Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:28 PM   #1
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Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

I love Nine Inch Nails's Year Zero but I've been trying to study Trent Reznor's workflow on Year Zero which was explained here some what:

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Fifteen original tracks were considered for inclusion on the album, which Reznor described as "Highly conceptual. Quite noisy. Fucking cool."[31] Reznor also described the album as a "collage of sound type of thing", citing musical inspiration from early Public Enemy records, specifically the production techniques of The Bomb Squad.[32][33] Most of Year Zero's musical elements were created by Reznor solely on his laptop, as opposed to the instrument-heavy With Teeth


I also found this:

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Can someone explain exactly what they mean by Steps 1 and 2 and 3?

I'm talking about the audio examples. I'm just so attracted to this sound that I don't want to copy it exactly but I've implmented a similar workflow but I'm not sure if I'm going about it the right way.

I know this sounds retarded but I'm wondering if any of you can explain what these 3 steps mean in a certain example.

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Old 02-17-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Basically, you just go around playing various household items, record that stuff and make that into "stems" that you will use later. You want to bang the shit out of your washing machine, distort that loop, then chop it up and arrange like a beat. Scream like raving madman through some tubes, rinse and repeat. RECORD EVERYTHING, and let your creativity loose...
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Old 02-19-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Yeah, I don't know how you would explain it better than they have in the article. It's pretty straightforward - spend a week or two printing random shit, then sit there and sift through it all until you've got a track...

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Old 02-19-2012, 03:47 PM   #4
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

fuck i am listening to this shit on headphones and it's akward.
i love NiN but honestly, that much M/S processing is just bad for you.

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Old 02-20-2012, 11:32 AM   #5
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Really inspiring interview. This really speaks to my mindset of approaching things.
One thing i cant get by in understanding however, is that how he approaches the individual sounds, if he records everything as is.
Like, its pretty hard to EQ/EFX etc. the individual Kick/Snare and things like that..

Another thing comes to mind as well, if he records melodies and such on its own, for later "glueing", how can he be sure that the scale, notes etc, will match up?

Any tips on this matter?
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #6
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

There is also a remix website, I'm 99% sure he created. [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


If you like NIN, you can listen to tons of user created remixes and some by him as well. Plus, as a member(it's free) you can download from a selection of his stems for different tracks. Some of the raw can be Dl'd as an Ableton project, I believe, as well.

Pretty cool website.
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:10 PM   #7
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

I get it now and I did get it before but I wasn't sure about one process and it turns out I use this in my workflow a lot without even realizing it.

About the Ableton Live sessions though for the remixing... it's not exactly the way his sessions are. He layers and bounces out a lot of his drones and stuff like that. So it's kind of hard to determine exactly what he does.

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Old 02-23-2012, 11:57 AM   #8
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

So whoever is using these methods, are just doing a beat, or a sound, recording it, and re-sequence it later?
Dont you feel stuck when not being able to add efx, or tweak the individual sounds, like inside a drumbeat etc. ?
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:32 PM   #9
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steffensen View Post
So whoever is using these methods, are just doing a beat, or a sound, recording it, and re-sequence it later?
Dont you feel stuck when not being able to add efx, or tweak the individual sounds, like inside a drumbeat etc. ?
For me "being stuck" is more about endless tweaking and working on details. If you can't do that, you have to move forward.

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Old 02-23-2012, 12:42 PM   #10
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

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Originally Posted by mimicry View Post
For me "being stuck" is more about endless tweaking and working on details. If you can't do that, you have to move forward.
True, and i get that.
I have been using a very similar technique myself, for years, but i always sample each bit so i can go back and EQ to fit etc.

This technique computes very well in my diagnosed mind, and id like to take it further. Which would be in the path of doing whole drumbeats and things like that. Just a bit worried about not be able to adjust whatever reverb i might have on the snare, or if the kick need a little cut somewhere, and i might realize later that the high hats are too loud.. etc..

Then again, that might be the trick of it all, and the sound per say.
Having it a bit "rough", uncontrolled, and working fast. Staying creative, and having the creativeness in focus rather than being the perfect mixing engineer. Do it as good as you can from the get.go, and sequence it right.

Im very tempted to dive in to this!
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:50 PM   #11
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Well, you can cut all the kicks on one track, all the snares on the other and so on. Then, optionally, EQ out some unimportant things from each track and process them. Mix these in with the original so they don't feel disjointed.

