Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Computer Paul Bio

Originally hailing from the musically diverse Washington D.C. area, Computer Paul aka Steve Shapero, was raised on a steady diet of go-go, hip-hop, reggae, and hardcore punk rock. D.C. hardcore shows were famous for having reggae bands (or even bands that played hardcore and reggae all in the same set), go-go bands, and punk bands like Fugazi all sharing the same stage in the same night.

The transition to the heavily dancehall-influenced sounds of Jungle in Montréal's underground dance music scene was a natural one in the early 90's. CP gave up his guitar and traded it in for 2 turntables and a stack of Suburban Base 12" singles. Arriving in NYC in 1996 before Giuliani had successfully outlawed all forms of public dancing, CP discovered the then-vibrant club scene which revolved around the city's well-known big room DJs like Louie Vega and Danny Tenaglia, as well as the countless unsung underground heroes that were the lifeblood of the party scene.

Together with friends Sean B, Thomas, and Chris Kazimir, CP started the Freeskool series of parties. In the late 90's, Giuliani had overseen the effective shutdown of all of NYC's smaller venues, forcing underground music to go deep underground. Freeskool got started as a series of "outlaw" loft parties in what were then unfrequented corners of Brooklyn. Each DJ in the Freeskool crew had a unique and completely different sound from the other DJs: Breaks, 2-step, House, Techno, and Jungle could all be heard in the same venue in the same night. This is where CP learned to rock a huge crowd and "take them on a journey".

The popularity of the party grew and turned into a bi-weekly event at a speakeasy in the Lower East Side. CP continued to hone in on a sound that had a solid foundation in the American mid-west (Chicago/Detroit) deep house sound, combined with a heavily percussion-influenced sounds coming from NYC. The constant call of Salsa in the streets of Brooklyn was to be a big influence in the CP conga-driven rhythms. CP became one of the tightest and most consistent mix-oriented DJs, earning the respect and recognition of the underground scene. CP has played at numerous venues in NYC, as well as clubs and one-off underground events in London (AKA Lounge at The End), Montreal (Blizzarts), Vancouver BC, and Seattle.

Following the collapse of both NYC nightlife and the economy due to 9/11, CP moved to the west coast and hung up the headphones for a long time, focusing instead on production. Teaming up with renowned Jazz vocalist Michelle Amador, he produced his first EP for BPSS. The track "Does It" appeared on the world-renowned Bagpak Selects series Vol. II. The EP covers diverse musical territory ranging from downtempo haziness, to UK soul, to classic body and soul style NYC house.

Following up on the critical success of the first EP, BPSS has just released the Westward Exansion EP, featuring 4 tracks of straight up funky disco house vibes without any of the fromage. These are the tunes that have all the elements to get a dancefloor moving, with disco edit and raregroove loops forward in the mix, backed by a solid foundation of congas and harder-hitting Detroit-house style drum programming. These are go-to tracks when you're flustered in the booth and need something to drop that won't let you down. Also features a super hot electro-ish remix by the likes of DJ Woodhead, from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

With all the excitement of releasing tracks, combined with the resurgence of good music, partially made possible by the amazing technology advances in both production and DJ'ing, CP has picked up the headphones once again and is rocking the world with his unique American sound, combining over 15 years of record buying experience and music knowledge with the unique live remix capabilities of Traktor DJ software. Check out his latest mixes on his podcasts, found at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on the VCI-100 vs conventional MIDI controller for Traktor

In this post I'll compare and contrast my experiences mixing with a piano-style MIDI controller vs. my recently acquired Vestax VCI-100. I've rocked the last few podcasts with my trusty Radium 49 MIDI controller which features 8 vertical sliders and 8 rotary knobs in its arsenal of effects-tweaking controls. Mixing with dinky little faders proved to be of little interest to me, so I spent all my knob-twiddling energy in the mix tweaking out the effects. I managed to program all the piano notes to do useful things, but I never quite figured out what the ideal layout was for these controls. I focused on the loop controls and efx parameters I didn't have room to map to the knobs and sliders. I definitely found the knobs lent themselves to more musical tweaking, while the faders, as mentioned, were just too dinky to do anything real useful with.

The first thing I thought once I started mixing with the VCI-100 was: THIS feels like DJ'ing. It made me realize (at least for me but I think this applies to us all) that DJ'ing is partially the act of compulsively adjusting anything that has a knob on the mixer. After about 5 minutes of being in the groove using the long-throw 100mm vertical faders, I craved more action than was possible with the default Traktor VCI-100 settings.

