Tyson Lunn shares some cheat codes and strategy tips
This month we continue our ongoing series of mentor profiles, which share some insight into the personality and experience of the official mentors for Class of 808 in Producer Dojo. This month’s profile is for Tyson Lunn, AKA Nintendeaux. You can hear Tyson’s work by checking out his Spotify catalog. Tyson was also the curator for the Cypher 007 release on Producer Dojo.
Author’s note: being a producer DJ myself, I always want juicy technical details and tips from the artists I look up to, so be prepared for some surprising questions and answers!
How long have you been producing?
In the way that I produce now – the better part of a decade. Before that, I was still moving sounds around in a DAW, but didn’t really know what I was doing.
What led you to become a producer?
I used to be in a band, so recording and making edits to the band’s music eventually led to me making entire songs by myself as i didn’t always have people to play music with. I was extremely fascinated by the entire process of taking sounds and putting them into a computer. When I first started recording, I would mic my entire living room and host impromptu jam sessions at my house, and then later would go back in and try to recreate what was played by myself, using other people’s playing styles to learn different instruments and techniques.
What was your most interesting project/release in past year or two?
Two years ago, I decided to go for it and try to make a living off of music instead of having a typical day job. So, while planning my strategic exit from my job I was also creating a bunch of music. I self-released an EP called “Feed My Cats” immediately after I stopped working, and with the support of my awesome community and friends, I was able to live off of music for my first month with that release. It wasn’t my most musically elaborate release, polished, or technical, but it was a significant milestone for me.
What inspires your songwriting?
Life. I find if I don’t go out and experience life, my music doesn’t progress the way I want it to. I try to translate whatever I happen to be feeling when I write, and when my life gets too monotonous so does my music.
What do you try to communicate to your audience through your music?
Honestly, I think of each track I make as a snapshot of my life at the time I was making it, and what I’m trying to communicate is a feeling that isn’t easy to express through words. So for me music isn’t about trying to say something that can be boiled down to words. The music itself is my form of communication.
Do you write with specific genres in mind?
Not really. I like slower tempos though, so I tend to stick with those. I also really like the syncopation in breakbeats. So I typically end up with pretty hip-hoppy styled beats when you combine those two elements.
Are you also a DJ?
At shows do you mix in songs from other artists, and if so, who do you favor for that?
Typically not. When performing live I usually just play my own music, music my friends have made, or music I’ve had some hand in the process of creating.
What gear do you use for practicing your DJ sets at home?
At home I use a variety of stuff. Having friends over to DJ at my house is a pretty common thing. If there are CDJs here I’ll play with them. If there are turntables here I’ll play with them. If someone has a new controller, I’ll play with that. I also really love performing with Ableton Live, so my Akai MPD32 is usually my first choice usually. I try to at least be capable with everything in case the opportunity to hop on the decks ever happens.
USB sticks and CDJs, or do you take your laptop and other gear to shows?
I go the laptop route because I typically play with ableton. Despite everything you hear on the internet, I’ve never had a problem putting the lid on a CDJ case and setting up my gear on top of it.
What are your thoughts about label deals versus self-publishing and self-promotion?
Both! While a label deal might help your reach, the internet has made it so everyone has a voice. I think it’s more important to put music out consistently than to let it sit on your hard drive.
Are you a member of any producer collective?
How does Producer Dojo benefit you?
It’s a community! The people I interact with daily are great for bouncing ideas off of, feedback, and keeping each other motivated.
What operating system do you use for production, and desktop or laptop?
Mac OSX – laptop.
What DAW do you use for production and what do you like/dislike about it?
I rely on three different software tools for production:
Ableton Live – I like the ease of making audio edits, making effect chains, racks, and so on. I use Ableton to finish songs and do the stuff that is slow to do with Maschine or MPC Software.
AKAI MPC Software – Nothing comes anywhere near the way sampling works with this, it has amazing round robin capabilities, the ability to flatten pads, and of course the swing. This is the fastest and most straight forward system to start a track for me.
Native Instruments Maschine – Maschine is like the perfect middle ground between Ableton and the MPC Software. It’s far more friendly with VST plugins and seems to be more stable in general than MPC Software. I prefer the way you can arrange with Maschine versus the way you arrange with MPC software. However, I’m not a fan of the Maschine’s library system, and I don’t have as much fun as I do with the MPC.
What monitors (and size) do you use and what do you like/dislike about them?
I have Yamaha HS8s. I like their clarity. They are great for hearing things accurately without being too expensive. I also use some older Rokit 6’s for DJing at my house. I think they’re good for DJing but I don’t trust them for mixing or production.
What headphones do you use and what do you like/dislike about them?
I have Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pros. I’m not really into using headphones over monitors, so I only use them when i have to. I actually prefer the 770s over the 880s – I think the spike that the 770s have in the “painful” area of the upper mids force your mixes into being less sibilant even though the 770s are slightly more colored.
What audio interface do you use and what do you like/dislike about it?
I use a MOTU Traveler – I love it, especially because it has tons of inputs for all my hardware.
Any other notable gear you love and use frequently?
My DJ mixer actually gets a lot of studio use. It’s an Allen & Heath XONE:42. I use it all the time for sampling stuff. The filters in it are awesome, and it’s occasionally nice to use the EQs for other gear.
What are your top 3 “desert island” soft synths/samplers you couldn’t live without?
Maschine. MPC. Kontakt. And Arturia’s Jupiter 8 plugin.
What are your top 5 “desert island” processing plugins you couldn’t live without?
Fabfilter Pro-Q3. Waves CLA-76 and CLA-2A. Waves H-Delay. And Native Instruments Guitar Rig.
What size room do you work in, and does it have acoustic treatment? Do you think a treated room is necessary for quality production?
I’m not sure of the exact size off the top of my head, but it’s the master bedroom of my house. Yes it is treated, and while I don’t think it is NECESSARY for quality, it saves me a lot of time that I used to spend going out and checking mixes in my car. I don’t think i could go back to that.
What loudness target do you usually master to?
As loud as possible without it sounding bad.
What other artists’ reference tracks do you rely on most?
Ephemeral by Bassnectar is kind of my go to reference track. I love that track.
What are your top 3 tips for newer producers just starting out?
1 – It never works to try using an EQ to create a sound that isn’t there.
2 – Keep your tracks simple!
3 – Do the ARRANGEMENT EXERCISE like 50 times.
What is the top “secret weapon” technique you rely on for your sound?
Put something analog in everything – whether it be a layer of drums from a record, a hardware synth, a guitar recording. etc.
Any teasers you want to share about what you’re exploring next?
I’ve been having a lot of fun making sound packs and evolving the drum racks that I use in Ableton when performing.
What’s one surprising fact about you or your work that other producers or fans probably don’t know?
Sometimes I put images of abstract art on my second monitor when I’m producing, and I’ll start tracks out by trying to musically convey what I see in that art.