Since 2009 Claire Boucher aka Grimes has been producing her own unique brand of electronic music to an ever-widening audience of indie and discerning pop music listeners. A series of critically acclaimed albums – Visions and Art Angels being the most recent – and single releases have established Grimes’ signature…
The Music Production News Feed
Dubspot’s Michael Walsh introduces a clever cassette tape saturation technique to add some analog grit and distortion to your mix using a tape deck and cassette adapter.
The Way of Analog
You may have noticed the increasing influence of analog sound that is happening in music production and recording. After decades of computer-based music, many producers are looking outside the box to find warmth and grit that a computer just can’t provide. Digital music has a tendency to sound very clinical and even small additions of outside sounds, especially analog sounds, can bring depth and life to your music. Some producers use outboard mixers, preamps, or reel to reel tape to fatten up a mix. The medium of tape, in particular, offers a uniquely warm sound and better dynamic range than most digital formats. However, most of us don’t have a nice reel-to-reel sitting around to fatten up a mix. So as a creative workaround, I want to share a great technique that I recently learned here by our friend Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music and Riku Annala, a producer/musician hailing from Helsinki, Finland.
“At the moment there seems to be a craving for that lo-fi retro sound. Everyone is trying to get rid of the clean digital output of VST’s and digital synths by adding another VST’s to their fx-chains that simulate analog gear.. or by purchasing analog gear that costs an arm and a leg. Here is a trick that costs about 10,- euros and looks way cooler than any VST!” – Riku Annala
Cassette Tape Saturation Technique
The tape saturation technique is a great trick because it takes a minimal amount of gear, costs close to nothing, and provides a gritty, compressed effect that can liven up your beats. To create this effect, you’ll need an old cassette deck and a cassette to 1/8 inch adapter (the one that plugs your iPod into your tape deck), and some cables of course.
Setting up this effect is fairly easy. First, run the output of your source sound (drum machine, computer, etc.) to the 1/8 inch end of the cassette adapter (I used 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch adapter to make this happen) and then put the cassette adapter in the deck. Next, connect the output of the tape deck to your mixer or speakers. Now, press play on both your source and the tape deck, with plenty of volume coming from the source (the key here is to overdrive the signal a bit). Lastly, enjoy your new analog compression/overdrive effect.
Now I must admit, I didn’t think this would work because I thought that the tape medium itself was the source of the sound and compression on tape recordings. But apparently this isn’t the case, the tape head itself will give character to your signal without the use of any tape at all. Recue.net’s Riku Annala explains this concept further here:
“The results are actually surprisingly nice (depends on what you’re after). Of course, the character of the sound completely depends on the components of the tape deck you use; the condition of the tape heads, connectors, mic pre’s, etc. The sound is far from hi-fi, so if you’re after that, just go purchase a real reel-to-reel unit. In the case of Hitachi D-230 I use, there are a couple of different options for obtaining a different sound. The audio can be just played back through the tape, but it can also be fed through the live-in’s, “recorded” to the tape capturing its output. Both of the methods give actually quite a different sound. With the former method, you can get a moderate crunch with a rather clean sound. With the latter, you get loads of more noise, but also A LOT more distortion and a nice pumping compression when pushed.” – Riku Annala
Transform rough ideas and basic compositions into dance floor bangers and sonically pleasing commercial quality masters. Learn the well-kept industry secrets of EQ, compression, panning, level balancing, reverb and special effects.
This program gives you everything you need to refine tracks into a clear commercial quality release, including special mixing and mastering techniques for dubstep, techno, house, trance, downtempo, hip-hop, and the gamut of electronically-produced music.
You will learn to mix and master your tracks using the same plugins that top industry engineers use every day, including plugins by Izotope, Soundtoys, Sonnox, Altiverb, and more.
- Mixing & Mastering Level 1: Mix
- Mixing & Mastering Level 2: Modify
- Mixing & Mastering Level 3: Master
Visit the Mixing and Mastering course page for detailed information on this program here.
If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.
The post Analog Distortion on a Budget: Cassette Tape Saturation Technique appeared first on Dubspot Blog.
Learn how to import and slice loops using Native Instruments’ MASCHINE and the legendary Amen Break to discover creative new ways to use sampled audio.