I headed over right away to the DJ Tech Tools custom midi maps and installed Ean Goldens VCI-100 map for Traktor. With a screenshot of the controls on one monitor screen and Traktor on the other, I was able to pickup the new mappings within one mix session. The solid, professional feel of all the knobs and sliders made me feel a lot more musical. The jog wheels are a nice touch for beat matching, and I found that I could beat match entirely by ear like an old school DJ should. Between the tempo sliders and the touch sensitivity of the jog wheel, you can get your mixes tight without relying on the auto sync behavior of Traktor, which doesn't always work that well especially for disco and other non-compute rbeats. I still find that the software locks in your beat matches a lot more tightly than two 1200s will, but I look at this as a benefit: you can focus a lot more on the fun creative aspects of mixing, instead of expending all your concentration on just keeping the groove locked and maybe tweaking the EQ a bit.

I've now gotten into the groove of using the custom map, such that I can flip between using the left-hand EQ knobs as EQs or as parameter tweaks for chained effect unit 1. The only drawback of this layout is that you don't get a dry/wet mix knob for effect 1, but if you need to adjust this you can always cycle the dedicated effects knobs for unit 1 and adjust. There are a few defects with the firmware, but I'm not trying to install firmware 1.3 just to get rid of them; they just aren't worth the hassle.

I've got at least one confirmed club date coming up Nov. 12th in Vancouver. I'll be using this rig for sure. My only fear is that I'm still using my aging M-Audio firewire audiophile interface, and the driver obsessionally acts up and causes total signal loss from Traktor. Bottom line is that I think this unit will allow me to rock the crowd in a way that reminds me a lot more of what DJ'ing was like for me in the days of 2 1200's and a mixer with some fat EQs on it. The tempo-synced effects with auto-detect tempo accuracy means that the creative possibilities with this stuff is just a lot deeper than what is possible with a single hardware effects unit as found on the Pioneer mixers. Combine this with the looping capabilities of Traktor and you can really go nuts.

Stay tuned for podcast 6, which will be the first to feature the new hardware. I did podcast 5 as a special episode for my friend Bob who shares my birthday. It is a pretty deep and banging club style mix that I'm not sure my listeners will dig as much - there is pretty much no disco on it, and I'd like to keep the more upbeat and fun vibe of the other mixes. If you like super deep clubby chicago-detroit style house mixes (ie no commercial jingle crapola) check it out on Soundcloud.

Friday, October 2, 2009

EP2, Westward Expansion, OUT NOW

Heavy percussion, raregroove soul, disco, and funk samples surrounded by new school drum programming blur the lines between classic house and updated disco edit territory. Cuts features a more disco-laden percussion sound, mixing raw samples and harder beats with a west coast smoked out vibe, while Steal Some Days is more of a straight up houser. Be sure to check the Woodhead treatment for an updated electro disco vibe.

Buy now from these fine retailers:

Bagpak Music

Monday, September 14, 2009

Satellite Reunion Party

This was an awesome party. I got coerced into going under the pretense that I would DJ on the rooftop, but I quickly figured out that that wasn't going to happen. But the music was great and I ran into a lot of old friends from the store. It was great to see everyone again and see how they were all doing, and it was great to just be on a rooftop in Manhattan and hear awesome music (mostly of the old school variety, very New York house circa 94-96, a strong chapter in the glory years). I'm wondering if there is a resurgence of dance music in New York and maybe the country at large. It always seems to go in cycles. The people at the party were mostly old store employees, but there were definitely people there to just hear good music. I even talked to some people who were there just to learn about real DJing. Good job Scott on putting out a great party.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Podcast 3: Continuous Disco Edits

I upgraded my aging copy of Traktor DJ Studio 2.6 to Traktor Pro. Definitely a lot has happened in 5 years. Here's my NEW MIX I just ripped after spending an hour learning my way around. Best new things:

  • Faster track analysis
  • Four decks
  • Crazy (too many??) effects
  • Dedicated filter
  • Easier/Faster MIDI control surface mapping/editing
  • Bit grid hacking seems easier, works a lot like live, but still I find it easier to just beatmatch and not screw around too much with the "automatic" mixing. It seemed to just do the right thing 75% of the time, and the more funky stuff with a less pronounced kick drum you just have to mix like a real DJ.

Thing I miss:
  • Either it's harder to figure out how to edit the layout, or the layout control options are more limited
  • Default controls for tempo are way too coarse - many things seem designed to be optimized for use with store-bought controllers like the VCI-100. I had to do (and still need to do more) a fair bit of tweaking on the tempo sliders

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Set-up: DJ'ing w/ MIDI

Check out my MIDI controller as Traktor interface. Deck A is on the left, B on the right. I have the scrub functions mapped, and the cue-pause and cue-play buttons. For fun I have the EQ's mapped to the knobs. Levels for the decks are mapped to the vertical faders. I want to change the filter parameter controls for the deck that has focus to use the sliders and use the filter knobs just to apply filter to deck A or B. Fun stuff!

