An Interview with Dieq
The other day I was looking over some posts on a social site, like I do every day, and saw a post from someone that goes by Dieq, he had just posted a link to an album that he had just released on his YouTube channel. I have never heard of him but like I always do I went to have a listen. For many of the things I listen to I will only listen for a minute or so and move on but in listening to Dieq’s album I found myself getting drawn into the music and soon I had listened to the whole 41min album…totally taken in by the music, this does not happen that often to me. Later I listen to the album again this time analyzing it from part to part, there are no vocals, so I wanted to try to get an understanding of what Dieq is trying to convey from only knowing what he gives us in the description of the album release. “to tell a story not about someone, but for someone – in this case Czesława Kwoka, Polish girl killed in Auschwitz. What she could’ve wanted to say? What she could’ve felt? This is my vision of answering those questions. 19 parts, over 40 minutes. Each segment is about a feeling or other phenomenon”. He also names each part and here they are with links. 0:00 world 1:04 day 3:37 childhood 7:05 fear 7:58 heart 9:43 mom? 12:59 pain 14:03 nothing 16:20 death 18:34 acceptance 19:15 heaven 21:07 justice 23:49 scream 24:41 scream 2 26:35 scream 3 27:52 cry 30:40 pain 2 36:07 mom? 2 39:43 world 2 .
Now listening to the music with this information I could really start to relate to feelings that were created only from a brief description, a word and music….very cool stuff, to say the least. Sometimes when you have no words music is your only vehicle to deliver the message and IMHO Dieq nailed it with this album. He has made it free and now it is in my music collection.
I thought it would be cool to reach out to Dieq and ask him some questions about how he made this album and other things and he graciously excepted. So grab a cold or hot one and sit back and listen to this very unique and great album all recorded mixed and master in Reason by Dieq and then read through the Q/A you will be glad you did.
LR: So can you tell us a little bit about how you got into music and any kind of training you may have had?
Dieq: So I got in music more seriously when I was around 14, there was this Guinness World Record attempt at playing “Hey Joe” by Hendrix in my hometown. I was much into Hendrix back then, so I thought – five chords, what could possibly go wrong? So here I am 🙂
I had no formal training, though during my high school years we had informal lessons with a jazz player (a form of extracurricular music lessons), and a while ago I attended vocal lessons for a while.
LR: Can you give us a little insight into how you go about producing your music?
Dieq: It basically starts with an idea inside my head. I imagine a sound, melody or whatever else musical and roll with it. So as for the production process itself, I love using Reason, since it gives me freedom to do it according to my workflow (melody and design, which includes mixing individual tracks at the same time, which I found difficult using other DAWs). And I’ve been using Reason for a loooong while, so I sort of got used to its specifics and made them my advantages and added to my style (all the cables, CV/Audio splitting, sidechaining and so on). But my mistake is I keep the tracks chaotic, sometimes whole projects unfinished, since when there’s something, in my opinion, better in my head I just try to make it happen. The thing is I like to finish a song/project in one sitting – with no-face it was impossible, but I tried to keep the idea fresh by going back to it on a daily basis. My recommendation? Do it as it suits you – your time, persona, etc. It finally comes to you, if you work on things.
LR: Listening to your music I am very impressed with the sounds you come up with, what or who influences you when doing your sound design?
Dieq: I love progressive rock’s approach to soundscapes. More recently I’ve been (and still am) in love with the composition style of Steven Wilson, which music I absolutely adore. During the time of composing the album, I listened to Opeth a lot, which also collaborated with Wilson on a few occasions. I also do a lot of different kinds of electronic music, so it sometimes happens that some sounds are purely experimental or inspired by tutorials.
LR: Your album has great sounding drums can you tell us a little about how you went about getting them recorded and edited?
Dieq: One thing – Addictive Drums 2. My favorite drum VST so far. My job was to compose the tracks and mix them according to the whole album. It already was excellently put together, I just made a few tweaks in the built-in console and added some effects in Reason – that’s it.
No recording. It’s a fantastic piece of software (that is not sponsored, haha 🙂
LR: How did you go about getting everything mixed and mastered from song to song in the album, level, timing…etc. Also, what do you use to monitor your mix?
