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Producer Special PART two

2011 is the year that YOU start making tunes. We’ve rounded up tips and secrets from eight of the hottest producers on the planet, and tracked down some of the best gear around Words Phil Dudman

o u r e x p e rt pr o d u c e r pa n e l Danny Byrd D’n’b don behind ‘Red Mist’ and ‘Ill Behaviour’. Second LP, ‘Rave Digger’, is out now

Grum The electro-disco-pophouse producer is also iTunes’ ‘Best New Dance Artist’

Robert James Check the inspired, groove-filled house of ‘Sleep Moods’ and ‘Malibu’

Glimpse Stunning jazz and soullaced techno from ‘If I Was Your Girl’ to ‘Train To Austria’

What’s the best way to learn to produce?

Sinden He’s behind huge tunes like ‘Beeper’, ‘Mega’ and 2010 anthem ‘After Dark’

Ste Mac Half of tech-trance duo Mac & Taylor, of ‘Dirty’, ‘Sub-Limit 2am’ renown

Nicolas Jaar Perhaps the most exciting breakthrough techno producer of the year

Mat Zo From trance to electro to d’n’b, Zo’s releases have excelled in every genre

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Danny Byrd: “A good music tech course can advance you a few years quite quickly, but choose wisely. You could also go on a forum like Dogs On Acid but take them with a pinch of salt or you may never finish a track for worrying about compression and EQ settings!”

Robert James: “Once you learn how to use the basics of the programme you will pick up stuff as you go along. You can go on YouTube – there are hundreds of tutorials, often where someone has done a live video and it’s all set out for you.”

Grum: “I think there are courses you can do which would definitely help. The SAE Institute (the School of Audio Engineering) do good ones. But if you really want to develop your own sound you have to put your own time into experimenting.”

Sinden: “I’ve done some good crash courses just to top my knowledge up; there’s a great place in north London called Alchemea (www. alchemea.com). The best way is to shadow someone; my first studio experience was with Switch. But remember, becoming a producer doesn’t happen overnight.” Ste Mac: “It’s definitely worth doing a course so you don’t go into it blind, not even knowing about sequencers or anything.” Nicolas Jaar: “The best way to learn is from a friend or by yourself. The more human the approach the better the result!” Glimpse: “Get to know your machines inside out. Program them, wipe them, reprogram them. Learn the drums, piano or bongos. You’ll get a more original sound.” Mat Zo: “The best way to learn is through trial and error. I wouldn’t waste money on a course unless it’s with someone like Danny Byrd teaching.”


Do you need a dedicated studio space? Mat Zo: “Having a studio separate from your living space changes your attitude towards producing. If you’re working at home there are obviously more distractions. Procrastination is hard to resist when you’ve been listening to the same kick- drum for four hours.”

Mat Zo: “All you need is a good condenser microphone and a little mixer. Personally, I use a cheap all-round mic, but then things don’t sound as good when I record them!” Grum: “You really want to create a dead space with not too much reverb. You can experiment with duvets to deaden the sound. Neumann mics are high quality.”

antonio petronzio

Ste Mac: “To be honest, we record our vocals at studios because you’re obviously going to get a better sound.” Robert James: “I’ve never really recorded live vocals – I use acapellas and cut them up. I imagine it would work best in a studio with proper kit, though.”

Grum: “It’s not essential unless you have neighbours who don’t like the noise, but it does help create a work mindset rather than thinking you might play a bit of Xbox or whatever. It helps you to focus, and gives you space to experiment and be loud whenever you want.”

Danny Byrd: I’ve made two albums in my home studio. It’s got good creative energy. Studios out of the house can feel like going to work – a bit cold. And I find ideas can come at odd times – like just before you go out for dinner! So keep a notepad handy.

Ste Mac: “Many people work on headphones these days but you should always test mixdowns in the car so you can compare it to other stuff you normally hear.” Nicolas Jaar: “You need to have a good monitoring system or your music won’t sound good. Location-wise, I actually prefer it in my home.” Glimpse: “Good electronic musicians establish a relationship with their studio that’s unique to them. Get a bit of kit and work with it in a way that’s different to the guy next door. That’s your sound.” Sinden: “No. I’m a believer in working on the fly. I’m not really into the idea of spending loads of money on mixing desks and soundproofing and stuff.” Robert James: “You can’t sit on a couch making tunes while your mates watch TV. At least get a desk. I started in Ibiza, but it wasn’t ideal!”

What’s the best way to record live stuff like vocals? Danny Byrd: “I’ve got a Røde NT1 condenser mic that I bought for about £200. Remember: you want to invest in a condenser, not a dynamic mic. Oh, and when you’re recording, lower your buffer size!”

Glimpse: “The best way to record stuff is on a Studer A80 analogue reel-to-reel tape machine. It’s a big, German, old school analogue tape machine which gives incredible results.”

Nicolas Jaar: “You can do it in your room, but you have to be very smart with compression and gating and EQ. If you don’t have a very good mic and only a normal room, it’s still possible to do a good job in post-production.”

february 2011 [[2R]]


supersizzling production gear

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1 M-Audio AV40 Studiophiles studio monitors More good value on tight budgets from M-Audio. The AV40s are perfect for bedroom studios as they are only 6” wide and have a front panel volume control. £109, www.maudio.co.uk

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2 Beringer Truth B3031A Studio monitors are meant to be honest. The Beringer Truths won’t deceive you into thinking your mixdown is better than it is. £310, www.behringer.com

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Wh e r e a l l th e t o p pr o d u c e r s g e t th e i r ideas

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4 M-Audio Fast Track Pro Audio Interface A great external sound card for professional recording capacity any time, anywhere. £175, www.maudio.co.uk

Start i n g a tra c k – th e first steps

5 M-Audio Oxygen 49 USB MIDI controller With soft synths reproducing classic sounds almost perfectly, most producers just need a midi controller. This is one of the best for a great price. £135, www.maudio.co.uk 6 Digitalo Disco Box Used by Crookers and Major Lazer, Prime Loops provide award-winning sound libraries to create a perfect beat. Mixmag readers get a 15% discount – enter MM15 at the end of your order. £9, www.primeloops.com

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9 7 RØDE NT1 microphone As used by none other than Danni Byrd, this popular mic has a clarity and warmth you’d normally only find in far more expensive microphones. Recommended. £145, www.rodemic.com

8 Dave Smith Mopho Synth For those willing to splash out for a gritty analogue sound and hands on modulation, this neat little mono synth is perfect. As used by Sinden. £550 www.davesmith instruments.com

9 SontronicsSTC-2 Ideally suited for vocals, spoken word and acoustic instruments. The evenly balanced frequency response means you’ll accurately capture the tonalities of your singer. £145, www.sontronics.com

All prices quoted are the best we could find at the time of going to press.

Wh e r e t o g e t s amp l e s – w i th s p e c i a l g u e s t s tar s ! More smoking hot pr o d u c t i o n g e ar a n d t i p s f r o m th e pr o s www.mixmag.net

words fraser digby

3 Access Virus TI Snow Ste Mac has one; Matt Zo wants one. Over a thousand sounds can be accessed in just four button pushes. You get what you pay for... £830, www.virus.info

NEX T M ON T H : part 3

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Mixmag Producer Special Part 2 Feb 2011