There’s an interesting post over at Time & Space’s recently relaunched blog that features an interview with Ed Stratton, Zero-G founder and one of the early fathers of today’s sample industry.
The fact that the company he launched is still around – and thriving – today (and proudly represented by us at S2S) is testament to the quality of sounds they continue to put out. In an industry that has seen as much change as ours, there aren’t a huge number of companies from the old days still going strong, and Zero-G are one of them.
Ed – who bought his first sample CD in 1990, a whole two decades ago – recounts how he put together his first product: “I compiled 1000 of my best samples onto a DAT tape and had it mastered to CD. I borrowed enough money to have an advert designed for Sound On Sound magazine, to cover the cost of the ad, and to manufacture 500 CDs. This was the world’s first dance sample CD.” It was the start of a journey that would lead not only to the development of one of the finest sample labels around, but also the birth of Time & Space as sample distributors.
The article got me thinking back to the first CDs I bought, a few years after Ed’s initial foray into the industry, and the part they played in not only my music, but also the rise of both Sample Magic and later, Sounds to Sample.
I was always a heavy user of samples. My twin loves of chillout and organic house necessitated samples of real instruments – funky guitar lines, chillout trumpets, deep slap bass, live percussion and so on. I couldn’t afford expensive session fees or studio time to record in. So I turned to samples.
The first CD I bought that ticked all the boxes for me was the iconic Mousse T Houseworx on Ueberschall – a genuine milestone in the sample world, put together as it was by a platinum-selling artist and serving up hundreds of fine beats and, even better, guitars, Rhodes, organs and – of course – the obligatory crappy vocals. But I loved it, and samples from it became a mainstay in my productions for years. It was also one of the most – if not the most – successful sample discs of all time, powering through at least three thousand-strong print runs, and probably many more.
I invested in a few more Ueberschall CDs, all of which were good, though never quite as useful to me as Houseworx.
The next product that redefined what samples could be for me was the (still wonderful) Nu Directions – Future Sounds of House from eLab (now eQuipped Music). Not only had sample CDs moved from audio to blissful digital (no more sampling goddamn CDs!), this was the first product I’d come across that had an ‘import and play’ ethic behind it. If inspiration was lacking you could just lay down one of the pristine music loops and you were half way to building the backing of a track. It also breathed true organic house in a way few collections had before. It was another milestone for me.
I dallied with other collections. The majority disappointed; never quite offering the mix of inspiration, authenticity and usability that a good sample collection should deliver. And those were more expensive days: at £59.95 a pop you couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes.
Which led, in the end, to Sharooz and I setting up Sample Magic, and two years later, Sounds To Sample.
In a digital world where both technology, music and the sample industry evolve at ever faster rates, it can be interesting sometimes to look back at what went before. It’s people like Ed who pioneered what has come since. It’s a good legacy.
What was your first sample CD? Do you have a sample pack that defined an era? Feel free to add your own memories about the early days of samples.
Chemical Beats was the first sample library I ever bought. Great library.
I also remember Houseworx and the Elab series, very good stuff I had the Houseworx as Akai version back then. I also liked the XXLarge series and Housemaster from Best Service. They had good drumloops similar to Houseworx and I think they were almost from the same period.
I’m fairly new to producing and sample cd’s since I’m quite young so it’s refreshing to read about the beginnings. I wonder what sample cd’s will be classics in the future There’s so many sample packs released nowadays, like Ed said in the article, you have to spend time to find the gems ..
Sample Magic starting up defines the beginning of an era- easily the best sample packs for house music.
I had a load of those XXLarge packs too. Hit and miss but some good drums from what I remember!!! Don’t even know who they were by. Cr*p artwork too!!
hmmm….I think the first sample CD I remember was Megaton House Bomb, surely the BigFishAudio equivalent of Houseworx! right down to the crappy vocals, although I doubt it was among the best selling of all time.
