Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Matthew Chicoine. I'm known professionally as a producer and DJ under the moniker Recloose. I started making music in 1997 and was able to make it (along with DJing and other music hustling endeavors) full time by 1999. In a sense I am still involved with production full-time: I was hired in late 2009 to assemble a production/DJ programme for a large music school in Auckland, so I now make music for release and also teach it (sometimes simultaneously).

What hardware are you using?

I've collected a number of random things over the years that have become staples of my studio. For some reason I never dropped big money on a synth. I'm usually more attracted to analogue synths that are a bit under the radar (and as a result a little cheaper).

My synths:

Kawai SX-240. A fairly unknown analogue synth I came across in Detroit. It was originally released in 1984 and is often compared to the Korg PolySix (although has a pretty unique sound all of its own). It appears in almost all of my productions over the years (in varying roles) and is still working 27 years after its inception without a hitch.

Roland Juno 106. This poor synth has been through the ringer. It's been to gigs (what I was thinking I'm not sure!), dropped a few times, had things spilled on it. Several of the features don't work now but it still makes some great sounds, and is almost always used for bass sounds in my productions (if not by itself, then as a layer).

Ensoniq ESQ-1. A cool digital-analogue hybrid board I got from my man Hugo (who does the amazing Goldbaby sample packs). It basically has digital oscillators and analogue filters, which gives it a very unique sound that can cut quite nicely through a mix.

Roland JX-8P. While currently out of commission (getting it looked at now), it's been a great board over the years. I first grabbed it because it sounded like lots of the music I'd remembered hearing off of Tron and Harold F productions back when I was a kid. I've since heard a number of its more stand out patches on many productions in the past ten years. I generally like it for its pads and lead sounds, especially if I drench them in chorus or the like.

Control Synthesis Deep Bass Nine. A little rack mount analogue synth that came out in the early 1990s. Was initially designed to be a 303-clone, not quite what you'd call a bang-on replica but still cool. I like to use it to thicken up bass sounds or create some acid-style arpeggios.

Korg R3. My only digital keyboard. Bought it mostly for gigging, now generally used as my MIDI controller. The sounds are okay but I often don't have the patience to edit it, I'll usually just turn to one of the aforementioned synths.

My Samplers:

In conjunction with my synths, sampling has always been a big part of my musical approach. I've spent lots of time learning a good number of samplers over the years and still have three in my arsenal, each suited for a slightly different purpose. I don't use them as much as I used to due in part to the ease of use I've found with Ableton Live and achieving similar goals, but I do turn to them to produce different sonic and performance results.

E-MU E5000 Ultra. This was my work horse from 2000 until recently. The majority of my samples came off this beast, and I still love it for its sound, the filters and the extent of modulation tweaking you can do on it.

E-MU Emax. I picked this up for cheap, partly out of nostalgia (the first sampler I played around with in the mid 1990s) but also as I see it as a budget version of the SP-1200 (similar circuitry and released around the same time). It's got analogue filters which you can do some seriously crazy things with (turn up the resonance and see what happens) and of course you can add some real crunchy character to your drums.

Akai MPC1000. Didn't get this for its sound, more just to have a cheap sampling workstation I could bring on the road with me. I still break it out to make beats sometimes as you can wind up with pretty interesting results. (also owned Akai S-900, S-2000, S-3000XL and MPC2000XL over the years)

MIDI Controllers:

Akai APC40. Nice for studio use, especially live automation. Have also used it for gigging and really enjoying this in my set up.

Akai LPD8. No brainer, cheap as chips Pad Controller. And much better built than its Korg counterpart.

Other hardware:

Korg DVP-1. Korg's 'Digital Voice Processor' from 1985. Not so great but does some weird things, good for layers.

Tama Techstar TS206. Pretty useless electronic drum module, but looks cool in the rack.

Plus various outboard effects units, EQs etc.

What software are you using?

I'm an Ableton Live convert. I used Cubase in the late 1990s, switched to Logic in 2000, and started mixing in Pro Tools in 2003. I still have full versions of Logic and ProTools if I need to go back to them… but I think I've reached the stage where I don't need to. I initially bought Ableton 4 in 2004, namely for warping rhythmically challenging samples and doing easy edits of tracks for DJing. Over the years it has become more central to my creative process and now I'd say it's basically taken over, especially since the MIDI features have improved in version 8.

I've gotten to a stage now where I'm just starting to create and mix everything in Ableton Live. Even a few months ago I was still bouncing all my stems out and mixing in ProTools. While I love ProTools I just couldn't justify the time bouncing the stems (and multiple versions of stems if I wanted to change certain parameters, or have them with and without effects). My reluctance to use Ableton to mix was always the sound and the quality of the plug-ins (this feeling is echoed by a lot of my teaching associates in the Audio Department of my school) but I've found some decent third party plug-ins that have made a difference to the mix (namely the Waves plugins and also SoundToys FilterFreak which is dope).

I've also just got a full version of Reason 5 but haven't had time to crack into it. I'm most interested to use it for the step sequencer, because drum programming is historically a long and sometimes frustrating process for me. It's taken me awhile to realize that there is wisdom in step-sequencing your drums (versus playing them in manually)—namely it saves a lot of time with often better results. This really shouldn't be that much of a revelation considering how many amazing dance records were made this way over the years! What I'm starting to do now is step-sequence (or the approximation there-of in Ableton MIDI clips) the majority of the drums and then play in 2-3 lines (percussion, hats or the like) live to give it a bit of a human feel too.

What would be your dream setup?

Ideally I'd like to have a large studio space set up for both recording and creating, complete with drums, piano, marimba, percussion, decent microphone and amplifier collection, and a cornucopia of analogue synths. Plus a beautiful desk, rack gear etc. I'd better start making commercial music or advertisements…

Right now I'm crammed into a tiny room of my house with records and gear piled up in every corner. I'm definitely into my electronics again so don't feel I'm in need of a recording facility at the moment but am sure that I will eventually be drawn back to mixing in acoustic elements into my music. I have access to recording studios at my work though so my messy home project studio is working for me at the moment.

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

Ableton Live has freed up my workflow like no other programme. What can take 5 minutes in Logic will take 5 seconds in Ableton. Part of this (like any software) is imprinting the key commands onto your brain (for instance Command-D (duplicate), Shift Command-D (duplicate time), Command-L (loop selection), Command G (create group) are some of the most useful). There would always be a long list of grievances I'd have with Logic (usually because it did glitchy shit or required too many steps to do a simple thing). I haven't had the same issues with Ableton Live, and while there are a number of obvious things I'd suggest they improve on (more MIDI editing parameters, a 'transpose' key command, a 'normalize' function within the program, etc.) for the most part I have no major complaints with the way it is set up.

BUT. (And this is a big but.) I use it primarily as my creative hub—for assembly and arrangement, for flipping MIDI parts, for layering sounds. But the majority of my sounds come from external sources—usually analogue synths and samples recorded from vinyl, which in my opinion makes a huge difference. I can tell when somebody has made a track using only Ableton Live instruments, plug-ins and warping. It can sound one-dimensional, cheap, tinny and thin. I can also tell immediately when somebody has used Ableton Live to over-warp a sample (it warbles badly… and not in a good way), which also sounds cheap to me. That's not to say that the instruments in Ableton Live are useless, because I think they definitely have an interesting sonic characteristic. Used in the right way they can really add a unique colour to your tracks (usually in a subtle way, as a layer of a part or a non-intrusive pad or the like). But too much can tip the balance from what I think of as legitimate electronic music (it has to have that sound) and a cheap laptop knock off. The key to what I do is to find a variety of disparate sound sources and find ways to make them work together in the same 'Recloose' sonic universe. My 2 cents!

Where can we find you on the web?

Recloose / SoundCloud / Myspace / Facebook / Twitter /