This week's Gear Talk Tuesday is really exciting because we had the chance to talk to Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer Computer Magic
(AKA Danielle Johnson). Her technical skills go far beyond her quite literal stage name, as she self-produces bedroom-pop songs reminiscent of Claire Boucher (Grimes) and also dabbles in the business side of the music industry, working at her label putting out the music, doing distribution, marketing, etc. And because she's a jack of all trades, we just needed
to talk to her about it. Oh, and a fun bonus, she's huge in Japan! Yep, she has actually landed a ton of track play in ads over there, like this one
. When we heard back from her about her favorite synthesizer, her thoughts on self-producing, and her studio set up, we fell in love.
When asked about her favorite piece of gear, Johnson said, "It's hard to pick my favorite piece of gear because all of my gear is essential! Although if I had to pick one, and only one piece of gear, I would have to go with my Sequential Prophet 6 Desktop Module.
It's the perfect analog polyphonic synthesizer because it's compact and has an amazing warmth to it. It has a very vintage feel and sound, despite only being released last year. The company Sequential Circuits was bought by Yamaha in the 1980's and it was only very recently that the name was reacquired by Dave Smith - the founder of Dave Smith Instruments and Sequential Circuits. Dave Smith (and Bob Moog of course!) are synth heroes."
And then she goes into some other pieces of gear, where we find out she shares a studio with some other rad girl in Brooklyn - seriously. We're over here just trying to get our lives together and Johnson looks so put-together in the studio (look at how cool she is!), where she knows how to work ALL of the machinery... On top of working at a label, singing and writing. "Complete freedom is one of the main reasons I produce my own music. It's also quick and comfortable for me. Anything I hear in my head or want to execute I can do instantaneously being my own producer. I'm also more at ease when I'm by myself, for singing especially. In my studio in Bushwick I've got a pair of Yamaha Hs7's, Bluebird Cardiod Condenser Mic, lots of synths (Moog Minitar, Moog Mother-32, Prophet 6, Prophet 8, Suzuki Omnichord, lots of little Teenage Engineering synths). I share the studio with another girl who has some pretty amazing gear as well, like a Roland Space Echo and Maestro Rhythm King."
"Production in itself is another art form to me, it's half the fun in making a song. I was learning to make songs as I was learning to produce them, which looking back was a good way to develop my own sound," Johnson adds. It's common for a lot of songwriters to wait around for a producer to come along and help them, but why waste that time when you could be doing it yourself? Like Johnson says perfectly, doing it yourself gives you so much freedom and who knows - you might stumble upon the perfect sound you've always dreamed of. Look at Danielle Johnson... She picked up a computer and made magic (terrible pun but I had to do it).