If you want to play with loops, check our vinyl-made beats loops and samples pack at: loops.directory
We catched up with Sardinian music producer and label owner Alessio Mereu about some inspiration and music production techniques from the studio. With an unique sound and style his productions have been released on various labels such as Cocoon, Poker Flat, Jay Haze’s Tuning Spork and Contexterrior. He also is behind the concept of AMAM, a well respected imprint with productions from Losoul, Thomas Brinkmann, Ion Ludwig, Polder, Konrad Black, Basti Grub, Lauhaus, Doubtingthomas, Argenis Brito, Re-up and many more.
Tell me about your musical background. How did you wind up producing electronic music?
Since I was really young I’ve always listened to lots of music: Classical Music, Hip Hop, Rock/Punk (my first serious girlfriend brainwashed my mind with Clash, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Rolling Stones, Ramones and Sex Pistols. I have to thank her for that. Ciao Andrea!).
My friends and I were used to spend entire evenings inside our car listening to artists like Aphex Twin, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and others.
I studied Piano for 7 years; at the age of 15 I had an accident that has caused me a spinal injury. After that, I was not able to play the Piano anymore, so I had to search new ways to approach music in my different condition.. Thanks to a very passionate friend, i’ ve listened to albums that also have been my first contact with minimal techno like Sensual by Steve Bug, My way by Akufen, Alcachofa by Ricardo Villalobos, Tanto Quanto EP by Renato Figoli and many more.. About this last I mentioned, I came to know that Renato was living in my own city, thanks to a common friend, I met him and we became good friends and he teached me the basis of Logic Pro 7.
For someone who has never heard Alessio Mereu’s music before, can you explain what they can expect?
Since I have started making music I tasted different influences and different sounds. Within my discography (it is possible to find styles really different from one to another: At the beginning I released many “hypnotic “ techno EP’S, after years something more Tech House melodic like my EP “Parallel Universe” on Poker Flat but lately I’m more into Minimal groovy and mental music like my last EP “GG” .. every time is like if I restarted from zero, it is a kind of challenge for me to change sometimes and try new things.
Usually, I put inside my EP’s or albums my state of mind and my mood. it is possible to find within my work tracks which show emotions that I felt during the most “marking” and important moments of my life. This is a double-edge sword because people expect from me a kind of stuff that was normally released 9 or 5 years ago. But that’s the way I am 🙂
Also I like to listen to new and old releases, to buy vinyls although I can not play them (but I can listen to them) and, in general, anything that can be an inspirations for me.
What DAW you prefer?
Logix Pro X, sometimes with Ableton in rewire
What’s your opinion in using loops and samples
Honestly, I never used loops but I think there is nothing bad in using them..why? they can be good instruments and their usefulness is strictly related with how using them. In my opinion, making music means to create something original and personal; using a loop without any tweaks or adaptations doesn’t show a complete expression of the artist. Otherwise, extracting sounds, shaping and adapting them in the project you are working on is a nice way to find new inspirations and to “taste” new styles.
About single samples I used a lot in the past when I had no hardware machines with Native Instruments Battery.. and I think that samples could be helpful also for people who use sampler machines likes MPC, Elektron Analog Rythm, Octatrack etc.
What piece of hardware you can’t live without? Why?
Everything I have 🙂 every instrument has its own role.. lately I have fallen in love with Miami by AcidLab (808 clone) for grooves and Roland System 100 for bass.. also both Elektron Analog Rythm and Analog Four are really cool and fun to use.. about external effects I use a lot the Sherman Filterbank 2 and Eventide. And i use my Manley compressor everywhere.. maybe too much 🙂
Tell us a little secret about a technique you are using in your music?
No secrets. Normally I record for 15 / 25 minutes with many variations/automations on each instrument then I cut the parts of each one I like the most and I start to edit and arrange on Logic.. fast and fun.
Can you give an advice for new producers and sound designers ?
When I started to make music I used to stay hours and hours doing it. I considered it a kind of revenge against the trick Fate had played to me. I wanted to show everyone that I had something to give, even from my wheelchair. I could communicate something and leave a trace on this world.
Maybe in 60 years time somebody will end up with one of my vinyls in his hands and say “what the hell is this?” It was a passion which helped me to let off all my anger. It was me who had to be the winner. I turned my anger into passion, constance and love for what I was doing so, getting back to the question, these last 3 I mentioned are (in my opinion) the 3 key factors for music.
