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In the studio with Terrible Calm
Jaz from the RepostExchange Team
Jun. 15, 2023

This week, we caught up with Terrible Calm, a beat maker based in Los Angeles. From getting his start in the nineties, he draws on his wealth of experience to give us the low down on his creative process. Terrible Calm also gave a shoutout to RepostExchange and how it has allowed him to grow his network of artists and gain exposure for his music! Read on for more...

How long have you been producing music and how did you learn? 

Well, I have been producing beats for about 25 years now. I wanted to be a rapper when I was in high school but I had no way of getting beats. In the early 90s, you could buy singles that had an instrumental or two, but nothing original. At the time I had a buddy who had an older brother who knew about making beats. Through him, I got a cracked version ACID Pro 1. And through trial and error, I figured out how to put loops together. This was before YouTube was the resource that it is now. But then, I was able to meet other like-minded individuals through shows and through friends and I would ask questions. It took a while, but eventually I started to figure out how to make a beat. Those beats were trash, but back then I thought they were the best beats ever made, EVER!

What DAW(s) do you use and why?

I use Logic Pro. I tried out a number of different DAWs, but when I started working in Logic Pro, I just felt comfortable!

What are your favourite pieces of gear and why?

This is gonna sound cheesy, but my favourite piece of gear is my brain. It doesn't really matter what you use to record or make beats on. If I don't have anything I'll be tapping on my desk. Trying to beatbox, tapping bottles or whatever. 

But if I have to pick something it would be my laptop.

What are your favourite software plugins and why?

I really like the plugins from SoundToys. The FX adds so much colour to your tracks. 

Another would be Movement by Output. You can take a simple sound and transform it into something magical.

How would you summarise your approach/workflow when creating a track?

I think that for me staying organized is key.

1. I'll arrange and organize the structure of the beat according to what I'm trying to do. For instance (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, outro). I can always go back later and change it as needed. 

2. Next is the melody. I'll come up with the main melody, and maybe add a few changes depending on what I want to do. That usually sets the tone of the project. 

3. Next I'll add the drums.

4. Now this is the point where I start adding in other instruments and filling in the blanks. I'll spend the most time here because the sound selection is really important. 

5. Next is the editing. I'll go back and section by section start pulling out a few things. Maybe add some subtle touches. 

6. Then mixing and mastering

What resources do you use to improve your craft?

I usually go on YouTube for information. A couple of channels I find useful are LogicProLife, ProdByOcean (his channel is mostly entertainment, but he drops some jewels often), Streaky_com (great mastering advice), EdTalenti, and YouSuckAtProducing (he uses Ableton - but is a great resource).

 

What is the last YouTube tutorial you watched that you would recommend to other Re-Ex members?

What knowledge or advice do you wish you'd learned earlier?

Be protective of your energy. If there are negative people around you, make sure to keep them out of your circle.

What challenges related to making music do you face and how do you overcome them?

I think that the biggest challenge for me is finding uninterrupted time. I'm a Dad so I can't always spend as much time as I would like making music. So how I deal with that is making sure I stay organized. I make a plan before I make the beat. I found that if I have a blueprint I can get more accomplished with my limited time.

Can you share any killer tips or techniques?

Ok here goes.

Try this on for size...

To get some really cool movement out of a boring drum loop. Set up three echo bus channels. You're gonna wanna sync to midi controller knobs. 1st on assign 1/4 echo, 2nd 1/4 dotted, 3rd 1/8 dotted. Mess around with that, you'll find some cool sounds. Once you find something you like, record it and bounce that down, so now you can use the same technique on the echos to take it even further.

Do you use any online tools to assist with the production process?

I like to use a couple of online sample libraries like Splice, Loopcloud, BandLab, etc. They are great tools.

Do you try and get feedback or suggestions to improve your music? If so, how?

Not so much these days. Who can tell me more about my music than me? If I'm trying to learn a specific technique, that's another story.

Which track are you most proud of and why?

I have a track called 'Burn Out'. One day I received a message in my inbox from a guy who went on to tell me that he had been depressed and that he came across my music. He went on to tell me how my track saved his life. That really hit me because isn't this the very essence of why we make music in the first place? To connect and spread the love? I'm proud to have been part of this young man finding some hope. 

Has RepostExchange affected the way you make music? If so, how?

I think RepostExchange has given me the motivation to dedicate more time to creating music. Because of that, I've been able to connect with other artists and discover amazing new music. As well as collaborating and networking with people I probably would have never been able to otherwise. Over the past year, I've gained over 1000 followers and Repost Exchange is directly responsible for that growth.

Desert Island Gear

Top L-R: Spaced Out By Baby Audio, Movement by Output.

Bottom L-R: Crystallizer by SoundToys, Smooth Operator by Baby Audio, PanMan by SoundToys.

Connect with Terrible Calm on RepostExchange, SoundCloud, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.

Want more? Sign up at RepostExchange.com.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.