Slicing and resequencing loops and samples is a long-standing tradition in hip hop and electronic music. In the early days of sampling, producers used the EMU SP-1200 and other hardware samplers of the era that could only record and save small amounts of audio data that ultimately limited the options for processing the sounds. Today, we can use computers and advanced hardware samplers to manipulate sounds with incredible power and precision. In particular, we will look at Native Instruments’ MASCHINE, an industry-standard groovebox that lets you effortlessly produce beats, melodies, and harmonies with powerful drum synths, premium sounds, an integrated sampler, and more for ultra-smooth workflow.
The Legendary Amen Break
This tutorial demonstrates how to use Native Instruments’ MASCHINE to slice and dice the legendary 4 bar Amen Break, a drum solo performed by Gregory Cylvester ‘G.C.’ Coleman in the song ‘Amen, Brother’ by the 1960s funk and soul outfit The Winstons. This famous drum loop was heavily used in early hip hop, sample-based music, and later becoming the foundation for drum-and-bass and jungle music. Arguably the most sampled drum beat of all time, the Amen Break can be heard in countless examples of breakbeat, hip hop, reggae, and electronic music around the world.Click here to view the embedded video.
Native Instruments’ MASCHINE is one of the most easiest and intuitive pieces of gear to use for working with sampled material. Its many features give users unlimited ability to chop, shape, and manipulate samples from any source. Let’s dive in deeper and check out a common technique for importing a sample and chopping it up into usable parts that can be played across MASCHINE’s Pads.
To kick the process off, download and import the Amen Break sample file into MASCHINE by first clicking the Disk Button to bring up your file directory and navigating to where the sample is located on your hard drive. Next, click the Import Button at the bottom of the directory window to begin importing the audio. The Tag Editor will open giving you the option to tag the sample before importing it into your library. You can organize the sample by Bank, Type, and Subtype to make it easier to locate samples from the Browser. After you’re finished tagging, click the OK Button to import the sample into your library and apply the selected tags.
The original Amen Break can be downloaded from Freesound here.
Now that the sample is imported let’s load it from MASCHINE’s Browser and drag it to an empty Sound Slot. Next, either press the Sampling Button on the MASCHINE controller or click the Sampling Button using the included software which is the third button on the strip directly to the left of your sounds.
Setting Loop Points
Let’s edit the sample down to an even loop length so it is easier to work with and more likely to sync up to your project’s tempo. First, click the Edit Tab so we can adjust the Start and End points of the sample to create a loop. Next, adjust the Start and End points by dragging the small gray icons labeled ‘S’ for Start and ‘E’ for End using the mouse. If you want to have a bigger view of what’s happening, use the Magnifier Icon in the lower left of the screen by dragging it to the right to zoom in on the waveform and left to zoom out. Now that the Start and End points are set let’s highlight the section of the loop we will be working with by clicking on the Enable Button to enable the Loop Area.
Slicing a Sample
Slicing a sample is useful if you want to rearrange loops or make them play correctly at another tempo. With the Loop Area highlighted, either click the Audio Button on the MASCHINE controller or click the small drop-down arrow on the right side of the Edit Tab screen in the software to reveal a menu of audio editing functions. Choose ‘Truncate’ from the menu to delete the unused part of the sample that is outside of the selected region.
We should now be left with only the audio we want to slice into smaller parts. Next, click on the Slice Tab to begin the process of slicing up the sample. The loop should now have 16 equally spread vertical lines in the waveform where the slices are going to be applied. By default, Split Mode is set which will automatically slice audio into equally spread regions. You can also try Detect Mode to slice the audio according to its transients or Grid Mode to slice according to note values.
Now click on the Apply Button to slice the currently selected sample. Alternatively, you can also click the Slice Dragger and drag the sliced sample onto another Sound or Group Slot. After clicking Apply, the Piano Roll/Keyboard Editor will open automatically displaying all 16 slices as notes that can now be played using the Pads. Alternatively, you can choose a different Sound or Group Slot to put the slices on by using the ‘Apply To’ function. This is achieved by clicking and holding down the mouse button on the 4-way arrow looking button directly to the right of the Apply Button and then dragging your mouse over an empty Group Slot and releasing the mouse button to spread the 16 slices across the empty Pads.
One great thing about using the ‘Apply To’ function like this is that you can easily go back and edit your clips by entering the Sampling Mode again.
