Sister Crayon

Who are you and what do you do?

Dani: My name is Dani Fernandez and I play the MPC and synth, as well as other various forms of percussion.

Nicholas: My name is Nicholas Suhr and I play drums and the Roland SPD pad.

Terra: I'm Terra Lopez and I sing/yell and create loops and samples.

Jeffrey: My name is Jeffrey LaTour and I play keys and guitar.

What hardware are you using?

Terra: For the past few years I have used a Korg Kaoss Pad along with 1-2 Boss RC-20XL Loop Pedals that I use to record and mix live vocal loops, harmonies, etc. I run 2 different mics through my set up (1 with a cleaner sound using the Kaoss pad: a Sennheiser 835, and 1 mic with a dirty, low-fi sound using the loop pedal: usually an old Shure mic from the 60's). I love being able to cut up, effect, and mix live vocal harmonies. I also used to use a Line 6 loop pedal, but it broke so I started using the Boss loop pedals. I love creating live loops with vocals…being able to manipulate them and tweak them live is very fun. I want to continue working on this so that I can create even bigger harmonies and do more live editing, syncing up the vocals with our drums…making them more of a percussive instrument in the future. I also use a Roland SP-303 sampler that I use more for textures, additional vocals, and just odd sounds.

Jeffrey: Currently, I have a mix of organic and synthetic instruments live; I play a Hohner Pianet T and Gibson SG (both of which I absolutely love), that run through my string of effects pedals. I find that placement of the effects pedals, or the order they're in makes a huge difference in finding a unique sound. I also play the Alesis Micron synthesizer; I have nothing but good things to say about this little synth. I have been able to edit and create tones to an extent that no other synth I've played has allowed. When played through the right amp and/or preamp, I've been able to compensate for its lack of analog warmth and richness. Having the ability to edit and create tones has proven to be invaluable. Lastly, I have the Roland SP-404 sampler. I have only begun to introduce this piece into my setup, but thus far it has been amazing to incorporate tones and sounds that I can't make with an instrument or those that I've discovered from field recordings. It's amazing to be able to record literally anything and use the sampler and play it as an instrument.

Nicholas: I am using a bunch of different hardware when it comes to drums. I use Tama, Mapex, Yamaha, and Pearl….Basically the same hardware I have had for years, because it has held up. I don't use it necessarily because I love it, but it's hung in there and I am happy it has! All this gear is pretty dope. While on tour, shit gets tossed around and it needs to hold up.

Dani: I use an MPC1000 and a microKORG. I love using the MPC1000 because it keeps the old school feel in beats but you can also do so much more with it. microKORG is awesome to play because there are tons of tones that you can play around with and there are ways that you can chop them up or mess with the way the tones sound. Fun!

What software are you using?

Jeffrey: The only software I use is Pro Tools. I only use it for demos or ideas and editing samples I've recorded or made. Pro Tools seems to be the easiest for these purposes and I've been very happy with it. It's definitely a program that you can continuously learn from or about. Recording arts is something I definitely want to continue to delve into, once I have the time to focus on it and only it. In the meantime, I enjoy geeking out with ideas and slowly but surely learning the ropes with the help of friends.

Terra: I have not been able to delve much in this realm—not as much as I would like to yet but I plan on learning a lot more about Pro Tools and Ableton Live. I've just been using GarageBand for years to record simple demos…basically to jot down ideas. It's really easy to use and it's free. I just got Pro Tools on my computer as well as Ableton so I'm excited to finally sit down when I have some time and start learning it. I have learned a lot from our engineer Scott McChane about Pro Tools just by watching him as he records us in the studio.

What would be your dream setup?

Terra: Oh man…I could go on forever with this question. As far as live goes, I am pretty content with my Kaoss pad and the loop pedals but I would love to get a Mackie mixer so that I could experience a quality sounding board. I would love to possibly get some kind of beat machine…either an Akai MPC or maybe a bigger Roland sampling pad to incorporate more vocal and beat layers. If you are talking about a studio setup, I could go on and on with this. I have started to build a studio at my place so I have some gear but I would love to get some quality monitor speakers, an Akai MPC 2000XL or MPC5000, some vintage synths (Moog or the Roland Juno would be nice) and a Telecaster guitar of some sort. I have some decent keyboards and guitars and some decent condenser mics but I would love to have some more electronics. There is always room for more gear. I just want to mess with sound and create using old and new gear. That seems so fun to me—just experimenting with vintage and new gear.

Jeffrey: I think as far as live setups go, I'm getting very close to what would be my ideal setup. I have a great variety of instruments and sounds to choose from and the ability to create any that I think of in the future. I suppose replacing a few oldies I have laying around would be nice, but for the most part, I can't complain. As for studio setup, that's a completely different story. I'm running off an Mbox 2 and using a pair of headphones as my only monitoring system for God's sake. I'd be starting from scratch on that one. I suppose I would start with a few preamps and a decent monitoring system. But my main focus would be collecting mics. Over the past year, I've found that mics make all the difference; placement, power, numbers, etc. I'm only learning, but it's becoming an obsession thanks to the place we record everything, The Hangar, and all who reside there.

Nicholas: A 1968 or 69 Standard vintage Ludwig…..please. Sabian Cymbals and either DW Drums or Yamaha hardware.

Dani: My dream setup would probably just upgrade to an MPC 2500. A newer model of what I play now. Bigger storage room for more beats!

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

Jeffrey: I find that more and more artists and musicians are resorting to laptops, which I can completely understand and even support; however, in my opinion, nothing will ever affect people like live music, in which every (or almost every) sound is being created and played by a human. Perhaps I am biased on this matter, but I find that there is twice the energy, feeling and vibe in a live performance when humans are playing the sounds created, as opposed to a machine just playing back a preexisting recording. Afterall, that is the main difference between seeing music performed live and just listening to it at home. Or maybe I'm just stuck in the old days…

Terra: I would just say that if you have the chance as an artist, spend as much time as you can in a good quality studio. We have learned so much from spending time at the studio where we record. We are surrounded by experienced engineers who are more than willing to share their knowledge of the craft of recording and because of that, our own knowledge has increased drastically. I would just encourage musicians to find someone that they know who has a lot of experience with recording or production and listen and learn from them. It will increase your ability immensely and it will make you a better musician and artist. I would also say to not be afraid to experiment with sound, with instruments, with your voice, etc. Not everything you do or record as a musician has to be logical or "safe"…experiment with objects in the room, sing in a kitchen or bathroom, etc. There is a lot of cool shit that you can create with. We are learning that as we keep on recording.

Nicholas: For the most part, I am still really learning as well. There is always so much to learn. When recording, I just make sure that the drums have new heads on them, and I make sure everything is nice and loose, so I can tune throughout the session. Live, I just make sure everything is tuned a bit tighter. I dunno, I like when drummers can change it up a bit live…not too much but just a bit. It's a different experience. Trial and error needs to be done….It's all a matter of taste. I have kinda learned that you need to tune out what others say, if you play "your" style, then you are the only one who can really say what is right and wrong. The one mic I have been hooked on though is the omni mic below the snare….it has changed the drums completely and I am already stoked off the songs we have been recording because of the attack that that mic picks up.

Where can we find you on the web?

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