YOUNG GURU: Influences. Finding Sound. Artistic Journey. Sampling. Drum Loops. Sequencing. Textures.

Jul 25, 2021 15:00 · 4089 words · 20 minute read

you have to really ask yourself are you producing and mixing for other producers or are you producing for the public how you doing this is young guru and welcome to mix with the masters i’m so excited to be here today we’ve been lucky enough to be in this beautiful room thanks to no id i’m going to run you through sort of my production process and how i go from just listening to records and getting to a full finished record i know a lot of people have heard me talk about mixing but i kind of want to start from the beginning i kind of want to give an example of what it’s like to sit in a room in silence and say hey i want to create something how do you create a vibe how do you start how do you work with artists and and really sculpt a song into something i’m going to take you through me working on my mpc maybe exporting that and showing you what i do in ableton some of the tricks in ableton that i don’t think people normally use or know about and then finally taking that product and sharing it with my production partner in pro tools and then finishing the record in pro tools so hopefully by the end of this today you’ll get some better ideas of what you can do to help your music today what i wanted to do was walk you through a song that i made with my production partner his name is volley we call him volley contra around 2014 we sort of connected through the internet we’ve been making music together ever since and we consider ourselves a production team it’s really interesting because volley is an artist as well as a producer so when we’re making a production for our own group it’s a really fun experience it’s me mixing in who i am and what my experience is and sort of trying to tailor beats that go along with who he is he has a line in one of his early songs where he says uh i’m halfway between pink floyd and biggie sort of gives you an idea of where we try to go it’s very much hip-hop but it’s also reggae influence there’s also rock influence there’s also you know some singing some chatting rally kind of does it all when we’re sitting down and starting to come up with ideas i normally start with going through records that’s sort of my my source of where i get inspiration from on a daily basis i’m a digger i dig for old records i get inspired by them i’m one of those people who tries to figure out how people got sounds and whatever era you know all of that makes us better as musicians as engineers uh as producers that thing of studying history is something that’s big with me even if the sample itself doesn’t make it to the final product it’s what sort of creates and kicks off and sparks my idea and for this you know i wanted to show people what it’s like when you’re sort of just sitting in this room in silence and saying okay well where do i start how do i begin what vibe am i going for this is the conversations that you sort of have to have with artists prior to creating something for them i know we’re in an era where a lot of people just sit at home and make things all day and then try to figure out who they’re going to give it to but i have the pleasure of actually creating music for a specific person understanding where he is in his life understanding the music that he’s put out before understanding where he wants to go where he thinks he wants to go and where i think he should go you know and merging those two it’s always conversation it’s always us hanging out it’s always us talking about current issues and figuring out you know how someone thinks or what their vantage point are you know what their vantage point is that helps a lot when you’re making music so that you can know what tones to give that person what sort of ideas you can suggest to them what things they won’t do places they don’t want to go are just as important as where you think they should go so that’s sort of the idea when i’m sitting back and i’m just listening to music and listening to music and trying to figure out where i’m going to go sometimes when you have this huge toolbox it’s hard to pigeonhole where you want to go you know if i can make a reggae track or if i can make a rock track if i can make a hip-hop track it’s kind of hard to figure out okay well what am i going to do today what’s my inspiration so my inspiration again comes from records and i will sift through records for hours and hours before i even land on something sometimes i bookmark things that i’m going to do later but when i was going through records i was playing this record from chairman of the board which is a group and they put out an album in 1972 called bittersweet and there was one particular song that really really caught my ear that would be as much as i need i sort of get into a vibe i hear tones and i hear instruments that i love i hear things that i feel like i can manipulate myself i like to sort of sample around words you know and that was sort of my calling card or thing that i would love to do is how can i take these sounds and manipulate them whether or not that’s speeding it up slowing it down just something to get me started to get me in a mood to even create music so when i heard that record that was instantly something that i wanted to sample one thing that you should know about me is that i use a bunch of different daws there are things that i like for different reasons so you know my initial production most of the time starts in an npc that’s the tool that i’ve been using for years it’s not to say that it’s better or worse than any other beat machine or program it’s just what i am accustomed to and what i’ve been used to i love my mpc 3000 now because we have the mpc studio that sort of workflow can go with me everywhere i think that’s an important part of when you’re actually getting to work us as engineers we love the latest greatest we love new plugins we love to explore new things but when it’s time to really get to work you need to grab that tool that will allow you to do exactly what you want to do the fastest you know knowing your tool inside and out is invaluable in production because you don’t want to waste the inspiration time saying how do i do this specific thing you want to dive straight into it and for me that’s an npc i can easily you know select the record sample off of that record put it into a format that i’m used to my mind sort of works in these blocks of four and four with these 16 pads it’s just the way that i was raised and what i came up on when i’m chopping up samples the very first thing that i do is sort of put them in the npc and start to manipulate them in a very familiar way when i first put these samples into the mpc i don’t sample necessarily on the sample starts on the one and then the next one comes on the two and the next one comes on the three i’ve sort of sampled where the hits are meaning where there’s some sort of downbeat or there’s some sort of thing that’s interesting to me that i can then manipulate what that does is that gets you out of this just everything being robotic like this hits on the one that sits on a two this hits on a three so when i was listening to this the first thing that i would do was slow it down just a little bit and manipulate it so that i can have different hits on different pads so i would take just that part so if you listen to that it sounds like how would you put that together but it’s just like that’s sort of the thing if you notice i’m not going one two three four it’s what that also does is allow for some mistakes you know there’s a beautiful thing when we use equipment that everything is not just this picture-perfect thing the equipment itself starts to give you a response from what you put into it and that’s why people gravitate towards certain equipment you know one thing that i i do love about the npc is the 96 uh points per quarter or the way we call it is 96 ppqs it was the quantization that would say people say oh well i love the mpc swing that really is the swing it’s the reason why that swing has become so classic for us you know that swing gets opened up later and it becomes like 960.

