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Q & A with RJD2 Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 18th December 2010
  #31
Lives for gear
peace doc.

were vocals tracked at your spot if so, what mics and pres?



100.
Old 18th December 2010
  #32
Gear Maniac
 

nikkelk: sample clearance.

my views on this are directly related to the current state of the music industry. namely 2 big things:

1-your average indie record is lucky to recoup expenses. if it generates 10-30k, that's an indie win.

2-big labels are slashing staff left and right, with not much hope of this turning around.

SO, with that said here's how i feel: dont bother clearing a sample if you would be the one paying for it. i think its insane, personally. if a LABEL would be paying for it, then it makes sense, cause they will have the money, and more so, they will have PROJECTED SALES TO COVER THIS COST.

i am going to open myself up here for a huge flame war, hopefully not, but when i see people advise to "always clear samples", i see them as speaking from a POV that has a dog in the hunt either way. they probably have more experiences with-or AS-folks who wrote music 30 years ago, hear sampling, and think of puffy/diana ross, and ASSUME THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER IS STILL GETTING SHAFTED.

i dont care to enter into a semantic debate about "art and sampling". im strictly speaking from a POV of the simple economics of it.

and the simple economics of it are this: if you are releasing an indie project, bottom line, its easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. and this has to mostly do with the fact that 90% of copyright holders want an advance on sales to sample something. but it just doesnt make sense in this economy.

now, the other side of the coin: if you actually generate some money on a record, and manage to get it out of the label, then i feel it is only right to do what you can to reimburse, or try to, the copyright holder(im calling them CH's from now on). at the very least, dont be surprised if they find out and come after you.

i know this all might sound very ****ed up and immoral to some people, but the bottom line for me is that i hold the artistic statements of things like nation of millions, endtroducing, de la soul is dead, etc in a higher creative regard than i do their power as a commodity. so, if a few CH's might get infringed upon (in a global sense) for our culture to produce works of art like that, i consider it a net win from the utilitarianism standpoint. they, in highsight, shouldered a huge litigious burden, but in turn, gave us something that solder boy tell them will never ever even bother to give us, and technically, CANT.

i want to be clear-i have no disdain for any CH's, and i hope they are all filthy rich already. BUT, im a touring musician. i never had someone spend a quarter mil promoting an album of mine. i know that if a record wins or loses, its because i A)busted MY ass, toured all year, promoted the record, handled my biz, didnt waste time getting ****ed up every night, etc, NOT cause i was a lazy **** who happened to find an unused bob james loop first.

lets flip it around: FF. im now 55-60. i've had 25-35 years to tour, sell, license, and generally profit off of my own record. some young kid samples a portion of my record, makes a song out of it. if it generates $500k, then yes, i think i deserve a portion of that. but 50k? 5k? at which point are you just splitting hairs? these are valid viewpoints that IME don't get explored.
Old 18th December 2010
  #33
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for taking the time to share some of your techniques and methods. Very cool stuff!

If you were to give advice to producers (and artists) trying to make a name for themselves in the hiphop (and related) industry, what would it be?
Both production-wise in terms of how to deal with producing, but also the kind of mentality you think they should have in order to succeed in the industry?

Also, what is your take on the industry right now? What do you think about the music being put out and the stuff that's going on with the internet, etc.?
Old 18th December 2010
  #34
Gear Maniac
 

AKAI addict- how to get 2 loops in key and on time:

1-find a main "loop". "loop" it. FIGURE OUT WHAT THE ROOT IS, OR WHAT KEY IT IS IN. massively important.

2- find sample #2. FIGURE OUT WHAT KEY IT IS. pitch it to the key of of the other one. then, chop it into small enough pieces to manage. then, figure out a rhythmic arrangement that matches loop #1. if it sounds good, keep it. bad? ditch it.

here's how this will play out in real life(you need to have an instrument next to you, keys/gtr/ something you are comfy on):

loop #1 is looped up in mpc. it is pitched at 0. you find it to be in em, or E minor.

enter loop #2. you sample it. it is pitched at 0. you find it is in cm, or C minor. this is 4 half steps away. so, if you pitch it to +40 in the mpc, it will now be 4 1/2 steps up, and in E minor. now, all you have to do is find a way to get it rhymically in time w/ the other. chop it up, lay it in a sequence somehow, and see if it works.

REPEAT PROCESS. OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER
Old 18th December 2010
  #35
Gear Maniac
 

KT: i used a gefell um75 thru rca ba-1a for my last album. "the third hand" was a rode nt-1a(yes i know it totally sucks but i was just trying to actually make an album not waste 3 years dicking off with tones) thru an rca ba-31a.

none of this **** matters at all, especially preamp. i'd rather work with a guy whos mic technique is a 9 on gear that's a 3 than a guy who's mic technique is a 3 w/ gear that's a 9. doom cut doomsday holding a 58 in his hand. art trumps gear 100% of the time.
Old 18th December 2010
  #36
Gear Nut
 
fromOhio's Avatar
 

RJD2,
Saw you at Skully's in Columbus. Wonederful show.
How do you like working with Derek & Happy?
imho they rock!
Ever listen to RC Mob???

Last edited by fromOhio; 18th December 2010 at 07:31 PM.. Reason: typo!
Old 18th December 2010
  #37
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
art trumps gear 100% of the time.
I rarely say this. But THAT is the truth!
Old 18th December 2010
  #38
Lives for gear
 
WideawakE's Avatar
 

Just wanted to give you props first of all and say that I'm a fan and I appreciate you answering questions here.

Silverfox is the first song I can remember hearing of yours and I wanted to know how you originally came about getting that song placed on the Def Jux compilation, which preceded your album by a good while if I'm not mistaken.

Why that song? Did you have that song done a long time before the album?

What's next for you (album wise)?
Old 19th December 2010
  #39
Gear Addict
 

FYI, Rj, the fact you're doing this Q&A has inspired me to go out and buy all of your albums. I had and LOVED Deadringer on CD & vinyl, but nothing since The Horror. Everyone else should show support for the man for taking his time like this too, imo.
Old 19th December 2010
  #40
Gear Maniac
 

thanks drollz!!! appreciate it. yea what he said

wideawake-thanks. we picked that song cause it was an instrumental song, and it was all rap songs on that EP. i had about 5 songs done in 2000 or 2001 or so, and that was one of them.

next up: i've got 2 side project records coming out in 2011, looking forward to recording my next album, and wanna do some beats for rappers i like. that's the plan at least!
Old 19th December 2010
  #41
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drollz View Post
FYI, Rj, the fact you're doing this Q&A has inspired me to go out and buy all of your albums. I had and LOVED Deadringer on CD & vinyl, but nothing since The Horror. Everyone else should show support for the man for taking his time like this too, imo.
brothers of the same mind, unblind ;-) did the same!

i have a question, perhaps too long, but i'd love to get a sense of how you got from conception to mastered song, of, say, 'a beautiful mine'. i;m particularly interested in things like layering of samples with live instrumentation and the mixing process.
Old 19th December 2010
  #42
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
KT: i used a gefell um75 thru rca ba-1a for my last album. "the third hand" was a rode nt-1a(yes i know it totally sucks but i was just trying to actually make an album not waste 3 years dicking off with tones) thru an rca ba-31a.

none of this **** matters at all, especially preamp. i'd rather work with a guy whos mic technique is a 9 on gear that's a 3 than a guy who's mic technique is a 3 w/ gear that's a 9. doom cut doomsday holding a 58 in his hand. art trumps gear 100% of the time.
Word........ all that tech spec is wack. Just an ill MC and vibe and k.I.m.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
nikkelk: sample clearance.

my views on this are directly related to the current state of the music industry. namely 2 big things:

1-your average indie record is lucky to recoup expenses. if it generates 10-30k, that's an indie win.

2-big labels are slashing staff left and right, with not much hope of this turning around.

SO, with that said here's how i feel: dont bother clearing a sample if you would be the one paying for it. i think its insane, personally. if a LABEL would be paying for it, then it makes sense, cause they will have the money, and more so, they will have PROJECTED SALES TO COVER THIS COST.

i am going to open myself up here for a huge flame war, hopefully not, but when i see people advise to "always clear samples", i see them as speaking from a POV that has a dog in the hunt either way. they probably have more experiences with-or AS-folks who wrote music 30 years ago, hear sampling, and think of puffy/diana ross, and ASSUME THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER IS STILL GETTING SHAFTED.

i dont care to enter into a semantic debate about "art and sampling". im strictly speaking from a POV of the simple economics of it.

and the simple economics of it are this: if you are releasing an indie project, bottom line, its easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. and this has to mostly do with the fact that 90% of copyright holders want an advance on sales to sample something. but it just doesnt make sense in this economy.

now, the other side of the coin: if you actually generate some money on a record, and manage to get it out of the label, then i feel it is only right to do what you can to reimburse, or try to, the copyright holder(im calling them CH's from now on). at the very least, dont be surprised if they find out and come after you.

i know this all might sound very ****ed up and immoral to some people, but the bottom line for me is that i hold the artistic statements of things like nation of millions, endtroducing, de la soul is dead, etc in a higher creative regard than i do their power as a commodity. so, if a few CH's might get infringed upon (in a global sense) for our culture to produce works of art like that, i consider it a net win from the utilitarianism standpoint. they, in highsight, shouldered a huge litigious burden, but in turn, gave us something that solder boy tell them will never ever even bother to give us, and technically, CANT.

i want to be clear-i have no disdain for any CH's, and i hope they are all filthy rich already. BUT, im a touring musician. i never had someone spend a quarter mil promoting an album of mine. i know that if a record wins or loses, its because i A)busted MY ass, toured all year, promoted the record, handled my biz, didnt waste time getting ****ed up every night, etc, NOT cause i was a lazy **** who happened to find an unused bob james loop first.

lets flip it around: FF. im now 55-60. i've had 25-35 years to tour, sell, license, and generally profit off of my own record. some young kid samples a portion of my record, makes a song out of it. if it generates $500k, then yes, i think i deserve a portion of that. but 50k? 5k? at which point are you just splitting hairs? these are valid viewpoints that IME don't get explored.
Also my cousin who was at universal said the same sample till you get caught. When you do you are the ****. I got caught twice.
Old 19th December 2010
  #43
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISayItLikeItIs View Post
If you were to give advice to producers (and artists) trying to make a name for themselves in the hiphop (and related) industry, what would it be?
Both production-wise in terms of how to deal with producing, but also the kind of mentality you think they should have in order to succeed in the industry?

Also, what is your take on the industry right now? What do you think about the music being put out and the stuff that's going on with the internet, etc.?
I don't know if you missed this one.. I would appreciate it if you had the time to answer. I know it's a tough one, but it would be cool to hear what you have to say about it.
Old 19th December 2010
  #44
Lives for gear
 
Graal's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post

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.
It certainly doesn't sound dumb. That's the good practice.
Once you have enough experience, you go by instinct with everythig.
Just like a good cook doesn't read recipes anymore, he just does the thing.


The main problem with the people asking for numbers must be that they don't trust their monitoring (room+speakers+headphones).


PS: RJD2 You rock man! I would daydream listening to this while walking down the street ->
Old 19th December 2010
  #45
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISayItLikeItIs View Post
I don't know if you missed this one.. I would appreciate it if you had the time to answer. I know it's a tough one, but it would be cool to hear what you have to say about it.
hey-sorry, i didnt miss it, i just....dont really know how to answer it anymore. there's way too many nooks and crannies in the music ind, so i cant answer w/o writing a 5 volume series. and its still changing everyday. so, sorry. "how to make it" is a question that's just way too broad, and frankly, its a question that i think better suits someone more successful than me. my lane is small, and not universal.

if you want to try to extract a more specific ?, ill try.
Old 19th December 2010
  #46
Gear Maniac
Hey RJ. Been listening to you for a while now. Glad to see you on GS!


Still playing Deadringer and Magnficent City.


The Colossus has a level of clarity, detail, and smoothness that is unlike any record I've heard. The production sounds current but the sonics remind me of old 70s records (but clearer).

The energy is always there but very few things sound forward or compressed.

When you work on a record like The Colossus, how many hats do you have to wear to get the sound from your head to the final Master? Or does it constantly morph as you go along?
Old 19th December 2010
  #47
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BringItBack View Post
Hey RJ. Been listening to you for a while now. Glad to see you on GS!


Still playing Deadringer and Magnficent City.


The Colossus has a level of clarity, detail, and smoothness that is unlike any record I've heard. The production sounds current but the sonics remind me of old 70s records (but clearer).

The energy is always there but very few things sound forward or compressed.

When you work on a record like The Colossus, how many hats do you have to wear to get the sound from your head to the final Master? Or does it constantly morph as you go along?

thanks, BIB. SO, working on "the colossus"...

first things first-there isnt much "translate whats in my head to tape" going with me, ever. its much more "lets try a bunch of things and see what works and what doesnt". but the hats, that is a valid question. these are them:

-engineer/how to get the live stuff to sound awesome and generally like a sample, tonally
-mpc guy: chop stuff up, arrange,program, etc
-instrumentalist/vocalist-PLAY the stuff in a manner that contributes to the song.
-writer: write parts that contribute to the song.

some of the disciplines bleed into each other. some of them i intentionally set up to be "set it and forget it", i.e. i usually spend time trying different approaches to micing/etc when im not making a record, and rely on them while i am.(see above about drum sound/single channel to tape).

i think the biggest thing that contributes to this quote, which i really appreciate:

"The Colossus has a level of clarity, detail, and smoothness that is unlike any record I've heard."

is that i've gotten to a point now where, in essence, i kind of "think like a band" when im on the mpc, and "think like an mpc" when im playing parts live. so ive gotten to a point where the lines have gotten blurred btw the two, depending on the song. also, there are songs that are all live, all sampled, and then a mix of the two. so that blurs the lines to your ear, really. hope that answers...

also, sterling sound does a fantastic job on mastering-it really came out quite clear and detailed, so to speak, from the mastering process.
Old 19th December 2010
  #48
Gear Addict
 

I have some simple questions for you, RJ:

Before you began working with the MPC, did you have any other tools? If so, what?

And related to that: You listed a variety of instruments that you play. Did you learn to play some/all of them before you began making beats on the MPC (or other tools) or after?

Finally: Do you have any tips for me on learning to recognize the key of a sample?

Thank you.
Old 19th December 2010
  #49
Gear Addict
 

third hand was great, thank you. A very mature and musical hip hop record


dead ringer, is a masterpiece. I place it up there with 3 Feet High, Endtroducing, Nation of Millions, Prince Among Thieves etc...

Soul Position is classic.


Please give us some non drum sampling tips.
Old 20th December 2010
  #50
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drollz View Post
I have some simple questions for you, RJ:

Before you began working with the MPC, did you have any other tools? If so, what?

And related to that: You listed a variety of instruments that you play. Did you learn to play some/all of them before you began making beats on the MPC (or other tools) or after?

Finally: Do you have any tips for me on learning to recognize the key of a sample?

Thank you.

drollz: pre-mpc? no.
instruments i play: they all distill down from 3 things: drums, gtr, keys. i went to a music school in HS, it gave me a rudimentary background on keys and guitar, mostly via music theory. i picked up drums dry, and really, the mechanics of keyboard playing as well-just from doing it.

recognizing key: easiest way is this way. with MOST chord changes, there is one note that if you hold it down, it will sound "the most right" over all of the chords. this is most likely the root of the 1 chord, which will tell you the key. start learning chord changes to simple songs, and play them. it will help your ear correlate key to the chords in a song.

lord toranga-thanks. you mean sampling tips that are NOT related to drums?
Old 20th December 2010
  #51
Lives for gear
 
Dayl's Avatar
Hey RJ,

Not a question as such.

Saw you when you came to New Zealand to perform in a hot lil club called Galatos with Kid Koala, back in 04? not sure.

You brought the house down and blew a whole lot of peeps away. I thought I would take this op to let you know that

I could ask for some MPC tricks but I don't know where to begin or how to end.


Cheers
Old 20th December 2010
  #52
Lives for gear
 

Hey RJ...

I had a friend who moved to vancouver. He took me to see your show in MOntreal during the Jazz fest. It was at Club soda, and you were setup up on the floor, and not on a stage. I have to say that your show that night was absolutely off the chart! I was amazed. And to this day I still tell people about that concert. Good job.

Now, that was the only night I ever really listened to your music, but man was it a night I'll never forget!

Congrats.
Old 20th December 2010
  #53
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post

lord toranga-thanks. you mean sampling tips that are NOT related to drums?

yes, like making cords from different notes within the sample.

how to do this efficiently.
Old 20th December 2010
  #54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graal View Post
It certainly doesn't sound dumb. That's the good practice.
Once you have enough experience, you go by instinct with everythig.
Just like a good cook doesn't read recipes anymore, he just does the thing.


