Artist Drop: Matt Walker

Posted Dec. 18, 2015, 10:01 a.m.

Matt Walker also known as “MAT MEGA” is a hip hop producer from View Park, California and he's been an active producer for 15 years. Over the years, Matt has worked with all types of artists and enjoys making not only hip-hop tracks but rock and pop as well as dancehall, funk, jazz and electronic. Matt says: "I like to keep a open mind when it comes to music. I’m currently working with two bands “The Milky Way Band” (Keys / Production), and  “Palms Side Ent” (Dj / Production) rocking shows from San Francisco to Long Beach".

Matt took some time to talk to us about how he's using Reason and he's also dropped a few beats for you to continue working on.

When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
When I load up a brand new Reason session I'll set my rack up with what I'm gonna be using for the track. That way my work flow is smoother and it helps the the process move faster.

Do you have any production trick that you always use?
Oh yeah, you always gotta have a few on stand-by. One trick I like would be putting Scream 4 on my drums. By doing that, it gives the drums more slap.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
Whenever inspiration isn't there, I'll go dig for samples to catch a vibe from, to put me back in the zone.

How do you use Reason in your music making?
It honestly depends what kind of song I'm working on. The only thing I'd say I rarely switch up would be how I lay drums. I usually stick to ReDrum or Kong when laying drums. Anything else like synth, bass, keys etc I'll use almost anything from Kong to the combinator.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
3 most used devices for me would be the NN-XT, Kong, and Dr. Rex.

What’s the hardest thing about making music, what do you struggle with the most?
I would say what I struggle with sometimes would be the mix. Just getting it all mixed down to where everything sounds crisp and clean. I think that's one of the most important things when creating music. Getting your mix tight to where you can hear everything clear within the mix.

What motivates your creative ideas and creative activity?
There's a few things that motivates me: either I could be listening to another producer and get motivated or when I'm around my bandmates, I could hear one of them play something and get motivated. I could even be watching tv and hear a crazy sample and immediately wanna go take that sample and chop it up.

Posted Dec. 18, 2015, 10:01 a.m.

Artist Drop: Timothy Bailey Jr

Posted Dec. 3, 2015, 2:34 p.m.

Timothy Bailey, Jr. is an American producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who's made a name for himself as one of the most trusted bassists and beat makers on the west coast. As a part of the production team The Beat Traffickers, he's placed music for artist on major labels like Def Jam and Capital, and provided the backdrop for many television networks from MTV to E! and VH1 just to name a few. As an electric/synth bassist, Timothy has either toured, recorded and performed with Ariana Grande, Lalah Hathaway, Big Sean, Justin Bieber among many others.

We asked Timothy to drop a handful of bass loops that you can use in your own music. Visit his profile for more loops! Timothy also took the time to talk with us about how he's using Reason in his music productions and on stage. Check it out!

 


How do you use Reason in your music making? Do you have any examples of where you've used it?
At least 97 percent of my music creation starts within Reason.  I was introduced to Reason 10 years ago, and have not been able to get away.  The greatest thing that ever happened to this platform was the incorporation of audio recording, and then the addition of the Rack Extensions.  Before then, I would start songs in Reason and have to go to another DAW to finish up the job, but at this point, I can complete entire productions within Reason.

The most recent examples would be Hip Hip Violinist Josh Vietti's project released November 23rd (2015), where I produced and tracked everything in Reason 8 with the exception of Josh's violins (all while out on the road with Ariana Grande). Some of the live drums, horns and guitar tracks were sent to me and added into the Reason sessions.

Def Jam's Elijah Blake's title track Shadows and Diamonds was produced in Reason (version 7). The Comic special Laffapalooza Live From Vegas (Hosted by Tracy Morgan) was produced entirely in Reason as well.  For a more in-depth discography of other works, check out my production team's Soundcloud page.

 


You're working both as a producer in studio as well as in live situations (with Ariana Grande), could you tell us a bit about how you're using Reason on stage and on tour? Any pitfalls to avoid?
I actually used Reason to trigger all of my synth bass sounds on Ariana's first tour (The Listening Sessions Tour in 2013).  We had some back line challenges, so in order to get the sounds from her album, I had to create them at home in Reason and take them with me, using a keyboard controller. There were definitely no complaints as far as the tones were concerned. Even though it was a tedious job, I had all the tools at my disposal to create my own patches emulating the basses on her "Yours Truly" album.

