Grammy technical award given to Dave Smith. “Once I grasped what they were talking about I felt quite faint, my head spinning with the possibilities,” he says.

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When you do appreciate the full evolution of MIDI and its contributors – Tom Oberheim with his System, and Roland’s Ikutaro Kakehashi who did a lot of the work – you begin to see that part of Dave’s importance was bringing people together and fueling the effort. With manufacturers split between Japan and the USA, with language and cultural barriers and radically different makers on top of it, it was also critical to have Dave’s San Francisco-born approach.

I say this not to go back into the 1980s, but because I saw that same energy in Berlin this month. It’s part of what makes this news hard to process. Dave is one of the people who makes the whole business of making synths come alive. That’s something that can’t change.

The last conversation I had with Dave at Superbooth was about some of the challenges we face now, and my own sense that some of the toughest times for making synths may be ahead. He talked about how they’ve dealt with that at Sequential, in order to deal with the global supply chain crisis and how to keep instruments coming – including the just-released Oberheim. We also talked a bit about health, about the pandemic and Dave’s health. It’s strange because there, standing in the Berlin sun drinking sake during a Richie Hawtin event, my mind went suddenly to the thought of a synthesizer world that no longer had Dave Smith in it. I just didn’t expect that would be in a matter of days.

Machines and humans, none of us is immortal – not even Prophets. So I hope all of this helps us rise to the challenge. I know his inspiration is deeply felt today and for the time to come.

But this means a new urgency. The feeling that we are losing a lot of a generation of innovators is not your imagination. I hope we all look hard beyond not only the Bay Area but worldwide at the next generation of instrument designers. I hope we find a way to support them, to come together and collaborate. And that means fiercely defending the creation of new designs and independent makers. Dave gave so much to us. It seems the best way we can give something back to music, too.

Synthtopia has a perfectly composed timeline of what Dave accomplished:

Sequential Founder & ‘Father Of MIDI’ Dave Smith Has Died

Another archival interview, 2-parter by Simon Trask for Music Technology in 1990:

http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/the-prophet-and-the-rising-sun/456

Read of course Craig Anderton’s oft-cited “Brief History of MIDI”:

https://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/modules-and-midi/a-brief-history-of-midi-r304/

And the MIDI Association’s own sprawling history (there’s more than this section, starting at roughly the invention of the wheel or something):

https://www.midi.org/articles/midi-history-chapter-6-midi-is-born-1980-1983

And some remembrances. Even the gods wear socks. I’ve included some in Japanese, as they’re pouring in from both sides of the Pacific – fitting given Dave’s work on MIDI and at KORG, both trans-Pacific.

I’m going to join with Synthtopia in closing with Dave’s favorite drink.

From The Pyjama Cookbook, the KORG Berlin project I also contributed to during lockdown. (My recipe may help if this gives you a hangover.)

Dave’s Margarita

  1. Pour a lot of high-quality reposado tequila over ice
  2. Add a splash of Cointreau
  3. Add fresh lime to taste
  4. Drink any time (especially these days); ideally while working on a new synth design (it helps).

Prost, Dave!

Win VIP tickets, swag pack, and meet LP Giobbi at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival [Contest]

Win VIP tickets, swag pack, and meet LP Giobbi at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival [Contest]Pollen

This year, North Coast Music Festival has teamed up with Dancing Astronaut to offer one lucky fan the chance to win a pair (2) of VIP wristbands, alongside a meet and greet with DJ, pianist, entrepreneur, activist, and one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch LP Giobbi, along with a grip of surprise merchandise from North Coast and LP Giobbi.

For those following Giobbi’s pursuits across the first half of 2022, it’s clear that the house music breakout is on a white-hot tear right now and she’s only picking up steam. From a volume perspective alone she’s been remarkable, delivering fans a new track nearly each week since January, most recently with J. Worra on “Check Out,” as well as a remix of Portugal. The Man‘s “What, Me Worry?”

North Coast was initially one of the first festivals to release their 2022 lineup back in December with massive names like Porter Robinson, Tchami and Malaa’s No Redemption, and Dancing Astronaut’s Artist of the Year ILLENIUM, to name a few. The Windy City’s premiere dance event has now unleashed their roster’s second wave, bringing in 25 new artists to their arsenal, among the likes of which include Subtronics, Madeon, and another former Artists to Watch honoree, TSHA.

Successfully migrating to SeatGeek‘s stadium with a capacity of 78,000 attendees, the Midwestern affair returns with more character than ever this Labor Day Weekend. Check out The Coast’s website for both general admission and VIP three-day festival passes and be sure to enter below for a chance to win two VIP passes, a meet and greet and an exclusive swag pack courtesy of LP Giobbi.

Win VIP tickets, swag pack, and meet LP Giobbi at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival [Contest]3qeon3

Featured image: Pollen/Website

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Julian Jordan further defines ‘HYPER HOUSE’ with six-track EP on STMPD RCRDS

Julian Jordan further defines ‘HYPER HOUSE’ with six-track EP on STMPD RCRDS276320951 334254128767486 7545357471902920658 N

Not every artist has the ability to attach a personalized genre next to their name. But Julian Jordan is one of those. It took him more than a year of unrelenting dedication to make the decision to break the cycle of one-off originals and move towards something larger: his first-ever EP. Aptly named HYPER HOUSE after the bass house branding he’d been continually fine-tuning and following his Sentio spotting, Jordan’s debut EP has landed on none other than STMPD RCRDS.

Beginning with Jordan’s Martin Garrix and Tinie Tempah-paired original that debuted at Electric Love—better known as “Diamonds“—HYPER HOUSE had been constructed piece by piece dating back to October, with “Thunder,” “Sound Of The Bass,” and “Out Of My Mind” coming as its four pre-release previews. And a pair of desired IDs from the STMPD RCRDS veteran have arrived to fill out the six-part tracklist that was the outcome of “hundreds of sessions” and feels like the “perfect next step in [his] career.” Joining the forenamed EP members are “Juice” with Siks as well as “Rudeboy,” all of which justly sum up the project’s name and further define the red-blooded house vigor that Jordan has carved out for himself to help push STMPD RCRDS forward and the state of house music at large.

Stream all six HYPER HOUSE releases below.

Featured image: Tomorrowland Winter

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Good Morning Mix: Calvin Harris makes festival circuit return at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022

Good Morning Mix: Calvin Harris makes festival circuit return at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022Screen Shot 2022 06 01 At 11.28.30 PM

Calvin Harris doesn’t make festival appearances all that often. The last time he did so, the term COVID-19 hadn’t even become part of our daily conversation just yet. And outside of his Love Regenerator livestreams during the pandemic, he had yet to take the decks until his evening at Zouk Las Vegas back in October. But less than 24 hours after Calvin Harris began to turn the Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 wheels with “Potion,” he reunited with the festival circuit—which he’ll do once more on June 4 during Creamfields South—for an appearance at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022 in the UK.

BBC Radio 1 had thankfully streamed Harris’ first festival stint in more than two years, although the audio is currently only accessible for those that are stationed outside of the UK. Opening with a combination of Florence + The Machine’s “You’ve Got The Love” with Dr. Fresch and MARTEN HØRGER‘s “Take A Step Back,” and his own classic, “C.U.B.A,” Harris mixed modern tech-house versatility with 2010’s nostalgia, rinsing tracks like SIDEPIECE‘s “Sextacy” before breaking out Love Regenerator‘s debut release as well as classics like “Under Control,” “Feel So Close,” and “Sweet Nothing.”

Stream the audio of Calvin Harris’ hour-long BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend 2022 set below and those in the UK can access the video here.