Now that we have are Amen Break sliced up and spread across the Pads its time to jam around and discover creative new ways to use the slices in context with your current project. Try using the Note Repeat to make the slices stutter or various other audio effects to manipulate the slices further. Using the Amen Break creatively has become a rite of passage for many producers, each finding a way to use it in their own unique way. Sampling and editing the break yourself is a great way to practice some new sampling techniques using MASCHINE while working with a classic sound that has spawned several subcultures in music history.
The future of production is here. Native Instruments’ Maschine redefines the intersection of hardware and software, performance and production. With Dubspot’s Maschine program for producers and performers, you’ll go from shaking hands with this cutting-edge music platform to making full tracks and performing your music live.
About This Program
At Dubspot, you’ll learn to produce and perform music with Maschine by becoming familiar with its hardware and software simultaneously. Maschine’s tactile controls map seamlessly to their software counterparts, unlocking an advanced production environment. The first level takes you step-by-step through producing an entire track, covering the essentials of sequencing, synthesis, and mixing along the way. We start making music from the beginning–even if you’re completely new to Maschine, you’ll be making your own beats and grooves within days.
You’ll learn sampling and recording techniques to add original material into your productions, use advanced automation features and cutting-edge effects for sound design, and explore Massive, a powerful synthesizer that’s included with Maschine. You’ll also discover how plug-in instruments and effects can expand your creative workflow, and how additional hardware instruments and controllers can be integrated into your setup. Finally, you will also learn how to integrate Maschine into a DAW as a plug-in effect or MIDI controller, with examples shown in Ableton Live and Logic Pro.
- Maschine Level 1: Production Essentials
- Maschine Level 2: Sampling, Recording, and Effects
- Maschine Level 3: Advanced Techniques and DAW Integration
Visit the Maschine course page for detailed information on this program here.
If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.
The post NI MASCHINE Tutorial: How to Import and Slice Loops Using the ‘Amen Break’ appeared first on Dubspot Blog.
IF YOU DO NOT EQ YOUR SOUNDS, YOUR MUSIC WILL NOT SOUND GOOD! I wish
someone would have told me that years ago! Equalisation, I believe, is the most essential element in
creating a professional sound. There is no pottering around it, you have to do it. Sometimes
perceived as an irritating part to creating music I hope to simplify this process in terms that
everyone can understand. I too used to find the process of it boring, but once you actually
understand exactly what EQ is and the importance of it relative to the final mix, you will start to
have a lot more fun with it.
The first tune I finished is still today my favourite song that I have ever made, mainly because I
actually made the tune! But the thing that I find most interesting about it is when I listen to it now it
makes me realise how far I have come with my understanding of music and my abilities but most
importantly how important a good mix down is. EQ is predominately the most important part of
making your music actually sound good when played on a sound system. From reading numerous
guides on what EQ actually is and how to use it in context to your mix I found it difficult to fully
understand it. The only way I finally did was to actually start testing it out on my own sounds. I
would like you to read my guide on what I have discovered with EQ and go and try it out for
yourself. People can get so wrapped up in guides, tutorials and lessons that they actually forget that
the only way that you’re actually going to get better at something is if you try it out for
‘Most people end up having difficulties in their lives and limit how much joy they can have because
the very way they think about things and the very beliefs they have prevent them from being able to
achieve the best that life has to offer.’ Quoted from Richard Bandlers ‘How To Take Charge of Your
I believe that my guide will simplify an understanding of EQ in terms that everyone can relate to. I
am going to keep it straight forward and to the point and only explain the most important elements
What is Equalisation (EQ)?
- EQ is part of the mixing process of creating a piece of music.
- Improves the tone or balance of a sound relative to the mix.
- Helps an instrument sit better in a mix.
- Can be used to strengthen, weaken or cut a desired context.
Each Sound Produces a Different Frequency
- A frequency is the pitch or tone that a sound is played at.
- Each individual sound in music will sit along a long band of frequencies depending on its
- In your chosen DAW the predominant equaliser you will be using is called a parametric
- Equalisers allow you to raise, lower, cut or manipulate certain levels.
In the images below I have used Logic Pro Xs EQ to cut all sound apart from the frequency I am
explaining. The cut is represented by the coloured bar;
Subsonics – 20Hz-40Hz
Sounds that are at such a low frequency that can only be heard on monitors or sound systems. All
sounds under 100Hz are felt more than heard, everyone who has stood in front of a sound system
can relate to this.
