Alex Stillhead

Alex Stillhead


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Alex Stillhead

Title
Electronic Music Producer & DJ / Web & Brand Identity Designer
Bio
I can provide a wide range of feedback, mostly orientated around two areas. Music production, and design.

I have been producing music, DJing and releasing on my own labels and other people's since 2008 previously as DFRNT and now as Stillhead.

I have 3 record labels (two of which are still running). I curate a regular podcast for deep, electronic music and I write a blog about narrative within music discovery, as well as one on electronic music from the Baltics. I also run a site focussed on how to self release your music and start your own label.

I have also been a full-time designer and front-end developer since 2005, working with various big brands on everything from small marketing campaigns, to full websites, brand identity and more.
Website
Expertise
music producer, design, record label, music production, music label, record labels, web design, podcasting, music production / mastering, music writing / blogging, music, djing
Interests
electronic, electronica, breakbeat, drum & bass, ambient, house, dubstep, bass, bass music, deep house, dub, techno, experimental electronic, dub tech, future bass, melodic dubstep
Location
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Recent Feedback

Bobby Engel submitted media.

Huh. by Last+First (Robert Engel)

Alex Stillhead

Hey, sorry about the slight delay in getting to this. Thanks for submitting :)

First impressions are this is really nice - definite folk elements, and lots of nice things happening - the aahs, and the guitar parts.

I guess for me, this is slightly harder to judge in terms of production value, since my realm is most definitely electronic music, so levels-wise I guess it's OK, but it may need something of a polish to get it sounding CD-ready - but that may be down to a mixing and mastering engineer.

Track-wise there's a nice downtempo vibe to the whole thing - it's "comfortable" sounding - and would probably quite happily sit in my downtempo/folk playlist without sounding out of place.

I also quite like the slightly loose feel to it all - the fact that it's not super-tight, and things like the claps, the drums and such all have something of their own personality.

Drum-wise I'd probably want to get rid of the room reverb, and look at making sure they were micd up to get the best sound - but everything else sounded find recording-wise.

I'd love to hear the track with more vocals, just to see how it felt - there was something quite "interludey" about this - like it would sit nicely as an interlude on a Sea & Cake early album, or even early Sam Prekop.

The song structure seemed OK, but I guess with lyrics and a clear chorus, it would maybe feel less like an interlude and more like a "song" in the traditional sense - but it really depends whether that's a direction you want to take it in.

Ultimately it's a nice track - it's fairly inoffensive, and although I don't feel it's breaking any boundaries sound-wise, I think if you're happy with it, then that's often enough - and I can hear that it's been played with a sense of enjoyment, there has been care and attention put into it - and I think an album of this sort of stuff would be great, assuming there were some perhaps more song-style tracks.

I hope this is useful information for you - you may have better feedback from someone more used to helping those in the folk/indie realm.

AK Akhyo submitted media.

On My Mind by AKHYO

Alex Stillhead

First impressions: Liking the strings (even though they are slightly fake sounding - KONTAK instrument maybe?) - the vocal has been really over-used, I'd avoid using the On & On acapella - it sticks out (and also you'd not be able to clear it if a label wanted to sign the release). Also it feels a little out of tune at points.

The beat is nice enough - but the 4-4 kick, snare thing feels like it might be more interesting if there was more happening - not just the reverse cymbals and odd reverbed/ping-ponged hats.

The bass is OK, but it would also be great to hear more variation - which I suppose applied to the chord progression - it remains the same throughout and even with the breakdown, it would be great to hear the chords change or have some sort of chorus or vague song structure happening.

The single cello-type string is nice when it comes in on the breakdown - for a good example of how this works, check out a producer called "Tonik Ensemble" he uses strings/cello to great effect. I believe they're real though, not synthesised.

Ultimately I think the track is *fine* - but it feels very loop-based, and part of the magic of a great track for me is when I don't hear how it's been put together - or when something takes me by surprise - either a sound (great sound design) or the level of detail, and variations involved (which can also be sound design - but to a degree also structure and musicality) - I think this track could definitely progress into something amazing - but for me right now it feels a little unfinished.

Sure - you could probably drop it into a set of tech-house type stuff and it would be OK, but I'd want more from it - I'd really want to push it, experimentally and take more risks. It feels a little like you are holding something back - you've made this maybe thinking "what will people like - or what has everybody else done" which leaves you with quite a generic sounding track - but if you allow yourself to explore a bit more, you may find that it opens up new avenues of exploration which then mean you can take the track in totally wild directions.

Of course it's up to you - but I'd spend another few hours working on this and pulling some bits out - adding others, and maybe playing with the structure.

Mixdown-wise it sounds fine - no major volume or balance issues.

Sound-design-wise, I think you could craft the strings a little more, or try to find either a better synth sound, or better source for the strings - they sound a bit plastic or synthetic right now. It may even just be a case of adding some reverb - or some air/noise to them.

The beat design could be a little more interesting - right now it's very regular and predictable - and I'd want to play more with the percussion - get some other beats and syncopation on the go - see what happens.

I hope this all helps - and apologies if it sounds really harsh! I believe in honesty, since it'll help you get better results.

TJ Phillips submitted media.

Alex Stillhead

Hey!

It's funny you mention games - I can actually see this working in a game - it has the intricacies, the detail and the energy which all feels quite "arcade" to me. I can definitely tell you've improved too - it's really nice to hear.

There's lots happening in this track - and there's lots of stereo width - I am getting things coming from all angles, which is really interesting.

I think the structure-wise this has the nice break-down in the middle, but I'd consider getting more experimental with that side of things. Drop the track right down to just a bassline and low-passed sounds, or just a hi-hat and bass or something like that - you have lots happening - but I feel like after a while it's hard to single-out one sound over the other - it becomes a sort of blend of everything.

Energy-wise the track is good, but it tails off a little towards the end, there's not so much in the way of drama, or tension.

I once got told that it's nice when tracks tell something of a story - so you may wish to try and incorporate that into it - but it's going to depend on the use of the track really - this may work well in a club somewhere, but less so for home-listening.

Sound-design-wise it's fine, and the mix also sounds fine to me - I guess now you need to find a way to inject a story, or drama, or some soul into the track.

Also - it may be worth considering key-changes and maybe more melodic elements - that's my personal preference talking, so it might not be your thing for this stuff - but I sort of felt myself wanting a change in pace, or change in tone after a few minutes.

Hope this helps!

Matthew Hall submitted media.

Talpazan by Squeakstar

Alex Stillhead

Listening to the intro, the sounds feel a little on the thin side - maybe just down to percussion being centred - but just before the beat kicks in there's a nice flurry of snare sounds where they expand to left and right.

It's an interesting first section with that sort of squelchy loop - I felt that perhaps it was lacking in the low-end, since often techno of this sort feels a little sparse or unfinished without that booming low-end, whether it's a beefed-up kick or a sub-line of sorts.

Your percussion and drum sounds feel very single layered. I'd probably want to look at layering them up with more samples, to give them a bit more punch, and maybe allow them to take up a bit more of the frequency spectrum. You'd be surprised what a few extra drum layers will do - even if you don't notice much difference to begin with.

Although you have a few different defined sections, and the introduction of various other elements - there's something of a lack of progression in the track for me - it feels like a handful of elements are being brought in and out, but not necessarily with any real reason, or narrative. I'd like to see more of a story of sorts - some more engaging transitions, and maybe experimentation with ways of introducing or removing new sounds, so that it doesn't sound like they're just being turned on and off.

In general the track has me tapping my foot, and I dare say that in a set of similar material it wouldn't feel totally out of place, but I don't feel that it's going to turn enough heads in a set to make it a main-stay of my DJ box for example. I think I'd be wanting more of a cohesive groove.

There's also something to be said for allowing all the elements to gel. I'm not sure if these all do or not - there's almost a feeling that the track was done with hardware or a modular synth - in that the sounds feel a bit raw.

