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Artist Tips: The Plastician

While Chris Reed (a.k.a. The Plastician) cut his teeth playing U.K. garage, grime, and dubstep on London’s pirate-radio circuit (and later on BBC1 Xtra), his productions on his own Terrorhythm label show his restless spirit and desire to push his style in all directions. The Plastician’s dark, lurching beats–from the atmospheric Occidental noir of “Japan” to the booming “Intensive Snare” (featuring MC Skepta)–are versatile, techno-tinged DJ tools that fit perfectly next to all your favorite bass monsters. His secret weapon? A simple PC-based program called Fruityloops. Here Reed offers five solid tips on getting the most out of the software, but for a taste of what he does with it, check him out on rinse.fm every Monday from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. GMT.

1. Build a sample library.
One of the key things you’ll need when making beats in Fruity is a good collection of samples, particularly of drums. You’ll be pretty limited to what you can do if you only use the preset drum kits offered by the program. Other samples and FX can come in handy to add interesting parts to your tracks, too, so scout around online, record straight from your own collection, or purchase sample CDs to build a library.

2. Exporting loops as audio.
If you find Fruityloops is eating up your CPU, it’s important that you export as many MIDI patterns as possible into audio loops. These loops can then be used in separate audio channels in the timeline, which will take up a lot less CPU than the original MIDI sequences do. Make sure that you get a good level of volume on your loops so that they are easy to mix down and will ensure you get the best sound.

3. Master your tracks.
A lot of people comment on the “tinny” sound they get out of Fruity when compared to programs like Cubase or Logic. I find a good mix of EQ and compression can really help the overall sound of your tracks before they are exported to WAV files. There are loads of effects modules included in the program, so play around with them and take time on your mix-downs and eventually you’ll obtain the fatness of other powerful production tools.

4. Use the correct drivers.
Another CPU problem that pops up as your tracks become more busy can be easily sorted out by selecting the correct driver for your sound card. There are various free drivers available online. I used the free ASIO driver, which I obtained from asio4all.com. This runs smoothly and ensures you’ll have fewer problems with memory.

5. Make use of VSTs.
One of Fruity’s great attributes is that it supports the usage of external VST plug-ins. Having a wide selection of virtual synths will add further dimension to your arsenal of sound-production capabilities. There are plenty of places online where you can download freeware virtual synths. A good place to start is vstplanet.com, which has a wide selection of synths and effects units to choose from.

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