Highlights of BPM 2015

Ableton Certified Trainer, and resident Maschine Trainer Tom Lonsborough shares a few highlights from BPM 2015 @ The N.E.C

Below you can see one of the inflatable learning zones – I had a great response to the workshop I did on sampling from records, and how it has been potentially in decline over the past few years. As I discussed in the workshop, Mixmag recently carried out a survey in which people voted for their favourite piece of dance music. Of the top 10, 7 contained samples and only 1 track had been made since 2000, the others were all pre-millenium: food for thought. If you’re interested in learning more about manipulating samples and structuring music around them, take a look at our music composition course here.

The Learning zone

Yamaha have released a new set of keyboards inspired by their successes of the past. My favourite of the 4 was the DX, a recreation of the classic DX7. It had a very similar sound to the original – perhaps a fraction thinner because the DX has only 4 operators as opposed to the original’s 6, and perhaps a little cleaner, but still produced a beautifully rich sound – DX7 Bass anyone? What gives it an edge over the original for me is the intuitive interface: users of the DX7 will tell you how hard it is to design a patch- the DX however has an easy to use menu with a larger more detailed screen, plus built in effects. The only let down for each of the new keyboards is the toy-like size. Would have been better if they’d gone for perhaps a Korg-style 80% size keyboard rather than Micro-Korg sized mini keys. Still, my DX7 will be for sale shortly to replace it with one of these beauties anyway.


I visited the Roli stand and had a play with their potentially groundbreaking MIDI controller, the Seaboard. It is laid out in a similar way to a traditional keyboard, but allows for much more expression in your playing than a regular MIDI controller keyboard. You have 3 dimensional control over parameters: downward pressure/aftertouch, vertical movement up and down a key, and movement left/right once you’ve pressed a key. The feel of the device takes some getting used to as someone who is used to a traditional keyboard – the material feels a little bit like skin, but I can imagine that with a bit of practice the scope for modulating a sound successfully will be massive. If you’re looking to get in to sound design and synthesis, you can study this with us as part of music production diploma course – more details available here.

Roli Seaboard controller stand

Although it’s been out a while now, I finally had chance to have a play on Korg’s reissue of the Arp Odyssey. It’s a wonderful, fat sounding piece of kit if you’re into your vintage sounds. As you can see – it’s fully analogue therefore no presets! You have to craft a sound from scratch each time which is a rewarding process, if a little time consuming, but that’s part of the charm. It’s all to easy just to load a bank of presets up on Sylenth without any thought these days.. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you’re after that special Arp sound look no further.

Korg's Arp Odyssey reissue

Novation are probably best known for their excellent range of Ableton Live controllers, however historically they have also made some great sounding synthesisers. I couldn’t resist having a play on their new limited edition ‘MoroderNova’ which is essentially the same synth design as their MiniNova synth, but with some Giorgio Moroder-flavoured presets from some of his classic tracks. Considering the size of the synth, it packs a big sound and faithfully replicates the signature sounds of tracks like ‘I feel love’ (worth the price for that preset alone!) There are only going to be a few hundred of these units made, so if you’re a fan of the man with the moustache, grab one while you can. Why not visit our YouTube page for analysis and tips on recreating classic tracks?

Novation's stand

Finally, alongside all the music production goodies, there was the usual turnout of amazing turntablists who I never tire of watching. DJ technology has advanced at a ridiculous rate over the past few years, but for me you’ll never beat the 1s and 2s! If you’d like to be up here next year, why not take a look at our DJ courses here.

The Demo stage



Student Success Curtis Jay on becoming an Events Promoter

Thought of becoming an events promoter? We talk student success Jordan Colquhoun (Curtis Jay) about his journey with Love Array.

Hey Jordan, thanks for catching up with us. So, what’s your link with MMS, DJing and production?

No problem, thanks for the opportunity. So basically I had been DJing for a couple of years and was getting to a point where I felt I wasn’t really progressing much, so I came to MMS to look at doing a DJ Course just to try brush up on my skills really. By the time I left I’d signed onto the Music Production and Audio Engineering Course as well as signing up for a few 1-2-1 DJ lessons. I knew that I wanted to be DJing in clubs, so producing had been in the back of my mind for a while and as DJing is so competitive these days; I know that one way to help push a DJ career is to be producing your own music.

So when I was taking the tour round MMS I thought if I’m really going to give it a proper crack I should just sign up and get started! I did the course, and since then I’ve been DJing quite a bit around the North West and in a few bars which is also really good fun – and pays pretty well!

