The DJ’s for Synergy at Anime Central shared some common themes on how they make and DJ music. I caught up with Djs M Flo, Tanuki, Moe Shop, and Android 52 to ask about their musical process and life. Similar instruments, audio work stations, and style of workflow work for several DJs. There are shared themes. Keeping things open and free flow work best. This is for both production and DJing0. With their diverse backgrounds it’s quite serendipitous that many common themes from VSTs used, audio workstations utilized, and even life lessons provided by these artists’ musical life are similar.
If you aren’t familiar with some of these artists M Flo’s songs were a big influence of the rhythm game BeatMania IIDX that spawned so many rhythm arcades. Android 52 has done many anime and video game remixes now creating his own unique music. He recently released the stellar sounding “Ultra Groove Project.” Moe Shop recently put out a great song, “Identity,” this past February, and Tanuki has been creating Japanese lyrical infused bangers since 2015!
What VSTs work best for these producers? There are some standouts for each person, but we all know the general ones work well like Sylenth, Massive, and Serum. Serum is the one that Android 52 mentions right away. M Flo are always looking for something different to bring to their sound and enjoy using Roli synths. Moe Shop uses classic hardware synths from Roland along with layering VSTs to solidify the sound. The typical VSTs will get things done, but finding a favorite VST will be very helpful to your production process.
What audio station works best for these producer/DJs? Most use FL Studio and have stuck with it like Android 52 whose been using FL Studio for 8 years. However, if you produce you know FL studio is synonymous with crashing computers! This prompted Tanuki to switch from FL Studio to Ableton. M Flo uses Ableton because it’s more sampled based, and that’s what they enjoy. Every audio workstation on computer has their positives and negatives. Many people are using Ableton now and coupled with it’s sampling ability it’s great for those two things, but Android 52 has stuck with FL Studio and just exports his music when collaborating with people.
As far as influences there’s so much music out there that everyone had their own unique influence. M Flo cites Shinichi Osawa as a big influence. Moe Shop is heavily influenced by the French house scene acts like Daft Punk. Heavy metal music influences Tanuki as he still listens to it for inspiration.
All of these DJs agree that they tend to free flow their sets. They just play music they like and hope the crowd enjoys it to. There are a few unsaid rules however. If an artist is also a DJ it’s proper to ask for permission to play their songs. In America the DJ scene can very different according to Tanuki. Politics even exist in the DJ world in America! DJs may be told or made to not play hype music if they aren’t the main headlining DJ. So of course this can inhibit a DJ’s performance. At Anime Central they definitely felt free to DJ as they please without the politics. Tanuki says there’s mutual respect in good DJ environments. They’ve found that in the Japanese DJ environment and good DJ sets spawn from that.
M Flo’s DJ Taku says do what you like even if it’s different. Mistakes create creativity. What Tanuki says goes along with this as he says you don’t need expensive equipment to make great music. Just experiment with all the knobs and buttons to figure out what each thing does to the sound. If you’ve ever made music you know moving a slider or knob can lead to all types of mistakes, but often that creates great new sounds. Tweak it, and it will come. Moe Shop believes that your musical influences will create how your music sounds so it’s good to explore. Everyone can sound just like their favorite artist, but it’s in finding your own sound that makes you unique. Android 52 says, “Never settle or be comfortable with what your make.” Look for ways to evolve your sound. Once you get stressed about the business aspect then it stops being fun so keep it fun.
It’s best to just have fun and to try new things even if it makes you anxious. “Dirty 30 Party” was a small DJ gathering where rappers were made to DJ if they hadn’t before, and M Flo’s MC Verbal brought 2 CDs worth of music! It wasn’t nearly enough to DJ for an hour! To his surprise afterwards people asked for him to DJ other events. That’s continued until today. The lesson is just jump in when you’re uncomfortable, and that can lead to great things. Who would’ve thought the “Dirty 30 Party” would lead to DJing at Tomorrowland, and all types of huge musical events. So push yourself and never stay in your comfort zone. If you’re not aware or don’t know about something don’t let that stop you. Be curious and explore it. These are the life lessons of the DJs.