November 15, 2016
Earlier this year I was interviewed by Northampton music magazine Eleven. In the interview I discussed my exhibition at the Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton which presented my experiments with using vinyl record cutting as part of the compositional process. Eleven started by asking about my experience as a turntablist, starting in Hip Hop and later getting into ambient music and dub. I discussed learning to cut vinyl records and why the medium interests me. Click this link to read the interview in Eleven. Read the rest of this entry »
November 1, 2016
I will be performing at the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes on the 24th of November 2016. Performance details below:
As a turntablist for the last 15 years, James Kelly’s music explores the remixing of vinyl using DJ scratch techniques for the creation of new music. The project presented at MK Gallery takes his compositional approach in new directions by utilising a disc cutting lathe – a machine which is traditionally used in the manufacture of records. The mechanism and limitations of the lathe itself are used as an artistic tool to shape the music. The performance is created using four turntables to mix music which Kelly has cut to vinyl using a range of experimental disc cutting technique that alter the timbre of sound recordings.
Further info at MK Gallery Events Page.
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October 11, 2016
In January I organised a symposium on Turntable Music with invited guests Karin Weissenbrunner (City University, London) and Lisa Busby (Goldsmiths University, London). The event was held in the Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton as part of my exhibition Vinyl Record Cutting as a Compositional Tool.
Karin presented her PhD research focused on musical analysis of experimental turntablist performance and Lisa discussed her approaches to performance using playback media. I also presenteded my experiments with record cutting and discussed the presentation of the work in the exhibition. In the evening we had a concert where both myself and Lisa performed individually and we also did a short improvisation together. Lisa performed tracks from her new album Fingers in The Gloss and my performance was an improvisation using records which I have cut as part of my research. Read the rest of this entry »
July 12, 2016
I’m in the final stretch of a practice led PhD developing approaches to turntablist composition and performance. I’ve been reflecting on how my approach has developed over the years from experiments with junk shop records to becoming a vinyl mastering engineer and cutting my own records for use in composition and performance. I recently unearthed a live set which was broadcast on Demon FM in 2006 and I can hear quite clearly how my turntablist aesthetic has developed over time.
When this performance was recorded, I was experimenting with turntablist improvisation using two turntables with a Vestax PCM 05 Pro DJ mixer that had an inbuilt delay unit. Read the rest of this entry »
February 5, 2016
I produced the music score for the feature film Honeytrap, working closely with the composer Francis Binns. My role included sound recording, music sequencing, mixing and preparing stems for post production. I have been researching the role that music plays within film for a number of years and this project was a great opportunity to apply my theoretical understanding to decisions about the arrangement and the mix of the music. The entire film is shot from the main character Layla’s perspective which means that the musical score is particularly crucial to representing Layla’s emotional state as her world starts to crumble around her in the latter part of the film.
Honeytrap had its UK premier at the BFI London Film Festival (2014), where director Rebecca Johnson was nominated for Best British Newcomer. The US premier was at SXSW Film Festival (2015), and it was later shown at The Urban World Film Festival, New York (2016).
Honeytrap was critically well received, gaining 4 out of 5 in Total Film, The List and The Guardian, which also featured it as ‘The Film to Watch This Week‘. It is now available on DVD, reaching the dizzying heights of number 13 in the Asda DVD chart.
January 31, 2016
Green Ep is a studio collaboration which was recorded eight years ago with the composer and musician Adam Weikert. The tracks were entirely improvised combining sampled sounds on turntables with samples and keyboard playing on a laptop. The EP was released as a CDR in February 2008 and was sold and handed out at gigs around that time. Read the rest of this entry »
February 12, 2015
Following on from the Healing Remix EP, I released the Transformation Remix EP Ft. Ola Szmidt. The EP features the original track, along with remixes from Ed Dowie, MSB and Hervé Perez. The original is an ambient drone piece featuring the Polish singer Ola Szmidt on vocals and Dave Dhonau on cello. Ed Dowie’s mix creates a new vocal lament and MSB takes the track deep into glitch territory, while Hervé Perez extends the three minute track into a 17 minute epic, allowing the listener space to focus on individual textures from the original track, while adding saxophone arrangements and glitch drums. The release is available on my bandcamp page.
January 8, 2015
A dubplate is a one off acetate (not vinyl) record often played by Dub Reggae sound systems, but the term is also used in Drum and Bass and Dubstep. The dubplate originated in Jamaica in the 1970’s and these records were a combination of two separate stages of the record manufacturing process. Disc cutting lathes by manufacturers such as Neumann and Skully were usually found in vinyl manufacturing plants and used to cut acetate discs or lacquers as part of the manufacturing process, before the vinyl was pressed. Jamaican producers such as King Tubby however, bypassed this stage by having a disc cutting lathe in the recording studio itself. This allowed Tubby to make test cuts and special one off discs for playback on sound systems before the commercial release of the track on vinyl. The fact that each record is a one off cut, allowed him to cut different versions of the tracks, making each dubplate unique for the sound systems that played them. Read the rest of this entry »
October 4, 2014
For the last few years I’ve been using the BPM show as an opportunity to look at the latest offerings in DJ technology and see if I can identify any new trends. It’s also good fun talking to the manufacturers and trying out all the gear! This year, it seems that two general trends are; screens on midi controllers displaying data from software and a tighter integration of software and hardware compared to general third party midi controllers. Read the rest of this entry »
September 16, 2014
Native Instruments Komplete package is a set of sampler instruments powered by the Kontakt 5 virtual sampler and a series of virtual synthesisers and effects such as Massive and Reaktor. It has become an industry standard set of plug-ins used to create all sorts of popular music and film soundtracks. I have been using Komplete for a number of years on music and film projects and I was quite keen to try out the new Kontrol S49 keyboard and Komplete Kontrol software at the BPM Show 2014. I spent half an hour or so trying out the keyboard and scrolling through sample sets and instruments using the Komplete Kontrol software. The Kontrol S49 is part of the Kontrol S-Series of keyboards, which also includes 25 and 61 key versions. Read the rest of this entry »