Pretty Lights has been taking his massive hip-hop and soul influenced sound all around the globe for a few years now. By mixing the analog and digital recording techniques, he has created a niche for himself that doesn't require radio play to reach audiences. And in the video below, he shares some of the secrets to his recording process.

At the heart of it all..? Ableton Live, and Akai controllers.

Oh, and a TON of outboard gear.



Glitch production is all the rage these days. Those stuttering, jumpy effects that sound like skipping CDs or a faulty recording are all over the place, in ever type of music from hip-hop to Disney pop. How you make those effects is a pretty hot topic these days. So much so, that several new plug-ins have come down the road in the past couple of years that make it easier than ever to get your tracks skittering and stuttering away. Here are four of the best glitch VSTs on the market today!


  • Image Line GrossBeat



A deceptively x/y axis interface hides a ton of processing power. Used by countless FL Studio producers, GrossBeat is a quick and easy tool to get some pretty interesting audio effects on your tracks. There's also a VST plug-in sold to be used in other DAWs as well.

  • SugarBytes Effectrix


This company is quickly making a name for itself by creating powerful and quirky effects. Effectrix is essentially a step sequencer for up to 14 effects. You can stack up your effects “tracks” and activate them, step sequencer style, by a simple mouse-click. It makes for one hell of an addictive and fun music making process. Great for live shows, too.

  • dBlue Glitch



A freeware plug-in, Glitch is surprisingly one of the deepest plug-ins around. It features all of the standard sound-mangling effects, and it all sounds great right out the box. However, Glitch comes alive when you do your own knob-turning. Also of note? How easy the interface makes it to take fine control of all the chaos. Did I mention this is free?

  • SugarBytes Turnado



Like the others on this list, it features a series of parallel effects, that are completely user assignable. Unlike others on this list, Turnado is designed to be mapped to whatever rotary knobs you have on your MIDI controller. Of course, this makes it a breeze to use live, and equally as effective in the studio.

Have some other recommendations for glitch effects? Hit the comment box below!a
Grammy Award-Winning producer Just Blaze takes a moment to share his production process with an oddly formally dressed reporter from the WSJ site. Of note is the theory behind the production of a really simple sounding track. But beyond the production component is the great discussion about the business end of  things, and his general openness toward technology. Well worth your twenty minutes of time, if you have it!





Fuse's Crate Diggers video series has given us some create background information from some of the greats of hip-hop production. But this one? This just might be one of the best hip-hop production documentaries, period.

James Yancey is an innovator in modern hip-hop and soul, creating all kinds of soundscapes for everyone from Common to Talib Kweli to Erykah Badu to Spacek to Macy Gray. His music is pretty much timeless (shout-outs to the Mochilla crews tribute, available here), and is worthy of a book or two, easily. Hopefully this documentary is a start.

For us in the digital age, who have access to a huge segment of the history of recorded music at any given time, seeing the dedication to do what was needed to make their art is both humbling and inspiring. As someone who digs both analog and digitally, I have an inkling of an understanding of what it's like to search for new music as an inspiration for your music.  BIG BIG shout-outs to J-Rocc and Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey. Beyond the music (or perhaps as a part of it?), these are people speaking and sharing memories of a loved one who's no longer here. Take 25 minutes and check it out, it's worth it.






If you know hip-hop, you know Nautilus.  Period. Probably one of the most sampled tracks in the history of hip-hop, Bob James' Nautilus is a slice of fender rhodes driven jazz-funk from a guy who looks oddly like a chemistry professor. Don't sleep, though - Bob James has a catalog filled with great music, that has been used by everyone from RZA to Marley Marl to Easy Mo B.

This segment is taken from the great web documentary Down The Rhodes that's well worth a look. Find more of it here. And if for some unknown reason you haven't heard Bob James' One...well, I'll forgive you, once you buy it and straight up groove to it for a while (the funkiest version of Pachobel's Canon In D you'll ever hear is on the album). Amazon has it for sale here - check those prices! - but I'm sure you can stumble across it somewhere.
The early spring of 2013 seems to be rife with all kinds of great news for the audio producers out there. First, Ableton Live 9 comes through and crushes the buildings with a long-overdue, but great, update. Now, Propellerheads Software has announced an upcoming update of their stalwart software Reason. Totally out of the blue, and completely unexpected by most, the announcement of Reason 7 (so far) finds one big addition: MIDI out capability. This means users can (finally) use Reason to control and sequence outboard gear in their productions. A long-requested feature, MIDI Out makes Reason even more of a studio centerpiece than it was already. Check out the teaser video below:

Legendary hip-hop DJ/producer Jazzy Jeff is always a great interview. In this video he gives Scion AV a walk-through of his home studio. Key take-aways?

  • His basement studio is nice (understatement of the week, lol)
  • He has a vintage Neve board(!), running at the crib
  • Jazzy Jeff's DAW of choice seems to be Ableton Live and Native Instruments Machine
Check it out below: