You compose chiefly in Logic Pro?
Yes, I’ve been working with Logic for almost 12 years. I use it as my writing tool because I can have it on a desktop or on a laptop. I can carry it all over.
Why Logic? How does it help you as a composer?
My initial switch to Logic was because it was a whole workstation. I used to have a MIDI workstation and an audio workstation separately, so when I would go back to a song, I had to almost re-create it, which was nearly impossible; it was always like going back to step one. I was looking for something that had MIDI and audio both, so I could have the whole project in one place. After I got Logic, I could have the whole song on one project, and I could have it on a disk. This meant I could go back to exactly where I had left the project, rather than once again having to set up the modules and have something change. This was a great thing for me.
After the EXS24 sampler came into existence, it was even better. I could have all my sounds in the EXS from everywhere, a 300-400GB library that I'd built myself from my Roland and Akai gear. Now, with some more plug-ins, it's just Logic Pro and the Apogee Symphony audio card, and that's it.
What’s your typical writing workflow in the studio?
When I’m doing a song or any improvisation, most of the time I have a live input on it, with headphones on, and the performers in the booth. And I have a MIDI keyboard running simultaneously. So if I’m doing something that is partly Indian classical, I keep prompting the singer or the performer on the mike, and then keep playing it. After twenty minutes of that we sit down and edit the portions I like. Sometimes I work like that, but sometimes I do like the standard thing. You know, you have an idea and then you start playing more instruments, more Logic instruments.
Normally what happens is I have a rhythm, and it’s probably a loop. Then I do my vocals, and once I have a structure in place, I record with the singers and write lyrics. When I have the vocal recording, I then work in reverse for the music. We record live rhythms sometimes, and then start programming, and everything is complete. Then of course all the editing is done, and we go through the mastering. That’s pretty much it.
What role do the Apogee Symphony systems play in your process?
I use Symphony with Logic in the studio while I’m writing. I use the mobile system when I travel, because I do a lot of my writing in hotel rooms; it happens all the time. Right now I’m huddled up here (in Los Angeles) with my MacBook Pro, which I also use to work on flights.
Did you use a lot of Logic effects, instruments and plug-ins for the “Slumdog” soundtrack?
Yes, most of the processing was done with Logic plug-ins actually: Ring Shifter; Multipressor; Space Designer. I also really like EXS24, EVP88 and Sculpture, and I use them a lot.
You used guitar on certain tracks? Did you use specific plug-ins on the guitar?
Yes, there is sitar and guitar too. I used Guitar Rig as well as Native instruments plug-ins on “Ringa Ringa” for the Indian rhythms and to give it a very edgy kind of feel.
Did you use an orchestra, or mostly individual musicians?
There was a string orchestra for one of the tracks, “Liquid Dance”, but most tracks had single instruments, like guitar, sitar and then taiko drums.
How does Logic make it easier to handle those different kinds of instruments and sounds?
Well, since I work almost exclusively with Logic, it’s the only thing I know. Most of the songs were written in Logic. And Logic’s mixing features allowed us to meet a very tight deadline for “Mausam & Escape”, a track with lots of instruments such as sitar and guitar.
I’ve looked at other programs but never cared to try them because the timing in Logic is the best. Friends used to ask, how do you get that timing? Most of them switched because of it. Songs are mostly about grooves, so when they hear something tight and nice, they want it, too.
Logic becomes a part of your life. I have three or four programming rooms, and I exchange files across the Internet with London; it has become a whole philosophy of using the Logic tools.