Interview with Kuassa

Kuassa is a plug-in developer based in Bandung, Indonesia. They are known for their Vermillion Amplification, a guitar amp modeller and also some great FX plug-ins such as my favorite the Kratos Maximizer and the excellent EVE AT Equalizer. All their products received rave review from music publications such as Computer Music and Future Music. Computer Music love Vermillion so much that they even asked Kuassa to create a Computer Music Edition that comes with every issue of Computer Music. These guys hooked me up with some of their products and now Kratos has become an indispensable tool in my production. They recently did interviews and featured it their site. Here is that interview.


Firstly, tell us a bit about you, when and how you start producing music, and describe your notable music projects?

Lawrence Philip also known as Random and I’m a DJ/producer. I started dabbling in production back in 1998 using lowly sample based DAW Acid PRO 1. I said lowly because at that time there are no plug-ins support. If you don’t want to use pre-existing samples then you have to use real instrument and sample them. I got started because my crew at the time runs an online drum n bass magazine. The folks at Sonic Foundry sent us 5 license of Acid PRO to us for both review and trying them out. That’s how I got started.

My nootable projects are Marcell’s latest album ‘ Platinum Playlist‘ and Yacko’s The Experiment. Platinum Playlist was challenging because I have to make new arrangements for 4 very well known Indonesian pop songs. I have to make them sound modern and dance floor friendly, yet people still need to be able to recognize the original songs and at the same time they have to fit Marcell’s image. So my hands are pretty tied up in terms of exploration. The Experiment was the first project where my role is not merely as an arranger but I was actually the producer for the whole album as well as the mix and mastering engineer (u should not do that btw) . Unlike Marcell’s album where my hands were tied, in this one I got full control of what I wanted to do in term of sound exploration. The result, “The Experiment” were listed in many magazines’ best of 2013 (most notably Rolling Stones Magazine) list.

What kind of music that you are producing recently, and what is the specific bits that makes you fall in love to that genre? and how Kuassa’s diverse range of users can take those bits as a reference for their music?

I produced all kind of music but my true love is drum & bass. I love challenge and I always find d&b to be technically challenging. I feel that drum & bass constantly push the limit of what the technology allows. Prior to the arrival of dubstep, d&b was probably at the forefront of computer music, something that could only be achieved using your PC/Mac. Your old analog gears will not cut it. If you think about it, all that are considered trendy sounds today, we’ve done them in D&b five years ago at least. That’s why I love D&b. I think it’s good to be able to look outside the usual music you write. You don’t have to write different genres but you can always take something positive from different genre and possibly incorporate them to your music.

Is music your full-time profession or is it a side project? how to manage between your daily work and your music projects? how you committed yourself to keep the creativity, the tracks to flowing out?

Most of my income came from music but not from production though. I work at a record label and in there I have to handle online promotion, designs and also some of the music production. Making music for work is a whole different world with personal project. Occasionally it’s tough to stay creative but there’s no specific method on how I maintain them. I just go with the flow. When the well is dry, I will not force my self to work On that project. Take a break and get back to it later with fresher perspective seems to work well for me. Unless deadline is lurking of course. Usually when under pressure I tend to get thing done more.

How you guys make money and distribute your music?

Nothing special here, we signed up with a digital music aggregator and they distribute all our music to all digital stores. Then we do our best promo effort and hope for the best.No were never gonna get rich from digital label. The one that make the most money are the digital stores. They get 50% of the sales income then we have to split our 50% with the distributor. Then that 30% we have left have to be split with cost of promotion and the artists will be left with 10 – 20% of the sales earning. It’s an unfair system be honest. We don’t do it for money though. We do it because we love drum & bass.

What is your favorite DAW? How is your production workflow? please share it to our readers

I usually composed in Ableton Live then after I’m satisfied, I export all tracks into audio and move my project to Logic Pro X. The reason I export to audio is to prevent me from changing things again. Audio force you to commit. By this stage we have 95% of the music done and the only change that will happen is in tone and color during the mixing stage. Without that audio track export, I’d never get anything done. I’ll constantly tinker with them.

What do you think about plugins? what kind of plugins that you enjoy using?What is your favorite Kuassa plugin? and why you love it and how it contributes to your production workflow?

I love plug-ins. I don’t care if people say analog is better. I love the simplicity of plug-ins and it’s versatility. With plug-ins I can put UREI 1176, then apply Pultec EQ, then compress them with TL-2A or a Fairchild 670 on every channels without the need to deal with patching cables or print to audio. The limit is your system. Try doing that with real thing and you’re either extremely wealthy or it’ll be time consuming. I tend to go with vintage modeling nowadays. Those analog gears have very unique characters and I love them. I can’t afford the real thing and even if I can afford one, they are just not that convenient. My favorite from Kuassa is probably the Kratos Maximizer. I love the character and color it gives to any of my sound. It’s good to saturate and phatten up drums. It adds bites to my lead synth. And give that warm analog feel to my master bus. It’s like the Swiss army knife of saturation. And it’s a decent limiter too at the same time.

How do you get your inspiration? sound, songwriting, composition, etc? Which artists inspires you the most? both local and international.

I just listen to music. Any music really. My current favorite music is so far off what I write. I love country folk rock such as Jordan Millar, Phillip Phillips and The Lumineer. I also listens to lots of EDM, not because I like it but because I’m trying to find what’s working for the EDM crowd that I can apply to my Drum & Bass. Working at a big label, I hear enough times where artists just make music that their producer tell them to make and afraid to say what they have in mind “as long as it sells”, they said. Some of them are pretty good musician but I’ve just lost respect of them. That’s why I admire many Indonesian indie musicians such as RNRM, Homogenic, Yacko, The Sigit and the likes because they make music that they believe.

You can find the original article at Kuassa’s page here.

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