Sub Bass – 40Hz-100Hz
The lowest frequency where you can begin to hear musical elements. This frequency involves the
weight of your tune.
Bass – 100Hz-400Hz
This frequency will be where you get most warmth and character for your tune. A tune without bass
is a very boring tune. No more needed to be said.
Lower Mids – 400Hz-2000Hz
Here you will find all your lower percussive sounds like kicks, toms and snares. The elements in
this frequency give more knock and definition.
Upper Mids – 2000Hz-8000Hz
The human ear is most sensitive at this frequency. It occupies sounds of hats, cymbals, claps, snaps
and melodies. The sounds in this frequency give more bite and clarity.
Treble – 8000Hz-20,000Hz
The other extreme in human hearing but the opposite to subsonics. Here you will find sounds that
give the most air and sparkle.
EQ Controls Explained
This is the point at which you choose to edit a certain frequency on the band. To choose desired
frequency point your mouse over a parameter and click and drag to your desired frequency. You can
also click on the parameter control (in the image above it is the highlighted box with the control set
at 5000Hz) and drag left or right or double click and type in your desired frequency.
This setting controls the rate of boost or cut that you apply to the signal. Either drag your parameter
up or down or click on the parameter control (in the highlighted box set at +/-24dB) and drag up or
down o double click and type in your chosen boost/cut.
Q is the range of frequencies that your EQ will affect. A high/narrow Q is used mainly for solving
sound problems and can focus on specific areas for fine tuning.
A low/wide Q is used for tonal shaping tasks which is achieved with much broader strokes usually
used for mastering techniques. To edit this setting click and drag the parameter (in the highlighted
box set at 27.0/0.70) and drag up or down.
High/Low Pass Filters
Used for completely eliminating high or low frequencies. No frequency will be played in the
coloured area shown above in this low pass filter.
High/Low Shelf Filter
Used for less extreme cuts than the high/low pass filter generally used to roll off the high or low end
without completely eliminating the signal.
Used for control on desired frequencies all along the spectrum.
Now you know about all the actual controls on an equaliser (Logic Pro X is my example but these
parameters are the fundamentals to every parametric EQ) you now know how to use an equaliser.
Its as simple as that! The next step is to learn how to use EQ effectively in context to your mix. The
power is now in your hands. The reason being that every single EQ for every sound in a mix will be
different as no sounds are the same. Even if they were they will need to be EQ differently in context
to the mix and how they relate to other sounds in the mix. What I can explain now is my tips on
how to use EQ more effectively.
- This is the term used to describe when too many sounds playing simultaneously on the same
frequency. When two or more sounds are played on the same frequency they are fighting for
space causing them to become obscured and distorted.
- If a song sounds muddy and over powering then chances are the producer has not dedicated
enough time to EQ.
- The lower your sounds are, the more space they need. A perfect example is the kick and
bass relationship. They carry almost all of the low end frequencies. If attention is not applied
to how the kick and bass interact then it will only amount to a muffled, poor quality low end.
The ideal approach to avoiding masking is this:
- Select your sounds so that you avoid frequency range overlaps.
- Do not use two sounds that fight for the same range. They will never sound good together if
they are playing at the same time.
- Pick sounds that do not step on each others critical ranges.
- Arrange your sounds so that their critical ranges fill out the frequency spectrum with a
minimum of overlap.
- Next use EQ, only as necessary, to remove or de-emphasize excessive elements of the sound
you do not need and then boost and accentuate elements you wish to stand out.
Below is a rough guideline to the frequencies you should approximately place your sounds in. By
no means is this the perfect frequency guide to every single song that you will make. This is simply
an approximate map for your sounds to begin with and will show you how important placing your
sounds are. By doing this it will give you a better understanding of the relevance of EQ in context to
achieving a professional sound.
Find Your Focus
- The most powerful tool of EQ is the ability to bring out certain sounds in your mix.
- Pick out an element of your mix that you want to bring out and make that your main focus.
- Use EQ to cut any other sounds on that frequency so that your focused sound is the only one
occupying that frequency.
- Save a version before and after this process and compare the two.
- Everything can’t be important in a tune and choosing one element at a time to target to your
listeners is more compelling.
