Artist Spotlight: Danny Byrd

Producer Danny Byrd swears by the sound of Cakewalk:

“Their Instruments have as much unique character as the best vintage synths!”

By Buzz Owen

Danny Byrd has been stamping his mark on the Drum & Bass scene for over a decade now. Regarded as a pioneer of Soulful and Vocal Liquid Funk, Danny’s blending of upfront and retro-inspired sounds has led him to try many of the hundreds of soft synths out there in his search for sounds that can cut through in his busy productions – a search that stopped with the discovery of Cakewalk’s sonic armory…

“I used both Rapture and Dimension Pro a hell of a lot when recording my new album [Supersized]. In fact, the Cakewalk instruments were essential to the writing of my album. These days a lot of digital music sounds the same, so it’s important to add a different sound. And this is what Cakewalk instruments do for me – they add another dimension.”

“Rapture is just amazing for evolving textures and pads, especially all the tempo-locked patches. Just one example would be how I’d often find myself playing a high, sustained note on Rapture, and using this sound to fill up the breakdowns. Rapture has such an amazingly rich and warm sound. Another great touch is the limiter they’ve put on the output for when you’re really twisting up some nasty bass lines.”

“And the effects that you get in Rapture really add to its quality, as do the step-programmable LFOs. For me, this is the key to its constant use in all my productions. Another great feature is the stock presets that come with it – they are so useable right out of the box, so you can just get playing immediately if you don’t want to delve in deep right away.”

With Rapture taking care of the atmospheres, strings and those trademark gnarly, powerful bass lines, Danny turns to Dimension Pro for those ‘classic’ synth sounds, as he’s only too happy to divulge:

“Dimension Pro is my bread and butter sound module. Since I’ve been producing music ‘in-the-box’ – just using software on my Mac – I’ve found myself really missing a good all-round sound generator similar to my trusty old hardware E-mu Proteus module. But then along comes Dimension Pro, and it’s everything I ever needed. The strings are a particular favorite of mine, as are some of the live bass sounds. It’s just a really great sounding plug-in that’s really simple to use. And fast, too – each patch loads quickly, which is so important when you’re composing!”

“And with the addition of the new E-mu sound banks, I think Dimension Pro is the most versatile sound module plug-in out there, and I for one am going to get years of use out of it. It’s really forward thinking to include those classic E-mu sounds as an optional extra within your new instruments. Yes, there are plenty of other products out there that have the right idea, but they sound pretty cheap.”

“Ultimately the Cakewalk instruments really have their own character, which allows me to sound different to the masses.”

“My outlook on producing is always the same – it has to start with a strong idea. If that wicked 16-bar sketch isn’t working within an hour I’ll scrap it and start again. I need to feel a rush of inspiration to really get into a sketch. I think a lot of new producers have problems understanding that mixing is just about a feeling you get and achieving an overall balance rather than using millions of plug-ins.”

Danny’s debut album, Supersized, was out on Hospital Records on May 26th with a follow up single in June. He’s currently touring in America, Europe and the UK. Check for more details.


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