Music Producer Tips & Tricks
Have you ever struggled to get your kick and bass sitting just right? Have you ever found it hard to get them fat while still being in the same key? You are not alone, and you might be making things unnecessarily hard for yourself.
I've been hearing more and more about this lately. Just like the "high pass filter everything" rule, here is yet another Youtube tutorial tip that has been blown out of proportion. If you haven't already heard this one, a tip has been spread that "you must have your kick in key with your song". As you know, I am highly against the concept of rules that apply to every song. I am a firm believer of listening and approaching things case by case. Here is my take on when you should tune your kick, how you should, and when you shouldn't.
The time to tune.
The only times I think you need to have your kick in key with your song is when you are using a long tonal kick that has a clear note to it. e.g. big room boomy EDM kicks, Trap 808 kicks, and sometimes long...
Today I remembered a moment when I thought I witnessed an EQ phenomenon.
I was about 17 years old. I used to play drums in a reasonably successful band at the time.
Our producer was in the studio with us and was directing the recording engineer.
At one point he said, “sounds ok, but I think it has a touch too much 1Khz”.
My ears pricked up, and I thought, you are kidding me right. People can’t just hear a frequency and know precisely what it is. Not only that but can they also know if one specific frequency is a touch too loud or not?
This memory makes me chuckle at myself. For, sure enough, these days, I do this very thing every day as effortlessly as breathing.
Years of practice have trained my ears. I was reminded of this when someone asked me for some EQ tips.
There is a lot to cover with EQ. It is one of the most critical adjustments in your mixdown. However, I’m sure you have a life outside of my email tips, so I’ll try to keep it snappy.
A while back I did a colab with my longtime friend Tommy Trash (under my alias TAISUN). It was a fun experience writing it. Tommy and I had been meaning to do a colab for years. Way back since we used to live together in Australia. We had remixed each other, but never a colab. So, we finally put some time in in the studio. It is always extra fun writing when it is with one of your best mates. I can’t recommend it enough. There were plenty of good times, laughs, and whiskeys. However, there was also lots of hard work and even some learning. Some of the main things that I picked up from working with Tommy were….
#1 Less Is More
I was already aware of this and am a strong advocate, but he took it to the next level and really emphasized it. Especially towards the end of the process. Once the track was basically done, we would go through, and mute/delete absolutely anything we could. If we could cut it, and it didn’t make much difference, then it was outta there....
Layering is pretty much the opposite of our recent subject Separation.
In this case, you are trying to combine sounds and make them feel like they all come from the one instrument (most of the time). However, just like separation, you also don’t want the sounds to fight with each other.
I generally use a combination of Instruments, Transposing, EQ, Overdrive, Compression, Stereo processing, and space. Here’s how.
Firstly, the choice of instrument is fundamental. It might even be the most crucial part of it.
When I’m about to layer, I’ll usually already have my core sound. e.g., a Synth. It probably sounds mostly the way I want, like 80% perfect, but is likely missing something.
I will rarely layer that synth, with another sound from the same synth. I try to use different ones or even better, use samplers.
The fact that the sounds are coming from different sources naturally helps them to sit well right from the start. Also, it’s a good excuse to remind...
I’ve been doing mixdowns (and masters) for myself and others since 2002, and I’m often asked for mixdown tips.
One of the most popular ones is dealing with layering and separation. These two things are opposites.
When layering you are trying to glue sounds together. When working on separation, you are trying to give them space from each other.
Layering can help make parts sound more full and robust. By contrast, separation can give your mix clarity, punch, depth, and power.
When I am going for separation, I try to achieve this through EQ, Space, Pan, and Colour.
EQ separation is the most important so I do that first.
If I want two sounds separated, I’ll make sure they don’t have a lot of frequency content in the same frequency. e.g., Kick & Bass.
If the kick has a lot of 100hz, I’ll cut the bass a bit at 100hz. Some EQs like DMG Equilibrium will even let you overlay the analyzer waveform from one track onto another. So you can see the two different...
If you are on my email list, you may have noticed me mentioning there was a new Bass Kleph track coming out soon! :) The song is called Damn Fucking Right and I’m excited to say that it will be released October 14th on Hysteria Records! Home of the Bingo Players. Not only that, but I designed the entire song from the ground up to be playable on Maschine with pad drumming. So, like my other Maschine Kits on my site, there will soon be a new one, along with an instructional video, and a sample pack.
How did I design my song to be playable on Maschine? The secret is to start with a pattern. This pattern has no sound initially. It’s just something that is easy and fun to play on the pads. e.g. My right hand could be playing the drums like usual in my songs, and my left hand could be playing a few stabs etc Once I have decided on my imaginary pattern, I record it into the sequencer (there are still no sounds assigned at this point), and afterward I start assigning sounds....
Big news today! Native Instruments launched a new Maschine unit called JAM. Does this mean we should ditch our old ones? Turns out, maybe not.
The new Maschine resembles something like the Ableton Push but designed for the Maschine software. Its 8x8 grid appears to give you a tactile hardware version of Step Sequencing, Mixer, Keyboard/Chord performance, and Scene/Pattern switching.
but, my favorite things are...
1- NO SCREEN
This may seem counterintuitive but it actually speeds things up. Well, as long as it's functions/lighting are well designed. and yes, they do indeed appear to be. Things are just put in the right place, and the light up pads tell you all you need to know. Systems like this are faster, and more like a real instrument.
2- SMART STRIP CONTROLLERS
They control the new performance FX well, and the led meters easily indicate their status at all times. Notes feature means that it's even possible to use the strips to play melodies and chords.
3- BACK LIT COLOR PADS TO...
I know a few of you have been asking me about this for a while, and I love to give you guys what you want.
So, here's a pack of 125 of my favorite Massive patches that I've made for Bass Kleph and TAISUN.
You may recognize a few of them from my records. There are loads of Bass sounds, some Leads, FX, Synths, Pads, and many more!
Check out the audio previews below now!
Massive Sounds includes 125 Sounds! Here's the breakdown:
64 Bass Sounds, 22 Lead Sounds, 17 EFX Sounds, 15 Synth Sounds, 4 Pluck Sounds, 1 Pad Sound, 1 Chord Sound, 1 Brass Sound.
If you don't know, I started a new alias back in December 2015 called TAISUN. It's been off to an amazing start! One of the tracks is already up to 250k plays!!! Better yet, It's a Free Download too. (link at the bottom)
It is an unofficial remix I did of Justin Timberlake's "Señorita". I got the idea from DJing. There's a cool part in the break of the song that I used to mix over techno records back in 2008. It says "It feels like something's heating up" etc (you know the original song I'm sure). Perfect Driver Records had just signed my first EP (which you can get here) and they asked if I could do some pre-promotion by making a bootleg for a giveaway. I thought it was about time I made that Señorita loop into a full bootleg/remix.
It had to sound like TAISUN. The TAISUN sound is Jackin Bass House. So I pulled out Maschine and started cutting up samples from the original left and right. The drums and bass sounds are actually taken from another TAISUN song called "Get...