Akai and Me

Posted on 29. May, 2009 by in Studio Sessions


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s3000xl_optmz For many years I had a love affair with one manufacturer and a series of ever evolving machines. Akai: and the S- Series hardware rack samplers. I used to protect my collection of sample, loop and program laden floppy discs as if I was guarding Her Majesty’s crown jewels . Throughout the late 80′s and early 90′s, ‘sampling’ was cred, cool and indeed spawned a musical sub-culture itself. It was shortly after the likes of M.A.R.R.S. released ‘Pump Up The Volume, followed by bands like S’Express and Bomb The Bass that the world and it’s mother quickly jumped on board and DJ’s became ‘artists’ in their own right.

I may be inviting stones to be hurled in my general direction from the acoustic & rock fraternity here, but just as the guitar/drum pioneers of the 50′s influenced those that followed their lead, this late 80′s coming together of cultural and technological events really did help to shape the world of popular music that we know today. Later however at the end of the 90′s, a general backlash against having anything based on a sample in dance music occurred. Then, almost as a rebellion against that ethos and proliferating still today, the contemporary R&B/Hip-Hop artists grabbed the baton and began to base most of their song hooks on whatever archive track they felt could be sampled and weaved into a chorus! This followed with a response from the House fraternity spawning the Disco flavoured ‘Funky House vibe, ultimately giving birth to ‘brands’ such as Hed Kandi etc. And so it continues..

who sampled whoAs a great source for those questions of ‘who sampled what?’ and ‘who was sampled?’, take a trip to Whosampled.com and check out some of your favourite tunes from now and bygone days.. It’s an eyeopening site and highly recommended by me – I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you find.

I repeatedly say to the students who attend my periodic college lectures, that the studio gear we have available today is wondrous, affordable and ubiquitous. The music we have to plunder, sorry.. take influence from, is an audio well that will never run dry. I still think back to the countless hours loading up an Akai midi sampler with samples, within programs, within groups.. Hearing a loop clumsily re-trigger at every 4th bar (evident on most dance records in the 90′s).. trying like mad to make a 12 or 16 bit sample sound anything like decent and cursing the hell out of the world if there was a system crash or power cut before I’d pressed ‘save‘.. Oh, happy days..

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