The Iso Files: Steven Wolf (David Bowie, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Beyoncé)

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 12:38 pm

digitaldDrummer speaks to Steven Wolf (David Bowie, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Beyoncé) about music in isolation.

Where you are in isolation: I was in isolation, alone, in NYC earlier, and then flew to Los Angeles, and have been isolating with my girlfriend out here.

What projects you are working on: I’ve been working on an ongoing project for a well-known producer I work with often. It began last year and I can’t get into details about it, but it’s not a regular recording project - it’s a unique situation. Aside from that, I’m doing work for a bunch of independent artists and producers. I do a lot of remote session work in general, so not much has changed in terms of that part of my work during the pandemic, except that with the pandemic, I can only do programming work for the time being.

I’m also doing some remote collaborations with friends. Some of it involves writing and coproduction for projects that had already begun in person, prior to the pandemic - and we’re continuing remotely - and some of it is completely new; collaborating simply because we’re all usually too busy, and now we have some extra time.

I’m having to turn down live drum sessions at the moment, because I can’t work in commercial studios during the quarantine. (I can’t track live drums at home, so all the live drum sessions I do are at commercial recording studios.)

The only major difference with my work now is that most independent artists have no funds at the moment, so I’m not charging them up front, for the most part - and that’ll most likely be the case until the pandemic is over.

What gear you are using: I’ve put together a smaller version of my NYC home studio rig, here in LA. I usually work out of a producer friend’s studio in West Hollywood, when I’m in LA, but that’s not possible during the quarantine; hence the smaller studio setup here at my girlfriend’s place, consisting of a 16” MacBook Pro, wireless numeric keyboard & Magic Mouse, Glyph external drives, M Audio Air 192 Interface, Genelec 8010 monitors, Pro Tools, a bunch of plugins (effects & virtual instruments), including XLN Audio Addictive Drums (Full collection), XLN Audio DS-10, NI Komplete, Omnisphere, Trilian, Keyscape, SoundToys Suite, Melodyne Studio, Sub Boom Bass and my own extensive sample collection which I’ve been compiling since 1989.

What you miss most: Tracking real drums and working with others in the same room(s).

How you think this experience is going to change music production going forward:

Many people who had little to no experience doing remote recording, on their own, had no choice but to learn to record at home. As I mentioned earlier, remote sessions are a big part of my work, in general, and have been for a long time - and many of my friends/colleagues have been doing remote work for a long time, too. So for us, this isn’t a huge shift;  but for many others, this is a whole new way of working. I think that moving forward, remote recording will be much more ubiquitous in music production.