In Your Studio… with musician Chris Ilett

<iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=""></iframe>We’ve loved receiving your responses to our In Your Studio questions and hearing more about the music you make and the products you’re using. You can find out more about how you can get involved by clicking here.

But first, why not read our next installment which comes courtesy of musician and Toontrack EZdrummer fan Chris Ilett.

Over to Chris…

Chris performingPlease describe the type of music you produce.
I write songs from the heart, but I’m not particularly limited to one style, and certainly not image led. Comparisons of my solo material have been far and wide, and included everything from Tom Waits to Thom Yorke. Vocally and lyrically, some things could be described as a cross between Nirvana Unplugged and Simon and Garfunkel.

The more aggressive songs have a Queens Of The Stone Age/Muse/Pendulum/Garbage feel, and in-between those extremes, you’ve probably got something rather like a more cynical, or melancholy Elbow style of songs. Big orchestra productions, sing-along choruses.

chris IlettWhat’s your choice of DAW and why?
I use Logic Pro. I started off on Cubase, but found Logic to be so intuitive and powerful. My mixes took a massive leap forward just by switching to that, and it helped me along massively with regards to composing using Midi, so I became able to use VI’s and get the songs in my head down into a decent sounding recording

Which plug-ins and sample libraries do you use?
Plugin wise, I rely a lot on Logics in-built stuff. I find the amp sims are often worthwhile, and don’t drain much CPU power. The EQ’s and compressors can be pretty good if things are well tracked in the first place. It’s a little tougher to use them with problem tracks. I’ve got a couple of Voxengo products which I bring out sometimes. I find they can be pretty subtle, but really worthwhile.

Reverb wise, I always head straight for Space Designer. I always get what I need, and generally have a bunch of Aux’s running with Space Designer offering me some subtle differences on each channel.

chris IlettI’ve also got the basic version of Native Instruments Guitar Rig, which is very cool. I’d like to get the complete setup of that. I used the trial version on something (which unfortunately won’t allow you to save takes while in demo mode), and it really is incredible. I’d go for the full works, with the floorboard pedals. Things like the Octave effect were brilliant.

I’ve got some Ohm Force stuff as well. Ohmicide and Quad Frohmage. Both of those get used quite a lot if I want something to sound a little unique. I could play with those all day every day, and never run out of options. The lead track off my debut EP is called ‘The Fray’. It’s a simple, but powerful song, just an acoustic, a bass, and some acoustic drums (more on that later). Throughout the song, you get this feedback creeping in, and it really sets the song off, it gave it a dirtier edge. It’s had a lot of radio play that one.

Speaking of Ohm Force, I’ve got Symptohm Melohman. It’s a really powerful synth. It’s really something you could build whole tracks up using that on every channel, and some of the more electronic songs I’ve done, I’ve gone to town with that.

Toontrack EZdrummer boxOther VI’s I use – EZ Drummer. I use this on any song that needs drums. I do have Superior Drummer as well, which is more powerful, and I probably could spend more time finding out about that. However, EZD gives me what I need. I’ve built tracks up from scratch using that, and I can also demo out a song in a rehearsal room, load it into the DAW, spend 30 minutes tempo mapping the track, to keep the feel of a real band, and with EZ Drummer, it’s just plug and play. It makes it so easy for me to create realistic sounding recordings, that I would never want to do without it. I love the sound from the Room mics on there. If I need to mess with the drum sound a bit more, I can just set it to ‘Multi out’ mode, and have each drum on an Aux channel, and Comp/EQ each one seperately. One of my latest tracks – Little Tokyo, I’ve done just that, and automated a send from the Hi Hat Aux channel into a really gnarly sounding distortion just before the chorus. It lifts the whole song.

I also use a few of the Apple Jam packs quite a lot. I’ve got Symphony Orchestra and Rhythm Section. The orchestra is brilliant within a mix, so I use the strings a lot. If the string parts are more exposed, it doesn’t sound so realistic, and can cheapen the whole song, which is frustrating. The Rhythm Section one I use a bit for bass guitars. I’ve had complements on the Bass sound on ‘All Of You’ – a Foo Fighters-esque song from the EP. It’s a Midi line using Jam Packs!

Of these, which do you rank among your Top 3 and why?
1. EZ Drummer. It’s a no brainer. I’ve been using it for years, and there’s no way I’d be writing and recording at the rate, or standard I am without that. There are other products out there, of which I’ve tried a few, but this was my pick of the bunch.EZdrummer DFH

2. Ohm Force. I can’t really pick between them, as I often use them together. They’re such an interesting bunch of products, and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of the few that I own. The presets have taught me a lot, and every time I use them, it’s like a kid in a sweet shop.

3. At the moment, it’s Jam Packs, and I’ll go for the orchestra one, because I could play the basslines myself. I couldn’t write the string parts without this one.

What’s your hardware set-up?
Very limited at the moment actually, and I could do with sorting that out. Other than a Macbook Pro, it’s really just a basic audio interface, a Samson condenser (which is superb), Samson Monitors (bought because the mic was so good). They’ve served me well, but it’s time to upgrade. Guitars: Les Paul Custom, which I’m very lucky to own, it’s a bit special. I’ve got a battered Strat with a hotrail pickup for extra fury, and a couple of non desrcript basses and acoustics, which have done me proud, but they’re nothing special. Other than that, it’s all in the box. Partly by design, partly due to space and having to keep noise down. ‘Home studio’ is a deceptive term.

Fateful SmileWhat are your musical ambitions for the future?
In the immediate future I’m continuing my radio station campaign. I’ve picked up 250 plays this year, but that’s not really that much in the grand scheme of things. I’m also pushing for song placement into Films/Video Games, and any other form of media really. This year has been good for new material, gaining feedback from people high up in the industry, as well as music fans. A common view is that these songs would work really well in films. I’m in talks with a couple of Music Publishers, and have a couple of small placements in Independent films too, so it’s just building on everything that’s going on.
I’m also working a little with an EMI signed writer in America. There’s nothing official at this time, he’s sent me some music to see what I come back with vocally.

Find out more about Chris at his website or why not follow him on Twitter?

Posted by Melanie Doidge

Having worked in marketing for over fifteen years with experience in various industries, Time+Space and the world of music production continues to be the most exciting of them all. With our brands consistently pushing the boundaries of technology with their products, the terrific DJs, Composers and Producers using them and the feedback from magazines and our customers, there's always plenty to tell the world about. Musical experience? I reached Grade 6 in piano back in my school days and am currently in the throes of trying to resurrect my abilities!


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