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the fxs
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#1
16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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Q & A with RJD2

since this has been requested on another thread, i'm gonna kick it off.

RJ,
first off,
i'd like to know everything about the production and recording process of DEADRINGER.

-how long did it take you to finish this album? ... from the first sketches to the final mix and mastering.

-what equipment did you use?

and since this was asked on another thread:

-how did you get your drums to bang so hard?
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16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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I wanna know when we get to hear more music this dope...

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16th December 2010
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RJ posts on GS?

I'd be surprised.
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16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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I give this thread my blessing. Don't overload him with questions, and be respectful to one another.

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#5
16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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haha, ok! here we go folks, im gonna do my best to answer 'em all....

re: seasons-hopefully soon. my next phase of work, i.e. right now, that im trying to get off the ground is producing for some of the rappers i want to work with. im REALLY excited about some of the tracks i've done recently. all modestly aside, ive got one beat that i think might be the hardest thing i've ever done, wish i had a line on hov, alas, i dont. whatever. hope more comes soon on this subject.

re: deadringer. ok, the SPECS. get ready to laugh.

the album was entirely produced, arranged, and composed using one mpc2000, one 1200 turntable, and one numark bullshit dj mixer with a fader that kept falling into the mixer, and an ADAT.

it was mixed using a behringer eurorack 20-something channel board, one lexicon outboard unit i'd use for reverb, one ADAT. that's it. scratches on ADAT, synced to mpc. sounds dumped from mpc-ADAT to mixdown to DAT.

98% of the processing happened either going into the mpc, or within it. to go into this more would require specific examples. but i'll go into the drum thing a little:

i'd generally hit the mpc inputs kinda hard. not distort hard, but not like 30% peak, more like 85% peak. i've built up alot of tricks over the years for internally processing drums. one is to double up drum hits-same hit on two pads, assign to trigger both, then pitch one down AND filter it. more important on this is finding the PITCH of it, not just the filter cutoff of it. use your ears doing this, not the numbers. big trick here-you can double up bigger portions of drums, not just single hits, if you dont pitch them, but just use the filtering and resonance controls. again, use your ears, dont look at the numbers.

a big thing to mention if we are gonna talk drums is that i have a personal aesthetic about drums. i like drum loop type sounds. i like to hear long portions of drums sampled. so i spend ALOT of time trying to make programmed drums sound "real". again, lots of tricks to do this, but main thing for me is to think about the whole song, and try to put as much variation as i can throughout the WHOLE song. there's individual things i have learned, like sampling the decay portion of a drum hit, not the big transient part. then, assign the attack and decay so it has no transient at all. it just whooshes. now, think of this like spackle. after you chop a break, and reassemble it, you paste these little pieces into any places where there's silence. you can smooth things out like this. even if its not a silence portion. it can make an awkward decay sound more natural.

there's alot of "thinking like a guy directing a drummer" in the composing part.

also, dont discount the simple act of finding ALOT of drum breaks, and prioritizing them. i always have lots of breaks that are chopped up and ready to go, saved as a program, with no song. this gives me the option to go thru lots of drum programs and see what drums work on a loop/groove/song. LOTS of a/b/c/d comparisons to see what drums really WANT to be on a track. lots of revisiting songs and trying other drums. then deciding the original, or the new, are better.

another thing: i dont need the feel of the drummer. i want the tone of the engineer who cut the record. im gonna take it apart and put it back together anyway. so drums in 4/4, 5/4, 7/8, it doesnt matter. in fact, lots of my drum breaks arent even drum breaks. here, lets play a fun one, ill rat myself out:

YouTube - Billy Thorpe - Children of the Sun

please, do me a favor-i dont EVER rat myself out, so lets just leave it here ok? who can guess where i used these drums? its a good example of what im talking about. i just want the tones. i dont need anything resembling a groove sometimes.
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#6
16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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haha, tony's got my back
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16th December 2010
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Wow - look at that!

Very cool you're here. I'm a fan - love your production and musicality. We actually did a show together at Eckerd College a few years back - and it's always good to see West Philly on these forums.

Thanks for your answer on the drum question. I'd like to know what instruments you play, and how much work you do from home vs. how much tracking you do at a commercial studio.

Oh yeah - and any word on another Soul Position joint in the works?
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the fxs
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16th December 2010
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thanks for the answers RJ,
and that sample by billy thorpe's gotta be "get off my space ship, bitch", right!
...
still, i'd like to know how long did it take you to finish deadringer.
#9
16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
get ready to laugh.

the album was entirely produced, arranged, and composed using one mpc2000, one 1200 turntable, and one numark bullshit dj mixer with a fader that kept falling into the mixer, and an ADAT.
nah man YOU should laugh, at all them people with 10k worth of gear putting out bad music.

