These days, his home studio setup is centred around a Nektar Impact LX and a PC running Studio One. He bought the controller about one and a half years ago – and the bundled Studio One Artist software even lead him to switch DAW from Cubase to Studio One at the same time: “I just got curious and felt at home in Studio One right away. I liked the uncluttered workflow – I am still using Cubase for mixing sometimes, though.” Due to his MPC background, he appreciates working without having to use the mouse. As we was receiving a lot of questions about his workflow, he made the following video to show you how Nektar Deep Integration works for him:
Häzel has lived in Paris during his formative years. There, he started getting into music and building a name for himself in the Hip Hop scene. Whilst working in Canada in 2007, one of his mixtapes came to the attention of Drake – then an unsigned and still up-and-coming artist. This led to the collaboration “Share” on Drake’s official second mixtape Comeback Season – placed right after a J Dilla track. This legendary Hip Hop artist also was the key influence that made Häzel want to become a professional producer.
”Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always thought I’d have a band or something like that. But nothing of that happened until the mid 90’s, when I got into Hip-Hop and discovered the Music of Erick Sermon. I think he was the first producer to ever make me want to get into making beats. I finally got my hands on a Yamaha portable keyboard around that time, just a basic one. I would use two tapes and record layers until it became something I would give to the rappers at school. Then came Jay Dee a.k.a J Dilla. I think he is the one that made me really want to do it more seriously.
My brother taught me how to use a 486 computer and more specifically a software called Fast Tracker 2. I would spend days and nights just doing that. It was the most fun I could ever have. I used that setup until i could afford an MPC, which wasn't until I was around 18. It became professional for me around that time, even though I’ve been selling beat tapes since I was 15.”
Fast forward a couple of years, and he is living in Australia, with said Gallant credit under his belt. So how did the collaboration come about? Häzel says that it is kind of a 21st century production story: Originally, the beat stems from a collaboration with Canadian producer Ebrahim. Then, the track was discovered by Gallant, whose people contacted Häzel to clear the rights. Häzel submitted the audio tracks – and that was that. He actually first spoke with Gallant after the album was released. “Next month we will be meeting in person for the first time, to have talks about possible further collaborations”, adds Häzel.
Häzel works mainly in the box, so his setup is built around a PC running Presonus Studio One and Cubase, Presonus’ Studio 192 audio interface and a Nektar Impact LX49. The advantages the Impact LX brings to his work flow are pointed out in the video: “I just don’t like having to mouse around”. But what other gear is he using? “My default project always starts with my go-to synth Surge by Vember Audio, the Waves Tape Emulator and NI Battery III. I am still on version III, because I somehow don’t like version 4 – I like simple software. Then, I have 2 channels for sampling from vinyl. I also have a Fender Rhodes Suitcase, my trusted MPC-3000 and a Yamaha DX7 II. When I want FM in the box, I use Digital Suburban’s free Dexed VSTi and librarian – you can even load and save DX7 sounds with it. It is fully compatible.”
Any closing words? “Sometimes I wish I were classically trained, I am completely self-taught. But I think my limitations force me to be a bit more creative. You can do almost anything with a DAW and a bit of patience!” Right on – and thanks a lot for sharing with us how you use our Nektar controller, Häzel!
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