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Old 02-23-2012, 12:57 PM   #12
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mimicry View Post
Well, you can cut all the kicks on one track, all the snares on the other and so on. Then, optionally, EQ out some unimportant things from each track and process them. Mix these in with the original so they don't feel disjointed.
Sounds like you are talking about layering now. (which is a good idea to add stuff that one feel are missing)
So if you are, yea, agreed.

However, if you mean cutting out each sound from the recording, it would destroy this workflow imo. Hard to put each drumbeat on different keys in the Sampler then as well. Its all or nothing i guess.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:10 PM   #13
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

More like parallel processing. You're not really adding any new material.

Also, I was assuming working with just an audio track, so no key-mapping would be needed.

As for the workflow, yes, it would destroy it (: But on the other hand, you can knowingly skip over these things during writing and still have confidence, that if anything goes wrong, you can still use these techniques in the mixing phase.

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Old 02-23-2012, 01:24 PM   #14
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mimicry View Post
More like parallel processing. You're not really adding any new material.

Also, I was assuming working with just an audio track, so no key-mapping would be needed.

As for the workflow, yes, it would destroy it (: But on the other hand, you can knowingly skip over these things during writing and still have confidence, that if anything goes wrong, you can still use these techniques in the mixing phase.
Parallel is more or less layering tho.
Yea, i get where you're at now, and this is along the way ive worked with for years.
I dont fancy the sound of cutting up a loop/beat etc. I'd rather rec the different sounds on its own then.

This is not how i interpret this technique used by Trent however!
He seems to fancy the approach of getting creative with the results using a more "hands-on" approach.

This falls in to the way im striving to do things more and more, as i get totally different and more creatively triggering results this way. I have been doing the Tetris game in Arrange for many years, and its great in many ways, just not triggering my creativeness anymore.
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:44 PM   #15
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Yeah sometimes its a good idea to change your workflow in order to get more creative... trust I did Tetris for awhile.

I actually combine Trent's old workflow with this newer later one.

Trent has always been more of a sound designer and would sample things and chop up and play. Like in the Downward Spiral he mainly did that. He would record drums and chop them up and then play the beat then design his synth sounds and play them out. The Downward Spiral era means he had more gear like high end Arturia Synths and all that. So he pretty much got a drummer to play drums chop up the drums and play them and record them on a midi controller. Then of course sample from movies and etc.

In Pretty Hate Machine all he had was a sampler and synths and his guitar so that's almost the same method.

In The Fragile he did everything at once... so in other words he would just play tetris but do sound design and everything at the same time.

Also this method he uses now ever since Year Zero is not just a workflow he came up with it was actually used the Bomb Squad project from Public Enemy. I don't understand how they used but it that's pretty much it. But just comes to show that Trent has actually changed up his workflow a few times.

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Old 02-23-2012, 06:04 PM   #16
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Re: Trent Reznor's Workflow on Year Zero does anyone understand this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DamianC View Post
Yeah sometimes its a good idea to change your workflow in order to get more creative... trust I did Tetris for awhile.

I actually combine Trent's old workflow with this newer later one.

Trent has always been more of a sound designer and would sample things and chop up and play. Like in the Downward Spiral he mainly did that. He would record drums and chop them up and then play the beat then design his synth sounds and play them out. The Downward Spiral era means he had more gear like high end Arturia Synths and all that. So he pretty much got a drummer to play drums chop up the drums and play them and record them on a midi controller. Then of course sample from movies and etc.

In Pretty Hate Machine all he had was a sampler and synths and his guitar so that's almost the same method.

In The Fragile he did everything at once... so in other words he would just play tetris but do sound design and everything at the same time.

Also this method he uses now ever since Year Zero is not just a workflow he came up with it was actually used the Bomb Squad project from Public Enemy. I don't understand how they used but it that's pretty much it. But just comes to show that Trent has actually changed up his workflow a few times.

Perhaps this is why its attracting me. Im a sound designer first, and have been for many years. Trying to get back in to making music again, but i cant find the flow with the Tetris game anymore. This sounds more like my kind of game.. Not sure how one can tweak each sound to fit with each other, if doing them all separately tho. But i guess thats another part of the process, to see how lucky you can be, and get not expected results from the combining of these recordings.

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