In the this exclusive interview, provided by Matt Caldwell PR, sits down and shares inside scoop with Las Vegas based DJ and producer Cam Colston to chat about everything there is to need to know about music production, career paths and their approach to making music.
Hi Cam, thanks for taking time to talk to us about the production aspect of your career. Can you tell us about how you got involved in producing?
CC: I dabbled a little bit in production probably about 10 years ago, having absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was really just awful, but I do still keep some of that old stuff to see how far I’ve come! I shelved the idea then, and later on as I got more involved in music, specifically the EDM culture, my drive and desire returned. I genuinely enjoy learning. I love creating things, and I get bored easily. Each track is a new experience in its own way, so producing really keeps things fresh for me, as there is always something new to learn, always a new track to create, another story to tell.
Are you a self-taught producer?
CC: Yes I am.
How do you develop your music production skills and talents?
CC: Trial and error can get you pretty far, but in today’s world with information so easily accessible, it’s easy to research and learn on your own. Books, websites, tutorials, and other producer’s personal tips are all extremely valuable to the learning process.
Where do you get your inspiration from when producing new music?
CC: Inspiration can come from anywhere! Taking a long drive or a nice walk outside, hearing a sound in another production that you want to explore and develop further, or sometimes just playing around in your DAW until something interests you are all sources of inspiration. I think the key is to be able to get right to work when inspiration strikes. When that moment happens I put life on hold and get the idea started as quickly as possible.
What’s the typical process you go through when working on a new tune?
CC: I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a typical process, as sometimes I’ll start with writing a melody, sometimes with the drums/percussion, and sometimes with a bassline. With that being said, I generally prefer to work with melodic elements first, working on the melodies and harmonies until I get something that sounds good with just about any instrument playing it.
Do you have a favourite production technique?
CC: I don’t really have a favourite technique, but there are definitely a few I use in nearly every track. Something that I think is really helpful for new producers is layering and stereo imaging (especially on lead sounds). It really helps to keep everything sounding thick and full. There’s tons of reading material on these subjects, and I encourage everyone to read up and learn as many techniques as possible!
When you are producing, what are your go to plugins and equipment?
CC: You can actually get a decent bit of mileage out of your DAW’s stock plugins, but some that I typically use include Nicky Romero’s Kickstart, Ambience Reverb, dblue Glitch, and a bunch of the Toneboosters stuff.
What’s your favorite synth?
CC: Right now I’m having a lot of fun with Serum and all of its features.
What’s your favorite sample pack?
CC: I find myself utilizing the Dave Parkinson sample packs from Freshly Squeezed quite a bit. There’s a TON of material there that can be used in a number of genres, and it’s all quality stuff!
Do you have any favorite plugins for mixing and mastering?
CC: I treat each mixdown and master differently, but ideally the mix is going to sound great before it gets to the mastering stage, so there isn’t typically TOO much to do at that point. Typically EQ, multiband compression, and limiting…sometimes I’ll add in some subtle reverb or stereo imaging to the mastering chain. It’s all down to the individual track and what it feels like it needs.
What plugins/equipment is on your master channel?
CC: I leave my master channel clean and free of plugins until I’m in the mastering stage. Just about any issues you have with your mix can be resolved closer to the source of the issue itself; whether it’s sound design, the specific mixer channel where the sound originated from, or a send you have set up. My personal preference is to try and start with quality instead of having to try and fix it up at a later point.
How long does it usually take you to complete a new track?
CC: Sometimes it’s a few hours, other times it’s weeks or even months. As far as getting the arrangement down, I believe my best ideas/tracks have come together pretty quickly. Working on the mixdown, tweaking, making changes, and adding that ‘extra 10%’ can add tons of time to the track, but more often than not, in my personal experience, the tracks that get sketched out the quickest end up being the ones that flow the best.
Which traits do you think make an excellent producer?
CC: Persistence, objectivity, the ability to deal with rejection, and creativity/a willingness to bend the rules. The persistence is needed because you’re not going to just develop all of these skills overnight. The objectivity comes into play when you listen to something you’ve made and can honestly say that this part or that part just objectively doesn’t sound good. Rejection…odds are you’re going to hear “no” quite a bit from labels. You need to be able to understand that there are varying reasons as to why something gets rejected, and then it doesn’t mean you should give up. Maybe there are changes that need to be made that you don’t yet realize. Maybe the label just doesn’t think it’s a good fit for their catalog, or maybe the A&R who listened just doesn’t particularly like it for some reason, but someone else will. The willingness to bend the rules is all about being adventurous. Exploring new ideas and sounds to make something unique to you. Sometimes that means trying techniques that you would think are ‘bad’ in the hopes of creating a fresh, new, interesting sound.
Finally, what can we expect in terms of new music from Cam Colston?
CC: There is a ton of stuff on the way this year. I’ve got a few bootlegs, and a bunch of original tracks that are just about ready to be put out into the world. I’m still having a lot of fun exploring my own sound, so there’s going to be some stuff in a few different genres that I’m really excited to share with everyone!