Music Production 101 With: Space Monk-E
American DJ and producer Space Monk-E has established himself as one of the fastest rising starts on the east coast scene, thanks to his ‘booty movin’ productions and highly energetic DJ sets. With a release catalogue featuring hits such as ‘Static’, ‘Burn’, ‘E Everybody’, ‘Snake Charmer’ and ‘The Come Up’, you are bound to have heard a Space Monk-E track at your local club and festival.
As well as churning out the bangers in the studio, Space Monk-E can also be found behind the decks at some of North America’s most prestigious venues including, Limelight, Tunnel and Original EXIT, supporting international stars such as: TJR, DJ Funk, Frankie Bones, Bad Boy Bill and Rob Gee along the way. We caught up with Space Monk-E to chat about all things related to his life in the studio.
Hi Space Monk-E, thanks for taking time to talk about the production aspect of your career. How did you first get involved in music production and the industry as a whole?
I have been making music for as long as I can remember. I started out with guitar, piano, small projects and bands but it never felt like the right place. When I finally got involved with electronic dance music I knew I was home…
Was there one moment in your life that made you realise that you wanted to become a producer?
I don’t know if there was a particular moment in my life where I decided I wanted to become a producer. That’s like asking Michael Jordan if there was a time in his life that he wanted to become a basketball player. I didn’t choose to do this, I do this because it’s who I am… it’s in my blood.
How long have you been producing and how did you learn the skills and processes involved in music production?
I’ve been producing for about 17 years from full analog setups to small digital setups… I have a degree in audio engineering from The Institute of Audio Research in New York City but mostly the skills and processes have come from hands on trial and error.
How do you continue to ‘sharpen your tools’ and keep up to date with the latest sounds and production techniques?
I’ve always found tutorials on YouTube extremely helpful when it comes to learning new techniques, there’s pretty much an instructional video for everything now and nowadays information is readily available to you anywhere you are instantly.
What are your favourite production techniques?
There’s so many techniques that I utilize but my favorite techniques are those involving EQ’ing methods and building a solid kick…. People don’t understand what an important role the EQ plays in the design of the track.
Can you describe your typical workflow when producing a new record?
Typical workflow for me when I get into the studio… I always start with coffee and then try to feel what type of genre or sound is calling me and just try to replicate the crazy shit in my head to sound coming out of the speakers.
How long does it usually take you to complete a record once you have started?
That’s a hard question… it can vary. There have been tracks that I’ve completed in 1 day and tracks that have taken a whole year to almost finish.
What characteristics define a Space Monk-E track?
I try to make music that can reach outside of the predicted boom boom wobble wobble drop generic shit that has no soul to a sound that can take you out of yourself and bring you on a journey.
Can you walk us through your studio set up?
My studio setup now consists of a juiced up mac-mini, Ableton Live 9 Suite as my preferred DAW, KRK monitors and an MPK 49. I always have a side area for snacks and Red Bull, which is a must.
What software/equipment is a must for you?
Obviously Ableton, and the two main VSTs that I couldn’t live without are Sylenth and Massive. Spire could also be on the list too.
Do you prefer analogue or digital gear?
There was a time when digital wouldn’t of even been a question for me. I had a MPC 2000, Korg Triton, Roland 305 and all types of outboard racks and equipment, as well as the dirty, warmer sound you get with an analog setup. However, you also limit the abilities you have in comparison to digital setups today. As much as I used to love analog setups, I could never go back.
What producers do you look to for inspiration?
This list is endless… There are so many talented producers out there and I love all genres from drum and bass to hard house. If it has a funky bassline or a groove that I can feel in my soul I tend to lean towards that for inspiration.
Do you have any tips for aspiring producers?
My only tips would be to remain humble always, be able to welcome criticism and remain teachable. You’re only as good as your last release and there’s 100 others waiting for you to slip up and take your spot…stay true to yourself always and try to reinvent and perfect your sound.
Space Monk-E Online