Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jay-J and I’m a music producer, remixer, writer, and dance music DJ. I travel the world playing my favorite tunes and I’ve been fortunate to own a studio, Moulton Studios, and to have earned a Grammy nomination in the “Best Remixed Recording” category for my remix of Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me”. Currently, I run Shifted Music, my record label, and have a team of talented people I work with to make everything happen. Ultimately, I’m a computer “geek” at heart.
What hardware are you using?
In my home studio, I use a 12 core Mac Pro, 12 gigs of RAM to run my audio software, a VelociRaptor drive for audio, and some fast internal drives for my sample library and storage. Dual 20″ computer screens allow me to monitor everything, and an Orbit Trackball, which I’ve had since 1998 when I opened Moulton Studios, is officially an extension of my hand. Truth be told, I have several of these trackballs so I can take them on the road or to other studios so I can work comfortably.
Also in my arsenal, a Digidesign/Avid 003 Rack for an audio interface, I monitor through M-Audio DSM2 speakers as well as with my Sennheiser HD 600 headphones. Two MIDI controllers, a small Novation 25-key and a 49-key Axiom Pro controller (that also acts as a control surface access for many parameters in the software mixer plug-ins and instruments) are my go-to for drum programming and various tasks. For monstrous bass and leads, I use my Studio Electronics SE1X. The SE-1X has an input I run virtual synths through to add some analog saturation and fatness.
For Mics & Recording, I work from Flux Studios in NYC. It’s the ultimate candy store with so much hardware I almost spend as much time selecting stuff as I do recording with them. I favor their vintage mics but they also got a hell of a collection of new designs along with vintage/newly designed EQs, compressors and pre-amps. And the best part, I get to hear the recordings back through Focal monitors with the most incredible detail combined with accurate representation of the sound leading to great mix translation outside the studio’s controlled environment.
What software are you using?
Pro Tools and a grip of plug-ins. My favorites: Sonnox Oxford Suite including the EQ, Dynamics, Limiter, Reverb and specialties like Inflator. I also use the full Massey set of plug-ins, using Tape Heat and the CT4 Compressor religiously as well as my trusty The Glue compressor (like an SSL Bus compressor) along with some various stock Avid plug-ins.
The Pro-Codec plug-in from Sonnox gives me real time spectral analysis and conversion pertaining to compressed formats like mp3. You can actually hear what the mp3 would sound like in real time. The Dynamic Spectrum Mapper is quite an amazing plug-in as well with a mind blowing approach to audio sculpting and sound matching/tailoring.
For virtual instruments, my go to is the full suite of Avid Instruments. Including stock ones like Xpand 2 and Boom (808, 909 drum machine) along with the Virtual Instruments made by Avid’s AIR Group; i.e. Structure (sampler), Velvet (electric pianos), Hybrid (virtual analog), Transfuser (beat and audio manipulation, sequencing, drum programming and more) and Strike (virtual drummer and drum machine). To get a thick, rich full sound, I also use AAS products like Ultra Analog and String Studio VS-1 as well as Rob Papen Predator. I spend a lot of time using the Komplete suite of plug-ins and effects by Native Instruments utilizing FM8, Massive, Absynth and Kontakt the most.
What would be your dream setup?
Flux Studios is pretty close to my dream setup which I had with Moulton Studios. I’ve had the chance to experiment with a ton of gear and I realized I’m really happy with just a few pieces of key gear like an EL7 FATSO, API 550a’s, Chandler LTD-1, TG Channel and TG1, UA 1176, GML 8200, SSL G Series compressor, Mercenary Audio Pultec’s and a Dangerous 2 bus, Master and Monitor pieces. Top that off with some Focal speakers and Lynx converters. For the live room, which would double as a “club environment” listening room, I’d pop a 4 corner Funktion-One sound system patchable to the main studio outputs and use my mic collection consisting of pairs of Soundelux/Brock Elam 251, vintage U87 and vintage KM84′s (Modified by The Mic Shop) and a couple Royer Ribbon mics. I would not give up my SE1X (probably upgrade to a Red Eye or Angel Dust version) but I would add a C.O.D.E. for polyphonic analog fatness and a couple Dave Smith Instruments; like a Poly Evolver and a Prophet ’08 (and probably a vintage Prophet 5), added to a Minimoog Voyager and Little Phatty. And for the cherry on top, I’d have to have a Rhodes, a Wurli, a Lakeland, Fender P-Bass, Gibson ES 335 and both a vintage Strat and a Les Paul.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
Music portals: Beatport, Stompy, Traxsource and Juno. Then there’s my INBOX with 100s of promos a week coming to me. And of course, at my gigs, when I hear another DJ drop a slamming track I don’t recognize or know the title of.
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
Anything by Guesthouse and productions from Lovebirds.
What’s brewing in your studio?
Electronic Discussions, my latest artist album. [Buy it from Juno, iTunes, or Amazon.]
We’ve just released it and we’re in full blown promotions mode. I’m also prepping the stems and merging files and exporting MIDI to deliver to some selected producers around the world for the follow-up remix package.
Finishing up some remixes is also on my plate. I’ve been experimenting with new bass sounds through various VI’s, Samples and what not. I noticed the Scarbee MM-Bass, which is SICK, and decided to give it a try — WOW, I’m still blown away by how musical sounding it is, and with a few tweaks, I had a rocking live bass going that will probably fool most listeners. It was so inspirational that I then went in and made a bunch of fills and various changes for the turnaround part, at the end of the 4 bar phrase, and while moving those around the bass, just became even more dynamic and rather “Live” sounding.
[Jay-J was kind enough to provide a snippet of his remix featuring the bass.]
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
I’ve made short edits of several songs that sounded great in the clubs. This makes it very easy to import into a session and directly compare my mix with the edit(s)/few tracks, right there in context and very quickly jump back and forth between the two. To accomplish this I set up a master bus and all my tracks get routed to this bus/auxiliary track and my mastering chain of compression and limiting goes here. That bus/aux track then feeds the master out. Then my track with all the edited reference tracks on it goes directly to the master. This way the reference tracks signal path doesn’t come into contact with the mastering chain for the current session providing the ability to quickly jump from reference track to current project for comparison.