Interview with Jakub, cohmpetition’s big winner

As we got several positive feedbacks about Sturphy’s interview, telling us that we could invest even more in this kind of content here in the blog; we’ve asked the very same questions to Jakub, from Poland, the cohmpetition’s big winner!

When have you started with music production?
I’ve been interested in music since I can remember, but I think I was about 12 when I started playing around with PRO TRACKER on my first computer which was the Commodore AMIGA 1200 – The Unbreakable Tank. However when I got my first proper PC I had fun with Fast Tracker II, ModPlug Tracker and Fruity Loops, meanwhile my brother was very into electronic music. He produced mostly minimal/Detroit techno and played live acts in the clubs with his friend. He had a small setup: Roland MC-303 groovebox, Yamaha SU-10 sampler and some keyboard I can’t remember the name of. Watching him and experimenting with his gear got me more inspired and interested in production and it was all about enjoying the music and having fun. It never sounded as good though as I knew almost nothing about mixing, processing and so on. Since then I had taken time away from music making and pursuing other things in life and it was just an occasional thing back then.

I really started to run with it about 5 years ago I would say… I decided to leave Uni and started working and saving for a proper setup. I kept on making music on my PC, learning techniques from the internet, books and music magazines, and successfully acquired together a setup and software, gained a diplome in music production in London to home in on my skills and to improve them.

Do you have a band, work as a regular musician or DJ (have a regular music work/activity)?
Unfortunately I don’t have a music related job, however I hope this is going to change in the future and be able to live off music as a main carrier, I suppose this is every producer/musician/dj’s dream. It must be a great comfort to be able to focus on music thoroughly, however I believe there’s a chance to make it through hard work and LOVE FOR THE MUSIC…so I’ll keep on learning and one day who knows. Anyone from Bydgoszcz looking for help in his studio and don’t mind sharing his wide production/engineering knowledge with less experienced fella?? Give me a shout 😀

What is your working method when starting a remix?
I don’t have strict rules about it, but I will try to describe one of my most often approaches. I obviously start from listening to the original track, if I feel it then I keep on listening and think which way I could go with my version. When I get the rough idea of what I would like to achieve I drop provided stems into a DAW, listen to them again and decide what I want to use and remove the rest from the project (sometimes I keep it muted in the folder on the top or bottom of the arrangement window if I think I may use it later). After that I mute everything but the stem that I want to start with, it is usually the main melody part. I make it 8 or 16 bars long, loop and start adding my parts over the melody, beginning with drums and bass. Then I layer up other instruments. So I end up with it being 16 bars long, rough idea of the remix, which is a good starting point for me.

How had you the ideas for this Stride remix? Why have you done it this way?
I like original a lot, the lead synth melody totally blew me away. I thought it would be cool to make a version with a kind of funky/jazzy feel to it, a bit closer to my beloved genre which is hip hop. I wanted to make an impression of some instruments playing live.

What’s your (home)studio setup?
PC with Cubase Sx3 + plug-ins, M-Audio Profire 610 audio interface, KRK Rokit 6 active monitors, Novation Remote 25 LE, Shure SM58 and some old SEKAKU UDM-525 dynamic microphones, Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones, Numark TT USB gramophone for sampling, my girlfriend’s PC speakers (Logitech) – useful for extra check on the mix.

Have you already produced original tracks? Where can we listen to your work?
I have produced original tracks, most often it’s hip-hop, down tempo and some experimental weird things, but there is not much out there to be checked at the moment but I promise it will appear soon though. Let me invite you to my Soundcloud profile where you can check more remixes and some beat battle productions. Feedback more than welcome.

What Ohm Force plug-ins have you used on this remix?
Ohm Force’s Frohmage Filter can be heard on 3 elements of the track in few places.

How have you use it?
Firstly I used it to gently bring in the main synth melody – Lead1a (check at 1:45), than it works on Synth1 creating a sort of wobbly sound (at 2:11) right before the drums come back in. Eventually it is used in the outro (at 6:36) on Lead1a, Synth1 and Synth 2b.