Another thing to mention may also be breathing room - building elements up is one thing, but also breaking them down effectively too - I don't know if this helps much actually, you do have build ups and break downs in here, but there's an element of clunkiness to them.

Lastly it's worth mentioning texture here too - there's something of an absence of texture in your track - anything from subtle noise, or keys in the background, however quiet or inconsequential, may help bring a feeling of cohesiveness to the track - at the moment, the sounds all feel like they exist somewhat in isolation, but for example the long drawn out sound at the 4:30-4:40 or 5:40 ish (that echoes out at the end) mark brings a bit more togetherness to the track, so I'd want to probably use much more of that throughout. Using relatively thin drum sounds without something to hold them together often makes things sound a little unfinished, which would be my worry with this.

I don't entirely dislike the track - but it's probably not something I'd go back to again and again I'm afraid.

Hopefully this gives you some more to refer to mate - thanks again for sending this my way :)

TJ Phillips submitted media.

Deep Inversion by philtr3

Alex Stillhead

The intro sounded pretty solid - all the elements seem to work well in the mix, and no real balance issues from what I can tell. Nice use of panning left and right for some elements too. I'm not entirely sure without a spectrum analyser, but if your sub/bass is in stereo - it might be worth cutting that down to mono. My mastering engineer often call me out on that - it might sound nice on headphones, but I believe it's not such a good idea.

I think by about 2:50 ish I was hoping for something in the way of a high-line, or a melody of some sort to come in.

The breakdown at 3:11 felt a bit clumsy - like some odd fading issues and then the acid mid-line that comes in feels a bit loud, and maybe a touch unprocessed - Also, the way it pumps, makes me think it's being compressed against something.

The line at 3:48 ish I'd have maybe brought in a little earlier - but if I'm honest, I have a tendency to get impatient with tech-house/prog-house these days, since when I'm DJing, I'll want to mix the next track in sooner than later, and then you miss the good part of the tracks.

Your track is actually quite busy - and this is a pitfall that some producers come across - it's very easy to add and add to the track - layer upon layer, and often if it fits then the assumption is it will work - but often just because you *can* do something, doesn't mean you *should* :) - less is sometimes more, and especially when you hear the track on a HUGE system - some of the elements might get lost, and then it becomes more about spending longer tweaking and processing the sounds you have, instead of just adding more.

So with that in mind, I'd want to probably remove a few of the elements (at least from time to time, if not everywhere) - and make more of the melodic elements - look at utilising some more reverb and delays for the higher elements - you can create the illusion of space with some well placed reverb - in fact you can even use reverb to place things differently in the mix, which can be quite useful.

If it were my track, I'd take out the acid style lines, and look at the melody closer - I'd maybe simplify the drum pattern and percussion and work on making that shine too - getting all the sounds really crisp (EQ everything - not drastically - but as a rule, you want to be cutting down on frequencies that you don't notice in the mix - and the EQ will help you space things out on the spectrum and get things sounding crisper - just remember to be gentle! hehe)

I'd also likely go deeper on the bass and look at areas with way less elements - but to be honest, I"m not a prog-house producer, and my productions often have parts where things get almost silent! Your track here is obviously much more orientated towards club/mix use.

The last thing I'd say - which I feel I often say to people, is the track is lacking something unique - and this is a hard one to grasp and explain, only because it's quite intangible - it's almost not even something you can *do* per-say - but basically if somebody was to do a blind-test and listen to this track (assuming it was mastered and polished up ready to go) alongside another progressive house track - how would somebody know it was *yours*? Where is your uniqueness, your signature sounds - some of the best producers (the ones I was familiar with anyway) had a certain sound - I could tell an early-era James Holden remix or a Luke Chable remix from a mile off - they have something that is distinctive. Now, this may be something that just comes with time - I'm told my tracks have my signature throughout, but I can't necessarily pinpoint it, or hear it all the time - but others seem to be able to - so it's going to be hard to put into action - but it could be recurring sounds, a favourite synth, a particular way of programming drums - but ultimately, the bottom line is the track needs to stand out (without being crazy or bonkers of course) - but enough for people to think *I NEED THIS TRACK* - they have to want to hunt it down. The more time you spend crafting, the more likely someone will want to find it - people can often subconsciously (or consciously I guess) hear the amount of effort that has gone into a track - and that can pay off big time.

