Artist stories

Music Talk: Kato on the track - The Making of Get It N Go in Reason

Posted Jan. 26, 2018, 10:08 a.m.

One Week Notice is the title of a 1-week collaborative concept album featuring 9 Hip-Hop Artists and Producers - Dizzy Wright, Jarren Benton, Demrick, Audio Push, Emilio Rojas, Reezy, Kato and DJ Hoppa. It was recorded fully in Austin, TX at the BeatStars studio and over 20 songs were created during the 7-day process, with 13 making it onto the album.

Kato On The Track is a Music Producer/Entrepreneur out of Atlanta, GA., best known for his production with Artists like: B.o.B, Hopsin, Jarren Benton, Dizzy Wright, Wu-Tang, Joyner Lucas, Token, Tory Lanez, K Camp, Futuristic, Sy Ari and more. Kato is also the founder of a Producer mentorship program, Beat Club, which educates and provides resources and networking to aspiring music Producers around the world.

We caught Kato to have a talk about the One Week Notice project and his workflow in Reason.

Tell us how the One Week Notice came about. Whose idea was it to complete an album in one week? 
One Week Notice was the brain child of Dame Ritter, former CEO of Funk Volume, whom I was signed to up until 2016. We've been friends since, and he basically just called me one day and asked if I'd be interested in flying to Austin for a week, staying in a house full of rappers, and making music all day. What could be better?
 
Could you share some insights on how to collaborate successfully with so many people involved and with that kind of tight deadline? 
The key to collaborating with that many people is just to leave any ego at the door and be open to working with other creatives. After that, the rest is easy.
 
When you load up a brand new Reason song, what’s the very first thing you do?
The first thing I do when I open Reason is load a template. I have different templates for working with vocals, starting a beat, etc. After I load my template, then I'll start searching for the perfect sound to start my melody, or sometimes I'll start with drums first. I usually have an idea going into the project of what I want to make, it's just a matter of finding the right sounds.
 
What drives you musically? Why do you make music?
My motivation for making music is the same as it was on Day 1. It's the only thing that allows me to create something from nothing without any rules or boundaries - what else allows you to do that?? It's absolute 100% freedom to do whatever you want and that idea to me is so amazing in a world full of rules. 

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there? Any tips on tackling writer’s block? 
I hate forcing creativity. When I don't feel inspired by what I'm doing, it takes the fun out of it and doing what you love should always be fun. Most of the time when I lack inspiration, I either step away from the music altogether and do something entirely different, or I'll find inspiration in collaborating with others. I've also been using Splice a lot.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
I've been using the Decimort 2 a LOT recently. It adds so much cool texture whenever I need that extra unique quality. I like anything that takes something clean and makes it dirty.
 
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Kong Drum Designer, NN-XT and the McDSP C670 Compressor are CRUCIAL to me in every session I start. I can probably make an amazing beat using only those 3 devices and nothing else!
 
Watch how Kato made "Get It N Go" in Reason:
 
Check out the official video for "Get It N Go" off the One Week Notice album:
 
 
Artist stories

Meet Retrowave artist Michael Oakley

Posted Jan. 22, 2018, 9:20 a.m.

Michael Oakley is a Scottish electronic musician whose retro sounding music is a love letter to 1980's synth-pop. Described as "melancholic postcards from the heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines", his debut album California was released fall 2017 to critical acclaim from The Huffington Post and NewRetroWave.

We took some time off Michael's hands to talk a bit about how he works with his music in Reason.
 

What's your favorite thing in Reason 10?

Without a doubt my favourite new addition to Reason 10 is the Grain Sample Manipulator. It makes granular synthesis so easy and accessible. The possibilities are endless and I particularly like loading in vocal samples and creating lush pads or rhythmic textures. Using it makes me feel like what I imagine it must have felt like to use a Fairlight CMI for the first time all those years ago in terms of having endless possibilities for sample manipulation and new sound creation. It's so much fun to use.

"The possibilities are endless"


How do you get started with a new song? What sparks your creativity?

Prior to writing I spend time creating my own soundbank which is basically a folder on my desktop with all my favourite patches from various Reason Refills that I have or sounds I have created from scratch. I have them all categorised into subfolders like bass, pads, analog poly, leads. One of my favourite things about using Reason is that you can save sounds from different instruments into the same folder and browse through easily.

