Hey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the production aspect of your career.
Since announcing himself onto the UK Dance music scene, Jake Cusack has been going from strength to strength with every record he has released. He caught up with the multi-talented musician for an insight into his production process and studio secrets.
Were you self-taught?
To start with yes, I was, but then studied an earned my grade 5 music exams for the theory of music and piano from the associated board of the Royal Schools of Music.
How did you develop your music production skills and talents?
By constantly listening, playing and learning about music, I play the piano, guitar and even started to play the fiddle. For me, music of any kind has its place in what I produce, and I surround myself with music and instruments with the belief that it will add to my repertoire and in turn, I can use when writing music. But I think the main thing that helps me develop is continued learning, I used to be glued to the computer music magazines and I still read\watch whatever I can on music production.
Where do you get your inspiration from when producing new music?
From everyone and everything. Being a DJ and searching for new music really helps. That first time you hear a banger and you get that shiver down the back of your neck that gives me inspiration to get into the studio and try and make something that will have the same effect on other people listening to my music.
What’s the typical process you go through when working on a new tune?
I take my time and run through my workflow to make sure that I set my group\bus channels up and then assign them to my mixer and then back into my DAW, so I am already starting to think about how I will mix the track down at the end, then work on the drums, cymbals and percussion, I make sure they are solid before I move onto anything else.
Do you have a specific method of production you stick to?
I do, I always start with the beats, groove and bassline making sure they are sounding as I want them before moving onto the mids and top line. Then move onto the arrangement. Once that comes together I will start a new song to clear my senses of what is currently down and then go back to it a few days later so it sounds fresh again, apply the ear candy (fills, sfx,) variations and automation to the arrangement, then start to mix the track down before I self-master.
Once I have the first mixdown I play the track on every system I have to make sure it sounds good. When it’s sounding good I’ll leave it again for a few more days before self-mastering the track. At this stage, I add it into my weekly shows to get some feedback from people who listen to my sessions but before anything goes out to the label I always get my tracks mastered by someone else. I have found this to be invaluable, to have a fresh set of ears on your track to make it stand out.
When you are producing, what are your go-to plugins and equipment?
Where to start!! I have a Moog Sub 37 which I use for my bass lines, I have an access virus for the techier sounds and a nord electro for the more organic key sounds and use the Maschine studio or Roland TR-8 for making beats.
What’s your favorite synth?
Moog Sub 37 – the sounds you can create can blow you away.
And your favorite sample pack?
I used to use sample packs years ago but just don’t have need of them anymore, but if I was to choose I would always find Sample Magic packs to be amazing.
Do you have a favorite plugin for your mixdowns and masters?
iZotope Neutron 2 – for group channel mixdowns
iZotope Ozone 8 – for the overall track mastering
Also, as part of mixdown process, I use a digital analyzer and compare it to a track l like or has good production quality. Your mix will always be quieter and show less peak levels per band, but I use it to compare the overall balance.
What plugins/equipment is on your master channel?
iZotope Neutron on each group channel
Yamaha N-12 mixing board.
How long does it usually take you to complete a new track?
Around 3-4 weeks, 1 – 2 weeks for building and arranging the track and 1-2 weeks for the mixdown and mastering that also accounts for the days I leave it alone.
Which traits do you think make an excellent producer?
I’m not sure who said this, but it was said to me that music is, “One percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. I think anybody who is creative knows that you need both and the bit that gets you is the one percent but I think what makes a producer is the perspiration, you also need the passion for what you do and the continue willingness to learn new things, so the traits I would say would be Inspiration, Perspiration, Knowledge and Never giving up!
Finally, what can we expect in terms of new music from Jake Cusack?
Certainly, I have another 3 EP’s due out over the next few months with the intentions of putting an album out by the end of the year, we are also looking and bring on new talent to my label Funkdog records, so we hope to promote new and up and coming talent as part of the process