Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
The Audio I am most proud of is the track by Wuzu, called Ohawu, which has a drop which has TONS of sound pressure and is DANCEABLE as HECK. I wrote the track and mixed and mastered it as well with my partner Zack. I am also extremely proud of my role in writing the track for Eminem's Cinderella Man, for songwriter Script Shepherd, who is credited as the producer. I am credited as drum programmer.
What are you working on at the moment?
Various Future Bass and Festival Trap Tunes for EDM blogs for my solo project "81Neutronz" and my trap duo "Wuzu" as well as urban pop and hip hop production for various singers and rappers.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Boone McElroy, Tom Christy (Juda M), have built an amazingly accurate room in the building where I work, and we often talk about and test new mixes / music and tools in this room. Boone is a meticulous mastering engineer, we've worked together on lots of masters for my music.
Analog or digital and why?
Digital, because I have it wherever I go, and because its where almost all music is heard nowadays. I love vinyl and outboard mastering, but I cannot depend on anything that I can't get done on an airplane or at a gate while I await boarding. We are in the Digital Age. I am here for it.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
To work tirelessly to deliver sound in a better, livelier fashion than that which was given to me, and to use all my mental powers, tricks and tools to do that!
What do you like most about your job?
I love that I've worked with people I cannot speak openly with because of language barriers but we've made money together through mutual respect of the craft and love of music. I love to follow my ears, and the mystery of sound and the constant practice of improving it, generating it, and studying the masters who do this is the compass for my life. My ears don't lie to me.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
Usually ask me how to make things loud. The good (real) answer is, they've got to pick sounds that have their own space so that the mix sounds immense without needing to limit the crap out of everything. The other answer is Saturation, which in ableton, "Saturator, A bit Warmer" Preset used at many stages of the mix, carefully adjusting the color, does lots of the work.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
LOL Maybe that I could call Eminem on the phone whenever, or, often when people hear my music, they look at me incredulously as if I shouldn't have made it, "Oh, YOU made that?!" "Oh word?!" Maybe I have to change the way I dress or something or I should wear sunglasses indoors or something.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
What's the reference track?" What's your favorite album? Send me 3 tracks you like that sound close to this, now send me a few that are nice for your ears that are different.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
Try to have a few reference tracks in mind and hopefully we'll have a track that sits nicely in a playlist between them. AND, Prepare to turn up! LOL I like to party with my customers, meaning, if they are coming to our studio, we are going to play loud at least part of the time and try to get a great physical / emotional response from our audio.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
1 - MPC1000
2 - korg triton studio fully expanded w / moss board
3 - technics turntable outfitted with scratch record (i get two for this),
4 - rane 57 mk2 mixer
5 - pair of genelec monitors.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
(1987) Pause tapes and suzuki violin practice from age 4 - 13
(1998) DJing from age 15 - present
(1999 - 2002) Fruity Loops 3.0, friend buys Korg triton, he makes beats, I scratch and throw parties in basement until graduation
(2002 - 2007) Attended Colorado State University, worked for radio station, local clubs and concert venues as mix dj, worked as support dj for KRS-ONE, OL' DIRTY BASTARD, THE BEATNUTZ, RAEKWON, Attended IAR and interned in a studio in NYC off broadway, worked on records for JIN, THE DIPLOMATS, and FABOLOUS
(2007-2017) Left that off broadway studio for an internship with Philip "Bangout" Pitts (50 Cent's Disco Inferno producer) and in that internship produced the beat for Eminem's Cinderella Man, and met Sergio Trujillo, who later hired me for composition work for "So You Think You Can Dance." Since 2007 I have written about 150 beats a year of various genres and tempos, all of them helping to refine my arrangement methods. I've made some EDM that's done very well in the past 4 years (Wuzu - Ohawu / Birdflew EP), and DJ'd some incredible venues (webster hall opening for The Orb, and a halloween party at Tokyo's Age-Ha Arena mainstage) I was teaching at Dubspot for a few years, after attending to learn ableton, which reoriented my production process around the DAW instead of the MPC and hardware synthesizers. I've made money as a producer, DJ, engineer, instructor, private tutor and cultural ambassador for the US embassy as a hip hop educator. I've worn lots of hats!
How would you describe your style?
hard hitting drums written for street dancers with strong melodies and lush or atmospheric pads, which take inspiration from Sci Fi and fantasy, as well as movie soundtrack and soundscapes by Brian Eno, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Kenji Kawai.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
Rihanna, who is pop princess and destroyer of all the best modern forward thinking production
Lupe Fiasco for his activism, abstract nod to anime and video game culture, and afro futurism
Kendrick Lamar for his passion, sensitivity and depth
Machinedrum who is an unparalleled nexus of production chops and musicianship.
Can you share one music production tip?
Search your favorite tracks in your genre for arrangement tricks and copy snare rolls, tom fills, filter movements and silences. Put these in a tool box and use freely to flesh out your arrangements! Also, slow attack fast release RMS compression gently on the master, after which place an EQ and bump 1db near 50 hz and add a little high shelf near 10k to compensate for the lost low and high, but the "hug" that you get from this slow attack fast release compression is really nice a lot of the time. Also, I would say, Matthew Weiss' Mixingedm.com tutorial showed me that you can do more with a tiny (.5db) move on an eq that will change the groove of the music before you hear the tonal change in the instrument you're eqing! amazing.
What type of music do you usually work on?
Hip Hop, RNB, EDM, urban pop, at times, ambient and solo piano
What's your strongest skill?
I can Finish any track given to me, using thousands of "arrangement tricks." This is because my midi programming knowledge is pretty deep.
What do you bring to a song?
A decade of professional music production experience, a go with the flow but get it done philosophy and work ethic, A great professional drum sound with big sonic impact, a strong sense of melody, an open mind, and lots of hats including mixing / mastering engineer, recording engineer, piano composer, party DJ, Constant student of sound.
What's your typical work process?
When working with a hip hop producer, he brings an 8 bar loop, we import it into Ableton, and I go to work adding arrangement flair for turn arounds, breakdowns, (filters, snare rolls, and piano string runs) and layering the sample's chords or leads with modern sounds as needed.
When I produce, I write chords and melody on a piano, and then write drums in Maschine, let that loop run, and slave my studio (MPC and all keyboards and Ableton) to the maschine, and begin writing music, using the Triton or Omnisphere as an orchestra / rompler, and write leads using Serum, Ableton's Operator, The Virus TI snow.
With EDM producers, I use the lead sound in the drop to rhythmically conjure an analogous lead melody using a more traditional instrument, and write an orchestral or world music arrangement.
Tell us about your studio setup.
MPC 2500, Maschine, or Ableton Live runs the transport to my studio. The MPC writes midi parts for Keyboards, virus TI, Korg Triton, Andromeda A6, Korg Ms2000, and Moog Minitaur. All summed in an Allen n Heath mixing desk, along with 2 dj setups, one pair of technics 1200s with rane 62, one pair of reloops with pioneer s9 mixer. 3 sets of Monitors, one pair of yamaha Hs8 with subwoofer, one cerwin vega PA speaker which is 4 feet by 2.5 feet, which is kind of like the ns-10 of the studio, in that its midrange sound is a great reference point. The DJ set up also has a pair of old m-audio bx5s, one of which is mounted in a loft. This is mainly for scratch meet-ups for a surround sound effect that isolates the DJ performances, but is also helpful as another reference monitor.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Kenji Kawai, Mr Carmack, Mike Will Made it, Mixed By Ali, Skrillex
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Two things; I Arrange and mix Urban Pop / hip hop and EDM, turning 8 bar loops into full song arrangements with more build up / drop, enhanced mix clarity, and I also work with EDM producers, using my piano and music theory to add chord progressions and soundscapes between "drops," effectively writing the build-up, break and/or chorus sections.