Swedish producer Kristian Heikkila is noted as being one of the country’s finest hip-hop artists who has since moved firmly into house and techno territory with recent releases on Thomas Heckmann’s AFU Lab, Snokr Enterprises and most recently his outing on EPM. Here he talks to Sonic Academy about his studio set-up....
Where did you learn your skills from. Self-taught or education route?
Self-taught, YouTube, magazines and from friends with skills.
I started up with a hardware sampler Ensoniq ASR 10 back in the day, with Cubase and other synthesizers. Since everything was hardware and analogue I had to learn about Midi and analogue mixing. I don’t really miss those days when you had to route everything to different mixer channels before you could start mixing and re-record all midi tracks. I think it made a big difference understanding the technique behind what was then, and what is now, in the software world.
What is your current studio set-up?
I got caught in the Software program Reason back in 2003 and started to recycle all my samples to REX loops. After a limbo between Logic and Reason for a few years Propellerhead released Record/Reason which made me drop Logic. Nowadays I only use Reason 6.
Studio setup is a Mac book pro, Genelec speakers, Soundcard Apogee Duet, Keyboard Axiom 25, Korg Kaoss Pad, Maschine, Korg Electribe SX, Two Technics SL1210 and an Allan & Heath xone 62.
What made you decide to use your current DAW?
I started up with Cubase but changed to Reason. Later on I worked in Logic with rewired Reason but now I only use Reason and occasionally Maschine. I chose Reason because of the fast workflow and simplicity but I also felt that being limited to one program at a time worked for me. I had a period of trying out many of the plugins there is in Logic but found myself lost in the jungle of plugins, focusing less on music and more on cool effects.
Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception…..
Mostly I start programming a drumloop in Kong then I add some flavour or percussions before playing or programming a bass. Sometimes I start with a chord or a lead. A few years back I learnt that it is always better to start mixing as soon as possible while arranging the song, and not to wait until the end.
Occasionally I play around with my Electribe SX or Maschine just to get a feeling and then record it to Reason.
What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
The bass and overall mix. It’s easy to get lost in the process of mixing and take away too much dynamic from the song.
Also I have a tendency to listen too much to sketches I really like so I finally get tired of them. Familiar anyone?
How do you deal with 'hitting a brick wall'?
Mostly I just dump the song and start working on a new one. A couple of months later I might listen to the song and take away everything that made me hit that brick wall.
What piece of software and hardware could you not live without?
My fantasy and my computer.
What piece of equipment would you most like to own?
I’d love to have a vinyl press and wouldn’t mind having a couple of Genelec 8050A.
Is there a piece of equipment you regret getting rid of?
Yes, my Roland TR 909, Roland Juno 1 and an Akai Ax 60 and some other synthesizers and drum machines. But in the big perspective I believe I had to develop myself and afford to buy new gear.
What piece of software or hardware are you most looking forward to launching this year?
I’m quite content right now. I think it’s fun to follow the development on smart phones and looking forward to see what I can use with my live gear. Right now I’m looking into I-Kaossilator and I-Maschine but it still lacks the features that I’m looking for. It is fun to play with though.
What's your current live/DJ set-up and why have youchosen this over everything else available in the market?
As a DJ I only play vinyl but my live setup is my Macbook pro, Electribe ESX, Kaoss Pad, Korg Nano Kontrol 2 and prefer to use Allen & Heath Xone 62.
I’ve chosen my live setup because I like the format of small gadgets. It all fits in a bag and as long as there is a mixer where I’m playing I don’t need anything else.
Is there too much choice in the music technology market these days?
More choices mean more competition, cheaper prices and less monopoly. But I don’t really have an opinion about it, I just like the fact that there are choices.
How do you think the technology affects the music producers release?
There will always be old school versus new school in technology. In the end it all comes back to the producer or composer, the fantasy, creativity and handcraft.
What's the secret to good mastering?
A good final mixing and I believe in giving the songs to someone who is specialized in mastering, instead of doing it myself.
What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in 2012?
I released a solo single on Snork enterprises in January this year. EPM Music will soon be releasing another single of mine followed by another single release in May and an album launch in June. The album release party will be held during the IMS Ibiza in end of May. Later on this year I will probably have a single release on a Swedish Label.
You must be logged in to add a comment.