Featured image: Conor McDonell

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FKJ enlists Toro y Moi, Carlos Santana for cinematic batch of singles ahead of upcoming LP

FKJ enlists Toro y Moi, Carlos Santana for cinematic batch of singles ahead of upcoming LPFKJ 2022 By Gabriel Rivera

Synth notes float steadily over a slow-moving cinematic soundscapes interspersed with jubilant piano chords—collaborators Chazwick Bundick and keyboardist Anthony Ferraro of chillwave progenitor Toro y Moi, and Frenchman FKJ, or French Kiwi Juice, present: “A Moment of Mystery.” The self-titled track, released on May 19 via Mom+Pop, is one of three piano-laden works. The Paris-based producer’s project is a refreshing, summery listen which also guests Grammy Award-winning artist Carlos Santana, who lends his dextrous guitar mastery to the sultry Latin-infused composition, “Greener.”

Only days away from releasing new album Vincent on June 10, the artist continues to share snippets of music and photography ahead of the upcoming LP on his socials—footage of the producer sitting at his piano at dusk, surrounded by flora, offer a speckling of insight into what is expected to be FKJ’s most luscious, carefully produced album to date. Listen to the three-tiered offering below.

Featured Image: Gabriel Rivera

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Synth legend Dave Smith dies, aged 72

Dave Smith, founder of Sequential Instruments, which created the Prophet-5 among other influential synths, and the co-inventor of the MIDI protocol still in use today, has died. 

A short statement from Smith’s family read: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died. We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists.” 

Smith’s influence is hard to over-state. After founding Sequential Circuits in 1974, he released the first-ever programmable polyphonic synth — the Prophet-5 — in 1977. More influential kit followed including the Drumtrax and mono synth monster the Pro-One. In 1981, Dave co-created the MIDI protocol and coined the term, introducing it to the world at AES Show in New York. They decided to license the MIDI format for free, meaning it quickly became the defacto standard protocol for communication between synths and other studio kit. The format is widely in use today, highlighting the impact of the technology. 

Dave went on to work with Yamaha and Korg, playing a big part in the design of Korg’s classic Wavestation, recently re-created as the Wavestate

In 2002, Smith created Dave Smith Instruments (DSI) and played a big role in the analogue synth revival with products like the Tetra, Mopho and the Tempest drum machine and sampler. 

Synth legend Dave Smith has died aged 72

Dave Smith, founder of Sequential Instruments, which created the Prophet-5 among other influential synths, and the co-inventor of the MIDI protocol still in use today, has died. 

A short statement from Smith’s family read: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died. We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists.” 

Smith’s influence is hard to over-state. After founding Sequential Circuits in 1974, he released the first-ever programmable polyphonic synth – the Prophet-5 – in 1977. More influential kit followed including the Drumtrax and mono synth monster the Pro-One. In 1981, Dave co-created the MIDI protocol and coined the term, introducing it to the world at AES Show in New York. They decided to license the MIDI format for free, meaning it quickly became the defacto standard protocol for communication between synths and other studio kit. The format is widely in use today, highlighting the impact of the technology. 

Dave went on to work with Yamaha and Korg, playing a big part in the design of Korg’s classic Wavestation, recently re-created as the Wavestate

In 2002, Smith created Dave Smith Instruments (DSI) and played a big role in the analogue synth revival with products like the Tetra, Mopho and the Tempest drum machine and sampler. 

Alt-rapper Omega Sapien debuts solo EP, produced by Baauer

Alt-rapper Omega Sapien debuts solo EP, produced by BaauerOmega Sapien Dasmon Han

The tastemakers at independent imprint LuckyMe, have tapped Seoul’s favorite alt-rap wordsmith once more for an innovative dance project. Produced by Grammy-nominated trap savant Baauer, Balming Tiger frontman Omega Sapien gives his long-awaited solo EP, Wuga—which features Vernon of K-pop collective SEVENTEEN, who lent his vocals to A.G. Cook‘s rework of English pop princess Charli XCX’s “Beg For You” earlier this spring.

