In January, English techno producer Carl Taylor delivered his second album True Faith on EPM Music. From tough warehouse-style vibes to soulful, melodic electronica he adopted some old-school production techniques in the form of his MPC to help create a live, dynamic feel. He's soon to re-launch his label Auterform, and here he speaks with Sonic Academy about his current set-up….
Where did you learn your skills from. Self-taught or education route?
A mixture of both really, I've been making music for 17 years now and in that time been on 3 Music Tech courses (OND, HND, MSc). They are a great place to meet like minded people if nothing else, most of the friends I have now I've met on those courses.
What is your current studio set-up?
Akai MPC 1000 running JJOS 2
Behringher Composer Compressors
EMU Ultra Sampler
Ableton 8 + Max4Live
Cubase Essential 4
M-Audio Torq / Conectiv
What made you decide to use your current DAW?
Cubase was boring me and Ableton looked like a 'MPC on steroids'. Its VERY easy to use, so much so that I encourage anyone new to music tech to try it first. It kind confuses people used to Cubase / Logic / Protools, but I cant see why its workflow would trouble a newcomer. Its so cleanly laid out.
I still use Cubase for waveform editing, but not for writing music: it pales in comparison to Ableton.
Reason 6 is a really good self-contained (and underrated by many) piece of kit (It has a few workflow quirks that get on my nerves though). You can also get really creative with the CV / Gate routing, its like a never ending modular synth!
Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception…..
Usually I just sit down at the gear and start playing around. Ill either start with drums or a chord progression (depending on how the tune is lead) then start to add other elements after that. Also: I like to have 'sampling sessions' - were I create my own drum loops / sound FX / chord progressions - that I can then cut up and use later in my productions. I keep all the files in folders with a prefix like BRK / CHRD / VOX, so I can easily identify them later on. I find this can be a fun way to 'doodle' without setting yourself a big goal of 'finishing a tune'. Sometimes people put too much pressure on themselves!
What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
Nowadays I find the song writing aspect more of a challenge than any of the technical factors. I approached music making from more from a DJ'ing perspective when I was younger, I don't think I even knew what a chord was for the first 4 years of writing tunes! When Im writing my more melodic stuff I like to experiment with chord changes / melody lines - in this area I have still loads to explore.
How do you deal with 'hitting a brick wall'?
I think there are 2 types here: creative brick walls & technical brick walls.
For quite a few years now I have considered a tune finished when Im either: a) happy with it, b) bored of it, c) have run out of ideas. I think you enjoy music / learn more when you go with the flow. Thats why I like working with the MPC, its quicker than using a DAW and requires less cognitive load. I can also make more brutal decisions as well, as I don't have the luxury (or disadvantage) of total DAW recall.
For the technical side of things: I used to do a lot of reading regarding the theory of synthesis and audio engineering. Though its worth stating that: for me this needs be applied practically, you can beat messing with a synth. In modern times, sites like Sonic Academy have rough video content to go at too. Visual leaning / walkthroughs can be very beneficial.
What piece of software and hardware could you not live without?
MPC 1000 - you could take everything else away from me and I could still make music. Fast, fun and flexible.
What piece of equipment would you most like to own?
Jupiter 8 without a doubt. Theres no way Id pay the prices they go for now though.
Is there a piece of equipment you regret getting rid of?
Kinda wish I still had my Juno 60 or SH101. Though the new Mini Brute from Arturia looks like a worthy replacement for the 101.
What piece of software or hardware are you most looking forward to launching this year?
Ableton 9 will be interesting (when it gets announced!) aside from that - I don't really follow new gear that much to be honest. I've already got more than enough!
What's your current live/DJ set-up and why have youchosen this over everything else available in the market?
Ableton, APC 40, Kaoss Pad 3, MPD16. That combination gives me enough hands on control / flexibility without overloading my mental capacity. I have considered using the MPC exclusively for some kind of live 'Warehouse Trax' sessions. Though I've not figured out the logistics for that yet.
Is there too much choice in the music technology market these days?
I think there is too much choice in all areas of life. With Music Tech gear it can be a nightmare for newcomers to work their way around the maze of configurations and possibilities. My advise: keep it simple (especially to start with). Buy a DAW, learn how to use it without making any more purchases. Chances are it will be able to do a great deal of what you want to achieve (especially with the amount of instruments / FX you get bundled). If buying hardware: get a couple of bits and mess about till you know then inside out. Theres nothing worse than being surrounded by gear and not knowing how to work it.
How do you think the technology affects the music producers release?
All gear has a workflow, theres no point denying that. The resulting workflow will guide you in a certain way. I think the secret is selecting gear that matches your flow (else your fighting against the tide). Aside from that: sure everything has a sonic impact / signature (why would we use it if it didn't?!) but this is overplayed - by many - against the creative thoughts a person may have. You could give me (pretty much) any synth, FX unit and sequencer - and I will make you a track. Don't be fooled by advertising claims and gear lust. I've been there (and still sometimes get tempted!) but in the main its an illusion constructed to empty your wallet.
What's the secret to good mastering?
A well considered viewpoint, and a keen ear.
Knowing miracles can't (usually) happen in mastering helps keep your expectations under check.
What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in 2012?
Im just re-lauching my 'Auterform' label in April with the 'Life EP' by myself and Paul Hunter. Im going to try and head for 1 EP every month - 6 weeks as well. If you like the deeper side of Techno then keep an eye out for new releases. I'm quite choosey about what I release so I certainly wont be putting any rubbish out.
Find out more at www.carltaylor.net
You must be logged in to add a comment.