- Trying to make every sound stand out will become overpowering and trying to fit too many
instruments into your mix will sound cluttered and confusing.
- Listen to your favourite songs and you will here that 9 out of 10 of them will have one
fundamental sound that is driving the whole tune and everything else is an anchor to that
- Less is more – No more than 6db increase, but cutting is much more effective. Too much
boosting usually results in clipping/distorting the sound.
- You’re not EQing the sound to sound good by itself; you’re EQing it to sound good in the
context of the mix.
- Cut everything low end apart from sub and bass.
- The lower your sounds are, the more space they need.
- Mute is a powerful tool – bypass the EQ on and off once you’ve tweaked it to see the change
you have made.
- Avoid soloing – unless corrective EQ
- EQ as you create your track. Make it a habit.
- Use EQ before panning, reverb, delays, etc.
- Remember that frequency is related to pitch.
- Avoid presets – Presets for EQ are by far the worst thing to use. A preset for a snare
enhancer will only apply to snares enhanced on the frequencies the creator has made it for. 9
times out of 10 that will not apply to your snare. There is no shortcut to Eqing but you will
understand the principles of it and its importance the more you use it.
- Ears most sensitive between 2 and 5K – Pick one element at this frequency to bring out.
- Too many sounds on the same frequency (Masking) compete to fight for space causing the
mix to sound muddy and crowded. Less is more.
- Once you think you are happy with your sounds
All I need to say now is: Practise on your own sounds! In this short guide it contains all of the
fundamentals you need to know about EQ. Remember about masking, about finding your focus in a
mix, and keep my tips and future musics frequency map as a guide. Go off and practise on your
own sounds! Its the only way your going to get better at it. Guides are good but hence their name,
they are only a guide. Work problems out for yourself and they will stick in your brain a lot better
than if someone tells you about it.
Last most important point about your sounds; trust your ears. If it sounds bad, then it is bad. If it
sounds good, then it is good. Good luck!
Dubspot alumni Ben Phipps joins Dubspot Instructor Adam Partridge for an exclusive interview to discuss his experiences and journey to becoming a successful DJ/Producer.
We are proud to see former Dubspot students making some serious waves out there in the music world. In this recent success story, rising talent Ben Phipps sits down with Dubspot Music Production Instructor Adam Partridge aka Atropolis to share his inspiring story about how he launched into the music industry pursuing a career as an established DJ/Producer and his learning experience while studying at Dubspot. Ben also breaks down his workflow and offers up some music production advice for artists who are trying to make big moves with their music.
I know you come from a musical family, can you briefly tell us about your upbringing in a musical family and how it has influenced you as an artist today?
Being surrounded by music all the time can’t have been a bad thing but I think the most important thing was that they always encouraged and believed in whatever endeavor I was taking on. For a while, it was running my own business with music on the side and later on music full time. Going full time into music wasn’t something they were concerned about, it was something that was encouraged. They also taught me the hard work and persistence that is required for a career in the arts.
I was your instructor when you came to Dubspot about three years ago, what decisions led you to come study at Dubspot?
I’d kept an eye on Dubspot for a while, watching your videos on YouTube and reading about it. I really liked how all the instructors were artists or producers doing their own thing and that the classes focused on making music from day one instead of studying for several years before actually doing anything real. So when I sold my business to pursue music full time it was the obvious first stop for me.
Do you find that your education at Dubspot helped give you some of the tools you needed in order to take the next steps towards your musical endeavors?
Dubspot has been essential to my music career. After my first three months of production classes at Dubspot, I left feeling confident with a really strong foundation in music production. The key was that I knew enough about everything to continue developing my skills on my own after leaving, without getting too stuck and frustrated. It wasn’t long before I returned to take the Mixing and Mastering Program which was also very valuable.
You’ve recently received a million plays on Spotify, can you tell about this single behind all of these plays? I understand it was a collaboration if you can share the process behind this track?
The way to get millions of plays on Spotify is to send blank checks to the head office, they always respond well to that. No, but really it was a bit of a snowball effect. My manager started reaching out to the curation team at Spotify and sent my latest single ‘Alive’ their way. We only got one response at first, but that curator added it to a big playlist, people started sharing it, and then from there other curators noticed it doing well, and it was added to more playlists, and later picked up by Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” and on and on. The curators at Spotify have access to a lot of analytics regarding playlists, so if you get on one playlist and do well (people adding it to their favorites or simply not skipping it), they will keep you on there and likely add it to more playlists.
