For the fourth edition of Studio Talk, we introduce Liam Jones aka Cera Alba. Liam has been releasing music consistently for the last 8 years across big labels such as Moon Harbour, Materialism, Hottrax and more recently Misfit Music. Liam is a regular face down at Point Blank Music School in London where he teaches music production. We caught up recently to chat about music production, take a tour of his studio and discuss his top tips & tricks and go to bits of kit.
1. Talk to me around your studio set up, What are your go-to pieces of Hardware & Software?
I have a 2012 refurbished tower Mac with loads of extra power under the bonnet. This is essential as I need my DAW to always be responsive and be able to hand multiple instruments at any one time. I have a few key instruments and effects I rely on. The Korg Minilogue for leads and bass, Behringer Model D for analog bass sounds and arp’s, Maschine Studio/Komplete 11 for percussion and trigging Kontakt, UAD plugins for processing, Elektron Analog Heat for external distortion, Strymon Big Sky for reverb and my Genelec 8040’s for monitoring, these are literally my prized possession.
2. Your production wizardry landed you a Point Blank Instructors role at their London Studios where they flew you to ADE-Mumbai to host a Masterclass last February. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? still on the road touring? or pushing your teaching further?
I would love to be touring and performing my latest album live, the dream would be to play Glastonbury. I’m happy to be involved in teaching as I feel it gives something back to producers who are still learning. I’m happy to be working in music, that’s the most important thing for me.
3. You have been releasing music ever since I first met you which must be at least 8+ years ago. How different do you think the scene is now compared to back then for the young producer looking to get signed?
The scene is a different world to what it was when I started, having said that it was a different world to 8 years before that. I think its hard for young producers these days, I was lucky when I got signed back then because my music was crap, these days you don’t get the chance to make crap music before you make good music. I guess its refined a lot more, having said there is tons of shit music released every week but at the same time there is some amazing music out there too. Takes a bit of crate digging but it’s out there. If a young producer is good enough they will make it, just takes talent, determination and belief.
"Always consider what your sound is and how it represents you"
4. You have had some big releases over the years with signatures on Hot Creations, VIVa, Moon Harbour and recently Montel’s Misfit Music which showcased the tougher, techno side of your productions. I've played out the lead track ‘Apollo’ many times and it sounds better and better the more I play it. Talk me through the process you followed to create that track? And what tips and tricks do you have to achieve that sound?
Apollo was about the idea of the first break, I wanted the track to really punch right from the start, then break into the chord stabs I created, it was all about the impact counterpointed with the subtle vocal. I spent a lot of time layering kicks and sub bass to give the track drive in the low, the bassline isn’t really obvious and that was the point, bored of those standard 2/3 note basslines. I used the Elektron Analog Heat a lot, bouncing drums and parts using different analog distortion settings, taking sounds from the Arturia Drumbrute.
Click here to stream: Cera Alba - Apollo (Original Mix) [Misfit Music]
5. When it comes to studio day, ready to start a new project, What is your structure for making a track? and how do you manage your workflow?
Normally comes from a specific sound or beat I want to create, then once I have the first key part I then start to think about the overall sound of the track and plan in my next parts. Sometimes I’m a bit more random and just jam till I have an idea, this can work, or it can just sound like a pile of rubbish lol. I never make a rubbish track by the way, they are all class!
Cera Alba - Jux (Original Mix) [A.O.W 004] A1
Buy at Discogs --> https://www.discogs.com/Various-Raw-Axes-EP/release/6670110
6. What advice would you give up & coming DJs and producers wanting to break into the industry?
Never give up, enjoy music for the passion, not the fame/money.
7. Which artists do you look to for inspiration when hitting the studio?
For me the most inspiring artists are Floating Points, Lone, Four Tet, Nils Frahm, Lapalux and Portico Quartet.
8. Could you name some artists that are set to breakthrough in 2018?
I have literally no idea, in terms of house music I’m loving Peggy Gou, Chaos In The CBD, Lone and Fort Romeau. Would be great to hear some fantastic new producers, making unique music.
9. Whats next on the release front for Cera Alba?
I will be releasing a series of photographs of the side of my head in various locations, follow my Instagram to get the latest updates. Probably some music too, we shall see.
I’m writing an album but its not going to be 4/4 based.
Resonate Presents: An Intergalactic Trip
FRIDAY 23/03/2018 - Cosmic Ballroom, Newcastle
Facebook Event Page https://www.facebook.com/events/153085498639739/