Ian O Donovan kicks off the first in a series of upcoming Sonic Live events on Belfast on July 7th at the Stiff Kitten. We grabbed five minutes with him to give you an insight into what to expect....
Where did you learn your skills from. Self-taught or education route?
Self-taught. It's probably taken me much longer to learn as opposed to having someone show me some stuff but that also has it's advantages I think. I occasionally watch youtube videos but you need to watch the right ones, a lot of them are chancers.
What is your current studio set-up?
Macbook Pro, Ableton Live 8, Mopho, Nord Lead, Loads of VSTs, Vestax Tank, Pioneer CDJs, Allen & Heath Mixer, KRK speakers, Akai MPK 49, Technics 1210 (usually just for sampling records now) and I sometimes borrow bits of hardware from friends.
What made you decide to use your current DAW?
I started using Fruity Loops about 10 years ago just making drum loops and then went on to Reason where I really learned the foundations of making a track. I like Reason a lot (and still use it from time to time now) but found some of the functionality a bit tedious so I moved to Ableton Live about 4 years ago. Once I did, I found my productions improved a lot and it is more intuitive. I would like to explore other DAWs at some point but the prospect of starting afresh is pretty daunting.
Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception…..
The starting point depends… I'll either start messing about with a melody (from scratch or something I have in my head) and develop it that way or sometimes if I have a nice sample I'll try and work from that. I'll build a loop up, adding layers until I think I have all the sounds and elements I need for the whole track (keeping in mind how the elements will fit into the full track). Then, I start sequencing it out and see how interesting I can make it while keeping the dj in mind. Often, certain things happen when sequencing that can change the dynamics of the whole thing and the track can take a different direction.
What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
That's a hard one… I spend a lot of time on mixdowns, often spending hours making minute volume changes to certain elements that nobody will ever notice. And, it always takes me about 5 versions to get it right. I guess this is often the most challenging part for me.
How do you deal with 'hitting a brick wall'?
If I'm stuck on a track, I usually start a new one. I often go through long periods making loops and tracks that will never see the light of day. Sometimes I go back through the unused ones and pick parts that I think will fit into other tracks or that maybe useful in the future.
But other times you just need to have a good break, maybe for a few days. Alternatively, I'll listen to some different types of music to give me inspiration.
What piece of software and hardware could you not live without?
Besides Ableton, I'd have to say the Mopho and Nord Lead for basslines.
What piece of equipment would you most like to own?
I'm looking at getting a Korg Triton, I love the sounds.
Is there a piece of equipment you regret getting rid of?
I haven't really gotten rid of any production equipment but I sold my Technics 1210s (which I had bought brand new) before I went traveling about 7 years ago. I ended up coming back with over 100 records and a portable Vestax turntable. Then I had to go and but 2nd hand Technics which were in nowhere near as good condition as my previous ones.
What piece of software or hardware are you most looking forward to launching this year?
I don't really focus too much on new products coming out. If I see something that I really like, well and good but I think a lot of people spend too much time on the really technical aspects and not enough on the musical side. I am however looking forward to Abelton 9.
What's your current live/DJ set-up and why have youchosen this over everything else available in the market?
I use Pioneer CDJs, preferably 2000s. I'm not really a fan of laptop djing although the features of Traktor are very appealing. I'm waiting for the next step. I just prefer the feel of a turntable/CDJ. I would love if Native Instruments and Pioneer collaborated to make an all in one unit with the capabilities of Traktor and the feel of a CDJ 2000.
Is there too much choice in the music technology market these days?
No, I think choice is good. It gives the potential for different and more interesting music and opens doors for people to make music that may not have had the chance before.
How do you think the technology affects the music producers release?
There is a great range of products and sounds these days and technology is constantly influencing the trends in EDM. That's why it's called techno I suppose.
What's the secret to good mastering?
What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in 2012?
I have lots of stuff coming up. I've just released on Psycatron's Inflyte Records which features a Kirk Degiorgio remix and the feedback has been great! I have an electro EP coming on Wolfskuil later this month as my alias Chromezone. An EP with The Japanese Popstars on Virgin is almost finished. Another EP for Bio in the works and a few more releases later this year lined up as well as remixes for the likes of Kollektive Turmstrasse on Connaissuer, for Triumph on Rebirth, for Estroe on Proton, for Maarten Mittendorff & Takasi Nakajima on Restructured and loads more! I'll also hopefully start working on a liveset before the end of the year.
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