Photo Production Minimalism

Have you ever glanced around your studio and asked yourself, “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”. If you answered no, you are either going to absolutely love the idea of injecting a little minimalism into your workspace or totally reject it. Honey badger and I don’t give fuck. There is no denying that we find ourselves (beatmakers, producers, musicians, insert your audio related occupation or hobby here) the victims product of capitalistic and consumerist clutter. Before you go into Red Scare mode, hear me out. Capitalism has blessed the audio production world with some innovative and arguably necessary products. In my humble opinion too many great products.

The by-product of cheap technology and development coupled with internet marketing is depression. We are bombarded with an endless stream of must have midi controllers, DAW’s, plug-ins, etc. Add the revitalization of the so called vintage gear craze to the equation and you might be feeling a tad bit inadequate in the gear department.

Over the last 10+ years I’ve owned my fair share of expensive hardware and dabbled in the expansive cloud of plug-ins and feature excessive DAW’s. You can easily find yourself down the rabbit hole chasing the latest and greatest or the oldest and sonically “best” equipment money can buy. You will certainly spend a substantial amount of time and possibly find yourself near bankruptcy chasing the perfect tool. In the end, you might go over the precipice and ask yourself  “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”

My latest experiment in producing music has been to inject a little minimalism into my workflow and production workspace. I find myself more productive and the creative process is beginning to be fun again.

I’ve made it no secret that I use Propellerhead’s Reason software to produce my music. I don’t use some strange combination of Reason & Pro Tools or Reason and Ableton Live. I don’t obsess over new features of version x,y, & z of a given product. I’ve learned to work within limitations of my DAW (especially with Reason). I can honestly give a fuck what your DAW or Drum Machine can do that mine can’t. Maybe you should too. I use a single production tool and plan to master it completely. The workflow makes sense and allows creativity to flourish. My plug-in (Rack Extensions) are minimal and essential and accomplish their desired task.

I’ll argue that you can never have enough sounds, so I’m always getting my hands on more drums samples, samples to chop, virtual synths, and so forth. Having a solid sound bank is crucial to creating fresh material, but without inspiration its useless.

Photo 2 1024x768 Production Minimalism

I’ve narrowed down my multitude of midi controllers to a single device that integrates near perfectly with the Reason workflow (Nektar Panorama P4). I own a beefed up E-Mu SP-1200 for sound design projects and drums. Again, tools that I use frequently and add value to my creative production and workflow.

Overall I’ve reduced my setup to the bare minimum, the essentials if you will. I’ve reduced physical, mental, and virtual clutter to the point where I can master the few tools that I use most frequently and never have to worry about the latest and greatest and must have’s of the music industry.

Injecting a little minimalism into my life as a beatmaker has done personal wonders. Shit worked for me.

The next time you glance around your studio or bedroom, ask yourself, “Is all this gear necessary?”. The next time you spend hours on internet forums reading “This Machine vs. That Machine” posts, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”.

In the end, most of our consumption does little to add value to what we do best… be creative and make music.