then you know we get to dolls where we can have any swing that we want so it’s a beautiful thing now about the studio is that i can adjust the ppqs inside of my laptop but still use this interface that i’m so familiar with so when i chop this up that’s exactly what i did i just started with this but if you notice you’ll hear you know that whole bass note doesn’t come out because i’m playing it faster than what the actual song was so it’s that’s basically the loop so if i go into my mpc let’s just solo that so you can hear exactly what i did with it now here i’m doing this at 91 bpms here i was choppy and a chop we want that that for me is my way of producing it’s giving me a different flow than just the basic song and there’ll be a reason why i explain this to you later on that i actually like the bass being cut off that way if you be very specific and listen to this bass note it doesn’t play out all the way now when i’m producing this is enough for me to have a vibe now i have a vibe that’s going in the room now i know sort of where i’m going to go i’m starting to think about what i’m going to layer over top of this i’m starting to think about what the song could be about to make suggestions uh one of the good things about working with volley is that i can sort of suggest something to him and he creates whole songs about it you know it doesn’t take a lot of suggestion with him because we’ve already had conversation about where we want to go or i’ve had the pleasure of giving volley you know examples of my life he’ll hear me complaining about something and he can write a whole song that has to do with my life it’s one of those things where i know once i get a great vibe going that he can create a song from scratch based off of whatever this vibe is so this initial vibe where do we go and how fast do we get there is super important the next thing for me normally is drums i’m huge huge huge on being a breakbeat guy what do i mean by breakbeats for people that don’t understand for us that are diggers we would dig specifically for records that have opened drums on them the advantage in the beauty of this and just being a digger in general is that one you were listening to a bunch of music that was completely outside of your sphere completely outside of the normal music that your friends listened to or that your parents listened to you were taken into a complete world just by looking for open drums you know and i want you guys to really understand that this was pre-internet this was before you know you could just go online and just figure out what the drum loops were for us it was digging for records and having to listen to the whole record to figure out exactly where those open breaks are those open drums and not even just one shots you know sometimes it would be just a kick or just a snare but the holy grail was when you found some sort of two bar four bar you know sometimes even eight bar drum loop that you could loop up and make the bases of whatever your drums are going to be i’m saying that for the reason that when you start to build from that way your palate becomes so much bigger now that you’ve listened to all this music you can sort of incorporate things that you’ve heard or figure out why people did things a certain way that’s why i’m so big with with digging for samples and with and with drum breaks not only is it the fact of we’re digging and learning you start to understand that all these drums have different textures you know and the different textures are the things that you really get drawn to and you’ll start to understand why those textures work so well so as that loop is playing i’ll then start searching through my drum breaks and figure out what drums i want to put underneath what textures go along with this and those things sort of describe our sound when i found those drums it was like okay that’s the sort of like the hip-hop part of it that’s bringing us into sort of this heavy drum thing and the musical part to me is the part that i’m like okay here’s halfway in between pink floyd and biggie again through the conversation that’s where we’re trying to be that’s our lane that is uh the feel of what we’re trying to get but again i didn’t want to just use this drum break to go on the one and the two and the three so it’s really good to be able to chop up drums if you notice this one goes on the one two but then this comes in on that three before it gets to the next bar and you notice too you’ll start to get little artifacts because somebody’s starting to talk on the record but i’m gonna sort of cut that off because once i get from i’ll go back to my second row again this is my mind thinking in rows of four and four because the crash comes on this first one then i can come back that’s the basic idea so when you put those two together you’ll get this so now i have a great eight bar sequence where i have a crash coming on the one and i’m continuing but then it’s really interesting to hear those voices and how they add on you know from the drum break with the music and then from that point i just start to go through the record and try to find things to spice up whatever it is i’m doing so i may have started you know again we’re trying to take something that is just a basic eight bar loop and flesh it out into a song so there’s these little bits and pieces that you might get while you’re sampling along the way so if i’m sampling the drums yeah i have the part that’s going to just play out but i’ll also take this beginning sound so that i can then go i know that’s a way for me to start you know this is just my ideas when i’m starting to say what are the things that are going to help me to flesh this out the other thing is that a lot of the drum breaks that i have inside of my computer i have in a format that’s like okay it may not be the best sounding format because i’m going to work with them they’ve been transferred all over the place it may be a lot for me to have 2 000 wave drum breaks um in my computer so i may transfer them to mp3 and people will say oh well you’re you know destroying the quality of it i can eq those