The first time I ever met Chris Liebing was at ADE in 2011. The first question I asked him was how Tommy Four Seven designed his kick drums, he told me it’s amazing what you can make with the tap of the table, clearly pointing to advanced sound design techniques. We caught up with him before his show at District 8 in Dublin to discuss sound design, technical set up and how he learned his craft.
Firstly, how did you first get into the technical side of music production and where/how did you learn your craft?
That was back in 1994, about a year after I started solely DJing electronic music and techno. I was very interested in producing my own music, as I thought and still think that creating your own music to play it out was the next logical step after becoming a DJ. So I got together with a friend of mine who already owned some synthesizers. His name is André Walter and we were basically learning by doing. There wasn´t really anyone around who could have taught you anything about it.
What would you say were the biggest challenges you faced when you started making music?
From a technical point of view I would say, making it sound right. I was always very much a sound fanatic and I was never really happy with the sound, so the biggest challenge we used to face, was getting the sound right in the studio.
What was your first studio set up?
That was in the middle of the 90s, and we had some funky synths like the Juno 108, the Super Jupiter, the Oberheim and of course the 909, 808 and the 303. But the heart of it was an old Atari computer that ran the software called Notator. It was all still quite basic I would say.
What is your current studio set up?
I have to say that just recently, due to a renovation of the building, I had to move out of my studio in Frankfurt. But the heart of it is a Mac desktop computer, my MB2 speakers by PMC (Professional Monitoring Company), a Hot House custom built subwoofer, various Moog, Dave Smith synthesizers, drum machines and good old Electron Machines that I really love.
What is your approach to sound design?
I am a bass fanatic, so when I mix I usually take care of the bass first and then I work my way up to the higher frequencies, placing them in the room while keeping the bass tight and mono, opening up in the higher frequencies.
What advice would you give to the modern electronic musician?
The advice that I would give to any musician, just do what feels right. Be inspired by everything around you, get inspiration by listening to old records, new records, things you love, things from your childhood and do not limit yourself. That’s what I have learned and I think that helped me very much. Do not limit yourself to a certain style of music that you want to do, rather sit down and basically just create what you feel like.
What is your current live/club set up?
I am using the Model 1 mixer by PLAYdifferently, I use a Maschine MK3 by Native Instruments, an Antelope Audio “Orion 32+” sound interface and on my computer I have Traktor and Maschine software running as standalones.
Following the success of your previous label CLR, what advice would you give to upcoming imprints?
Don´t just randomly release a bunch of music, pick it really well and stick to just a few tracks per release. There should be one or two tracks and maybe an additional one. I would always stick to the same format of a vinyl, where you have an A-side with one or two tracks and a B-side with one or two tracks. Chose them well, don’t just release anything that you get your hands on and send artists back to the studio if you are not 100% happy with it.
Catch Chris Liebing at District 8 Dublin on Friday September 21. Tickets available here