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Kelvin Wooten interview Producer’s Edge Magazine

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Kelvin Wooten

interview with Drew Spence Producer’s Edge Magazine

 

Kelvin Wooten

Kelvin Wooten has a key for all of us.

 

Those of us familiar with your story might appreciate the idea that Raphael Saadiq was on a phone call and overheard you going to town on a keyboard, in the background, and decided then, that you were a talent verse adding to his sound. But I find it more important to know, to gain insight on how an artist should treat their passion before being discovered that allows blessings to happen. If I am driven and do have desire what should I be doing, every day, to bring opportunities closer?

 

The opportunities just come, I believe. Whatever is driving you should stay in the driver’s seat… at least until you get to your destination. However, when starting out, I think it’s good to not know [the destination] sometimes. Take the time to hone in what you THINK you want to do…you may discover that it’s not what you thought. Once you know what it is, the opportunities come by being in the right place at the right time. And by right I mean the opportunity lining up with your passion. You will know. Everyone that knew me in 90s knew I was the biggest Tonies fan there was…and then Raphael calls…it was just right, and I knew it.

 

 

As a multi-instrument player, aside from the common traits of each, what attracts you to each piece?

 

Curiosity, I think. I always desire to find a common thread with each instrument I play. Basses and guitar have a similar makeup, but I relate them to the piano in my mind.

 

A guitar or piano seems like a natural addition to any session, but what about the more unique instruments, like the tuba and even acoustic drums in such an electronically tilted scene?

 

Kelvin Wooten

Play on player!

When done in good taste, sounds from anywhere can really work well together. Sound is sound, and texture is texture. You get that texture however you can. In my case it’s with a tuba, a fuzz box on a P-bass, or a saw-wave bass from Massive. In many ways I like where music is heading when I hear acoustic with the digital. It always refreshing on the first listen because you never know what could work together until you actually hear it.

 

Kelvin's Guitars

Stringed Things!

And I do see the balance. True musicianship will always be valued but the advances of technology opens up so many doors. How are you able to incorporate a live musician aspect with programming and even gear pieces like NI Maschine?

 

It’s crazy, because the Maschine is the backbone of my workflow now. I just play it with feeling, trying not to quantize too much, and also using organic or real drum samples. Sometimes hearing the right acoustic kick or hi-hat on pad will dictate how it should be played. I will approach the sound as a real drummer would most of the time. I like the fact that the sounds are act my fingers sometimes and not turning on the console and miking the kit. It’s easier in my opinion to get the idea out and on to the next thing. Sometimes I may replace with the real thing and sometimes it’s fine how it is.

 

 

Is it okay to just play or does the modern scene demand a knowledge of computers and digital workstations? Do I need to know both; a musician’s language and now the techie jargon, just to get my creative ideas down?

 

Being a musician, it sure helps to know both sides. Modern advances are tools, and if used correctly the opportunities open up greatly. Just so long as you never forsake one for the other. I can spend more time being creative on axe when I’m not devastated by the computer screen. Shucks, the computer can play something I hear in my head that I can’t physically do sometimes. I’m not out for an award to be the most proficient on my instrument. I’m trying to make a track feel good. And the computer helps a lot when it’s just me and it. I’ll shred the lick when it’s time to do it live….

 

I’ve always felt players add a unique aspect to any session and offer a greater creative contribution – beyond the instrument they play. What advice would you give new producers, when considering going that next step and adding a session player or musician to their productions?

 

At whatever level, I think it’s important to hire the right musician for the job. Having a musician in his or her element means you don’t work as hard and pull teeth in the session. The morale stays high and everyone has a sense of worth and accomplishment. You’re more likely to be that much more respected in the musician community when that musician leaves telling their peers how much fun they had working with you as a producer.

 

Kelvin Wooten in studio

Kelvin Wooten changing degrees from Celsius to…

And, at what level should the production be at before adding outside help? Is it about a gear level, a sound that should already be in place and is the mind set a factor?

 

It depends. You should be able to at least convey your idea to the player and they understand. If it’s a drummer, make sure the click track works for that drummer. If it’s a trumpet playing a super specific line, see if you can record a dummy track of it for reference…especially if you can’t write it out or don’t know your notes. When I’m the producer, I handle all the techie stuff so a player can play and relax.

 

Does the base musician skill set translate over generations or do you feel like you need to update your sound or technique every few years? Does a Jill Scott want the same artistic contribution that, say an Anthony Hamilton or Chrisette Michele would?

 

I think if the want you as the producer, they want what you can contribute from the base. While working with Saadiq for years, we’d get new toys and sounds for us, but wind up playing the same ole lines that people like. We knew we had our own vibe and that’s what artists liked. We tried to stay as relevant as possible by adding new soundsets every now and then.

 

 

Do you listen to modern tracks and allow the current sound to influence you or is it always about tapping in to your own voice and staying with what you naturally lean towards?

