Interview with Blueprint
Blueprint is a d&b producer and DJ from the United States. He has been releasing records since 2007 and DJing since 2003.
MacAbleton: Hi Blueprint, many thanks for sparing the time to talk to us. What have you been up to recently?
Blueprint: Mostly working on new tracks, finishing collaborations and promoting a new EP that was just recently released on In Da Jungle Recordings.
MacAbleton: Who has influenced you most, and who are you listening to at the moment?
Blueprint: I think the album True Colours by High Contrast really influenced me the most when I was first starting out. Currently I'm listening to everything from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs to DJ Chap.
MacAbleton: How did you get started? How much did you write before you came up with something you felt you could release?
Blueprint: I started on a G4 Powerbook and some Sony MDR v500s dj headphones so it took longer to figure out what I was doing simply because using headphones to produce was fatiguing but I still worked through the pain (literally). I started sending my tracks to djs that I thought would play my tunes and they contacted a few labels that put them in touch with me. I think being a dj first helped with networking and with getting the tracks to played out straight away.
In the studio...
MacAbleton: What is your studio setup? What else do you use in production apart from Live?
Blueprint: Equipment List:
2x CDJ1000mk3 CD Decks
1x Technics 1210 M5G Turntable
1x Shure Whitelables Cartridge
1x Pioneer DJM 800
1x Native Instruments Kontrol X1
1x Native Instruments Maschine
1x Sennheiser HD25 Headphones
1z Kitsounds KSDJ Headphones
1x 17" Unibody Macbook Pro
1x Ableton Live 8 DAW
1x Logic Pro 9 DAW
1x Apogee Duet Audio Interface
2x Yamaha HS80M Monitors (primary)
2x Behringer Truth Monitors (secondary)
1x Akai APC 40
VSTs: Massive, Isotope Ozone, Waves Platinum.
MacAbleton: Do you know what a track will sound like before you start? What's the first thing you do when you start something new?
Blueprint: Never. The one consistent thing about producing (to me) is that each track is different and although I might start with things like drums - they're sometimes only a placeholder for the actual drums - just so you can build off something before you finalize it. Everything goes though so many changes that something like the drums are usually a completely different from when I first started them.
MacAbleton: How do you split your time between sound design, writing the basic parts, arrangement, mixing, etc. Do you tend to mix as you write or get ideas down quickly and sort it out later?
Blueprint: I think coming from a dj background - I just try and hear for it instead of forcing myself to do strictly sound design or certain parts. It's more natural that way. Consequently I'll be taking ideas/samples in and out while mixing on the fly. I'll also reference the track everywhere from ipod headphones, my car stereo, and then note what works and what doesn't and apply those changes to when I'm mixing down on my studio monitors.
MacAbleton: Do you have a signature technique that you find yourself using all the time? (as in something a bit unusual). How do you balance between getting variation, and establishing a sound that is yours?
Blueprint: That's very difficult to answer but if you listen to my tracks you might hear some common techniques and sounds underlying my tracks. I like to think I'm still finding my sound.
MacAbleton: What are your favourite features in Live?
Blueprint: I love Ableton. I use Logic as well but Live has come such a long way that it's actually now more stable and sounds just as good as Logic with the help of a few plug-ins. In my opinion, the best features are the ones that are easiest to use - from the keyboard commands to how easy it is to find samples or to create chains. It's all so efficient and quick. I don't think anything will ever come close to it in terms of workflow and features.
MacAbleton: How important do you think music theory is, for making dance music?
Blueprint: This is one of the things that I think is important because it kind of harps back to the saying - "to break the rules, you must first know the rules." With that said, there are tons of producers who make amazing music that don't know anything about music theory or chord progression. Best advice is to try to learn it even if you don't want to.
MacAbleton: How do you get your sounds? People always want to know where to get a kick, bass and so on, or how to make them.
Blueprint: I use sample libraries sometimes if I'm looking for a specific sound I can't make. Otherwise, I can usually use a synth or record a sample and use that. It depends on the vibe I'm going for.
MacAbleton: What is your DJ setup and method? Do you use Ableton Live for DJ sets?
Blueprint: CDJs currently; sometimes Traktor with CDJs.. Ableton is great but I am a dj at heart and less of Live PA type of musician when playing out. I actually think that cdjs or turntables have more character in their mixes since they can be a bit loose (in a good way).
MacAbleton: Have you had any spectacular equipment failures when playing live?
Blueprint: Not really.
MacAbleton: What advice would you give to people starting out?
Blueprint: Don't listen to anyone, just make music and churn out as much you can. If you make 100 tracks in one year and even one is a success, that's all you need to get a bit of confidence. Give your best tracks to the right djs and it'll also help you get where you want to faster. Lastly, become a student of producing, reading as much about using your DAW as you would with music theory and such. Mac Ableton is a good start ;)
MacAbleton: Cheers! What are you up to next? And what are your long term plans/goals?
Blueprint: Putting more tracks out.
MacAbleton: Thanks very much for talking to us!
Blueprint: You're welcome and thanks for the opportunity.
Some links and information on Blueprint: