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.
When Jordan Atkins-Loria (DJ Lucky Date) was introduced to Reason, he instantly recognized the potential of its synths and set about to master them. Originally following tutorials he found online, Lucky Date began making his own tutorials which showcased his penchant for modern electro dance synths in Reason. As his tutorials grew in popularity, so did his career as a DJ and Producer.
In just a couple short years, DJ Lucky Date has gone from making his first video tutorial to completing 4 electro dance ReFill sound libraries, charting on Beatport, and massive club and festival gigs as a headlininer.
We met up with Jordan one night in LA where he had a few thousand Angelinos jumping and screaming at Avalon in Hollywood, CA. Before the show he walked us through some of the secrets to his massive sounds and even gave us the patches so we can share them with you all.
Electronic music fans will recognize the name Bon Harris as a founding member of one of the world's most influential electronic acts - Nitzer Ebb. Apart from his own bands, he has done writing, production and programming work with artists such as Billy Corgan and Marilyn Manson.
As an electronic musician, Bon relied heavily on large modular systems to create his music and often dreamed there was a way to make music on the road without hauling the whole studio on each trip. In the end, he found Reason.
Being used to the modular approach, Bon Harris constantly finds himself patching audio and control voltages on Reason's back panel. Only in software, it's much faster and there's an undo function as well.
We met with Bon Harris in Los Angeles to talk about his use of Reason in his production work and on the new Nitzer Ebb album. He also gave us a thorough lesson in how to craft a Nitzer Ebb-style bass patch using Thor, a vocoder and a mile of virtual patch cable - check the video!
Nitzer Ebb-style bass, a tutorial
In the video, Bon Harris shows a trick for animating parameters using CV. We asked him to elaborate on that subject and he sent us an example file and a very thorough description of how his bass patch was created.
Start off with Thor (or your preferred module), a Matrix Sequencer, and a Spider Audio split/merge. Cook up a sound and sequence you like.
I chose a 3 oscillator Pulse Wave bass, with sync on oscillator 2, and some LFO mod to PW and pitch (on the sync'd oscillator - #2), for a bit of animation. Patch the audio output of the Thor into the Spider audio splitter and send dual splits to channels 1 and 2 on the mixer. Channel one will be the basic sound, channel two will be the vocoder sweep EQ sound. Add the BV512 Vocoder, (while holding down the shift key – so it doesn't auto patch). Re-patch audio split #2 from the Audio Spider to the Vocoder input, and the patch the Vocoder output into mixer channel 2. Mute channel 1 (the basic sound), so you can hear the Vocoder sound solo. Set the switch on the BV to "Equalizer", and choose how many bands you'd like.
I went with the basic four band, because it's early and I haven't had much Tea yet. Muck about with the 4 EQ bands, and the shift knob until it starts to get "fruity". Add a Subtractor, (again, holding the shift key, so that it doesn't auto patch to anything). Flip the rack around and patch the LFO 1 CV output into the Shift CV input on the BV512 Vocoder. Mess around with the Subtractor LFO 1 settings and the BV512 shift CV amount on the back panel, and the shift knob on the front panel.
Now the Subtractor is acting as a modular LFO to sweep the BV512 EQ shift. You could stop there if you wanted, doing an A/B between mixer channel 1, (basic sound), and channel 2, (BV512 EQ w/LFO mod). You could layer them, use the BV sound as an alt bass, whatever.
I decided I wanted to have more options, so I went one more step. (This last paragraph is for Turbo Nerds. If you have a life I would suggest getting back to it. Quickly.) Earlier, in the basic Thor patch, I had routed the Matrix "Curve CV" output to the Thor back panel "Filter 1 Freq" CV input, for some filter accents. I decided that might sound good on the vocoder shift as well. I added a Spider CV merge/split (with the shift key again –otherwise the machines WILL take over and all humans WILL die). I re-patched the Curve CV output, (on the Matrix back panel), to the CV splitter input on the Spider CV. I sent CV split output #1 back to the back panel Thor Filter 1 CV input, re-establishing the filter movements I had already setup on Thor.
Now, my shift CV input on the BV512 is already patched from the Subtractor LFO, and I now also want to use the Curve CV from the Matrix (on CV split output #2 of the Spider CV). I re-patched the Subtractor LFO output into input #1 of the Spider CV merger, and re-patched the output of the merger into the BV512 shift CV input. Now I've basically got a four input CV mixer going in to the BV512 Shift CV input. Last, I went to the Spider CV splitter, took the Curve CV split output #2 and patched back into the Spider merge input #2.
Now I can play with the CV amount on both the Subtractor LFO and the Matrix Curve CV inputs on the Spider CV before sending them to the BV512 shift CV input. As you can see, (if you are still awake), this patch involves patching the Spider CV split output back into its own merge inputs. Once this patch was complete, I went train spotting.
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