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

I am Tom Szirtes aka Shur-i-kan. I've been producing electronic music for the last 10 years. I'm probably best known these days for my House music output, but those who follow me know that I've dabbled in many different genres: chillout, hip-hop and electro / bass sounds.

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

I learned piano from an early age and studied music at school, but other than that I pretty much learned on the job by playing in bands and experimenting on my own. Actually, most of my "real" education is in computers. I made video games for Sega and other companies, which is funny because usually at parties when people ask me what I do, they normally have a glazed expression whilst I talk about my international DJ lifestyle, but as soon as I mention making video games they go "Wow!" which leads me to believe I must be going to the wrong parties.

What hardware are you using?

I don't really use any hardware. I have a few bits like my Fender Rhodes and a Roland master keyboard, but the only hardware the really matters is the Mac Pro with a couple of UAD cards in it. I monitor on some small old Genelecs and also a pair of Spirit Absolute Zeros - they are old school, but I like to A/B compare different speakers when I'm mixing. I'm tempted to get something like NI Maschine just so I get a bit more tactile but so far I've resisted. My one concession to hardware is I recently bought an MFB-522 which I'm looking forward to playing with.

What software are you using?

I use a combination of Logic Pro and Ableton Live. Ableton I use slaved to Logic to mess around and audition loops (I have quite a big library that I've accumulated over the years from records and digging weird sources) as it's very quick and intuitive, but I never arrange or mix in it as I'm more comfortable doing it in Logic. I don't know if Logic is any better but I'm just more familiar with it even with its faults. I recently downloaded Reaper - but I've not had it long enough to have a proper play with - though it looks good. Plug-in wise I use FXpansion's Geist which recently replaced Battery III for drum programming (I like its interface and the step sequencer). I have the usual Native Instruments suite of plug-ins that I occasionally use bits from, but the main workhorse among them is Kontakt for triggering samples. Other than that I tend to use the Spectrasonics stuff such as Omnisphere and Trillian which have become my go-to instruments, oh yes and G-Force Minimonsta that I use a lot. I've spent a small fortune over the years on the UAD plug-ins, but to be honest, I think I prefer the sound of the Waves set.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love to have all the original synths like the Oberheim, JUNO-106, 808, 909 and 303 - I think it's hard to recreate their exact sound in the box. I'm always warming and gritting up sounds from soft synths and it would be interesting to compare with the real McCoy. Having all your instruments laid out so you can just quickly sit down and play on them would be great. Of course the downside would be all the patching and preset management you'd need, which of course I remember because when I started this game, VST instruments were all but a novelty then on my 133MHz PC.

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

My creative process is a hard and long one! I'm usually inspired by some sound or sample from a record. I might sample it and then mess around with it. It could be a rhythmic idea or a harmonic one. Then I'll play around with the sample, play stuff on top and just jam. Usually after an hour or so I get bored and then save it and move on. Then later I'll come back to it. Often I'll complete a track but not be totally happy with it so it sits on the shelf, so I'll load it up months later and then use that as an inspiration point. My hard drive is full of semi-finished tracks. Occasionally if I'm lucky I'll just hit on an idea and the vibe will flow and I can finish a track in an evening - sometimes the best ones come that way.

Where do you shop for and discover music?

As an established DJ I get sent a lot of stuff, the majority of which I'll never get round to listening to unfortunately. I also go round the usual download stores like Beatport, Juno Download, Whatpeopleplay, Traxsource etc. Additionally, SoundCloud turns up some interesting stuff and is a great forum to meet other producers. I used to spend quite a bit of time on iChat swapping tunes with producers but sadly I don't get so much time to do that these days.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

There's always new upcoming talent bubbling up. James Johnston from Glasgow is a man to follow. I love all the new sounds coming from the Bristol crew like Julio Bashmore, Coats of Arms, etc…

What's brewing in your studio?

Lots is coming - I had a quiet year in 2011 on the release side, but that dam is about to break. I've got about 3 EPs almost ready to go and they will be tasters of my new album of House music which I've just about finished. Then in 2012 you will see me move in new directions.

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

If it sounds good, use it! Try not to mix everything too loud - it's tempting, but try!

Where can we find you on the web?

Shur-i-kan / SoundCloud / Facebook / Twitter /