Reason - inspiration and collaboration tool for Urban Myth Club
Propellerhead's James Bernard talks to Ian Sanderson and Dezz of Urban Myth Club about using Reason for inspiration and collaboration.
How are you using Reason in your work?
Not many people know this, but Reason is actually integral to the whole existence of Urban Myth Club. Whereas most bands start writing material in the studio together, the first few tracks from our album Helium were written entirely online using Reason as the core tool for collaboration - writing musical concepts and most importantly sharing files over the Internet easily.
Reason helped us create a completely new way of working and we found this really liberating. For example, the first track we wrote and still a favourite - "Bird's Eye View" - started with me writing the melodic hook in Reason. I then e-mailed the rns file to Ian who got totally inspired and came up with this fantastic new section. When I got the track back the next day I thought "Amazing, I would never have taken it that direction…, but it works!". I then continued to build on the track and we would fire the Reason file back and forth whenever we felt ready to pass it on. As a result the track developed in a very different way that had we have written it in together in the same studio.
The first three tracks on the album were written using Reason before we'd ever met each other face to face. During the two years spent making Helium, we did a lot of time writing together in the studio, but we had the best of both worlds, being able to also work remotely. Reason enables us to completely indulge creatively by ourselves and not have to spend time debating whether something works or not. Getting a new file is like the postman delivering you a birthday present every day!
Was there a point where you "saw the light" and switched to software vs hardware? What made you switch?
When you're working on more than one song at a time, it's so much easier to switch in Reason. When we had loads of outboard it got to a point where it would take half the morning to wire everything up the way we had it last time and load up all the samplers with the relevant stuff.
It was a nightmare if you'd wired something in line through an effect because you'd have to keep exhaustive notes on exactly how everything was configured. Now you just open a song - fantastic!
What is it about Reason that you like?
Reason is easy, stable, and got a huge library. The Rex player is unique - nothing on the market touches it. The ability to ReWire with other software is a major feature for us. It just works!
Reason is also really great for getting concepts down really quickly when inspiration hits. There is nothing worse than firing up software and messing around with loads of settings before you can get going. It's also useful for exporting a track and taking it outside the studio. We always find it is good to listen to tracks away from the studio during all stages of its development to get a different perspective on it.
It's very accessible software when you first start with it, but there's also unlimited depth to it. We keep discovering new things the deeper we get.
Reason's also great for exchanging .rns files we are working on because they are not huge beasties – usually they are small enough to email back and forth. The string library is also very lush.
Do you have a favorite trick or is there a favorite feature that saves your day again and again?
Yeah, it's also the only music software on the market we know of that lets you wire a feedback loop for creating special effects.
Do you use the Reason sound bank a lot? Do you have any other favorite sound libraries or ReFills that you use a lot?
We have quite a lot of refills but keep coming back to the factory supplied refills because they are so good. We really like the Strings Refill.
Do you use Reason live? If so - how do you use it? What's your stage setup?
We use Reason live as it's so dependable and quick to load. Doing our music live (as any electronic artists will know) is not a simple task, so it's good to have something solid and reliable as part of our live kit. We've play huge festivals like Glastonbury, The Big Chill & The Glade so we need something we can rely on.
It's also great using external controllers live with Reason.
Are there any examples of productions that you have made where Reason has played an important part?
Reason plays an important part in most of our compositions. To give you an idea, we must have written over 250 tracks from concepts to full blown eight minute epics for our album Helium, and most started life in Reason. Whittling them down to just 13 tracks for the final album cut was the hardest thing!
What's your view of future music making? How will software change the way people work?
I think in the future we'll all be running at 96khz 24bit in surround sound. We'll be integrating video in the song and adding VJ effects. People will write entire multimedia presentations that they self publish online.
We'd expect to see lots more collaborations similar to Urban Myth Club – with people around the world hooking up together online, writing tracks and releasing them as full-blown commercial projects.
Do you see music software changing the music industry? How? Is that a good or bad change?
It will change everything. The old idea of a record company is dead. People can write, record and publish their own material. The whole industry is likely to continue to fragment as more and more artists take control for themselves. We've released Urban Myth Club's album on Dezz's label TRL Music (www.trlmusic.com). It's been hard work but the feedback and amazing press reviews we've got have made it really worthwhile and very rewarding.
Artists can do everything online. The only thing the industry has of its own is clout, market knowledge and large pots of money (which helps!). Traditional labels have been gatekeepers for far too long. The floodgates are open now for creative people to write their own stuff and get it out there for the public to scrutinize. Exciting times...
Published: November 2006
The UK electronic collective, Urban Myth Club - comprised of electronica artist Dezz and Hollywood film composer Stephen Barton - released its first full-length recording on TRL Music in the spring of 2006 to rave reviews. North American radio airplay followed, as well as debut appearances at Glastonbury and the Big Chill festivals. The debut single literally gate-crashed into Apple®'s iTunes Top 30 purely on word-of-mouth. The group used Reason extensively on the project as it lent itself perfectly to the group's collaborative writing process—thanks in part to its extensive onboard sound library and usability.
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