Music Production Concepts Database

“Keep your focus very narrow: just this and nothing more, and make that absolutely exquisite and don’t get sucked into distractions, don’t listen to the siren chorus singing across the waves about this keyboard that has a billion sounds in it. I couldn’t care less about things like that. They just get in the way. I’m not bragging, but the way I work is that I focus entirely on a small thing and try to milk that for all it’s worth, to find everything in it that makes musical sense.”

Harold Budd

“Beauty is all around you. You open your eyes in the morning, the world is totally formed. You haven’t done anything other than be. It’s all around you. The whole idea is being able to recognize it, and pay attention to it, articulate it.”

Robert Irwin

“But we don’t necessarily want you to play things right, we want you to play things cool. You play over a groove until you have a good bar, and then we take that bar and loop it. I always say that our best music comes from mistakes that happen. You’re trying to do one thing, and then someone makes a mistake and that mistake ends up being the hook of the song, the coolest part of the song.”

Mike Simpson, Dust Brothers 

“Having things so that they’re not in any way masked, so that they’re really crisp, clear images in sound. So that you can always identify the source of the sound. It’s like a really vivid version of the thing that you’re hearing.”

Nicholas Worrall 

“I love recording synths or piano on it at a really slow speed. When the motor makes the tape just inch along in slow motion, it adds nice texture and unsteadiness to the signal which then I magnify by compressing and EQing it.”

Robot Koch

“People associate electronic sounds with shiny and sparkly colours, but I’m not interested in that. I built analogue keyboards as a kid, these synth kits that you could buy on mail order. Unfortunately I don’t have any of that stuff any more, but it obviously had a strong effect on me. I now tend to roll off a lot of the high end in the electronics in my music, and this makes them sound very vintage-like.”

Max Richter 

“There’s so many different ways of generating and processing sounds that even if you had the same tools at your disposal as the person that made a piece of music, the relationship between the sound that comes out of their signal chain and the various parameters they have at their fingertips is so wildly unstable that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to try to recreate it.”

Objekt 

“One of the biggest problems these days is how easy it is to get caught up in the search for the perfect sound. You can scroll through literally hundreds and hundreds of different presets and drum samples, looking for something that the song doesn’t need. You’re looking out there in the big wide world or you’re looking inside the computer, but you really should be looking inside yourself. In your own head. Does it sound good to you? Do your ears like it?”

I might hear one chord that I like from a song I’m working on, take that, stretch it out to half a minute, re-pitch it. It all adds to the feel of a song. My studio isn’t a pristine environment creating highly polished products.”

Chicane 

“…It’s often these ones [tracks] where there’s really not a great deal going on, but somehow they’re still more than the sum of their actual parts.”

Hudson Mohawke

“I’m not a big fan of compression or limiting at all — I can’t emphasise that enough. On many of the recordings that you hear today, all the excitement and all the colour is gone because they’re so over‑compressed.”

Bruce Swedien

“I know the anoraks will say that virtual analogue synths aren’t as good as the originals, that they don’t go out of tune as wonderfully as the originals, but the automation possibilities of effectively having eight pairs of hands on every oscillator, and moving them in a coordinated way, are radically new. You could never have done that on a Minimoog in 1973. I think the automation of plug‑ins, reverbs and things like that, is a fantastic possibility, because it gives us a chance to manipulate musical space in unprecedented ways. Again, it’s like having eight pairs of hands on the dial of a Lexicon or something.”

Guy Sigsworth

“One of my production idols is Arca. She occasionally does these live streams where she’s showing her process, and it’s very destructive. She’ll print the reverb onto the track, then chop that up. There’s no restraint, no thinking ‘I should plan for the future by bussing this thing out, or separating it.’ It’s very spur of the moment. That’s been super inspiring.”

Mura Masa

“Music doesn’t progress in a linear fashion like a lot of people like to think. You get musical innovations, but there’s always a cyclical relationship to the past and a generational relationship—with each generation, the time cycle starts again. So you can’t just picture it as a straight line going forward. It’s always devouring its own past and upgrading itself with younger ears and younger dancing crowds, and most importantly with new technologies which help nudge things forward to the next phase.”

Steve Goodman (aka Kode9)

“I always think of myself as being on this producer’s end of listening: the way that a producer might listen to a recording, or might listen to an instrument, or a microphone or whatever. So usually the way I would want people to think about sound is trying to listen to these details. And listening to any kind of recording and trying to think about, you know, what are you actually hearing? And then when you go a step towards making it, think about how that would have been done and trying to go backwards from the sound and try to deconstruct it a little bit.

But even if you’re playing an instrument—if you have someone who has a basic oscillator or something–to just listen to it, to just listen to things. And to really take time and listen to them and not just move on to the next thing but really think about that sound quality. And you could try making minute changes to things and really try to absorb what that sound is like.”

– Sarah Davachi

“Long drones—different ways of framing what the person is saying. Generally with samples I’ll make like five or six drones that it can live in, and the harmonic landscape of those drones will affect the emotion of the song—that’s what they’re born out of.” 

Fred Again..

“The album would not exist, really, without convert to harmony. I’m too stupid to listen to somebody playing guitar and go like, what’s the chord? But this system lets you produce a kind of trace, and its unreliability gives you this funny little grit of chaos that you can use to grow something cool. I’m trimming this little bonsai tree of MIDI information, and getting it to grow in the right way.”

Drew Daniel

“I’m addicted to the idea that you put yourself in a place and surrender to it. It’s about making space for a kind of attention that you’re not normally offered by entertainment media.”

Brian Eno

“Sometimes it’s as simple as just pressing record and wandering around amidst the tools and instruments you’ve accumulated, forcing interactions until something clicks and the brain takes notice.”

Keith Fullerton Whitman

“Sometimes things have originated from a very simple synth but then there’s often a lot of layering, stretching and pitching within Ableton, which makes it sound gritty as well… and that’s all just from the DAW.”

Sascha Ring (Apparat)

“When I listen to musicians–when I see a cellist embodying a cello, I want to hear into their soul. I feel that’s fairly easy however  good you are as a cellist because you’re connected to that object. But with a synthesizer it’s a lot harder because you’re behind all these circuits. So I long for electronic music where you hear beyond the instrument into the soul of the performer, and my entire search, my entire practice is that. So sure, I’ll dial in this sound, but you have to play with the modulation whilst you’re playing it to convey that soul of the instrument.”

Sam Shephard (Floating Points)

“This kick resampling thing, where I’m taking a kick and turning off the grid in Ableton, shortening it, copying it a bunch so that you end up with a bunch of kick hits in a row. And then consolidating that and fading it out so you get this weird [sound], and I panned it in the track. Instead of doing the—[sings EDM drum build-up]—that drives everyone crazy, it’s just a slightly more interesting way of using kicks to build a bit of tension. It’s quite elastic sounding.”

Mura Masa

“I try to control randomness. This is a big counterpoint, the encounter of randomness and control. The contrast is more interesting. If you really control a millisecond, there are other possibilities, even if they are microscopic. You can’t perceive the change directly, but if you pay very close attention, the entire composition changes. So, I try to add randomness, and I like to see the counterpoint, the counterbalance.”

Ryoji Ikeda