Ross Tones is the perfect example of the ‘modern producer’. He's forged multiple paths, primarily working as an artist, but also in an A&R capacity, as a music publishing lecturer and a composer for TV ads.
Having attended the Red Bull Music Academy, learning music production alongside Four Tet and Flying Lotus, Tones emerged inspired rather than intimidated by the evolution of digital technology, eager to be at the forefront of how it would shape the industry.
As co-owner of the labels left_blank and A Future Without - and more recently his own Snowfall imprint - Tones has spent the past few years deeply involving himself in the forward-thinking end of the UK’s electronic music scene. As a producer, he has fully embraced creative technology via his own Throwing Snow project, an indescribable amalgam of influences that range from drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep to house and post-rock.
His debut album, fittingly titled Mosaic, subtly combines his influences to create a collage of disparate elements, heavily edited using binaural recording methods and experiments in 3D sound fields.
We caught up with Ross in his studio and got him to talk us through his setup.
“I recently bought this from [musician] Leon Vynehall. It’s pretty much the worst designed synth I’ve ever come across. It’s a nice warm synth, though. I’ve had loads of problems with it, but I don’t think I’d ever sell it now.”
“I use this to control my loops and arrangements when I’m playing live.”
“I’ve recently got the Volca Beats and Keys. I take the Beats with me when I’m DJing, so that when I play ambient records I can program some beats on top.”
“It’s an utter monster. It’s just designed really well.”
KRK Rokit 8
“I find they’re geared towards dance production. They’re closer to club systems, in a way. I just like the sound and my ears have got used to them.”
“I write music really quickly and wanted to have something that was able to get my ideas down a lot quicker. Not only that, but I’ve always wanted to perform my music live, so its clip-based workflow suits me really well.”
“Push has been quite revolutionary for me, as it’s allowed me to create music on-the-fly in a live environment.”
“This is from 1986; it was the model before the more famous S950. It’s got the classic processing that Akais had in the ’80s and gives you a really nice, warm sound - especially if you record into the mic.”
“It’s not analogue - it’s a digital modelling synth, but it’s one that has so many great sounds.”
“I like weird stuff to create sounds with. Stuff like typewriters I use quite a lot.”
“I also use [Native Instruments] Komplete and Razor quite a bit because of the enormity of the sounds you can get.
“There are a few bits that I’m going to purchase soon, like REV, which reverses instruments in real time, and another one from Soniccouture that samples things from nature and synthesises them. I’m really looking forward to getting into those.
For compression, I’ve found Ableton’s internal compression is good for me to write with, and I use the [Waves] L2 Ultramaximizer Peak Limiter plugin as well.”