Get familiar with the artists behind our mixtape, learn from their workflow as they share their essentials.
Repping the Washington, DC area (suburban Maryland), Terracotta Blue has been producing professionally since 2000. Distinct and eclectic, his focus is on pure hip hop instrumentals. On the side, he’s the other half of electro-pop group PKWY.
Get familiar with Terracotta Blue:
I love my MPC2000XL, but prior to that I was messing around with pause-mixing (showing my age there!), cheap sampler/mixers and 4-track recorders. I currently use FL Studio 9, and have just recently gotten reconnected with Reason (which I think will now be my preferred weapon of choice!).
Step 1: Visualize the track
It’s all about how my mix is going to sound sonically. Usually, I choose between a smooth or a gritty sound. I need to visualize what I want the track to sound like before I start creating it.
Step 2: Sampling
I’m a true blue hip-hopper, so it’s all about sampling. I go through my sample library and start from the bottom up choosing the key elements of my track. For me, it’s always drums first. Their the heart of the track and the other elements compliment them.
Step 3: Rework
Here’s where I chop, reverse or time stretch the sample. It all depends on where I’m going with my beat. The great thing about samples is that any-given one can sound completely differently depending on what you do with it. Sometimes, I use the same sample to make several different tracks, all of which sound unique.
Step 4: Sequencing
This is all about whether the track is going to be faster or slower, bouncy or not. This takes up the most amount of time but it’s crucial to get it right.
Step 5: Mixing
It’s all about being bass heavy and getting those punchy drums. I tweak the bass line to beef it up. Usually, I play around with compression and EQ, though there is not one way of doing it. I’m constantly learning to improve my mixes, it’s a work in progress. Honestly, it’s all about trial and error. A mix is never perfect but they get better every time.
Step 6: Mastering
I used to do my mastering as well as my mixing. LANDR has really changed things for me. Now, I just drop my mix into LANDR and if it sounds good, it’s good to go.
LISTEN TO TERRACOTTA BLUE HERE: