Music Talk: Tobtok

Posted Jan. 16, 2017, 12:42 p.m.

Meet Tobtok, a.k.a. Tobias Karlsson, a 24 year old house DJ/producer hailing from Uppsala, Sweden. Growing up with Michael Jackson and Nile Rodgers being huge influences, Tobtok took the natural route via French-sounding house and nu-disco before delving deeper into his own niche of electronic music, where Reason always has played a big part. Tobtok is currently signed to legendary UK label Ministry of Sound and in 2016 he released the song "Fast Car" which to date totals over 30 million streams on Spotify and Soundcloud. Be sure to download the Reason lead synth combinator patch from that song further below!

We spoke to Tobtok about his song writing process and how he uses Reason in his productions. Check it out!

What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?
It's definately the new Pitch Edit feature! I've always tried to stay in Reason for all sides of production but it's been hard working with vocals up until now. I love to work with samples in all its shapes and with this new feature it can be applied and used with all kinds of sounds. I've been editing guitar-leads with the pitch-edit and it gives the sound a whole new and interesting character.

How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity?
I often start out with a Radical Piano to write basic chords, usually around a vocal. Sometimes you stumble upon an interesting sound or sample and play around with it which engages the rest of the music making. I usually ignite my creativity with hours of listening to music. Later on, bits and pieces that caught my interest kind of gets imprinted into my memory and in to the music making. Today for example I was listening to some Swedish pop song and found a specific percussion sound that I got obsessed with. After a good few hours of investigation I found out that it was a "Wooden Frog". It is now sitting nicely in my latest tune!

Sometimes creating a new track can be easier than finishing one. How do you decide when you're done?
My archive of unfinished clips has really stacked up over the years. I'm very fortunate to work with a lot of the major labels and with it comes deadlines. Usually the record has to be done in a few days so you have to make big choices and just let it be finished when it sounds right in the moment. It's so easy to think that you are finished when the arrangement is good and the mix is sounding tight, but after a few listens you always hear new stuff that you want to change. But sometimes you have to say to yourself that this is a finished product, let it go and move on to the next project. The industry is moving very fast and it's all about keeping up with it.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
Well, I think the biggest advantage in Reason is that it has its own sounds, which a lot of people are missing out on. I always use a lot of Reason's own sounds because it stands out and always maintains a standard.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Radical-Piano, NN-XT Sampler, Audiomatic Retro Transformer

What’s your all-time favorite album?
I have to be a bit boring and say Michael Jackson - Thriller! It's hard to beat.

Any words of wisdom for other music makers out there?
Have fun and just keep learning new ways of working, because the beauty with softwares  and computer-made music is that there's no limits to what you can do! Also, believe in your own talent and respect the craft. It's hard to stand out with your music in this day of age, and a lot of people are following the same formulas so it's a big advantage to try and take yourself out of those barriers and create something people have never heard before. Although it's always good to take inspiration from others but try to put it into your own perspective! Lastly, don't be driven by fame, because you should do music for your own pleasure, and if others enjoy what you're doing it's a bonus but your own passion is the most important thing!

 

DownloadDownload Tobtok's Combinator patches

 

 

Fast Car Steel-Synth
This is a synth-based steel-drum sound which I used to layer the lead melody and plucks in my single "Fast Car"! I've used variations of this patch in a lot of tracks and it has this carribean vibe to it!

Radical Piano - Nice Standard
Probably my favorite and most used instrument in my productions is the Radical Piano. I usually start out with this patch because it fits well with house records as I've boosted the highs to make it more stabby and pop out in the mix.

Pretty Dope Xylophone
Used in a bunch of my remixes. This Xylophone sound is quite heavily compressed to give it this "in your face" attack. Great if you are looking to do a nice tropical lead!

 

Follow Tobtok on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram!

 

In August 2016 Tobtok opened for Avicii during his Ushuaia residency on Ibiza.

Posted Jan. 16, 2017, 12:42 p.m.

Music Talk: SKYWLKR

Posted Dec. 14, 2016, 12:54 p.m.

