THE FAVORITE PRODUCTION TOOLS OF JASON SZOSTEK Q&A
Please tell our readers a little bit about your background.
I have been making electronic music since the early eighties. I started as a teenager. All I cared about was figuring out how to express myself through electronics. I didn’t care about genres or styles. I’ve had a lot of influences but I’ve never tried to copy anything, even the sounds I love the most.
What is your favorite piece of hardware gear to work with and why?
Roland TR-8s is my computer. It makes all the classic Roland drum machine sounds as well as being a sampler, an FM synth and more. I load it up with samples and make ambiance with it. It is extremely versatile. Its user interface conforms to exactly how I think of measures and bars in music and it is also the ultimate live performance piece, which is how I develop tracks.
Is there a specific VST plugin that radically changed your workflow?
I use the Waves plugins in my Steinberg Nuendo DAW when I do multitrack recording and editing. My favorite is the Waves L2 Limiter which helps when I’m making reference masters.
Do you have a specific workflow when it comes to creating tracks. For instance, do you start with a beat or with a melody?
In my TR-8s I maintain a library of sounds and patterns. Its a fluid situation where I am always swapping in new sounds onto old patterns then modifying the patterns to work well with new sounds. The pattern gives me an idea for a synth sequence which I usually work out on my Arturia Beat Step pro and my Roland SE-02. This will usually make the foundation of any electro or techno track I’m working on.
Which aspect of music production do you feel you excel at?
None really. I feel I excel at working out tracks by improvising live. I take the best ideas that come from them and make tracks. My goal is for the tracks to represent the moment of inspiration when I discovered these ideas as well as possible. Often this goal is at odds with making a well engineered, mixed and finished production. I feel too much dance music puts the production before the musical ideas and the music suffers. In my case I’d rather have a brilliant performance recorded adequately than an adequate performance recorded brilliantly.
Your best advice to get that kick drum pounding?
I like them to boom. Its best if they boom and punch and that is very difficult to do with just one. You want a booming kick that really holds the bottom but you want to hear the actual punch of the transient part. So find a tight one tuned about a 5th or more higher than the boom and find the upper mids that give it the kick. Take these 2 or more an put them into a submix channel and put the compression on them as a single sound. Also start rolling off anything below 50hz as the super low frequencies will make it harder for your kick to be loud.
My other favorite techniques is to use different kicks at different steps, this works better with electro where the emphasis is on the one.
Out of all the productions you have made, what would be your personal favorite?
bpmf – “Button” from the Button EP on Rancho Relaxo 1995.
This was the first track I made when I felt I had actually accomplished even more than I had set out to do. I have made that my goal for every track since.
What is the best advice you have for other producers in the game?
If the process or the results are starting to feel tedious or boring to you, switch up the methods. Try something totally different, radically different, like play a live instrument or something. Do anything but force yourself to work in a way that is no longer fun. Yes, there is work to be done and being a hard worker is a great asset, but you have to love your methods, they have to work for you. Don’t use someone else’s methods because you like their music. You can only make your music with your methods and it takes time and experimentation to figure out what the best process is for your art.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Make music because you have to express yourself musically. Enjoy what you are doing and you are already successful.
Where can people find you online?
Get the gear here: