If you want to be a good producer…?
Here is 5 Tips from mr Red Rack’em!!!
Tip 1 – Have diverse musical tastes.
Buy as many good records as you can in the broadest range of genres possible and listen to it in as many different states as you can to really get to know the music and think about how it makes you feel and why it makes you feel that way. It’s not about treating music like a science subject but the best music has got some emotional content be it happy, sad, cold, warm etc. I think the best music producers have a wide range of influences so if you want to make really good house music for example – I suggest you don’t listen to any house music at all. Then you have less chance of being derivative…
I love hearing stuff, which I will never buy or play myself. I love hearing music from a specialist in their field. I would never know what obscure Belgian cold wave stuff to buy – but Andy Blake does. So make the effort to see DJs who aren’t playing what you play and hang around with producers who make completely different music to you. You will learn far more that way.
Tip 2 – Go out and party as much as you can.
You need to live the life. I am not suggesting you lose your job in the process but I honestly think that the psychedelic nature of a lot of the music I love is borne out of the lifestyle choices made by the people who made the music. I don’t see many multinational company executives writing cutting edge dancefloor smashers. Tiesto looks like the music he makes. He’s probably out racing cars with Michael Schumacher or learning how to be a plastic surgeon in his spare time rather than checking out any music. You have to be inspired by your audience to make good music for them and in that sense I suggest you BE the audience. Don’t sit in the backstage area pretending you’re not on drugs with 3 other boring DJs and the booker. Get on the floor, be one of the people and hear how the music sounds on a big system. If you’re a DJ, dancing while you play is never gonna do you any harm – so get as much practice in when you’re not playing as well. My lifestyle has massively influenced my productions. I believe in the emotional content and creative exchange of partying. Moving to Berlin re-ignited my belief in dance music again and that’s down to being part of a fully functioning club-scene and family. It’s not a sustainable lifestyle unless you really know how to look after yourself but I think dipping in and out to gain inspiration is totally justifiable. Just make sure you have some friends who CAN support you on Tuesdays and Wednesdays though…
Tip 3 – Know your shit.
I am not saying you have to be techy nerd – it’s not about what you got, it’s about what you do with it. But I think having an understanding of what makes certain sounds or what producers make a certain type of music is worthwhile if you have ambitions to be a real music producer. I honestly think that musical knowledge is way more important than what equipment you use but to continue to be inspired, you have to know what’s out there and what’s going on around you. Go and check out new genres and artists. Go to the record shop when you’re in a new town. Go and see other peoples studios. Don’t just sit there saying ‘I am making the music I want to make so I don’t need any external stimulus’. That’s the road to making bland, middle of the road shit. I got laughed at for playing dubstep and skweee in 2006 but for me it’s not just about ‘is this the best house/techno/whatever around’ it’s about checking out other scenes and vibes and seeing what I can take from that into my own music and DJing…
Tip 4 – Be around good music and go see some real DJs
If you want to make good music, I think listening to good music is pretty useful. Having friends who have exceptional taste in music will help your productions. You will absorb it and it will come out in your own work and if you play them your fledgling productions and they say that it’s good – the chances are they are right rather than just blowing smoke up your ass.. If they play you some Isolee and say you need to go back to the drawing board – chances are your shit is wack..
90% of big name DJs are there because of their musical productions. This is no guarantee that they even know how to DJ. A lot of them are being paid large fees to learn how to DJ in front of huge crowds because their agent can get them gigs because of their hyped productions and press coverage. A lot of my favourite DJs don’t even make records. They are doing it because they love music not because they are being heavily marketed in the dance press. I think the musical taste of DJs who aren’t producers is often better because they don’t just play all their mates productions or get their intern to buy the beatport top 10 – they go to record shops and dig and take pride in what they are playing. Making good records and having the time to find good records and be a good DJ is not easy. Most of the best DJs I have seen in the last 10 years haven’t been well known at all.
Tip 5 – Look after yourself and know when to rest.
I know this may sound contradictory to the ‘party hard’ ethic espoused before but I think that having a healthy lifestyle can help you be more creative and feel less pressure when you have to deliver. I am not just talking about eating well and going out for a run every day or stuff like that. I mean knowing when NOT to try making music or going out clubbing. You have to be able to be flexible sometimes and that can mean knowing when to give your creativity a rest. Don’t keep banging stuff out for the sake of it. Let your ideas brew in your head and treat production time as a treat if you can. I can’t remember the last time I worked on any music and I have no plans to do so for the next few weeks. But I have enough records coming out to take me well into next year so I must have done the work at some point. Resting and enjoying life is far more important for my music than trying to work when I am not in the mood. The same can be said for if you’re a DJ – although it’s often the last place I want to be when I am not playing, I often go to clubs to check out other people play because it’s giving me a rest from DJing but I am still in a club and it’s helping me be a good DJ when I am next on the decks. Clubs can be quite intimidating places so if you hide away between gigs – you might find it a shock to your system when you next play out. Resting is not just about avoiding what you normally do – it can be about being around it in a non-participatory fashion. So if I haven’t made any music for ages but I am in my house mate Andreas Saags room checking out his latest tracks – that’s building up my desire to produce again – even if it’s going to be weeks before I get round to it again…
Check his latest release from here!