In what do you think the Ohm Force plug-ins are different from others?
They are straightforward. You can get incredible results without being sound-designing/processing master, however if you are one, I’m sure you can achieve even more mind-blowing results. I like the funky looking skins for plugins. Panels and controls are freaking cool not making GUI unintuitive in the same time. I’ll tell you more when I have got to grips with All +All Bundle. So far I’ve spent some more time with Predatohm, Hematohm and Ohmicide… instantly fell in love…these tools are absolutely amazing, can’t wait to check the rest.

Have you played real instruments for this remix or are they multisampled virtual instruments?
Keys (vst) are played by me on my midi keyboard, It took me a while as I’m no musician (used to play piano a little bit when was a kid). I played chords first, than added the lower notes and I also recorded myself playing maracas and castanet. It added a natural feel to the track IMO. Than I layered up an electric bass of 2 bass guitar sounds from multi-sampled instrument and then added some eq and slight distortion. Funky wah guitar comes from one of the CM Magazine DVD free-sample collections, I made some small edits, transposed it and added some reverb and compression. The flute was assembled from pieces of samples from Loopmasters Jazz World CD and CM Magazine DVD. I sliced them up, some pieces were transposed, some a little bit time-stretched, I wanted to make it unique and natural sounding. Just reverb added over it. Flugelhorn and saxophone sounds come from multisampled brass instrument. Saxophone solo parts were first converted to wave, sliced and assembled again to make it unique, the flugelhorn background part was just played on my midi keyboard. Subtle reverb and delay added to sax.

What are your musical influences?
I love music and listen to everything that seems to be interesting and inspiring for me. This might be hip-hop, wide world of electronic genres, jazz, funk, blues, rock, folk, classical music, world music and whatever else we can imagine. Hip-hop and electronic music, in the broad sense of the term, is the area that I’m floating around with my productions and has a special place in my heart indeed, definitely have had a great influence on what I’m doing.

If you’d choose one or two producing/mixing trick/technique you always use, to share with the Ohm world, what would they be?
It’s probably not going to be something revealing, but it’s easy and I use it often, and it might be useful for people who are starting their adventures with music making.

1. If you want to make your tracks sound more natural don’t automatically stick it to the grid, do not overuse a quantizing. Do not be afraid to leave something slightly off the grid. It can really add this little extra groove to your track, it’s very useful with drums but work with pretty much anything. Just strike the right balance. Get yourself some simple percussion kit (can even be a set for children): tambourine, maracas, castanet, triangle etc. and microphone-doesn’t have to be anything expensive, simple dynamic will do the job…I use an old SEKAKU UDM-525 for this purpose. You can find something similar for peanuts. Playing very simple patterns on mentioned instruments isn’t that hard so use it from time to time, plus you can always slice it up “in the box” and fix the timing of it, if it goes wrong, but it really gives this human feel to the tracks. I really recommend this.

2. When using samples that come from sample CD’s and other sources (free internet sample collections, ROMplers etc.) remember that they are not just available to you so try to make them more unique. If it’s for example live instruments, then slice the samples up, move the bits around, mix pieces from different sources, transpose and time-stretch (don’t overdo this one though if you want it to stay natural-sounding). Use fades/cross fades to make them work together smoothly, add some processing if needed. Sometimes you may get a nice and original sounding instrumental bit this way.

What are your musical plans for 2010?
I want to focus more on my own productions, hopefully get a full N.W.D.K. project done, and carry on with remixing as I really enjoy it and as cOHMpetition has proved can also bring wonderful prizes. I’m open to all sort of collaborations with producers, mcs, vocalists, musicians so please catch me on SoundCloud if you have some cool ideas. Peace 😀


3 Responses to “Interview with Jakub, cohmpetition’s big winner”

  1. April 2, 2010 at 20:39

    Młody Wiatrak 🙂 … You’re simply the best …

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