I met Aaron Holstein (aka VibeSquaD aka Backpact aka the bassist/keyboardist from Zilla) at the 2007 Sonic Bloom festival in Colorado, where my wife Lore and i were supplying coffee and tea backstage for the artists. I remember chatting with them after their awesome set with Sporque (one of my favorite live acts to dance to ever which also had Ooah from the Glitch Mob on beats and Jamie Janover on percussion), wherein i mentioned noticing that a certain bass synth note they kept hitting happened to resonate with the stage, causing this extra delicious rattle. “It was a C sharp!” Aaron told me later backstage. I’ll always remember that.
Ok, enough nostalgia. Why should you subscribe to the channel? Well, in this case… lots of reasons. Do you like super tasty beats? Luscious basslines? Funky-ass rhodes? Quirky stop-motion animations? Ableton tutorials? There’s so much, and it’s ALL SO GOOD. So many content providers present an artificial, projected self to the world at large which can feel a bit disingenuous, but Aaron does not at all take this tactic, instead being blisteringly… themself. Aaron is just… real. Which is so much more heartwarming and appreciated, to me at least.
Here’s a few suggestions of vids to check out:
Hello, My Name is Aaron Holstein
A great introduction video that Aaron recently put out, describing history, situation, and outlook.
Taperlock Sprocket Music Video
Taperlock Sprocket is the opening track from the Empathy Waves EP by VibeSquaD. Every single time i listen to this song i get goosebumps. I’m listening to it right now as i’m typing this and yep, all the hairs on my arms are standing upright. It’s just… so goddamn tasty. It also probably helps knowing that i had a tiny part in the sound, since Aaron purportedly used Ultimatum from the PerforModule Empathy pack in the mastering chain. Let’s all try to be a little bit more empathetic, shall we?
Boatcar Music Video
This is one from the Backpact project, which to me has a more lo-fi, laid back sound than VibeSquaD, tho it still does retain Aaron’s impeccable sense of groove and warm, fat production. This piece alternates between an inquisitive feeling with the opening riff to a slinky, dark, undulating vibe. The title reminds me of the Boatcar scene from Waking Life, one of my favorite movies.
10 Ways to Flip a Breakbeat Sample
Oh, did i mention that Mr. Holstein is an Ableton Certified Trainer? I think i forgot to mention that. This tutorial makes it super obvious that Aaron knows how to implement the functions of Live inside and out. I got some good ideas out of this one. It also showcases their awesome Boom Bap Breaks sample packs, which i used on these boom bap Zelda dungeon remixes, and am also using hits of here and there to spruce up the drums on my upcoming metal album.
Aaron also has numerous vids practicing drums or piano, and did a series of 1 minute and 2 minute loop jams, which are all super tight and well worth perusing. Not enough? There are 1ManBand tracks in which Aaron wrote and performed all the instruments and which to me transmit a strong Pink Floyd – Animals vibe.
Sabine is my new celebrity crush. I adore just about everything about them. In their videos they explores scientific concepts with a specialty in breaking down misconceptions. It delights the nerdy side of my brain to no end. I don’t completely agree with absolutely every conclusion they come to (for example, i lean more towards free will existing than pure determinism), but all the topics are well-presented, insightful, and intriguing no matter what. Critically: Sabine does not simply inform people THAT they are wrong, but goes to the trouble to describe WHY they are.
In science, i think it’s really important to actually focus on the scientific process and not get distracted too much by catchy trends, and i think that Sabine does a great service to the world in holding the feet of mainstream science to the fire and picking apart the flaws of trendy and popular claims promoted by institutions which continue to exist by measure of monetary momentum rather than innovative results. For example, they describes how building ever larger and larger particle accelerators might not be the optimal use of research funds.
Here’s a few recommended videos i found particularly interesting:
Can Physics Be Too Speculative? An Honest Opinion.
Asteroid Mining – A Fast Way to Get Rich?
Dark Matter: The Situation has Changed
The Black Hole Information Loss Problem is Unsolved. And Unsolvable.
Oh. Also, Sabine makes fun, silly music videos on the second channel.
The House of Kush
I’ve been a fan of Gregory Scott (known as the designer of Kush studio gear and plugins) way back since the start of the UBK Happy Funtime Hour podcast in 2014. I don’t remember how i found about the podcast but i absolutely loved and listened to every episode right up until the sorrowful final episode (…really only considered sorrowful because i didn’t want it to end). I highly recommend listening to the episodes chronologically through if you haven’t heard of it yet. So much pure gold when it comes to all aspects of audio production. Of course, like anything, it isn’t perfect — a bit rough around the edges, but the off-the-cuff realness is what makes it special. I did get quite annoyed when Greg kept talking over Sylvia Massey. Why would you do that. Grr.
Well, nowadays Gregory seems to focus on the band with their partner Sarah, Sneaky Little Devil (whose production quality is stellar in a tasty, fat 70’s sort of way), and making pointed youtube audio production tutorial videos, many of which cover concepts i recall being discussed on the Happy Funtime Hour.
What i like best about Gregory’s approach is the digging deep and uncovering more unconventional sort of aspects of audio production, offering insight into innovative techniques with a strong intention towards visceral results. It’s uncanny how many oddball ideas are offered up which are things that i myself have stumbled upon in my own audio production journeys. Quick example: flipping your headphones so left is right and vice versa: the result is that particular frequencies and transients each ear were getting used to after hours of exposure all of a sudden become fresh, and imbalances become more obvious.
Here’s some groovy videos to peruse:
Not Automating your Effects? BORING.
BALANCED Mixes are BORING Mixes!
