Sketching _ Interview with Timothy Alexander
Great. We have a Casual Violence mix coming up soon. He’s amazing.
Time for the geeky stuff now. How long have you been producing for & where did it begin?
I started out in 2002 with my two-piece band Stitchthread…We had a PC, an internal soundcard and some really crappy software (I think Hammerhead Rhythm Studio was used for the drums as well as a Casio). I remember recording vocals on a £1 mic, not knowing what the hell we were doing! I think we also had a Tascam 4-track at some point too. If you can get stuff like that to sound somewhat listenable, you can make anything sound good!
A year or so later I got a PC and put Cubase on. I spent a week off from school recording ideas and blew the soundcard multiple times. I needed a drum sampler and FruityLoops kept showing up on search engines so I got that and then experimented with drum samples. I then went through various DAWs before turning to Live about 3 years ago.
I did Music at school combined with Music Tech at college. As well as the bands I started playing around with LSDJ and doing chiptune style stuff…This linked in with electro and I played around with drum sounds on FL. It became apparent though that I don’t ‘do’ happy style music…It’s not in me! So when I started listening to Liebing, Beyer etc. it was perfect…It combined electronic sounds but with an attitude that you would expect to find in a band setting.
What’s the approach when you produce now? Must have changed a bit since the chiptune stuff! haha. Would you mind talking about your production set-up a little?
‘Sketching’ is massively important for me. When I create a new sound in a track, I won’t just use it in that first track. I’ll play around with it in about 4 or 5 projects and see which one I like and work on it from there. My hardrive must be full of hundreds of tracks like this, most will never be heard. My kicks are nearly always synthesised with a couple of samples layered over. The ambient stuff on top comes from a wide range of found sounds which are reprocessed, or my own samples which are then passed through a load of effects.
Well I’m about to move to Berlin next month so my setup is a pair of DT100s, Xone 2D and a Macbook. I use Ableton for production. I also have some guitar effects and a DM4 drum module which I’m going to try and incorporate into a live setup at some point in the future. In terms of ‘starting again’…I don’t think I would do anything differently. I had to go through everything to be the producer I am now.
Do you like to keep up to date on what’s happening in the music production magazines / online? Do you like all the tutorials / In the Studio interviews etc.?
Yeah, as an artist I’m constantly researching and learning. I used to read magazines such as Computer Music but now I tend to use online resources such as forums. Subsekt is one of these great resources and I wish it was there when I first started making Techno!
Hahaha! *collective blush*