Dawter Podcast, ep7, Sadiva

This week I am talking to the Queen of beat making herself, lo-fi, hip-hop producer, SadivaAfter dropping a brand new album in May this year, back from her tour of Japan, Sadiva sits down with Dawter Podcast and tells us her story. How in just 3 and a half years, she went from being a bedroom producer, to a signed, internationally touring artist, with two full length albums to her name and 60,000 plays on Spotify last month alone! This is a massive episode you don’t want to miss! 

Quick Links

Sadiva: Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Facebook

Hardware / Software: Maschine, Serato Sample, SP-404,    SP-555

Other: WOWInner Ocean Records, Lab Co. The Push

Highlights

Tell us how you went about making your new album (Minutes)

Minutes was really personal. It was like a diary entry. I was trying to talk with the samples I was using and I was trying to tell a story from the start to the finish, not only as a beat maker but as a human. You know, I was heart-broken, I fell head over heals for someone, I was heart broken, I was traveling a lot, I was meeting a whole lot of different people… and so I was getting myself into situations where music was my outlet. I don’t write a diary or anything so this was my diary.

I don’t write a diary or anything, so this was my diary.

Where do you get your samples?

All over the joint really. When I first started making beats I was such a purist. I used to only sample off vinyl. Now I don’t give a shit [laughs]. I do everything, so I sample of youtube, I remember I would go into a bar in Japan and something was playing, and I would look up at the screen and I would take photos off it, and I’m like “I’m sampling that when I get home.” Or I’ll be watching Netflix, and I’ll be like “Oh my God!” and I’ll just stop everything and pull open my internal recorder on the computer and I’ll record it in and I’m like “fucking using that later!”

What was touring Japan like?

Amazing! A little hard being the only girl with four boys! [laughs] I think they had enough of me and I had enough of them at some points [laughs] But that’s family. You go away together, you get sick of each other and you love each other. But dude it was so good. We had some really funny times. I’ve never laughed as much as I did over there. I got to meet some really beautiful people in the scene over there and I was blessed enough to play with some of my favourite Japanese beat-makers. Which is fucking crazy! And it’s crazy that beat-making brought us there. 

Can you elaborate rate on how the tour came about?

So I wanted to go back, I’d been with my dad, and I wanted to go for longer. So it was a two week holiday I booked and I put it in the Lab Co. chat, I was like “guys I’m gonna go to Japan. Gonna try and get some gigs sorted, anyone want to come?” And then a couple of them jumped on board. I almost thought it wasn’t going to happen. I was trying to hit up people in Japan and I ended up getting a really good connect through my friend Grumpy Snorlex, who’s based in the US. And he put me onto Ali Mobs who put me onto Beats Addict in Osaka and Kyoto and then Entro organised the Tokyo shows. So I guess it was all through social media. 

How did you get involved with Inner Ocean Records?

I had been involved in a couple of compilations that they’d done. And I hit them up asking if they could duplicate my first tape. And they were like “Yeah sure!” I did it all myself, they just made it for me. Then they gave me a huge push because they posted it on social media… I kept entering in compilations and they kept supporting me by putting me on the compilations… then we got talking and I said “I’d love to realise my next album through you guys” and we went back and forth and we finally just, we made it. Then they also helped me with WOW. He’s (Corey) has been a huge supporter of Sadiva since I started. I’m really lucky and really grateful to have a connection like that with them.

Tell us about WOW

I’m so glad that WOW happened. I was going through some shit in my life and I was a bit sick of seeing some fucking annoying comments. For the most part being a female in a male dominated industry, I haven’t had too many issues. I don’t want to say I haven’t had any, but mainly in my scene everyone’s been so fucking supportive. … I had this idea and I was like, fuck it, I know of heaps of female producers so I put a call out on Facebook and I was like “I don’t care who you are but tag every female producer you know.” And I shared it everywhere, I shared it on all the forums I was on. Holy Moly! I got so many submissions. It was beautiful. I’m friends with all the girls now. I still talk to most of them. It was so cool that I got to find all these other female producers!

