The Netherlands are more advanced than Americans in just about everything, so it makes total sense that they should also be the country that finally figures out a way to make McDonald’s cool. No, they haven’t slipped mind-altering substances into the Big Macs or anything; they’ve found a way to transform every customer’s tray into an electronic music studio. Yep, that’s right. It’s all done by printing paper placemats with a kind of conductive ink that can trigger an accompanying app when it’s scanned by a smartphone.
Developed by TBWA/Neboko and This Page Amsterdam, the marketing effort the company is calling McTrax employs a tiny battery, sliver-thin circuit board, and dozens of digital touchpoints to enable the instant creation of electronic music. And it couldn’t be more user-friendly; any customer can easily use it to create custom-made loops, beats, synth lines, effects, and even record their own vocals atop it all. No prior musical skills required. At this time, we can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Steve Aoki is on a first-class flight to the Netherlands right now with plans to make his next album using nothing but beats derived from the McTrax placemats.
Cinco de Mayo — Spanish for the fifth of May — is a Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). (In the U.S. the holiday has become a source of Mexican-American pride and a good reason for Americans to eat great Mexican food and drink tequila. Since we’ve been hearing a lot of Mexican DJs in recent months and Mexico will be on a lot of people’s minds today, we’ve compiled a list of Mexican DJs we think you should be on your radar. This list is in no particular order and by no means complete. But feel free to hit us with a comment if there’s a Mexican DJ you think the world should know about. ¡Viva México!
The work Ryuichi Sakamoto has done in soundtracks since the ’80s seems like enough for several lifetimes, so it’s only natural that he should be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium, which take place October 19-20. The most recent highlight in Sakamoto’s soundtrack career has been the music for The Revenant, but his CV goes all the way back to his 1983 work on Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring David Bowie (in which Sakamoto also appeared as an actor). Over the years, Sakamoto has crafted idiosyncratic soundscapes for everything from Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor to Almodovar’s High Heels.
Most crucially, Sakamoto’s work has deftly blended orchestral and electronic instrumentation, creating a highly original amalgam that made his music stand out no matter what the context. And of course, he’s also had a long, rich career as a performer and composer, reaching all the way back to his days with pioneering Japanese synth-pop outfit Yellow Magic Orchestra. At the World Soundtrack Awards, a selection of Sakamoto soundtrack music will be played by the Brussels Philharmonic conducted by Dirk Brossé. The WSA is also crowdfunding an album featuring the best of Sakamoto’s soundtrack work as realized by Brossé and the Philharmonic, so you can become a part of the process of honoring this gifted composer.
Barcelona-based Mar-T is gearing up for another big season in Ibiza. A resident at Amnesia since 1999 and producer of tracks for esteemed labels including Hot Creations, Cocoon recordings and Get Physical, his WOW! Recordings is currently celebrating ten years of releasing great dance music by the likes of Valentino Kanyazi, Marco Nastic, Paco Osuna and Toni Varga.
The Ibiza legend will be manning the decks at Pacha Ibiza on May 6, Amnesia’s opening party on May 28 and Hyte’s opening party at Amnesia on June 29. What will he play? We asked the man himself to fill us in on five tunes that are currently rocking his world.
Pirupa gets by with a little help from his friends on his upcoming EP for Nic and Mark Fanciulli’s Saved Records. The rising Italian house DJ/producer, who has has been coming on strong over the past few years by releasing tracks on labels including Defected, Desolate, Rebirth and Noir Music, makes his return to the imprint with his Pirupa & Friends EP. The four-track effort boasts two solo tracks and two collaborative efforts. We’re pleased to world premiere “Pitch Da Bitch,” a feisty collaboration with fellow emerging Italian mixmaster and frequent musical cohort Leon that’s overflowing with sinewy grooves and funk for days. Check the track below and the EP on May 6.
When he’s not creating his own idiosyncratic musical landscapes, Richie Hawtin has been working with British boffin Andy Rigby-Jones to design a new mixer that would meet the needs of an uncompromising electronic musician. Now the fruits of the pairs labor can finally be experienced with the launch of the PLAYdifferently Model 1 mixer. It was introduced at NAMM and now it’s ready to roll out. It will be available starting June 30 directly from the company. But first, Hawtin will let the world in on what his mixer can do by using it at Berlin’s Arena Club tonight, from 8pm to 1am CET.
You can catch the live stream of the event at Boilerroom.tv.live, as Hawtin and a host of special guests including Ellen Allien, Dubfire, Chambra, and others give the mixer a trial by fire. The Model 1 has six stereo channels, two send & return challens, two mix outputs and a master & booth EQ. It also offers a per channel hybrid filter EQ & input overdrive control, dual headphone cue system, dual mixer linking capabability, and more. To quote Hawtin’s thoughts about his creation, “It’s time to accept that DJing has come a long long way over the past 25 years and introduce a mixer that lives up to the expectations of the modern electronic music performer. A mixer more akin to an instrument with intuitive controls, uncompromising quality and features that can unlock a new wave of creativity.“