I've been producing since 2003, so since I was seven years of age and I'm 25 now. Not sure how I learned exactly to be quite honest. I guess I just learned a lot by writing a lot of really bad music and kind of figured it out over time. I’m sure being obsessed with making music and the tools helped. I was extremely fixated with it as a kid and still am today.
I use Ableton Live. I love it because you can kind of bend it any way you like. It does whatever you want it to do. I've used a lot of different DAWs over the years but Ableton is by far the best! I sometimes use Reason for sound design for nostalgic reasons and also because of the routing capabilities. It’s usually the rack extension inside of Ableton.
My computer most definitely! That is where everything happens for the most part. But I really love my Zoom H1 Field Recorder for recording sounds I think are cool in the world. I think the best investment I've made in my music though was my Reftone Mixcubes. They’re just really good monitors that don't lie. I feel like when I get something sounding how I want on them, it translates well to other systems. The only thing about them is that they lack in low-end so you need to check it in headphones which is what I do. I also use my Audio Technica ATH-M30x headphones religiously for final mix/master adjustments! Just a solid pair of headphones that translates well and for an affordable price.
When it comes to playing live, my Novation Launchpad and AKAI MPD32 are absolutely essential! I launch clips in Ableton with the launchpad and with the mpd32 I can control effects, trigger glitches, control some of the visual aspects, or anything I want really. Total creative freedom!
I absolutely love Unfiltered Audio's LION and Byome because they scream experimentation! They have a very modular feel with endless routing possibilities so you can really get carried away and come up with absolutely insane patches! I use Serum and Vital a lot too because when it comes to synthesis they feel absolutely limitless! I can make pretty much any sound I want with them from aggressive in-your-face basses to drums, or any other weird synthetic sound I hear in my head.
Tone2 Gladiator is an absolute monster! I use this a lot as it's perfect for those dark and aggressive plucked basses or bass layers and synths that are very prevalent in my music. Vacuum Pro is another favorite simply because of the way it sounds and it also looks really cool. It's another highly used plugin in my music for aggressive synths and bass layers. Zynaptiq Morph is also an incredible plugin that I use all of the time and is definitely one of my sound design go-to's! Oh, I’m also a HUGE simp for Ableton’s Operator! I’ve made entire tracks using nothing but this before. Such an underrated device!
I usually start a track by doing some sound design and creating layers of different things and making interesting loops. Basses, abstract rhythmic sounds, textural things, percussive elements, or anything that happens at the moment. I almost never really have an idea before I open my DAW. I just jump in and see what unfolds. But it's often that there is a feeling or something inside me that I need to get out before starting, or something that is troubling me that I need to express and work through.
Sometimes I have to start over multiple times before I get something that I like, other times it happens on the first try. I try to avoid using other people's sounds like things from sample packs and presets, or traditional sounds and instruments. This is not to shame anyone who does because there is nothing wrong with that. But personally, for my music, this is just what works for me.
I have a large archive of sounds and loops I created during or pulled from old projects from 2015 - 2021, so when I am feeling uninspired I just open that folder and see if there is anything that gets some ideas flowing again. Sometimes I feel like everything I'm making just isn't interesting enough and that's when I just stick to sound design and making new sounds and loops for my next attempt. I'm no stranger to brute force. If I can't come up with something, not even just a synth patch, I'll just keep trying and trying and trying until I do.
I don't really watch many tutorials for music stuff but MixBusTV on YouTube is a good resource for learning about mixing/mastering. I watched this channel in the past just because it was on my YouTube homepage and looked interesting so I thought, why not? I actually ended up learning a few things that helped me level up my mastering skills.
Hmm, well as I mentioned I don't really watch many music-related tutorials. An interesting video to watch though is Mick Gordon's GDC talk about his sound design for the DOOM soundtrack. Not really a tutorial but it is very interesting!
Everyone is different in their own way. Find what makes you and your art unique, and do that. Make music that YOU like that sounds like you instead of what you think other people will like or what will make you more successful. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, get lost in the unknown, or do something completely different.
Avoid toxic comparisons of yourself and your work to someone else and theirs. When you constantly compare your music to other artists' work in this obsessive way because of insecurities and doubts, it’s like you are subconsciously looking for validation that you are not good enough. And chances are you will find that validation even though it's not really there.
But in reality, your work is just as important as your favorite artists’ and if you take the time to focus on developing your individuality and put in the work to make music that is true to you, nothing can stop you and you will stand out! You won't even compare to anyone else because you will be in your own world.
For a long time, I struggled with feeling like my music wasn't good enough and I compared my music to other artists' work a lot. This usually resulted in me getting depressed and deleting all of my tracks from the internet so that no one could find them. But all these thoughts that I had were my own insecurities, they weren't the truth. I think the way I overcame this mindset of not being good enough was by putting in the time to figure out what makes me different and by developing techniques that help me express my individuality as much as possible, by not being concerned with what anyone else was doing and by developing confidence in my own work.
Learning all of the tools as best I could so I have a sense of control that whatever I want to do I can make it happen or get close enough at least. For a long time, I didn't listen to any music besides my own and I still do this for the most part. I do this because I want to minimize outside influences. But I'm at a place now where when I listen to music from someone else, I'm confident enough in the music I'm making that comparing it or trying to compete with anyone doesn't even cross my mind.
Of course, I have felt that the music could be better, it can always be better and I'm happy that I feel this way. I never want to be too comfortable and always want things to be getting better and better. So sometimes I'll hear something and will think like, "Hmmm, I can go harder than what I'm doing now", and I'll go harder. But that toxic comparison is gone and I think eliminating this and gaining confidence in yourself and your work is key!
An old sound design trick I used to play with in the past that was fun was taking a piece of audio, duplicating it and pitching it up +7 semitones, duplicating again and pitching up another + 7, and again and again, and also doing the same going down -7 semitones. I made an entire song a long time ago out of a recording of water going down a drain that sounded huge like I had crazy impacts and fx and metal scrapes and all kinds of different things and it was all done using this technique on a simple field recording.
Another cool technique that I used for some basses on older projects in the past but can really be used for anything was taking multiple different recordings and crossfading them together and merging them to make one long clip of audio. Then bringing it into a sampler, setting it to loop a very tiny section of the audio, then automating the position to scan through or jump around the clip. With this and a little processing, you can get some really interesting textures that sound like they're mutating.
I have a bunch of tricks I’ve developed over the years but these are some of the simpler ones. Usually, my processing chains or sound design workflows are very complex and it would take a while to explain.
Something that is more of a production tip than a sound design trick - instead of letting reverbs or delays or any timed effects from the previous section ring out, cut them off right when the next section begins. I do this all of the time, especially with reverb. It just sounds really good to me.
On the rare occasion that I reach out to my trusted friend who is also a musician and producer and has a great pair of ears, it's usually because I'm geeked out over some minor thing sonically and I want to know if it's something I need to fix or if I'm just obsessing too hard to see what’s what.
My song "RUIN" because out of all of my tracks so far under the CLOZVRE project, this one is the most developed and meticulous in my opinion.
It has definitely played a big part in getting my music out there and I've met some cool people in the process!