So I got all the tracks together, I listened to it, I worked really hard on putting it all together. I asked Jackie, my amazing house mate to do the art work. I ended up calling it WOW because it was Women from all over the world, and I think we had a woman from every continent. And I did it in a month! I started it in February and wanted to release it for Womens History Month. So it was such a rush. I was working full time too. So I put the call out on Facebook, then I listened to all the submissions. I think I asked for 2 beats max. I wanted the tape to have a feel and I wanted women to be represented in a professional, incredible way… Didn’t do a launch for it, i did do a live stream on line and played all the content. I’ll be honest, it got write ups and, it was organic. I wasn’t trying to make it like a crazy thing, but with Inner Ocean behind it, it did get a lot of love. And like I said, that’s how I got in touch with Spotify, well they got in touch with me because they wanted to support it.

That’s how I got in touch with Spotify, well they got in touch with me because they wanted to support it.

Elise, Sadiva and Bear at Sadiva's home studio in Melbourne

Dawter Podcast, ep6, Alpha Loopy

Already an accomplished singer songwriter and guitarist, Carolyn Oats is now making waves in the electronic music scene under the guise of Alpha Loopy. We talk live set-ups, creative processes, getting gigs, as well as how to use limitations to focus your creativity. 

Quick Links

Alpha Loopy: website, facebook, instagram, iTunes, Spotify

Hardware: Novation Launch Pad

Music groups (Melb, Aus): Beat Collective, Slice Records, Ableton Users Group

 

Highlights

What’s it like having two very different musical projects?

It’s a bit crazy sometimes, wearing different hats. Sometimes I do think, am I doing myself a disservice by having two many identities to maintain. But I guess I also enjoy the creative freedom of having different outlets. It does make the business aspect of the music a bit more tricky because you have to spend energy on each of the different projects.

What made you transition into electronic music?

That was a fun little transition that happened by accident. I had actually been looking at how I might incorporate some different looping options, with the singer / songwriter thing. But I wasn’t interested in pursuing the, I guess, stereotypical option, of get a loop pedal and make drumming kind of sounds on the acoustic guitar. I wanted to explore what options were available via recording / performance software. So I started exploring some different options there and came across Ableton Live. So I started just fiddling with that. Then by accident, in the space of 3 or 4 months I ended up writing all of these instrumental pieces.

At the time it was actually a really good creative release for me. I didn’t have a lot to say as a songwriter at the time. I would get home from work, and three hours would go by, and I would be having fun listening to drum beats, working out parts, synth parts. Starting to delve into what was provided in the Ableton software and just seeing where that lead. I ended up with all these pieces of instrumental music, and then I just thought “I should see if I can do this live.” Then I had to try and work out how I was actually going to perform any of this stuff, so that was a journey in itself too.

Advice for new producers?

Set yourself with limitations. Don’t see limitations as something that’s going to inhibit your creativity. Rather see it as a way to focus your creativity.

After years of experience, not just doing the electronic stuff, but the singer songwriter thing, just trying to keep things basic to start with. I think it always helped me feel like I wasn’t going to be overwhelmed with the creative process.

I definitely think with electronic music it can be really easy to just get 100% distracted, by finding a drum loop, or finding a sound, or buying new libraries of sounds and new libraries of drum loops. You might go “yay, I’m going to spend two hours tonight listening to all these drum loops,” but you could have actually spent two hours composing.

I should add to that, I didn’t upgrade from Ableton Free, to Ableton Live until probably a year. So I’d already composed six or seven pieces and done live gigs, all with Ableton Free.

Advice on getting gigs?

Someone said to me once around all of the business aspects, and I classify getting gigs as part of that business aspect, is:

“the only person who is going to back you all the time, is you.”