This year, I used all hardware for her live shows, but while we were prepping for tour I was called to put bass on a few arrangements.  So many of the early versions of the tour arrangements contain electric and synth bass tracks recorded in Reason.  Some of those recorded basses even made it to the actual stems that we used live.

One thing to be careful of: If you're using Reason during a live show or recording, make sure you turn off your notifications on your computer. There's nothing more embarrassing than hearing a sound blare out of the house speakers that originated from your computer and you didn't trigger it. How I learned this lesson is unimportant . . . (lol)

 


When you start a new song, what’s the very first thing you do?
I have a few different templates that I pull up, depending on what specific project I may be working on calls for.  I got a template from a YouTube channel (Jasper Janine's "How To Setup The Best Reason Template Ever") that I modified just a little to my specs.  I like having the side chain option ready to go in case I want to use it.  If I'm working on a sound designing type project, I built a "Media Composition" template that has various orchestral sounds, synth effects, atmospheric sounds, drum hits, sweeps, modulating synths, etc.  But often times, I'm starting from scratch with basic effects, pulling up a Kong Drum Designer and a Radical Piano, and I'll go from there.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?
I've gotten so many great music making tips over the years that it's hard to choose just one.  But if I had to I would say, "don't be afraid to try something different and experiment" would be one of the best tips.  And I would call it one of the best because I still have to constantly challenge myself in this area.  As producers, we sometimes get caught in the trap of needing to be current and "hip" to be validated at this present moment. We're told to make music somewhat similar to what we hear on the radio at this present moment.  And if we do something that we feel nobody would "approve" of, we can be quick to trash that idea.  But it's okay to think differently and be outside of the norm.  You've struck gold when you can find that happy medium between "current" and "futuristic", but don't be afraid to go against the trends and find your voice.  And like I said, this is something that I am still working on to this very day, hour and minute.



Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I'm never too proud to go on YouTube to find out new Reason tips.  I love learning new things about Reason, and I find it fascinating that no matter how much I think I know this program, there are whole other worlds within these Reason racks that I haven't even tapped into.  One day, I plan on really tapping into figuring out the External MIDI Instrument functions.  I just haven't had the chance to yet because my rack has kept me so busy as it is.

I'm understanding the SSL board more and more, and one thing that I make frequent use of is the Low and High Pass filters.  I do a lot of Low passing for effects, but in a lot of my heavy 808 based tracks, to keep things from getting muddy in certain frequencies, I like to high pass a lot of instruments, even if it's just a little bit, to allow certain instruments to sit better in different frequencies.

Also, I start out all my songs in Block View.  That was the next greatest thing that ever happened to Reason.  Sometimes, I have an idea that I may think is a verse.  Then I'll take what I have in that Block, copy it to another Block, do some editing (mostly muting and cutting), and I realize that maybe my verse should be a hook.  Or I may have a hook that's pretty awesome to me at the time, but as I develop more, it feels more like a bridge.  The fact that I can figure all of that out before putting the song together in "Song View" makes life so much easier for me.  So it's normal for me to start a pattern in Block 1, and copy that pattern into the next 8 Blocks, and then construct a song from that point.

As a bass player, any favorite tips and tricks on getting good bass sounds in Reason?
I like my live bass to be clean, punchy, and full.  So what I generally do is get my live bass sound exactly the way I want it before it hits my audio interface, and if I need to add anything after that, I'll gently adjust after that point.  Usually, I'm bringing up the highs about a decibel at 8.3 kHz, cutting the HMF 2 decibels at 2.51kHz, and playing around with the LMF, usually boosting a notch around the 588.9Hz range.  I've also started adding a touch of a plate reverb so it's not too dry.  In general, I like the natural bass sound, and that's what I'll send out when I'm tracking for other people.  I'll let them compress or effect at their discretion.


