The 90s Tapes

Danny Lewis avatar

Out this week on Traxsource and streaming is a collection of 15 tracks that I made way back in the 90s, some that were released on small independent labels and some that have never been heard in full. I was in my early to mid-twenties when I made these, wide eyed, naive and totally inexperienced. I had no idea about parametric EQ, only having a bass and treble control on my first mixer. I had awful monitoring, flabby second-hand hifi speakers and zero understanding of compression. These tracks were all sequenced using an Atari ST running Cubase on a monochrome monitor connected to a handful of hardware MIDI devices – initially a Roland W30 sampler but later on upgrading to a S770, complete with mouse and CRT monitor for editing. I had a Yamaha TG500 for electric and acoustic pianos, strings, brass, synths etc – that was pretty much the musical workhorse and you can hear it all over the tracks on the album. A couple of cheap Art FX units from Turnkey (fond memories of that place!) were my only choices for reverb or delay.

On reflection right now the paragraph above is so interesting. We live in a world where there is so much choice, so many options when it comes to making music. Instead of 2 FX units I have unlimited amounts, I know how to use compression, how to EQ, how to mix and master. Does it really make a difference? Honestly, some of these tracks sound better for the lack of it. Perhaps it was the energy of youth, the innocence and the ambition that created this. Sadly though I had zero confidence in my own ability in those days. I listen back to these and think they are fantastic. Yes they needed a bit of work on the mastering side for release and some needed new elements to make them work better for DJs (I had a habit of making tracks not so back in those days) but they are a fantastic body of work that my 50 something self can say humbly.

You can grab them now on Traxsource pre-order and then the full release is available on multiple platforms from the 10th September.

You can also watch the videos where I rediscovered the tapes a few years back (it’s taken me a long time to commit to putting them out!)

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