DJ Dain
DJ | Producer | Musicologist


How I won a Roland TB-03 using a JU-06


Back in the beginning of August, I bought a Roland Boutique JU-06. I hadn't seriously considered buying a hardware synth up until that point. During the prior weeks, I had gone through hell and back dealing with a sick pet cat (luckily she's doing better now). It was supposed to have been some time for me to relax and work on some personal projects, but that opportunity never came. Maybe it was all of the compound stress, but when my friend said he found a JU-06 available I decided to treat myself.

I also learned that Roland was hosting a contest to win a choice of a VP-03, TR-09, or TB-03. All you had to do was record a 60-second video of yourself jamming with any product in their Boutique series, upload, tag and share it on social media. I had a look through some of the initial entries that were cropping up. Most of the submissions were producers that already owned a lot of hardware, including multiple Roland Aria and Boutique units. I was disappointed that so many entries focused on making House and Techno. Sure, these units were great for making that kind of music, but the most outlandish videos only had Boutique synths connected to elaborate Euro racks. I knew that if I wanted to make an impact I had to think outside of the box., Luckily, that first week of August coincided with my first lessons at Table Tutors. Their lessons in turntablism quickly provided me with new techniques that I wanted to combine in some way with my synthesizer. I decided to record a routine that not only featured my JU-06, but would consist exclusively of sounds generated and/or sampled from the unit. This meant researching how to synthesize drum sounds, among other things. I started with looking up videos and trying to apply as much of the same workflows as I could to my unit. I found myself spending most of my time trying to emulate some of the techniques shown in this video:

Once I had an effective kick drum sound, I sampled it into Ableton Live. I repeated the process to create a snare and high hat, and put everything into a drum rack with a few effects. With my drums finished, I proceeded to try different combinations of pad sounds and chord progressions to get a few textures. I recorded and bounced down a sequence using one sound, and rigged the other to trigger my JU-06 in real time. I wanted to make sure there was an opportunity to manipulate the hardware live in the video to show that it was an active part of the performance. I added a bass line to fill out the arrangement, and then imported the sampled pads progression into Serato DJ. This way I could perform a kind of "call-and-response" technique with my scratching:

It took a few hours and a lot of takes to get everything right. I had to set up an old iPhone on a microphone stand in order to get the top-down shot I wanted. There was a lot of trial and error. Some routines didn't get recorded at all. I lot of the time I kept forgetting to reset the JU-06's frequency filter so that I could change to a full-sounding pad near the end of the track. Eventually, I got a take I felt was satisfactory.

As I edited and uploaded the video to Instagram, I was mindful of my presentation. I knew the primary purpose of this contest was to help spread the word and create more buzz about the Boutique line of the Roland brand. I made sure to add a title to my video that immediately highlighted the versatility of the product, and tried to detail similar sentiments in my description. Using hashtags I could provide some crossover promotion with brands like Serato who collaborate with Roland. These 60-second entries are easily consumable content promoting a product - why not lean into the idea and give the company what they want?

It turns out all of that work paid off. On Tuesday, September 5th I received a message from Roland that I had been selected as one of the ten winners. After exchanging a few emails and mulling over my choices, I settled on the TB-03. It was a bit of a difficult choice, but I already have multiple sample libraries of the 909. After some research I found I wasn't impressed with the limited polyphony of the VP-03. The TB-03 hits the sweet spot of providing an iconic sound with hardware and programming options. I can't wait to get my hands on it!