What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
I just don't force it.  Sadly, sometimes I'll just go take a nap.  Haha!! But generally, I'll revert back to YouTube, or go through my iTunes library and start listening to various music.  I'll usually revert to some classic R&B or Soul, some straight ahead and smooth jazz, some current Pop and Hip Hop and EDM, or some Contemporary Gospel.  My musical taste is quite wide. From Kierra Sheard to David Guetta to Kim Burrell to Miles Davis, from Drake to Marcus Miller to Katy Perry, Jill Scott to Fetty Wap to Herbie Hancock, Kanye West to Taylor Swift to Hiatus Kaiyote to Snarky Puppy . . . just completely all over the place. Haha.  I just love music in just about every form.

What’s your all-time favorite album?
This is the toughest question known to man.  If I'm asked this same question next week, my answer will probably be different.  But for now, it's going to be a toss up between Jill Scott's "Who Is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds Vol 1", D'Angelo's "VooDoo", Brandy's "Full Moon" and Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key of Life."  I couldn't pick just one if I tried, but the aforementioned will always be in the running for that "all-time favorite album" spot.


The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
As long as there are Rack Extensions, this will change, but as of lately, I will always have a Kong Drum Designer. After that, there will be at least an A-List Acoustic Guitarist, an A-List Electric Guitarist - Power Chords or a Radical Piano, and the Rob Papen Predator RE Instrument.  I can't seem to get away from these instruments.  They definitely fuel my inspiration!

Check out Timothy's profile for more bass loops and beats!

 

Posted Dec. 3, 2015, 2:34 p.m.

Artist Drop: Chimp Spanner

Posted Nov. 5, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

Paul Ortiz is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from the UK. His solo instrumental project Chimp Spanner is widely considered to be at the core of the new wave of technical and progressive Metal, and has seen him tour Europe and North America. More recently his attention has turned to commercial sound design and library music composition for various clients across the world.

 

When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
I usually head straight for the device I've been using the least! There are so many great sound sources, it's easy to over-look them. Even with the stock devices there's still stuff to learn or new ways of using them to find. And that's not even counting  all the third party ones I have. So yeah, I pick the instrument that needs the most love.

How do you use Reason in your music making? Do you have any examples of where you've used it?
Virtually all of my library music and sound design work at the moment is Reason, including a series of Kontakt instruments for trailer composers I'm working on. And it appears throughout my Chimp Spanner material; generally wherever I need some kind of soundscape or ambience, or super modulated/evolving sounds, I go straight to Reason. But fingers crossed, you'll be hearing Reason in a few adverts and trailers in the near future!

What’s the hardest thing about making music, what do you struggle with the most?
Over-thinking things, whether it's the actual music or the mix; you can spend hours working on a song but without really writing/creating. Lately I'm trying to work faster and more spontaneously. If I have an idea I just get it down, save it, catalogue it. The moment I start to dwell on the idea and over-complicate it, the "spark" is gone. I've been finding Blocks to be super helpful in that regard because once a section is done I just move on, and work on the next without constantly going back and fiddling.

Being a guitar player, do you have any go-to guitar rig presets in Reason or special tricks on nailing "that" sound?
Pre-tone shaping is where it's at, especially for low tuned or heavy guitar tones. I like to cut the lower frequencies and boost the high mids to really tighten things up. Scream 4 is good for this, or Blamsoft's DC-9.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?
Many years ago, a guy on a forum whose name I completely forgot gave me some feedback on a song, and was talking about the concept of the uncanny in music; making the listener feel like they know the song, even if they're not sure why/how. It's about leaving little signposts and recurring motifs, rhythms and phrases throughout. That's how I try to approach my writing. I guess it makes it more accessible, but it also naturally leads to more depth because you're constantly finding ways to reference the song within itself through mimicry, variation, all sorts!

You do a bit of sound design as well. Tell us a bit about your process there!
I'm a very "visual" kind of person, so when I'm making a sound effect I try to imagine what's making the sound; what space it occupies, how big it is, how it's moving or what it's doing. I find it helps me make decisions as to where to place emphasis, what kind of effects to use, etc. Sometimes it's a cool idea to just browse through concept art or watch trailers with the sound off and see what sound comes to mind. Or just coming up with a cool, descriptive or evocative name for the sound first can work too. I also try and keep things really clean/minimal. Not just for the sake of the mix but because large projects scare, confuse and frustrate me.

Do you have any production trick that you always use?
I love tape saturation effects, especially on low end stuff. Scream or Audiomatic is really good at this. I also like using ducking on my sends, so you'd send a bass to a reverb, but also to a compressor after the reverb so the effect stays subdued until the bass is silent. Stops things from getting too muddy.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
I stop trying. Seriously there's nothing so frustrating as being surrounded by all the gear and software you could ever want and not being able to make a note with it. So I just do something else, which usually involves drinking tea and watching Star Trek, or sometimes just disconnecting completely and giving myself some silence to re-think what it is I'm trying to do.

What’s your three all-time favorite albums?
Ah! I don't know about all-time but Meshuggah "Nothing", Burial "Untrue" and In Flames "Reroute to Remain" - those albums will never get old!

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Thor, Antidote and Kong for sure. If I only had those three devices I think I'd be okay!

What motivates your creative ideas and creative activity?
An over-active imagination and the ability to enjoy my own company haha. But more than anything I just love to tinker and experiment and try new things out. I think I'd be doing it even if it wasn't my job. It's a great feeling to be able to take something from my mind and turn it into something that other people can enjoy!

 

Posted Nov. 5, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

Artist Drop: AnonXmous

Posted Oct. 14, 2015, 11:02 a.m.



Born in Brooklyn, Grammy nominated producer AnonXmous (a.k.a. Jonathan Solone-Myvett) started out at the young age of 11 and began his path in music in his room using only Reason, which he continues to use loyally until this day. Fast forward through years of positive energy and work, he's worked with artists such as Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, FOX's Empire, Timbaland, Fergie, Will.I.Am, and Tink amongst others.

We spoke with AnonXmous about collaboration within a team of song writers, how he's using Reason and more. He has also dropped a few beats for you to build on so when inspiration strikes, open up a piece in Reason or Take and add your spice! Check it out!

When do you load up a new song in Reason, what’s the very first thing you do?
I instantly open Redrum. DRUMS:)

Do you have any production trick that you always use?
My 808s are what I've been told by Timbaland that I've "innovated" and invented, in the way that I trick them out and make them do cool things they normally wouldn't. So I'd say that.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your work with Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda"?
Originally it was titled "Big Fat A$$" and there was no Sir Mix a Lot voice sample at all in the song. As well as some crazy 808's, sound effects & crazy drums. It also had a third verse that isn't on the released version. The big bros the Internz added their spice & voilà.

Check out the unused third verse from Anaconda below:

 

What's the best music making tip you ever got?
I'd say just have NO restrictions. Do EXACTLY what you think in your mind because it's possible, that's when the true fun of your love (music) shows itself.

Can you tell us something about your relation with Timbaland and his "TeamTimbo"?
Timbaland is a great mentor of mine and I met him through Polow Da Don, who is also mentor and he's always been encouraging me and letting me know that I'm on the right track to make an impact in the industry. As far as #TeamTimbo, it's like an elite all star team of talented beings. It's a beautiful thing!
 

As a producer, writing tracks for other artists, you're often collaborating with other songwriters and producers to reach the end result; tell us about your experience of collaboration, and how you keep the inspiration going throughout a session!
It's all about the vibe with me, so from anything to making sure if anyone wants candy, it's there. Just to keep things happy you know? That's just one example but, energy is everything and the vibe is everything.
 

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
NN-XT, Redrum, Scream 4 :)

Your best advice for other music makers out there?
Just believe in your sound and perfect it to where nothing can stop you. A positive mindset goes A LONG way. I want to be an example of that. I feel that's a part of our purpose as creators.
 

 

Timbaland posted one of AnonXmous' beats:

 

Posted Oct. 14, 2015, 11:02 a.m.

Artist Drop: Dan Briggs

Posted Oct. 6, 2015, 4:44 p.m.

Dan Briggs is the bass player in progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me, jazz fusion trio Trioscapes and the project Orbs.  He's been an avid Reason user since 2003 and uses it both when composing and on stage with his band. Currently he is on tour with Between the Buried and Me and we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions when they made their stop in Stockholm for a show.

Be sure to play Dan's music pieces and when inspiration strikes, open in Reason or Take and collaborate with him!

