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It was never about a DAW for me - It was about creating music. 

It was never about Fruity Loops for me, and never will be about Fruity Loops for me.

 

I was born in 1981.  My father produced jingles for commercials, put Cleveland on the map, excelled at jazz piano, and had a state of art studio in 1985.  I was immediately mesmerized by the sounds programmed with a floppy disk and the Yamaha DX-7 Keyboard.

 

Music is an art of expression.  I have given my blood, sweat, and tears to this entity called music.  It is the universal language and relates to both me and every human being around the world.

 

It was never about a DAW for me.  It was about CREATIVITY.  It was never about the Pro Tools vs. Cubase battle for me.  That was simply a vessel to create a final product.  It was never about Ableton.  It was never about Digital Performer.  It was never about the never ending battle in forums and in person.  It was never about Fruity Loops - the stigma of a DAW that is immediately dismissed as "not worthy."  It was about finding the easiest and most user friendly process for my type of production.   In my case, that usually means starting with drums, adding a baseline, and then adding many parts of percussion and additional harmonies.

 

I ask you this: If you write a letter to someone, does it matter if it comes from Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, or another type of email program?  No.  Rather, it is about the content within the email and how it makes you FEEL.

 

Music means creating something from nothing.  Like a painter with a paintbrush on a blank canvas.

 

I ask the world: Why be so obsessed with the Pro Tools vs. other software programs?  I guess I can "sort of" understand those who say "these kids never learned an instrument."  I can't really speak to that because I learned the piano and drums by ear, and then took that knowledge into the digital domain.  I guess you can call me a hybrid of the analog and digital worlds.  I am grateful that my dad "showed me the ropes" so to speak, using midi keyboards like Korg and Kurzweil, and manually playing in each harmony or drum pattern using a keyboard.

 

I ran into somebody today who claimed I was "stuck in box" by using the FL Studio Program.  I would argue that any thinking that claims I am stuck in box is exactly that: Stuck in a box.  For me, it has NOTHING to do with the software DAW so to speak.  Yes, the software FL Studio is good for me because it allows me to sequence quickly.  But the underlying message I am trying to communicate is this:  The most important part about composing music is NOT the software that you use.  Certainly it can help in the process, and you should find the DAW that works best for you, but it is all about your own creativity.  It's about how you add each section of your song, the harmonies you incorporate, and the way the melody or baseline makes you FEEL.  

 

Music makes you FEEL.  It makes you FEEL when you hear it through a radio.  It makes you FEEL when you are working out and listening to music on your iPOD.  it makes you FEEL when you are dancing to music in a club.  It PICKS YOU UP when you are feeling down.  It motivates you.  It connects you.  It reminds you.  It's your friend.  It's the emotion that is indescribable.  It is different for each person listening, yet it connects everybody.

 

As producers, engineers, and composers, it is not about what DAW you use.  It's about how you make your audience FEEL.  If you can get your message across using Pro Tools, by all means use it.  If you like Digital Performer like the famous composer Hans Zimmer, use it.  If you like fruity loops, keep at it.  If you like Cubase or Ableton, stick with what works.

 

The main battle comes between each fellow producer.  We are supposed to be making music that makes people FEEL.  This was never a gimmick for me.  I have seen the forums and I have seen the YouTube comments.  Why do we have to battle with people that are using different DAWS?  We should be encouraging people who are making music, not cutting them down because they use a certain DAW.  Just because you use Pro Tools doesn't mean you are better than someone else.  Rather, pro tools (in certain cases) may be a crutch to certain people, because they have no real creativity.  It's like spraying Febreze instead of really cleaning your carpets: Your house still stinks and the spray is only a cover up.  You will be exposed for who you are in due time.  

 

I can create in Pro Tools.  I can create in Cubase.  I can create in FL Studio.  I can create in Ableton.  I can create in Digital Pefrormer.  I have been multi-tracking since I was 5 years old, using a Casio Sk-8.  It was never about a DAW.  It was only about creating.  I can only shake my head in disbelief when I see or I am part of these arguments, which base themselves upon what DAW you are using, and not WHY you are creating music in the first place.  For the LOVE.  Not for a gimmick.  Not for notoriety.  For the love of music and creativity.

Hans Zimmer time and Inception Remix  

I recently finished a Hans Zimmer remix.  The track is titled "time" from the Inception Soundtrack starring Leonardo Dicaprio.  The piano from Hans and the Christopher Nolan movie made for a great film, and this remix could be viewed as a tribute to that.  It also explores the realm of dreams, inception, extraction, feelings, and the like.

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere.
 

Colbie Caillat, P!nk and Nate Ruess, Billy Joel Remixes  

I recently made 3 sampled instrumentals as well as a lyrical cover for all 3.  These include Billy Joel's Uptown Girl located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw089Y8lZfY, Colbie Caillat's Realize located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBzUwkHuPoU, and P!nk and Nate Ruess's Just Give me a Reason located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKYfzfcNz_c.  I got the main melody from Billy Joel's tune and it was a little tough to work with at first.  The high end was pushing through the mix to hard, so I used a high pass filter to turn the sample into something more workable.  I also included sub bass from FL Studio and the plugin called 3XOSC.  The drum fill has a couple samples at the end of the final bar, and it definitely has a hyped feel.  I was always inspired by Realize by Colbie Caillat, and I loved the line, "Didn't I, Didn't I tell you?" when the guitar plucks along.  I got that sample along with chopping the end of the outro into 4 pieces.  The P!nk and Nate Ruess song came out pretty cool because of the clear piano sound mixed with sub bass from Reason.  The drum kit is part of GlobalHeatWave.com and was an MPC kit.  There is a interesting hi hat pattern, snare hit, and open hi hat included in the drum pattern.  In addition to these remixed instrumentals, I put lyrics to every one of them.  I used the lyrics "uptown girl" a lot in the Billy Joel Lyrical version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1z8VAA8Rmk.  The Colbie Caillat lyrical version is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWersZemt3o, and the P!nk and Nate Ruess lyrical version is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJzYai2PvBI.  The P!nk song was particularly fun to write lyrics to and the hook was fun to work with as well.

