He’s the young producer and writer who’s produced some of the biggest names in Pop music, including the one and only Lady Gaga.
Rising from East LA and after gaining notoriety for his unique slant on what Dance and Pop music could be, Fernando Garibay was thrust into the mainstream, working with artists like Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin. Working closely with Interscope Records he found himself producing, remixing and writing for acts like Will.I.Am, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and more.
His studio is based in a converted building in the grounds of his LA home and is a treasure trove of rare kit and vintage synths teamed with a huge SSL desk. With previous mentors and teachers including such music heavyweights as Giorgio Moroder, David Forster and Quincy Jones, and the smash new Gaga album Born This Way under his belt, Garibay is officially big league.
Although Garibay can now boast a mountain of beautiful kit, it wasn't always like this as Garibay recalls. "Early on, I couldn’t afford any equipment, so I used to just try and learn an instrument wherever possible by borrowing instruments from friends."
"Then my neighbour lent me this Fostex four-track cassette recorder he had and I went from there, piecing bits together. But, at that age I had no idea that there was such a thing as making music for other people. I just thought everybody made their own music and were either good at it or they weren’t. A lot of my friends were DJs and I began to listen to Techno records like the tunes from LFO, Underworld and all that stuff that was coming out in the ’90s.
"There was that track by Eon, The Spice Must Flow that I heard at a house party when I was younger and I remember that and a few other tracks that these
DJs were playing and thinking ‘how do they make that sound?’ It just sounded so otherworldly and that’s what made me get into Techno.”
Working with Lady Gaga
“Before Born This Way we had written and co-produced a few songs together successfully, but never to the standards of where we knew our music could go.
"It feels like all the songwriting and producing prior to this album was just an experiment and a build up for what was to come. She recently spoke to MTV about this and she compared this – metaphorically of course – to fornicating without a successful impregnation… Now I guess you could say we gave birth.”
This is the incredible space at home where Garibay usualy crafts and mixes the records he's working on. But when working on the Lady Gaga, Born This Way album it was a different process, as Garibay explains.
“The process from when we started has changed and so has the dynamic. In the early stages I feel the way our songs would start off from a track as opposed to the pure song element. Now we’ve experienced more of a complete paradigm shift, where as her songs led the direction of the track. She usually would come in with completed songs that just needed to be produced and arranged.
“She had a vision for every song, from sonics, to sounds and even mix. It was all hands-on-deck with her for all of these songs, these are her records and songs and you can hear that in the end result.”
When it comes to inspiration Garibay has always had one thing on his mind, "lots and lots of visuals" he explains.
"I had plenty on tour, from the look on the fans’ faces to Gaga being moved by an event or a piece of music we created. There was plenty to draw from. I make music as if I were making or scoring the soundtrack to my life, but in this score she is the star of the movie – this is her film. As far as sonics and sounds: no rules – soft synths, whatever was available to us in whatever part of the world we were in.
"We made sure to stay on the cutting edge of software technology by working closely with companies like Native Instruments, Camel Audio, ILIO, MOTU, Ableton, and East West. We experimented a lot and tried to stay away from patches and presets… We went from working with straight vintage analogue outboard and synthesizers in France and Milan to extreme and random plug-ins. I remember whenever I had a second on the road I would be on different synth and mix blogs looking for any plug-in I could get my hands on.”
As the Gaga album was created predominately outside of this studio Garibay explains how they had to stay ahead of the curve.
“Researching music and equipment played a big role on making the Born This Way album – there was a lot of homework done on my part and everyone else’s part and that’s what it takes to stay ahead. We didn’t want to adapt the tradition in the music industry to mimic or use the coolest DJs to make records they have already made before with new top-lines for Pop artists… In this case we’ve always been underground DJs and performers, we were just making new records.
“Whiteshadow and myself would be out DJing in whatever city we were in, whenever we possibly could. It kept us fresh and motivated when we’d be running low on creative fuel. You get instant feedback with DJing, especially internationally – it kept us on the right track for sure.”
Even with a studio of this calibre at his disposal Garibay's favorute bit of kit from the Born This Way Album is very simple. “Honestly my laptop", he explains "I was so limited as to the equipment I could carry with me on tour so Ilearned to be really creative with just the laptop.”