Crate Digger Death Match

Yesterday was a busy day, I entered this competition called the Crate Digger Death Match . The idea behind the contest is to see what different musicians can create in a short amount of time with a limited budget. For this contest each contestant was limited to $12 worth of shopping at thrift stores and 12 hours of music production. At the thrift stores anything that makes sound could be purchased, for me I purchased 7 records, others purchased childrens toys, cd's, vhs tapes and some other crazy things. With your supplies we had to complete a minimum of 6 2 minute tracks. The winner will be chosen through fan voting and by four judges, you can listen to all of the contestants singles and vote HERE. The organizers also added three last minute rules (like the iron chef secret ingredient) to throw a kink in peoples plans. The three rules were:
  1. One item has to be from the 80's. For me this was a Wham UK record
  2. One song has to have a major element that involves a sound played backwards or circuit bending. I used a major melody in one track played backwards, a second song also has a bunch of reversed components as well.
  3. One song has to be either a dance or country song. I chose to make a dance song, specifically a breakdancing song. I made this the last track and modeled it after an old school break party.


Here's a list of the vinyl that I purchased:
  • Clouds by Joni Mitchell: Used this one quite a bit. She's the devil on the album
  • Everyday People (Self Titled): This was extremely funky and it looks like it sales for over $100 retail. Mine is heavily scratched though. Damn good. This is why we crate dig.
  • Inside by Paul Horn: Thought this was going to be really cool but it turned out that it's a guy playing his flute inside the Taj Mahal. So much reverb and the record was super scratched.
  • Saturday Night Fever by Various Artists: For hip hop you need drums, but surprisingly I got more drums from the next record.
  • Fantastic by Wham U.K.: This record had tons of cool drum hits plus I scratched the whoo and ughh grunts in a couple songs. This was probably the most used record
  • On The Threshold of a Dream by Moody Blues: A little bit of everything on this one plus I found a Masta Ace sample (one of my favorite artists).
  • Winter Into Spring by George Winston: I thought I'd get some nice piano from this one but it was so boring. There was one track that used this one but it got axed.
  • For a moment I almost went for a Pavorotti/Fogerty duet but changed my mind.
This was really difficult for a lot of different reasons besides the limitations, for one thing I usually make beats for people to rap over which is totally different than making instrumental compositions. A beat can actually be very simple and sparse because the vocals provide the main element.

I started the whole thing off by visiting a Goodwill and a Salvation Army, lucky for me they are next to each other. The record choices were sort of slim (besides Everyday People) at both but I managed to pick up seven records at $1 & $1.99 each. After shopping I pulled samples off each of the records. At this point about 4 hours of my time had been spent and not even one track had been started.

Production was challenging, trying to convert the samples into songs in such a short amount of time was messing with my brain. I tried a lot of different things, chopping samples, scratching, looping, making kits for drums, playing samples with the keyboard, bass filters, and pretty much anything else I could think of. The tracks all sort of took on personalities of their own and the finished products are some songs that are really unlike things I've made before. The contest really did open my mind up.

For my 6 tracks I had to create a way for each song to keep the listeners attention. Besides that and some minor equipment bugs (major static which you can hear in one song), it wasn't all that bad, just challenging and inspiring.
In the end I came up with a 6 track album called "Up or Down". It has story to it which is hard to express without vocals but I'll explain it here so you can have an idea when you listen.


It's about a break dancer that isn't quite good enough. He questions whether he should sell his soul to the devil to become a better breaker (Track 1). He has visions of heaven and hell in his sleep (Tracks 2 & 3) and has to deal with the devil trying to trick him into selling his soul (Track 4). Eventually he chooses the route of ascension (Track 5) even though the devil is still fresh in his mind (listen to the growls). Once he's ascended he finds himself at the gates of heaven where he is asked to pass the final test (Track 6): A break dancing contest mixed by GOD himself (on to 1200's). Whether he goes or not is up to you.
That's the album, it's not the best, it's a little sloppy and the music is strange but who cares, it was fun and it only cost $12 and half a day. The organizers of this did a great job and I can't wait to hear all the other albums that were produced by the 12 contestants.

You can download it here: "Up or Down" by D-Form or visit my Myspace for some low quality versions. Here's the tracklist as well.
  1. From Below
  2. It's True They Have Escalators
  3. Antispinbackward
  4. She (devil)s Talking to Me
  5. It Sounds Better Than Hell
  6. Pass the Test
Here are all the tracks from the album in order. Later on I'll add some production notes if anyone is interested.


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8 comments :

  1. Very nice album man, good beats. What software did you use for this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I edited the samples in an old copy of Cool Edit then I programmed them and the drums in Fruity Loops. I also manipulated samples on two tracks using actual turntable scratching but I tried to make it sound like a synth.

    Thanks for listening.

    ReplyDelete
  3. very nicely done Mr. Form. Hit me up . . . Riki

    ReplyDelete
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