DA Studios: Chris Lake’s Top 5 Tips for Aspiring ProducersChris Lake Rukes 3

DA Studios: Chris Lake’s Top 5 Tips for Aspiring Producers

Chris Lake's Top 5 Tips for Aspiring Producers

Last year, we started Dancing Astronaut Studios as a way to explore the technical side of electronic music production. Working closely with Dubspot, we created a series of tutorials spanning everything from compression and EQ to phasing and flanging. Now we turn our attention to the artists whose work we admire on a daily basis, providing a space for professional producers to share their acquired wisdom with budding electronic musicians.

For the first edition, we’ve got Rising Music label head and progressive house luminary Chris Lake on the hot seat. The revered Scottish producer lends his knowledge to DA Studios, offering his ‘top five tips for aspiring producers.’

1. Take time to choose the right DAW

“Find a sequencer that you feel the most comfortable with. Even though your favorite music production magazine or producer might use a certain piece of software, it doesn’t mean it’ll be right for you. At the end of the day, that software will be the interface between you, your ideas, and how you turn them into something that sounds good. Different people feel comfortable in certain software. For example, Nom De Strip loves Logic. Personally, I find it drives me crazy and prefer writing in Ableton Live. I’m much much faster in that.”

Photo Credit: Rukes

2. Embrace accidents

“One of the best things that was said to me was by Sebastien Leger when I worked on our collaboration together in Holland. He said that he doesn’t look for the best idea when he’s starting a track, he’s searching for the most interesting and best sounding mistake. The truth is, that’s exactly when the most exciting things happen for me: when you accidentally do something that makes you go, ‘oh shit, that’s sick’ and inspires you to move forward with the record. So in other words, be creative, try different things, and even try to do things that are technically ‘wrong’ to come up with new sounds. The opportunities are endless.”

Photo Credit: Rukes

3. Use reference tracks

“Reference your mix against other records you like the sound of if you’re struggling to get the sound you want. This is especially important in dance music as the track needs to sound as good as possible in a club. The mix can be the difference between nobody playing something, and everyone playing it. Listen to what is lacking in yours when you switch between the two, and make adjustments to yours until you get it right. The idea is to take a finished track (that, don’t forget, will be mastered already), turn it down to a level that is similar to what your track is playing at in your sequencer, then do some comparisons. Try to do this to a few records that you feel have similar characteristics to your track. Then once you’re finished, you can master your track. The theory behind it is, if you do this, and get someone good to master your record, your record should end up sounding better mix-wise than the records you’re referencing!”

Photo Credit: Rukes

4. Keep your musical ideas original

“So this is kind of an extension to point 3, but while I think it’s great to compare the mix of a record to your track, I think it’s not a good thing to compare your record to others when it comes to your musical ideas. You want your ideas to be as original and as personal to you as possible, because otherwise you run the danger of sounding like other people, and lacking any identity or individuality yourself. If you want to stand out in the crowd you need to be doing something that someone else isn’t doing.”

Photo Credit: Rukes

5. Use monitors

“Get your monitoring right. I currently use three different sets of monitors to check my mixes. I use the Focal Twin 2’s with the matching sub, which are awesome, then I have a pair of Avantone MixCubes, which, in all honesty, sound awful, but the reason I like that is because they give you a better idea of what your mix will sound like on bad speakers in peoples homes, cars, phone speakers etc. Not everyone has a big nightclub with a Funktion One sound system to listen to their music through, so you have to think about each situation. The last speakers I listen through are my MacBook Pro speakers. I love them, and I listen to everything through these. I think they’re the ultimate test for me, but that is definitely a very personal thing for me. When I tell other artists this, they get angry with me.”

Photo Credit: Rukes

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