The Flux Pavilion /r/edmproduction AMA Roundup
what are some thought processes/techniques/best ways to learn?
I learnt how to produce on reason. When starting out i think its easier just to concentrate on making sounds and experimenting with different modules and seeing what happens. Dont get bogged down by being an expert, there are loads of techniques that i use and its only a few years later i learnt they had a name, i just thought of an LFO as 'that wobbly button' until I got myself in a few awkward conversations with other producers. Also accept that your stuff wont be anything of the quality of the stuff you are trying to make and the day it is you wont even realise it. The best things in my career have been accidents and you are in an amazing position to just potter around and discover these accidents!
enjoy the ride dont strive for the destination
Do you prefer to Create your melodies with stock sounds before you engineer the sounds you use? or the opposite?
i suppose i tend to start my tracks just using saw waves and work on the sounds as the track progress's.
Do you make a separation between sound design and writing music?
Yer i do it all as i go. The music tends to inspire me to write the sounds and then sounds can inspire me to write the music!
What is your best, not so well known, production tip for amateur (but not completely new) producers?
If its not bugging you, don't quantize it.
What are your biggest production pet peeves when listening to an aspiring EDM artist?
that little click when you chop a sample and don't round off the edges
we all do it, but i dedicate a certain portion of my day to getting rid of it
Do you/have you ever mixed/mastered with headphones? If so, do you think it is a viable alternative to monitors?
Personally I dont use headphones for production ever, they always give me a headache. Sometimes i have to and i just use my HD-25's because i tend to be on the road, but when i do, i pay no attention to the production of the music i just use that time to work on composition and synthesis. Im sorry i couldn't be of more help, but i've never found a pair of headphones that sonically wine and dine me like my monitors do.
What processing do you apply to vocal samples to eliminate any clipping/distortion in the mix?
HEAVY compression normally does the trick for me.
recently ive just been obliterating my vocals with compression and then using the gain mark up to get my level right.
Honestly im not completely confident its the 'right' way to do it, but it sounds good so i keep on doing it!
Do you bounce your tracks before layering on other effects?
sometimes i bounce and sometimes i dont, depends on how much luck im having working within the synth.
Alot of producers tend to get there main sounds by bouncing and then processing afterwards, personally i dont like losing the control i have when im running directly from my synthesizer.
I just use my FX as inserts directly patched directly onto the main synth most of the time
Do you stick to just a sine wave for the sub bass or do you tend to go other directions with it too?
i love triangle!
its all i ever use, try experimenting with distortions and then LP filtering the results, you can get some pretty nice warm harmonics that way.
Do you have any specific approach to designing sounds that fit together or do you just make patches and save them for later?
Duplication and further manipulation is a pretty good technique definitely.
After a while if you are always using the same synths you can get pretty good at making the sounds that are in your head.
its honestly just one of those experimentation kinda situations, just keep clicking away
Which key do you feel produces the best sub frequencies?
perfecting sub is far from an exact science in my experience, it all depends on the range of notes you are using within your line, and how you are treating the sub.
but a good place to start tends to be around F.
What kind of process do you go through to know when a master is ready for distribution/press?
if you mean handing over to a mastering desk for finalising:
I actually do all of my mastering at home within my own projects. and then turn it down to -10 (or whatever to make sure it doesnt clip) and give it to the mastering engineer to work with. A good mastering engineer will only do what he hears not what is 'standard' practise. If you take all of your own mastering off and give it over to an engineer you can lose your own sound and this can cause a track to lose the energy/life that you have given it. By handing over a 'mastered' premaster the track will sound as you intended it to sound, and the mastering engineer will just build on that.
The reason i take it down to -XX is to give the track breathing space and avoid unintentional digital limiting within my DAW
The 'Mastered Premaster' im referring is a way of securing the identity and aesthetic of the track/s whilst also letting a mastering engineer do his job.
Personally i really dont like the sound of noticeable limiting, which is why i always steer clear.
Double limiting . . . . ooof, makes me feel a little bit ill.
Do you tune your drums?
I have quite a slap dash approach when it comes to most things, i have tuned drums in the past but its alot more of a trial and error thing rather than a considered attempt at fitting sounds into the mix. Cubase has the pretty handy function of non destructively pitching audio in realtime, so its alot easier to grab a sample and throw it up or down in pitch and see what feels right.