I hope this has been helpful! Thanks for allowing me to listen to your track, and all the best with pushing your sounds!

Matthew Hall submitted media.

Tribbles by squeakstar

Alex Stillhead

The off kilter percussion and rolling scattered drums on this threw me initially but actually they have a really hypnotic quality to them!

All of the elements used within the track I think work together, and in terms of mixdown, it seems to sound fine - there might be a little too much in the very top-end of the spectrum, but that could just be personal preference.

There are a few things that I'd say about the track in terms of general feel.

Normally I really get into a techno track when it "rolls" - when there's some sort of fluidity to the movement of the loops. Whether minimal or maximal, normally I feel the track has to propell its self along - this sounds very hazy and can often just be down to something like syncopation or a particular loop structure - but I felt this track more "chugged" along - less in the way of flow to my ears - it's a hard thing to pin down, but it may be down to the scattered drum pattern.

I tend to go for tracks where there's a mystery regarding the production methods - but for at least the first half of this track there was a very clear build-up loop-based structure - I would look into ways to make this stuff less obvious in future - the simple adding and removing of sounds needs to have more thought put in in order to really add that intrigue and mystery. I want to listen and think *whoah, how did they make THAT happen?!*

The breakdown at the 4:10 mark felt like it came too late in the track - I think it would have been nice to see more break downs and build ups before this point.

I think in general - it seems like you have all these great elements - but I'd want to sit with all of this in the DAW and do a "deconstructed" version - where you break down and build up more bits. Get crazy with stuff, really push it much further out in terms of which elements are on together at the same time etc.

As far as standing out amongst other techno tracks - I think this has the potential to do that, but I'd want to mess about with it a bit more before it had those idiosyncrasies that tend to make something unique. Don't be afraid to go beyond what you might consider "safe" - you've always got the undo button, so get caught up in the wild nature of some of these sounds - try techniques you've never done before.

I think the other area that was lacking a little bit here was the bass - the sub was evident throughout, but never really felt like it had played a crucial part - it never emerged above the noise of the rest of the elements, and it was very much a constant in the track - that may be something of a requirement for techno of this sort - but why not drop it out at more parts - bring it back in at others - change the pattern, see how the subtleties of changing the bass pattern affect the rest of the track.

I hope this gives you some food for thought at the very least - thank you for letting me listen to your stuff :)

Benjamin Schneider submitted media.

Alex Stillhead

First impression was "ooh, this sounds like it's going to be dark!" although as the main bass synth came in and played the more major sounding (almost uplifting chords) it removed some of that mystery and darkness, and pulled it away from murkier territory.

After hitting the 1minute mark and things going WILD! I had a lot of fun actually - the craziness drifts nicely back into that original synth line too.

The synths at 1:47ish felt really good - nice addition. Maybe they could have even come in earlier? By the 2:12 mark the rhythm, bass and synth all working together gave things a very retro-futuristic feel - sort of Com Truise style.

Sounds like around the 3:00 mark it goes into some wild drum & bass thing - I liked that. I'm always down with some interesting tempo-switchups!

Now for the less positive stuff:

I think in general the track was well produced, but it lacked some of the subtleties of the sort of tracks that "wow" me. Maybe it was down to not much in the way of pad/light/air/texture sounds that add layers. The track felt very 1-dimensional.

The drums were "fine" but didn't seem exceptional. I think I'd want to put either more in, in the way of percussion and rhythm sounds - to bolster the existing drumtrack - or I'd want to do more to the drumline to break it up and make it less regular. At the moment it feels a little "plodding" in some sections.

The syntth/bass line - I liked it the best when it was low-passed, and as you brought it up towards the intro, it became less interesting - largely because it was more apparent and obvious in the mix I think - it didn't feel like an overly unique sound - more like a default, which put me off a bit.

