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: Speakerbomb

Posted April 12, 2016, 8:44 a.m.

Sidney Miller III, also known as Speakerbomb, is a record producer and musician from Los Angeles, USA. Sidney has worked with artists like Lupe Fiasco and The Knux and has also released albums and toured with his own band Malbec. Recently Sidney worked with rap artist Freddie Gibbs on his critically acclaimed 2015 album "Shadow of a Doubt". We spoke with Sidney about producing in Reason and he also shares his favorite Reason production tricks!

How do you use Reason in your music making? Do you have any examples of where you've used it?

I use it in a variety of ways but the main way that I use it is for starting musical ideas from scratch and if I’m not going to be recording any vocals on the idea yet, I usually finish the entire beat / idea in Reason.

On the Freddie Gibbs’ “Shadow Of A Doubt” album I used it to produce tracks from scratch, to enhance sounds from other existing tracks, to create sound effects and I also used it to put together some vocal ideas. On “Mexico,” I took the existing 808 track that was in the Pro Tools session and ran it through the Scream in Reason. Specifically on “10 Times,” which features Gucci Mane and E-40, I did everything in Reason except for record the verses. I started off with a Gucci Mane a cappella verse, put it on the grid and then built up a whole beat around it. Then I took a catchy piece of Gucci’s verse and chopped it up so that I could repurpose it as a hook, using delays, pitch shifting and stuttering effects.

 

When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?

I like to be open to all kinds of inspiration, so there isn’t one way that I always start a song, but if I already have an idea in my head, I usually go straight to the ID8 and load up a stock piano or rhodes. I like to write my chords, melody or both with a basic unflattering sound so that I know I have a good foundation start with before reassigning that MIDI to a cooler sound. 

What’s the hardest thing about making music, what do you struggle with the most?

I would say that the hardest thing about making music is the ever-growing decline of people paying for music. There used to be so much more money poured into the music industry, but now although music is more popular than ever and more of a part of our daily lives than ever, people spend less money on it than they ever have before.

The hit song button doesn’t exist in any DAW

What's the best music making tip you ever got?

Don’t spend too much time jumping around trying find some program that’s going to automatically make hit songs for you.  The hit song button doesn’t exist in any DAW.  The best thing you can do is focus on one or two programs and master them inside and out so that you can become an expert.

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

One of the biggest tricks that I use all the time is reassigning MIDI. Once have a MIDI clip that I feel works, I love reassigning it to different instruments and patches to see what other colors or textures that I can add to the part. You never know what you are gonna get when you go reassigning MIDI and the magic that comes from doing often is what makes a track special.

One of my other favorite trick would be the “body” section of the Scream distortion unit. I was told that it is supposed to be some sort of speaker cabinet emulator, but the important thing is that it makes things go boom! Just turn the body on and start playing with “type” knob.

The most basic production trick that I use all the time is just stacking sounds. Whether it's drums or synths, I stack complimentary textures and sounds to create bigger more complex sounds that catch the listener's attention. I also apply the stacking concept to the mixer. One of my favorite additions to Reason in the past few years is the “create parallel channel” shortcut. Parallel channels allow me to use parallel compression to layer more texture and more importantly punch to my sounds.

Crushing a parallel channel with the built in compressor on the mixer is one of the best tricks that I can suggest for getting great sounding drums.

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

When inspiration isn’t there, I like to fall back on my REX file library. I have an amazing resource of a couple hundred GB’s of REX files that I have compiled and chopped up over the past 15 years. I usually just pull up a Dr. Rex player, start thumbing through samples and I usually have song inspiration soon after. The folder is all organized by the artist sampled and so it makes it really convenient to find stuff.

What’s your all-time favorite album?

Tough to say but as an album you can’t really beat Prince’s “Purple Rain”. It's just the perfect album, no lulls and everything transitions into each other so seamlessly like a singular piece of art. It doesn’t hurt that all nine songs on it are hits as well.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

One would have to be the Redrum. I have at least 6 running on every single song that I make and sometimes as many as 30 of them running. I like to have one Redrum for every drum sound. It keeps things organized and it also automatically makes sure that I have a fader on the mixer for every drum sound. Unless it's a drum loop out of the Dr. Rex, I do every single drum sound in my songs using the Redrum, and even with with Dr. Rex Drum loops, I always use Redrums to stack more sounds on top of the loops. Sometimes I use a MIDI controller to write the drum parts, but I usually just program everything in the Redrum step sequencer.

The second one would be the Synchronous Effect Modulator. The design of the modulation matrix on it is just genius and so easy to use. I like all the effects on it but honestly the one that I use 99% of the time is the lopass filter. You can modulate it so easily and it really instantly gives you that filtered vibe that is so popular in today’s urban music.

The third one is a new addition to my setup but it's getting a lot of use, the Hydronexius ROM Workstation from DNA Labs.  It's a combination of a ROMpler and a Oscillator based synth. The presets for it are awesome and DNA Labs keeps designing more of them. It's definitely my first go to synth.

Honorable mention has got to go to the RV7000. It's just so versatile and I use it for both extreme, obvious effects and for adding subtle space or depth.

All the algorithms sound great but most of the time I don’t even get past the standard Hall setting. It's the only reverb that I like to use on big snares too.

I use the combinator all the time too, but I feel like including it is cheating because it can contain anything. I do use them all over the place though, as instruments or on channel strips or as a send/return effect on the mixer.

What motivates your creative ideas and creative activity?

I get motivated just hearing any music that was put together well. I definitely get a lot of motivation and inspiration listening to classic records but I also get just as much, if not more, inspiration from listening to new music. Once you’ve really studied every aspect of music creation, there is always some element in a song that can give you ideas. Everything from a lyric, a melody, a chord, a drum sound to just simply an arrangement can inspire me to start a song.

Want to collaborate with Speakerbomb? Check out his music and follow Speakerbomb on Allihoopa!

Posted April 12, 2016, 8:44 a.m.

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 Allihoopa 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 Allihoopa profile for more bass loops and beats!

 

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