back to where i want to get i’d rather have a whole bunch of them in my computer all at once and be able to eq them and to add on other sounds to them so my first thing when i’m listening to this and i’m going okay this sounds sounds great but the drums sound a little thin so my next thing would to be go out and get a one shot i’m gonna think kick and i’m going to think 808 i’m just going to grab a kick but i’m not just grabbing any kick this is the reason why we have so many different flavors and textures because when i grab this kick i’m thinking that there’s already a top end for my drums and what i want is just this muffled low end so if you hear there’s not a lot on the top end of that kick and that’s that’s another thing that we’ll get into when we talk about texture because a lot of times when we think about kicks and snares and we think about drums we’re only thinking about this low end and it’s just like well kicks the thing that give it texture are the upper frequencies are the upper harmonics are the things that we don’t think about with a kick that it reside in that 500 600 700 range you know that really give it a texture and a flavor so for this specifically i was layering a kick so that it feels a little muffled but goes along that already has the high part this low part needs to go underneath of it so we start layering we’ll keep layering so on top of that kick i wanted to add a 808 and if you notice i’m showing you this but in my workflow i really don’t touch my computer most of the things that i do are done directly from this little pad and it’s my workflow it’s my way of thinking it’s i could literally shut this computer and work this blindfold that’s what i mean about knowing your equipment so i’m not guessing i’m not um having to look things up online i know exactly how this works so as i’m layering and adding it’s just about feel for that moment this only takes you know when you say i made this beat in five minutes yeah you caught a vibe but it wasn’t five minutes it was actually me going to the record store and digging for records it was hours of me being online it was hours of me collecting sounds it was hours of me tailoring those sounds so that when i get down to work i can work fast and i know exactly where everything is at i’ve already done my pre-work grabbing an 808 and putting it under the same pattern one of the things too that i also do is i’ll make a big decision on whether or not there’s going to be velocity on those kicks the kicks that are sort of underneath of my break beat sometimes i have the velocity you know really going crazy in terms of one’s high ones low but a lot of times when i’m tailoring underneath of a break beat the velocity is already in the live break beat so i’ll keep my kick at a consistent level and let the velocity that’s naturally in the break you know give you that variance or that difference and allow me to just strengthen what’s going on there and again all of this is just feel it’s very quick and it’s just me programming to get a feel now that we sort of have the basis of the track right this is something that we’re like okay this is a vibe you can keep going with this you start to think of little things or maybe go through the record you know that i sampled and try to find i don’t know little bits and pieces that sound great to you so now is when i start to start to sort of go through the record and find screams or stabs or maybe a horn sound that i’m gonna filter or any of those things so inside of this record there were some really good just screams those things sort of just stood out to me so i started to put those inside of the record just flavor to go along with it you know it’s sort of an off rhythm so that every time you’re hitting the one you know the drums are there but then this thing is taking you to the oh like it’s an off rhythm just little doodads like that add to the record add to production it’s little things that you can mess with later um that really just give things a feel and then at the very end i add that i didn’t really know how long that was going to be so again on my npc instead of it being just a a one shot where it plays the whole sample i have it in the mode where i can just hold the pad and that’s what that’s literally the whole thing and again these things are the way that i was taught production when i was dealing with a bunch of super producers and whether or not that’s you know people from bad boy like a chuckie thompson or derek angeletti you know these are the lessons that they gave me of when i’m producing you know it’s almost like writing a term paper you know you have a subject matter that you want to write about but you also have a format that a paper is delivered in meaning you know whatever the subject of your paper is that becomes the title of your paper then you sort of have an introduction paragraph right and then you have bodies of paragraphs that talk about various subjects and then you have an ending paragraph right that’s sort of the way songs are structured we have an intro you know and we have then you know the whether or not that goes to the chorus first or whether or not that goes to a verse first this is all you organizing and arranging your song but i’m thinking about those things while i’m in this initial stage these little uh just end pieces are pieces that let us know we’re getting to the end of whatever this phrase is so the only comes at the end of every eight bar and then the crash happens again you know it’s sort of like you uh starting a paragraph with an indentation if you indent the first thing we know you’re starting a new subject you know but we have to do that sonically we have to have transitions that let us know we’re going from the intro sort of to the main body or from the main body to the chorus this can be pickups this can be swirl sounds this can be whatever you want this can also be uh the reduction of sound you know drops are something that help add dynamics to your production but having these little samples and things at the end sort of let people know okay i’m going into my chorus section now you.