KNOWN TO BE LETHAL: Featured Artist September 2012
Name: Joe Jonker (Pronounced Yonker haha)
Dj/Producer Name: Known To Be Lethal
City & Country Located in: Holland,MI / Detroit,MI USA
Cyber Locations: soundcloud.com/known-to-be-lethal
Affiliations: Visc, Vasuki
How would you describe the type of music you produce? The music that I produce varies widely in genre, tempo, and mood. I listen to a very eclectic selection of artists so I’m influenced by many, many genres and styles. I’ve dabbled in house, trance, dubstep, downtempo, breakbeat, chiptune, electro, techno, acid, drum and bass, and intelligent dance music, etc. Despite the wild variation in genre, I try to include several unifying elements throughout my tracks. I favor short tracks that segue through segments very quickly. My music also tends to make prominent use of chiptune inspired leads, syncopated drum lines, and rapid arpeggios. I like to think of my tracks as journeys.
How did you get into making music: I’m a classically trained pianist, having taken lessons for 7 years, as a child. After I discovered the band Muse at age 13, I picked up the electric bass and entered the world of alternative rock. When I was 17, I heard Justice’s album Cross, and it completely amazed me. It was then that I started to produce electronic dance music.
How do you create a track? Can you describe how you start a track, and then how do you finish it? My process always begins with the rhythm section. Once I’ve created and dialed in some drum hits, I arrange them into an appealing pattern; this primary drum line is my anchor point. After I create the drum pattern, I’ll usually throw in some heavily manipulated audio samples and one-shots. I leave MIDI tracks and basslines until last, strangely enough. In fact, nowadays I really try to avoid dealing with MIDI data at all. I prefer to work with audio. I work very “vertically”, I complete one whole section of a song before I move on to the next. I never compose a planned arrangement ahead of time, instead, I let my tracks evolve organically. To avoid the insane amount of repetition that plagues electronic dance music, I try to keep my songs short and concise, so I’ll usually end a song once I feel that it’s run its course.
From a mixdown/mastering point of view, can you give one technique on how you make your tracks sound so good? Well firstly, I always use a template set in Ableton that I’ve created and customized myself. This default set has a predefined and effected master track as well as a preprocessed drum track rack. I feel that this default starting point helps to give my songs some sort of consistency in quality. Another trick I use is mixing-on-the-fly. It seems that many people just throw in sounds and samples willy-nilly, thinking that they can just fix up all of the sonic chaos in the mixdown phase. For me, the whole production phase is my mixing phase. When I add sounds I always try to dial them in and process them to be “finalized”. That way I can add sounds and timbres that will complement the existing aspects of the song. On-the-fly-mixing really helps me to achieve a more professional sound.
Who are your artist that influenced you the most and why? As stated above, I’m influenced by a huge number of musicians, but some of the most important include Muse, Squarepusher, Justice, Ratatat, Pretty Lights, Nine Inch Nails, and Lightning Bolt. Each of those artists have an idiosyncratic sound that helps to open my eyes and ears to thousands of possibilities. I really love artists who utilize unconventional sounds like Ratatat and Nine Inch Nails; experimentation is one of the most beautiful parts about producing electronic music. Additionally I listen to a lot of film, anime, and video game scores that seem to influence my production.