Amber Fade EP And Its Influences

So yesterday was the official announcement of something I’ve had to keep under wraps for ages. On the 4th of June, Amber Fade EP will release on Shall Not Fade’s sub label “Lost Palms”. This is a huge moment for me, and it’s by far my greatest achievement in my music career to date. You can preorder the digital or vinyl here. Yeah, I said vinyl. It has always been my dream to get my music released on vinyl, and now that dream has come true.

All of my favourite lo-fi/outsider house artists have had releases on Lost Palms such as DJ Boring, Mall Grab and Baltra, all of which have been huge influences in what I listen to today and the music I make. So to get a release that puts me alongside them means a lot to me. Of course, they’re up to much greater things right now but still.

The EP is a compilation of tracks that I’ve made over the past few years, from when I only just started making music that I could actually deem “acceptable”, all the way to last year. I’ll go through all the tracks and give a bit of backstory on each of them. Here’s a load of snippets posted to the Shall Not Fade Soundcloud if you want a listen:

Amber Fade

Amber Fade, the title track, is by a long way my most successful track to date. And it deserves it in my opinion. Its simple yet deep grooves are what carries it. I made it about two years ago, before I transferred over to Ableton and ditched my macbook. I named the track after a weapon skin from CSGO (an fps game I play way too much). Here’s what it looks like:

The track is pretty much entirely made on stock logic plugins. Synths, drums, everything. apart from the sub bass which I used a saturated Behringer Model D triangle wave to give it a bit of oomf. People have messaged me asking how I made the pads, and it’s literally just a straight sine wave chord with Logic’s chromaverb plugin cranked up to max.

A little fun fact, I initially took some inspiration from “March” by Ross From Friends. I wanted to make something that wasn’t just 4 on the floor house for once and that was my starting point.

It’s had a bit of a rocky release history though. It was initially self released on my SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Spotify (through distrokid). The day after, it was posted on the house music curation YouTube channel “Slav” and reposted by them on SoundCloud too. This was the first time a channel of this calibre had featured any of my tracks and I was ecstatic. Right now it’s sitting at around 72K.

It continued to gather lots and lots of plays and with it, attention to me as an artist too. A few months prior to Amber Fade’s release I sent an email to the Australian label “clipp.art” asking if they were interested in releasing an EP or single of some sort. And only then, after seeing Amber Fades success, did they reply to that request. They said they wanted to release Amber Fade as a single and requested I removed it from Spotify and Bandcamp. So I did. Big mistake. The Spotify algorithm had just caught onto it and it was amassing several hundred plays a day. But that clipp.art release was just too tempting. A couple of my favourite artists, Computer Data and Park Hye Jin had had releases with them.

After that I tried to email them several times in a row, and got radio silence back. I messaged Baltra and Computer Data asking for help, since it was the first time I’d dealt with a relatively big record label. They basically told me to stay away from them, and they were bad news. Especially Computer Data. I sent one last email to clipp.art saying that I had changed my mind on releasing with them, and that I was going to put it back up on Spotify and Bandcamp myself. They almost instantly emailed back trying to get me to change my mind, but I had already decided. Many, many thanks to Slav for promoting my music, I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. And also thanks to Computer Data and Baltra for helping me out when I needed it most.

Computer Data’s stuff

Baltra’s work

Park Hye Jin’s bangers

Tilted

This track came around almost by accident. I made this one shortly after Amber Fade. It was the first track I had finished and released using Ableton. I was messing around with a Juno pad sample I had recently downloaded from one of Legowelt’s sample pack, and my newly acquired Roland TR-8S drum machine. It was in full 808 mode, and I remember the moment I had a drum pattern, and I cranked the decay on that 808 kick up to max. Oh boy. I love how the distortion on the drums gives that kick some pitch, and I tweaked it to be in key with the rest of the track. The little acid line that comes in halfway through is again, from that Behringer Model D. What makes this track special is I pretty much came up with the entire thing while jamming, and recorded it all live in one take. A bit of editing afterwards of course, but it was super fun making this one. I even did a little YouTube video of me performing it. I hate the way I bob and dance around nervously. Here it is:

If you want to compare it to the actual version, the YouTube channel hurfyd were kind enough to post it:

If you’re attentive you might have noticed the Pokemon Platinum samples, taken from Eterna Forest. I have so many great memories of that game, playing in the back of the car with my two siblings, battling each other on infrared multiplayer. We each had our own pokemon starter type. My brother picked grass, my sister water, and me, fire. I loved my Chimchar to death. Shame I left my DS in the back of a plane with Pokemon inside it. God I was sad after that.

Another weird fact, shortly before I was trying to come up with a name for the track, I had just been destroyed in a 1v1 against one of my friends Rudey on CSGO. Yep, the same game that influenced Amber Fade. At the time he was worse than me (and still probably is), but somehow managed to beat me. I was not happy. Being “Tilted” is when you’re angry at a game so much that it negatively affects your performance. Hence the name of this track.

Apparently I motivated Rudey to start making music, and he’s posted some of it to Soundcloud. I’m down for a rematch anytime ๐Ÿ˜‰

Late Nights

This one is the oldest track from me on the EP, I made it about a year before Amber Fade. Yes, it’s clearly a flip of a Minecraft song. I’m not going to try and hide it. Minecraft was another game that I played a lot as a kid, and I stayed up late playing it on LAN with my two siblings. Hence the name. I remember particularly we spent a ton of time building this huge theme park in creative mode, with roller coasters and water rides and shops. V-Park we called it, after our surname. I still hop on Minecraft from time to time and play with my brother and friends.