Detroit raised producer/DJ Skylar Tait a.k.a. SKYWLKR woke up on his tour bus one snowy December day in Stockholm, while being on tour with rising hip hop star Danny Brown, and immediately tweeted his favorite music software company with a request to hang out. Naturally we obliged.

SKYWLKR has made a name for himself by producing music for, and touring the world with hip hop artist Danny Brown who recently released the album "Atrocity Exhibition". Besides selling out venues with Danny Brown, SKYWLKR is also a member of the Bruiser Brigade crew, where said Danny Brown also is a member. SKYWLKR came by the Propellerhead office to hang out in our studio and talk about what he loves about Reason and what to do when writer's block hits. You also get to know what his all-time favorite album is.

What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?

It’s gotta be Scales & Chords! I wasn’t musically trained so sometimes I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s really cool to being able to form chords by just pressing one button on the keyboard, and at the same time you’re learning too because it shows you what the chord looks like on the keyboard! That’s a cool thing so my new favorite thing in Reason 9 has to be the Players, and especially Scales & Chords.

Do you work with vocals? Do you use the new Pitch Edit in Reason 9?

I haven’t got a chance yet! I am working on this project back home but I have been on tour for so long. I’ve watched the tutorials and I can’t wait to get back home and use it.

How do you get started with a new song? What usually sparks your creativity?

I don’t really have a formula to making beats. Sometimes I’ll just sit there and I’ll be drumming on the table, or I’ll hear a sound or a melody in my head and I’ll put it out on MIDI and then I’ll just go through patches and find a patch I like and tweak it a little bit. So I don’t really have a formula but I’ll just say I get started in my head when I’m not even in front of my computer.  

If I come up with a cool melody, I’ll browse presets or sometimes if I’m bored, I’ll do both at the same times: play something on the keyboard and browse patches at the same time. A patch or a sound might give me inspiration. It’s not really one way or the other, it’s really both. Sometimes I have the melody and I need the sound and sometimes it’s the other way around.

What do you do if writer's block hits? Any tips to break out of it?

That’s what I love about ReCycle! I have this folder full of 200 songs that I’ve chopped up in the past. I have so much stuff  that’s never been put out so when I’m bored or when I have writer’s block, I’ll go through my pre-chopped samples and just sit there and try to come up with a new way of flipping the sample. Some times I’ll be on the keyboard and I think everything sounds terrible, or everything I’m playing sucks, like I’m garbage. I’ll open up my REX files folder and I’ll just go through it.

I find that an easy way to surpass writer’s block is to just go through my REX files, hit a few keys, seeing if something clicks in my head. I might do little stuff like changing the pitch or reversing it. That usually gets me through writer’s block.

SKYWLKR on stage with Danny BrownDo you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?

I swear by the tape setting in Scream 4! You could almost put that on every single sound or drum hit. It makes it sound warm, you know? Other than that I like adding things to the master, even an odd thing like Polar pitch shifter, I use that on everything!

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

Polar, Scream 4, Thor. Thor is my synth of choice! You can just get the most creative with it! Make a whole new sound, make it wobble, make it gate, change the pitch as it goes. You can do a lot of crazy stuff with Malström too! Try loading the Thunder graintable in Malström and make the movement stop at the perfect spot and it sounds like a synth note. I would pick the Thor over the Malström at this point in my life though.

What do you use for drums? NNXT or Kong?

It’s funny, when I started I used to put all my drums in one or two Redrums. The kicks, snare and hats all in the same Redrum. Later I got into opening a new NN19 for every single hit, so all my drums would be on nine different NN19s. I know you can do it with Kong, EQ different hits differently but I’m so used to the NN19 way. Since Reason now has Drag and Drop–a lot of times I’ll just drag the hit right onto the screen and go from there.

I use a lot of sounds from the Kong kits because there’s a lot of cool sounds in there. I use a lot of those hits, but I just don’t like having all my drums on one track. I know you can do each hit on a different track, but in my head it’s easier to use NN19 to use drums.

This is a hard one: what’s your all-time favorite album?

It’s gotta be Oval - 94 Diskont. That’s my chill music! When I’m just chilling, that’s what I like to listen to–minimal and ambient and relaxing. That’s gotta be my favorite. I can’t listen to it when I’m partying, it’s not really a party album but as far as every other situation in life, it’s my go to album.

