Part1: I was a weedhead taco truck driver

that's it in the picture... the actual taco truck where I spent 2 years saving all my tips to buy my first Technics turntable, NuMark DJ mixer and MPC2000. this is where my electronic music life began.

taco1_midnight_tacos_truck.jpg

Bald tires. bad brakes. one headlight. leaked oil. no horn. no seatbelt. transmission would drop from Park into Reverse all by itself sometimes when you thought you were parked... (nope you're rolling!)

And the generator underneath tended to catch on fire from time to time, you can see it right there in front of the rear wheel.

When you're in your early 20's it's a lot of fun to deliver tacos to all the party people. We worked from 4pm to 4am+ on weekends. That was my initiation into the night-time economy, when I found out that a whole section of humans makes a living totally at night, totally separate from the 9-to-5 world. I loved it and wanted more.

Every night we delivered to homes, dorms, frat houses, strip clubs, motels, 'underwear modeling agencies' which were essentially whorehouses, drug dealers' houses, and a bazillion apartments that had a pool you could dive into real quick in the Texas heat. Everybody loves nachos & quesadillas. One time there was a dead body in the pool tho.

oh yeah haha then I invented the chocolate & bananadilla for all the stoners who had the munchies. It was just tortillas with melted chocolate and bananas inside, and whipped cream on top. They were really popular.

I kept a little cassette deck on the floor of the truck so I could I have music during my 12 hour shifts, we worked like crazy, we did a 50 hour week in 3 days from thursday to sunday. then 3 days off to do laundry and drink coffee and make beats.

Back then I was bumping a lot of the Roots, Nas, Fela Kuti, Cassius, Beastie Boys, Portishead, Fugazi, Avail, 7seconds... flipping the tapes over and over and over all night, I must have heard those albums a hundred times.

I was listening to punk rock & hardcore, hiphop, triphop and just starting to get interested in house music. Ended up recording my first beats on that same tape deck.

I vividly remember driving down the road, holding that big giant steering wheel, wishing I was mixing records at a house party instead of being at work.

At that time I didn't know that electronic music was actually going to become my reality... and here I am 20 years later, still doing it, still loving it.

this was c.1998

Now remember the equipment I mentioned up top:

  • Sampler
  • Sequencer
  • DJ mixer
  • tape deck

This is important because these formed the basis of my whole music production system.

 my MPC2000, the original

my MPC2000, the original

To make great tracks, all you need are ORIGINAL sounds, a way to build them up to a CLIMAX, and then some type of MIX device (even if it's a just DJ mixer).

Today we have all that inside Ableton. But back then everybody was DAW-less, because music computers were more expensive than a car!

Click here to read the next chapter...

Steve Knots

mixitecture, Pittsburgh, PA

Thanks for your visit! If you're new here, check out the session lessons. They're the most exciting new way to learn sound design, composition and mixdown techniques for electronic music production in Ableton Live. -Steve