New Podcast - Continous Live DJ MIX

Check out my first attempt to DJ with Traktor Studio. Pretty cool stuff! The possibilities with Traktor are INSANE. I felt some pressure to try to do a lot of cool stuff. I set-up my own midi controller with some success, definitely some improvements to do. The funnest thing of all time is taking 16 bar loops of disco tracks and mixing them with house. Real time Ron Hardy in effect. I have a lot of thoughts about all this but I just wanted to get this post up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wedding DJ Services

I'm proud to offer Wedding DJ Services! I've been informally DJ'ing for my friends weddings and it seems there is a growing demand for wedding DJs that don't play the chicken dance. People want to have a great party and want their weddings to be memorable. So why not? Check out my wedding DJ website for more information.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Podcast Number 1 is up

Check out my first podcast. This is in a radio show, un-mixed format and features a variety of my favorite tunes from the past and the present.


CP Podcast #1 - Recorded in Brooklyn and Seattle Tracklisting:
1. Ramsey Lewis Trio - Slippin Into Darkness
2. Edwin Starr - Easin' In
3. Little Brother - The Way You Do It
4. Kano - Over and Over Again
5. Freaky Flow Presents The Heavy Petters - Same Thing
6. Beth Orton - Daybreaker (Four Tet Remix)
7. Nobody + Mystic Chords of Memory - Feet Upon the Sand
8. Dntel - Umbrella 9. Miracle Fortress - Hold Your Secrets in Your Heart
10. Out Hud - The Stoked American
11. Pete Rock - One MC and One DJ
12. Diamond D - So Confused
13. Ayah - Might Not Be
14. Chic - Chic Cheer
15. Nightlife Unlimited - Peaches & Prunes (Edit)
16. Rufus & Chaka Khan - Do You Love What You Feel
17. Suzy Q - Get On Up Do It Again
18. Cerrone - Give Me Love
19. Mandrill - Funky Monkey
20. The Trammps - What Happened to the Music (Dmitri From Paris + Idjut Boys Edit from Nightdubbin)
21. Touch Sensitive - Body Stop (Toby Tobias Remix)

You can subscribe from itunes or visit my page on podomatic to listen to the show now, or subscribe in any number of formats to make sure you get the fresh sounds first!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pan-fried Fish with Tamarind Sauce

Cooking is just like producing and DJ'ing. No great big revelation there - mixing really is just like cooking. There's equal ingredients of science and artistic innovation, put into motion by combining sometimes disparate ingredients, sometimes familiar ones, in new and unexpected ways.

That being said, I've been experimenting with Southeast-Asian cooking for many years now. I've found Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass to be the best cookbook to get you started. There is some equivocating in this and most other SE Asian cookbooks about substituting ingredients. What I've learned is that you must use genuine ingredients to get the true taste of the food, and no substitution is worth it.

If you live in NYC, Udom is your one-stop shop for all things Thai. The block of Chinatown that this store is on is where to find all of your SE Asian cooking needs, though Udom has most of what you'd need for any SE style. The owner gave me some crucial hints that I'd like to share. Also if you're in Seattle, Viet Wah is the BEST store ever for all asian groceries, though they specialise in SE Asian.

Many of the recipes in Green Mangoes rely on making "tamarind water" by soaking Tamarind Paste in warm water and letting it sit for 15 minutes, then using the resulting water. The guy at Udom said to use this Tamarind soup concentrate, and boy is he right! I use less of it then the "tamarind water" usually. Also the other key I'm finding is to use real palm sugar. It's a much smoother, rounder sweet taste, and when combined with Tamarind, makes things taste like Thai food! Regular sugar is just too sweet and harsh. Tonight I'm going to try using a new kind of fermented bean paste with ong choy (water spinach), I'll post results - another ingredient suggested by Udom.

So I feel ok in posting this recipe from Green Mangoes because I am tweaking it with the above ingredients. You should buy the book. It's gorgeous and has tons of hints and a useful dictionary of ingredients. PS I use peanut oil instead of veggie oil. It is amazing stuff that burns a lot hotter than any other oil and it tastes good esp. when you're frying stuff.

1/2 cup of Tamarind sour soup base (see link above, must be this brand)
1/4 cup of water
4 tblsp fish sauce
3 tblsp palm sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1.25 lb white fish filets (I used local northwest red snapper, but halibut works great too!)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour (corn flour is best but I've used regular white flour)
Enough peanut oil to fry the fish in a wok (I poured in enough to cover the bottom of the wok with about 1/4" of oil) - this is another key mod
1 tblsp crushed minced garlic
1 tblsp finely minced ginger
1 large red chili (I used a korean red chili as is commonly available at Uwajimaya to great effect), minced
2 tblsp minced fresh mint

Combine the sour soup base with the water, fish sauce, sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Depending on the type of palm sugar you got, a bit of may stay gloppy. Most of it should melt. Set aside.