What are the key frequencies for a kick and a snare to sit at in your opinion?
Haha this question is always a killer, I could give you some specific frequencies but it would only serve as a hindrance in the long run. You gotta use your ears as much as possible. Every track requires something different, so try not to keep anything standard (unless it happens to work every time) different samples have different key frequencies of their own, if you cant get a kick or snare sounding right then try a new sample, ive spent weeks trying to get a certain sample sitting right, dropped in a new sample and it works without even touching it.
Do you generally compress and EQ your drums aggressively, or gently?
Gently and lovingly
Were the drums on 'Superbad' recorded from a live drummer?
As far as i know i can remember it was a synthesized kit
to be honest Doctor P was doing that whilst i was trying to teach myself the line on the sax to record it in (im not the best sax player)
he bounced it before i had any idea what he had done. so i can't actually tell you. The Doctor's brain is filled with many mysteries, and this is just another!
I've been trying (for a long time) to mimic the UK 'snapping snare' that you, dr p, roksonix, etc. use in your tracks, I found the snare but I'm not quite sure how to process it.
All i can say is its all about the sample.
I use quite a few layered together usually, but a decent sample never needs much work.
Im sorry i cant help out more here but there really isnt much to it, less is more when it comes to how i approach my production, i work hard to utilised my samples as they are rather than trying to process them into something i want them to be
Do you make use of mid/side processing in your productions?
I actually haven't really delved into that technique, its a pretty interesting idea isn't it!, thanks for reminding me about it! ill get back to you haha
What sort of stuff do you use on your send tracks?
Every track is different, but as a standard i just keep a reverb and a delay handy on my sends. Keeping a reverb as a send is especially handy for cutting down on cpu raping, and its a nice way of bring a mix together quite naturally.
Favorite distortion plugins?
i am having alot of fun with the Camel series.
most compressors seem to squash (as they should!) but the compressor within the camel distortions seem to add something whilst squashing which i really like.
Do you have any specific EQing tips that helped you out tremendously?
When someone told me i didn't always have to use it to add frequencies but to also take them away, it blew my mind. It seems quite obvious to me know but it really helped me in the way i think about shaping sounds.
I've spend a good deal of my production life always thinking if a track wasn't sounding right i need to build and add more. My perspective changed when i realised stripping back and perfecting a few elements is far more effective than throwing loads of sounds together and trying to make them fit. Same goes with processing, something doesnt sound loud or powerful enough, dont compress it and limit it and EQ it . . . . just turn it up.
Your low frequencies seem to sit extremely well in your mix. How do you process your lows so well?
hmmm its a hard thing to master, all i can say without actually telling you exactly what i do is try and listen to music on club systems (i know its not the easiest thing to do if you dont play regular gigs) or if you are out, make note of how a track sounds, and when you get home listen to the same track through your setup and try to achieve it with referencing.
Brickwall limiting in Bass Cannon:
Cubase has something about it, when you push your channels really hard it can act as a warming distortion rather than giving out that horrible digital clipping sound that you can get from logic.
In Bass Cannon, everything was clipping but it didnt feel pushed and loud enough, so i let go of the idea that clipping was bad, and turned them up more.
for the record . . . its the only time ive ever used this technique successfully, it seemed to work and i just went with it.
Yer i suppose i tend to group things in accordance to how they fit together sonically. I usually group all of my drums and FX together and affect as a singularity, i dont like splitting them up all over the place, it can get quite confusing. If im not after a specific technique i use bussing as a means of cleaning up my mix rather than fitting it all together. If you can get all of your elements sitting properly within your groups chances are they will fit nicely together. a global Reverb is a nice glue if they arent.
When mixing down where do you start? (drums/sidechaining bass?)
Personally I mix down as i go, i find that if im touching up production and grouping as im building the track, tonnes of ideas come from that. When it comes to mixing down as a finishing point its always nearly done. I only purposefully mix my tracks down for a release, most of the time when im playing tracks out they are fresh from the studio.
What plugins do you have on your master bus (limiters/e.q/etc)?
Ozone and an SSL comp is my starting point, but you never know what you might have to draw for. I once put an auto tune on the main output, exported it, and used little bits of the results in my transitional edits, messing around with what you put on a master output can be pretty interesting.
