Michael Knead was one of the most dedicated students we had the pleasure to teach on our Online Ableton Live Course: the Quantize Compass Package.
His determination, motivation and eye for detail have carried on into his production career that is rapidly seeing him signed to new labels, set up his own label, perform his music live and set up his own mastering service. We are grateful he has taken time out of his busy schedule to share his experiences with us and offer some advice to those starting out.
What sparked your initial interest in music production?
I’ve always been interested in music and enjoyed a thorough musical education at school. However, 15 years ago you had to buy expensive hardware in order to make electronic music – being a poor student at this time and spending all my money on vinyl records, I couldn’t afford any equipment. This is why I’d been a music consumer for such a long time, although I’ve always had the strong wish to make electronic music myself. When I heard about this mysterious software called “Ableton Live” I downloaded a demo and immediately became addicted.
Tell us about your latest releases.
I have a couple of releases out on Baroque Records, UK. My latest track is called “State Of Mind” and is probably a typical “Michael Knead” dance music track: progressive house, but still moody and very atmospheric. The other label I’m working with at the moment is Detox Recordings from Detroit. They have released my first EP “Liquid Plastic” and a couple of other dance music tracks. I am not only producing house and techno, however – I have a pure Electronica release on the IDMf Netlabel and even a Drum and Bass track out which appeared on “Cosmic Core”, a collaboration of artists from around the Globe.
What made you decide to take a music production course with Quantize?
I felt stuck. I couldn’t really make the kind of music that I had in mind so I spent a lot of time on internet forums to find help. It was very obvious for me that just watching tutorials wasn’t enough – instead, I wanted someone I could talk to who could really help me make my music sound the way I wanted to.
How did the Online Ableton Live Course you took with us help you on your journey as a music producer?
I have learned concepts and ways of working that I use every day now. This is very interesting because after this course, my whole perception about music has changed. Today, it is very easy for me to find out why I like a certain track. The course showed me a method to create the kind of music I want in a very structured way. I can now work super quickly if I like or if I have to. Even more important: I always have many different ideas and the course helped me to judge them. Today, it’s quite easy for me to decide if an idea works or if I should start over and discard it.
What motivates and inspires you to create music?
This can be many things. It can be something simple such as a sample that I’ve recorded, sometimes it’s a melody that comes into my head whilst I’m taking a shower. Really, I am constantly thinking about music. Some tracks are already finished in my mind and all I have to do is “execute” it my DAW. However, sometimes I start without a clue but a strong emotion that I want to express. And here’s a little hint: if you’re stuck during production, these nice little tips by Brian Eno might help you.
Your tracks are very polished with a nice crisp sound, do you have any secrets you can share?
I believe that a trained ear is more important than expensive gear and I am analyzing tracks on a regular basis (as I learned in the Quantize Complete Package). I think good tracks need to have two things: a good idea and a good sound. Now, this “good sound” is the sum of many, many tiny details. When mastering I spend a lot of time just on EQ’s, Compressors and running the signal through various stages of subtle coloration. Having mastered my own tracks and some for fellow producers, I decided to start a mastering service for everyone who cares about a polished sound (there is more information on www.michaelknead.com).
What can we expect from you in 2013?
A lot actually!
My new 4 track EP “Plastic Empire” will be released on Detox Rec. on May 7th, featuring a remix by another past Quantize student Lucky One.
My track “Concentrated Measurements” will be featured on Baroque Records’ Ibiza Compilation this year and there are more releases planned over the coming months.
However, the most exciting news is my new label, launching with Alexander Sting (aka Signal .to Noise, also a Quantize Courses alumni). The only thing I can tell you today is that it will be all about Electronica. A very distinct musical style, not especially for the dancefloor although some tracks sound really hypnotic. We will only sign electronic music with a dense atmosphere – ranging from Chillout to Downbeat. These special tracks that you would normally overlook, these mysterious sounds, these great pieces of music that just won’t fit with any label. By the way: we’ll accept demos as soon as we’re online.
Where can people listen to you and buy your tracks?
Any final words of advice for people just starting out with production?
Stay true to yourself, don’t make music that does not come straight from your heart. If something does not work, discard it. It’s often better to throw something out and restart from scratch than spending hours trying to fix something. Trust your own creativity.