Suggestion: listen to a lot of music, whatever genre it is.
Find more about Alessio Mereu and AMAM here:
We’ve been researching for a list with some of the best free tutorials online for producing a deep house track from scratch in Ableton Live. Sadowick Production made a great tutorial available on youtube. Extra tools you will need: Waves plugins & Sylenth.
Project Checklist In Ableton Live
Before starting a project in Ableton Live don’t forget this checklist:
- Create Folder
You create a folder inside the Ableton folder or in a location of your choice.
- Save Project
Before you continue you must open Ableton Live and save your project. You go to “File” and then “Save Live Set As…”
- Bit Depth
Setting the bit depth at 24bit by going to Live – Preferences – Record – Bit Depth
- Sample Rate
Setting the sample rate to 48.000 hetrz by going to Live – Preferences – Audio – In/Out Sample Rate
When you save a file you want it to be a lossless and uncompressed type of file. It is preferable to save as WAV or AIFF. Ableton Live supports both this types and you can set this by going to:
Live – Preferences – Record – File Type
- Setting Buffer Size
Before starting your work you need to set the buffer size, that is how many samples per second you want the DAW to send to the D/A converter. A low buffer size reduces latency but also reduces the plug-ins and synthesizers you can use. In Ableton I will set the buffer size to 128 samples by going to: Live – Preferences – Audio – Buffer Size
Between innovation and synergy! Our most wanted newly released music production software and hardware.
2016 has begun with innovation and creativity in mind. The music production industry is constantly energized by new products and technologies that combine the core concepts of music with new and immersive strategies. And as spring is already knocking at our door with a fresh breath of inspiration and energy, we have selected 3 new products that have impressed us. Just take a look.
Lurssen Mastering Console
Our favorite product so far this year is the new and revigorating Lurssen Mastering Console. Created with experience and usability in mind, the software is all about offering you the best sounds and inspiration regardless of where you are.
The collaboration between renowned Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen proved to be a revelation. Combining both experience and a clear and unique specific Lurssen sound, the console brings a new approach to the concept of digital audio mastering.
The software is the perfect combination of tube equalizers, limiters, solid state equalizers and solid state compressors. As a plus, it comes with 25 unique templates called “Styles” so you can test different musical themes and layers in your music production techniques.
And what’s best is that it comes in two versions, based on your needs: an iPad app (ready to be used whenever inspiration hits) and as a Mac or PC software. You don’t even have to worry about the devices that you will use after your mix is ready. Thanks to a 88.2/96kHz DSP processing, your finished track will sound perfect in any format (AAC, WAV, FLAC).
We were so convinced that we tried the free trial just to take a glimpse of what the Console holds in store. For more information about features and pricing please visit:
MEL9 Tape Replay Machine
Vintage sounds are back in business! Taking roots in the unmistakable and unique sound of vintage analogue keyboards, MEL9 was just released and aroused our interest.
Emulating the classic Mellotron sounds, the device offers 9 unique inputs. From Orchestra to Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Low or High Choir, Saxophone and Brass the MEL9 was designed with sound in mind.
Created for guitarists and musicians in general as a portable and practical device, the MEL9 combines the classical sound of polyphonic tapes with the modern world. After all it’s demo video speaks by itself:
BioTek Organic Synthesizer
Organic is also a trend in 2016. And what better way to combine the core concept of nature and its musicality than a unique synthesizer. BioTek Organic was just released and introduces a new platform (Acktion) that we are eager to test.
Combining sounds taken from nature or even urban places, the device offers a unique and memorable range of opportunities. Although it seems a bit futuristic, the synthesizer is actually easy to use and intuitive. Gravitating around a single-screen user interface the synthesizer is dominated by soft controls and an XY controller.
Already regarded as the perfect synergy between nature and technology the device has really impressed us. You can get a better feeling about this impressive concept below:
The pack contains: 50 x 24bit WAV Drum kicks one shots + 20 Kick Loops
Download size: 25MB unzipped.
Works with all major music applications, including Ableton Live, Fruity Loops, Apple Logic, Reason and many more.
House samples demo
Listen to the soundcloud demo:
In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make Grime drums using Ableton Live 9. Grime is a very popular genre in UK and it draws its influences from UK Garage. By using fast paced hats and silence in some parts, drums really have a nice flow. So let’s get started and make some drums.
First of all, you need to pick some kicks, snares and hats. Grime is really characterized by that raw sound so layering won’t be needed. Instead of it, we are going to focus on getting the right arrangement and nice sounds . Also, don’t forget to disable warping in Ableton, since you are using one shots.
When you’ve picked the right one shots,set the BPM on 140 and focus on the arrangement. This is probably the most important part, as it gives our beat a flow, and getting it right is very important. Good way to start arranging is to start with a regular two step rhythm. Then we are going to move the position of snare and add some kicks.
Next, we are going to add some hihats. You can often hear in grime couple of fast paced hats and then silence between them. Also, try to use couple of hihat samples. Change the velocity of drums to make it feel more “human”. Also, I’ve applied some swing, but that’s optional.
We’ve done the arrangement, so now we are going to process our drums. First, we are going to remove low frequencies on our snare and hihats, so they won’t clash with the other bass frequencies in our mix later.
Now let’s change the panning of our hats to give our drums more width, but keep the kick and snare in mono. Then, we are going to add really subtle reverb to our hats. Put the Low cut in the input processing window and disable chorus. Set the Pre Delay on minimum and Decay Time on 400 ms. In the Diffusion Network window, enable Low.
Then, we are going to export all the elements of drums individually. I think the fastest way to do it is to just duplicate your drum rack ( in this case 5 times, since we have 5 one shots), soloing the kick, snare and hihats, freezing all tracks ( right click, freeze) and then flattening them. You will get your drum sounds as audio waveform in audio tracks, therefore, it will make our processing a lot easier and cleaner.
Next up, we are going to group our drums. Then, we are going to apply a subtle compression on the group, as your rhythm will really benefit from it. Put the attack really low, release somewhere between 10-15 ms. Threshold should be around -8 dB and ratio 2.38 : 1. Also, I’ve put the dry/wet on 64%. It really is a matter of taste, and remember to always use your ears.
Now that we’ve done the compression, put the Overdrive plugin on snare and kick and add a really subtle distortion. Doing it will give our drums more punch and rawness. I suggest leaving Drive and Tone on 50%, but change dry/wet to around 10% and Dynamics should be fine on about 60%. Center frequency should be on approximately 850 Hz and width of the bandpass on 0.50. It’s important that your kick sounds thumping.
When you distort your kick and snare, put the saturator on group track. With a bit of saturation, our drums will be punchier and overall louder.Put the curve type on Soft Sine. Drive should be around 1 dB and turn on the soft clipping. Also, I’ve set the dry/wet ratio on 75%. Your drums should be clipping, but not overdriven.
Last is applying some New York/Parallel compression. We are going to add second audio signal that will be more dynamically squashed but consistent. It will make our drums even more punch and power. I will be using free VST compressor called TDR Kotelnikov. It is a really great sounding compressor and I highly recommend it as it doesn’t cost a penny.
So first, we are going to export our whole drums. When done, put the compressor on freshly exported audio signal. I’ve set the threshold around -25dB, attack and release should be really fast and ratio should be 7:1. Now reintroduce the compressed drum track and fine tune its volume. It should sound more punchy and powerful.
So here it is, this is how you make Grime drums in Ableton Live 9. Keep in mind that your drums should be really simple and raw, don’t over process them and focus on your arrangement. Drums are the base of your track, as they will set the mood of the track.
We have selected 12 music production universities all around the world to inspire you, based on their impressive results and course dynamic. There are all sort of alternatives schools and events created to offer you an intensive and comprehensive course in music and musical production. But we know that sometimes even though the longest way seems to be the hardest it is also the most interesting.
Music production schools in europe
Europe is known for its cities bursting with creativity, history and beauty. It is also known for its important musical culture and teaching methods that have found the perfect combination in some of the best colleges and institutions from around the world. We have selected a top 5 of some of these best places. Prepare to be impressed and even reconsider going back to school.
Point Blank Music Production and Sound Engineering School (London, UK)
Positioning itself as a Global Music School, with location in exhilarating London and innovative Los Angeles, Point Blank is a great place to learn everything about music and music production. Established during the dance music revolution that exploded in the 1990’s, Point Blank always evolved with music trends and influences and proves to be one of the best places to learn and master the art of music production.
Southampton Solent University (Southampton, UK)
One of UK’s newest universities with an innovative approach regarding music production. The core Sound Engineering course that this university offers is all about blending production and performance with creativity and business knowledge. It is no wonder that most of its graduates found jobs at Abbey Road Studios, Dolby Laboratories, Pinewood Studios, SSL Audio or even BBC.
Midi School (Manchester, UK)
With a different view of learning, Midi School makes our third spot. Focusing on small classes with no more than 7 students, this school is all about exploration. After learning everything about music production, technology and techniques, students spend 3 months in the institute’s studio working on real-life scenarios for all kind of media formats (video games, radio, TV, film). After all, Manchester and music have always gone hand in hand with each other.
SAE Institute (Berlin, Germany)
What other city most suited for studying music production than Berlin? Situated in a midst of creativity and originality, SAE Institute is one of the best places to learn about music and music production. With courses focusing on practical training, impressive studios and the latest technologies, SAE Berlin is one of our recommendations.
dBs Music (Berlin, Germany)
An English approach brought to a city that bursts with creativity. Known as the University of the Music Industry, dBs Music conqueres our first spot. Surrounded by people that dream and breathe music with important and renowned music producers and sound engineers, everything from their courses to the latest equipments and impressive studios evolve around music.
7 music production universities from USA
There are all sort of alternatives schools and events created to offer you an intensive and comprehensive course in music and musical production. But we know that sometimes even though the longest way seems to be the hardest it is also the most interesting. We have selected 7 music production universities to inspire you, based on their impressive results and course dynamic. Just take a look:
Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)
Our first inspiration comes from a different kind of school. Not integrated in a larger university or not a music school per se, this Academy is well known as one of the largest schools in America. With over 18.000 students and with a selection of courses constructed around a visual media program, this school is known for a focus on multimedia and television. Many of its alumni have landed jobs in renowned corporations such as Dolby, Sony or Skywalker Sound.
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)
Quality over quantity. That’s what this school is all about. With a small number of 15 incoming students per year the music program focuses on individual attention and instruction by notable names such as Konrad Strauss known for winning Grammy awards for music production.
5. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
A good option for any musician that wants to start its career right away. Drexel University is known for its focus on training and hands-on experiences. Created on two axis, one degree focusing on the music industry and business while the other more grounded in music production, the university seeks to offer real experience. Its summer internships offers the best training opportunities with students spending their summer in record labels and studios, music venues or other music environments. They can even record and release their music. What a good chance to test your creativity right away.
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA)
With a great facility and comprehensive program, Georgia State University makes our number 4 spot. What impressed us is the attention given not only to music production, but also to its artistic and creative side. Students are both practically and aesthetically trained for the music environment. Their 3 recording studios and the 2CINEM facility, a multimedia collaborative lab, offer the best environment for merging multimedia and music production, creativity and technology, training and hands-on experience.
The College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY)
With a focus on real and concrete training, the College of Saint Rose breathes creativity. Starting with a foundation in the core creative processes and music production techniques, the institution is also renowned for its training opportunities and requirements. Each student has to complete an internship with a music company and also to record a CD as a graduation test. The college’s studio name also delighted us. What better way to start your music than in the Saints and Sinners Recording Studio?
New York University (New York, NY)
Divided into 2 departments, NYU has excelled at training and teaching young musicians. The first department, “Tisch” School also known as the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music focuses on the entrepreneur side of music forming record label CEO’s and music businessmen. The second department, the “Steinhardt” School focuses on music production and music technology. With an impressive 7.500 square foot recording studio and the latest equipments and technologies, this department is all about music. Whether you are more interested in the business side of music or in its creation itself, NYU is definitely one of our top music universities.
Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
With great facilities and extraordinary results, Berklee College of Music makes our number one recommendation for young prodigies and not only. And the possibilities are unlimited. Every year students receive 10.000 hours to spend in the recording studio offering them the possibility to master Pro Tools, MIDI and digital audio equipments and to perfect their mixing techniques.
Mode Audio just launched a free Ableton Drum Rack called Ignition.
They’ve teamed up with highly talented music producer, live performer and Ableton-certified trainer SideBrain, creating a free rack including 32 sounds handpicked by pros.
The rack has some really nice drum samples. SideBrain worked his magic to produce a very versatile drum rack, offering full control over each sound for shaping and sculpting your beats to perfection.
Download the Ableton drum rack
You can download the rack from here: https://gum.co/xnDzB
We’ve selected the 5 best VST plugins available on the market.
2. Dune 2
We are using this best VST plugins on our loop packs