Alex Paterson of The Orb: 5 things I’ve learned about music production

Other members of the outfit may have come and gone, but Alex Paterson has been the driving force behind ambient house pioneers The Orb since 1998. Across 18 albums and multiple memorable live shows, The Orb have run the electronic music gamut and influenced countless other artists in the process.

With all that experience, our guess was that Alex would have an opinion or two regarding music production to share when we met in 2018.

We were right...

1. Never lend your headphones to another DJ

“They should have brought their own. There are DJs out there who will never replace broken headphones. Be firm - even if you’re the support DJ. I think the best headphones are V-Moda Crossfade M, 100 series, in matt black.”

2. Always keep control of your money

“Good managers are hard to find and bad managers are like sharks in a pool of blood. Just be alert and, if you sign a deal, don’t use the same lawyer as your manager. If you’re paranoid, keep it in the family.”

3. Always carry a recording device with you

“There’s gold up in those there samples, that you can make yourself. Listen, record and sample. Take time to go find and ambience in a field of bees or an ocean wave by the seaside. Slow it down and create a sense of otherworldly noises. I’m on a train now and it’s got a Kraftwerk feel as we glide into the station.”

4. Always keep faith in your ideas

“Keep it real and stay tuned into your rhythm. If no one understands, form your own label and release your ideas that way. WAU [the record label Paterson founded with Martin ‘Youth’ Glover] was the vibration - The Orb was born from starting a label with Youth in '88.”

5. Always be nice to people you meet on the way to the top

“You'll meet them again on the way down...”

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.