Was most inspired by ZeroG Deep House v2 CD, though. Remember actually sampling it into my ASR-X from a CD PLAYER!!! Crazy, never thought I would miss it…and I still don’t… Bwu-haaha-haaaahaaaaa
Now that I think about it,
I would love to see your interpretation of releasing a “od school” house sampler, shooting for the early house energy from the 92 – 93 area, perhaps taking a certain inspiration from that era when Brothers in Rhythm were doing their thing and the early progressive “late night” sound was just starting to come about in contrast to the more full energy and typically “hardcore” style house that was rampant during that timeframe…
Just a thought. I do love what Sample Magic AND SoundsToSample produce and promote, don’t get me wrong. Cool website too. But like you said, all too many of the old regime of Sample CD companies gave one too many uninspired titles to keep much faith and we ALL know that there hasn’t really been anything successful that we have seen among the seemingly gillions of “classic” house CDs so far, for some reason. Seems hard to believe, somehow…Oh well, I’m out, I think I heard a dingo getting my baby
oh yes, i also got all those classic sample packs. in that time – many firms just had “audio format” and you had to cut each sample by yourself….in the beginning there were’t any tools that do that things for you….nowadays this is much much easier….
best, olli / sounds-of-revolution
My first 5:
House Essentials (uberchall) – WICKED BEATS!
XXXLarge House (not sure)
Funky House Vocals (Soundscan)
Chronic Horns (not sure) – USED IT LOADS ON OLD FUNKY HOUSE RECORDS
~ta~ depends what you mean by succesfull of course. There has been some very very good house titles in the recent years (not too many though) and I am sure they have been selling good too.. Sample Magic, Equipped Music .. Of course piracy affects things too. But I would like to see also that kinda 90s house cd
i remember seeing the add on sound on sound and calling Ed Stratton and buying his first sample CD Zero-G and the two following volumes…
man, cutting those audio cds that were just a couple continuous tracks by hand really takes me back, in fact it put me off from sampling for a many years, talk about getting stoned and doing monotonous rec, start, stop, cut, trim,… for a few hours….
Houseworx was my first.. I STILL hear those sounds used everywhere today!
I got the first Zero G when it came out. That with the S950 seamed like…well what more could you want? Still fire it up today when everything gets to clinical.
Houseworks as well, always on the HD. Still return to Datafiles 1 and 2 though, what goes around comes around!
dunno about you lot, but getting SCSI to work with wavelab back in the day, wasted many of my hours of bliss in the studio (aaaagh …..talk about technology helping you…….”near dementia!” dialing thru menus….
Hey guys, i remember i liked a lot the song “express of sound – real vibration” and still like it, but now that i have the tools and knowledge to produce music, i really would like to reproduce that sound. I’m specially looking for that percussive groove, that appears in that real vibration song; i don’t know how to describe it, but that sound also appears in “The Bucketheads – The bomb” i hope you guys that know about those 90′s sample cds could help me to find such sample cd, because i want to use it in my own productions. Any help will be apreciated. Thanks in advance.
Hi, Im very new to musix and while i looking for some early Era samples I just got this nice article on old school sample packs. really very helpful to my needs….I just have one personal question ask any body who can verify. here it is: Is it a vocal sample in the track “night Bird” by “Deep forest” where the women yelling in it.if it is a sample; can anyone let me know the original sample disk? plz im look forward to buy. it should be early 90s
About 15 years ago I bought ‘Skip to my loops’ by Norman Cook AKA Fatboy Slim, this was my first foray into using samples, there are some classic breaks and vocals on there.
Nu Directions is still the biggest milestone in classy sounding house sounds. Anyone knows who did this compilation and if they did any other stuff good like this?
Sample magic cd. Adress to madame Manon Paradis, 11989 Monty app.45,Montréal-Nord,P.Q, Canada,h1g 6k5
Do you believe that Syria spying on dissidents?
Now the choice is so great, i first make time to look at what i’ve got on the SSD if it comes via the big old net, chop ready..
REMEMBER the days: indeed, standing with foam on your mouth lurking at the cabinet with say, 30 cd’s max. in it!!! haha charming dayz
I bought (maybe it was 2001?) a double box-cd here in a music store for my Akai S01…. I still got it and thinking of using some loops from that cd even now!
Title: THE X-STATIC GOLDMINE from Polestar magnetics(3023 dance samples) picked and edited from DAT tape they say in the booklet.
did cost me about… 150 euro back then and that was a lot!
Great site here! A great year for you all next year
(with me producing with ableton fully hehe)
Polestar Magnetics double cd, a whopping 150 euro back then before the euro time, but anything for my S01 from Akai then haha
It is called “The X-Static Goldmine” (3023 dance samples total)
I’ve left my passion for 10/12 years! Restarting my love for the music and coming back with ableton (bizzy learning a lot)
In some ways i sometimes miss the feeling of back then, drewling on all those synths in the shops but, ..don’t be stuck in the past
Massive job to search through all the files/samples nowadays but it’s oke!
enjoy 2012 from Holland
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