Jon-John Robinson Interviews with WaveDNA
Grammy award winning producer Jon-John Robinson talks to WaveDNA about his introduction to music production
Having started his career working alongside Babyface and Tracey Edmonds, Jon-John Robinson has gone on to work with some of Top 40’s most notable artists since the early 90’s. Producing for TLC, Diana Ross, K-Ci and JoJo, and now Lady Gaga, there is a very slim chance that you haven’t heard one of his productions on the radio over the last two decades. After speaking to Jon John about Liquid Rhythm, we sat down with the two-time Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum producer to discuss his introduction into music production, and how he used Liquid Rhythm in his new track.
1) How did you start your career as a music producer?
I started out producing with a group of four guys. We started a company and had roughly 10 artists. I realized early on quality is better than quantity. It was really rough because a few of us butted heads and we were divided on how the company should be run because we were so invested in the many projects we had at the time. We worked long days and nights for a few months and decided a night on the town was in order. We ended up at a now defunct restaurant by the name of Larry Parker’s. It was a small restaurant frequented by many celebrities. Kenneth “BabyFace” Edmonds happened to be there that night, this was during the L.A. and BabyFace era. I ended up getting the number to his brother in-law Michael McQuarn, brother to Tracey Edmonds. He took a meeting with me and the rest is history.
2) What kind of music were you listening to during this time?
I’ve always had a broad spectrum of musical tastes. I enjoy everything from Classical to Hip Hop, but I’d say during that time I was listening a lot of TOP 40, and buying CD’s of popular music during that time. That was during the early to mid-90’s. You had groups like B.B.D., Bobby Brown, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Elvis Costello, and BlackStreet to name a few.
3) How has your career developed since you first started producing?
My career has developed tremendously. I’ve been blessed to have worked with legends and artists that have and are becoming legends in their own right. I’ve worked with artists varying in genres, from Diana Ross to TLC to Lady GaGa. I’ve also been fortunate to sell millions of records and win a few Grammy’s. I have to say I’m very pleased with how my career has turned out so far.
4) What does your setup consist of?
It’s quite funny to me how technology has changed in the past few decades. I’ve gone from recording 2 inch tape to recording on computer DAW’s. My first studio set-up was 2 Yamaha O2R’s cascaded together, 4 ADAT’s with BRC, and multiple outboard gear and keyboard modules. I’m now all in the box. I mainly use Presonus Studio One v2.6.2, Logic X, Spectrasonics (Stylus RMX, Trillion and Omnisphere), Kontakt 5, Sylenth, Massive, Addictive Drums, UAD plugins, Tal, Dub III, IZOTOPE, Sausage Fattener, iMac, Apogee Duet, and Lewitt Mic. I have other Soft Synths and plugins but this list would be too long.
5) Are there any new tools that you have been using in your productions?
Liquid Rhythm is a great new product which i’ve recently started using. It is an awesome Drum plug-in. It allows me to find great rhythms that are similar to what i’m trying to accomplish with out sounding like everything else out there rhythmically. It’s a very expressive, simple to use plugin especially with Ableton Live, so all you Live 9 users you have to have Liquid Rhythm in your arsenal.
6) Have you used it for any upcoming project releases?
I just used Liquid Rhythm in a song I wrote with Lady GaGa.
7) How did you use it?
I used Liquid Rhythm to create the main rhythm for the verses. The great thing about Liquid Rhythm is that you can vary the Rhythm – hence the name Liquid Rhythm – and I digress. Back to my point, Liquid Rhythm has a chart that highlights rhythms that work with the beat you’ve created, by highlighting the variations in a chart. I tried different rhythms until I had something that I felt married well the vocal rhythm of the melody. I built the beat and layered the rhythm from there.
8) What did you like most about Liquid Rhythm while incorporating it into your workflow?
I like the fact that you can add and change the rhythm on the fly while the DAW is playing. This helps a lot auditioning different rhythms while the music is playing. It keeps the creative juices flowing, so you’re not constantly stopping and playing the track.
9) Are you using it with any controllers? If so, which ones?
I’m not really a controller type guy, I’m really just a mouse and keyboard guy. Although I’m considering buying a mixer controller, and iMaschine. I miss having faders, and pads.
10) Any upcoming news you would like to share with our readers? What do you have on the go?
I have a few projects in the pipeline, but I don’t really like to discuss projects while I’m working on them for creative purposes. I’m not really superstitious, I’m just a guy that likes his work to speak for itself, without having to overhype it. I’m really hoping that Liquid Rhythm comes out with a version for the iPad. I’ve recently taken the plunge and starting using the iPad as my travel rig. I really believe that’s the direction that technology is headed and I always like to be ahead of the curve. Liquid Rhythm I believe is the future of step drum processors and sequencer drum processors alike. WaveDNA has found a way to add a nice element to building rhythms. It doesn’t take away from the creativity, it only adds.