Inspiring Artists Series: Mike C Lovett Interview
As part of our Inspiring Artist series, we caught up with Mike C Lovett to talk about his current setup, workflow and Bandcamp’s 12in12x12
Who are you? and why are you on this planet?
Father. Photographer. Noise maker. An Enterprise Architect who specializes in information architecture.
Why am I on this planet? I will paraphrase, with a sense of irony, the words of Tim Minchin… to celebrate this wonderful, meaningless existence.
How did you get started into music?
It’s a good question – I am not really sure what prompted me but my first instrument was a Korg MS10 and I never looked back.
I think WaveDNA have done something very special with Liquid Rhythm – it deserves to be successful.
What is your current setup?
Prior to selling everything off following the birth of my first son, I had a pretty extensive project studio based on a real-to-reel 8 track. After a 10 year hiatus, I had a decision to make. How do I get back into making music and make it affordable? I decided to go entirely virtual: all my music is done ‘in the box’.
I work in Abu Dhabi and brought with me some, but not all of my gear. So no monitors and no large keyboards. I have my Mac Pro (early 2008 model) and an Axiom 25. I miss not having the larger keyboard! I like to get both hands on the keys. Its on my buy list!
I primarily use Ableton Live 9. I now have a really good set of virtual instruments and other plugins. I tend to stick to the same subset of instruments – Alchemy, Ultra Analog, Zebra 2 and Kontakt. I am a big fan of Pettinhouse samples – I use them for guitar and bass with Pod Farm. I make heavy use of MFM2, Trash 2 and Ohmicide. Things always seem balanced on the edge of total chaos sometimes! I am using a MOTU UltraLite as my audio interface. No monitors (grrr) but I do have some Sennheiser HD650s headphones which are superb. This does make my ability to mix effectively constrained, but for purposes of 12in12x12, it is adequate.
As you may know, Bandcamp started the 12in12x12 project, where you make 12 songs in 12 hours for every month of 2013. What do you think of this project so far? Have you gained anything from it? What are/were your challenges?
I have participated in the Immersion Composition Society speed composition ‘games’ previously so the concept wasn’t new to me. But this idea of doing it every month and trying to hit 12 tracks is something else. I am quite sure if it was not for this exercise I would probably do nothing… there are so many distractions not to mention being exhausted most of the time. Participating in this has resulted in me producing tracks on a regular basis for the first time in years.
So far so good. But it is hard. The idea is you do 12 no matter how good or bad. And an hour is not long at all. I force myself to live with the result of an hours effort. This includes the basic idea and the initial arrangement. I leave out mixing and fixing the worst of the EQ and other issues. For that, I spend at most a couple of hours. I prefer to create my own sounds and material but there is no way that is possible in an hour. I do spend time creating a decent kick sound and similar, but otherwise rely on library sounds. I have become increasingly adept at producing heavy kicks at speed… and creating atmospheres… or noise… from very basic starting points. I thoroughly enjoy it.
For the record, it was Jim Mendola who instigated the year long effort. He is prolific! His band – King Everything – churns out albums at a fearsome rate!
Can you take me through your creation process? Has it changed because of the strict time limit for this project?
I have no single starting point: my Muse is fickle! If not down right contrary. I just go with the flow. That might involve dropping some loops in from my library and starting to destroy the loops. You can hear the result of that on the track ‘Thought Crater‘ which consists of two drum loops. Honest.
I might start by trying various sounds in a synth library such as Alchemy’s and seeing what pops out. I might have an idea bouncing round my head and attempt to render it in the real world. I also make use of some generators that I can build on given a lack of other idea. Sometimes I just have a feeling, an emotion, a concept that I want to try and realize.
So while the starting point may vary, the time limit does not and that does make it hard. You know if you are not satisfied, but you have to go with it. Similarly, I find it pretty much impossible to capture more than the basic core of an idea in an hour… the results are always unfinished. Stopping is hard when you know there is still lots to do. And sometimes continuing is hard when you know the whole thing is a disaster and you SO don’t want to proceed!
Liquid Rhythm has captured the essential nature of reusable patterns and presented that in a very compact but informative visualization
Is there a specific feature in Liquid Rhythm that you enjoy using the most? How has it affected your workflow?
Drum patterns. The key word is patterns – and the concept of reusability and visualization. These are the two things that really stand out for me. Liquid Rhythm has captured the essential nature of reusable patterns and presented that in a very compact but informative visualization. Creating patterns is very fast. Given that I have an hour to create I now can put together far more interesting drum tracks in a fraction of the time. So much so I have started using multiple drum tracks – I have the time. Liquid Rhythm is so quick, and so very easy to use. Liquid Rhythm gives me more time. More time means a better result and more options. Liquid Rhythm represents a brilliant idea well implemented. It will be a key part of my work flow henceforth.
Have you used a lot of other drum software? Does anything stand out to you about Liquid Rhythm?
Not software, but to provide a bit of context and history… I started using drum machines with a Sequential Circuits Tom. I moved on to Cubase on an Atari STE and loved its drum maps. Thanks to the Elka CR99 disk recorder, I was able directly reuse the Cubase sequencing, live. You can hear the results in this playlist (including my, er, voice): Hardwired JHD Miners Cottage session.
When I got back into music making I was determined to find a good drum instrument. It took me a while. I used RM V (LinPlug) for quite some time to start with. It has a great library but is rather fiddly to use. I used Live’s built in stuff quite a bit and started to create multi-layered kicks using Simpler… and lots of them. Lately I have started using Tremor. I do have Geist but I found its library lacking and never devoted enough time to creating something for myself. Tremor is excellent but it is a CPU hog. I also have BFD2 and again it is fantastic software but it has its place. I have started using Drum Racks in Live extensively but I find them to be rather tame. So I have started creating my own. Liquid Rhythm and Live racks are a perfect combination. Lots of FXpansion, and now Liquid Rhythm. I hope Liquid Rhythm starts introducing some of the sequencing capabilities like those found in Tremor. I will have to make a feature request. I think WaveDNA have done something very special with Liquid Rhythm – it deserves to be successful. My October submission with 12in12x12 is the first with Liquid Rhythm.
Why is music so important to you in your life, what does music do for you?
I am not sure why, it merely is. I took a 10 year break and towards the end of that time I realized that I could not be happy without being able to create music. It is very much part of who I am. I may produce rubbish but that is fine; I am creating a noise, and I am content. Creating music that might evoke emotion in myself or others is a wonderful thing. Even if I am ultimately only entertaining myself then that is good – I like being entertained! If others find they also enjoy the noise and find it evocative, then even better. Perhaps most importantly, creating music helps me relax.
Check out more of Mike C Lovett’s music and photography here:
Check out Bandcamp’s 12in12x12.
Author: Allison Janzen – Application Specialist / Ultimate Music Nerd