Josh Gabriel: From Programmer to No. 1 Remixer
Pages: 1, 2, 3

Eight years after the DM2 launch and since your leaving to do music, what's up with Mixman Technologies these days?

Our expertise and ideas are still here, and there's much more to come—just not in the same shape or form it was in with the original DJ Mixman. Mixman is in a process of redefining itself, probably going more toward a web-based thing with ringtones and Yahoo MySpace and like that, and less about remixing other people's music. That is so well handled now by programs like Live, Reason, and all the others. Those tools have become so good at allowing inexperienced people to get good quickly that it doesn't feel like there's a market for something as basic and simple as Mixman now.

Gabriel Performs Gabriel rocks the virtual decks in San Francisco.

But the DM2 controller is just so tactile.

Yeah, who knows—there's more to come for Mixman.

Let's talk again about your current digital audio tools. What else are you into these days?

I started with [MOTU] Digital Performer and [Opcode] Vision years ago, and I've been a Logic user now for about five years. I've been using Live 5 a lot lately to DJ and do the time-stretching things, but I plan to start recording in it as well. I'm also delving into Csound, and I've also been thinking about taking the time hit to get really deep into [Native Instruments] Reaktor.

Reaktor does seem quite deep.

Oh yes, and that's exactly why I haven't gotten into it that much yet. There are many people I know who only work in Reaktor, it's that deep. But I know myself enough to know Reaktor is the type of thing I'm going to love, and that's the only reason thus far I haven't wanted to commit that much time just yet to learning and creating with it. For the first month after I get it [laughs], I just know I won't be recording any music, that is for sure.

Your new "killer app" sounds amazing, Josh. But, looking back to your previous ahead-of-the-curve inventor days, haven't you've been here before?

[Laughs.] Yeah, maybe I shouldn't pursue this one as a business venture, after all! I've learned that much. But at least this invention is a solution addressing a real existing problem.

Gabriel's QuickTip #1: Turn Anything into Music with Envelopes

Bloom Cover Critics called Gabriel and Dresden's debut CD "brilliant."

"Every program has things it can do easily that are a pain in others," says Josh Gabriel. "In Live 5, for instance, that special feature for me is using envelopes to take almost any sound and turn it into music. Start by bringing a loop into an audio track and, while it's playing, click the envelope button. That reveals the controls for the pitch and volume envelopes. Make sure Volume is selected, then use the pencil to draw your volume envelope. It's like digging away at a sound. Sometimes I'll just leave a small snippet of sound so the original source is hidden.

"Next, select Pitch. Using the pencil again, draw in a melody. (The height of the line represents the note.) Once you get the hang of it, you can get amazing results. As an experiment, try using tape hiss or room noise as an audio source. Compress it until it gets loud, then apply volume and pitch envelopes."

Gabriel's QuickTip #2: Taming Bass with a Duck

A common problem in making dance music is creating space in the mix for the kick drum. The bass is usually the guilty party, stealing energy from the kick. Here's how Gabriel brings it into line in Ableton Live. "Set up a kick drum at quarter-note intervals," he advises. "Now, put in a sustained low bass note. Notice how the bass and kick interact and clash.

"Next, open a tremolo plugin on the bass track. Set the rate to quarter-notes, the symmetry to 99%, the smoothing to 98%, and stereo phase to 0. Now, while listening, raise the tremolo depth slowly until the bass ducks away under the kick and the two feel good together."

Josh Gabriel: Music Examples

This is a low-res preview of the first single from Gabriel & Dresden's upcoming album, tentatively titled At the Same Time. The single will be available for digital download December 22, 2005, at and soon afterward on the iTunes Music Store. The vinyl version comes out February 1, 2006, and the album hits on April 28, 2006. For more information, visit

You can also audition every track on Gabriel & Dresden's first CD, Bloom, at Amazon.

Randy Alberts is an author, musician, and photographer who lives on Lummi Island, Washington.

Return to