Independent producer, composer and musician, Shook has a new album out this month, which was created with the help of Audient’s iD22 audio interface and ASP880 eight-channel mic preamplifier. ‘Bicycle Ride’ is the follow-up to the 2014 ‘Spectrum’ album (from which the hugely successful track Milestones came, featured in the first episode of Netflix series, Better Call Saul) and the product of a life-changing experience in this young musician’s life.
“I remember the constant beeping from the hospital equipment: heart rate monitors and stuff like that.”
“Creating music is kind of therapeutic for me,” says Shook – known as Jasper outside the studio. Not a new concept, but one he demonstrated himself as he spent seven months in hospital last year battling acute pancreatitis, keeping his laptop, Audient’s 2in/2out audio interface, iD4 and the small Korg Minilogue with him for company. For much of his hospitalisation he was recovering, describing it as “a heavy time” and admitting to having “almost died twice”. As his body got stronger however, his creativity started to bubble up again. “I used the iD4 to record sketches in my hospital bed,” he says. “When I was allowed to finally go home again, I used these ideas to record new songs.
“I remember the constant beeping from the hospital equipment: heart rate monitors and stuff like that. It was quite trippy! I remember wanting to write a song with bleeps and record multiple melodies; each would overlap to create interesting harmonies. I actually made a lot of very psychedelic songs when I was just back home.”
“The ASP880 is like an instrument with its own character. The detail in sound is very important to me”
This simple, portable setup gave him the opportunity to harness these ideas as he got better, before transferring back to his studio, and getting to work on what was to become ‘Bicycle Ride’. At home, his setup is a little less streamlined. “At the moment half of my living room is filled with equipment, synthesizers, acoustic drums, guitars etc.” he says, confessing to a particular obsession with vintage synthesizers. “I like to have things nearby when I work on music. I am running out of space, it’s a little bit crazy. I have this rule when if I pick up a new piece of gear, one would have to go out – a rule I often neglect, but I try!
“I don’t have a huge amount of space, so I have to tidy things up regularly after I have a creative outburst, otherwise I can’t walk around in my room anymore (which is often the case). I can’t have a whole acoustic drum kit standing around here casually all the time, unfortunately! So, what I do when I need a particular drum sound – for instance a snare – I dedicate a whole day recording only snare sounds for a project I am working on. Like, a lot! I would go through them all and pick out the best ones. I did this all the time for Bicycle Ride.
“I take my time to record the best possible drum sounds. I often get the best results when I play softly and dial in more gain on the ASP880 preamp. The results were always very rounded, crisp and detailed. The ASP880 is like an instrument with its own character. The detail in sound is very important to me, in songs like I Will Be There and Love Trip, you can hear that in the vocal recordings where every breath and detail is captured.”
Jasper explains more about developing his ideas. “It’s nice to have a tactile approach to recording and creating sounds. Part of the creative process in making a song for me is how you approach the recording process. For me it’s always a lot of fun to have this hands-on experience when I am creating a song. I like gear with its own personality. This is why I enjoy working with the ASP880 and iD22: they are so hands-on and intuitive.
“It’s very nice that Audient makes these things less complicated.”
“I often go from one instrument to the other one: sitting in front of my piano for a few minutes, then moving over to the Arturia Drumbrute to record percussion, then quickly move to the Prophet 08 to record multiple layers of strings, then switching to the iD22 to monitor at different settings and then switching on the +48v to record more hand percussion with my microphone.
“I guess I like moving around in my room a lot,” he muses. “I don’t have to think too much what I am doing, I am always more focused what I am recording in terms of composition, rather than thinking about the technical side. It’s very nice that Audient makes these things less complicated.”
Has he noticed a difference in his output since recovering from his illness? “My life has changed. So the music has too,” he says, describing the whole experience as “a very difficult, but happy time for me. The new album is therefore really positive – I think you can hear this in the music.” He continues, “I have more trust in my work now, less fear in creating music that is honest. I can be more honest with myself, which is very important to me.
“My life has changed. So the music has too”
“Music is very connected to how I feel in life. It’s nice to have an outlet and it calms me down when I create. The music sometimes comes first, I reflect on that and then I understand why I made it in the first place.”
Bicycle Ride is out 26th June – stream it on Spotify and catch the video of its first single Wind On The Water here and I Will Be There here. You can keep up to date with Shook by following him on Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp.