Lap­top rockin’

Computer Music - - Make Music Now | Producer Masterclass -

Rob­bie’s packed sched­ule means that he spends a lot of time on the road, and most of his col­lab­o­ra­tions hap­pen on­line rather than in per­son. We asked the af­fa­ble Aussie how he makes mu­sic with oth­ers while on the move.

: How did this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Niko The Kid come about? RB: “As I was in Aus­tralia, we met on­line… as I have with ev­ery other pro­ducer! I think I reached out on Sound-Cloud a cou­ple of years ago. Since then we’ve made three records to­gether: one remix, one cover – which has not been ap­proved un­for­tu­nately – and Piñata. So fi­nally, we have a sin­gle out to­gether. We started it in LA a cou­ple of months ago, then we fin­ished it on­line.”

: Your col­lab­o­ra­tions are pre­dom­i­nantly on­line, pre­sum­ably? RB: “Yeah, ab­so­lutely. It’s great now that I’m tour­ing – I get to meet every­one I’ve been con­nected with on­line for five or six years.”

: In the video you talk about record­ing the Piñata vo­cal sam­ple in a ho­tel room. How do you cope with mak­ing mu­sic on the go? RB: “I’m lucky – I’m one of those guys that is happy to sit in my ho­tel room, put head­phones on and make a song, which makes life easy. When­ever I feel in­spired, I sit down in my ho­tel room and work. A lot of guys have to go into a stu­dio and work on big speak­ers and have ten in­stru­ments around them, which makes it very, very tough to keep mak­ing mu­sic on the road. But when­ever I can, I make mu­sic: in the air­port lounge, on the plane, on the way to the ho­tel, the ho­tel… it’s non-stop!”

: With dance mu­sic, the mix­downs have to be on-point. It must be quite hard to get a good mix if you’re just us­ing your head­phones and work­ing in non-ideal cir­cum­stances? RB: “I’ve built up a group of pro­duc­ers that I re­ally trust, and I’ll al­ways send my stuff to them for feed­back. So CID, who I think has an amaz­ing ear, I al­ways send my stuff to him. Also Niko The Kid, and Get Your Snack On, who’s done some stuff with Grey and Skrillex. I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to build up a col­lec­tion of peo­ple whose ears you trust, who know your mu­sic, know what you want your mixes to sound like, and where it’ll be played. It’s just too hard to write a song in hun­dreds of hours on your head­phones and then ex­pect the mix to be per­fect!”

: Be­fore you play a track out, do you have the op­por­tu­nity to test out in a stu­dio en­vi­ron­ment, or is it just a case of re­ly­ing on feed­back from oth­ers? RB: “I’ll just test it out at shows, al­ways. Straight-up: I’ll just go out and play it. I play stuff for like a year be­fore I re­lease it, of­ten while tweak­ing. It be­comes bleedin’ ob­vi­ous when you drop it in the set – for ex­am­ple the bass isn’t sit­ting in the right place, or the kick drum is wrong. Straight away you hear it, and you’re stand­ing in the DJ booth like, ‘Oh god, what have I done?!’ You’re ner­vous up on stage, and some­thing small or out-of-place feels mas­sive.”

: Will you make rad­i­cal changes to tracks af­ter play­ing them out, or is it more a case of tweak­ing mix el­e­ments? RB: “I’m not afraid to make mas­sive changes, but my man­age­ment and la­bel would rather I didn’t! I al­ways make last-minute de­ci­sions – I’m not one to sched­ule a track six months in ad­vance and then not touch it. I al­ways up­date things to fit my sets. Most of the time it’s tweak­ing, but ev­ery now and again I’ll just go and scrap some­thing to­tally. In my lat­est track, Bad­dest Be­hav­ior, for a year I was play­ing a dif­fer­ent drop. Two days be­fore sub­mit­ting it I made a whole new drop!”

“Straight away you hear it, and you’re stand­ing in the DJ booth like, ‘Oh god, what have I done?!’”

: That sounds stress­ful. RB: “It is! But that one paid off for sure. I think if some­thing just doesn’t feel right in your sets af­ter six months of play­ing it, or if you get sick of it, I think it’s im­por­tant to change it.”

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