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!
 

Collaborate with Aerotronic on Allihoopa!

Dirty Reese Bass: Custom Patch Design

Posted Jan. 22, 2016, 3:32 p.m.

People have been requesting we show a method for creating currently trending version of a classic sound: the Reese Bass - namely, the "Dirty" Reese Bass, which is characterized by heavy distortion, compression, and filtration. When it comes to dirt, grit, and nasty sounds, Malström is a fantastic tool for the job. So in this tutorial I'll show you one of the many ways you can approach this type of sound, while thinking out loud along the way so you can gain some insight into custom patch creation in the Reason Rack.

/Ryan

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.

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.

How to Make an Aggressive Dubstep Bass

Posted Sept. 7, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

Max Rehbein (aka Dorincourt) joins us for a guest video, showing you how to create an aggressive, hard hitting dubstep bass. Using the standard Reason devices, learn how to really get your sound to roar by using effects and how to make it sit well in the mix.

After this, you'll be able to make that love-it-or-hate-it dirty wobble bass we all know!

Posted Sept. 7, 2013, 12:16 p.m.