Who or what is Reset Robot? The chances are, if you've been more than an occasional visitor to any of the world's more discerning dancefloors, you'll most likely have been exposed to the sound; you may have already given yourself up to the techno and house excursions that have become the Reset Robot blueprint.
The man behind the moniker is David Robertson, Portsmouth based DJ/producer of some repute. Influenced by clubs such as Fabric and Slinky, DJs such as Sasha, Digweed and the Wiggle boys, with time served behind the record store counter, he sculpted his sound meticulously over time, honing it until he was fully ready to deliver a newly crafted sonic signature. And since he uses Reason as his main production tool, we decided to ask him a few questions!
You work a lot with other artists, how do you approach that? Do you work remotely or in person? I always work in person. I have never engineered a track without the other person being there. Its not something I believe in. I would make minor changes to a track if needed like level changes or touching up some automation but the creative process needs to come from both engineer and producer being together. I always wonder what people who use a ghost writer are thinking when they play the tracks in a club. Do they persuade themselves that its their own?
Got any sound design secrets you'd like to share? If I'm using a synth I don't like to use presets. I'd rather start with 1 or 2 oscillators and build something up from scratch. I always find something interesting from a sine or sawtooth when I use the shaper on Thor. I add a Scream 4 to pretty much everything, it always improves a sound in my opinion. I also love using samples, turning one sound into something completely different can give great results for textures and fx.
How do you use Reason in your music making? Reason is my main production tool! I use it from start to finish on my tracks. I have tried logic and do use Ableton Live sometimes but never seem to get what I'm looking for as quickly. I really like the mastering in Reason, it always gives my tracks the extra 5-10% I'm looking for.
Do you have any favorite sound or patch? I made a sound in one of my tracks 'Snow Leap' about 2 years ago. Its featured in quite a few of my tracks since. It's a dirty little sawtooth/square combination which sounds fantastic with some echo or reverb on the sends.
What do you do when writer's block strikes? I cry! No, I tend to keep going. I'll start something but even if its not quite clicking I'll see it through to the end because sometimes that process can bring me out of it. If it's really bad I will start making little 1 or 2 bar loops or strange sounds and just keep making them until I have a groove or a sound which I could listen to for 6 minutes.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians? I always say the same for this. Be patient! I was way to eager to send out my music when I first started producing and always get sent music that isn't ready. You will do more damage than good if you send out music that isn't quite up to scratch, for example if someone hears something they don't like they are less likely to click play on the tracks that might be good enough.
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.
He makes it look easy and in some sense it is but Jérôme Tissot, better known as Muttonheads, is a master of infectious hooks and banging club synth sounds. Don't take our word for it, he's got the #1 hits to prove the point. In this special artist interview from France, Muttonheads walks us through his custom mastering suite and his latest hit "Snow White" track by track to see just how it works. His studio is built around his Reason rack and Muttonheads uses it to great effect indeed!
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.