I’ve also set up a little studio with some proper hardware in there which I’m really happy with, which I’m spending more and more time in there these days which is cool. I’ve also started my own night called Love Array too…

What sort of music are you producing? 

I’d say I’m only just starting to find a style that I really enjoy producing which at the moment is predominantly deep groovy house music, whilst trying to incorporate any samples I like and that I can work in. I’d say the guys that are putting stuff out on Local Talk Records is definitely my sort of style, whilst still trying to find my own sound to add to the mix.

Is this different to what you’re DJing? 

I play so much stuff, but I’d say my sets generally comprise of a mixture of disco infused house/groovy sampled stuff, and can get into some heavier techno as well. Guys like Move D and the people from Wolf Music are definitely my inspirations when it comes to mixing.

For me it’s all about keeping your mixes as diverse as possible whilst still making it smooth and fluid throughout.

Here’s a little promo mix I did for our night with Jonny Cade:

Now, you’ve turned your hand to running events. Can you talk to us about Love Array – how it came about, where you run it, how many events you’ve had so far?

I only really started Love Array because it’s so hard to get to DJ at other people’s nights, as they have all there residents and friends playing on their events, so I thought I’d just have a go at putting on my own event. So far we’ve had two nights in Manchester one with Jonny Cade who is also the drummer for Maribou State, he’s doing really well with them at the moment and he’s also doing us a podcast for our Love Array Soundcloud page, I’m really looking forward to hearing what he does for that.

Our second event we had KRL from Wolf Music, he was such a sound guy and like I was saying before about the Wolf Music guys, his set was awesome. We’ve also recently secured a monthly residency at FC2/Friars Courtyard in Warrington which is where I live, and we’ve held two events there so far as well.

What was the decision to run Love Array in 2 places? 

This just came around randomly really, I knew I wanted to put our night on in Manchester even though the competition is stiff, Manchester is renowned for its music scene and I wanted to be part of it. But the reason we ended up running one in Warrington is that I was in Friars Court one night having a few drinks and got chatting to the guy behind the decks who turned out to be the owner.

I was just telling him that I DJ and we’d started a night in Manchester – cut a long story short he asked me if we wanted to put our night on at his venue on a monthly basis so it was to good to turn down, specially as its one of Warrington’s busiest venues.

What’s been the biggest hurdle so far?

The biggest hurdle I’d say is getting people through the door for sure. I’m a pretty organised person who likes to get things done so getting everything sorted and making sure everything’s planned and running smoothly isn’t too hard, but no matter how organised you are or motivated to get things done that doesn’t guarantee that people are going to come to your night. It has been a big learning curve so far.

Love Array Logo

Who runs Love Array – what’s the ethos, what are you trying to do differently?

I pretty much do all the running and organisational stuff myself, but I have a few of my friends who help me when it comes to doing things on the night, like getting setup and what not. We’ve also got our main residents including me, and my close friends Steven Toft and Jack Doepel who play at all the events, then we have a few other residents who play now and then too.

I mentioned before that I found it hard to play at other people’s nights – it was this that our ethos stems from:

I want to give people who are really dedicated to DJing and making music the opportunity to play at our night. I really want to focus on local talent, whilst still bringing in more renowned DJs to play for us now and then as well.

Also, our music policy I feel is a little different to a lot of nights out there, as all our residents play a mixed selection of tracks from funk & soul, jazz, latin, disco to house and techno! I generally decide on the line up and programme what I feel it would work best; so at the beginning of the night you could be grooving away to some funk or disco and by the end you’ll be pumping away to some house music.

What advice would you give to people starting out a night? Any golden rules? 

I’m definitely no pro on how to run a night, but I have learnt a lot in the time I’ve been doing it –

The one stand-out piece of advice I would give is that you should just be super sociable. Go to other people’s nights, get chatting to as many people as possible, meet the people that are running other events, and that way they will take more notice of what your doing especially if you’re taking an interest in their stuff.

Let them know when your next event is and invite them down, try to create a bit of a buzz around what you’re doing.

Finally, what events have you got coming up? 

So along with the monthly night at FC2/ Friars Court we’ve got three nights in Manchester coming up the first one being on the 25th September at the Deaf Institute where we’re keeping it to just locals – we’ve got Charlie Fleig who runs Doodle playing for us, then we have a night in October and November also at the Deaf Institute. If everything goes to plan I’m thinking of doing something BIG in December.

Love Array with Charlie Fleig Doodle

You can see more about Love Array via their Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud. If you fancy taking the course Jordan did, check out our 18 month Music Production, Audio Engineering and DJing Diploma.