In the studio with Sinjin von Richthofen
Jaz from the RepostExchange Team

This week, we caught up with DJ Sinjin, aka Sinjin von Richthofen - a regular in the RepostExchange Underground Chart. He gives us the low down on his many years producing music, from getting his start on a Commodore 128 to the favoured software and hardware he uses today. Check out Sinjin's tips for writers block, top tips, and how he's built a fanbase of likeminded artists through RepostExchange.

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

I have been producing for 27 years now. I had a mixture of formal music training in public schools and at home trial and error with electronic keyboards. I even experimented with making music on early home computer systems such as the Commodore 128. I have to give credit to Depeche Mode as I tried to learn as many songs of theirs as I could. I learned many by ear alone; this gave me a good base of knowledge that leads to what people hear today. 

What DAW(s) do you use and why?

I strictly use MAGIX Music Maker. I bought my first copy in 2005 and have been a dedicated user ever since. I use it because it is easy to use and well-supported.

What are your favourite pieces of gear and why?

As of late it is my Novation Launchkey 25. My daughter has recently started making music herself, and she has been giving me good ideas for some basslines. She uses my Launchkey 25 to do it, so right now that has to be my favourite.

What are your favourite software plugins and why?

The Unison Bass Dragon would have to be my first pick. To me, basslines are the lifeblood of an EDM song or ANY song in reality. The Unison Bass Dragon is a quick tool to generate solid basslines. It can generate it right there and one is off and running? Or it can create one that is close and I can add my personal changes quickly and get to work on the rest of the track quickly. Thats gotta be my go-to tool right there. 

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

I start with a sound already in my head. As a DJ and Producer, I walk around all day with noise in my head. When I get in the studio, I take the noise out of my head, and I try to arrange it on the screen with loops, effects, filters, etc, etc. I usually start with the beat. The actual DRUMS of what I am working on. It could be EDM or downtempo, but the beat usually comes first. Then the bassline, then everything else.

What remains is then what has to be balanced, levelled and mastered. I always keep in mind to take my pre-production work very seriously. I don't care how many plug-ins someone may have. If they enter garbage into their pre-production work. No amount of mastering is going to make it sound good POST production. Garbage in is Garbage out. Attention to detail is always important. But if one bears all of the above in mind. Then I would say they are good music producers. No matter the genre and no matter how many plays or likes they are getting. 

What resources do you use to improve your craft?

RepostExchange is a great tool to learn the craft of music. The range of music and talent found on Re-Ex is very helpful in finding inspiration for new songs or new styles of work.

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?

Attention to detail in my levels. Learning that just because I make something louder, does not always mean that makes it better. Things like that. Again, pre-production is everything. If it does not sound good before mastering. It will not sound good after.

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

My biggest issue is and will always be, writer's block. I am great at getting a song started, but finishing is always an issue for me. I am a master at getting something moving and grooving, and then not knowing how to finish. It's like being a hot-shot jet fighter pilot who knows how to take off, and fly around, but has zero idea how to LAND the plane. I wonder how many other producers there are out there like that? How do I overcome this? Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes I just scream at my inner self to stop 'fracking around' and finish something. Sometimes I get lucky and a groove will point me in an obvious direction. Sometimes my daughter will tell me, “That's done Daddy. That sounds good”. It really can be that simple sometimes. 

Can you share any killer tips or techniques?

If it's not fixed in pre-production, go back and fix it. 

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

I do seek feedback on how to improve my music. But my circle of people that I listen to is very small. Let’s face it. This can be a hostile and hateful world. Some people and some artists think that by tearing others down they can lift themselves up. I have no time for such petty people and I don’t value what they have to say or think.

With that said, finding real people to kick it with and to bounce ideas off of is a process. Sometimes not always a good one. RepostExchange has made my circle much bigger because I have found more like-minded people by using Re-Ex as a platform. I have had some really cool conversations with people about music and life by using RepostExchange to connect with people.

Which track are you most proud of and why?

Oh, now this is an impossible question to ask! This is like asking a mother “Which child is your favourite”? It would honestly change with my mood and if you ask tomorrow you will get a different answer. But since you asked today, today’s answer will be One Last Return. I just released this track and is currently charting on the RepostExchange Underground Chart.

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

100 percent yes. My total plays are up. My total engagement with my music is up. Meeting like-minded people is up. Meeting people like The Mad Dog of DC, a fellow US Military Veteran like myself, is a priceless experience. Meeting artists like Klangmeer from Madrid is another priceless experience. I am planning to travel to Spain to see him this summer and to create music in his home with his family. He is going to be my personal tour guide to the beauty that Spain has to offer. None of this is possible without RepostExchange.

Desert Island Gear

Top L-R: Unison Bass Dragon, iZotope Plugins.

Bottom L-R: Sound Forge, MAGIX MUSIC MAKER, Novation Launchkey 25.

Connect with Sinjin von Richthofen on RepostExchange, SoundCloud, Instagram, and YouTube.

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This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.