With help from my friends at Waves, whose interview I recommend reading, I was able to have a quick Q&A with electronic artist and DJ, Morgan Page, about his work in the plugin world alongside Waves, which has resulted in the release of the Morgan Page EMP Toolbox bundle.
Do you remember the first time you came across Waves plugins and what that was like? What were your initial impressions?
I first discovered Waves plugins in college. The radio station at Emerson College in Boston had several suites stocked with the biggest bundle. I remember doing radio promos an using magical plugins like Doppler and enigma. Up until then I was a hardware guy, because I couldn’t afford a Pro Tools TDM system.
Can you describe some ways that Waves plugins became a consistent part of your production/mixing workflow? What kind of plugins became indispensable early on for you?
The bread and butter waves plugins I use for making using and podcasts are the SSL bundle and Maserati. It’s all about a fast workflow to achieve inspiration quickly. I can polish the atoms later. The bundles really help move the production process quickly for time consuming tasks like vocals. Vocal rider is also a favorite.
Electronic music is a genre that relies on computing for it’s creation, whether it’s in the form of plugins or a sequencer. Yet one of the dangers of this is the tendency to overprocess one’s music with plugins, through long chains, over-compression and the rest. How do you avoid over-processing sounds with your plugins, particularly when something like Waves plugins offers up an endless sea of options to choose from?
Over processing is tough – I do whatever it takes to push more emotion out of a vocalist or an instrument, but too much color can make things harsh so it’s a delicate balance. I use plugins like layers of varnish, so that one small change doesn’t screw up the whole signal path. This applies to gain staging, wet/dry balances, thresholds, and ratios across the board. Building flexible templates is crucial so you’re not working from scratch all the time. It’s really important to always be updating templates and having a variety of templates for different purposes.
Can you tell me how your collaborative relationship with Waves came about? Did they reach to you about working on the EMP Toolbox, or vice versa?
Waves wanted to get more involved with EDM producers so they reached out to me and said “what are your favorite Waves plugins?” I’d done some tutorial videos for them, so it was great to build on that.
Looking at Waves Signature Series and other collabs they’ve done with indutry professionals, can I ask why you decided to make a bundle of existing plugins, instead of starting from scratch on a new product?
Waves asked for my favorite existing plugins, but I would definitely love to make some from scratch!
Was the criteria for choosing the plugins for your bundle based on what you’ve historically turned to over the years, or were you compelled to dig into new Waves products to figure out what the bestbundle would be?
I combined old classics and new favorites. I tried to pick my most useful favorites rather than just esoteric ones that you only reach for once in a while.
What determined the number of plugins for this bundle? Was it about staying within a certain price range, or was it about choosing the mst essential plugins?
I think Waves asked for a specific range so the size of the bundle didn’t get too crazy. It’s very easy to install too many plugins.
Sometimes I’ll use one for processing stems, and other times as a primary limiter before a secondary limiter – for extra loudness. It really depends on the sonics.
How has the NLS Non-Linear Summer made it’s way into your work? It’s a relatively new Waves product for many people. How have you been making use of it?
It’s easy to dismiss summing – there’s A lot of myths floating around, but these are very useful for controlling clipping, creating presence and loudness. I use them at the end of signal chains and busses, and then a master instance.
Can we anticipate any other Waves collaborations from you in the future?
Hopefully will have some brand new original plugins someday!
Waves plugs aside, what new plugins have you come across this year that have been a good find for you? Anything interesting?
My other favorites are Fabfilter total bundle and anything SoundToys.