Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?

Hello. My name is David Pezzner. I am 37 years old, I am a husband and a father of two. I live in Seattle, Washington, and I am an electronic music producer, engineer, teacher and all-around purveyor of fine sound. I started music production in 1992, and in 2007 I quit my day job to produce music full time.

What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?

Mostly self-taught. I did some classes for MIDI and digital audio years ago at Shoreline in Seattle, but most of what I've learned has been from the internet and reading manuals, and of course trial and error. Some links that have helped me along the way for mastering (which has always been a hurdle for me):

What hardware are you using?

I do all my work on a Dell Studio XPS 1647 laptop running Windows 7. Yes, I'm a Windows guy. I like the flexibility I have with Windows and it's way less expensive. I have two studios — a small one at home with a pair of Mackie HR624's, but at the other studio, we have a set of KRK Rocket 8's. For headphones I use Sony MDR-7506's — the same brand and model headphones I have been using for about 12 years.

I have several audio interfaces that I switch between for different reasons. In the home studio I have the MOTU Ultralite MK1, and for live shows, a Focusrite Sapphire Pro 24. I love both audio interfaces for different reasons; the MOTU offers really loud headroom, and can operate as a stand-alone mixer, but the Sapphire 6 is lighter, less expensive, and travels well.

Aside from that, I have plenty of MIDI controllers. In my live set I'm using a pair of Behringer BCF2000's to control the mix and effects via Ableton Live. I also use Native Instruments Maschine to create beats and hooks live on stage. At the home studio I'm using an M-Audio Axiom 61 which is all the control I really need to create a tune. It offers 8 Faders, 8 Knobs, 8 pads and 61 keys.

In our shared studio we have an Akai MPK49, which does the job. We also have an M-Audio Keystation 88 which has some decent piano-style key weighting. I just picked up a couple new microphones from Behringer, the C-3 Dual-Diaphragm Studio Condenser Mic and their T-47 vacuum tube mic. Really excited to toy around with these, I've heard really great things.

Really, all I need to do a track are my Sony 7506 headphones, some decent studio monitors, and a keyboard controller with some faders. My audio interface and headphones are by far the most essential pieces. I feel like I know the sound of these devices well enough to execute the sound I'm looking for.

What software are you using?

So like I said, am a Windows guy. I have been using Windows since I started using computers for music back in 1998. People always ask me why I'm not using Apple and I guess I haven't felt like switching operating systems is going to make me a better producer. I have also been using FL Studio since day one, and since Image Line doesn't make FL Studio for Mac, I hadn't really put much thought to using a different computer.

Aside from FL Studio, I am an avid Native Instruments user. I use Battery and Kontakt for all my sample based sounds, and Reaktor for a lot of my synth based sounds. The Photone and Solina ensembles are a couple of my faves.

I also use effects and Ohm Force. I use the Ohmicide distortion in almost every song, but I like to use it as a multiband eq or filter. D16's Nepheton has some great 808 emulations that I use all the time, and I don't think I've ever made a song that doesn't have Audio Damage's Reverence Reverb somewhere in it. The Reverence Reverb has a very classic synthetic reverb similar to an older Lexicon plate.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm really happy with what I have. It's simple but I know my equipment. In a dream situation, it would be nice to have a better sound room and monitoring setup, a pair of Genelec 1032AM's, and a Midas Venice 16R mixing console. A Jupiter 8 and a Minimoog would be nice.

Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?

I try to take a different approach each time but usually I start with the non-percussive elements first. I do that because sometimes I feel like if I start with percussion, then I'll be trying to wrap the music around a house beat ultimately ending up with a pretty typical sound. If I start with the non-percussive sounds, it's anything-goes. Then I can start thinking about a percussive motif that will work with the music I wrote. Aside from that, I always start from an experimental standpoint and refine from there.

Where do you shop for and discover music?

For House music, I find myself discovering new sounds via the many promo lists I'm subscribed to: Exclusive Promo, Dispersion, Your Army, and Pull Proxy are among my favorites. For shopping, I use Whatpeopleplay as a starting point because their recommendations are always on point and don't seem at all driven by favoritism or sales like many of the other sites. I also enjoy browsing Phonica Records. For other styles of music I pretty much rely on my friends to point me in the right direction. To be honest, I spend so much time working on my productions that I don't have very much time to discover new music.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

Para One, Cid Rim, Arthur Russell — who is actually old school but I'm just now discovering his work.

What's brewing in your studio?

I have been working a lot with Amina Abdel who sang vocals on "Alone" by Dirty Channels and Bugsy, which came out on Ovum last year. She is an amazing vocalist who puts a lot of energy into her poetry as well as her voice. I'm very honored to work with her. Unfortunately I don't have samples that I can share with They Make Music because these tunes are not signed yet, but you can expect some blissful drama with these new songs.

Any production tips & tricks you'd like to share?

Yes actually, I learned this trick back in the day and I do it all the time: If you spread a nice coat of mayonnaise on your microphone, this works as a de-esser. If you need a more drastic de-esser, try using peanut butter.

This one I picked up from Steve Hall at a recent recording academy summit: If you record your sound to vinyl and softly wash the record with etching cream, then sand it down with a fine sandpaper, say 400 grit, then bus this recording back into your DAW, you can get that perfect white noise build-up sound. This is how the pros do it.

For sound design, if you randomly throw sound effects into Ableton and pile the sounds up into 30 or so layers, route all of these layers to one channel and put a doppler panner on that channel, you will have the perfect breakdown.

Tape a guitar pickup to a balloon and slowly let the air out. Try it with nitrous oxide for a new school house sound.

Record your vocal to cassette tape and disassemble the cassette. Get two tape players and hand feed the tape from one player to the next. Play both at the same time.

When prepping a master recording for a mastering engineer, here is a good process that I've developed over time:

  1. Roll off all frequencies below 4000Hz on tracks containing kick drums, open hi-hats, 6-string bass guitars, bassoons, sitars, and field recordings of trains or mice.

  2. Turn off all EQs, reverbs, and other effects from all channels.

  3. Play the track, paying close attention to your levels. Slowly bring down the volume of each track one-by-one until there is no audible sound.

  4. Turn off your DAW, laptop, computer, mixing desk, etc.

  5. Purchase a copy of Justin Bieber's latest single and send that off to the engineer for mastering.

Where can we find you on the web?

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