Retronyms: Who are your biggest influences when you’re creating music?
DJ Puzzle: To be honest I'm inspired and influenced by all kinds of things in my day to day life. If I were to nail it down to just one or two musical influences, I would have to say Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd. I'm also a huge fan of old school Hip Hop, Down Tempo, and Industrial music. I can stay current, but then I drop in some of my old school influences in the mix. I'm not just an EDM guy. I was born in Chicago and grew up around House music, so of course that is also running through my veins.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a producer?
I've produced over 200 sample packs to date for several different labels including Soundtrack Loops, Acoustica Mixcraft, Presonus, Peace Love Productions, and Loopmasters. Producing loops and demo songs for my sample packs allowed me to really develop my talents as a producer and sound designer. Now I'm writing music for TV, film, and video games. Last year I scored one of the first FPS games for Oculus –– a virtual reality game called Damaged Core. I wrote all the battle music, which was heavily influenced by the Industrial/EBM sound.
"Providing loops for beginners can enable them to create beyond their means and inspire them to take their skills to another level." - DJ PuzzleHow did you get involved in producing music? Who got you started?
It all started with my grandparents. They both played keyboards. Later on in the mid 80s, I saw my first DJ and was obsessed with turntablism. I asked my dad for turntables and a mixer for my birthday, but he got me an electric guitar instead. I don't think he got the whole DJ thing because, well, it was the mid 80s and turntablism was very new. So I started playing guitar and drums and got my first MIDI sampler and drum machine in the late 80s. At some point I bought a 4 track recorder and started tracking myself. I still have all of my old recordings.
Where did you make your first beat and what was that experience like for you?
I was I think, like, 13 maybe 14. A friend brought his drum set over to jam and he left the kit at my house for several months. I ended up teaching myself how to play them and wrote a little song. This was before I had a 4 track recorder. I was using a double cassette tape deck with overdubbing to lay down the different instruments. The tune had guitar, drums, male vocals, and female vocals. I'll never forget that. I ran the guitar through a small practice amp and had it overdriven through some crappy headphones, then mic'd that to give it a sort of lo-fi effect.
It's difficult to nail it down to just one sound or genre. I like to write many different genres and I like a good challenge. I often imitate what I hear and then put my own twist on it so I suppose that would be my sound right? My own twist? I would describe my sound as familiar, yet different. Oh and funky, it's got to be funky with a good groove.
"You see, I find creativity can strike at any moment, so I want to be ready for it. In my world, creativity is waiting for me to allow it to pass through my hands. I'm rarely uninspired." - DJ PuzzleWhat album is on repeat right now?
I've been listening to a lot of Tycho lately. They remind me of Boards Of Canada with guitars. I really like their jammy atmospheric melodies and deep grooves. That and Gary Numan. I never get tired of listening to Gary.
If you could only use one piece of equipment -- which one would you choose?
I have a lot of hardware in my studio and each one inspires me in unique ways. It's not all synths either. I love playing my drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar but if I had to choose one – it would probably be an acoustic guitar.
sound packs coming this spring! Keep updated on all of his adventures on his website, where he posts about what he's created.
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