The BBC Radio 1 and Not Another Love Song presenter’s essential tools that helped him to write and produce songs
LOGIC PRO X AND LOGIC REMOTE
Logic is like a massive spaceship, with a million buttons, but once you get to grips with it there’s almost nothing you can’t get it to do musically. It comes complete with incredible sound libraries. The Alchemy synth alone is worth the price of the whole software, and best of all, you can pair it remotely with the Logic remote app. If you’re new to producing music, and struggle with chords/theory, Logic Remote has an incredible MIDI input called ‘Chord Strips’ which allows you to play triads with single buttons – even better, it gives you every inversion of that chord, so you can find the right ones and audition them with your ears.
IN THE MIX YOUTUBE CHANNEL
I feel like I should be getting charged for watching this content. The hardest part of making the Not Another Love Song podcast was mixing the songs, and this beautiful Scottish man [Michael Wynne], with his calm energy, dulcet tones and buckets of wisdom helped me through it. I’ve not seen a better communicator on YouTube than this guy – he explains things so well. If you’ve ever wondered how EQ works, or you need a deep dive on compression, this is the channel for you. I revisit his videos frequently.
On the mixing front, Gullfoss is a plugin I discovered whilst making the podcast that now gets used on pretty much everything – especially at the mastering stage. It’s a sort of dynamic EQ that has very few settings but is modelled on some clever science designed to make your mix sound better to the human ear. It creates amazing separation and clarity on a mix bus, and helps everything find its place in the mix. If you’re looking to add an extra 20 percent to your finished production, this feels like a little bit of magic.
Need a fat kick drum sample? Need a snare? Need the sound of a cow mooing? Splice has it all. A subscription-based sample library that offers endless samples of almost any instrument you can think of from full melodic ideas, loops to random one-shots. Almost all of the virtual drum kits I put together for the songs in the podcast came from Splice. Its easy integration with my Mac makes it super simple to search for sounds I’ve previously downloaded.
STRONG SONGS PODCAST
This is an amazing podcast series by Kirk Hamilton which deconstructs and often recreates iconic songs to help you understand them better. Kirk effectively unbakes the cake of a well-known song and shows you all of its ingredients. His enthusiasm, ability to communicate complex ideas and the sheer quality of the production make it one of the most enjoyable listens (outside of Not Another Love Song!) for anyone interested in songwriting. I picked up so many songwriting and production tips from this podcast, and it never fails to put a smile on my face.