Dieq: It was the most difficult part of all. Due to my chaotic production process (I don’t recommend not naming your tracks or not using an output bus for multiple similar tracks 😉 ) it took some time to level everything up. The whole idea was to make everything clear, audible and enjoyable and though not always it went according to the plan it came out better than before – thanks with help of my friends, who recommended some corrections. One of my ideas is not to play with channel level during the song, to make them sound more consistent during the song – so the sound needs to be EQ’d and (if necessary) compressed well from the beginning. Though this wasn’t the case in this album, I used channel levels on multiple occasions. Timing also was an issue, so… Manual quantization with guitars. Almost all the synths/samplers and all the drums are inputted manually, but according to the grid. The whole production process, is as I said, sort of chaotic, so I don’t usually go by “industry standards” (writing, arranging, mixing, mastering – in this order). As said – I do a melody/landscape/whatever for one track which includes mixing simultaneously. To me, it makes final mixing somewhat simpler. I also believe there’s a certain sound to Reason, or at least I hear my tracks sounding the same… hahaha. 😀 I do all the music on old, Polish-produced columns (Altus 110), which I got used to. I also use headphones for guitar recording (you can hear the metronome better), as well as for some verification of the mix. Nothing expensive and fancy, I want my music to be done as cheaply as possible, which by the way was the initial idea of the album – do the album for free, with no cost from the listener’s side as well as from mine.
LR: Do you have a favorite synth to write with?
Dieq: From Reason definitely Thor, sometimes I still think it’s more than I’m able to handle. 🙂
LR: How do you go about getting the synth sounds you need?
Dieq: Usually by experimentation and ingenuity. Recently I wanted to achieve a tremolo-like effect on reverb connected to a synth, so I connected a compressor to the reverb and an LFO to compressor’s sidechain, turned out to be very interesting. The thing is not to be afraid to do it differently than assumed and conditioned by current habits.
LR: Can you tell us a little about how you went about getting your guitar sound?
Dieq: This I think is interesting. I used my Fender Strat to record all the guitars since that was my main guitar at the time. I had some fun with pickup selections and tone controls on it prior to the writing process, and I discovered choosing middle + bridge pickups and rolling the tone down on the middle pickup did that cocked wah/scooped sound similar to G&L Comanche guitars have (which I wanted so badly at the time). I decided to roll with it and it turned out to suit my likings. Other than the guitar, I used BIAS amp simulators for all raw guitar sounds, other effects were then added in Reason (like unison, reverb, delay, etc.).
LR: Can you tell us a little about how you went about getting your Bass guitar sound?
Dieq: I wanted to record the bass for the album, but I had so little self-motivation I used ABPL bass simulation + some effects (mostly Scream distortion). It’s audible it’s a simulation, but it does most of the work OK. Basically – the plugin, EQ and compression.
LR: With all the guitar work you do in No Face I have to ask, who is your favorite guitarist?
Dieq: Tough question. I was and still am inspired by a lot of them, but if I need to list them… Alex Skolnick (Testament), Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) (I bought the strat I recorded the album on because of him, I wanted to have black strat with maple fingerboard 😀 ), Jason Becker, Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, right now Arch Enemy as far as I know), Masahiro Andoh (T-Square)… there’s a lot of excellent musicians, for me it’s difficult to choose only one.
LR: This album has 19 songs/parts to it. Was this a work in progress that turned out to be the album or did you set out to write the music and record it as the album is from the start?
Dieq: With this, I’m leaning more towards the first, but thinking of this makes me realize it was a hybrid of those. It was supposed to be a 20-minute piece, but the music sort of came to me by itself, so I kept recording. It turned out to be 40 minute piece, so (at least to me) too long for an EP or a single.
LR: Without vocals how do you tell a story, set the mood or provoke emotion in your music.
LR: Did you do any sampling for this album?
Dieq: I haven’t done any sampling personally for this album, I used samples and sample engines available in Reason (like MELSTRINGS, which I love) and outside VST libraries (drums, rhodes piano, bass).
LR: This album is for a girl named Czeslawa Kwoka how do you know of her?
Dieq: There’s a widely known photo of a girl from Auschwitz, which depicts her. I felt that someone needs to speak for her in any possible way. I also had her mentioned at some point during my education on history lessons. She stays inside your head, given that you realize how the machine of war treated people.