Conor Patton AKA Conro knows a thing or two about music. He’s a classically trained multi-instrumentalist and former member of the Saskatoon Youth Symphony orchestra with releases out on Armada, Revealed, and Monstercat. In a rare production-focused interview, we had the opportunity to discuss his approach to music composition.
Daily Beat: Many producers struggle finding their own distinctive sound. Could you tell us a little bit about your musical background and how you developed your own sound?
Conro: Yes of course, I've spent the last 5 years finding what defines me. It has been a huge process of understanding my strengths and being confident in the sounds I've made and developed. What comes in comes out for me, so I'm influenced by other artists but stay in my own creative realm when producing.
DB: You incorporate a lot of live instruments like piano and guitar in your tracks. What sort of processing do you use to make them stand out in the mix?
Conro: Yes, I like to keep the organic elements I've learned over the years in my productions, although there really isn't much processing involved. I like to keep it simple with compression and EQ's for the most part.
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DB: Did you ever get stuck with “8 Bar Loop Syndrome” (when its difficult to extend a track’s arrangement beyond a simple looped idea)? If so, what sort of things did you do to break out of that?
Conro: Everyone gets stuck, but when I do. I step back and understand that I'm not just making something I want people to think is 'cool'. But rather focus on what I think is cool, and from there everything falls much easier into place.
DB: Creative block affects a lot of artists and creators. It can be pretty frustrating to be unable to create even a simple idea. Do you ever suffer from creative block? How do you get over it?
Conro: I have a similar rhythm getting out of this as well like the previous question. It's easy for me to get caught up making the same things over and over, but it’s important for me to remind myself that writing music is a privilege and just having fun with it usually snaps me back into the creative mood.
DB: What’s the latest production technique/plugin that you’ve learned about?
Conro: I've been watching Steve Duda's tutorials on breaking down Serum. It's been an eye opener to a lot of things.
DB: Is there a technique that you think is underrated in the production community? Why do you think its important?
Conro: Short Room Reverb is very underrated in my opinion. Such an amazing tool to bring to your mixes.
More about short reverb courtesy of MusicTech.net:
DB: Drum fills are essential in signifying change and building tension but producers often have trouble creating the right fill in the context of the track. Do you have any tips on how to make better drum fills?
Conro: Well this is a tricky one to answer because this can really define your sound. I always try and explore new percussive sounds to change up fills and builds, this tends to add unseen elements in my productions.
DB: I’ve been blasting your new remix of ‘All We Know’ by The Chainsmokers on my speakers over the last few days! How do you typically approach starting remixes?
Conro: Hey thanks, that means a lot!! I usually have a vision in my head of how I see the track then just sit down in front of my piano and start playing with chords. From there I start working on what I want the drop to sound like, then after that typically work backwards from there.
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DB: If you were stuck on a futuristic Mars outpost by yourself with only your DAW (music production software), one synth, and three effect plugins, which would you choose?
Conro: Haha, well I would choose Serum, Waves TrueVerb, Fabfilter Compressor and EQ. I think that would keep me occupied.
DB: Thanks for sharing a little bit about your production workflow and experience with us. Do you have any final advice that you’d like to tell aspiring musicians and producers?
Conro: Thanks for chatting with me! Well I would say from my experience, just keep it at. If you think you can do it, it’s probably true, but only if you are willing to put the insane amount of time in. Understand that this career is a tough one to crack but if you put the time and effort in, you'll get to where you want to be. Patience is a virtue.