Motion Notion 2012
Electronic Music Festival in Canada with Crystal Method and Ace Ventura

dj Smiley Mike and dj Caddyshack will both be going.

Find out more at:

If you’re coming from the Vancouver area (roughly), join this Facebook group to connect:

Motion Notion 2012 Canada Festival with Crystal Method Ace Ventura John 00 Fleming


I started going to warehouse raves in the early 90s, and quickly found myself travelling around Western Canada to attend outdoor raves and electronic music festivals like Summer Love. My passion for electronic dance music has never  wavered, but until this year, I haven’t been out to many shows over the past 10 years. Despite knowing many people who have made the annual treck to Shambhala, it has never been successful at drawing me out of hibernation.

Enter Motion Notion. It was a Trancendance fan who first told me about Motion Notion (thanks Karl!), and as soon as I saw the lineup I NEEDED to go! I’ve been fortunate enough to see the likes of Union Jack, Chemical Brother and Skylab 2000 all play live. But the group that has escaped me for years is The Crystal Method. I’ve been a huge fan of their unique sound since the beginning, and I’ve always wanted to see them. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve become a huge fan of Ace Ventura over the past few years, and watching the photos and videos of his performances from overseas as they get posted to Facebook has left me wishing and waiting for him to play a show close enough to BC or Alberta that I can see him play. John 00 Fleming is icing on the cake.

Last week, after Caddyshack and I had already been buzzing about the potential for a road trip from Vancouver to Golden, BC to see the show, I found out that Motion Notion had asked to sponsor Trancendance for June and July! And so it begins. Over the next six weeks leading up to the Motion Notion festival, Trancendance will feature different artists scheduled to headline the show as well as some of the different artistic aspects of the event. Plus… we’ll be talking about a roadtrip or maybe even a caravan from Vancouver to the Beaverfoot Lodge in Golden.

Find out more and get your tickets now at

Mastering a DJ Mix Using Ableton Live

So I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial like this for awhile. If I was really slick, I could have made a video, but this is what you get at 11:30pm on a Wednesday night when I really should be going to bed. I’ve been recording DJ mixes since the days of cassette tape, when there really wan’t much you could do if you had messed up the levels and pushed into distortion. Of course, tape sounded pretty bad anyway, so it didn’t matter much. Now, with the digital recording tools we have available, you can really make your mix sound pretty hot without needing a pile of money, an audio engineering degree or hours and hours of time. I usually record at least one mix per week, so my process is designed to be quick, with a minimal amount of fiddling.

This isn’t intro course on Ableton. I assume that you know how to import an audio track and how to apply some processing to it. If you need some intro to Ableton, there’s a ton of material out there including lots of YouTube videos.

This is not the only way to master an audio track. I’ve used tools like Audacity before, but an advantage to this process is that I can save a collection of filters and audio processing as a preset, and I can preview how the final audio will sound without having to render the audio track. Once I have everything sounding the way I want, I just render (or export) the audio once.

Ableton DJ Mastering Tutorial

So here’s my initial Ableton screen. I have already recorded my mix and I’ve kept the levels down so that there’s a little head room to play with. That is, nothing is maxed out. I usually record using Serato while I’m mixing, but this will work for any recording.

You can see there’s lots of fluctuation in the levels. It’s pretty normal for me because I play trance and there are soft spots and heavy spots. The trick is to have them all balance out so that the perceived loudness is consistent even if the levels are lower in some spots. You can see I’m using one of the Ableton Mastering racks. I used a built in one as a starting point and then added and tweaked things until I got something that was working for me pretty consistently.

Mastering Rack for DJ Mix

So this is the rack that I use. The image is pretty wide so it’s probably hard to see. If you click on it, you should be able to see a larger version.

Mastering a DJ mix using Ableton

The first part of the rack is just a midi controller block. It allows me to take some of the controls that I’m most likely to tweak and put them together at the front of the rack. I can also easily assign these parameters to the knobs on my midi-controller, but you don’t need a midi-controller for this, and usually the adjustments I make are so minimal that I don’t bother to use the midi-controller. (If you want one to experiment with, I use an Akai LPD8 which is pretty cheap, under $100. I mainly use it to control the DJ-FX effects rack and the SP-6 sampler rack in Serato.)

