DIY Muso Spotlight – Nick Hanslip

Welcome to another  DIY Muso Spotlight, where I talk to fellow DIY Musos and find out a bit about how they do their things. This time I’m talking to my good man Nick Hanslip who is a great source of production advice. I met Nick through the wonder of online communities, as usual! Now you can meet him too…

Spotlight On: Nick Hanslip

Name: Nick Hanslip

Age: 24

Location: Rowlett, Texas

Online: Nick’s Website and Soundcloud

DAW: FL Studio

Audio Interface: Avid Fast Track Solo

Monitors: Samson Resolv RXA5s

Headphones: Skullcandy Aviators

Controllers: Novation Launchkey 49

Instruments: Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboard

Synthesizers/drum-machines: FL Studio 😛

Microphones: Rode NT1a, SM57, a Rock Band USB Mic, and a few cheap Target mics.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I grew up listening to a lot of different genres so these might seem a bit all over the place but I think that my music would be totally different without these people. Zebrahead and NoFX played a big role in my earlier songwriting. It showed me simple doesn’t have to mean watered down, and I try to run with that same mindset.

During my teenage years Fall Out Boy, Owl City (Ocean Eyes era), and Motion City Soundtrack and their lyrics helped me kinda figure myself out. And there were a lot more growing up but lately I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from EDEN. Sometimes the most effective way to experience things is to leave them raw and honest.

Which instruments do you play?

I’ve played a lot of instruments over the last handful of years. I started on bass back in 2008 but never really go too serious about getting good until many years later when my band broke up and I started making solo music. I put down bass and picked up guitar in 2010 when my band needed another guitarist and I consider that my strongest instrument. And just like the others I picked up drums so my band could record demos.

I was in choir since 4th grade so Vocals have kinda been something I dabble in but I’ve got a long way until I’ll be happy with my vocal skill. Other than those I dabble Saxophone, Synthesizer, and quite a few more but I’m nowhere near proficient in them so I’m a beginner at best.

When did you first get into recording/producing?

Back when I was around a freshman in high school my friend sent me a link to a software on a sketchy website. Told me I should grab the download before it gets taken down and how it was music making software called FL Studio. I believe it was FL Studio 7 or 8 I had no idea what it was but I grabbed it and poked at in for maybe at most 10 minutes before getting bored and going back to playing The Sims 2.

Fast forward to about 2010 when my pop-punk band realized we didn’t have the money to go to a major recording studio I remembered the software. So I popped back to that sketchy site and grabbed it again and I remembered googling tutorials constantly to learn what was going on. Eventually I found out that it wasn’t freeware so I got a legal copy. So, kinda out of necessity I picked it up.

How did you get into recording/producing?

When my band started heading south I started spending time trying to create music on my one. I didn’t really have any equipment other than my laptop and my iPod Touch so I kinda just had to find new ways to get over hurdles.

So I started picked up FL Studio as an instrument and not just as a way to record stuff. Eventually as I got better I took up freelance recording and started upgrading my equipment and even created a few EPs that sadly got lost when my laptop crashed a few days before release day.

What was your very first set-up?

I started with a jailbroken iPod Touch and a crappy laptop with 1.5 gig of ram. Not the most exciting setup but it worked for the first year or two.

Could you talk us through your usual recording/producing process?

Presets! Presets! Presets! Nah, just kidding…

Depending on what I’m doing I usually start with a piano or e-piano or my guitar and come up with a vibe. Once I have a vibe and a basic chord progression I usually get started on adding more layers and a lead melody.

On days where I can’t get into a flow or can’t seem to come up with ideas I’ll build all sorts of presets ranging from guitar chains all the way to synth patches. So when I have an idea I want to knock out quickly I have a range of starting points to build from. Vocally, I have a very specific tonal setup I record into and it shapes the vocals so that I don’t have to work so hard to get it to fix in my mix later on.

How do you handle your mastering?

Very crudely. 🙂 My goal is to always get the mix sounding as dope as a mastered track and my mastering usually just involves final sweetening, simple EQ cleanup, dynamics control, and a crude amount of limiting and clipping until I feel the song stands level with commercial productions.

Which pieces of hardware could you absolutely not do without?

Depending on what the needed outcome is I can work with as little as just a laptop. Limitations are in the eye of the beholder and sometimes learning to overcome limitations leads to creative solutions. 😀

Which pieces of hardware do you love the most?

I don’t really use any real hardware other than the absolute basics but I love my keyboard (Novation Launchkey 49), Interface (M-Audio Fastrack), and my mic (Rode NT1a) a lot.

Good monitors/headphones are a must have for any producers. And if you can’t afford to get top quality gear learn what you have inside and out and learn to work with it and compensate.

Which audio plugins could you absolutely not do without?

I try to be flexible so that when I bounce around on different setups and in different studios I’m able to work with whatever is available. So, I don’t really have one

Which audio plugins do you love the most?

I like ReaGate (from the free ReaPlugs suite) and Softube’s free Saturation knob a lot though. Both are littered all over my mixes.

What would you say was the most significant upgrade/addition to your setup?

The most significant was my monitors. Once I got my Resolv RXA5s I’ve been able to hear my mixes to a new level which makes mixing 100x easier.

What would you say are the most significant recording/producing lessons you’ve learnt up to now?

Good monitors/headphones are a must have for any producers. And if you can’t afford to get top quality gear learn what you have inside and out and learn to work with it and compensate.

What’s next for your set-up in terms of new hardware/software and/or upgrades?

My next goal is to upgrade my interface and to acoustically treat my room. I don’t have too much flutter or bass in my room but monitor isolation pads would be a much needed improvement.

What’s next for you as a DIY musician?

My goal is to make more music but I’m just goin’ with the flow for now. Practice makes perfect.

Any final words on being a DIY Muso?

Thanks for having me on here. One of the best interviews I’ve ever had!

And an enormous thanks to you, Nick! Looking forward to hearing more of your stuff!

And thanks to anyone reading this DIY Muso Spotlight, I hope you enjoyed it and found it valuable in some way. 

Feel free to add your questions or comments below. If you would like to have the spotlight turned on you then don’t hesitate to ask!

Please pop over to the DIY music page on Facebook and give us a like. You should also definitely join our awesome community in the DIY Music Group for sharing great articles and ideas as well as discussing all kinds of DIY Music related stuff and helping each other out. See you there!

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