Q:what are you using now??
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16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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story: i play keys, guitar, and drums. extrapolate bass, vibraphone, glockenspiel from that. not claiming to be good at anything. just good enough to record a song in my bedroom, release it, and it may or may not end up on tv.

fxs-correct! DR-dunno, it was the culmination of probably 2 years of work, but off and on.

paul-thanks. i worked backwards. found vocal piece. then, constructed the main groove part. then, i just arranged my way backwards. so song starts w/ a pedal tone, very simple. then, implied chord change w/ gtr. add ambient shit. then, bam-groove hits. everything else just whatever.

simon-now= PT, mpc2kxl, and lots of instruments. many synths, amps, guitars, drum kits, etc. google motherboard rjd2 electric independence for studio i cut most of my music in the last 6-7 years.
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16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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I assume you are still using the mpc series? or do you now prefer a midi controller or ni machine type setup.
if so, what do you do about file management (zip disks) or
have you upgraded to flash/internal hd (mpc4000/2500)

do you ever chop up your samples via audio editing software
save to disk then load them into the mpc or (sample) strictly hit the mpc's converters on the way in.

do you record the mpc direct, or do you use any type of di box/preamp.

alot of people now tend to use ableton live for live shows and what not,
have you dug into any of these types of software? even for studio only use.


are you still working with elp/definitivejux
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#12
16th December 2010
Old 16th December 2010
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Big fan of your work! Hats off to you.
#13
17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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Hi rjd2,

I was hoping for an opportunity like this when I saw you posting here recently!

I'm a big fan so I'm gonna try to hold back a little here haha

Ghostwriter was one of my favorite tracks when I first discovered you. Later on I discovered Elliott Smith and "I didn't understand" was one of my favorite songs from him. I listen to both of these songs on a regular basis and yet it took me like a year and a half to realize one of my favorite songs was sampled in one of my favorite songs lmao! I was blazed at the time. Shoulda seen my face! E.S. is one of my favorite artists. Who do you listen to on a regular basis? Do you end up sampling a lot of your favorite music?

Also, I loved your work with Aceyalone. what does it take to get an rjd2 beat? Do you pick your rappers? Would you ever collab with another producer?

I watched Motherboard Electric Independence. You are making great music and you look like you're having fun doing it. Keep doing what you do because what you do is brilliant! Much love & respect.

Blake
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#14
17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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can i have your cs80?
#15
17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
i've built up alot of tricks over the years for internally processing drums. one is to double up drum hits-same hit on two pads, assign to trigger both, then pitch one down AND filter it. more important on this is finding the PITCH of it, not just the filter cutoff of it.
Thank you for the input RJ! Deadringer changed my life in terms of production!

Can you elaborate further on the drum doubling? What type of pitch and filter would you apply to the second drum hit?

Do you pitch it down an entire octave (-12 semitones) to keep it in the same key? Are you using a low or high pass filter on it thereafter?
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17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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Hy Mr. Krohn,

At the beginning I'd like to tell you how much I appreciate your record The Third Hand. To me this is musically speaking really a great album which shows how much talent you have as an arranger and composer.

That being said, I'd like to know a bit more stuff about your drum sound.

It may appear strange as question, but do you sample your drums in Mono or stereo?

You said you sample the drums quiet loud.? how about when you track them, do you play with the distortion created when the Mpc2kxl volume is fully pulled up?

And than a less technical question, what is you favorite drum break, sound wisely speaking? ( if there is one )

Are you still in touch with Def Jux?

I could ask you 8 million question. . . . But I guess I'll have to leave some space for other GS.

Thanks for being here and sharing a bit of your experience, knowledge and opinions.

Peace
K
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17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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big ups for doing this, much respect for your work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
ive got one beat that i think might be the hardest thing i've ever done, wish i had a line on hov, alas, i dont.
you should get vast aire on it.
#18
17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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circuitt: 2kxl. zip drives. i have 2 in my studio, one for writing, one at the PT rig for dumping.

seanblake-what's it take? a demo, a catalog i respect, some talent-all these have worked in the past. thanks for hte kind words, i appreciate it! producer collab-dunno, i guess it depends on if it was the right fit.

symmetrical-duly noted!

nikkelk-thanks ALOT for that. it means alot to me. that record was, by and large, the hardest record i had made to date, and not alot of people ask me about it.

i sample drums in mono if they sound better that way, stereo if not. ST really only helps if there is something super cool going on in the ST field. otherwise, drums are just gonna be way more effective in mono. with that said, i do sample stereo sometimes to keep any artifacts i like.

im not looking for distortion on the mpc inputs, but i have had problems in the past with drums sounding "flabby" or weak if a sample them super soft, and then boost them up in PT. YMMV.

fave break-dont have one, per se, but the punchiness and the decay of the tones on synthetic substitution is something i've tried very hard to recreate, and cant. there are alot of breaks that have a wierd character to them that i dont understand, and they become sort of holy grails to me. catch a groove by juice, there are many. funky music is the thing, 8th wonder.

marvell-drum pitching: you HAVE TO get out of thinking about it like a number. IME, every drum hit is going to have a "sister resonant frequency", if you will. a pitch at which a doubled version of itself will sound great underneath. its never the same. I STRONGLY IMPLORE YOU TO NOT EVEN LOOK AT THE NUMBER. pitch it up or down with the knob, and close your eyes. seriously. this is how i do it. it might be 2 semi-tones. it might be 8.

