I was approached by Limbic Void to do a remix for their new EP “Lapdogs”, and after listening to the fantastic EP, I picked the song “Castaway” to remix (I could pick whichever track I wanted, which was super inspiring). If you compare it to the original you’ll hear that I kept a lot of the original pop song structure, but reworked the song entirely to give it more drive (and bass, naturally). I hope you like it!
I know. It’s been a while. I’m sorry. But – I’ve now compiled numbers from 2013 and 2014 and added them to the stats. “But, Y U NO 2015?!” I hear you ask — because 2015 isn’t done yet, and since I’ve only dealt with full year data sets earlier, I see no reason to change that now. In other words, you’ll have to wait for the 2015-numbers until 2015 is over.
Anyhoo, without further whatever, here are the updated charts, with some accompanying observations..
Demoparties / events
One way to take the pulse of the scene is to look at the amount of demoscene events happening each year. This chart shows the number of registered parties (with releases!) from 1984 to 2014 – 30 years of demo parties! TL;DR: after hitting the lowest point ever in 2010 (63 parties), it seems to have stabilized around roughly 72-75 parties. There appears to be an ever so slight correlation between the amount of parties and amount of releases, but it’s impossible to say for sure (or even which way it would correlate).
Active demo groups
Another way to look at the activity level is to see how many groups are associated with productions / releases in any given year. Here is a graph showingthe amount of active groups from 1978 to 2014. TL;DR: the number of groups is on a slow but steady decline, which has been going on more or less uninterrupted since the high point in 1996 (1071 groups), in 2014 there were 549.
Total demoscene production output, all platforms
Alright, now we get to the meat of it. This is the go-to chart for people interested in the overall state of the creative output of the scene. TL;DR: the scene is still alive, chugging along at the same pulse as it’s had for the last four years or so. Building on my hypothesis of the previous few years, I can now with high certainty conclude that it has plateaued (with a slight increase in the last two years). Both 2013 and 2014 had the exact same amount of prods: 909.
Let’s break these down into the individual platforms used to compile the overall number. TL;DR: for the last few years there seems to be an amusing correlation between C64 and Windows prods. When the one goes up, the other goes down, and vice versa. Could it be that the most active C64 people are closet Windows demo makers or the other way around? :) Also: from 2012 to 2013 we can observe good growth in the popularity of the web platform (jumping from 23 in 2012 up to 112 in 2013), which then took a bit of a dive in 2014 (down to 85). It’s interesting to see that the web briefly overtook Amiga as a demo platform in 2013.
Let’s remove Windows, the dominant platform, and see what’s going on underneath the surface of the other platforms. I’ve limited this graph to the last decade (2004 – 2014) for clarity. TL;DR: Amiga is back, in a big way! If this trend continues, the Amiga might, for the first time in history, overtake the C64 as the second most popular demoscene platform (after Windows). Note: this data is from Pouet.net – it does not include other sources which might have more detailed C64 release data, so don’t go all flameparty on me, okay?
Alright, so let’s dive further down into what kind of productions are being made and not just on which platforms they are released. TL;DR: 4k intros still in decline (24% down over the last four years), 64k intros (10% up and down over the same period) have stabilized, and demos are seeing a slow but steady increase (25% up from 2011 to 2014).
Overall, demoscene output has indeed stabilized, which is nice. The large decline we’ve seen starting at the beginning of this decade has stopped. Differentiation seems to flourish in the platforms, but not in the type of productions (as in: there’s a consistent creative output, mostly of demos, but people appear to be moving between platforms). There does not appear to be any significant increase in overall activity (as in: not a lot of new people are joining the scene and making things though there are some exceptions), and if the demoscene is to survive / thrive once more, this needs to change.
My hope is that the new possibilites in the web platforms will serve as a new jumping-on point for fresh talent. We see it already, with sites like Shadertoy being really popular, so the question is: should those types of things be included in the scene rather than the scene expecting people to “graduate” to stand-alone demos? I leave that question with you, the reader.
If you are looking for some cool prods to watch, I would recommend you visit curio.scene.org. Special thanks to Gargaj for helping me with extracting data from Pouet.net, of which these statistics are based.
If you’d like to have a chat about this or anything else you think I’ll find interesting, then by all means, hit me up on Twitter: @gloom303
Google Music: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Subsquare_Hit_the_Grave_Running?id=B55jmupjny3awzbhhs7xsrkvgn4
Amazon MP3: http://www.amazon.com/Hit-Grave-Running-Subsquare/dp/B00I1EXQ12/
My second single, entitled “Broken”, featuring Jane Dawn on vocals, is finally out. It’s a three-track single with remixes by Irvin and lug00ber which I really dig. Please give it a listen, and share it with others if you like it – you can find links to buy or listen to it here:
- BandCamp: http://music.subsquare.com/
- iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/broken-single/id639593349
- Amazon MP3: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CHJIYQO/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_MPMDrb18ZAEDQ
- Rdio: http://www.rdio.com/artist/Subsquare/album/Broken/
- Spotify: http://tinyurl.com/nbc002spotify
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Subsquare_Broken?id=Boqcat2gvq7b4u5yqk4aaszarqy
- Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/subsquaremusic/sets/broken-feat-jane-dawn
If you want to support me by buying it, please consider getting it from Bandcamp or iTunes, since plays on Spotify or Rdio really pays nothing at all to small indie artists such as myself, but I do need to be on those platforms for exposure.
Thanks for the support since “Catzilla” came out late last year – it’s been amazing – I hope you like this track too. I’m really proud of it.
