In case you didn’t know, you can upload your own original short-form audio to Mixcloud! Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a new producer finding your feet, we offer the space for you to expand your creativity and house all your content under one roof. Since we launched Tracks in 2022, thousands of you have uploaded your own productions, but we want to hear from you about the experience so far.
In this article, we speak to four creators – Chris Coco (left of image above), Promo Zo (centre left of image above), DJ Balrog (centre right of image above) and DJ Shinski (right of image above) – about their journeys with Tracks. Between them, Brazil-based DJ Balrog and UK-based Chris Coco have released over 20 albums throughout their careers, while Londoner Promo Zo and Houston’s DJ Shinski established themselves as DJs on Mixcloud before pivoting to production. Scroll down for their stories on using Tracks.
What inspired you to use Tracks initially?
DJ Balrog: One day I logged into Mixcloud and I saw that this new feature was available. It’s very, very good to know that you can now host your mixes and your original music and the user can distinguish between one thing and the other. That’s something I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Promo Zo: My core base is on Mixcloud because of my weekly radio show, so to have Tracks as an added bonus where I can have everything in one place is great. I only started taking my own production seriously during Covid, so Tracks coming along was perfect timing.
Chris Coco: Because I run a label and do a lot of production, I’m always looking for new ways of promoting what I do and what the artists I work with do. I’ve been making radio shows and uploading them to Mixcloud, and Tracks feels like a good way to target that audience a bit more.
DJ Shinski: I have built a loyal audience on my Mixcloud account for the past 10 years now and I was excited to see Mixcloud allowing DJs to post music singles on their page. I have been making club remixes of popular songs for a few years now and it has sparked my interest in producing original tracks. I have been experimenting with producing my own sound to enhance my DJ career and I’m glad Mixcloud is giving us a platform to showcase our talent.
Tell us a little bit about your Tracks and how they came about.
Promo Zo: ‘The Truth’ is a melodic Drum & Bass track. It’s a mellow one; it has that meditative vocal that speaks to the truth of being who you are. I produced it on Ableton and I usually find a vocal sample and build around it musically. For ‘Jungle Ting’, [record label] Moondance invited me to do a couple of live streams of DJing. Then they asked me to submit a track for their Together 2022 compilation. I wanted to pull in other classic Jungle sounds – if you know your old school Jungle – while still having that rolling Jungle vibe to it. Then I used Mixcloud Posts to let my audience know they’re on Mixcloud – it’s like having a mailing list!
Chris Coco: ‘Leap Year’ is from an album I put together during the pandemic, I made it to be released on vinyl but it never came to be, so that’s the only track from that album that’s available digitally. Yoshiharu Takeda is a Japanese jazz musician and I really liked his stuff. We did the digital thing where I sent a rough version of the track and he sent back something that I didn’t expect; a hand drum and a female vocal. I didn’t give him a brief and he spoke very little English – as I spoke very little Japanese – but things worked out. It’s not the easiest ambient listen but it’s a beautiful track.
DJ Shinski: My tracks ‘Give It To Me’ and ‘Bounce’ are geared towards an international audience. I want to produce and market songs that everyone can listen and vibe to. The reaction since I posted my tracks has been positive so far; my audience has received them well and they are requesting more music. I’ve managed to gain more direct connection with artists from all over the world.
DJ Balrog: I have released eight digital CDs; five are more dark psychedelic music and three are Darkwave and EBM. I saw the opportunity to move some of the tracks to Mixcloud from the albums related to the genres that I mainly play on my radio show and they have been well received.
How do you see Mixcloud Tracks fitting in your schedule of releasing music? Is it another avenue to get your music out there?
Chris Coco: I think a problem that people who make music are facing these days is how to release it. How do you get it out? What and who are you making it for? You wouldn’t want people to buy your records to start with instead of giving it all away digitally. I think Mixcloud Tracks specifically can work for that in the sense of showcasing one track with the view of selling it all digitally.
Promo Zo: I’m still trying to work out where Tracks comes into place for me in terms of releasing music and whether it can be the only home for my music in the future. I’m definitely open to that.
DJ Shinski: I want to share my tracks with everyone who can have access to it, but they can definitely have a home on Tracks.
What has using Tracks taught you about your music/community?
DJ Shinski: Using Tracks has taught me that my community appreciates and is willing to support me as I try to diversify my skills with different parts of the music industry.
DJ Balrog: You reach people that really listen to your music and they can follow you for years, I have had some followers for over five years. It’s like they’re my friends!
Promo Zo: My confidence has grown by simply releasing music and just sending my music to my peers and getting their feedback. That has been really important for me. I’ve always been around music and production but never tuned in fully so it’s been a slow journey. But now that I’m here, it feels right. I just have to keep doing it.
“Using Tracks has taught me that my community appreciates and is willing to support me as I try to diversify my skills with different parts of the music industry.” – DJ Shinski
Do you plan to use Tracks more often in the future?
Chris Coco: I think it would be a great way to preview a big release or a track from an album. That’s how I see myself using Tracks.
Promo Zo: I see myself using Mixcloud Tracks to release full and complete songs, I don’t see it as a place to upload works in progress. I see Mixcloud as being more of a professional setting and I want to share professional sounding tracks.
DJ Shinski: I plan to use Tracks a lot more in the future because I plan to produce more music in the future. Tracks will definitely be a home for them.
What is one underrated production technique in your opinion?
Promo Zo: From my experience, mono the bass and EQ your snare properly!
Chris Coco: Listening. Knowing how to really get into the detail of a track and how it fits into your sound spectrum. I think that allows you to find a better path with your production. When I use Logic, I never watch the workstation; I just bounce the track and listen back. Because if you’re watching something, you’re not really listening. That goes back to separating out the processes of making music.
What advice would you give to creators hoping to branch out into making their own tracks?
DJ Shinski: Explore the path of making your own tracks because it will expand their creativity and also help them reach a wider audience who necessarily don’t listen to mixes.
Chris Coco: Work more than you think you should on your stuff before thinking about releasing it. I’ve seen this with people I’m working with where, while they’re in the process of making music, they’re already thinking about how they’re going to sell it. So try and separate those two things; don’t think about marketing a track while you’re making it. Then once you’ve made it, leave it for a couple of weeks, go back to it and look at it again. Go through that process a few times until you’re happy with what you’ve made, then put on your marketing hat and figure out how to sell it.
Promo Zo: Just do it. Go into the studio with your producer friends, get a feel of the vibe and decide if producing is for you. As a DJ, you know what you like to play to people, so why not emulate that on a track? For me, there’s no better feeling than playing your own music to people on the dancefloor and for that alone, you should definitely give it a go.
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