I can appreciate that can be really hard for a lot of arty people who aren’t used to doing the self-promotion thing. You’re the one who’s gonna be instigating that stuff at the start, the bios, the facebook page, the web pages, all of that kind of stuff. 

Some suggestions might be to look at other artists that are a coupe of steps ahead of you and see what kind of venues they’re playing. Then look up those venues and see if there is anyway you can contact them directly, and go “hey this is me, here’s my music,” so you’ll need to have some music online.

Other things that were really good for me early on with the electronic stuff was discovering a few collaborative organisations in Melbourne, and then joining them and seeing when they were advertising their own shows and going “hey, I’d love to be involved in one” 

Can you list some of those?

Beat Collective was one. Slice Records do some stuff around town as well. So they’ve both been really good. 

And some venues, if you go to them with a proposed gig, so not just yourself but a couple of other people, then they might be more interested in taking you on. 

The Ableton Users Group is another great group to get involved in, to start to meet other people who are out their gigging. Maybe you’ll be able to do a gig with them, or they are looking for someone else to fill a bill. 

Elise Cabret and Alpha Loopy at Rangemaster studio in the Yarra Ranges

Dawter Podcast, ep4, Fresh Violet

This week I chat to Melbourne rapper and hip-hop producer Fresh Violet! We discuss the history of hip-hop culture, the importance of role-models, different production processes, overcoming mental obstacles and Violet’s ‘thinky’ brain! Violet’s energy is contagious, but most of all, her skill as a musician and her knowledge and respect of hip-hop music is what makes her such a compelling artist. 

Highlights

Did you have any female rappers that inspired you to begin with?

Part of what inspired me was actually the lack. I remember I was studying classical music, and that was like [being in] a bubble, because you had to work so hard! I was working part time as well so I didn’t have a lot of free time to listen to the radio. I always loved pop and rock when I was in high school, but I just had to focus on classical music for that time. But I remember getting toward the end of that degree, and re-kindling my love for that kind of music, and Katey Perry was actually one of the main ones, like I heard Teenage Dream and I was like, “Oh my god! Pop music is so great!” [laughs]. So Katie Perry is sort of a role model. That sort of opened the door for more pop music, and I started listening to Kanye and Jay Z and Nicki Minaj and got into the pop hip-hop. I know so many hip-hop heads will be cringing knowing thats how I got into it! But that’s the honest truth of it. I wish I grew up with my parents playing Biggie Smalls and Big L and stuff like that, but we just didn’t have that in our household.

On Eminem…

Something that lodged in my brain about Eminem, is that he is universally recognised in the industry, and they talk about it in that really cool documentary “The Art of Rap” by Ice T. They say that Eminem is one of the best. Crazy that he’s white. [laughs]. And the reason he is so good is that he would listen to everyone. He would take the best of every different artist. And I had that thought lodged in my brain early on, so that’s what I really tried to do. You know, I worked backwards, I went back to Cool G rap, and Jurassic 5, and tried to get a thorough history of hip-hop and really understand where it came from. As much as I have a classical and pop background, I was sort of down the other end of the pool and I tried to swim over to the other end, and then come at it from that direction as well.

On hip-hop music…

Sometimes your classical knowledge will get in the way, because the approach for writing classical music is so different to how you make hip-hop. Classical music you are assessing your chord progressions, you’re harmonising your counterpoint, you are thinking about really technical stuff a lot of the time. Hip-hop was born from people in the Bronx who didn’t have much education, and their music programs had been taken away at schools and their wasn’t funding, things like that, so they didn’t have that knowledge, they didn’t have access to that. They created music out of what they had, which was their parents turntables, and their 60’s records. I think they attribute it to Grand Wizard Theodore who started scratching. It was something that was essentially born out of nothing. So i think that is a really important thing to know. I think it is important to pay your dues and know where it all came from. Especially when you are white, because you are essentially a guest in the house.