Alive happened quite fast because contractual issues with another collaborator had left me with a hole in my release schedule. So I called Ashe (with whom I’d worked on several previous songs) and said “do you have time to drop everything and write a song with me this week? It’s urgent.” So we started with the piano for the verses and then worked out lyrics and the vocal hook before making the chorus section. It all came together rather quickly.
You’ve also charted #1 on SiriusXM Chill, can you please share some information about the track? The collaborative effort and some of the tools you used to create this track?
This time Ashe and I were working on a different song, and while taking a break, I started playing around with a Rhodes MK1 electric piano. What I played got stuck in my head, so I ended up scrapping the old track quickly and then put down the main parts for ‘Don’t Look Back.’
The chords and melody are played on a Rhodes MK1 from NI Komplete 10. The baseline is a single layer NI Monark, which is by far my favorite synth for baselines. It’s a Minimoog emulation, and really, you can’t get this thing to sound bad. I use a kick synthesizer called KICK from Sonic Academy to make my kicks. A lot of the percussion is from the stock Latin Percussion pack for Ableton, which is a gold mine. If there’s a suite of plugins, I couldn’t live without it’s the SoundToys bundle and NI Komplete.
Has your recent success led to new opportunities such as touring or getting aligned with a booking/management agency?
Yes, it has! I started getting messages from sleazy managers sometime last year and signed with the least sleazy one. Not long after that, I signed with CAA for worldwide bookings, and they are making some big moves for me. I’ll start playing shows in the US later this year which I’m really excited about.
What’s next for Ben Phipps? Any forthcoming gigs or releases?
There will be a couple more releases over the summer while I build my live show for later this year. It’s quite the task as I want the show to be as live as possible; with me playing as many instruments as I can, and when possible, having collaborators and other musicians join me.
You came to Dubspot as a student about three years ago and have accomplished quite a lot since then. Any words of wisdom for current students who are trying to make serious moves with their music?
I think the most important thing is persistence. The development curve will feel like it’s plateauing after a while once you’ve mastered the basics. That’s the hardest point; you’re working just as hard without seeing as much of a difference in the results. So keep working every day, a little every day is better than a marathon session once in a while… and finish songs! You’ve gotta be ok with not being completely happy with the end result. Trying to making your first real productions masterpieces is a waste of time. Finish and move on to the next one. You don’t have to release it, think of it as just good practice. For every song, you’ll learn new tricks, face new challenges, and solve them. I believe that’s the fastest way to develop as an artist.
Here’s a short clip to keep you motivated:Click here to view the embedded video.
Below is some great advice on developing as an artist:
On the business side of things, I’d say don’t wait for a label and don’t sign to a shit label for the sake of being signed. Start by putting out the music yourself; you don’t need a label to get your music on Spotify or iTunes. Most labels today won’t give a shit unless you have some kind of traction or audience already. I started getting my first traction by having my song on some big YouTube and SoundCloud channels. So make a list of channels that fit you, big and small, and send them all a personal e-mail offering them to post your song. Google Budi Voogt, he’s the master of this kind of promotion!
Also, doing something different to get attention can be worth a try! When I released my first single Fireproof, instead of sending emails I spent days baking letters and envelopes in coffee and burning them with a candle. I made about 100 and sent them to every radio station I could find an address for. It only took a few days before Sweden’s biggest radio station premiered it, and I was freaking out.
What’s your DAW of choice?
I produce in Ableton Live 9, and when I’m done, I’ll bounce the stems and mix in Logic X. But really I don’t think DAW’s matter at all; it’s just a personal preference. So if I may give some advice, it would be to try different ones, find your favorite and stick with it. The DAW is a tool; it won’t make the music for you.
How do you begin a track (drums, groove, bass line, melody, sample?)
I almost always begin with chords and melody on the piano. I feel once I have the musical foundation down the rest comes along pretty quickly. So after that, I’ll decide on a tempo, drop in a kick and write the baseline, drums, and so on.
What’s the trick to finishing tracks?