Rinse and dry off the fish. Grind a bit of pepper onto it, and then dip each filet into the flour, coating both sides. Heat the oil until very hot but probably not smoking if you're using peanut oil. Add the fish, skin side down if skin is still on (not a tragedy if not). Lower to medium heat. Cook 3-4 minutes depending on how thick the fish is. Flip the fish and cook another 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Don't throw out the oil.

Using the same wok and oil, stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and chili over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add rthe tamarind mixture and simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the mind leaves and immediately pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish with extra mint sprigs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some cool Logic Studio tips

I got into Logic Audio back at version 3.5!!!  I had the PC version hooked up to my Roland Juno 60 (with the Midi converter box) and my Akai S3000XL.  Ah yeah!  Using Recycle to send samples to my S3000 changed my life.  As a nerd, I was always interested in figuring out how to do cool things with the software, and as an artist, I was always looking for ways to avoid having my music released into the world.  So over the years I've picked up some cool tricks.  It blows me away how much easier everything is now than it used to be.  MIDI mastery seems like a thing of the past for the most part.  Anyway here are some of my favorite tips that are still very relevant.  FWIW my set-up now is just an MBP Intel Core Duo and a Novation Remote 25 SL.  That's it.  Everything else is just plugins and Logic Studio.

These are probably 2 of the more useful Logic Audio tricks that I like to share with my fellow Logic heads.  Ok make that 3.  There is always so much more to learn about this program!  I like sharing these kinds of tips so that people can benefit from the countless hours I've spent procrastinating making music, learning about arcane (or not so arcane) features, so they have no excuse but to focus on making more music!

  • Using Quick Automation Access in Logic 8 (mostly applies to Logic 7 too). This is the single greatest thing since sliced bread. If you don't have a Mackie Control or that new super awesome controller that is $1,500, you can use this trick so that ANY automation parameter can be assigned to a midi controller of your choice, such as the mod wheel on your keyboard! This alone will change your life. Only bummer of course is that you can only change one param at a time. My Remote SL lets me change basic stuff like volume, mute, pan, simiultaneously, but I'm too lazy to set it up in some hackish way to control other stuff, so I actually use this technique because it is down and dirty and lets you focus on the music instead of controller templates. I have gotten great results this way, though I still lust after a Mackie control which I think you can get new for like $600 now (the old school HUI-ish one that was the original Logic control anyway).
  • Using the multiple output feature of EXS24 (Logic 5 I think even had this).  This feature is slightly more obscure and allows you to send each individual sound to its own unique output in EXS.  This technique works for any AU plug-in that supports multi-out, such as Kontakt, Guru, Battery, Guru, etc.
  • Assigning Aux tracks and other non-normal tracks to arrange.  This allows you to manage the automation data for those cool new Aux tracks you created on your multi-instrument outs!  I think this also applies to Bus tracks as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shopping Takes All Day

So when is someone going to crack the case to unlock more productive online music shopping?  It seems possible that the flock web browser solves a different but equally key problem of being able to complete spam the world 24-7 with information about me.

 eurovision 2007 029
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I've been working on a remix with Woodhead of These guys are totally off the chain, driving around Vancouver, BC with a mobile Sauna sound system. I'm loving his remix so far, hold tight for some sneak previews right here live and direct!

I'm finding that as I'm gettig heavy back into production, I want to listen to the funkiest things I can find and just totally assimilate the funk into the fabric of my being. I was listening to the latest Futuristic Sounds radio show (big up Mr Mikey) and he drops this Roy Ayers track, "Henceforth", from "Red, Black & Green" and I didn't recognize at first... man is that a funky track! Feel it. This morning was heavy dub with the Congos and Sugar Minott, and now I'm finishing out the day with some Black Star before heading down to BK for some birthday party action.

the NYC of hip-hop just ain't hear no more...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

CP EP 2, Track 1

Well I got one track in the bag. I'm out here looking for friends and people who just find me to do some remixes of the next batch of tunes. One of them I'm calling "Steal Some Days" and has a heavy soul (as in 60's R&B) vibe, combined with some tuff 909 beats and percussion. Very Moodyman obviously, but also kind of on just a classic old school classic house tip. Down and dirty, and slightly relentless.

Then there is another track, "Cuts", which shamelessly pounds a looped sample whose origins may be your treat to discover. This track reminds me of late 90's chicago stuff big time, it just demands that you go to the dancefloor. It's a track that I started in Vancouver in 2003 and am finally giving it its due, as it is probably my favorite thing I ever came up with, after the hihat programming for "Does It".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Computer Paul on Myspace

Finally created a Computer Paul myspace page. Got all my tunes up on there, as it seems to be the place where people go to look for me, at least according to one London DJ... aw yeah, got my first radio airplay! Check out the show.

Big up.