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: Mike Kuz

Posted Feb. 6, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

Check out this raw beat straight from hip hop producer Mike Kuz. Wether you rap, remix or sample—open this beat in Reason or Take and make music! It's not every day you can collaborate with a producer/engineer from Stadiumred Studios, a studio with over 12 Grammy wins to its name.

Mike Kuz is an NYC based music producer & mix engineer from Newington, CT. It wasn’t long after his 2010 move to New York that he began earning stripes in the industry, contributing to works by artists such as Wale, J. Cole, Slaughterhouse, Common, Teyana Taylor and more. Working closely with Hip-Hop legends Just Blaze & Young Guru, Kuz has an endless source of knowledge and inspiration to draw from. He has been instrumental in creating the sounds for up-and-comers OnCue, The I.S.A. & S*T*Y.

Posted Feb. 6, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

Harald Austad producing with Reason

Posted March 7, 2014, 12:38 p.m.

Harald 3

Harald Austad is a producer and songwriter from Norway. He's worked with artists such as Spellemanns winners (Norwegian Grammys artists of the year) Karpe Diem, Madcon and Jaa9&Onkl P and winner of Norway's Got Talent, Sirius, selling platinum albums and singles. An avid Reason user, we sat down to talk music with Harald.

How do you use Reason in your music making?
I use Reason to make all my beats! Maybe start out with some drums or browse sounds and play with melodiesto get a groove going and then building layer by layer and arranging until the track is there. I mostly use midi, but love the new features for audio editing. I used to combine it with other DAWs, but now I'd say I use Reason for 90% of all the work I do. It's just the best workflow for me, being fast and intuitive. Also, by using the racks in Reason I've learned how to operate in an analog studio better than any other DAW could have.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?
Don't think. Just do. There is no right or wrong, and instead of pondering whether you should do this or that, just go with the flow and create. It doesn't work out perfect every time, but hey, you can always make a new track..

Do you have any favorite sound or patch?
Doing a lot of hiphop, the MPC60 ReFill is great for 808s. Also I love the Reason Electric Bass and Piano ReFills. Simply amazing! Whenever I need orchestra stuff I tend to use the Orkester Soundbank, but whatever sounds I'm using, they're always processed with eq/comp/filters/reverb etc so the final sound will have it's own expression. With all the new Rack Extensions, the possibilities are just endless! I use the Rotor a lot to add warmth to sounds and the Softube Saturation Knob is never wrong. The Korg Polysix and MonoPoly is great for tweaking sounds, as is Rob Papen's Predator, but Thor is still maybe the best there is..

What do you do when writer's block strikes?
Turn on Reason. If Reason is not up and running, I'm not making any music. If I'm uninspired and the process is going slowly, I'll still make something.. It's better to make a slightly boring idea than no idea. You never know, it could be useful in the future, or fit an artist or writer you didn't think about at the time. What inspires me are the sounds, so try out a new Rack Extension or a ReFill and that should help you on the way.

When it comes to writing lyrics, Stargate gave me a good tip that I've been using ever since; Write what you see, not what you feel. When you write 'through your eyes' it's much more easy for others to relate and you can show people your story rather than just saying 'I love you baby'..

What has been the best moment in your music making career thus far?
The next track! It's always about making the next one. I try no to dwell, but constantly keep making new music. It's just like training for anything else. Nothing beats the feeling of starting with nothing and ending up with a great new track. Obviously, hearing my tracks on radio for the first time was pretty cool, but the best moment so far was when the National Broadcasting Orchestra of Norway rearranged and performed a song I did and played it with full orchestra, drums, guitar, choir etc on primetime TV with the King of Norway throwing his hands in the air!

Any Words of Wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
The only thing you can do better than anybody else is you. Although I take inspiration and ideas from listening to others, the more honest your own expression is, the better the song will be. It's not always easy, but keep working and learning your skills. It's a craft, and you get better by doing and experimenting. Hard work beats talent, but if you got both, you will make it! Be persistent.

Posted March 7, 2014, 12:38 p.m.

Think Inside the Box with Kool Kojak

Posted Feb. 13, 2014, 6:53 p.m.

Before he was Kool Kojak, Allan Grigg and his brother built their own drum set out of tape and pvc pipes and created their own recordings using their boombox. It was the start of a lifelong quest to make the hip hop sounds that inspired him from childhood. His tenacity led him to New York where he interned at legendary hip hop studios, saved for years to get his prized MPC drum machine, and made musical friendships that would lead to number one hit songs around the world.

Kool Kojak's success is no fluke. He works hard but he plays hard, not afraid to push himself into experimentation and find his own sound. His reputation and credits have led him to work with artists like Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, and many many more.

Posted Feb. 13, 2014, 6:53 p.m.