Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?
We are Audiojack, a Leeds based duo who have been making electronic music professionally since 2006.
What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?
Neither of us have any formal musical background. We are completely self-taught through trial & error, and sometimes looking up information on the internet using search engines & discussion forums when required.
What hardware are you using?
We have a custom-built PC that has enough power to handle lots of things running at once. We use KRK RP6 studio monitors, which were an affordable option and give a clear and crisp sound. We have an E-MU Xboard 25 MIDI keyboard which has only 25 keys for playing small riffs and for mapping parameters to the pots for more live feeling automation (most commonly filters and effects). We use a Korg Triton Le Keyboard, sometimes for its synth patches, but more commonly as a larger MIDI keyboard for complex melodies that span more than 2 octaves.
What software are you using?
When we first started out, we asked around if anyone had any music programs we could try out, so we got a copy of FL Studio 5 and found it very user friendly. Since then it’s become more diverse with every new edition, and it has had a big part in shaping our sound over the years, so until we find we need something it can’t provide, we’ll continue using it. We use Ableton for editing tracks and loops and have occasionally made tracks in there. We will use this for our live performance too if and when we get it together.
SubBoombass has some really deep visceral basses that sound very analogue and rich. It also has very comprehensive means of sample manipulation to add to the large number of quality presets. The Albino III provides a wide range of electronic sounds again with a high level of ability to manipulate the sounds. We use this for basses, mono leads and pads.
Massive’s appeal for us is the way you can really twist and mash sounds up. The presets are set up with a simple rack of 8 macro control pots that you can use to really go to work on the sounds and create some great builds and soundscapes.
The Harmless and Harmor are native to the FL Studio DAW and we use this for anything from bass to e piano keys like Rhodes. Both have a very rich and warm sound when tweaked properly.
The Korg M1 is weaker on the sample manipulation, but its large banks of presets pretty much define lots of the ‘90s electronic music and give us the key to many of the old skool house flavours that have been staple to our music over the last couple of years.
What would be your dream setup?
It’s always nice to get new stuff, but there is so much to explore with the stuff we’ve already got that there’s no cravings for new gear at the moment. I guess one thing would be a better studio room with sound proofing and perfect acoustics, but we’re managing ok as we are for now.
Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?
We take the odd day off and holiday here and there, but when we’re not touring or doing day to day admin, we’re making music. Starting at 7am and going on until 5 or 6pm, sometimes later if our ladies are away for the evening.
We always used to trawl through sounds and samples to find something exciting that we could use to make a good bassline or some interesting element to a track. These days, our process is far more planned and considered as we pre plan our musical schedule, write lyrics, speak to vocalists, and develop concepts to make sure our music has a point and purpose rather than just being some beats that makes your foot tap.
Zooming in a little further to the process, once we actually get into the studio, we try and get a solid groove looping that would be the backbone of the track and we know will achieve what it needs to in terms of aural experience, whether that be on the dancefloor, in your car or iPod headphones. Once that’s down, we separate out the different instruments and start from the beginning of the track and move forward along the time line like a railway builder laying tracks. Once we’ve got to the end, we then go back over the track again and again, tweaking, fine tuning, adding and taking away parts until it’s to our ears perfect. The last part can often take up the most time but makes all the difference.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
We find music everywhere and anywhere, from listening to podcasts, the radio, stuff friends play us at parties, in clubs, or when we’re round for dinner. We use Beatport as our main place to buy digital music, but these days we’re sent so much good stuff on promo and demos for our Gruuv label, it’s not often necessary to shop for it on Beatport. We always insist on wav files because although you may not hear the difference to mp3 on a home stereo, the person on the dancefloor will lose out on that little extra warmth, quality and fat bottom end.
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
Yeah, we’ve recently got onto some new stuff from people like Kyodai who we first heard on the Gilles Peterson show on 6 Music, and Copy Paste Soul who we received a promo from, both who’ve brought some really fresh sounds to the table.
What’s brewing in your studio?
We’re currently working on a project with Nancy Whang from LCD Sound System for a German label, Gomma Records. They have acquired the rights to the Casablanca Records back catalogue (put out lots of disco hits in the ‘70s) and have asked a handful of artists to work with some vocalists to remake a track of their choice in their own style. We chose Dennis Parker – Like An Eagle. The original track is very complex with many instruments used sometimes very subtly, and with the help of Rich’s girlfriend who’s classically trained, we’ve written out the score and then remade the main elements in our own style.
Our next release will be an original EP on 2020Vision, out in November. You can listen to advance previews on SoundCloud.
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
Production skill comes from practice. The more you do, the better you get. The famous journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell said it takes on average 10,000 hours of practice at any one thing to achieve mastery [based on a study by K. Anders Ericsson] – that’s why playing for 8 hours every night in a club in Hamburg meant The Beatles were ready when their big time calling came.
A good tip for making your music sound unique and fresh is to try and think outside the box. If you’re making House music, go and listen to some Trip Hop or Jazz or Dubstep or Prog Rock, and the influences you take from this music will inject something new into your music that other people aren’t doing. You can spend your musical life trying to follow trends and make something like the current club hits, or you can take a risk and try something new. You never know, maybe then you’ll be the producers the others are copying from.