How I create my music

For those of you interested in how I create my music, here’s a breakdown of my recording setup.

In the ‘olden days’ I used Steinberg Cubase and had a lot of really cool hardware synths including: Ensoniq ASR-10, Proteus 1, Emu Vintage Keys, Yamaha TX81Z, Akai XE-8 drum machine, Evolution EVS-1, Novation A Station, and more. Outboard effects were mainly Boss SE-50, Lexicon LXP5, and various Alesis Micro series units.

As an Apple Mac user I started using Apple Garageband for a few things. I sold all my hardware after separating from my partner, and then progressed on to Apple Logic Pro, which is now my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I seem to still learn something new every week about Logic. It’s incredible for the price.

In terms of plugins for Logic I extensively use Spitfire Audio LABS, and a small number of free instrument plugins including Valhalla Reverb, U-HE Tyrell N6, Datsounds OBXD (Oberheim OBXA clone), Dexed (Yamaha DX-7 clone) and AmpleSound Guitar and Bass. I’m also using a few Native Instruments and Kontakt plugins. Vocals are recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2020 USB+.

My songwriting process varies, but often starts with lyrics and piano sketches, but sometimes I just get inspired by a riff, sound, or pattern. An impending move means I don’t actually have a MIDI keyboard at the moment(!) so I’m learning the step input and keyboard features within Logic – limiting, but an interesting challenge.

I’m not a good singer, but try my best. Even though I can’t sing very well, I hope that the emotion of the writer being the singer works well, as the emotion seems more important to me than the technical proficiency. If any great singers use Logic and want to have a go at singing a version just email me and I’ll send you the Logic file.

I’m putting quite a bit of work into getting better at mixing and mastering these days. Both in terms of using Logic and the mixer in better ways, and in terms of understanding and managing EQ and imaging more effectively. Being largely mobile means monitoring is a real challenge – sadly, long gone are the days of my trusty Yamaha NS10 studio reference monitors. These days I use three monitors – my Apple MacBook Pro speakers, my Apple AirPod Pro’s, and a Bose Portable Home Speaker.

You can read about my current equipment wishlist here.