it sounds dumb, but im being serious here folks: the arguably most important studio technique EVER CREATED IS TO CLOSE YOUR EYES. seriously. cant stress this enough. across the board, this is a crucial discipline to have at your disposal.
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17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
like sampling the decay portion of a drum hit, not the big transient part. then, assign the attack and decay so it has no transient at all. it just whooshes. now, think of this like spackle. after you chop a break, and reassemble it, you paste these little pieces into any places where there's silence. you can smooth things out like this. even if its not a silence portion. it can make an awkward decay sound more natural.
loving this advice, those bits within the break have been on my mind too when making my own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
symmetrical-duly noted!
if you do have a line on vast then if it is at all possible to pass it on i've got a beat that is simply screaming for him on it
#20
17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
marvell-drum pitching: you HAVE TO get out of thinking about it like a number. IME, every drum hit is going to have a "sister resonant frequency", if you will. a pitch at which a doubled version of itself will sound great underneath. its never the same. I STRONGLY IMPLORE YOU TO NOT EVEN LOOK AT THE NUMBER. pitch it up or down with the knob, and close your eyes. seriously. this is how i do it. it might be 2 semi-tones. it might be 8.

it sounds dumb, but im being serious here folks: the arguably most important studio technique EVER CREATED IS TO CLOSE YOUR EYES. seriously. cant stress this enough. across the board, this is a crucial discipline to have at your disposal.
Agreed! Never heard your music but this bit of fact makes it worth a listen.
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17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
makes it worth a listen.
you're in for a treat.
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17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
YouTube - Billy Thorpe - Children of the Sun

please, do me a favor-i dont EVER rat myself out, so lets just leave it here ok? who can guess where i used these drums? its a good example of what im talking about. i just want the tones. i dont need anything resembling a groove sometimes.
i remember you mentioning this record in an interview about chopping drums... i then proceeded to grab two copies of it on vinyl. i'm not sure but if i were to guess are these the drums you used for "de l'alouette"?
#23
17th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by third world View Post
i remember you mentioning this record in an interview about chopping drums... i then proceeded to grab two copies of it on vinyl. i'm not sure but if i were to guess are these the drums you used for "de l'alouette"?
YouTube - RJD2 - A Spaceship For Now
#24
17th December 2010
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^ahh, i hadn't heard that song before, good stuff...

i just came across this article: RJD2 on His Gear

and was wondering if you could go more in depth on how you captured the drum sound on "tin flower"? how the kit was mic'd, what processing it went through etc.

cheers.
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17th December 2010
Old 17th December 2010
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third world:

that drum sound looks like this:

-completely dry, small space.
-extremely muted snare and kick. the "wallet" trick, but i actually prefer these pucks that i made out of beer coasters.
-played hard. i have the drums tuned relatively low, and hit pretty hard.

mics:
front of kick: realistic d12 knockoff
behind kick, pointed at kick: alesis monitor wired as mic
OH 1 and 2: realistic 1070.

that's it. they all go into a 6 channel altec 1592? mixer, its just 6 mic pres. then, a graphic eq that is pretty heavily notched in and out in places. recorded as 1 track. done.

fyi, its the exact same drum kit and setup as "games you can win". this should give you an idea of what was done in the mix, vs. track.
#26
18th December 2010
Old 18th December 2010
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Thanks for answering that quick.

I have a question in relation with another topic about sample rights?

Can you give us a general statement about your feelings concerning copyright laws nowadays? Especially intellectual copyright? Any experiences you might want to share?

K
#27
18th December 2010
Old 18th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
the arguably most important studio technique EVER CREATED IS TO CLOSE YOUR EYES. seriously. cant stress this enough. across the board, this is a crucial discipline to have at your disposal.
thumbsup
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18th December 2010
Old 18th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
mics:
front of kick: realistic d12 knockoff
behind kick, pointed at kick: alesis monitor wired as mic
OH 1 and 2: realistic 1070.

that's it. they all go into a 6 channel altec 1592? mixer, its just 6 mic pres. then, a graphic eq that is pretty heavily notched in and out in places. recorded as 1 track. done.
blend that with a little of the sound of people's heads exploding on gearslutz and you're good to go!
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18th December 2010
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Scanners!!!
#30
18th December 2010
Old 18th December 2010
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..

Aloha RJD2,

I too am one that sing your praises and thank you for your time and the knowledge you are dropping.

My question:

For those just rocking an MPC (Im talking 2000 xl and anything prior) and a turntable as their production tools what would you say are the top 3 or the most vital things they should know about (particularly about the MPC )

As a bit of background to where my question may be headed, I always would look for loops and then try to find another loop to go with it. This created numerous headaches. The chances of finding even just 2 loops that would match in a quality rhythmic pattern was slim, but add to that the chances of them being in key. Needless to say the odds are slipping low by this stage.

Enter the world of chopping and tuning . I have tried to play basic chord prog a guitar and then look for samples that sound similar to the chord prog I played. You know simple I IV V stuff. even tried copying scores from books and programming the melodies with single notes I'd sample. The results.....hmmmm

Again props and praises for your work and time here
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