Show Off Your Studio: Never Dull’s bright and sleek groove workshop
The house and disco producer lets us into his Tijuana studio, where head-bopping basslines and luscious guitar licks are made.
- Yamaha HS7 studio monitors
- Novation UltraNova
- Apogee Duet 2 and Shure SM7b
- Novation Launchkey 49
- Squier Classic 70’s Telecaster Deluxe
- Fender Squier Bronco Bass
Listen to Never Dull Essential Tracks Spotify Playlist
Tell us a bit about the studio, Never Dull!
My home studio is located in Tijuana, Mexico. I’ve been here for about three years now and I love it. I’ve been building this studio for a while now – at first I had a basic setup with a laptop and a MIDI keyboard. Then started buying gear about five years ago, but never tried to go overboard because I really believe in the ‘less is more’ concept. I only buy things I believe complement my style as a producer and I always strive for a more ‘organic’ sound. I believe that the less you have, the more creative you have to be to create something exciting, so I really push myself to use what I have in different ways.
How do you use your studio?
I really enjoy this independence I’ve created in my studio where I can start ideas here and finish them up until the end product without having to depend on anyone or any place. It depends on what I’m working on at the moment, but I can record live instruments like guitar, bass, and vocals if needed and finish the production here as well. I don’t rent it out at the moment, but maybe it can be a possibility in the future.
Which DAW do you use?
I’ve used other ones in the past but I really identified with Ableton Live because of the speed I can start and develop a musical idea. Also, I think it’s the best DAW to sample and warp audio.
What’s been the biggest investment in your studio? Was it worth it?
I think the biggest investment in my studio was Ableton Live and my Mac computer, simply because it allows me to make music, regardless if I have any gear around or not.
Which piece of gear was essential in creating your latest EP, Discotech?
I wanted to combine the organic sound of disco with more electronic elements in my productions, so I relied mostly on my Fender Telecaster and my Novation Launchkey.
Your music is a mix of sampling and live performance – how does your setup allow you to pick and choose when to pick up and record an instrument?
I try to have everything at an arm’s distance, kind of like in a circle, so whenever I start an idea I can quickly grab an instrument and record my idea within minutes. This creates a fast and efficient creative workflow in the studio.
What would you save in a fire?
Definitely my computer and hard drives.
How does the studio environment help you with your creativity?
Having a space dedicated to music creation has allowed me to explore and solidify my sound as a producer, and it is something I didn’t have before. The privacy helps to work in uninterrupted periods, so I get more done in less time.
What’s something you use every day that is so boring that it’s not worth mentioning?
My studio chair. Very boring but essential in production!
How did you go about getting the acoustics right in the studio?
At first, I just tried different setups until I found the one that works best, mostly moving things around and working with the natural acoustics of the room. The acoustics of my studio is something I’m still working on, and plan on getting some panels in there as soon as possible.
What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio?
I have a few plants in my studio so in the morning I try to have a more ‘peaceful and relaxed’ atmosphere, I open the windows and let the sunshine in. At night I tend to change up the lighting with a few LED lights I have installed. I usually change the colours depending on the mood I’m in.
What is your favourite piece of gear?
It usually changes every few months, but my all-time favourite is my Fender Bass. It’s the thing I use the most.
What are some of your favourite plug-ins and how do they help you achieve your sound?
I really love iZotope Nectar 3, it makes my vocals pop and I love the harmony feature. My favourite VST plug-in is the Korg Mono/Poly, it’s my go-to for bass and pads and I think it’s so underrated. Also, the GW Mixcentric from Waves really adds the finishing touch to my final mix.
What is next on your shopping list studio-wise?
The Roland GAIA SH-01. A friend of mine lent me one for a few months and I fell in love with the analogue aspect of the synth. I can work super quick and find the sound I want in a few steps. It is quite affordable as well.
Do you have any frustrations with your current set-up?
Not many. I’m just looking to fine-tune the acoustics in the room so I can get the best quality vocals and recordings possible.
What is your dream piece of gear and why?
My dream piece of gear would definitely be a classic SSL J9000 Mixing Console. I really would love to mix my music on this analogue mixer, even though I can’t fit it in this studio, [laughs].
What is your top piece of production advice?
Get to know your tools. Always use a plug-in you know over a ‘newer’ or ‘better’ plug-in. The one you know will always beat the one you don’t, even if the other one is a ‘better’ plug-in.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Don’t be scared to start making music without your ‘dream’ gear. Having a proper studio takes time and not having a lot of gear at first is an advantage because you learn how to do more with less.
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