Omega originally made his debut on the esteemed UK label with collaborator Baauer last March with “DDOKBOKKI,” which showcased his lyrical prowess on a fiery hip-hop hybrid dance track. The song is featured on the new EP, along with the critically acclaimed “Plum”—which dropped at the tail end of 2021 during LuckyMe’s annual “advent calendar” release—and four brand new songs, all produced by the globetrotting electronic producer, who is currently on tour across the US.

“Wuga,” Korean slang for caveman, is full of whimsical and visceral samples, textures and instrumentals—a soundscape we expect to hear from Baauer, who often integrates the most engrossing sounds and sonic nuances into his projects. Drawing inspiration from nature, the internet, underground R&B vinyls, and so much more, Baauer creates inimitable futuristic fusions of dance and hip-hop; most recently, he’s dipped into producing high-intensity house, showcasing his wide range and boundless versatility.

Omega Sapien meets Baauer head-on with a striking delivery on hip-shaking cuts “Jenny,” “Ali,” and “Wrecker,” featuring K-pop peer Vernon. The avant-garde rapper performs bars about his dog, eloquently lambasts the music industry, and subtly brushes upon the pressures of fame over riveting, hypnotic productions on this collaborative EP. Overall, the project exudes a youthful, yet primitive vibrancy—Wuga is one of the most interesting dance/hip-hop projects you’ll hear this year.

The Balming Tiger wordsmith is currently touring with the K-pop group and will be making stops all across the UK and EU. Listen to Omega Sapien’s debut LuckyMe EP, produced by Baauer, below.

Featured Image: Dasmon Han

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Curbi shares latest bass-house single, ‘Flying’ via Monstercat

Curbi shares latest bass-house single, ‘Flying’ via MonstercatCurbi Press Shot Flying

Out now via Monstercat Records, 23-year-old Curbi has released his latest bass-house single, “Flying.” The UK-based producer has been on fire as of late, by notching collaborations with artists such as Tchami, AC Slater, and Moksi. His singles continue to be well-supported too, as “Crave The Bassline” was played by Alesso, AC Slater and Chris Lorenzo have rinsed it back-to-back, Madeon has shown live support, and many more at EDC Las Vegas.

With unique bass drum arrangements and catchy melodies, “Flying” is Curbi’s latest club-ready single that he can add to his arsenal. The burgeoning producer continues to push forward by creating new, energetic sounds at the forefront of the bass-house genre. What’s more, with a new collaboration reportedly in the works alongside Zedd, Curbi’s stock is only bound to continue its upward trend. Listen to “Flying” below.

Featured image: Curbi

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Morgan Page, Disclosure, and Cheat Codes to tend the decks at Release After Dark Dayclub

Morgan Page, Disclosure, and Cheat Codes to tend the decks at Release After Dark Dayclub209256635 306661847657449 1875417952087430092 N

New month, new Release After Dark Dayclub event dates.

After formally opening its calendar for the 2022 spring season in May, with poolside performances from Showtek, GATTÜSO, Boombox Cartel, Oliver Heldens, and Duke Dumont, Scottsdale, Arizona’s Talking Stick Resort and Casino has shown that when it comes to commanding the dance/electronic dayclub circuit, it’s just getting started. June will see Release After Dark Dayclub curator Relentless Beats welcome Morgan Page to the resort’s venue during the first weekend of the month (June 4), with more heat to follow during the third and fourth weekends, which will see sets from Disclosure (June 18) and Cheat Codes (June 25), respectively. The June event calendar is a testament to Relentless Beats’ eye for genre diversity in its presentation of three very different live dance/electronic options to Talking Stick Resort and Casino-goers.

Relentless Beats has reliably brought the best in dance/electronic to the nation’s southwest region since its establishment in 1996, and evidently, 2022 is no exception to its tradition of excellence. And considering that Relentless Beats holds hosting credits to lauded events like Phoenix LightsDecadence AZ, and Body Language, it’s clear that dance/electronic aficionados planning to stop by Release After Dark Dayclub this spring/summer season have much to anticipate.

To view the June events calendar and purchase tickets, visit Relentless Beats’ website.

Featured image: Morgan Page/Instagram

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