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 Drop: Cid Rim

Posted March 26, 2015, 10:09 a.m.

The world of Cid Rim circles around the boundless magic and mythical formulas of funk. When speaking of his influences and musical socialisation, the 28 year old viennese producer and drummer of JSBL inevitably ends in the 70's of the past century. While starting as an enthusiastic sample digger, his current works has a playful and interlaced sound, shifted with deep chords. A hybrid of programmed beats and analogue drum patterns meets razor sharp grooves and monumental power-steps. We had a chance to ask him some questions about his music making and feature an exclusive track dropped to Allihoopa. Check it out below!

 

How do you use Reason in your music making?

Reason is my main production software. It was the first proper program i got, when i was 14 or so and it still is.

What are the three most used devices in your Reason rack?

NN19, Redrum, Subtractor... still!

You just released your new record Charge / Kano and we've been playing it loud in the office. Could you tell us a bit about the creation of these two tracks?

I had a loop of the beat in the beginning of "Charge" lying around. Then I came up with the main chord progression on the piano and when I started to put those two together on the computer i had something in mind, like a huge wall of big band brass for the chords. I tried out how close I could come to that feeling with synth sounds. As soon as i had the main part, the rest of the track went quite easily. 

Then when I had it finished, I already knew I wanted to put it on the A side of a record with two club tracks only so I needed another one that fits. Inspired by the drum rolls of the A side I thought I could maybe go even more into to a higher, faster, ridiculous show-off fusion vibe with the second one. It's named after the Mortal Kombat Character "Kano" that can perform a horizontal and upwards roll to hit the opponent. The fast hook of the track reminded me of that move. 

What motivates your creative ideas and creative activity?

Just music making itself. I'm enjoying lots of other activities that could seem to influence my music but ultimately I think my main inspiration comes from making music. It's not like the fantastic dish you ate yesterday will get you an idea for the track you're making today. It's rather the amazing beat you just programmed or the bassline you just played that inspires you to go further and maybe make an entire track out of it. 

Being a drummer, how does that influence your song writing and producing? The track Saturated Phat Boy you dropped to Propellerhead has quite a complex rhythm.

It helps, but not as much as you'd think. I believe that you can learn how to compose beats on a drum set as well as on a drum computer. In fact the mixture of both is probably a very healthy one, but its not essential. I know producers composing the sickest chord progressions without ever having touched a piano before, so...

Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind?

I think the important point is not how to get inspired, but to keep on trying if you're not!

If you have experienced creative blocks, how have you overcome them?

Even more trying. It can help if you start doing things differently. If you got a certain pattern of working, try to lose it, mix it up, go from the back to the front. Or just work with sounds you've never used before. Flip things up and surprise yourself. Just don't stop trying and playing around, I think that's the most important thing.

What advice would you give to other people who are motivated to become more creative in their music making?

It takes time to achieve something. Creativity comes from playing so take your time for playing around. Perfection comes with practice and time, so again, take your time and be patient. If you like making music and you're good at it you just need to do it every day!

 

Cid Rim also dropped an original piece of music to Allihoopa called "Saturated Phat Boy". Take a listen below! Want to add vocals, an instrument or remix the song? Just open it in Take or Reason to add your own part and join the music making.

Posted March 26, 2015, 10:09 a.m.

Behind the Song: Rock and Roll by Halocene

Posted Sept. 17, 2014, 1:11 p.m.

The band Halocene won our recent A-List Song Challenge with their upbeat punk rock anthem 'Rock and Roll'. I was really impressed with the production so I asked the band if they were up for sharing the Reason-file with the community—and they were!

If you have Reason 7 or above, you can download the track and check out how it was made. This is a great example of mixing in the box, with extensive use of Reason's big mixer. Regardless of skill level, there are both songwriting and production tricks to learn here. Brad from Halocene was even kind enough to record a short little voice over on how you get around the document at the end of the song.

Download the song and check it out!

Download

Download 'Rock and Roll' by Halocene as a .reason file. (471 MB)

Please note: This song requires Reason 7 and the A-List Electric Guitarist and Audiomatic Rack Extensions.

 

 

Posted Sept. 17, 2014, 1:11 p.m.