Describe your songwriting and production processes and philosophies. What part does technology play? Songwriting for me is a process that can start a million ways and end a million ways. Initially I could be inspired by anything from comment a friend makes, to a story I recall from my childhood. Essentially it’s about being able to communicate your emotions through the music you’re playing. Technology has leveled the playing field for myself and so many of my peers. It has allowed me to convey my thoughts on the airplane, on the ride home from gig, almost anywhere. The ability to program midi while waiting backstage and to create mini masterpieces in the comfort of my bedroom in something I’ll be eternally grateful for.
Describe your personal studio and live/stage rig including all M-Audio gear. How do you use M-Audio’s equipment conceptually and procedurally? Why M-Audio gear? The M-Audio Torq system has allowed me to push my DJing to the next level in a million ways. The system is just flawless with a Trigger Finger, and getting crafty with Snapshots and effects I so much fun. The knobs on the Trigger Finger allow you to adjust and create tasteful effects with ease. And the Torq onscreen EQs mean if I can assign kills and effects to go at same time with the press of a button it basically gives me the 3rd and 4th hand to control parameters that my peers who aren’t using Torq envy every time they see me play.
For my hip hop/rock group Shwayze, it would have been easy to just press play and stand their like 95% of every other performance DJ in the game. But we wanted to take it to the next level and Torq was the only choice, midi support and rewire capabilities means I can control Torq with a Trigger Finger and trigger loops, fills and effects with the 16 pads and knobs. It truly makes our live show a unique experience and gives us the ability to “jam” unlike many of the hip hop acts doing similar things we do. The ability to rewire Torq through my production software Ableton Live means I can record straight to the software with no data lost and with the effects and options I can get creative while practicing a set at home then rewire the effect or break into Ableton and create a full beat or track from it.
Are there any M-Audio products that have allowed you to replace any older or vintage pieces? Any highlights or positive experiences you’d like to discuss? I swear by the Axiom Midi Keyboard, the real downside of playing with soft synths is having to automate knob twists and modulations through your software interface. The axiom allows me to get the feel of hardware synths because it’s so great at auto assigning it’s pads and knobs to the filters in soft synths.
When you tour, what does your laptop-based mobile studio consist of? When and how do you use it to keep up on current or on-going projects? My mobile studio is essentially Ableton Live a ton of soft synths and effects, reason 4 rewired, axiom 25, Trigger finger, and my head. All of these things allow me to convey my thoughts quickly and elegantly right there on my laptop so I can add to them and fully bang them out later.
How has using software like Pro Tools M-Powered, virtual instruments and effects plug-ins changed the way you make music? Which do you use? Have they helped you to better collaborate with other musicians and producers? I primarily use the Native Instruments plugin package as well as the arp 2600 emulator, albino, camelspace plugins and a few other little tools. It’s allowed me to have a full studio inside my laptop. It’s really made life easier in a ton of ways.
What comments do you have about the aforementioned hardware and software you use? What usage tips can you share with other musicians? #1 usage tip, is use your brain and your soul. All of the tools listed above, are just tools. Nothing’s gonna make the music for you. Experiment, mess around, start bands, collaborate, and create 24/7. Also guitar effects pedals are cheap ways to get some unique sounds.
How would you describe M-Audio’s role and accomplishments in the music industry? M-Audio is an industry leader for obvious reasons, innovation on their part is second to none and the quality and craftsmanship leave you waiting more and more of their products every day.
What projects are next on the horizon for you? How do you see M-Audio products playing a role in them? My band Shwayze has a single on top 40 radio, I’m one of the first DJs ever invited to play warped tour. And I’ve been a part of a House/Dance music revolution in Los Angeles. We have little hipster kids dancing to Swedish house mafia and I never thought I’d see that day. So I suppose the next challenge, is spreading the Shwayze love internationally, and continuing to put out quality music/mixtapes and edits so the world can dance their pain away.