I usually find by browsing through all my hand picked favourite sounds that inspiration usually comes quickly. I like to create a mood and work with that. I then go to my piano and develop the chords/melody until I have a structure and go back to Reason to score things out more clearly.

What's the best music making tip you ever got?

Enjoy what you're doing and always make music for the love of doing it. People relate to that and can feel that energy when they listen to your music regardless of wether they like it or not. Sincerity is the best instrument you can put in your music for sure.

"Enjoy what you're doing and always make music for the love of doing it"


Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?

I like to group things together in Reason and then use the Scream 4 Tape setting to glue everything in each group. I use Scream 4 on everything nearly. It's my most used effects unit. It's so versatile.


The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

1.  Scream 4: I'm surprised this isn't available as a VST because it's the best effects unit I've used in any program. I use it to tape compress things, I use it to make lead sounds pop with the overdrive setting, I use it to bit crush drums or bass sounds and make them sound crunchy. I couldn't live without this!


2.  Thor: When this got added to Reason 4.0 I was super excited. I love the different oscillator options and programming capabilities. I would challenge anyone to name an analog or digital synthesizer sound that can't be created in Thor. It just sounds fantastic.


3.  RV7000: I use at least three of these on the main mixer's auxiliary channels. It's great for simple room reverb just to soften and give a sense of space, but is also amazing for really long spacious effects on pad sounds. I also love the DRM 80s gated plate preset for my drum machine sounds.

What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?

In those moments it's usually either time to listen to some new music and discover something which moves me, or get a new Reason Refill and play through some new patches until I find a something I like. Sometimes it requires taking a break as I have been guilty in the past of spending too many hours staring at a computer screen.

What’s your all-time favorite album?

Endless Summer - The Midnight

 

Follow Michael Oakley on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube.

Start creating Retrowave music yourself with the free trial of Reason.

Artist stories

Artist video: Justen Williams

Posted Jan. 17, 2018, 10:59 a.m.

When Justen's parents forbid him from listening to the corrupting influence of "secular music" - they inadvertently helped him train to become a music producer. 

Thanks to peer to peer filesharing and an abundance of instrumental mp3 hip hop mixes available there, Justen Williams was listening to Top 40 hip hop minus the vocals. And what was left, he could study in unobscured detail to see how the kick fit with the bass and why those effects create a specific mood.

But it wasn't until a college friend introduced Justen to Reason that he saw what he'd always dreamed of: an entire beatmaking studio right on his computer screen. After getting his own copy of Reason, Justen Williams never looked back. His production skills and collaborations with New Orleans artists have landed him placements with Ford, HBO, Empire, Dancing with the Stars, NFL Films, and album production with Kourtney Heart, Justin Garner, and Dee 1.

We joined Justen in New Orleans to discuss his early beatmaking and production experiments with Reason and his biggest viral success, Sallie Mae Back.

Posted Jan. 17, 2018, 10:59 a.m.

Tutorials

Making a Synthwave track in Reason 10

Posted Jan. 15, 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Over the last few years, a new retro music genre has emerged, bloomed and taken on a life of its own. Synthwave, or Retrowave is an electronic music genre heavily influenced by the sounds and aestethics of 1980s movies and its soundtracks (think John Carpenter, Vangelis etc) and video games. This nostalgia-induced style of electronic music pays tribute to the style, feel and sound of the 80s. Musically, Synthwave music often draws inspiration from bands that build their musical foundation on drum machines and (nowadays) classic synthesizers.

Emerging in the late 2000’s, Synthwave acts like Kavinsky, College and Com Truise were among the first to make the genre widely known and loved. Both Kavinsky and College were featured in the Synthwave-heavy soundtrack for the movie Drive, which definitely helped many discover the sounds of Synthwave and bring the genre into the mainstream. The Netflix hit show Stranger Things also features Synthwave music in its soundtrack and the whole series could of course also be considered an homage to 80s movies.

Synthwave music is often inspired by and based around 80s style components such as drum machines (such as the Linn Drum) and analogue synthesizers like the Roland Juno and Jupiter 8, mixed with more modern production techniques like creative use of sidechain compression.

