Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: Noizu's new single "Catch My Love", a collaboration with Disciples & MOYA, is out now via SME.
Equipment recommendations: iZotope Ozone 9 - I use that on all my masters. Soundtoys Decapitator - I use this on everything.
If you enjoyed this interview with Noizu and would like to stay up to date on his output and activities, visit him on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and Soundcloud.
What was your first studio like?
My first studio was pretty basic, I had an iMac with Pro Tools and a bunch of plugins. It was nothing special but was perfect for what I needed starting out.
How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
've collected some gear over time; Korg M1, Juno 106, Moog Grandmother, NI Machine, Ableton Push, UAD Twin. I use mainly plugins when I work but the Moog Grandmother and Juno 106 feature on nearly all my recent records.
I love the idea of spending all my money on synths and gear but I know I can achieve the same thing (or nearly) with plugins. I work on a laptop now so I like being mobile and not stuck in one place.
The digital studio promises endless possibilities at every step of the process. What is it that you actually need from these potentials and how do you go about selecting it? How do you keep control over the wealth of options at the production stage?
Honestly I would the digital studio has reverted me to a minimal and simple approach. I used to have every plugin I could get my hands on. A few years ago I deleted about 80% of my plugins and went back to the essentials.
Turns out that helped me define my sound and gave my mixes a distinct sound too.
A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?
My perfect studio setting is a pair of speakers in a small / medium size room and a laptop. That’s all I need now.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customised devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
I love having a small but powerful set up. UAD Twin with some Adam’s speakers and my Moog Grandmother for midi control and to get some analog sounds if needed is such a great set up for a house producer. The benefit of a UAD Twin is you can take it in your bag with a laptop, headphones, mic and record anywhere.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
Technology can help creativity so much. Whether you use Splice for a sample to start a song or a synth preset to inspire the song, we use technology as part of our creativity now.
"Hands Up" by me and Martin Ikin is a good example, we used specific plugins to achieve very specific sounds we wanted. Martin used a kick drum plugin to create a kick that would sit perfectly in the mix with the bass line. Tools like this make or break a song when it comes to production!
Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive and how you put these ideas and sketches to use.
Ableton is really good for quick ideas. You can sketch ideas there really quickly and get the basis of a song.
I would normally do that and save it to my 'unreleased' folder on my desktop so when I need ideas I can flick through that folder. If I like the idea I will drag it from Ableton to Pro Tools and finish it off. I'm not sure why but I love mixing and mastering in Pro Tools.
Despite the aforementioned near endless possibilities, many productions seem to follow conventional paths. How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?
Plugins like 'Portal' & 'RC20' are really good for spicing up your work. You can take a sound you always use and completely change it with these plugins.
Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?
I'd say mosty I'm triggered by equipment. Unless I hear something in a club or get inspired randomly I never really go into the studio with a set idea in my head. I like to mess around and just experiment with synths or drums until something starts coming together.
How important is it for you that you personally create or participate in the creation of every element of a piece – from sound synthesis via rhythm programming to mixing?
I like to do it all.
The main thing I always want to do is make sure I mix and master a song, I think that is what contributes towards my sound. If I'm working with someone on a collaboration I always like to mix and master it at the end, just to make sure everything is perfect.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I think Splice and Ableton combined have changed a lot of things in music creation. Not necessarily for me but I've noticed in general it seems to be the direction people are heading in.
I think when I first started using Ableton that changed the way I approached making music. Just the speed of which you can make something is insane.
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
Yeah I think so. Even when it comes to mixing, the iZotope plugins that use a form of AI for mixing are getting better and better. At the end of the day these tools will be there to help us so I think it's exciting. If it takes you a day to get the mix right of your song but an AI plugin can do it instantly then that has saved you a lot of time.
Obviously I can see the argument against it all but there's room for everything. If you want to be a purist then you don't have to use these tools.
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
Yeah I do, I'm not really sure what yet but I do see it happening in the future.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
I think all the plugins exist already but they just aren't 100% yet.
Plugins like Soothe that automatically EQ and take out peaks are amazing. Plugins like chord generators that help you write a song or Ozone 9 that can master your song. All these things are amazing and work to a certain degree but you still need to tweak them.
Once these technologies are developed as we progress and are incorporated into DAWs as standard then that's when things will really change.