Mastering a DJ mix using Ableton

The first processor I run through is multiband dynamics. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on what this thing does or how it does it, but this is my layman interpretation: it’s a combination 3-band parametric EQ (low/mid/high) and compressor. So if any of the low, mid or high bands start to push too high, that band will get compressed, leaving the other bands untouched. The only parameters that I change on this box are the low/mid/high levels on either input or output. If one of the bands looks weak, boost it in the input side. If the sound you hear is lacking (or too harsh) in low/mid or high, adjust the output level for that band.

Mastering a DJ mix using Ableton Live

The EQ eight is an 8 band graphic equalizer. It has a lot of different modes that allow you to shape the sound differently. This curve was pretty default and I haven’t messed with it much. Once you have it set the way you like it, you can probably leave it alone. One of my midi knobs controls the EQ intensity (scale), but I almost always leave it where it is at 120%.

Mastering a DJ mix using Ableton Live

This box is basically a saturator that can warm or brighten the sound, especially in the midrange. This is one you have to be careful with though as too much can create a distorted mid sound. If your mids are weak (like older tunes off vinyl), this can help add new life and brighten them up to match today’s recording quality of new releases. But if your mids are already bright, this should be turned down or even off. You can always do on/off tests while you’re listening and see what sounds better. Make sure you test several spots in your mix. There’s a few ways to turn this down: you can reduce the Drive parameter, although (if I recall correctly) I usually have it somewhere between 2dB and -2dB, so no big moves. You can reduce the output (however I don’t think I usually touch that much). Or you can adjust the Dry/Wet parameter. Dry/Wet exists on lots different boxes (audio processors/effects) and is just like a dimmer light switch. At 0% (Dry) the box is having no effect, at 100% (Wet) the box is full on, and anywhere in the middle the processor is having some effect.

DJ mix mastering in Ableton

The skinny Utility module in the left was a default part of the mastering rack and I just left it in. It can enhance the stereo separation, but I don’t ever touch it. The spectrum analyzer doesn’t affect the audio signal, it just displays it. It’s fun to watch, and you could potentially notice if your mids/lows or highs where missing, but you should have already fixed that with the multiband dynamics processor.

Fixing recording levels using ableton for DJ mixes

So we’ve sort of already run through a compressor back in the multiband dynamics section, but I’m running through another one. I use this to bring up the lower levels while keeping the high levels from pushing off the top. What do I mean? Well, it’s like I’m lifting the volume by a few dBs, so that the sound is nice an loud like a professional recording. But when I get close to the loudest parts, it rounds off and flattens out. If those loud parts got a boost in volume, they would be off the chart and into distortion. When you play some audio, you’ll notice a little yellow circle running up and down the red line to show you where the current level is at. I try to keep the yellow dot right around the bend (knee) of the curve most of the time. The output level I keep pretty consitent at -1dB. If my yellow dot (volume) needs to go up or down, I adjust the Threshold slider. (If I recall correct, down is louder, so it’s a bit counter-intuitive at first.) All the other parameters I keep where they are.

Mastering a DJ recording in Ableton

I’m sure there are a bunch of technical differences between a compressor and a limiter, but they both help keep the levels from pushing too high. The compressor can still let a few spikes out, whereas the limiter pretty much cruches anything above 0dB down. The only setting I adjust is the Gain. I tend to aim for occasional limiting in the 0 to -3dB range. Maybe a bit less. If there’s too much limiting happening (you’ll see the green bar pushing down from 0), then back off the Gain.

Once you have some settings you like, you can export your audio which will render all the processed audio into a new file. If you have a good base setting for all your parameters, you can save a preset in Ableton so you always have a starting point that is close to where you want to be.

Now I’m pretty familiar with the process that I use now, so there’s a good chance that I’ve left out some details that might be less familiar to you. Please leave a comment and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner. That way other people that have the same question will be able to see the responses.

CiTR Fundrive 2011

This week is CiTR Radio’s annual fund raising campaign. Last year was a huge success! Your donations helped us smash my last year’s goal of $300 by raising $1,800 towards the station goal of $30,000. With your help, Trancendance was the second highest contributing show.

There are two significant new initiatives underway at CiTR right now, with a third on the horizon. These are the kinds of things your donation may help fund:

CiTR has one of the most respected music libraries in Canada, especially catering to underground, indie and Canadian artists. We have extensive CD and vinyl collections, and we are currently digitizing those into a massive digital library that will greatly improve access and searchability for our on-air DJs and volunteer members.