Check out SKYWLKR on Soundcloud or follow him on Facebook!

 

 

Posted Dec. 14, 2016, 12:54 p.m.

Artist Feature: AnonXmous

Posted Nov. 16, 2016, 12:58 p.m.



The age-old adage, “be in the right place at the right time” leaves out the most important third element. “Be ready.” AnonXmous did what he had to do to make sure he put himself in the right place, ready for the right time. But long before that he invested countless hours honing his skills so that when those did converge serendipitously he would also be ready. And now he’s got three Grammy nominations and a Universal publishing deal to show for it.

AnonXmous is the creative mind behind Nicki Minaj’s biggest single to date (Anaconda), as well as records with Chris Brown, Timbaland, Fergie, and work on the best selling Empire soundtrack. To hear him speak of his accomplishments however, he’s just getting started. We sat down to hear his inspiring story and learn some clever techniques he has to stay creative and inspired himself when approaching new writing sessions.

Want to read more and collaborate with AnonXmous? Check this out!

Follow AnonXmous on Twitter and Instagram!

Music Talk: Dunderpatrullen

Posted Nov. 15, 2016, 1:12 p.m.

Dunderpatrullen is a four-man electro-collaboration with roots ranging from the wild, untamed forests of northern Sweden to the flower covered fields of southern Scandinavia. The quartet makes music and visual entertainment in a category of its own. Behind the powerful music-making machines, the band members Jim, Stefan, Patrik and Erik fill the musical void left behind by now obsolete retro-consoles you once grew up with and still love. Dunderpatrullen takes you on a musical adventure through a full-color shower during which they make you feel like riding a mental roller coaster of nostalgia.

We had the chance to speak with them about what role Reason plays in their musical production. They've also been so kind to make two video tutorials showing a couple of their secret tips and tricks! Check it out!

What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?

The new Player devices, hands down. They are amazing for creating new
ideas you probably wouldn't think of otherwise. The new Pitch Edit is
pretty neat as well.

How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity?

The way of getting started with a new song varies. Jamming along to a loop
with drums and a bass line might do the trick. Sometimes it could be more
specific like "I feel like making a really fast and explosive track", or
"let's try out this mellow vibe I've been thinking of".

Inspiration comes from all types of sources. It could be a really great
video game or movie soundtrack, a random song or sometimes an idea just
pops up in your head out of the blue. For some reason the bathroom has
become this holy place for melodies to pop up in the head while taking a
shower.

Scales & Chords is also a great way to mess around with unusual scales
or keys you perhaps don't use that often.


What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?

We do something else! You can't force inspiration, so chilling out with a
gnarly video game or watching a movie does the trick sometimes. Hanging out with friends is another neat
way to replenish your inspirational resources. Forcing creativity just tend
to get you frustrated, and creativity and frustration doesn't match that
well.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?

Not that we ALWAYS do this, but we work with sampling stuff from our own
video clips and turn them into "audiovisual experiments", as we like to put
it. We chop up the audio sample and put it into Recycle to turn it into a
rex file. Then we just mess around with it on the keyboard to find some
catchy phrases and sometimes match it to the respective video.
 

A great thing with Reason is that it’s really easy to come up with some of
the strangest ideas and actually make them work.


The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

Erik: It has to be Thor, Synapse GQ-7 Graphic Equalizer and Kong.

Jim: It's probably the good old Subtractor, NN-XT and Thor.

What’s your all-time favorite album?

Erik: Tough one.. I think I'll choose Sigur Rós' "Takk...". Timeless record.

Jim: Funny thing - I had also wrote down Sigur Rós before we combined our
answers. I choose their untitled album with untitled songs and made up
language. I think they are really good at creating instrumental music that moves you
without the need of explanation with lyrics and titles, and to me that's a
really important part of music.

Check out more of Dunderpatrullen's music over on their website!

Music Talk: Aerotronic

Posted Aug. 3, 2016, 8:51 a.m.

