Former NBA champion Rony Seikaly provides you with his best tech tips…

As a basketball player, Rony Seikaly was a high achiever. The NBA champion and former Miami Heat star made headlines with his award-winning talent. However, long before his fruitful career as a basketball star, music had always been Seikaly’s greatest love; he’s been holding parties in his garage since he was fourteen. The last few years have seen him really focusing on his craft, producing a huge back catalogue of tracks which he’s been playing everywhere from Space Miami, Amnesia Ibiza, Burning Man, Art Basel.. the list goes on, and he’s proved himself as one of house music’s key players.

Seikaly launched his Stride Records imprint at the end of last year, with the second release ‘Pursuit’ out now. We managed to grab some time with him at his studio in Miami, to hear about his production process and find out his top tips for making music…

The Creative Side Vs The Technical Side:
The way I see music is, there’s always the creative side and the technical side. Often people start tweaking the sounds and try to make them sound good, and spend hours trying to get things to work when they don’t have ‘the idea’ or the creative side done yet. So I like to focus on this first, I pick out all the different sounds I want, get the vibe of the song, lay it out, and then I switch to my technical side and start working on modulations and EG-ing to make it sound good!

Decide on your Fundamentals:
Two of the most important parts for me are the kick and the bass. The bass is fundamental – it’s the foundation of the track. If you’ve got the kick and the bass working together, you’ve got the groove going and all the rest can easily be added. For a kick I usually use the plugin Kick 2. You can do a whole bunch of stuff to make it sound the way you want. As far as the bass, I use either Reaktor, or Diva, or a plugin for a nice deep sound. I’ll switch it up but these are the ones I go to most. No 3 I like for synth sounds and pads, I like to use either a massive or Serum, all depends on the vibe of the track.

The Car Speakers Test:
As far as speakers, I have the Newmans. They’re great speakers, they’re pretty flat and don’t cost a lot. I learnt a while ago that if stuff sounds good on inexpensive speakers, then they’re going to sound great on a better system! So I tend to go for cheaper speakers and make sure it sounds good on them. That can sometimes work against you, but for the most part, I test my tracks in the car – if they sound good in there, then they’re going to sound great in the club.

Trust Your Ears:
As far as making the music itself, I’m not a musician by nature. I do everything by ear, by testing and trying. Sometimes I stumble onto things and I have no idea how I got there but it works – it’s all by ear. It’s a harder process because I don’t have the musical background to play the notes or melodies that I want to play, but I get it done – it’s a really interesting way to approach it because you end up in places you might not have if you’d got lost in the theory.

Take Breaks and Be Bold:
Finally, don’t be scared to venture into different elements and sounds. Something else that is key to me is giving myself a break after a few hours in the studio and sleeping on it. If I don’t have something going in five hours, I won’t try to wrestle the bear. If you give your ears a rest, go to sleep and go back to it in the morning, you’ll have a fresh take on it. If you’re not feeling something but just keep going, you’ll start changing everything, and the track can take days to finish; you end up fighting a losing battle.

‘Pursuit’ is out on Stride Records now on Beatport. Catch Rony at Space Miami on 23rd February.

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.