 

Oh, I listen. I listen to be heard and to be relevant. To adapt means to embrace the changes, at the same time not leaving what you do.

 

 

 

WoodaWorx

 

Control Room with Daniel Beard

Beard of the engineer

A studio is more than a room with equipment- It’s about the attitude and atmosphere. A studio should create a comfortable space that allows artists the freedom to tap into their most creative energies. Please tell us a bit about WoodaWorx and how you came to have such a diverse clientele.

 

I really like a lot of different music. I never know where my musical endeavors may lead, so I create a space for all to feel at home. From country to hip-hop, gospel to alt-pop… I want everyone to feel a sense of creativity from the room itself.

 

And what is the working system there? Is it more of a family tone where creative ideas are tossed about at leisure, or is it more directed towards a productive work ethic? Would you say there’s a general vibe or does it vary from artist to artist?

 

It changes and adapts to the artist or the client. If it were left up to me, I’d watch stupid and senseless Youtube videos 50% of the time! Those videos are icebreakers for a dull and dry session.

 

 

Anthony Hamilton Home for the Holidays

Bring this Home for the Holidays

Let’s close with a little talk about your relationship with Anthony Hamilton and how that chemistry creates Home for the Holidays.

 

Me and Anthony are like brothers in and out of the studio. We rarely have any notions prior to recording or writing…if it comes, we seize it. If not, we’ll go eat and watch more Youtube videos. The music has to breathe, I believe. Laughter is place where we feel comfortable and can breathe. Once we aren’t thinking about the music, we make the best music.

 

Kelvin Wooten and Anthony Hamilton

Kelvin Chemistry and Anthony Alchemy

And my final thought is about what kind of advice you offer the readership and what lessons you’ve learned about unlocking the creative potential by working alongside musicians and other talents that share our interests.

 

I’d say don’t think about it so much and just do it. It’s easy to unlock if you never lock it up. Don’t ever think you have to be at some super high level to be heard. You never know what resonates with people. Do it and get it out.

 

PE Mag would like to thank Kelvin Wooten for taking the time to talk to us.

You can bring home Anthony Hamilton’s Home for the Holidays this Holiday and make sure it’s locked in for every year as a new favorite. We have!

Software Review BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

Software Review BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

Mac OS X and Windows PC,  Words by Drew Spence

"Warp and repitch your samples with a new state-of-the-art 
time stretching engine. Four presets for stretching different 
source material like drum beats ensures your transposed and 
time-stretched samples keep their character. Better yet, 
BeatCleaver preserves transients so your drums remain punchy 
and crisp."
BeatCleaver audio chopper logo

A chopping choice!

I remember the early days of beatmaking when your music didn’t have an exact tempo, well it did but it was determined by the ‘proper sounding pitch’ of the main sample. Whatever speed made it loop right was the setting for everything else around it. With the amount of remixes and exacting sub-genres to land in, controlling tempo is more important now than ever before. Beatcleaver by Oscillicious promises to give us BPM freedom while preserving quality and punch.

The standalone software (No VST) presents an open window with several slicing options at the top. I chose file Open Audio and was taken to an included library of 13 drum loops ready for editing. They are sponsored by MPC-Samples.com and have an authentic mid 90s bend. I jumped straight to my own library and started working on a 120 bpm loop. I was able to shoot it up to 127 with no problem. Next was dropping it down to 100 bpms in order to convert this loop into a hip hop drum kit. Once again, we had no problems. So far, so good.

My next task was bringing in a raw sample, running at an unknown speed and adjusting the starting and ending points. Easy enough. I was able to add slice points while the sample was playing by hitting the shortcut S. After, I adjusted my new slice points manually with a simple click and drag. The highlight of Beatcleaver is the amount of control and quality-preserving options you have for time stretching. In most cases, the preset settings will get the job done -once you’ve set ‘cleaver for drums (percussive) or music (harmonic). You can even select a smaller area to work on (getting it perfect) and then apply that edit to the entire sample. And finally, there are fade settings for the beginning and end of slices to eliminate any pops and clicks.

Beatcleaver screen capture

Simple interface for audio chopping

Chopping as a Way of Life

Aside from the straight studio tool meant to change and adjust the tempo of samples and loops, there is another use for chopping up music for in-studio or live production. You cannot miss the header that says Slice in 4, 8 and 16. Perfect for those of us who want to chop longer sections of music into parts and then retrigger those parts in a new order. Whenever you hear a drum machine or beat tool discussed, the invariable question of “how does it chop samples?” always surfaces.

Quite well is the answer. You can dial in slices by bars or beats and cleave all the way to 64 slices or gross quarter-of-a-bar. This is also a simple choice for live producers or DJs who want to chop their songs into smaller sections for live triggering. Seeing how the iPad is so cumbersome with import and export options, it makes sense to prepare the material on your main platform and transfer the finished bits after.

