Abi Asks: Dan Orbach

Howdy Safari Blog People!

Many many moons ago when I was a young and spry student in audio school (ok ok it was more like a year ago, I just liked the dramatic effect that “many many moons” had), I took a class in Synthesis, and Sound Design. There, we also learned about House and Dance music in general, and it really made me fall in love with that style/genre. 

A few weeks ago, as many young and spry producers do, I went out to a bar where a DJ was playing a Dance/House set- I observed and noticed that some tracks had the dance floor grooving, and some tracks the people just weren't feeling.

I felt compelled to deep dive on what makes a Dance/House track GREAT.

So, this week I asked a question to Producer, and DJ ( fun fact: who is also my former Synthesis/Sound Design Teacher), Dan Orbach.

 I asked him: In your opinion as both a Producer and a DJ, what separates a mediocre Dance/House track from a GREAT Dance/House track?

He said: Well, the tracks that really get me going or sometimes hypnotize me, are the ones with some kind of a texture that sets the atmosphere and the vibe in the background.

Most of the time it can be a drone / pad / string sound really far in the background, but in electronic and especially dance music, too much air between one drum to another can expose the synthetic / robotic elements without compensating with some organic musical elements.

After reading Dan's answer, I was like: 😱🤯
It really changed my perspective on Dance/House music production (as the wise philosopher Princess Jasmine once said: "It's a whole new world"). Maybe the key to keeping people on the dance floor isn't what we typically think - like the kick+bass relationship, swing, or sidechaining every element to the kick. Perhaps it's the vibe created by the background elements that really sets the tone. I'm definitely going to put more thought into incorporating less obvious elements like drones, pads, and strings into my Dance/House productions.
Thanks, Dan!
Catch y’all next week!
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