Between running label Mixmash Records, doing the international festival circuit and continually adding to his production resume, Dutch high-flyer Laidback Luke has experience to burn. He’s also a tireless advocate for new artists, with a string of proteges over the years. A few months back, we saw Luke share Tiga’s Six Golden Rules for Producers inthemix feature, so we asked the Mixmash boss to write his own for us. Being one of dance music’s standout good guys, he gladly obliged. Follow these pointers and you could be lighting up mainstages like Laidback Luke himself.
This is the order of how to get into producing…
#1 Start with making edits
This is re-arranging your favorite tracks and switching up the order of the song structure. Maybe try to cut a few notes and beats to make it sound crazier. Move into making mash-ups. This is basically putting two tracks together. Take the beats of one track and put the melody of another track over it. Most common mash-ups are putting an acappella over a track. Mash-ups will make you more aware of EQ-ing and compressing as well as blending elements together.
After this you will be ready to try and make bootlegs. Bootlegs are unofficial remixes. This involves adding your own beats and melodies to existing tracks. Please never call a bootleg a remix, unless the original artist or record label will release it. If you try calling a bootleg a remix, you will be seen as a wannabe by the professional world. After you have mastered this, you’ll be able to start making your own tracks.
#2 Sample a kick-drum from a professional track
A well-mixed, loud dance track stands or falls with the kick-drum. To ensure you use the right one, and it sounds heavy enough, just sample one from an existing track. This way, you know it has already been mixed and mastered. Any element you layer on it will kick ass.
#3 Time to masterchain
I always start my productions with my full masterchain on. Masterchain are the plug-ins you have on your master output to make your track sound fat and at a decent professional-sounding volume. I always advise to have at least a compressor and a limiter on there. My masterchain has at least five compressors in there now! Whatever works for you to get the fattest sound is fine. Just make sure your track doesn’t distort and you still have dynamics in there.
#4 Don’t get stuck in a loop
Take a half-hour break every two hours. Like, really push yourself to do so! I can tell you most of my ideas and inspiration came from taking a pee after those two hours, or while nibbling on a sandwich. That break clears your brain out from the strain and freshens up the ears. When you get back in studio mode, you’ll instantly hear what needs to be tweaked or what you need to do to take the track to a higher level.
#5 Reference your tracks
It’s very important to mirror your tracks with professional tracks. I often have three or more references to compare my tracks with. When you switch back and forth to your track and the professional tracks, you will hear where your track is lacking.
Think about it: these professional tracks sound good everywhere. So if your track sounds similar in the overall EQ and loudness, your track will sound good everywhere as well. After that, it’s good to try and hear your track on any type of system, whether it’s your car, TV or crappy earplugs.
#6 Onto the next…
Make an effort to actually finish your tracks. Snippets don’t count. It’s a true producer’s skill to be able to actually finish a track. Although you’ve spent a ton of time on a track, and it feels like your baby, leave it and start working on a new track.
You might get people who aren’t into your track, or say this and that needs improving. Take that feedback and work on a new project. Only then will you keep evolving. It protects your artist ego, as the best is yet to come, always.