Interview: Naden on Workflow, Influence, and Creating Atmosphere

Today we welcome Naden for an interview. Naden has been one of my favorite producers for a long time due to his uncomparable style and intricate atmosphere. He’s recently released a two track EP on Enhanced MusicIn this interview we discuss workflow, templates, musical background, and more. 

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Hi Naden! Thanks for doing an interview with us. It’s great to have you.

No, thank you for this interview, it’s always fun with interviews!

First of all, you’ve clearly got your own unique sound – tell us a little bit about your musical background, influences, inspiration.

If we go way back I started out playing drums in a band with some friends. I wouldn’t say this had a lot to do with what I do right now but it may have sparked it. I have done creative work all my life since I was in in kindergarten. Always been perfecting and having a go at everything I could get my hands on that was creative: Play-doh, drawing, animation, movie making, photoshop, and now music, in that order.

The reason why I have been doing electronic dance music the last 6 years is just the immense learning curve it takes – you really never feel like you have reached that one point where you are content. There are always things to improve, that’s what I like.

Another thing to mention is that I don’t have any classical musical training and I don’t think I ever will. I believe that not really knowing the theory behind the stuff you make and breaking the rules makes you more free and able to make some interesting things. I might be wrong about that one though.

My biggest inspiration would have to be Marcus Schossow and Breakfast. Especially the dark and deep sound Marcus had back in 2008. It’s a sound that I would love to have and develop, there’s so much more to be discovered! Another recent influence is Rex Mundi. His sound is very much the sound I would like more people to produce, especially his darkest tracks for example Sandstone…

A while back you posted a few Studio Session videos showing your workflow and track creation process. Your workflow is incredibly fast and I’m sure a lot of people would agree. What tips do you have in terms of ‘speeding up’ production while keeping quality?

A rule of thumb is that if you don’t like your track by the first studio session, you really can’t expect to improve on it the following sessions.

I’m going to have to say the first and most important thing is actually keeping your setup simple, powerful, and accessible. You want to be able to do things exactly the way you think it out to be in your head.

When you then have your work flowing nicely, you’ll be able to get down ideas WHILE you are writing the track. Another thing that helps is having a good mouse and a good control over your mouse. Being an avid fps gamer I am used to having to move quickly with my mouse. This helps when you need to turn tiny knobs in the DAWs you use.

In terms of keeping up the quality, it’s a bit more of a long term thing. Being able to hear or “see” what you are doing and improve on it takes a while. The way that works best, and if you want to start getting better fast, is to complete a lot of projects. Just play around with tonnes of sounds and builds and never get stuck on a project because the chances are you’re going to be constructing a mix that is 10 times more complex in about 3 more projects!

I have to add that my workflow is pretty fast in the first hours into my projects. That is because I have an idea I want to write down. So usually in the first hour or two the whole “skeleton” of the track is down. A rule of thumb is that if you don’t like your track by the first studio session, you really can’t expect to improve on it the following sessions. Unless you have some sort of skill that enables you to pick up projects and completely morph them to your liking.

We get quite a few people talking about templates. Yours seems rather unique, is a starting template something you’d recommend to new producers?

I would definitely NOT recommend templates to new producers. This is related to what I wrote above that you should have a lot of experience with different builds while finding your “way”.

When you have found your way and style of working that you like after a few years you can start by maybe having your sidechain channels set up beforehand. That is the only thing I have in my preset template, 10 channels of custom made sidechain which I otherwise always have to set up.

I recommend not using presets also with your synths. Writing synths from scratch really will help you in the long run because you’ll eventually be able to just make that one sound in your mind in seconds instead of scrolling through thousands of presets and not even finding the sound you set out to find.

Your atmosphere and effects usage is almost unparalleled. Without giving away too many secrets, what makes good atmosphere?

First of all you need to EQ your reverbs. Never put a reverb directly on top of your synth and leave it. They are built so that they sometimes can add low end “junk” into your mix. If you cut your reverb and even add filters, delays and effects on your reverb you are going to get a lot more interesting atmospheres.

Also If you want a nice and open mix for example I cannot stress enough the importance of subtractive EQing, cutting away frequencies is 95% more important than boosting them. I almost never boost my frequencies. Instead I cut away the “junk” in my sounds and then I am able to have a lot more content and room for effects that makes the mix sound more massive.

How the sounds sound themselves “raw” is also important to how massive the mix sounds than how you EQ and what effects you put on them. Another thing is stereoizing or panning your instruments to the sides and adjusting the volumes differently. A sound can sound 50% more powerful if you stereo it. It’s a nice effect.

We get quite a few beginner producers reading this blog. What’s one thing you wish you’d learnt earlier, or one thing you wish someone had told you at the start?

The happiness doesn’t come from getting your music signed, it comes from making good music and having fun. It’s important you figure out what you want with your music and strive to do that. Setting goals is important.

If you had to use two plugins for the rest of your life, what would they be, and why?

Sylenth1 and Valhallaroom as those are the only ones I’m using now. With them I feel I potentially could make anything my mind could come up with if I fiddle with them enough inside my domain of style and sound.

Finally, if you had to listen to one artist on repeat for 24 hours, who would it be?

I’d have to say Marcus Schossow’s alias ”Oliver Englafjord” because of the nice experimental sounds he use and the inspiration drawn from him. It would be like a musical fasting, cleaning my mind and ears. Yep.

Thanks Naden! Whereabouts can we find you online?