The main problem with the people asking for numbers must be that they don't trust their monitoring (room+speakers+headphones).


PS: RJD2 You rock man! I would daydream listening to this while walking down the street ->
Dopeness!!!
Old 20th December 2010
  #55
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
hey-sorry, i didnt miss it, i just....dont really know how to answer it anymore. there's way too many nooks and crannies in the music ind, so i cant answer w/o writing a 5 volume series. and its still changing everyday. so, sorry. "how to make it" is a question that's just way too broad, and frankly, its a question that i think better suits someone more successful than me. my lane is small, and not universal.

if you want to try to extract a more specific ?, ill try.
You might not be a household name, but your name is known in hiphop. People that say they know hiphop, and haven't heard of you, must have been sleeping in class..

So what do you think have been the key factors that got you to where you are today?
Old 20th December 2010
  #56
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISayItLikeItIs View Post
So what do you think have been the key factors that got you to where you are today?
1. persistence.
2. being smart with money.
3. i literally didnt say the word "no" to a paying gig in music from 1997-2003 or so.
4. diversification-ive always had 4-6 ways to make money off music. its now down to about 3-4. but still ok.

LT-ok. really, the bottom line is that knowing music theory fundamentals are alone the most important thing, period. you basically wont be able to apply any tips i give if you dont have a working understanding of some fundamentals, but that's not hard. with that said, some tips:

1-be aware of the voicing of a chord of something you are sampling. if its just a note, or an octave, then you can "make chords". i.e. stack duplicates at different pitches to create a chord. if there's a 3rd, 6th, 7th, youre screwed. you can either pitch it up or down an octave, that's it. i could go more into this, but there's no point, cause if you understand intervals and how chords are voiced, you will already know it.

2-in lieu of music theory, use your ear, and trust it.

3-dont be afraid to drastically eq a sample on the way into the machine.

4-think about what you are sampling. its going to be hard to stick 2 really dense harmonic pieces on top of each other. if you've got the "meat", look for something light/airy or SIMPLE to go on top. putting one or two notes over a chord change will be much easier than a big long crazy saxophone run or something.
Old 20th December 2010
  #57
Lives for gear
 
The Hamburglar's Avatar
 

First off, thanks for doing this. Your music rules and you seem like a seriously chill dude.

I was wondering what experience you have had with other mpcs and why you find yourself coming back to the 2000. Is it just the first you used? The sound compared to others? The workflow?

It's interesting to me because I feel like the 2000, for all its undeniably classic status, is unilaterally the least recommended mpc (outside the 500) on forums like this. Do you think claims that it sounds thin are just crazy or do you feel like most of the sonic weight comes later with post-production?

I know it's the person and not the gear but I'm just curious what your thoughts are on this.

Thanks again.
Old 20th December 2010
  #58
Gear Maniac
 
good musik's Avatar
 

1 of the illest producers right here, TRUE STORY. Real hip hop.

Now that thats out the way...bro... the production you did on that Waterworld record.. I think it was "Gimmesumdeath"... that beat/record is f---ing unreal. I remember wen that came out all me and my boys would do is go light s--ton fire while listening to that song. Lol I dont condone this folks, but sometimes the music just speaks to u. I dont know if thats wat u were going for RJ, but that s--t def inspired us!
Old 20th December 2010
  #59
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjd2 View Post
4. diversification-ive always had 4-6 ways to make money off music. its now down to about 3-4.
Thanks for that answer.

I'm in a similar situation and combine different jobs.
What were some of the ways you made money? If you don't mind sharing.
Old 20th December 2010
  #60
Gear Maniac
 

hamburglar: 2kxl is just the machine i know the best. DR was 2000. akai sent me a 2500 a few yrs back. i had problems w/ it, and didnt like navigating it. xl does everything i need it, and know it like back of my hand.

goodmusik: thanks. i dont smoke weed. but glad you liked the cut!

isayitlikeitis: these are all aspects of making a living that i had or still have

-djing
-touring
-releasing solo albums
-producing other ppls albums
-remixes
-publisher
-licensor
-mixtapes
-on spec/ad work/work for hire

just as important is that i know how to live on beans and rice if i need to.
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