Do you have [Ozone on the master bus] enabled from the start, or do you do a mix down, and then throw ozone on later? Which features of Ozone do you normally use (Just limiter/compressor? Multiband?) or find really make your mixes shine?
Its different every time but always near the start of a track build. I reach a point where i think "Better start trying to make this sound good" and thats when i draw for the Ozone.
What are some methods you use to create chord progressions and melodies? Is it just playing around on a Keyboard or a Musical Background or something else?
I always do all of my composition within midi, i have a generally musical background but it works better for me to just sit and play around with little dots.
Sometime i just plop in a whole bunch of random notes and play the loop and keep moving notes around until i get an idea, its really not an exact science, just let your brain do what it wants rather than trying to make something catchy, once you get an idea just run with it and see what happens.
blah blah blah dubstep's common (as fuck) drum track and the majority of house having a 32-bar roll-in/buildup/breakdown/repeat. Almost all forms of music develop standards. How do you feel about this?
I actually have never thought about it like that! Im sure you know the reason for the 32 bar roll-in etc so i wont go into too much detail, but i think it is the way it is because of DJ mentality rather than producer mentality. For that reason i've never considered it to be a particular 'song' structure, to me its simply been a format well suited to DJ performance. I do however think its a rule that can be utilised creatively, an intro to me, even though sometimes it must be a pre determined length for performance sake, is like a challenge. Introducing elements and compositional ideas and eventually building up energy for a 'drop'. I've never really thought about it as a standard but personally I have really enjoyed writing to this set structure, its somehow quite inspiring giving yourself a determined amount of time to achieve what you want to achieve.
Is "breaking the mold" always the goal or can playing in a comfort zone be just as satisfying?
I dont know if 'breaking the mould' in the true sense has ever happened as a conscious decision. I feel we all have our own comfort zones and experiment within them, if a mould is broken then its usually by accident.
Where does the creative "force" come from? A lot of producers say the hook or drop is the first part, is this true with your music?
I think initially its true to say, a good vocal/melodic hook is really inspiring to work around. Tracks tend to have many stages of inspiration, a hook can inspire a drop, which can inspire a lead line, which can inspire a chord progression, which can then inspire a NEW hook haha I suppose the key is to keep it exciting for yourself when you're in the process of realising and composing your track. Dont be scared to scrap something or save it under a new project file and come back to it at another time. It comes with experience but you learn to allow yourself to get bored of something and let it go even though you loved it at an earlier stage of building the track. By letting things go it can allow you to explore what you want to find in your own music even further. just make sure you keep saving your project along the way in case you accidentally ruin it (which happens alot more often than id like to admit to)
All good professional tracks have a groove to them, and I can never seem to find it in anything I make. Is it just practice?
Having high standards isn't a bad thing, but if you already have an idea of what you want to achieve then its hard to relax into the process of getting there.
try producing other genres, using new synths, getting some sample packs and playing around.
if you are feeling a (even if it isnt perfect) loop and get stuck then just make an intro for it, or copy the loop over and try and make a progression.
even just copy and paste the loop to a minute long and try to make it build and move along within the minute, chances are you might discover something interesting that you wouldnt have thought about by listening to the loop over and over again
how long have you been producing?
About 10 years or so
does grey goose pay every dj to drink it?
haha i drink Bacardi, and they dont pay me a penny.
what do you recommend is most important thing for producers starting out and trying to succeed?
Id definitely say a mix of both is pretty important.
but the main thing you would be doing wrong is 'trying' to succeed. By purely enjoying and immersing yourself in what you do and doing exactly what you want to do, you will find that things progress and happen naturally. I dont think there is such thing as a 'Big Break' its just a succesion of 'Tiny' Breaks that keep you interested and spur you on to write more music. when i was starting out and i would post tracks on dubstep forum and i would get 10 plays on my myspace and be stoked. Hyping me up to get back to writing a new track because those 10 people would be interested to hear it. The first IM i got a few weeks later was from a guy called Troy (Datsik) asking if I was up for making a track together, we were both at the same stage in our careers (non existent) so I just went with it. It didnt even feel in any way shape or form like a 'Break' but I did it because it was fun and exciting at the time, i honestly didnt think about it being a more towards success, just a move towards another cool tune and few fun days in the studio.