The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Andrew W.K.

Andrew W.K.

Professional partyer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Andrew W.K. and I am a professional partyer.

What hardware do you use?

I have a variety of things - of course, the main instrument I play is piano and keyboard. I own a Steinway Concert D piano, which is currently in Ohio being taken care of by a very wonderful musician and piano player named Baby Dee. And then I have a Roland MP-60 - which is similar to the EP-9 which I had for years - and it's an electronic piano-style keyboard that's really good as a MIDI controller, especially with other Roland modules. I've used this keyboard and various keyboards much like it (specifically Roland) for the last 13 years, since I started recording the first Andrew W.K. music.

The main keyboard sound module I use is the Roland SC-880, and I've used that on every recording I've ever done - I actually have 3 of them, because they don't make it anymore, but you can still find it quite easily. It's basically the general MIDI sounds, but as perhaps people can tell they update and change the sounds quite often and I'm quite fond specifically of this set of sounds. I find them to be really good for the music I'm making, they're very cutting and direct and they just work nicely together. I also have a Roland JV-880 but I almost barely use that. I have a Roland V-Synth GT which is fun - it's almost too powerful, there's so much you can do with it. I don't really use any of these in terms of MIDI into the computer, I just record them as audio, which I've always liked to do.

I used to use a PC with Cakewalk, which I began recording the "I Get Wet" album on years ago, but since then I've changed over to a Macintosh - I actually don't know what type it is (probably a G4), but it's relatively old at this point and I've thought about upgrading more recently to a newer Mac. I use all the Glyph hard drives, those are really really good. I have, of course, the Sony Studio Monitor headphones which are the industry standard. Just fantastic. They actually make two - the $99 pair and the one for $129, and they're both fantastic. I've never heard a better headphone and never, ever found a more comfortable headphone. It's amazing to me how many people don't actually use those. But I always like using headphones when recording for the majority of the work.

For years I had the Event 20/20 monitor speakers, but then switched over very recently to Genelec, just 'cause the Events weren't made anymore or I couldn't find them, or something. These are fine. I usually listen at very low volume when recording because it seems more accurate. For microphones, the mic I've been using for a long time - though I have other ones that are "better" or fancier - I like most the Shure SM58 and have used that on many many many many recordings for many many years. For a pre-amp I have the Mindprint enVoice, which is really nice. Very very elegant design. I have a SansAmp, an original by Tech 21 - a PSA1 amp simulator. I used to use a Fender Twin Combo at times, but don't use that anymore - I like the sound of direct guitar more than through cabinets when recording.

I've scaled down my studio over the years and what I use to record, whether it's with my own setup or other people's setup, as so many people have. The elegance of the software and the beauty of the sound you can get right in the computer to me is just fantastic, and it really streamlines the creative process and the amount of time it takes to set up. But I have some really nice Eventide boxes and TC Electronic boxes, and a really nice Universal Audio pre-amp, but I haven't been getting much use out of them, as you're able to do so much right within the software.

And what software?

I was, again, a big fan of Cakewalk, and used that for at least half of the first album, and really really liked everything about it. It was actually extremely powerful, considering how easy it was to use, and that it was the first computer recording software I'd ever really used that could do multi-tracking. There were certain things about it that I really liked that were hard to get rid of when I switched to Pro Tools, but by the time I was recording the second album I started really learning how to do Pro Tools and of course, really really really enjoy the editing power and how much creative fun could be had with that editing. I have the LE version, but any version I've ever used has been fantastic, so I'm not so picky. I usually just record one track at a time, as I record and always have recorded, usually by myself, so I don't need a bunch of inputs, so I've stayed with a real simple mono or stereo setup.

Of course, it's always nice to have more tracks, but Pro Tools is fantastic for the style of music that I make, because I don't want my music to sound like real instruments or like real people playing. I really love how the computer has made it easier and easier to get that inorganic and synthetic sound. I think live, when you perform at a concert, that's great to have it sound like people playing, but I've always been a real big fan of authenticity when it comes to recording, and that's because it isn't actually happening - you're listening to something that isn't live when you listen to a record, so I've always been really excited about the computer, as so many other people, and prefer the way it sounds to most analog equipment. I just think it sounds clearer, and less real.

For years I only used the standard plugins that came with plugins, and was able to do so much with those, but more recently I've gotten Auto-Tune, which I think is fantastic as an effect or as purely tuning. I've always loved that vocoder sound and robot voices, and have used that even on the first album. I used to actually have a really good vocorder rack unit, a very strange one - I don't really know what happened to that. Sometimes gear just seems to slide away into oblivion. But now I've got a bunch of more recent plugins like the SoundToys. But again, you can do so much with the basic stock plugins, it's almost again like too many options and too much power at times, and I'm always excited to see other people who are really up to speed and always have the latest and greatest things, and of course they don't even have their computer plugged into the Internet because of the illegal bootleg copies. I always buy my stuff outright just to keep the industry afloat. I feel like it's a good thing.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would be, I guess, really what I have right now. I would like a bigger space, that always seems nice. I used to have a bigger space when I used to live in this really crazy loft building, where the whole building was one floor so there was nothing but room. But it wasn't air-conditioned, and it was kind of run-down and crazy, but that was nice. I guess my only change in setup would be maybe more room. Or, y'know, whatever, the top of the line everything, why not? I don't know that much about gear beyond what I've used.

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