How to Edison, sample, sequence, mix, record, & Master in FL Studio  

I recently recorded a 57 minute screenshot tutorial covering the many aspects of music production.  In this particular YouTube video, I go deep "behind the scenes" of my Alanis "Hand in my Pocket" remix and demonstrate how to use Edison, which is the main editor I use during sampling.  This entails getting a seamless loop, finding the tempo, embedding the tempo information in the sample, and saving it on your computer or dragging it into your project.  I also review many aspects of mixing, mostly demonstrating the importance of cutting low frequencies and boosting your high frequencies on vocals, hi hats, and other instruments.  I review how to set up a reverb send as well as work with delay.  I show how to manipulate a sample on the piano roll and how to set up the sample to be "useable" in music production.  I also review what automation means and how to use it.  The video concludes showing the master track effect chain consisting of the TLS Maximizer and the BBE D82 Sonic Maximizer.  In short, the video reviews tips and tricks in the FL Studio music production environment.  The video would be handy for any type of music genre, but certainly focuses on electronic and hip hop production.  

Alanis Morissette: Hand in my Pocket Lyrical Remix interpretation  

 The song, "Hand in my Pocket," by Alanis Morissette is definitely a classic written by one of the most talented songwriters to grace god's green earth.  I started off by taking the intro sample in addition to the outro harmonica samples.  I wrote my entire verse and recorded it, along with sequencing and sampling the entire instrumental mix.  After listening in the car, I knew I had to deliver a better product.  I spent an additional 2 or 3 hours at the coffee shop, sampling vocals from Alanis and more harmonica sections.  I came home and re-did the vocals.  I don't actually have an interface right now- this song was recorded with a Rode Condenser NT1A into a behringer mixer XENYX802.  The main outs of the mixer go into the stereo mini input jack of my dell laptop computer, and I use ASIO4all as the audio "soundcard" if you will.  The vocals sound pretty crisp and there was definitely some latency while recording, but that could have helped the vocals to "sit" more in the "groove" of the mix.  I worked pretty hard on the overall final product and hope listeners enjoy.

Alicia Keys Superbowl hip hop Remix: National Anthem - 3/4 Time  

I was looking for a moment of goosebumps before the superbowl and Alicia Keys delivered.  She played a beautiful white Yamaha piano and sang the national anthem before the Ravens and 49ers kicked off.  Towards the end of the song, she went into a nice little 3/4 time on the piano which really added some originality to the piece.  I took it step further and made a hip hop remix out of it.  I used the korg 05r/w for a flute sound and added a bunch of percussion and fx in FL Studio.  I also added a couple pianos to excentuate the pattern she came up with.  I recorded Alicia from the audio output of my Samsung T.V. 

Hawaii Chant Remix E Ho Mai  

 My good friend Danny came into town recently and we hit up the lab.  He is one of those rare people that has a love of video, audio, and the arts, so we got to crackin' on making some beats.  While most people just talk about collaborating on a beat, I knew Danny was serious.  He lives in Hawaii and we attempted a remix on the chant titled "E Ho Mai."  The beat was drafted pretty quickly and it was mostly a creative session.  If any words came out wrong in the song, we meant no disrespect to Hawaii.   I think Danny knew the words corrrectly but I may have had a little trouble - I am the last verse.

Lisa Loeb Remix - "Stay"  

 If the beginning guitar in the song "Stay" by Lisa Loeb doesn't give you chills, then you just aren't human.  Well, maybe not so extreme, but the beginning of the song and the whole song in general is definitely a classic.  Her lyrics also fit amazingly into the structure of the song.  To make a long story short - this song is fantastic.  I wanted to sample some of the guitar here, and try one of my lyrical interpretations.  This is when I draw on the main theme or message of the song, and then put my own spin on it.  This case was a little different.  I took the position as her boyfriend that wanted her back.  There are many interpretations of her original lyrics, mostly that she is somewhat scared or unsure and wants to leave her boyfriend.  She discovers she made the wrong choice because as she says, "I missed you."   She thought she could leave but she missed him.  My job here is to tell her that I still want her, while using her original lyrics in my own point of view.

Adele Remix: Skyfall (James Bond Theme 2012) 

 I recently got inspired by the piano at the beginning of Skyfall as well as the lyrics.  I sampled the piano, did some time stretching, set up the drum beat, added a bassline, arranged the song, mixed each track, and had my dad add a piano solo.  I also did what I call a "lyrical interpretation," where I go off what the artist and songwriters already mentioned in their lyrics.  In this one I used alot of what Adele said and only changed things up a little.  I was in the studio for a good 4 hours or more, which went through the night until 1 or 2 in the morning.  That tends to happen when you get inspired!  The free track is available here: Skyfall Mp3 - Adele Hip Hop Remix or just look below the video to get the Mp3 or Podcast to your iTunes library!