I have used Propellerhead Recycle to chop music into pieces and then drag and drop the slices into Native Instruments’ Battery to emulate a common MPC workflow. Now, with every DAW having some kind of sample container that combination is a very expensive solution to simply prepare chops of audio. Obviously those two products do a lot more, but for quick and easy chops or, um cleaves, Beatcleaver is going to be a winner at only $29.

MIDI Ins is in

You can use MIDI input to control the triggering and choose the base note. This option increases the usefulness and allows you to demo your chops and arrangements before final export. I have spoken to one of the designers and Beatcleaver has a few surprises coming. The only one I am cleared to tell you about now- is the coming ability to manipulate individual slices and add effects. Yes! There are a ton of other updates and added features coming so even if you don’t plan on buying Beatcleaver today, it makes sense to follow their blog and stay on top of this gem. http://oscillicious.com/blog/  (twitter @oscillicious)

Aside from my fantasies involving features including the kitchen sink, it would be nice to see a preview option so one can audition loops and samples before import and an automatic slice tool, based on some kind of detection sensitivity control.

Beatcleaver supports the formats AIFF, Flac, M4A, MP3 and WAVE and exports to WAVE and AIFF. 16, 24 and 32-bits at 44.1 KHz. Beatcleaver retails for only $29 and is an instant download and also has a free trial version available. More info http://www.oscillicious.com/beatcleaver/

Oscillicious also has a groove station called Jam Deck, a synthesizer called Sodasynth and a modular-samples-based instrument called Analog Extracts that is also a VST. Check them out http://www.oscillicious.com/

Halloween 2012 FREE TREATS and LESS Tricks!

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

There is one day a year where it is acceptable to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for a treat. A lot of us, in and around the music industry, tend to feel and act like every day is Halloween. We wear the costume of someone serious and expect doors to be opened and our grandest aspirations advanced just because we knocked really loud.

I’ve come across many producers and beat-smiths who feel their work is done because a particular A&R has their music. They say things like they are in or it’s a done deal. I ask why? They reply something along the lines of my beats is dope. I say: yes, but why are you getting the exclusive shot? Is it possible he’s heard a lot of dope beats? Is it possible, you are not the only choice for submissions? How good an A&R can he be if YOU are the ONLY music he has to shop?

We say to artists all the time – it takes more than talent, or better yet, it takes EVERYTHING but talent. Don’t expect your ‘relationships’ to give up their contacts or pass you along or give you your big break until you’ve earned their trust or understand that they won’t help you until it helps them more.

Two sides of the Bag

What works? As a person who’s done his fair share of trick or treating I have to say some approaches work better than others. The houses that had no candy or crappy stuff got egged. The people with the quality treats got revisited -sometimes with us wearing new costumes. As a creative, that’s your goal- to keep showing up with new and engaging looks and showing your ability to arrive prepared.

If your goal is to be solicited as a business, then it makes sense to have your house in order and be able to deliver on the promises you make. Smoke and mirrors has always been a part of the game, but we are looking to create a career, not a hustle. In reverse, as a content provider, it is in your best interest to position yourself to receive long work, not luck up on a big break. Put in work if you want those doors to open.  Have a happy and safe Halloween. This blog post is sponsored by Big Fish Audio. I’ve been using their libraries for a while now and thought I’d share a one in particular that got our attention in the office.

–Drew Spence Editor In Chief Producer’s Edge Digital Magazine

http://www.ProducersEdgeMagazine.com

Platinum Synth Melodies $49.99

Platinum Synth Melodies from Big Fish Audio

Platinum Synth Melodies from Big Fish Audio

Need blazin’ synth loops that will set your productions apart from the pack? Platinum Synth Melodies is loaded with 30 multi track synth loop sets ready to help create your next urban synth laced track. From big screaming lead lines to club ready arpeggios to thick warm pads this product delivers. Whether you need hip hop, urban pop, or dance this product has you covered. Mix and match the loops to create thousands of music ideas. Platinum Synth Melodies is another Beat Warrior product from Nova Loops. The production team’s credits include Tu Pac, Flo Rida, Wu Tang, Jodeci, Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, NFL, BET, HBO, and are responsible for over 20 million records sold worldwide! All parts in this product are separated, edited and come formatted in WAV(Acidized) and Apple Loops format. When you need synth ideas for hip hop, urban pop or dance, look no further than Platinum Synth Melodies.

Download the FREE SAMPLER HERE

http://www.ProducersEdgeMagazine.com/forumdownloads/halloween2012.zip


Also, the newest Mark of the Griffin is here. It’s a Halloween themed episode called NIGHT ZONE. If you don’t know, Drew Spence from PE Mag has been working on an adventure web series about a regular guy who is turned into a vigilante/detective. Check it out.

-Xodus Phoenix