PRO TIP: Wider Mixes need LESS Width
STUPID Mixing “Rules” I Always BREAK
One thing i’m noticing upon setting up these links is that Gregory is trending towards more clickbaity titles, which i actually find annoying since they are less informative of the content, thus making it harder to recall at a moment what each video is actually about, and which i want to share.
Niko makes 8-bit versions of old video game music (primarily NES). I myself have dabbled in sourcing NES and SNES music data into upscaled versions (Zelda 1 and 2 soundtracks in stereo, Legacy of the Wizard in quadraphonic, the FF6 OST in 5.1 surround sound, etc.) so this type of shizz is right up my alley.
It’s cool sometimes being able to hear meoldies and harmonies separated by stereo which previously were merged into one channel — helps to pull apart and understand the pieces from a compositional standpoint. Plus it’s just plain trippy and fun to hear tracks embedded into my childhood consciousness in an expanded format.
I’ve been following Niko way back since before their channel’s name change, and they have always been receptive to my feedback and a joy to interact with.
Here’s the stereo-ized OST of one of my favorite NES games as a kid (never got past level 4):
Blaster Master (NES) Soundtrack – 8BitStereo.
Charlie Milo is hands down the sickest bass guitar player i know, with skills on the fretboard that are just insane. Charlie is a badass composer, too, coming up with songs that range from the wackiest prog zappa insanity to the catchiest slap-your-knee earworms you can imagine, and often combining both extremes into pieces seamlessly.
Back when i lived in Manitou/Colorado Springs, i worked with Charlie on a whole bunch of projects, assisting with recording, arranging, mixing, mastering — all that stuff. This one CD we recorded and mixed in the span of a single. epic. day. I consider those experiences absolutely fundamental to my progression as an audio engineer. We were also part of the all-improv hip hop band Flodignatic (me and DJ Gravity on beats, C. Milo on bass, StoneyBertz, Earsiq, and Big Ro on vocals) who opened for Watsky once (probably the craziest show i’ve ever played at).
Here’s the pseudo-chiptune album Charlie and i made on Bandcamp: “8.1 Bit”.
Well anyways, lately Charlie’s been dropping all kinds of cool ish over on the youtoobz. Videos of live performances, miscellaneous studio ideas, and (my favorite) beat mix tapes by their DJ alter ego St. Bernard, often including remixes of classic hip hop vocals over fresh loops.
Some stuff to check:
Oh (and one more thing) feat Khalill Brown on drums and Michael Hawkins on keys — a totally sick improv jam!
St. Bernard – Brr, you CRRR!!! (full beat tape)
David Bruce Composer
I haven’t been watching David Bruce that long so i don’t feel extremely qualified to comment on their work, but i really enjoy the quirky style and the depth to which is delved into fascinating niche topics related to music composition. It’s unconventional but focused, like a weird cartoon laser beam. The oddball nature makes it entertaining for people with short attention spans (which is basically everyone now, let’s be honest), yet the technical precision and profundity of uncovered research results in a strikingly positive net benefit in terms of mental stimulation of the musical composition sector of one’s cranium. David’s scripted narrative weaves everything into a cohesively digestible stream of unveiled understanding. But he does get a little carried away by weird tangents sometimes. I never do that. Did i tell you about the
Frog Leap Studios
My aforementioned wife and i like to watch Leo Moracchioli’s self-produced heavy metal covers of all sorts of various genres of songs. Leo seems to be around our similar age and so a lot of the songs they choose to cover are ones we grew up with (i.e. 80s and 90s shit), although they also do plenty of more modern stuff. What’s extra impressive is that Leo literally does everything, from arranging to recording all instruments to mixing & finalizing the tracks for release — all in an extremely short and regular time interval, averaging a new song a week. I wish i had a quarter of that work ethic and consistency. Lore and i concur that Leo’s cover of Toto’s Africa featuring Hannah Boulton and Rabea Massaad is superior to Weezer’s cover of the same (and Lore is a massive Weezer fan so that says a lot). The breakdown, solo, and video outro are some of the very sickest metal moments of all time, in my humble opinion. Chances are good most of you already know about Frog Leap, so i’ll leave it at “if you like heavy covers of songs, go check it out”.
Another extremely popular channel that you’re likely already familiar with if you’re nerdy enough to be this deep into this blog article. What’s wild about Veritasium is the degree to which host Derek Muller delves into the given topic. The thoroughness of the research and the quality of the presentations are unrivaled. It’s a good combination of real-life demonstrations (like trying to ride a bike that can’t turn a certain direction, or renting a freaking helicopter to find out which way a rope hangs down).
Why does science stuff relate to audio production? Everything is connected, one way or another. There are lots of examples of symbiotic connections between various disparate fields that one can think up.
I admit it, this is just a sneaky way to promote Dan Worrall again, who does the FabFilter videos. I find them highly beneficial to watch (even though i don’t own any FF plugins myself) since the tutorials cover all sorts of technical aspects of plugins and signal processing in general. Check out what i said about Dan in my first youtube recommendations blog post, and also subscribe to FabFilter’s channel. ‘Nuff said.
I learned about Matt Parker via Numberphile (also mentioned in my previous youtube recommendations post) and have gravitated towards their channel as well. Matt goes to great lengths to demonstrate mathematical concepts, using physical props to help human brains conceptualize mathematical issues in non-abstract manners, coupled with clever (dorky) video editing to keep things entertaining (this seems to be a trending tactic).
Matt is a true mathematician and i appreciate anyone who can distill higher-level concepts down to those who have more trouble with grokking advanced ideas in ways that make their exploration more palatable and therefore their comprehension more likely. I’ve always wanted to get back into mathematics more seriously but having had a bad teacher in high school that turned me off to it for a long time, it has been difficult to get back into, and people like Matt certainly help a ton.