I think hip-hop is a really embracing, accepting culture, and when hip hop is working right, when we have a healthy hip-hop community, everyone is involved, everyone is welcome. It is more than a genre of music, it is a culture. 

How do you start off creating your tracks?

When I write a song, usually I start with a concept. Like I’ll say, “ok this is going to be a song about aliens.” Then I’ll probably have a few phrases, like I really love word-play so if I can just free-style some ideas about aliens, or whatever the concept is, and that will give me an idea for the bpm. Then I’ll try to create a style for the beat that’s gonna communicate aliens, or space, or things like that. I don’t use a lot of samples, but I might look for a sample or a synthesiser that has like a spacious feeling to it, or pick some boom-bap, you know spacey kind of drums, and some different electronic noises, so that the beat is really part of the storytelling and the concept, and then I will probably write over that.

Elise Cabret and Fresh Violet recording this interview at Melbourne Polytechnic

The sound effects used in this episode were downloaded from soundable.com 

Dawter Podcast ep1, KAIAR

Welcome to the first episode of Dawter Podcast! This week I sit down with Melbourne dream-pop producer and songwriter, KAIAR. After releasing her debut self-titled EP in 2017, via Provenance Records,  KAIAR has received support and radio play from Triple J, Double J, Triple R and many more. Her dynamic and atmospheric live show has earned her support slots with the likes of Braille Face, Aphir, Estére (NZ) and others. In this episode, KAIAR talks about her latest single Human, as well as offering advice on production, live performance and collaboration.

Show notes

Have you always been working with electronic music?

When I was young I did singing lessons, then I taught myself piano to accompany. But I became really interested in electronic music because there was Grimes and FKA Twigs and I was like, they can do it, I can do it too! When I found out they were doing their own production I was like, wow, what am I doing?!

They have obviously been a big influence on your sound…

Yeah. It’s that heavenly sound that I love, and that comes from my background as well. I grew up in a religious environment. I was always singing, and I was always singing in the higher register so, it’s always been easy. In the particular religious group that my family followed, you sung three times a session, and you were doing that three times a week, so you were singing a lot.

How did that effect your feelings about music?

That experience effected the way I sing because in that group I felt like I always had to be, you know, pretty, or feminine, or you know, perfect. So singing in the higher register was easy for me, and it easily portrayed that kind of image. But also, the actual experience itself, influences a lot of my feelings about music as well. I have a lot to say about that experience, through the way I produce and through what I write about… If we are going to get specific I’d be talking about feelings of resenting that experience and also being grateful for it, thinking deeply, that sort of thing. If that makes sense?

What are your favourite plug-ins?

I love the Una Corda… It’s so beautiful, it’s like three piano samples layered on top of each other. So the sound and the frequency spectrum is always amazing. And I love Sound Toys, like their whole thing! Which I’m sure everybody loves. For reverb and stuff I love Valhalla Vintage. Those are my go to’s and they are really popular.

What about hardware?

So I use the Ableton Push, and that triggers my tracks and my samples, like vocal samples that I take out to play percussive elements in the instrumental bit of the song. For my more acoustic parts of the set, I’ve got my Novation 49 which is just a small midi keyboard. I like having a midi situation on stage because I can change the sounds and it limits how much I have to bring with me. So I can play the bass on that, I can play samples on that as well, I can trigger the drum track without having to go into my computer or the Push.

And also when I’m on stage I will also have my sound card which is the Scarlet, I actually forget the brand but it’s the red interface that’s quite popular. And I just run two vocal mics on stage and one is a dry and one is an effects. And I can turn off all effects with my Push as well. As long as on my computer, the CPU isn’t running too high, it works really well.

Do you do a lot of rehearsals?

I guess it depends how many new songs I’m going to play as well. I try not to over do it, and over think it. But I just make sure I know where everything is. I go through the technical part in my mind and make sure it flows. So I will do that a couple of times before a performance, especially if I haven’t done it in a while. If I’m gigging regularly it obviously comes a bit more naturally. It’s like muscle memory.

