Having launched his career as a scratch DJ at the tender age of 11, Steve Mac is now a renowned Studio Owner, DJ, Record Producer, Remixer, Label Owner and one half of the House duo Rhythm Masters. Steve is a fan of iZotope’s music production software and has been checking out the latest update to the critically acclaimed mastering suite Ozone 6.1. We caught up with him to find out how he’s been using it in his latest projects and what he makes of the cutting edge features.
Hi Steve, for those of our customers who aren’t so familiar with your music career to date, could you give us a quick summary of your work and some of the many artists you’ve worked with?
My name is Steve Mac, I have been in the House music scene for over 20 years, I put my first record out in 1994. I’m one half of the hugely successful Rhythm Masters and I have remixed over 300 records for the likes of James Brown, Jamiroquai, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson etc. I have produced hundreds of records and now I run a label called black rock records with AFEM CEO Mark Lawrence and I’m also just about to start up Dysfunctional recordings again which was the Rhythm Masters platform.
You were a Hip Hop DJ at the age of 11 – can you tell us more about that?
Well I was just a kid messing around with vinyl. I loved the Electro and Hip Hop scene as it was based around Electronic music. I started doing mix tapes, spending my Saturdays in record shops across London and basically just got hooked into the music.
Well, after my Hip Hop Electro fad, I got into hardcore Drum n Bass and Techno, that started when I was 16. I was living in Malta for a couple of years and was resident DJ in a club called Axis where I met Rob (other Rhythm Master). The change over was so natural as the music was being made in the same way Electro and Hip Hop was but with more of a 4 4 beat, just better to dance to.
What’s been the most surprising and/or proudest moment to come out of your career to date?
I would say the proudest moment was a remix we did of Todd Terry’s Jumpin‘ back in 1996. It was an underground record with very little vocals, just chopped up bits and the record completely blew up, went to no 7 in the UK pop charts which is unheard of with underground instrumental dance floor records, especially back then. Surprising moment was when I made a record called Paddy’s Revenge. It took me an hour on my laptop to make it and was made as a joke. Next thing you know it was a hit record. Funny how things work out sometimes.
My key pieces of hardware, ok i have a few I always go to… GML 8900 compressor, Neve 1085’s, Eventide h8000, Lexicon 224xl and my beloved Urei 1178. Love these machines. Synth-wise I chop and change all the time. I don’t really use soft synths, I prefer to make my own sounds then add my own effects. Been loving all the old Roland stuff again of late, been using the 303 and 606 all the time, they just have a sound. Drum machine wise mostly right now its been the 606 sp1200 and my Akai mpc.
Which DAW/host do you use and why do you choose to work with that particular one?
I mostly use Logic X because I know it inside out. Sometimes I use Pro Tools for mix down but a little less recently. Gonna start getting into Ableton a little more. The next project I start I will work in Ableton, I just love what you can do with it, it’s crazy.
I will use simple ones to get ideas, just the ones in Logic as they are quite good then I usually go to the real synths later on. I just use them to catch the vibes quick. I use a lot of audio plug-ins like UAD, Ozone etc.
I’m quite a new user to Ozone. I have to say this plug-in sounds bloody amazing. I mainly use it as separate plug-ins not the all-in-one. The multi band dynamics is now my go-to, it’s so precise and having the mid-side option is so handy.
Mostly the multi band dynamics, the widener is also amazing that is also my go-to widener now and the EQ in mid-side mode. Dynamic EQ is also a handy tool and the maximiser of course.
iZotope recently released a new update for Ozone (v6.1) which you’ve been trying out – what do you think of it? Has there been anything in particular in the update that has impressed you?
I noticed the new tube setting which sounds really good but still getting my head round it at the mo, ask me in a month’s time when I should be half way through mixing this album 🙂
I’ve been messing around with Trash 2 of late as one of my mates that I work with a lot uses it all the time, very impressive distortion. It’s quite out there but it really works.
Which of your most recent tracks have been produced using iZotope software?
The new Rhythm Masters single (the first one in 10 years) 20 Year Cycle. We mixed this in Pro Tools and Ozone is all over it.
What are you working on at the moment and what’s on the to-do list for the coming months?
Just finished the new Rhythm Masters single and a new Steve Mac single for Black Rock Records and I’m producing an album at the moment which I have just started mixing so that is me tied up for the next 2 months.
Finally, what would be your top 3 production tips for those of our customers who produce House music?
Be careful with limiting and compression, it’s so easy to overdo it, squashing the sounds too much to get them loud is not the way. When applying these effects, have your volume down low so you can hear the detail in what you are doing. So many people are making this mistake.
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