The Power of Nostalgia (or how 909 hats are holding me back)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of nostalgia in both my music making choices and more broadly in the world of electronic music.

A lot of this thinking was triggered by me spending the last few weeks just using my Syntakt. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m lacking decent hats, even though I’m making plenty of nice sounding (to me) hats with the Syntakt now. I think what I’m struggling with is that I can’t make the 909/707 hats that the nostalgic part of my brain wants to hear and I think it’s holding me back. I’m at the point where I don’t even trust my own judgement anymore, like, is something objectively shit based on how little it sounds like a 909?

I don’t want this to revolve around the Syntakt, I’m bored of that conversation, but using it has made me realise quite how narrow some of my horizons actually are when it comes to sound design and synthesis. I say I want innovative new things and new ways of making new sounds, but do I really? Or do I just want a bunch of Roland Clones (which I’ll no doubt complain about for not being very innovative)?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really asking for advice. For the first time in ages I’m happy with my music making and the gear I’m making it on, I just wish I could get rid of that little voice in my head that’s holding me back because my hats aren’t 909 samples.

I’ve always had this thing where I really try to avoid listening to music while I’m making an album or putting a live set together, but I think my prejudices might be too ingrained. Also, what if I do manage to burn off all the nostalgia and make something completely new? There’d be no common ground for the listener to meet me on and no-one would like it anyway, because I’m not sure how much anybody wants to actually hear something new. We all just want to be 14 again, don’t we…


Pretty sure I heard Blawan (or the other one from Karenn) joke that 909 rides are the best rides, like there is no other choice. I thought it’s in this short, but on review it seems not. So you’re in good company. They do have a lovely tone and “shape”.

As for being 14 again… yes. Well, I do. More like 12 actually… day dreaming about playing synths and sequencers live, like Jean-Michel Jarre. And later, Orbital. I used to have a really clicky, bright, chip-tune-like CL and OP sample pair I always used. They were a bit like something from Tri Repetae-era Autechre. Like… always used. It’s probably good I can’t find them now.


If you want to hear 909 hats in your tracks, you can bet your bum that the listener does to.
Dont be stuck on the one box syndrome. Use a sampler for what they are good for.

(Personally, I cant live without 606/ 909 hats. 909 ride, the 707 Kick, the 808/909 Rim)


I just think no synthesized hat could ever sound as great as a real hat, sampled or not, noise has nothing on the complex sound of real metals


Well this is it though.

Am I here to give people what they want, or am I here to give them something else?

I’m not stuck in the single box thing, I’m definitely bringing a sampler to the party. But before I do I want to get my head clear about what I actually want it for, because just loading up a bunch of 909 shit feels lazy and predictable, but ultimately satisfying.


The “air” around the 909 ride feels like photos of Berghain’s high ceilings (I’ve not been inside).


Lazy is satisfying.

But you can get around this by putting novelty around, under and over your 909 samples.

I used to use one hit from the Amen, just to show I knew what the canon was.



That reminds me.

So I was listening back to something I recorded this afternoon and the different layers of kicks and claps and shit made it sound like there was an amen hit in there.

I loved it immediately, even though I knew there was no amen in there.


Think of it this way-
In a band, an open hat at the end of every 8th bar isnt exactly innovative, but its a signifier for the band, and the audience, ie, something is about to happen.

For me, 909 hats in techno are the same thing. A signifier, sonic glue, a big hand that holds the track together.

Id hate to be 14 again. It was shit.
16 was awesome though.


So, this is totally anathema to your “get a track done in a couple of hours” method…

DJ Shadow talks (here) about how the “sampled from vinyl” sound that made him famous is played out now. So he’ll go full surgical, designing new beats from layers, cleaning, polish, synths and all that… to craft something that’s new but has a tinge of nostalgia about it.

I’m eager to hear your serialist phase.

Which is why none of those albums are as good as Endtroducing though…


Also, I dunno about you, but if I want to hear a 909 hat in my track, it fucking goes in.
Bollocks to what anyone else thinks.


It’s part of the vernacular of dancing sounds for a lot of ppl. I didn’t feel this way because I was a jungle kid (that listened to other music too).

When you’re dancing you want something in the noise to be trustworthy, comfortable really as you’ve lost your mates, your tummy feels weird and your sure your girl is cheating on Dan etc


Largely agree… although I like to ask myself if that is nostalgia too.

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But what if my constant need to put 909 hats in is stopping me finding something new?

Am I just using them as a quick way to connect with people instead of writing a decent tune?

Sorry, wrong forum.

Don’t do 2C-E, especially not after dense carbs.



So it’s our fault his albums aren’t as good


I’m sure you’ve got another track in you tho’. 9-parts 909, 1-part WTF.

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Shit. No one complains when they hear a piano or a guitar all the time. Fuck it. 12 tracks of 909 hi hats.