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As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Claude VonStroke has been studying with us recently, improving his production techniques and mastering Ableton & Logic. This week he has agreed to tell us a little more about how he works, what he’s working on and how he juggles his ever growing music empire. We caught up with Claude just as his June tour is about to kick-off, which sees the Dirtybird man take in Glastonbury and Bestival on the UK Summer Festival circuit.
* Point Blank – In what ways do you think Point Blank has improved your production skills over the past few months?
* Claude VonStroke – “I don’t know if my new tracks sound any better than my old tracks but I will say that it opens up the world a little bit to really learn the software that we use everyday. Almost every producer I know uses Ableton, Logic or Reason and no one ever actually reads the manuals (well maybe one or two do) but in general, music making is a creative process and manual reading is the worst way to learn how the software operates. Trial and error, making music is the best way to learn. In these courses you make music and implement techniques. Some people might be thinking; “why is this guy taking classes in music production?” I would say that it’s pretty stupid not to be learning new techniques and styles and ways to make music. For example, if I was a chef I’d sharpen my knives every week and learn new recipes every day. What good would it do to run the same menu for 10 years? Boring.”
* PB – Obviously ‘Wut’ remix was very well received. Were there any new techniques you have picked up from your time with us that went into that track specifically?
* CVS – “Yes for sure, even though that remix has a very stripped down sound, it would have been totally different if I hadn’t been taking one of the Ableton classes. Also I have to say L-Vis, Bok Bok and Girl Unit gave me a fair amount of feedback, as to what they liked and didn’t like. It was one of the first times I really said; ‘OK I’m going to listen to some people instead of just bulldozing ahead like i usually do’. I took a lot of feedback from a lot of people and definitely some Ableton techniques from Point Blank classes really made it shine.”
* PB – Which DAW do you prefer, now that you have studied on both Logic and Ableton?
* CVS – “I have to say without question Ableton is the fastest with the most intuitive interface. Its not as classy as Logic and it sounds pretty crappy if you even touch into the reds on your master. But some software is made for creatives and some for methodical producers. Logic strikes me as a program that works for people who like a lot of menus and were good at math in school. Ableton strikes me as the, ‘I touch this and this happens’, program. Although you still have to get under the hood a bit to make anything cool happen. Reason is the ultimate fast composer (and FL studio if you are on PC.) For me, I would say the final workflow this year is starting the beats in Reason, composing/rewiring in Ableton, and the mixdown in Logic. This may seem like a pretty mad equation to some people. My best advice is NOT to do this. Just master one piece of software. Don’t learn three programs half way, it will drive you insane! Also don’t buy 200 plugins. Just get one awesome set and learn the shit of them. Another problem of mine. I’m addicted to plugins and I can barely even turn on Kontakt.”
* PB – What new things can we look forward to from Mothership & Dirtybird in the near future?
* CVS – “My remix album ‘Makeovers‘ which includes a special version of that ‘Wut’ remix, and a Katy B remix is out this July. The Katy B remix was also a nice development from the Ableton class. Then after that there will be the Justin Martin album but we are still setting a date for that.”
* PB – You recently did a remix for Soma’s 20th Anniversary (The Mothership Reconnection Remixes) along with Daft Punk, featuring Parliament. Can you tell us the story behind getting involved in that project was?
* CVS – “I always like those guys from the North. Slam was even in my very first documentary about House music. We get on really well and I think they like my sound, so it was just a natural fit. They asked me to remix anything from the Soma catalogue, so I chose that track just because of the Parliament and Mothership tie-in. It was perfect.
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* From starting out making films and documentaries, what lead you into turning your hand to music production instead? Is film-making still something you enjoy to do?
* CVS – “No, I don’t really enjoy film-making as much as I used to. It requires so much more work than music, and work that you cannot control. It requires many, many people and lots of time and money to do a film. I could buy every keyboard and plugin I ever wanted for less than the cost of a single day of shooting on a big movie. I do like the music videos though, because you can shoot them in one day, but even that is pretty full on and expensive especially for this genre.”
* PB – Krush Groov records – your new label – With two other labels under your control, how much of an input will you be having on this new project, and what sort of a feel can we expect the lab el to have in comparison to what you have done before?
* CVS – “This is a small side project of mine, not a full on label. I control the whole thing, but we only press very small batches of vinyl and maybe three releases a year. There is no press release, nothing on the website, no facebook page. Pretty barebones underground stuff. The first release was actually a track I did in the Point Blank class. It has some loops also from J phlip who inspired the track.”
*PB – I know that Luke Williams who manages Dirtybird took our business course; have you found th at in recent years have you taken a step back from the day to day running of the labels or is there one in particular that takes up more of your time?
* CVS – “Actually I am more involved than ever these days. It’s impossible to run these small labels and hand it over to someone else if you want the quality to remain high. I would say royalties is pretty much the bane of my existence (and everyone who works for me)!”
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