With its rich plethora of drum machines and analogue inspired synthesizers, picking Reason to produce a Synthwave track is a perfect match. Here to show you how it’s done is producer and musician Paul Ortiz of Synthwave group ZETA.

Producer, musician and Reason producer Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) is a member of Synthwave group ZETA, along with Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. Together they fuse the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breath-taking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package that is ZETA.

Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.

Make a Synthwave track yourself with Reason's free trial!

 

 

Artist stories

Artist Feature: FaltyDL

Posted Jan. 5, 2018, 9:27 a.m.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Drew Lustman aka FaltyDl has been releasing his eclectic electronic music over the years on such renowed labels as Planet Mu and Ninja Tunes, as well as his own Blueberry Records imprint. Drew has put out six albums including his most recent ouput Heaven is for Quitters and he has also toured with James Blake, opened for Radiohead and remixed for the likes of Seun Kuti, Photek, The XX, Disclosure, Tricky and Ellen Allien.

Drew makes all his music in Reason and we figured it was time for a chat about how he goes about creating his music in Reason and what the thinking is behind it.
 


What's your favorite thing in Reason 10?

Reason 10 really nailed the integration of VSTs. I had started to play around with some 3rd party plugins in Reason 9, but everything jelled with Reason 10. It's funny to think my favorite thing about Reason is using non-Reason products with it, but that’s the spirit of music.  Inclusion, experimentation and freedom. I used to feel tied down by the limitations of not being able to use VST’s, now it's been blown wide open and my wallet is my only limitation haha. Also being a lifetime Reason user, it's really nice that the GUI has been solid for the past few versions. If there is one thing every artist hates, it's change to their workflow. Although once you push through, new opportunities usually arrive.

How do you get started with a new song?

Just play. Have fun and experiment. I can honestly say, 10+ years into making electronic music i still don’t have a clue what I am going to make when I head into the studio. And every time I think I do, it comes out completely different. I’m not accurate like that. But I never cared about it either. My advice is make everything you want to make. You can decide later if its crap! Also, no one has to hear it… hehe

What's the best music making tip you ever got?

What you don’t know starting out is if music becomes your livelihood, pays your bills etc. your relationship with it may change.  Go with the flow, go easy on yourself when the tunes don’t just come naturally. They will again.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?

I like saving racks, songs Ive completed, then erasing every single note and just letting the set up remain for another day. It’s a good way to get a vibe going quickly.

I like treating the mixer as an instrument.

I like treating the mixer as an instrument. Doubling instruments, giving sounds multiple channels to phase against each other with LFOs can really make some freaky human sounding stuff. I still smash ‘tab', switch Reason around so to speak and wire things awkwardly. One thing I am trying to be more conscious of these days is relative volume across different levels, meaning Line Level vs Instrument Level vs master level etc. I try and leave enough headroom at the end of a track so i can mix more freely and not worry about adjusting everything.


The three most used devices in your Reason rack?

Scream 4 Distortion has been a mainstay for me since Reason 3. The tape saturation is pretty spot on!

I use the NN-XT sampler in pretty much every track. I come from before you could just print audio into Reason and had to start a track before the sample is triggered in order to hear it. It was painful back then, but created a good listening habit which made me a more active listener. I find I can focus on the most minute musical event in a song and completely forget its context, only to then listen to the entire song and think what the hell did I just do for 45 minutes?  

The tape saturation is pretty spot on!


Dr OctoRex is still a beast. I don’t think I use it to it’s full potential, but I come from sampling breaks and have always used this alongside recycle. Integrated audio has changed the need for this but hey I’m a bit old school.


What do you do when inspiration just isn't there?

Leave the house. Go for a walk, call a friend. Move a muscle, change a thought. Forcing the thing works maybe 10% of the time.  Collaborate! Send stems to a pal and ask for some back. Inspiration, muse, whatever you call it is a fickle thing. It never shows up on time and often when you aren’t even close to your studio.
 

Inspiration is a fickle thing. It never shows up on time and often when you aren’t even close to your studio.


What’s your all-time favorite album?

Impossible to nail down. Here are a few;

  • Feed Me Weird Things - Squarepusher
  • In a Silent Way - Miles Davis
  • Apostrophe - Frank Zappa
  • Drum and Bass for Pappa - Plug
  • Ruins - Grouper

 

Go follow FaltyDL on Instagram, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify.