Marc Houle: 5 things I’ve learned about music production

Marc Houle first came to prominence on Richie Hawtin’s Minus label in the nearly noughties, and is known for both his live performances and production nous. Blending the sounds of Chicago house and Detroit techno - and ending up somewhere between the two - his studio is an Aladdin’s cave of classic analogue gear, with some choice contemporary pieces thrown in for good measure.

As he releases his latest EP, Min And Soda, on Dirtybird, we asked Marc to ponder the meaning of his electronic music life and come up with five essential pieces of advice.

1. Look for the good in everything

“When you hear some crappy song out there, look for what’s good in it. Maybe a vocal treatment, arrangement or snare sound. It makes it fun and almost makes it bearable.”

2. Less is more

“When you mix, it’s better to take away frequencies and lower things in the mix than it is to try and fight for volume. You probably don't need any bass frequencies in your snare, so take ‘em out and the mix will get less muddy. It’s not exciting, but it will make your stuff sound way better.”

3. Record and render everything

“Even if it’s just a dumb experiment, record it and save it as a WAV. Later, you will want to go through all your old stuff for ideas and it will be way better if it’s all easily accessible.”

4. Your sound takes time

“You really gotta make loads of music before your sound develops. Personally, I think it’s better to make 100 quick songs and learn a lot than it is to spend a month tweaking just one. While making those 100 quick songs you’re developing your signature sound and learning how to layer and create.”

5. Everyone’s ears are different

“So when speaker shopping, bring music you really know well and listen on all the different brands, ignoring what you’ve been told. Only you will know what monitors are best for your ears and sound. Also, they will sound different set up at home. Most good places will let you return speakers if they’re not a good fit. Spend the time to get it right because everything after depends on it.”

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

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.