Posted Jan. 17, 2018, 10:59 a.m.
When Justen's parents forbid him from listening to the corrupting influence of "secular music" - they inadvertently helped him train to become a music producer.
Thanks to peer to peer filesharing and an abundance of instrumental mp3 hip hop mixes available there, Justen Williams was listening to Top 40 hip hop minus the vocals. And what was left, he could study in unobscured detail to see how the kick fit with the bass and why those effects create a specific mood.
But it wasn't until a college friend introduced Justen to Reason that he saw what he'd always dreamed of: an entire beatmaking studio right on his computer screen. After getting his own copy of Reason, Justen Williams never looked back. His production skills and collaborations with New Orleans artists have landed him placements with Ford, HBO, Empire, Dancing with the Stars, NFL Films, and album production with Kourtney Heart, Justin Garner, and Dee 1.
We joined Justen in New Orleans to discuss his early beatmaking and production experiments with Reason and his biggest viral success, Sallie Mae Back.
Posted Jan. 15, 2018, 12:46 p.m.
Over the last few years, a new retro music genre has emerged, bloomed and taken on a life of its own. Synthwave, or Retrowave is an electronic music genre heavily influenced by the sounds and aestethics of 1980s movies and its soundtracks (think John Carpenter, Vangelis etc) and video games. This nostalgia-induced style of electronic music pays tribute to the style, feel and sound of the 80s. Musically, Synthwave music often draws inspiration from bands that build their musical foundation on drum machines and (nowadays) classic synthesizers.
Emerging in the late 2000’s, Synthwave acts like Kavinsky, College and Com Truise were among the first to make the genre widely known and loved. Both Kavinsky and College were featured in the Synthwave-heavy soundtrack for the movie Drive, which definitely helped many discover the sounds of Synthwave and bring the genre into the mainstream. The Netflix hit show Stranger Things also features Synthwave music in its soundtrack and the whole series could of course also be considered an homage to 80s movies.
Synthwave music is often inspired by and based around 80s style components such as drum machines (such as the Linn Drum) and analogue synthesizers like the Roland Juno and Jupiter 8, mixed with more modern production techniques like creative use of sidechain compression.
With its rich plethora of drum machines and analogue inspired synthesizers, picking Reason to produce a Synthwave track is a perfect match. Here to show you how it’s done is producer and musician Paul Ortiz of Synthwave group ZETA.
Producer, musician and Reason producer Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) is a member of Synthwave group ZETA, along with Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. Together they fuse the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breath-taking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package that is ZETA.
Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.
Make a Synthwave track yourself with Reason's free trial!
Posted Jan. 5, 2018, 9:27 a.m.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Drew Lustman aka FaltyDl has been releasing his eclectic electronic music over the years on such renowed labels as Planet Mu and Ninja Tunes, as well as his own Blueberry Records imprint. Drew has put out six albums including his most recent ouput Heaven is for Quitters and he has also toured with James Blake, opened for Radiohead and remixed for the likes of Seun Kuti, Photek, The XX, Disclosure, Tricky and Ellen Allien.
Drew makes all his music in Reason and we figured it was time for a chat about how he goes about creating his music in Reason and what the thinking is behind it.
What's your favorite thing in Reason 10?
Reason 10 really nailed the integration of VSTs. I had started to play around with some 3rd party plugins in Reason 9, but everything jelled with Reason 10. It's funny to think my favorite thing about Reason is using non-Reason products with it, but that’s the spirit of music. Inclusion, experimentation and freedom. I used to feel tied down by the limitations of not being able to use VST’s, now it's been blown wide open and my wallet is my only limitation haha. Also being a lifetime Reason user, it's really nice that the GUI has been solid for the past few versions. If there is one thing every artist hates, it's change to their workflow. Although once you push through, new opportunities usually arrive.
How do you get started with a new song?
Just play. Have fun and experiment. I can honestly say, 10+ years into making electronic music i still don’t have a clue what I am going to make when I head into the studio. And every time I think I do, it comes out completely different. I’m not accurate like that. But I never cared about it either. My advice is make everything you want to make. You can decide later if its crap! Also, no one has to hear it… hehe
What's the best music making tip you ever got?
What you don’t know starting out is if music becomes your livelihood, pays your bills etc. your relationship with it may change. Go with the flow, go easy on yourself when the tunes don’t just come naturally. They will again.
Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I like saving racks, songs Ive completed, then erasing every single note and just letting the set up remain for another day. It’s a good way to get a vibe going quickly.
I like treating the mixer as an instrument.
I like treating the mixer as an instrument. Doubling instruments, giving sounds multiple channels to phase against each other with LFOs can really make some freaky human sounding stuff. I still smash ‘tab', switch Reason around so to speak and wire things awkwardly. One thing I am trying to be more conscious of these days is relative volume across different levels, meaning Line Level vs Instrument Level vs master level etc. I try and leave enough headroom at the end of a track so i can mix more freely and not worry about adjusting everything.
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Scream 4 Distortion has been a mainstay for me since Reason 3. The tape saturation is pretty spot on!
I use the NN-XT sampler in pretty much every track. I come from before you could just print audio into Reason and had to start a track before the sample is triggered in order to hear it. It was painful back then, but created a good listening habit which made me a more active listener. I find I can focus on the most minute musical event in a song and completely forget its context, only to then listen to the entire song and think what the hell did I just do for 45 minutes?
The tape saturation is pretty spot on!
Dr OctoRex is still a beast. I don’t think I use it to it’s full potential, but I come from sampling breaks and have always used this alongside recycle. Integrated audio has changed the need for this but hey I’m a bit old school.
What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
Leave the house. Go for a walk, call a friend. Move a muscle, change a thought. Forcing the thing works maybe 10% of the time. Collaborate! Send stems to a pal and ask for some back. Inspiration, muse, whatever you call it is a fickle thing. It never shows up on time and often when you aren’t even close to your studio.
Inspiration is a fickle thing. It never shows up on time and often when you aren’t even close to your studio.
What’s your all-time favorite album?
Impossible to nail down. Here are a few;
- Feed Me Weird Things - Squarepusher
- In a Silent Way - Miles Davis
- Apostrophe - Frank Zappa
- Drum and Bass for Pappa - Plug
- Ruins - Grouper
Go follow FaltyDL on Instagram, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify.
Posted Dec. 12, 2017, 9:57 a.m.
Updated December 12.
Time's up and we've listened to and watched what you've been doing with Reason 10 and we're amazed by the sheer creativity in the Reason community. Wow! It was no easy task picking only five winners but here goes. Congratulations and thanks to everyone for participating! We will reach out to every winner via the specific social medium where the contribution was posted.
Winner 1: one Propellerhead made Rack Extension + ReFill, one Europa t-shirt, one Grain t-shirt
Winner 2: one Propellerhead made Rack Extension
Winner 3: one Propellerhead made ReFill
Winner 4: one Europa t-shirt
Winner 5: one Grain t-shirt
Reason 10 is here and we want to hear the cool things you can do with it! Share your sounds on a social media channel of your choice using the #1stReason10 hashtag so we can find it.
A jury of Propelleheads will pick five lucky winners by December 11.
Good luck and happy music-making!
Don’t have Reason 10 yet? Download the trial today and join the challenge!
Posted Nov. 29, 2017, 3:49 p.m.
With VSTs in Reason, you can now tap into the amazing pedalboard designing capabilities of BIAS FX, while blending the tones you create inside that plugin with standard rack devices like Scream 4 for custom tones only possible in Reason.