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 Propellerhead. 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 Propellerhead 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 24, 2015, 10:44 a.m.
Meet Feliks Thielemann and Mathias Schwarz - together they are the German minimal outfit Super Flu.
How do you use Reason in your music making? Do you have any examples of where you've used it?
We use a lot of the old synths and effects, also the new daw’s, but everything is actually running on Reason. It is our main and pretty much only software, so if you want an example of a production we have done with Reason, well, you basically can listen to any of our tracks. They are all produced with the software without exception. We are simply with Reason from version 1 and we have grown up with you guys together, to be honest.
What’s your best music making tips for someone that is just starting out?
It is not only about the gear that you have in your studio or all the options you could imagine, it is all about the ideas you have in your head. Do not get distracted, checking out what is left and right of you. Do not copy or compare. Just do what you actually find interesting and have the passion for.
When do you start a new song, what’s the very first thing you do?
Trying to find an idea which is good enough to fill up a whole track. The idea can come from a sound, a melody, a drum loop or from one of our numerous live sessions.
Your music is filled to the brim with quirky, almost organic sounds. Do you do a lot of sampling?
Yes, actually quite a lot. We worked for many years with samples until we could finally afford to buy the right synthesisers. We are still jamming a lot and sampling the sounds. We also quite often record sounds in their natural environment. For example, we were recently at a scrapyard in our town, where we recorded some sounds.
Super Flu is not one, but two people. How do you go about collaborating?
Over the years we have gotten to know each other so well, so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and know how we can make good use of them. Felix has classical music education, so he is the nerdy one spending nights at a time at the studio, whereas Mathias is the one who has a very good feeling for the tracks selection… But we actually have a big circle of music friends and we all try to support each other. For example, last year for our concert with the Dortmund Philharmonics one of our good friends lent us his two musical hands and performed with us on stage.
Best musical memory? Any moment in your music making career that sticks out?
Actually the concert in Dortmund that we just mentioned is one of these indescribable experiences in every respect you could imagine. We performed with more than 80 musicians on stage. It has always been a dream of ours to work together with all the arrangers, the conductor… Such an humbling experience! It was also very interesting to play in front of 1500 people who were listening very carefully to every sound that we produced and not to an alcohol buzzed audience. Just it is a crazy feeling. We do love the clubs and the festivals though, don’t get us wrong!
How do you know when you’re actually done with a track?
Actually we are never 100% ready with any of the tracks. You can get lost in the tiny details and build another modulation here or add an element somewhere which is heard just once in the whole track, but at some point it is also a matter of time.
What’s the hardest thing about making music, what do you struggle with the most?
Finding a good idea. Once you have it nailed, it is just a matter of powering through. The track composes itself somehow. The cool thing is that there is no recipe for a hit, everybody needs to come up with his own strategy.
Posted May 28, 2014, 1:26 p.m.
Hilton “Deuce” Wright II, is a record producer and songwriter from Detroit, MI. Along with his cousin B. Wright, the duo known as WrighTrax created music for some of today's top urban pop artists including: Big Sean, Mike Posner, Lil Twist, Drake, Rick Ross, and many more. Currently based in LA, Deuce is working on new projects for Lupe Fiasco, Elzhi (Slum Village), Gilbere Forte, and Mike Posner. An avid Reason user, we sat down with Deuce to talk music making.
Can you tell us a bit about how it works making music and producing for other artists?
Every situation is different. Most times I’m in the studio with the artists and sometimes I’ll work on music with a couple co-writers and send it to the artists or one of their representatives. I’ve cultivated tons of relationships over the years and continue to do so. Relationships are everything and create the opportunities to work with the artists.
How do you use Reason in your music making?
Reason is where it all starts for me. I’ve built a custom default song template along with numerous favorites list that have my most common used & needed sounds that are easy for me to access. I’ll usually start with a chord progression, drums in Kong, and/or a Dr. OctoRex loop.
What's the best music making tip you ever got?
"Make something!" I actually heard that in a Props YouTube video! It’s so true though, even if it’s terrible, just the process of making music is good for your habit development. Also: stay objective! Detach yourself from the music and be able to critique it without your emotions getting in the way.
What do you do when writer's block strikes?
I listen to & study other pieces of music that are similar to what I’m trying to make. I’ll usually have three references that I’m referring to sonically, musically, and production wise. They can be used as a starting point or as a creative boost when I get stuck.
What has been the best moment in your music making career thus far?
I think the best moment for me thus far has been to watch/listen to music I made in my dorm room, bedroom, and basement get played on national television/radio, and be available in stores worldwide. To watch an idea grow to that level is truly awesome.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
As cliche as it sounds, DON’T GIVE UP! The only people that don’t succeed are those that quit before their time. It’s never too late.
To get you inspired, Deuce created some patches for use in your tracks. Download the archive, check out the demo song and then make some music!
Please note: The patch MeeKeys and the demo track requires the Radical Piano and Pulsar Rack Extensions.
Posted May 27, 2014, 3:29 p.m.
Acclaimed music software designer Rob Papen knows a thing or two about creating unique sounds. The self-described “synth freak” and veteran of the Dutch electronic music scene honed his skills designing sounds for bands and synth manufacturers during the 80s and 90s. Nowadays he’s more likely to be found working on innovative new software instruments and effects.
From venerable soft synths like Predator and SubBoomBass to unique effects like RP-Verb and RP-Distort, Rob Papen products are known for their unparalleled sound quality, endless musicality and inspiring presets. We caught up with Rob to learn about his product design philosophy, and find out why he loves developing instruments and effects for Propellerhead’s Rack Extension plug-in platform.