How do you deal with mistakes on stage?

If you make a mistake you just have to basically admit it, right? You’re just like, whoops, I triggered the drum track at the wrong time… Sometimes if I make a mistake, or I trigger something at the wrong time, I will just turn down the volume or stop it, and just try again at the next verse or chorus. Most of the time people don’t notice if you don’t make a thing of it either.

Tell us about your new song Human

The song’s about this idea that we close ourselves off. You get to a point in life where you’ve had a certain amount of relationships, and a certain amount of hurt, and there are pattens. You start to realise that you’re trying to protect yourself all the time, from people hurting you, so you close yourself off. It ends up totally messing up the relationship, when you feel that you have to close yourself off. That doesn’t benefit the relationship… I was thinking about that idea and thinking about a relationship from the past, and it’s almost like everyone has a shell on the outside and we’re not humans, we are like crabs, who have their exoskeleton. Thats where the idea came from.

The fabric you are wearing in the film clip is images of human cells…

So when I first contacted the designer I was like, oh I love this stuff, it’s like coral or something, and she was like, ‘no actually it’s a very microscopic image of muscle fibres…’ which is cool because it totally just tied in. It was perfect. She is an amazing designer.

How do you go about finding people to work with?

Sometimes it’s by chance. Like with Rob, the film maker that I worked with on both of my film clips, he actually contacted me, he was like ‘I like this song, I want to make visuals to it.’ So that was a happy accident. I guess for photographers and designers, that’s always a social media thing for me…

What about finding other musicians to collaborate with?

It’s like a community. It’s like, ‘hey we’re friends, we’re both passionate about music, let’s see what we can do.’ It’s always trial and error with collaborating. It’s always a learning process, even if you don’t end up releasing anything, you learn stuff from each other.

“It’s always trial and error with collaborating. It’s always a learning process, even if you don’t end up releasing anything, you learn stuff from each other”

How do you establish that community?

I think gigging. Thats probably the biggest part…I will go up to someone after their show and be like “that was amazing! We should do something one day” and you send them a link… It’s always just about making that connection… Often people will enjoy your show, but wont say anything to you, and it’s so nice for that one person to be like “hey! That was amazing!”

How do you balance working a “day job” and spending time on music?

It’s always a push and pull because you need money to do music, when you’re an independent artist. You’ve just got to be, kind of strict in a way, and create a time of day when you know you work well, and know that you can always be there for that. And that’s the only way I really can manage to keep making music, is to set aside 3-5 hours a day… If you’re gonna have to get up early to do it or you have to stay up late to do it.

If you wait till you’re inspired, you’ve got this rush of adrenaline to write everything down, get the production and get everything there, but if you’re not working on the skills all the time, you’re not going to be able to get there very quickly, and you’ll end up being disheartened. Thats why it’s always important to work, even though you might not make anything good. It’s just like exercise.

What do you think new artists and producers should invest their money in?

It depends on what you find most important. For me I want to make sure it sounds good, so spending money on mixing and mastering, and recording the vocals properly, and then I think you can get the visual stuff cheaper. It’s such a hard thing. Do I make sure the work is good or do I make sure people hear it? And you need both. I think you can do it cheaply, but maybe in the beginning stages you need people to see your name. There is that marketing idea of “recency” and people have to see your name three times before they’ll even click on the link. So that is important.

What about electronic music do you connect with the most?

I think because it is such a new sound, in the scheme of things. Like guitars and drums have been around since rock n’ roll and before that. Its almost like intangible. So it’s so interesting. It’s kind of endless as well. I love that about electronic music. You can f***k with something so much that its totally different from it’s source. I love that you can really make anything you want.

“I love that about electronic music. You can f***k wth something so much that it’s totally different from it’s source. I love that you can really make anything you want.”

You can find KAIAR on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and Apple Music. Or you can visit her website www.kaiarmusic.com