Okay, so I’m wrapping up the second release (out on April the 24th) and I’m sort of wondering how people will like it. “Catzilla” was on the darker and more aggressive side of things, and this new track has more melodic content. I like it, and I hope everyone else will too, but I’m semi-worried that people expect “more of the same”. Time will tell. :)
Once in a while I’m asked what gear I use. Though these days it’s usually more along the lines of “You use Massive, right?” – now I don’t blame people for asking that, given that if you ask any aspiring EDM-musician, Massive is probably the soft-synth they can all name instantly.
To answer that question: I do _have_ Massive, but it’s not my go-to soft synth at all. Yeah, I’ve used it here and there, but it’s not even on every track or remix I do. So, I thought I’d write a short post about what software and hardware I use, just to try to draw a picture of how I work when creating music. Not that the list is particulary interesting or even valuable in any way, but just because as I write this I’m stuck on a 11-hour flight to San Francisco and I don’t really have anything better to do.
- Reaper (DAW) – should come as no surprise really. I have used everything from Sony ACID up to Digidesign Protools and pretty much anything in between. In the late 90s I used Cakewalk (now Sonar) and Logic, but I never really felt comfortable with those DAWs. Same goes for Protools: it’s just so slow and cranky (drivers, OS updates, breaking files) and really not that intuitive. I have touched Ableton Live a few times but I didn’t like it much. Too flat, and the “stacked loop”-approach feels unorganic to me. That said: which DAW you use is honestly completely irrelevant. If anyone ever tells you that you need to use this-and-that DAW to be able to make so-and-so music, you should probably stop listening to that person immediately since they are full of shit. Your DAW is your hammer – you pick your nails and what to build yourself.
- Tone2 Gladiator 2 (Synth) – this is my go-to synth. It’s usually the first one I try when I want to get to a particular sound. It can create some really gritty stuff and still be silky smooth for pads and strings.
- NI Reaktor (Synth) – I don’t really use Reaktor itself that much, but rather synths based on it. My favourite Reaktor synth is Razor, which works very well for FM-like insanity leads.
- NI Massive (Synth) – yeah, it’s on the list, but I don’t use it much.
- KiloHearts Faturator (FX, distortion) – go-to plugin for subtle saturation as well as nice crunch and overdrive.
- Fabfilter Pro-Q/Pro-C/Pro-L (EQ, compressor, limiter) – Insanely usable plugins that I use all the time.
- Brainworx bx_XL V2 (M/S mastering limiter) – Limiting on the mastering stage. Gets things loud without crushing them. Love it.
- Brainworx bx_digital V2 (M/S digital mastering processor) – EQ and M/S processing for mastering. Mono-control for bass and suchlike.
- ValhallaRoom (Reverb) – it’s easy to control and sounds awesome. Nobrainer.
- D16 Decimort (Bitcrusher) – cheap, extensive bitcrusher. Very versatile.
- D16 Syntorus (Chorus) – for life to multi-band distorted leads, as well as just simple and good chorus.
When it comes to how I work with hardware synths and FX, I usually go sample crazy. Yeah, I don’t have stuff hooked up to the DAW via MIDI for an entire session, but rather work on independent parts in MIDI and then record them and chop up/loop the samples afterwards. Working with audio-files gives me three important things:
1) iron-tight timing (no “put all your drums on channel 1 to keep them in sync” here),
2) control (cut, fade, EQ, effects – by keeping it inside the DAW, it makes things easier to manage as the project files grow),
3) destructive editing (yeah, I like it actually. I hate “having all the possibilities in the world” because then it’s easy to procrastinate and don’t commit to something).
- RME Fireface 800 (Interface) – industry standard audio interface, FireWire-connected. Low latency, excellent transparent sound and super stable.
- Roland Juno 106 (Analogue) – a classic. Used with a distortion pedal, the two built-in chorus effects and the Voltage Controlled Filter can produce utter madness.
- Access Virus C (Digital) – another classic, but a so-called “virtual analogue”.
- Roland TR-909 (Analogue) – need oompfh in your kick drum or to have the best hi-hats in the world? This is the unit.
- Roland TB-303 (Analogue) – yeah, I do have one and I love it. Bring the resonance and cutoff down low for some insane bass-action. Switch to square and sample away. Also good for classic acid lines of course.
- Arturia Minibrute (Analogue) – made in 2012, this new (!) analogue synth from french software makers (!) Arturia is the most fun you can have without breaking any laws.
- Jomox Xbase 888 (Digital+Analogue) – drum machine for more creative sounds. Uploading short samples and playing around with it can yield interesting results, though I rarely take the time to do so.
- Jomox T-resonator (Analogue) – time-delayed resonating filter. Feed something into this and it’ll turn into a resonating monster of a sound. Create lifts and fills with random inputs in seconds of tweaking.
It’s important to restate that while I do use some outboard gear and hardware synths, there is little that cannot be replicated with software today*, it’s simply that I work faster by quickly turning knobs to getting the sound I want and then sampling it than by staying totally in the software domain. Therefore, this list should not be seen as any sign for you to give up if all you have is a laptop and some software.
Don’t be fooled by massive (pun intended) hardware rigs or mega-desktop computer-monsters littered with all the latest releases from all your favorite music software vendors: learn a few things and learn them well, then add to that knowledge with more tools as needed.
If I can offer any advice (or you care to take it) it’s this: learn your tools. Read the manuals, then learn your tools again. A sawtooth output of Massive is no more or less basic than a sawtooth output from some random freeware VSTi you find on KVR. Also: another piece if advice – if you just want to get your idea down before its gone, or a sound fits well within your project: there is absolutely nothing wrong with presets.
* except the TB-303. Nothing beats the real thing :)