Papen began experimenting with synths when he was a teenager, and played in several Netherlands-based electronic music groups including PERU, and later, NOVA. “At that time, it was important for electronic music groups to establish their own unique sound,” says Rob. “I was already the sound geek in the band, so naturally I helped create sounds that made us stand out from other groups.”
Rob also applied his sound design talents to create presets for early synth makers. His first foray into professional sound design was crafting patches for the Waldorf Microwave, a wavetable-based digital/analog hybrid synth used by artists like Nine Inch Nails, Hardfloor, Jimmy Edgar, Vangelis, and Crystal Distortion.
The philosophy behind Rob Papen ConcreteFX
After years of designing sounds for others, it was only natural that Rob started to create his own original product designs. “As a synth freak, I had my own ideas of how the features and functionality should be built up,” he relates. “The advent of software synths made it possible for me to pursue my ideas in earnest. In Jon Ayres I found a perfect partner—he’s an outstanding DSP programmer with amazing skills. Together we form RPCX (Rob Papen ConcreteFX), and this partnership has produced wonderful results.”
When Rob designs a product, he prioritizes musicality first. “My goal is to provide great-sounding products with presets that fit into a variety of musical styles, so customers can discover unexpected and inspiring new sounds. As a designer, it’s important to explore new directions while never losing sight of the fact that the products are built for making music.”
The Rack Extension difference
Papen sees a lot of value in developing products for the Rack Extension platform—both from the technological and business perspectives. “The Rack Extension platform opens up a whole new world for musicians,” he says. “And from the development side, the Rack Extension platform significantly expands our potential customer base. The Propellerhead user community is very big and it’s exciting to make Rob Papen soft synths and effects available right inside the Reason rack.”
“As with any development project, creating products for the Rack Extension platform takes time—but on the other hand, we save lots of time since Propellerhead handles the sales, distribution and support our marketing. That’s a huge support for us. And since Rack Extensions work across Mac and PC, we just have to create one version of the software and Propellerhead makes it available on both operating systems. We don’t have to worry about incompatibilities and differences between hosts.”
Rob Papen’s soft synths and effects have become some of the top-selling Rack Extensions in the Prop Shop. One of the most popular is Predator-RE, a workhorse synth that—in typical Rob Papen fashion—delivers scores of great-sounding, musical presets, and powerful sound sculpting features. And Rob’s not done—he plans on releasing even more incredible sonic tools for the Rack Extension platform.
“We want to release a dedicated Rack Extension synthesizer,” he concludes. “We’re going to introduce a type of synthesis that isn’t covered yet—as far as I know—and offer musicians more of a blank sheet compared to Predator or SubBoomBass, which come with tons of presets. I’m intrigued by the challenge of creating something new especially for Reason—something that will grow in Reason in its own way.”
Posted March 14, 2014, 12:25 p.m.
Mackintosh Braun is a formidable indie electronic duo from Portland who blend crisp, sophisticated production with sharp, emotive songwriting. They find themselves drawn to the technical side of music: sampling, sequencing, and high-end production. We had a chat to find out more about their use of Reason and their upcoming releases.
You use Reason live quite a bit, how does your set up look on stage?
Our live set up is ever changing, but at the moment our keyboard player uses Reason 7 for all of his sounds for the live show. We use the Malström a ton for synth sounds because we love how versatile it is since we're usually creating patches from scratch. We also love to put the Scream4 on almost anything, crunchy is good!
Right now you're gearing up to release new material, incorporating a lot of old analog gear. How do you incorporate this with Reason?
We did make a pretty big shift on this new record. We went from using mainly digital instruments on previous recordings, to using very few this time around. A lot of that had to do with the feeling we were aiming for with this album and the warmth and nostalgia you get from using analog gear. Also working with producer Lars Stalfors (Cold War Kids, Mars Volta) on this album helped us shape our sound into something different, yet still very reminiscent. He heard the demos and said he really wanted to take this album in a analog direction, we loved the idea of that, and it turned out to be something that we both fell in love with.
Reason still makes it's way into some songs on the new album though, sometimes we'd create a sound in Reason that was so great, why try and top it? Reason synths still have a very warm and lovely tone to them, so they fit really nicely on this album among the mostly analog components.
You have had your music in Greys Anatomy among other things, how did that happen?
Our lovely label Chop Shop Records is mainly to thank for the placements we've received thus far. Alex Patsavas who owns the label and runs the music supervision side of things, has a truly impeccable ear for not only good music, but good music that fits particular shows and the scenes within them. Also, her crew that work beside her (Kasey, Brittany, Ginger, and Justin) are just as amazing. We also love John Rubeli, the president of Chop Shop Records, he's believed in our music from the start and has always fought for us. We have a great team behind us, it's a really nice feeling.
What do you do when writer's block strikes?
Oh man... the dreaded writers block can be a tough one. I think for us, the less critical we are with our own writing, the more freeing it is. Sometimes you judge yourself at such a high level that it closes you off to things that might really be great. If you can finish a song, without critiquing yourself at every turn, then that writers block usually starts to fade and creative freedom can blossom.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
It's a cliché said time and time again, but stay true to who you are as an artist. If you do that and believe in what you're doing, other people will take notice and gravitate in your direction. There's enough room in this world for all types of creative minds, so don't try and be like anyone but yourself.