I’m pretty sure I ripped that speech about nostalgia from the first or second YouTube search result. My god it’s cheesy. There’s something about the way the strings and pads all come together at the end that I love about this track though.

One thing some people might find interesting, I also use some sound snippets of both the Nintendo DS, and Playstation 3 startup sound. See if you can spot them. Here’s a link to the original Minecraft track:

Brilliant bit of piano playing from C418. I managed to get my hands on the entirety of Minecraft Volume Beta on vinyl last year. Incredible album.

I remember snapping the cover art for this track. I was on a student exchange trip to Japan, my first visit to the country, and it was my last evening there before I was heading home. I had just gotten back from a day at the Japanese school and was walking home with my host family. I remember glancing back at the train station I had just came from and I needed to take a picture of it.

This Moment (I Feel)

What would you know, this one also takes influence from a game. This time it’s “The Stanley Parable”. This game is particularly special to me, with it’s strange method of story telling and it’s genius plot lines. Although there’s one moment in the game which has stuck with me, where the main character is stuck in a room with lots of closed doors. The narrator is wondering which door he should open for the player, but then decides to open all of them at once, and says “It’s an adventure!” Now whenever I’m worried about a decision I should make and it’s potential outcome, I imagine all those doors opening up to me. Whichever door I choose, it doesn’t matter. There’s an adventure behind each and every one. Here’s a link to that moment in the game if anyone wants to see what it’s all about.

The track has two main samples that I ripped from the game. The piano you hear at the start and looped throughout is taken from the elevator next to the boss’s office. The narrator murmurs and hums along to the music while you’re in the elevator, and you can hear a bit of that in my track too. One amusing thing is the elevator will shake as if it’s moving somewhere, but if you press the button on the side panel you’ll find out it literally hasn’t moved an inch.

I think it’s stock music, so I hope I’m safe on the copyright side of things.

The other part I sample is a nice speech the narrator has in a moment of the game, where he and the player find a “happy place” and decide to sit there and indulge in it for a while. Here’s a link to that part if anyone wants to see.

A nifty fact about the album art though. I took that picture on my second visit to Japan in 2019. Me and my sister were exploring Uji, the place where one of my favourite animes called “Hibike! Euphonium” is set. We were passing by a bridge that is featured in an important moment in the show and there were two women sat on a bench next to it. So I snapped the shot.

This picture was actually displayed in an art exhibition in Uji that featured pictures influenced by the anime, called Youkoso Fes. So now, not only am I officially a part of Yuru Camp lore, but Hibike Euphonium’s lore too. If you want to find out how I ended up on Yamanashi TV in a news section about Yuru Camp, check out my blog post here.

Image

Disappear

On the subject of Hibike Euphonium, this track took a lot of inspiration from the show. It’s my favourite anime after all. This is the newest track on the EP, which I made about a year ago at the start of 2020, a few months after This Moment.

This track was made when I felt like I needed to make something a bit more upbeat than my usual. I started with the 808 beat formula similar to Amber Fade, but made it a bit more punchy and energetic.

The bit I sampled from the anime was a song that one of Kumiko’s friend’s called Asuka, plays a few times. It’s a song her dad wrote, and it’s very special to her. Here it is:

See if you can spot it in the main track ๐Ÿ™‚

While I’m still on the subject, one of my other tracks, “Healing Process”, released on Misplaced Recordings, steals a snippet from the Hibike Euphonium lore too. Here’s my track, and here’s where I got the sample from. Sneaky. Shout out to my boys Jake and Rudey from the lofi.family crew for making it in the intro.

In Disappear I also sampled a little bit from one of my favourite drum and bass artists “London Elektricity”. I’m not usually one for dnb, but I’m super into his earlier albums “Billion Dollar Gravy” and “Syncopated City”. This one is taken from the latter album from a track called “Just One Second”. I discovered this track through Gran Turismo 5, a racing game I used to play a lot as a kid. Gran Turismo’s OSTs are all brilliant, and I’m still finding cool new tracks from their games to this day.

Start Again

Last but not least, this is another one of my super old tracks. This one came a few months after Late Nights, and it’s probably my track I’m most fond of.

One of my best friends while I was doing A-Levels helped me to make this one. You can hear me trying to get him to play a piano chord at the start, and his guitar playing is brilliant. His solo in the middle brings the track to a whole new level.

I have so many fond memories of us trying to do homework together but ending up dicking around, or us dicking around in science class, or that time we found that super old electric organ and dicked around on it. Thanks for helping me out with this one Ludo, I hope you’re keeping well.

In Conclusion…

So that pretty much sums up all the tracks in the EP. Thanks for making it this far in the post. And a huge thanks to Shall Not Fade for sorting all this out. I couldn’t be happier. You can probably tell from reading all this that I’m a massive nerd. Anime, Games, and Japan are pretty much all I think about 24/7. Oh and studying for my Computer Science degree. Don’t worry mum and dad ๐Ÿ™‚

One quick thing before I close up. A bit of backstory about the cover art for the EP. I snapped that shot shortly after I returned from my solo travels in Japan mid 2020, early in the morning while I was in COVID isolation and adjusting to jetlag. I wanted the art to represent my home, Jersey, and I thought getting St Aubin’s fort on the cover would be perfect.

Things are a bit quiet right now in the music production department because of all that studying (and gaming), but I’ve got a few tracks in the works that could potentially be for a second EP. Nothing set in stone but Shall Not Fade seem to like the idea ๐Ÿ˜‰

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