Lisa Vazquez: Finding the Rhythm in Every Sound
Mar 16, 2023
We spoke with artist and producer Lisa Vazquez about making music with the MPC, the sounds that inspire her, and how to stay creative.
Lisa Vazquez has an ear for sounds and a soul for rhythm. An award-winning beatmaker, her live performances mesmerize audiences with her virtuosic MPC performance skills, silky voice, and multi-instrumental showmanship. With her full-length debut album Nocturnal Sun set to release later this year—somewhere between a teaching stint in Argentina and a European tour—Vazquez’s sound is growing. We invited her to check out Arcade, share some creative ideas with our community, and talk about her journey as an artist and educator.
How did your background as a percussionist lead you to music manufacturing, and the way does it affect your lens as a producer?
Beginning out as a drummer actually helped form my basis in music as an entire—and as a producer. Understanding melody and music concept are nice instruments as effectively, however having a powerful sense of rhythm will assist you to in all areas. In lots of my music manufacturing workshops I clarify how I nonetheless take into consideration melody by way of rhythm. Even in ambient melodic music, there’s a pulse to comply with that may information you with all your different instrumental layers.
Are you able to inform us about your journey with the MPC? What impressed you to start out working with it, and how has your workflow modified over time?
Effectively, it was a kind of issues that after I bought one, all of it made sense. I had been utilizing numerous keyboard and pad MIDI controllers and had little publicity to the MPC. The varsity I studied audio engineering at used DAWs and MIDI keyboards because the automobile for recording, and when it got here to analog, it was principally devices and rackmount results, amps, mics, etcetera.
My boyfriend on the time was a producer who used the MPC2500, and he pushed me to get one—he may inform it was precisely what I wanted. As soon as I bought the MPC1000, I knew he was proper. It was a option to make the most of all of the expertise I had with recording numerous devices and sampling, then carry out all of them as if I used to be a one lady band. It was a studying curve, however as soon as I spotted its capabilities—it was sport over.
As soon as the newer Akai MPC Dwell and MPC X dropped, I spent each greenback I needed to get one. The workflow is simply so intuitive and excellent for me. Limiting sufficient, however tremendous succesful and straightforward use. I can document wherever and use it with my DAW or as a standalone recording hub. 90% of the time it’s in standalone for the creation course of, however after I do my closing enhancing, I export to my DAW. With Arcade, I can use it as a controller or document elements of a beat into my DAW and end off with Arcade. It’s very versatile.
You’re recognized to your dwell beatmaking. How do you go about creating one thing to carry out—what does it begin with, how does it take form, and the way are you aware it is able to play out?
The method of me attending to this place of ease with it has been an extended one. A few years of enjoying devices, performing, education, and trial and error with gear has lastly landed me right here—the place I can confidently make a beat in 5 min if pressed. However to reply the query, I sometimes begin with a melody—both one thing I play from an instrument or a vinyl pattern—then as soon as I discover one thing that evokes some emotion in me, I begin chopping and layering.
Normally I sequence two to a few melodic elements in my MPC, then lay drums down, then bass, then no matter else I really feel it might want. I often maintain it fairly uncooked. I may layer dwell instrumentation or produce other artists play or add vocals dwell.
As soon as it goes to closing enhancing I can tweak and prepare to my coronary heart’s delight. I do, nevertheless, wish to maintain issues extra easy since it may be straightforward to overcook a beat.
What’s your course of for locating and curating a palette of samples to work with? The place do you search for materials and inspiration and what makes you decide one sound over one other?
My favourite methodology continues to be going to document shops or commerce exhibits and discovering dusty gems. One thing about placing on a document and discovering a brand new sound or melody is simply prime tier inspiration. So far as sorts of sounds, it’s extra about emotion and uncommon instrumentation for me. I like previous people music from different international locations, and principally I decide from music made earlier than the late ‘70—it has a sure aesthetic that surpasses lots of fashionable recordings. There are some [modern] sound designers that create music that sounds wealthy and filled with emotion—reminiscent of Arcade in fact, Samarei, Rucker Collective, Crate League, UNKWN, Statik Lnk, MSXii Audio, and extra. However to summarize, if the sound stirs one thing in me, it’s the one.
What music tech and equipment are you at present most enthusiastic about?
That’s a tricky one. I’ve been eyeballing a variety of analog synths, Moog, Prophet, Korg—each classic and newer—in addition to some good microphones reminiscent of a Manley, Neumann or Peluso so as to add to my assortment. Tube Mics and outboard gear are of explicit curiosity since they lend extra heat to an in any other case dry or flat sounding sign, however you may nonetheless obtain that sound with the right plug-ins and room therapy.
You’re a revered educator within the space of music manufacturing and beatmaking. What are the highest three belongings you attempt to ensure your college students perceive?
First, I emphasize that it’s not the instruments, it’s the artist. Having motivation, inspiration, and remaining genuine in your craft will get you additional than anybody piece of substances can. Folks wish to hear your distinctive sound that tells your particular person story—so don’t be afraid to sound totally different than anybody else. That’s actually your superpower.
Subsequent, I’d say that practising your primary rhythm is vital. You don’t must do any advanced rhythms, however understanding primary time signatures and notice division is crucial.
Lastly, whereas there are all the time nice suggestions and methods to creating good music, there isn’t a substitute for placing the time in. In the event you find it irresistible, it gained’t really feel like work. Discovering different producers who encourage you, or samples you want, will assist maintain you motivated to study and develop as an artist. Reaching your objectives will occur if you happen to simply maintain going.
Sustain with Lisa Vazquez: https://www.instagram.com/lisavazquezmusic
Try her Flip it Friday collection.