Hi, Doctor Nick! - Sampling Techniques and How to Throw a Cool Party in a Smaller City

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It may be Thanksgiving here in the United States, but it's also Thursday, and there are no holidays for XLR8R's resident wise man, Nick Hook. After all, with so many readers undoubtedly stuck at home with their families over the next few days, it's hard to think of a more appropriate time for the good doctor to be doling out his unique brand of advice. If you need help from Doctor Nick, drop him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com. Otherwise, read on and see what he has to say this week.

Hi. Happy holidays y'all. I'm thankful to be here, thankful that people give a fuck, thankful that I have amazing friends, and thankful that we get to do what we do—every day. So, thank you, really, from the bottom of my heart. I feel so lucky. I was walking down the street and Vince Vaughn looked me in the eye the other day. It was weird.

Here we go.

Hi Doctor Nick,
What's the process you go through to sample vocals and instrumentals?

There are two ways. The first: I go to the record store, buy something, put it on my turntable, and sample it into Ableton Live. There are many ways to cut it up, depending on exactly what you wanna do. Ableton's slice to MIDI is pretty underused in my opinion. Cut up drum breaks, layer them with whatever drum machine sounds you like, filter, or just take a break and chop in the arrange window. I'm mostly an Ableton guy, so Simpler Sampler is my shit. Take pieces, toss them in there, tune it so it's in tune, and play it. I could go more in depth, but there are mad nerds out there on YouTube who probably already handled that already. Logic I think does the same thing with the EXS24. Fuck Logic tho.

It's also 2012, and in a weird way, I think sampling off YouTube is bringing back some sort of lo-fi, 12-bit kinda vibe. An amazing tool is Cycling 74's Soundflower. It routes your computer as an out and you can input it into Ableton, easily recording/sampling whatever you want off YouTube. It's free. Get it here.

I have a Maschine by Native Instruments. It's fun to load samples into that and mess around MPC style by laying everything out onto the pads. Honestly, my methods are always changing. I'm a crackhead, so I never do things the same twice.

Mostly, it's important to be creative. Peep this and hear how Mobb Deep flipped this Herbie Hancock sample to make a beat that makes you wanna knock everyone out the second you hear it. This gives me the chills. And the drums are sampled and just looped. Damn.

Hi Doctor Nick!
I'm a fellow ginger, so props for that. Anyways, I live in a small "hipster" city, which up until about a year ago didn't have much of a forward-thinking dance scene. There were and still are a lot of talented house heads, D&B dudes, dubplate scratchas, and breakbeat turntablists, but as a DJ myself, I was interested in hearing some of the more contemporary "global bass" sounds: footwork, cumbia, UK Funky, ballroom, Jersey club, etc. So I started a little party of my own, and it's gone off pretty well for about a year now. We managed to host some awesome DJs, which I'm really proud of. Unfortunately, at this point, I feel a bit like we've plateaued. It's hard to keep people coming back every month, and I want to bring even bigger DJs, but my budget won't allow it. I do this because I love it, and I usually end up not paying myself and barely having enough to pay the guest. Do you have any advice on how to take the party to the next level? Promotion? Explaining to the club owner that this is good and they should help us out more? Getting sponsors? Please help!! A lot of kids are counting on me to keep this party going, but with virtually no budget and no professional experience of my own, I've basically made it up as I go. How do I keep the ball rolling?
Che Ros

Hey man. Thanks for writing.

It's amazing that you started your own party. It takes guts, especially because in terms of the music game, putting on parties has the least reward for how much you actually put in. You should be proud.

I grew up in St. Louis. I wasn't throwing my own parties back then, but I knew people that did and they had similar problems. The good thing for us was that most artists went to play in Chicago, so with the right hustle, you could get guys in. I remember we had Goldie on a Sunday night in a place that fit like 50 people. So, I would say reach out to promoters in your vicinity and just put it out there that you would be interested in trying to tag along on some of their bookings. It could save the other guy money on travel, so everyone starts to win. It also helps said DJ out with another show, even if it might be for a little less than "normal."

Also, I would reach out to booking agents, same deal. Just let them know you have X budget and you are trying to help build acts. When my friends and I threw our party in New York, the whole premise was not to make a penny but to just have something we loved and people didn't forget. We ended up bringing SBTRKT to America for the first time in his life, hosting Lunice's first headlining show, Egyptrixx, HudMo, DJ Sega, DJ Assault. It definitely helped people find out who I was as a growing artist, and eventually helped get me out of town, too.

Sponsors are good, but it's really difficult. Meet your local alcohol distributor. See if they can give you an open bar, or a few bucks. Go to the local college and get some weird hot girls to bring all the other weird hot girls—then all the weird dudes will show up.

And there's the last resort that we all know works the best: sell drugs to fund projects that you love.

It's ill, you make it up as you go along. In the game of putting on a party, I don't think there is a tried-and-true formula. No risk, no reward, right?

Hope that helps. Happy holidays.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.