CiTR just launched a new DJ training program where students can sign up for a free month-long course on how to DJ dance and hip-hop music. The initial launch was extremely well received with over 150 people signing up within the first 2 hours.

In 2012 UBC will break ground on a new Student Union Building which will be the new home of CiTR starting in 2014. This is very exciting for CiTR members and, while UBC will be paying for the construction and basic furnishings, we will be looking to save some money to help improve our new home.

Trancendance first aired in 2001, which means the show is now celebrating its 10 year anniversary.

In the past year our Facebook fan page has grown from 1300 members to 3919 members, from all over the world.

We feature the music-only version of our best shows on our SoundCloud page were they often receive over 1000 plays.


It would really mean a lot to us and to CiTR if you could help out with a donation. The powers at be seem to have increased our goal to $1,800 after last year’s massive success, but we would be extremely grateful for any amount that you are able to contribute. We have pledged $60 towards the goal for our show, which will contribute to the station’s overall goal of $35,000.


Donate by PHONE by calling (604) 822-8648 and telling the person who takes your call that it is for the show Trancendance.


Donate by INTERNET

Thank you so much!

dj Smiley Mike & dj Caddyshack

Trancendance on CiTR 101.9fm
Sundays 10pm – Midnight

Spirit Base
The Biggest Psychedelic Trance Festival in Austria

Spirit Base 2011 Psychedelic Trance Festival Flyer

Spirit Base has become the largest psychedelic trance festival in Austria since its inception in 2007. More than 5,000 visitors from all over Europe came in 2010. After eight years in a quarry in the south of Vienna, Spirit Base moves to a forest near Ernstbrunn where a Stone Age village was built for a TV production. The main floor, this year will be designed by several decoration teams, and there will be some visual surprises. Projections of Sikanda, 3D Visuals, UV decorations and special laser shows from Germany and Austria will transform the forest into a fantasy landscape. More than 100 international DJs and live acts from 20 countries are booked. The focus of the line-up is again on Progressive Trance, but Full-on, Dark-Psy, Oldschool and spacey Ambient are not be forgotten. In addition to the main floor there is a big chillout tent, as well as a third dance floor, which alternates in tempo with the main floor.

Spirit Base Psychedelic Trance Party 2011

Most artists come from Israel, Germany, Austria and several European countries, but also from some South American countries. Among the world-famous live acts and DJs are:

• Dino Psaras
• Bamboo Forest
• Ananda Shake
• U-Recken
• Klopfgeister
• Protonica
• Neelix
• Alpha
• Symphonix
• Shane Goby

…and many, many more!

Also, the local elite of DJs and Trance producers will be given a lot of space. A 40-meter chillout tent is hosted by Vienna’s Psy-DJ Gobayashi and his Astral Zone.

VJ Sikanda is famous for its gigantic projections that show the cultures of the world on all available surfaces. The “Funny Astronaut” and his team have been known for years for the light magic in Viennese clubs and on the Austrian Paradise Festival that takes place again later in July this year. Austria’s best decorative Psytrance artist Calaquendi and several artist teams will again provide huge and bright paintings and three-dimensional masterpieces of art. Fire shows, fireworks and performances round off the comprehensive offer.

For more information visit:

OZORA Psychedelic Trance Music Festival with Union Jack

With summer fast approaching, there seems to be lots of chatter about which music festivals people are going to. If I had the chance to go to any electronic music festival in 2011, my choice would be the 2011 O.Z.O.R.A. Festival in Hungary. This psychedelic tribal gathering has first took place in 1999 when 30 thousand people gathered to celebrate a total Sun eclipse in the area: the famous Solipse.

Photo Credit

This year, the festival will be held from Aug 2-7,2011 and features an amazing line-up of live electronic music acts including:

• Ace Ventura

• Man With No Name (One of my old favourites!)

• Ovnimoon (One of my new favourites!)

• Protoculture

• Suntree (Another new favourite)

• Union Jack (One of my all-time favourites)

• X-Dream (Yes, another old favourite)

…and many, many others!

Here is the Full Main Stage Line-up at Ozora 2011

Here’s the info for Tickets to Ozora Festival 2011 in Hungary

If you are lucky enough to join the tribe and visit the OZORA Psychedelic Trance Festival this year, please send me some photos and a few words about your experience. I would love to share them here!

Psychedelic Trance
Photo Credit