Each month Live Producers Online features one of our talented members in the music producer community. This time around, we interviewed a new upcoming indie-dance artist named CROG. Be sure to check out his music and social links at the end of this article!
When did you first get into music?
I played the piano for many years when I was younger, but unfortunately gave it up in early high school. However, my entire life I have had a definite passion for music and discovering new artists, whether it was hip-hop, electronic, or other genres. This led me to attend a lot of concerts and festivals where I would go and see artists that I had been following since they started out. This inspired me to first start making DJ sets and mixes off of a Traktor S4 with my own accents and touches, and then to eventually pursue music production with Ableton Live as I really wanted to start to make songs that were really truly mine all the way from the drums to the instruments and melodies.
What inspires the best music that you create?
I think that nature and the mysticism and feeling of belonging that it brings me is my biggest inspiration. I like to try and recreate a feeling. Whether it is stumbling upon a waterfall in the woods, or skipping stones on a lake, I feel that these are sort of magical moments and they bring out a lot of emotion for me. They also carry with them a sense of nostalgia, and that is something I like to try and create in my works.
Who are some of your biggest artist/ band influences?
I really enjoy Imagined Herbal Flows (IHF) and would love my production to evolve and grow in that direction as I continue to learn. Petit Biscuit is a big influence as well. There is then an enormous community of underground artists and producers on Soundcloud, etc., that I find amazing/inspiring. There are too many to name, but some honorable mentions would be: Audiobot, Hanz, octbr, Nick Leng, affelaye, Fhin, Kultur, elenne, and many many more…in no particular order. These were definitely some of the artists that led me to try my own production. I featured these artists heavily in my mixes when I was just starting out. Go check them out!
Describe your process of producing a new track from scratch.
Generally, I start with a drum loop that gets me “vibing” and then build a chord progression and a main melody into the track over that. I then back-construct an intro from this foundation and build out new sections of the song by layering in new melodies and instruments. Additionally, I use Splice a lot to find cool vocal samples and sounds, and I will use Ableton’s slicer with an arpeggiator on it to find ways to manipulate them and chop them up. I think this is a very powerful and quick way to overlay interesting elements onto a track and build out new layers and sections.
How long have you been using Ableton Live, and why did you start using it compared to other music softwares?
I’ve been using Ableton for around 14 months. Anecdotally, I had heard about how powerful it was in comparison to other DAWs. I knew that I was going to be dedicating a significant amount of time at getting familiar and comfortable with one, so I chose the one I had heard the most/best about. Humorously enough, I had also purchased FL studio about 8 years ago when I was in high school but gave it up as I couldn’t get the hang of it. Admittedly, I did not give it a fair shake but that definitely influenced the decision.
Ableton Live is extremely versatile for studio recording, mixing, and live performance. Do you use it for one specific purpose, or for all these things?
Right now I only use Ableton for studio recording and mixing, but I am interested in expanding into live performance. Working through a lot of the courses on LiveProducersOnline.com, and excited to get to the ones on performing live with Ableton.
Do you have any “go-to” plugins or software you use while producing?
Omnisphere 2 is probably my main go-to. The presets that come within the plugin are absolutely insane, and the range of sounds and moods you can create is incredible. I take my chords and melodies and spend hours clicking through trying to find the right sound. I then tweak the presets from there. I also use a lot of live sampled instruments in my tracks, and I’ve found Kontakt to be my go-to for these elements. There are many companies and studios that produce fantastic sound packs for this plugin and I’m always looking for new ones to buy and incorporate. For effects, I really like Sausage Fattener for saturation and Valhalla Shimmer for reverb. Check ‘em out.
Any favorite MIDI controllers that you use in the studio or on-stage?
I have a M-Audio Oxygen49 that I use as a fixture for when I’m producing. I also have an Akai MPK Mini 25-key that I travel with so I can stay creative on the road.
Special thanks to CROG for this article interview, and sharing insights on his music production process. You can listen and further connect with him below.Follow CROG on SoundCloud