For the most part - I didn't feel like there was any mystery within the track. I appreciate the most, the things which I can't figure out how they're made. If there are sounds, patterns, chords and stuff in there where I think "I wonder how that was made" - THAT's what REALLY hooks me into a track and makes me want to play it, sign it, support it etc - with this piece, I didn't feel like there was much I wouldn't know how to make fairly easily - which I think led to the simplicity of the track overall.

Hopefully this gives you some tips for growing your sound in future. Look at using more layers within your tracks - don't be afraid to really layer things up, then look at taking things away one by one till you have a nice balance - you may find you took away what you thought was a crucial piece, but ended up being replaced by something more unique.

Don't be afraid to go super-deep into making or sampling your synth sounds - go for sounds that nobody has made before. As a good example, check "Start From The Beginning" by Egyptrixx. That song baffles me :)

Drum & Bass is a healthy style to be experimenting with at the moment - but if it was me, I'd look at moving from the traditional rhythm patterns and exploring further into the deeper end. There is so much hype/jump-up stuff that if you try to do that you'll end up getting lost in a sea of mediocre tracks - aim to stand out in some way. Look at the likes of the two "Mosaic" compilations that were released on Exit Record for some incredible stuff.

Alessio Papeo submitted media.

Alex Stillhead

Immediately I felt it could get a little tedious in terms of that throbbing 4-4 chugging along, but actually this could probably quite easily set a dance floor going! I think by the 1:00 mark, I'd have hoped for a bit more hi-end, maybe just a real tiny hi-hat click even - just so I didn't have all low-end sounds (handy for mixing purposes, I often don't bring the kick in till last).

Nice breakdown at 1:50, although I think when the beat kicks back in, I'm not sold on the hi-hats - they don't feel quite like they fit in - maybe their syncopated rhythm.

Vocal shops after 2:20 are nice - would have liked to hear a few more, and maybe some more processing on them - reverbs, reverses etc.

Love the synths at the 3:00 ish mark, and when it kicks back in at 3:35 ish the percussion feels much more together and solid. Not 100% sold on the hi synth/key line here though - feels like it's not *dark* enough for the track.

By the time I got to the 4:40 mark, I felt like I was ready to start skipping the track on a bit - I think length-wise, it's worth chipping this down, and maybe working to the 5 minute mark. Maybe just a shorter edit or something - unless DJs are going for the super-long mix, it just feels a little like it's dragging on by the last section.

In terms of sounds - it works, by and large it feels pretty solid and accomplished as a track. In terms of support - it's probably too peak-time for me to support on my podcast or mixes, but should I play live, and require some techno ammo - it's probably a fair choice, although it's not something I'd guarantee playing.

For me, this would sit alongside A Made Up Sound's "Rear Window" - but it misses the mark on keeping the percussions interesting, so it just lacks that special something in that case.

My advice would be keep at it - not necessarily this track if it's set for release - but keep producing, and keep releasing. You've clearly got an ear for the sounds and mix, and I think were you to start experimenting with your rhythms, and playing a bit more with broken beats you'd definitely have my support 100%!!

Fluence Team submitted media.

For the Creative Community by The Fluence Team

Alex Stillhead

Actually like the idea behind Fluence, and it seems to work well as a system. I think the video is pretty slick, and the fast cuts keep it interesting, although I'd change one or two little things here and ther e- mostly design details, like the URL at the end of the video and that sort of thing.

I think it's relatively clear what Fluence does - although the voiceover guy mumbles slightly at the end of his sentences. That said, it's all audible to a native English speaker.

Promotion: This is a hard one and something I've been struggling with myself. I think the biggest part of spreading Fluence is from the users - but instead of just hooking into their email accounts and trying to spam their friends - I'd suggest incentivising users to share or refer their friends perhaps? It's not an easy one - the incentive is that when a user shares their profile they may get people sending them stuff to check.

Maybe you need to target BIG players - celebs of their vertical - the DJs who already get sent LOADS of music - if they had Fluence, people would use it and spread the word. The big artists who's opinion is something people want to get - the problem is hooking these big fish in and getting them to commit to using Fluence I guess.