Jordi Moonen and Laurens Van Steenbergen, also known as Aerotronic, met each other at the age of seven and discovered at this very young age to share the same taste of music. A couple of years later, they decided to start experimenting with dj-ing and producing, leading to developing a passion that has been growing ever since.

Aerotronic has released their music on labels such as Teenage Riot Records, Sex Cult and Boxon Records, and gained support from many artists including Mr Oizo, Zombie Nation, Fake Blood and Mixhell.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Jordi and Laurens about their relation to Reason and their thoughts on our latest release, Reason 9. Be sure to download and check out their top 5 custom Combinator patches below!

What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?
The Dual Arpeggio is definitely a game changer. It’s so easy to program polyphonic sequences now. I like it that you can make it as simple or complex as you want. It feels like a fusion of the Matrix Pattern Sequencer and the RPG-8, but even bigger. And you can perfect your loops with the ease of clicking the send to track button, which transfers the arpeggio sequence into midi data. Super useful. I also found myself to be using the ‘Bounce in place’ function quite a lot. It allows for quick loop creations. Overall, R9 is a superb update, from the players to the pitch edit. It’s all really solid.

How do you get started with a new song? What usually sparks your creativity?
We just listen to a lot of different music. It does help a lot that we have a very similar taste in music, that makes it easy for us to agree on production decisions. Then, when we start to make music, it all really depends on what new sound design we come up with. Sometimes it’s a melody hook. Sometimes it’s some percussion loops we’ve made. Then we try to build a theme around it. Sound design is a big part of what we do. Mostly we come up with some new sounds in seperate sessions, later we record the results and manipulate them. Building the full track happens later. Once we’ve established a couple of decent loops, we try building them up and down into a structure that makes the most sense to us.

What do you do if writer's block hits? Any tips to break out of it?
When we don’t have any ideas with the material we made, we just let it sit in our computer folder for a couple of weeks. So you fully forget about the progress you made. When you come back later with a fresh mind, you can easily spot what you like or dislike. We recently finished a project that was over 3 years old (see the song ZYX below!). So anything can happen really. I also noticed that once you run out of ideas, the best thing is to go do something completely different. Otherwise you’re wasting time. It also helps to take risks, do things to your track that you wouldn’t normally do, if you’re lucky, that kind of experimentation can pay off.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
It’s standard for us to cut the frequency of our kick drums below 60hz with the Main Mixer EQ. The spectrum analyzer has a highpass filter which you can move to cut some of that useless low end. Another one, is to use Thor’s low pass filer on other audio sources. It’s simply a great filter, and our songs have a lot of filter automations going on. The new bounce in place feature from Reason 9 is also a clever trick to save some DSP on your overall project.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Tough question. Malström is definitely among the most imporatant three. It has been a vital part of the Aerotronic sound. Especially the very glitchy synths. The RV7000 is also very important to us. Amazing sounding reverb/delay unit. It’s so easy to make it sound good too, adding a bit of wetness to the overall mix. Our last choice would be a tie between Redrum and Kong. We both used these so much. Redrum handles our sample-based drum sections and with Kong you can create some stellar drums from scratch with the built in drum synths.

 

Download

Download Aerotronic's Combinator patches

 

 

Aeropitcher
This is the arpeggio you can hear throughout the song ‘ZYX’. It sounds best when you layer it with other analog sounding synths. Gives drive to the track.

Revelation Lead
The lead stab to our song ‘Revelation’. It’s so simple it works. The song has one of our favorite buildups from the entire Aerotronic discography.

Kinda Acid
There are numerous acid style synths you can spot in our songs. This is one of them. Build with a Malström, and it sounds so dope.

Gearshift Lead
By automating the pitch and the free rate of the RPG-8, you get that glitchy type of sound that we made in the song “Gearshift”. Also build with a Malström.

Night Tales Bass
In one of the darker cuts of our album, we have this huge bassline going on that drives the track from beginning to end. The more you chop your notes the better it sounds. Listen here!

 

Update December 15, 2016!

Aerotronic made 50 patches for Parsec 2 that they want to share with the Reason community! All free! :)

 

Download

Download Aerotronic's 50 free Parsec2 patches!