Friday, January 27, 2012

Skrillex Studio Setup Then & Now - The Rundown

First off Skrillex has been exploding and right when you think he peaks in popularity he gets nominated for multiple Grammys (for serious?) Seeing how his music wants to be emulated and I myself have been curious looked into what he used in his past releases and his newer album. I was shocked to find his physical workstation equipment is very minimal and contradicts what you would think for his material.
"I’ve got the most minimal “rig,” if you’d even call it that. Macbook Pro, Ableton Live, some KRK’s (I actually did the whole Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP with the right speaker blown!) and some plugins. I don’t even use a MIDI controller. I’ve gotten very quick at drawing everything in with the trackpad. I prefer it that way actually. No hardware as of yet, though I do plan on expanding my studio and collecting more toys in the future. But what I have does the trick for now!"
So there it is for his past, literally making tracks without a stereo field with a blown speaker. He later was on his first round of toura and made tracks in his hotel room and even in vehicles on the way to gigs.
This is Skrillex pictured in his current (as of January 2012) studio based out of LA, he lives in a 100 year old building that was a bank. Some sort of creative persons loft community. He has since gotten some upgrades since his humble Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites beginnings. Hes invested in what looks like Dynaudio monitors, a Virus Ti and panels. Very Neat.   
He has an Akai MPK49 as his main interface connected to Ableton Live, 2 pieces of outboard grear that I assume could be a compressor on the left and some sort of soundcard interface (if anyone knows what they are let me know). You will then notice the Mac keyboard suggesting he is using Macosx and theres foam cups everywhere which could mean theres a coffee machine somewhere in this high traffic area. Or he doesn't like to do dishes.

Skillex is constantly on tour. As I said before he constantly makes music on the road anywhere he can. He travels with multiple MacbookPros (1 live, 1 toy/production mac and a backup). He uses Beats By Dre headphones, does everything on the trackpad and smokes a lot of cigarettes. Everything is in the box. He has stated in a recent interview that he makes tracks during the day and plays them out that night doing this, intense.

No doubt Skrillex uses Native Instruments Massive. On the software tip he uses that, FM8 and Abletons Operator. He has stated that he uses mostly effects within Ableton, he compresses, bounces audio and edits it again, he also uses techniques like Parallel Compression and Serial Compression but that will be a later Tutorial. Its been established that he most likely uses the L2 Maximizer (all dubstep people uses that) and a mixture of limiters, distortion plugins and some sort of bitcrusher.

I like this because it just goes to prove you can produce Grammy nominated (or a least pretty good) music without a quarter million studio, engineers, session musicians and artist development. It should inspire you like it does me.

Peace out Skrill drop it hard. =]=]=]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dear Me From 2003

Dear me from 2003,

Hey you! I found your bio writeup thing you seemed to put a lot of effort into, I shall post it 10 years later on your new blog thing. Ill just post this here. I'll be gentle, I kind of cringe when I read this but its still all good.
A leduc local, just outside of Edmonton. I deliver The most uplifting sounds your ever hear. I range from different styles of electronica. I range from trance to happy hardcore to Goa to Technic Rave. Been listening and loving rave sounds for years. I've been producing for about 2 years. My biggest influentional artist has got to be push. Others include Public Domain, Yves Deruyter, Dj Tiesto, Plastic boy, Dj blackmaster and Steven Parker. My most influentional song has got to be "Till we Meet Again" By Push. Some include "We Will Survive" by the warped brothers and "sandstorm" by darude. I use tones of software to make my music. If you want to start, I recomend you download "Fruityloops" at Theres a free trial version of FLStudio 4. Please dont download it off Kazza or any other file sharing program, If u like it, BUY IT. You owe it to them. Peace
Capitalization and stuff. But yes you do indeed lived in edmonton with your grandparents, and you are a bit angsty and a bit egotistical. Thats probably because you have a bit of low self-esteem and you are defiantly committed to "delivering the most uplifting sounds you will ever hear" even though you have no means to do so.

In the future you will range from different styles of electronica, you will also hate that people call it "EDM" for some reason. You will dabble in making slower Housey-Trance but you wont be making Freeform-Hardcore or Goa (hold off the weed for a bit). And what you think Technic Rave is, is Hard-Techno/HardHouse. You have not been listening to rave sounds for years ("rave" is not a genre of music). The years part is more like 2 but when you are 24 it will be 11 years. Crazy eh?

In the future you will only use something called Ableton Live and less plugins than you can count on two hands. You dont need to use tonnes of software, its kind of a waste of time. Also stop going through presets, any monkey can figure out what the knobs and faders do.

What you call producing isn't producing, please dont be discouraged you will nail it one day. Technology and mental capacity is a bit behind at this point in time for you. when you are around 22 you will commit months of bootcamp like dedication to making sounds. You will get it even if you think you cant.

Peace out little guy,
24 year old you

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting That Old school House And Techno Sound

This is a part two to getting that old school sound in your house and techno tracks, that sound thats fuzzy, a bit muddy but sounds good and gives you that warm feeling.
The House and Techno guys used this! Its an E-mu SP-1200 and many great tracks were made with it, It was a drum machine and sampler all in one. It was around $15,000 and offered 10 whole seconds of recording time. It was the standard for many years until Akai came out with their samplers.

Now here is the technique to get the retro sound, The E-mu only had 10 seconds of sampling time so the hip hop guys would sample 33rpm records at 45rpm into the machine and then pitch them down in the machine (to have more recording time). If you take that and its 12bit resolution you have THAT SOUND.

Now how do we make it a bit more authentic? Turns out when sampling from a record there would be hissing, mechanics noise and pops and you can add this to your recordings before you flatten and pitch it in two ways. You can use software turntable/tape noisefloor emulation or you can find some real recordings of the electronics online (there are many music nerds who collect these)

Two essential plugins for this are iZotope Vinyl and TB TimeMachine. Both are made by reputable companies and are FREE!

So lets have a quick tutorial:

1. Find a piece of audio you wish to use this technique on, percussion and vocals would be a good place to start. Loops are ok

2. Take your material and times your bpm by 1.35. If you are using material at 128bpm you will have sample at 172bpm. You can always set it to anything you like but the general rule is to have it pitched up a fair amount.

3. Apply a noisefloor, hissing and hum to taste with iZotope Vinyl and apply the 12bit resolution with TB Time Machine.

4. Flatten, bounce and/or render it out

5. You will now pitch the material back down to the original bpm but now you will have some wicked sounding transients and a retro sounding, fresh off the dub plate sound.

6. EQ and process as usual (bonus points for a console style EQ with saturation)

Have fun and here is a track that was made using an E-mu.