Hi, Doctor Nick! - Start Making Tunes and Stop Getting Lost in the Party Scene

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Nick Hook may not be an actual doctor, but even after only a month at the helm of the weekly Hi, Doctor Nick!, it's clear that the man is helping people. Every Thursday morning, he reaches into his brain and extracts useful information to advise the XLR8R faithful, and no topic is off limits; life, love, music, production, touring, travel, gear, food—it's all on the table. If you have an inquiry of your own, don't hesitate to drop Doctor Nick a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com, and perhaps he'll help you in a future edition of the column. As for this week, he's offering his thoughts on two very different aspects of the game: how to start making music, and how to avoid getting lost in the party scene.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I'm 22 and in my last year of school. I've been partying since my teens, but lately, I've been feeling utterly out of control. I'm being reckless, and my friends in the party circuit think I have lost my sense of self. The thing is that I practically live for music and DJ-oriented events and I have been working towards getting into the industry since high school! I can never imagine a career path in any other field. With that said, I have two questions. Could a string of embarrassing incidents at a young age totally screw me over professionally? More importantly, how do I go about getting my life back in order?

Dang. I don't know if i'm the best to answer this question for you, but I'll try anyways. I'm still gonna stick with the fact that if you don't have a kid or an STD, you can recover from anything. So maybe go get tested first.

To be completely honest, and I think maybe the only difference is that I'm a guy, is that a turning point in my life was the one year where I was out almost every night until the sun came up. I bonded with a lot of people that year, and I look back on it in an amazing way. I was a little bit out of control, but aren't you kinda supposed to be at some point?

I think you should set some goals for yourself. What do you want exactly? If you don't know, you are essentially working towards nothing. When I was 22, I hadn't ever put out a record or left the country, but I knew I wanted to. So I felt like if I was at least taking forward strides every day, whether it was one tiny one, or 100,000 huge ones, I was doing my best. Now I'm an advice columnist, so it obviously worked out.

Also, don't do coke. I've seen it ruin mad people. Good luck.

Hi Doctor Nick,
How can I start making some tunes? I've got a musical background and I'm pretty computer savvy, but when it comes to electronic music, I've never gone beyond stringing together a few loops in GarageBand. I'd like to learn how to make some beats, but I definitely can't afford to enroll in any of the online programs I've looked into. Got any resources to get a beginner started with minimal investment? Any software recommendations? Can I get by in the start without buying any hardware? Ideally, I'd like to be able to DJ parties for friends and create some original tunes. Thanks for the help, I'm diggin' the column.

Hi. Thanks. I'm glad you like it.

I learned how to iron my clothes last week on YouTube, so I don't see why there's any reason you can't learn how to sound like Skrillex on there either.

My suggestion would be to get some programs and a decent MIDI controller. I use Ableton Live and Novation stuff. Reason is tight. Personally, I hate Logic cuz it's slow and clunky, but some people go wild on it.

When I got Ableton in 2004, I picked up this book. I kept it with me all the time. I read one page here, 10 pages there... sometimes I didn't read any, but my brain was racing to try and understand it all. I kept learning, bit by bit. If you go back to my first column, we talked drum machines. I would listen to some of your favorite music and see what sounds resonate with you. See what synths you like, if you like samples, drum machines, and all that. When I work with people, I try and understand that as fast as possible. I find it really important. It's a language that you can speak together.

My other favorite book that I still keep with me today is this. It's trippy as fuck, and funny, but awesome... and when I Googled the link just now, I realized that my dude has the book notated on YouTube. Yes!

Don't worry about hardware yet. Some of my illest friends that make all the beats we love use no hardware at all. It's all good. I didn't get a real synth 'til like three years after I was making beats. Reason was great for me in the beginning because it really does emulate the process of a studio. Once I started making "real" records, I actually understood the process.

Hope that gets you started. Hit me back for more.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.