Go behind the scenes of the prolific producer Alex Preda
This week I had the pleasure of catching up with Romanian born, Amsterdam based Alex Preda to find out more about his production process and studio setup. Alex has had a string of releases with his productions being signed to Bedrock Records, ICONYC and Manual Music to name a few.
Hi Alex thanks for taking the time to chat with us at Frisky. How are you today?
Hi, thank you for having me. I’m very good! I’m spending tremendous amounts of time in the studio these days. I have many new tracks coming up, and I’m also working on a brand new event concept in Amsterdam. Our first event is on 8 April in Club VLLA. If any of the readers are interested, more info can be found on Resident Advisor and my Facebook page
We would love to give our readers an insight to your studio setup and production process. Firstly, how long have you been producing your own music for now?
It’s been 16 years now since I got my first Reason copy, but it was just a hobby for me until 6 years ago when I started building a professional career.
Do you have any formal musical training?
I’ve done a lot of self learning – that actually never stops – and I also attended some formal education at Point Blank, SAE and last summer Burn Residency Ibiza Bootcamp. I was in touch with music since I was a kid, had music classes in my elementary education where I learned to play the block flute and to sing. But I’m no good with singing now, haha!
How did you get into producing electronic music?
It was the moment when I discovered that people make music using their computers. I started playing around with Fruity Loops at that time, and later I got my hands on one of the early versions of Reason and Ableton Live. I spent a considerable amount of time learning these last two programs.
How much time do you get to spend in the studio?
Recently I’m almost daily in the studio, for sure more than 60 hours per week.
Tell us what hardware and/or software do you use in your studio at the moment?
Well, I have an Ableton Push controller and I’m in love with Access Virus … It is versatile and intuitive, but also challenging since it opens up many ways to build a track.
I used to have too many plugins a while ago and it wasn’t easy to choose the instrument of my liking. In the end I made a total clean-up and kept just a few. I came down to a pretty small list: Omnisphere, Trillian, Alchemy and Diva. I like to swap them every now and then.
What are your ‘go to’ pieces of gear/software?
I think is Omnisphere. I find the multi channel ability very useful.
What pieces of hardware or software would you like to add to your current set up?
I would really love to get Komplete Ultimate 11, Moog Minitaur, Waldorf Blofeld and Nord Lead 2. I’ve been reading many reviews and many say are good investments.
How do you approach a new project? Where do you start first?
It depends on my mood: it is either listening to music to get inspiration, make a small library of sounds I like or write down a few ideas down before opening my DAW.
For a dance track, the drums are the first thing I start arranging as is the backbone of the whole track.
What parts of the production process (if any) do you find challenging?
Making music can be easy and can be hard even if you have all the knowledge, the skills and tools you need. I’ve built my techniques to cope with challenging situations such as creative blocks, ear fatigue, and in general all the admin work, but even so I get stuck sometimes.
I guess mixing is the most difficult for me, since I need to separate myself from the composition itself and have an objective engineer approach. That’s not easy when it’s my own song.
Where do you look for inspiration when writing new music?
I’m mainly listening to other music and going to music events. Movies or other type of art inspire me as well.
For instance, recently I saw a series on Netflix called ‘Abstract’. It’s about renowned modern artists and their art creation process. The concepts explained in this documentary can be applied to any type of art!
What DAW do you use to produce music?
Ableton Live mostly.
Do you prefer hardware over software, if so why?
I started with software instruments and later discovered the power of hardware. I prefer a combination of both worlds. That’s why I got Virus TI2 ☺
What would be the one piece of equipment you could not work without and why?
At the moment it is the Virus, I can’t work without it. I can make nearly any sound with it. Plus it is a hardware with software interface, it’s perfect!
Do you have any plans to move your productions towards producing a live performance in the future?
Yes, but it will be a while until then. Right now I’m focusing on productions: working on a very nice collaboration with a friend and also making solo tracks, expect many releases soon :)!
How long do you typically take to write your productions?
I can finish a track in one day, or it can take me one month. More recently I have started to make a new project every day, it helps me to overcome the ‘creative block’ and discard boring ideas.
How do you approach remix projects?
Just like any other production. Not a particular treatment to it than just starting a new song. Of course the parts are important and I typically separate the ones I think I could use and start building the song with them / around them.
Do you master your own music?
No, I leave this to the mastering engineers. I focus on production and mixing.
What artists (new or old) are gaining your attention at the moment and why?
Last year I made a friend who makes amazing electronica and ambient with his impressive collection of new and old synthesizers. His name is Simon Chauvin and you’ll find him on Soundcloud. If you are into deeper electronic music you’ll surely enjoy his music!
And a few days ago I discovered Architectural, I was blown away by his latest release, love it! Also, I really like Patrice Baumel’s music, his avantgardistic approach to dance music is brilliant, yet so effective on the dancefloor.
What one piece of advice would you give to any new artists trying to break into what is already a very competitive industry?
Good planning leads to success!
Like in any other line of business / career, education, experience, networking and professionalism is absolutely necessary. Learning the tricks of the trade is paramount and with planning and hard work you’ll get where you want. And it won’t happen over night, so be patient and keep working hard!