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Demarkus Lewis is one of the most sought-after DJ/Producers/Remixers in the business. A career that has spanned 30+ years he has come to define what house music is and the tracks he producers are a deep dive into all genres which reflect his fluid approach to music.
Hailing from Dallas and having his routes in rap and hip hop, Demarkus spent some of his formative years hanging out with the Crips but was not involved in that life. Then one fateful day he discovered the love of house music and never looked back.
With decades of experience as a DJ, Demarkus has found himself commanding the decks of infamous venues such as Stompy (San Francisco), Club Rayo (Argentina), Metro Bass (Rotterdam), Silo (Belgium), H20 (Belgium), The Office (Republic of Georgia), Propaganda (Moscow), Neighborhood (London), and Tresor (Berlin); with repeated performances in Chicago’s world-renowned home for house music, Smartbar. He has recently released music through his new persona Ian Vaughshay and oversees his own label Grin Music and Grin Trax which continues to pump out deep, jackin’ soulful vibes.
“When asked to give 5 studio tips I decided not to share technical aspects but more workflow-oriented methods that I have been using throughout my 20+ year career. Hopefully, these tips will help you spend more time creating and less time looking and searching for inspiration” – Demarkus Lewis
1. Organization is a major key element in my studio
When it comes to quick workflow be sure all of your samples and plugins are easily accessible by arranging them in folders according to both sound and usage.
2. Make templates to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable creative time looking for sounds.
I have templates that jump-start my sessions. When I open Ableton I already have the basic drum foundation already there with a kick, hi-hat, and clap already laid out so all I need to do is start adding the music. After a basic groove is established I then go back and change the drum sounds to match the vibe I created.
3. Group your tracks.
Having your tracks grouped makes mixdowns and arrangement easier when the time comes. I have 5 groups Kick, Tops (Drums like hi-hats, snares, and percussion), Musical elements, Bass, Vocals. When the time comes to start the mixdowns this creates focal points which in turn helps with clarity and control of frequencies.
4. Don’t be afraid to use samples or sounds you know work.
I’ve heard the argument some producers have about using samples. I encourage using samples like loops but I never just use a full loop. Chop and rearrange these loops to create your own sound. You have to remember that what you want is the tone of the sounds within the loops not necessarily the patterns that are already there. Create your own patterns and feel free to pitch the sounds up or down to fit the key of your songs.
5. Spend more time learning the plugins or outboard gear you have.
In today’s world, it’s not about how many tools you have but more about how you use these tools. The size of your studio does not matter it’s how you use the pieces you have. Knowing the ends and outs of just one audio instrument is worth much more than having 100 plugins that you never use. It reverts to the old saying quality over quantity.
I have one Bonus Tip…
6. Have fun!
Demarkus Lewis’ ‘About U’ will be available December 18th via Eyedyllic Music. Grab your copy here.