Musicians' Resource Directory
George Martin had Abbey Road. Chris Blackwell had Island Studios. You have your bedroom. Thanks to affordable home-recording technology, it's easier and more popular than ever to be the star of your own recording empire.
Former Seattleite Marlon Schaeffer didn't have the money or the musicians to start a band, but he did have the will—and a Mac. With that one piece of gear, he's evolved into a self-contained one-man band and prolific home-studio musician.
"Reason has all the hardware components you need and tons of virtual gear," Schaeffer says. "It was a good introduction to making music digitally. The first thing I would ask is, 'What am I going to need to pull off this project?' Then I would break down the sounds and mess around with the stuff until I had something I liked."
From Reason, Schaeffer moved on to Ableton Live and Logic. He's also beefed up his arsenal with other digital gear and analog synths and is set to release a record of airy, downtempo compositions under the name Mimesis.
"Logic is better for vocals," he says. "You can see the waveforms. Ableton is better for arranging. You can load the drum loop and the basic idea for the melody into Ableton, then bounce it into Logic for your 37 guitar and vocal takes. I'm no guitar player, so I need 37 takes."
Rapper and beatsmith Gyasi Mose of defunct Seattle hiphop outfit the Flood takes a more minimalist approach. He runs a low-end Pro Tools system on his G4 to channel his keys and drum machine. "You have to be willing to spend a lot of time working with samples and sounds, but you get quicker," he says. Getting a good live drum sound is tough for even the most seasoned pro, but Mose has developed his listening skills as much as his gear stash.
"In the end, recording comes down to having good ears," he says. "Even if you record with a crappy mic, you can use compression, filters, and an equalizer to get a fat, clear sound. Find a sample, drop a beat on it, double it with some live drums, and tweak it into something dope and listenable. Then deliver your flow. Who needs those big studios anyways?"