As part of the Meltdown Festival Sessions, Ableton X CDR joined forces to host a series of workshops and interviews with guests including DJ Shadow, The Heritage Orchestra, Si Medway-Smith, as well as Mo Wax alumni Andrea Parker, Kirk Degiorgio and Attica Blues.

The Heritage Orchestra came through ahead of their performance of Goldie’s “Timeless” to discuss the creative process that went into that and previous projects such as Giorgio Moroder and Joy Division re-workings. It was another great insight into interpreting a classic piece of work; the need to get into another artists’ head space; a few great production tips; as well as lengthy debates on the all important reverse snare sound in “Inner City Life”; or how they recreated the white noise on the snare hits in “I Feel Love”. 

Sie Medway-Smith, another Mo’Wax alumni, kept things running in the next session with Tony Nwachukwu. Si has worked with some of the biggest recording artists in the world including U2 and Depeche Mode – not bad for someone who’s first job in a studio was as a Tape Op, earning £10 a session. He quickly progressed to releasing his own music on Mo’Wax but realised he was more comfortable being the man behind the mixing desk than the man in the spotlight. Si put his success down to his hunger and determination, of which is still very apparent today.

Tony Nwachukwu met with Andrea Parker to talk through her early days of collecting records and working at Fat Cat; her mad obsession with analogue synths leading to an opportunity of being flown to meet David Morely; through to her brilliant work and production insights on Rocking Chair that followed. 

For the closing weekend of the festival Mo’Wax alumni Attica Blues, Kirk Degiorgio, and Andrea Parker came together to discuss how music making had changed since the mid 90s. What became clear was that despite the increased accessibility of music making now, it is harder than ever to keep up with what is coming out, and to get yourself heard. Charlie Williams even joking “I’m glad I’m not young and making music now!”.

A highlight of the CDR X Ableton sessions for many was Tony Nwachukwu’s discussion with DJ Shadow which explored his approach to making music, and how that has been influenced and developed over the years. Shadow has moved from MPCs and sampling records through to Maschine and Ableton collaborations with upcoming young producers. Numerous entertaining anecdotes provided budding producers with some priceless insights, from how he left air at the start of the kick sample when chopping breaks (for no perceptible edit points) to more philosophical tips such as his habit of listening to music that wasn’t intended for him, or his habit of going record shopping when he hit the proverbial brick wall whilst producing a track.

This years Meltdown Festival proved to be a great celebration of London’s electronic music and DJ culture of the last 21 years, and here’s to many more.


Words by: Mark Stangroom