Rising DJ and producer ZEHV is a force to reckon with. His characteristic style and sound show off with every release and live performance. His skills are constantly developing, proving why his name should be in the list of artists to follow up close. While he has been busy producing new tracks and working on upcoming projects, he sat down with us to give us an insider’s view on music production and gave us some tips for beginners kickstarting their music career. This is what he said.
Hello ZEHV, how are you?
Hello! I’m doing well thank you!
Which DAW would you recommend to someone starting their music production journey?
All DAWs more or less accomplish the same thing, just in slightly different ways. I think when you’re first starting out, the most important thing is to learn how to use your tools as best as possible and understand them inside and out. That will build confidence and make it easier to turn your ideas into music faster. So my opinion is, try a few out (most have free demos), find the one that feels the most comfortable, and stick with it.
What set of gear do you think is ideal for setting up a home studio?
These days, a comfortable set of headphones and a computer is really all you need! I live in a pretty small apartment and do the majority of my mixing in Sennheiser HD25’s and JBL LSR 5’’ monitors. Just find a space you’re feeling creative and get to work!
Which plugins would you say are essential for music production?
I started out in FL studio and now I use Logic, most stock plugins will get you where you need to go. However, the ones I use in my productions every day are Fab Filter Pro-C 2, Sound Toys Echoboy, Output Thermal, Waves H-Delay, And Logic Space Designer.
Do you think it’s necessary or important to learn music theory or know how to play an instrument in order to produce music?
I don’t think it’s necessary at all, however it does help immensely to understand how scales or chord progressions work. I know a lot of producers who focus more on the technical side of production vs exploration with instruments or theory. With time, practice, and trusting yourself, anyone can produce music!
What would you say it’s the best starting point for producing a track?
Oh man, I don’t think there’s any one BEST way to start a track. Sometimes I’ll start just building a percussion loop before adding any bass, pads, or melodies. Other times I write a whole chord progression with a lead before doing anything else. I think varying up how you start tracks can lead to new inspiration and help break through writer's block. A good practice and a good place to start might be to find some high-quality sample packs you like and instruments you like working with and have them ready so all the prep is done and you can simply just have fun being creative.
What are your thoughts on sampling? Any recommendations?
I LOVE sampling and do it often. I just recorded my girlfriend’s little pug making weird sounds and am building a whole percussive atmosphere with it. Recording your own samples creates a lot of uniqueness in your tracks. Sampling others can also create some fun moments for people on the dance floor who might hear sounds they recognize in a brand-new way. When I hear something out in the world or in a piece of music that pricks my ears up, I record it and put it in a folder I can go to when I need to do something fun and different!
In your opinion, is it necessary to know how to mix and master your own music?
Mixing and mastering are 2 completely different skills, I can master but I usually just slap iZotope Ozone on my Stereo Out and call it a day. I think Mixing is a huge part of producing your own music, it’s your voice and how you want listeners to perceive your music. So in my mind, mixing is very necessary. Mastering I leave to the pros.
Are there any recommendations of books, YouTube channels or tutorials, or websites where beginners can learn from?
MusicTechHelpGuy is awesome if you’re learning Logic Pro X, that’s pretty much how I got started. Sonic Academy has a pretty great channel, Yalcin Efe as well. Google has been my best friend; I usually will type in what I am looking to learn and then watch several videos to understand multiple points of view and practice until I can create my own path. There’s infinite content out there – def go explore!
What’s the best thing to do when struggling to find inspiration?
Step away from the computer, take a break, go for a walk, work out, listen to a different genre of music. Sometimes I’ll sit at my computer for hours working on music, somedays I’ll sit there for 15 minutes if I’m not feeling inspired. But disconnecting for a little bit can help a lot. On the flip side, sometimes it can be good to force yourself through moments where nothing is clicking. The struggle and frustration can sometimes lead to places you never thought you would arrive at. Try both!