Drum and Bass DJ and Producer icon John B on why he uses Spectrasonics Virtual Instruments…

John B has been a shining beacon in the world Drum and Bass scene for many years now. His first album – ‘Visions’ was released back in 1997 and launched his career as one of the most innovative producers at the cutting edge of the UK dance scene.  Subsequent releases on Metalheadz and his own label Beta have cemented his place and position as a true DnB pioneer.

John’s sound and style has evolved considerably over years, starting as more jazzy in the early days, then trancey and now more 80s/Electro – check out the eye make-up! He is also one of the busiest DJs on the circuit with a large fan base all over the world. After hearing that John was a big Spectrasonics fan, we caught up with the man himself to check out what makes him tick…

How did you get into producing electronic music?

My parents were really supportive, I had piano lessons from a pretty early age so wanting to get into keyboards and synths was a natural progression – my dad used to take me to the British Music Expo at Wembley and we’d check out all the new stuff, then plot to get good deals from ads in the back of SOS, or Loot etc… I grew up pretty much as music technology was, so came into it using an Atari ST with a free public domain sequencer, leaning about MIDI etc, moved onto Pro 12, and then Pro 24, then eventually Notator. Picking up bits of hardware along the way. Have since sold off everything except my Roland S760, and just use my beast of a Mac Pro!

John B
John B in the mix!

What are your main musical influences and how have they changed over the years?

All sorts of stuff really – I love 80s synth music, industrial, classical, goth, i really listen to pretty much everything when I’m at home or driving about etc. I also listen to a lot of trance and techno podcasts when I’m out running, and always end up spending big $$ on Beatport staying up to date with electro/techno etc as I usually drop a few non-dnb tracks in my DJ sets…

We’ve heard you’re pretty much software only in the studio these days, what do you find are the main pros and cons of doing everything on a computer?

I can’t really think of many cons tbh – I love the way you can just pick up and start a new track at any point, in the old days you couldn’t really start something new until you’d finished and DAT-ed whatever you were working on, or you’d lose all the mixer settings and forget what all the modules where supposed to be set to! Its also a lot easier to incorporate live recordings, vocals, and longer samples than before. I had all these painful long-winded methods for handling vocals in the past as I didn’t use an ADAT or anything… Thank God for Logic is all i say…

Spectrasonics Virtual Instruments
Spectrasonics Omnisphere

You have all 3 Spectrasonics virtual instruments – Omnisphere, Stylus RMX & Trilian, can you tell us a little bit about how you use them in your music?

Well, I tend to use Stylus RMX for the sorta backbeats I guess, padding out breaks and giving them a bit more character, and i usually trawl through the soundsets when I’m looking for some decent kicks and snares. Its nice to be able to just drag the midi file onto the arrange window if you’re using one of the built in loops too…

Trilian I’ve only started using again recently, but its great to have back in the fold, a really good source of bass sounds, and just good sorta monophonic synth sounds too.

Omnisphere is my fave of the 3 by far, and i still haven’t had time to fully explore it, but yeah, if i need strings, pads, that’s the first plug in I’ll open, and the only one I’ll really need to… just epic… My friend Robbie Bronnimann just told me about the iPad app for editing it – literally just this morning so I’m going to have to check that out…


John B Live

Your DJ schedule seems to be unrelenting. Do you get in the studio much these days or does a lot of your music get written in transit between gigs on a laptop?

Nowhere near as much as id like to, and it makes me sad!! 2011 is definitely the year i get an assistant! and upgrade my laptop… Ive never been into making music on my laptop though, i like to be in the studio, in front of a decent pair of monitors, with dual displays, but i think its time i got over that too… just gonna have to have a big HD with all these libraries…

What are your plans for 2011, will we see a new John B album this year?

Yeah, new album in May… keeping the podcast going and touring more and more it would seem…



Posted by Joel Heatley

I've been lucky enough to be involved in developing, testing, manufacturing, marketing and selling sample libraries and virtual instruments for over 10 years. During this time I've seen a lot of great new software being released, some of it changing how computer based music is produced. It's this creativity and innovation which makes this industry very exciting and truly inspirational.

Website: http://www.timespace.com

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