Post-its and Pomodoros! Let me explain… Once I get a production to 90% finished I play through the track from start to end and write down a note for everything I want to change while it’s playing. So it might be bar 39 fix bass cutoff, bar 57 add hats, and so on. Everything I hear that’s missing or has to be fixed gets a note. I then pick out a few of them and set a timer for 25 minutes and burn through them at a rapid pace (Google Pomodoro technique). I’ll take a five-minute break and then move on to the next ones until there are none left. Then I play the track again, repeat the process. This way I stay focused and don’t fiddle around for ages not getting anywhere.
What do you do when you are creatively stuck and how do you break out of being stuck?
There’s no easy cure for that, but it won’t solve itself. I usually snap out of it by just improvising piano for fun in my misery. I’ll stumble on something cool and then the 12h later there’s a new track. Listening to a lot of music also helps and sometimes. I’ll also browse through samples to find something that inspires me, or that just gets me started. The sample might never make it to the final song, but it’s a starting block that gets the creative juices flowing.
You also run your own label, which you’ve released your music under. Can you please share with us how that is going and why you chose this path?
In the beginning, no decent label would have me, and I wasn’t gonna wait around for their approval. So I set up 14 & 9 Records to release my own music (see where I got the name from?) I’ve got a small but amazing team working the label end of things. Right now we’re not taking on any other artists, but that will change in the future. Also, I’m a bit of a control freak, so being captain of the ship suits me well.
About Ben Phipps
Coming off the back of the highly successful release ‘Sleep Alone feat. Ashe’ reaching 200,000 plays in the first week as well charting on HypeMachine, SoundCloud, iTunes, and Spotify; Swedish-born Ben Phipps returns with another viral release featuring Ashe. Boosting a million plays in the first month, ‘Sleep Alone feat. Ashe’ has been in heavy rotation on US/CA SiriusXM radio and reached the #2 spot on the HypeMachine charts.
Surrounded by positivity and his ever-faithful pooch Fiona – Ben’s relentless work ethic and positive attitude have a tremendous impact on others around him. For Ben, the goal has always been about making great music. Now that he’s found his own successful path from finding his inspiration, talent, and confidence along the way – he is now able to pass on the inspiration to thousands upon thousands of others through sharing his innovative production tutorials and sample packages available online.
Born into a family of musicians, Ben Phipps grew up quickly as a young man with an immense love of life and an incredible passion for music. In 2012, he chose to pursue further education overseas in the United States and attended Dubspot, a reputable school for music production in New York City. Opening doors and opportunities of all kinds through new skills, connections, and exciting combinations of sound; Ben Phipps continued strongly through his next two years splitting his time between NYC, Toronto, and Montreal refining his craft, songs, and style.
Now possessing all the skills necessary and fresh from harnessing the energy of his well-earned education – Ben returned to Sweden in early 2015 more ready to pursue a lifelong career, and truly more capable than ever before. Inspired by the growing support and confirmations of his talent from peers; this electrifying sound-artist blends exciting combinations of electronic sounds and classical instruments in vibrantly dynamic, emotional, and exotic new ways.
At Dubspot our world-class instructors provide the most complete and cutting-edge Ableton Live learning experience. The Ableton Live Producer Certificate Program is the flagship of our music training. After completing this program, you will leave with a portfolio of original tracks, a remix entered in an active contest, a scored commercial to widen your scope, and the Dubspot Producer’s Certificate in Ableton Live.
About This Program
This program is about learning Ableton Live by going through the entire process of being an artist, by developing your own sound through a series of sketches and experimentation. You will also learn the ins and outs of this powerful software through a series of exercises designed to help you master the steps involved in producing your own music. After a level of getting familiar with the tools that Ableton has to offer, you will then develop your sonic ideas into full-length tracks. You will be exposed to a variety of approaches to arrangement and composition, storytelling techniques, ways of creating tension and drama in your music. At the end of the day, it is the sum total of your choices as an artist that define your sound, and levels 2 – 6 will give you the experience of actually completing tracks to add to your portfolio.
- Ableton Live Level 1: Beats, Sketches, and Ideas
- Ableton Live Level 2: Analyze, Deconstruct, Recompose, and Assemble
- Ableton Live Level 3: Synthesis and Original Sound Creation
- Ableton Live Level 4: Advanced Sound Creation
- Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Effect Processing
- Ableton Live Level 6: Going Global with your Music
Visit the Ableton Live course page for detailed information on this program here.
If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.