Hi-fi Q&A Hero

Artist of the month: johnfs


With lots of guitar and clean electronic production, johnfs has been steadily building a portfolio at iStock since 2009. An ear for memorable melody and feel, this contributor has always let his music speak for him. Not afraid to wander through genres, johnfs brings his own spin to whatever he puts his musical mind to.

Could you think back and tell us about your earliest memory of experiencing or hearing music and how that experience drove you to explore music?
My earliest memory of hearing music is listening to tapes in the car on long journeys with my parents and sister. We used to spend hours making the tapes and we'd all takes turns choosing a song. We did a lot of singing together in the car. We'd sing everything from Fleetwood Mac to Michael Jackson, Disney songs to Sweet Honey In The Rock (a female African American acapella group). I learnt to sing harmonies listening to them. Lovely memories and a great education of all different types of music.

" There is always great music out there, you just have to look for it sometimes! "

If you could go back in time and give yourself a musical experience that you missed or passed up, what would it be?
I had tickets to see Michael Jackson at the O2 in London. He died just a few weeks before we were due to see him. I've been a huge fan of Michael Jackson my whole life and always wanted to see him live. So I'd go back and see him during his heyday, on the Bad tour!

Could you tell us about your studio set up? What tools do you use to make music i.e. DAW, Plugs, mics, pre's….
My setup is pretty simple really. I use Logic on a MacBook Pro, a small Mackie mixer, a couple of SM58s and a few guitars. My main one (and pride and joy) being a US Fender Telecaster Thinline. Lots of my friends also make music so we often swap and share equipment. If I ever need a set of good drum mics, I have nice friends who will lend them to me. A friend of mine has a vintage kick drum mic that was used by Queen so that's always fun to use!

" Music is fine at the moment"

Which plug do you use the most?
Probably the Space Designer in Logic. So many different reverbs and spaces to choose from and many ways to customise them. I like to play around giving different instruments their own little space in the mix. Reverb is such an important part of a mix..

What is a production habit that you turn to all the time for great results?
I love a pause or break! Dropping the drums out at the beginning of a bar and then crashing everything back in on the 2. I find myself doing that quite a lot. I also like to layer drum sounds. I often use 2 kits on top of each other, it gives them a real punch and helps to create my own new and unique sounds.

From your perspective where is music at and where do you see it heading?
Music is fine at the moment. Sure, there is a lot of terrible music, but there always has been! Daft Punk's new album is exciting for me. I love disco and funk and they've gone back to basics with live musicians creating amazing grooves. Hopefully music is heading in that direction! There is always great music out there, you just have to look for it sometimes!

Your music collection is on fire and has already burned all the albums from the year 1999 and earlier. You can only save one album created from the years following. Which album do you choose to save?
I would choose Man Alive by Everything Everything which came out in 2010. They are a British rock band and I find their music really exciting and inspiring. They use interesting time signatures and lots of rhythmic singing and guitars. It's my favourite album of recent years and I urge you to check it out.

Listen to Johnfs's portfolio

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