Each month Live Producers Online features one of our members in the music producer community. This month we sat down with Frozen Turtle, an electronic/ dance producer based in Indianapolis, IN. We got an inside look at his creative process and production workflows using Ableton Live. If you like dance-able beats, wubs, dirty funk, and tasteful basslines, check this guy out.
Listen to his music and read the full interview below. Live Producers members can connect with him at his profile here.
When did you first get into producing music and why?
I’ve been playing instruments (piano, drums, accordion) since I was a kid, and I enjoyed writing and sometimes even recording little songs I came up with. So when I was a Junior in high school, I installed Ableton Live and started making beats! Half of me wanted to make instrumental hip-hop beats like the stuff Mac Miller rapped over, the other half wanted to make dubstep. Sure enough, I’m still doing both in 2019!
What inspires the best music you create?
I’m always super inspired right after I get back from a festival like Electric Forest, or even after just seeing one of my favorite bands/artists play a live set. My vigor for creation always spikes right after my mind is blown by one of the greats. I think my best work comes when I’m not trying to force anything, and I lose myself in the song for hours, sometimes days – sleep becomes irrelevant and nothing else matters when it gets like that.
Who are some of your biggest artist/ band influences?
When I was young, my dad got me into jazz, then as I grew up, I gravitated to rock & alt rock, which quickly turned into metal and hardcore music. Also rap. Then dubstep exploded and I was obsessed with Skrillex and Excision, Rusko, Doctor P & Flux, Zed’s Dead etc. Then the discovery of Pretty Lights (and Gramatik+Griz) is really what made me want to start making my own electronic music. Now some of my favorites are Russ Liquid, Mr. Carmack, Quickly Quickly, Sunsquabi, Tipper, Polish Ambassador, Opuio, Anomalie, and Haywyre.
Do you have a process producing a new track from scratch? Describe it.
First off, I never try to sit down and come up with a great idea. I have to be inspired first. And usually I’m not anywhere near my laptop when it hits me. Say I’m at the grocery store and a great idea for a song comes into my head – I will stop everything and record it by beatboxing/ humming/ singing it into my phone. Then, later that day (or month lol) I will open up Ableton and reach for that idea and turn it into real life. I usually start in session view with the drums, then bassline or melody next, and then I’ll keep creating more loops that go with the original idea until it’s time to start sequencing them in arrangement view. I’ll usually stop once I get the idea out, and go back and finish it over the next 3-12 sessions. Sometimes if I’m really in my flow state it’ll all happen in like 5 hours! It’s always different
How long have you been using Ableton Live, and what are some of your favorite features?
Oh man, I’ve been using it since Live 8, back in 2012. So it has evolved drastically in the last 7 years! I always say the program is like a “musical spreadsheet”. There’s no other program out there with a session view like that! As far as new features, I really love the max for live integration new in 10, there’s so many cool ways to “hack” the program with it, it adds a whole new layer of creativity (for example: m4l LFO). My favorite stock plugins are definitely Glue Compressor, Frequency Shifter, and Auto Filter.
Ableton Live is versatile for studio recording, mixing, and live performance. Do you use it for any one-specific purpose?
I use Ableton Live for everything – start to finish. It’s easy to get a beat out quickly with it, then just as easy to flesh it out into a whole song, and add in live instruments like my bass guitar or vocals. Mix and master right in the DAW and then bounce it down to perform live with! I have been tweaking my live performance set/ DJ template for the last few years, and I feel like I have a very dynamic and powerful rig (not to mention easily customizable on the fly).
Do you have any favorite 3rd party plugins?
Ohhhh yeah. Tons. I started out with Massive but now Serum has pretty much replaced it for all the wubs. Sylenth for the analog type sounds (lately Arturia bundle as well). Omnisphere 2 for any pads/plucks/pretty sounds. I have also been known to do cool stuff with IL Harmor, FM8, and TAL-UNO.
For mixing, Pro-Q 2 is a crazy precise beast of an EQ, Decapitator by SoundToys is probably my favorite saturator, and Valhalla VintageVerb is definitely the move for reverb. Voxengo Span for monitoring (it’s free!) Then top it all off with an iZotope Ozone Advanced chain for the master and that’s a wrap. (Bonus: Decimort bitcrusher)
Any favorite MIDI controllers that you use in the studio or on-stage?
For sure! In the studio, I use a nice weighted-key Yamaha 88 for piano & synth parts, and a Maschine mikro for finger drumming. On stage though, I use a whole slew of things! It changes from show to show, but I pretty much always use my APC40 MKII (love that thing) and then I usually have a couple ancillary controllers for further effects and audio manipulation. My Midi Fighter Twister is always handy, and you can sometimes find me finger drumming live or laying down some keys on my Arturia Keylab 61.
Special thanks to Frozen Turtle for this interview, and sharing insights on his music production process. Check out his music and follow his social pages below!!