How do you use Reason in your music making? Do you have any examples of where you've used it?
I use it from the very first note while composing to the very last. I started using Reason when I was in college in 2003, and really it was to use the ReDrum and I would import it into my session in Sonar. As the years went on I was implementing more keyboards into my writing, and then the Reason updates allowed you to record audio and have a session just like I had in Sonar so I just stopped using it altogether and moved my whole operation into Reason and it has been so easy and wonderful ever since.

When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
Well, my saved rack is Piano, a KONG drumset I put together with drummer Matt Lynch (Trioscapes), two Guitar tracks and a Bass track. That way at the very least I'm able to capture an idea just by starting the program, finding the BPM and rolling.



How do you use Reason in Between the Buried and Me? Do you use Reason in a live environment?
Both in the studio and now live. I had been arranging full songs in there, especially for the new Coma Ecliptic album, and a lot of the key sounds we ended up using on the record were straight from the demos Tommy and I did. So when it came time to put a rig together to play live, I didn't want to get a keyboard and try to replicate sounds as best as I could, so I ended up running Reason on a Microsoft Surface. It runs perfectly and the Surface is a super powerful and reliable device.

How does collaborating work for you in a band context? How does Between the Buried and Me usually write and arrange a song?
It's different for every band I'm in, which is kind of cool. Between the Buried and Me is very much about writing on your own and bringing it together after the fact. We're not super productive sitting in the rehearsal room trying to write songs, and especially the direction the songs have gone it's kind of like a singular vision and less chaotic like everything was in the past. That was literally the result of 4 or 5 minds all throwing ideas against the wall. I would think if someone listened to the new album it might make a little more sense as to how it's written. In Trioscapes, you know it's like a jazz/fusion trio ensemble so it's really about vibing off each other, a lot of magic happens on the spot. Orbs functions as a duo of musicians trying to bring other things out in each other; Ashley [Ellyllon] has really helped harness my creative energy and I've helped expand her mind as to what song formats can be. My new group Nova Collective is a cross continent group with two Americans and two Brits, so Reason has been a real life saver there. We're able to share the same Reason session with each other and everyone can learn a song based off of the midi, or I can show a guitar idea that can then be manipulated and changed, or key ideas that our keyboardist can expand upon. So easy considering how much distance was between us while we were writing!



Have you ever experienced writing blocks? If so, how did you overcome them?
I know when to step away, but honestly I'm usually locked in with a new project almost all the time when I'm home. I like to stay creatively active, and when there's new outlets and people to bounce ideas off of I feel like it could never end. I'm inspired by so many different things; obviously a million different kinds of music, film, sometimes even just reading interviews with creative minds or people in different art fields, or grey days, beautiful days, when the Cleveland Indians win, who knows.

What do you like the most: creating and writing in the studio or touring and playing live?
I like a balance. I like to keep things fresh creatively, so I love living in a project and then kind of moving on to the next thing, so touring on an album for two years I don't really mind, as long as I have other things going on, keeping me active creatively. Between the Buried and Me has been able to tour less the last handful of years which has been good for everyone starting familes and what not, but I stay feverishly busy in my "down time" so I love having time away from touring for that.

What’s the hardest thing about making music, what do you struggle with the most?
On the creative front, nothing really. Creating music is a joy, it's fun to constantly push and challenge yourself. The real struggle is after you've created something. Between the Buried and Me has a great team of people to help push it, but I don't really have that with any of my other projects. It's insanely frustrating because you feel like you're starting from zero every time even though you've been touring and putting out albums for over a decade.

What’s your all-time favorite album?
Impossible question! Some favorites: Oingo Boingo "Only a Lad", Dream Theater "Scenes From a Memory", Mahavishnu Orchestra "Visions From the Emerald Beyond", Genesis "Selling England by the Pound".

 



The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
KONG, Thor, and ReTron.

What advice would you give to other people who are motivated to become more creative in their music making?
Just do it! Find people to create with, don't limit yourself, just have a blast.

What’s your best music making tips for someone that is just starting out?
Just be adventurous, explore a ton of different music, find out what your favorite artists are inspired by and really dig deep.

 

Posted Oct. 6, 2015, 4:44 p.m.

Make music together! Play a piece and build on it in a compatible app.
Learn more