Posted Feb. 7, 2018, 12:28 p.m.
Tora is a four-piece electronic band born in Byron Bay, Australia. The group formed in 2013, fusing plush, layered production and instrumentation with graceful vocals. Their soulful electronic music has had them compared to seminal artists such as Radiohead and James Blake. Tora has been busy touring and making a name for themselves at venues and festivals such as Glastonbury, Falls Festival, Splendour In The Grass, The Great Escape UK and Canadian Music Week.
We sat down to speak with vocalist and guitar player Jo Loewenthal about their workflow in Reason both in the studio and on tour.
What's your favorite addition in Reason 10?
I love Europa, that thing is such a beast, it’s got everything that I wished Thor had!
How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity?
Usually I just sit down, load up an instrument and just play the first thing that comes to my head. I find if I don’t think about it and just roll with the first ideas, and keep following that path I usually end up with something I like. Once I’ve written some parts on a couple of instruments, I tweak the sounds to be the way I can imagine them to be in my head. I find that the times when I go in trying to create a particular vibe, it restricts me and prevents me from discovering new things, so I like to approach it all freely and just listen to my subconscious ideas as they pass through my mind.
What's the best music making tip you ever got?
When something isn’t impacting like you want it to, try muting some layers, it creates space and helps you realise what is clashing or what isn’t working. Also make sure that every layer sounds nice on it’s own.
"try muting some layers, it creates space"
Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I try not to use the same tricks in everything, to avoid sounding the same always, but I do love sidechaining long reverbs to give the whole track a pulsing vibe. I’ll make a parallel of an instrument or vocal part, then put a long reverb in the rack on that channel and set it to fully wet, then have a compressor after it and have a kick pattern routed into the side chain on the compressor. You can mix it in as loud or soft as you like, I usually keep it quite subtle but I find it adds a lot to the track when used in the right way.
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
- Pulveriser is easily my most used device, I use it on almost everything.
- Audiomatic Retro Transformer is also something I use a lot, especially on synths.
- NN-XT is the most used instrument for me, I often sample my own sounds and put them into the NN-XT, I just love how much control it gives you.
Jo in the Propellerhead Studio in Stockholm.
What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?
Well that’s very rare, but it can happen. Usually I’ll go for a walk, or do something physical and completely unrelated to music to clear my head, then come back to the studio and listen to some music I’ve never heard before, also some of my favourite artists to get perspective. Usually by that point I’ll be ready to make music, but if not then I guess I’d just come back tomorrow, but I don’t think that’s ever happened.
"what am I listening to? This guy is twisted". I thought it was terrible"
What’s your all-time favorite album?
This question is impossible to answer, because I have too many faves. But there’s one album that really changed my perspective on music. I remember the first day I heard it I thought to myself: "what am I listening to? This guy is twisted". I thought it was terrible. But came back to it a couple of weeks later and suddenly I understood it and from that day on I had a completely different outlook on music. For me, this album is the most original and inventive piece of work I’ve ever heard, I don’t know how he imagined it up.
James Blake - James Blake (2011)
Posted Sept. 14, 2016, 11:13 a.m.
We're very proud to announce that Reason 9.1 is now available, featuring support for Ableton Link!
Like many of us here in the office I'm in a handful of bands, so when Ableton approached us with integrating Link in Reason I was both professionally and personally intrigued. Making music together is something entirely different from creating by yourself. It's not better or worse, but it's different and incredibly rewarding. Sharing your ideas and inspiring each other will lead you to musical results that never would've happened otherwise. With Link in Reason, it's easier than ever to make music together—regardless of your software of choice.
To update to Reason 9.1, simply launch Reason 9 and download your free update. And if you're on an earlier version or don't own Reason yet, there's never been a better time to get started. It's been really fun working on Reason 9.1 and I'm sure you'll have even more fun making music with it.
Read all about Reason 9.1 here!
Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Reason Product Manager
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.
Posted Jan. 21, 2014, 3:12 p.m.
NU.F.O. stands for Newly Formed Objective and that objective for Boston residents Moses and EP1C is to combine their past experience creating music across nearly all styles and genres into a whole new electronic animal. If you listen to their catalog of releases, you’ll find it filled with House, Drum & Bass and Electro beats with vocals at the forefront, sung by both of NU.F.O.’s members: Moses & EP1C. Their vocal style has roots in Hip Hop, Pop, Rock and even R&B with lyrics that are both thoughtful and thought provoking.
How do you use Reason in your music making?
All of our music is written, produced, mixed and mastered in Reason. The software promotes a creative workflow through its intuitive interface and hands-on feel. In comparison to other DAW's, we have found that production in Reason just feels more organic, resulting in sounds and songs that stand out. Our identifiable sound wouldn't be possible without it.
You work a lot with vocals in your tracks, any tips for vocal production?
We produce a rough version of each track to serve as a canvas for writing the vocals. Once we track them, we re-approach the song to make sure everything works together in the best way possible. Reason's tools and Rack Extensions make it easier to treat vocals more like a sequenced instrument that can be edited and effected in the same impressive ways.
How does your live set-up look?
Coming from a band background, when we first set out to do this project we wanted to make sure that our live show had some form of musical performance beyond what is typically expected of EDM artists. We perform parts of each song using MIDI keyboards and controllers in addition to dual live vocals. We accomplish this by running Reason on laptops with Balance interfaces. We use our actual studio project files and remove the parts that we play live. We also control our own vocal mix by running the mics into the Balance interfaces, through Reason. The best thing about doing it this way is that all of the vocal fx, routing and automation we used in the studio version are retained and reproduced in real-time on our live vocals.
Do you have any favorite sound or patch?
It's too hard to name just one since we try to use different sounds as often as possible. In general, though, our go-to synth is Thor; especially when you run it into an Etch Red with some drive gain.
What has been the best moment in your music making career thus far?
The best moments we experience are those where we're on stage performing something we've worked tirelessly to create and know that in that moment we're connected with the audience in a way that is unlike anything else. It's incredibly powerful and will never get old for us.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
Art doesn't have to follow rules. We believe you shouldn't be bound by the limitations of genres, styles, formulas or expectations. Write music that you want to hear, not what you think someone else wants to. In the end, your opinion is the only one that really matters.
Posted July 5, 2008, 1:06 p.m.
Many keyboard players would give their left foot to play a major world tour. Kevin Hastings drew the winning ticket as he landed the gig with Rihanna's current world tour. With Reason as his main instrument, he is playing in front of sold-out venues on a daily basis.
Coming from a musical family, he started playing the piano at the age of six. Starting from a classical background, he soon moved over to Jazz and Rock. At the age of 18, he enrolled at Musician's Institute in Los Angeles, California and it was there he started making the connections that got him several high-profile touring gigs.
We met up with Kevin during sound check at the Rihanna show at the Hovet arena in Stockholm, Sweden to learn more about life on the road and how he is using Reason as a performance instrument.
In the video above, Kevin shows the Reason patch he is using to play the synth lead on the hit song Umbrella. Click below to download the combinator patch and try it out yourself!Umbrella combinator patch