Tell our readers in who Justen Williams is and give us an idea of some of the work you’ve done professionally?
Whaddup world, My name is Justen “Jus10” Williams. Im a music producer/composer from New Orleans Louisiana and I recently got my first two major placements with RCA artist Dee-1. His first major album “3sUp” debuted at number 9 on billboard. I produced “Show on the Road” and “the Sway Interview”. Outside of that, I have done commercial work for Ford Motor company and have had the privilege of working with some extremely talented independent artist such as Kourtney Heart and Justin Garner.
How long have you been using Reason? What’s been your favorite version?
I started using reason around late 2006, on version 3.0. It was the beginning of my sophomore year in college and my cousin introduced me to it during that summer. CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME. Worst beats you would have ever heard, but even for someone with no training on producing, it seemed pretty seamless to get ideas out. If I had to pick a favorite version I would have to say the recording audio integration with 6. That changed a lot from a possibilities standpoint. I will say I am also a fan of the new version in 8.0 with the upgraded browser. To each his own, but that has sped up my workflow tremendously.
Your tracks are extremely full and keep a listener from getting bored. Can you enlighten us on your approach to making music in Reason? How do you clean up a mix and decide it’s ready for mastering?
Ha, well this is an interesting subject! If you would have asked me this question a month ago I would have had a completely different answer. Because of some recent discoveries, and some very knowledgeable friends (including you), my entire approach to mixing my records has changed. One of the best things Propellerhead has done was include that graphic EQ on the mix channel. Its convenient, powerful, and super easy to use. I honestly feel in the last 6 weeks I have learned more than I have probably in the last year and a half. From utilizing the strength of some of these Rack extensions, to taking advantage of parallel compression capabilities that Propellerhead has incorporated. I’m beginning to hear some HUGE differences in not only my mixes, but to my creating approach as well.
Now, you’ve obviously have had some success with Reason professionally. To the point of Props formally dubbing you a “Reason Ambassador.” If anyone can explain the theory behind countless subjective opinions out there on “Reason’s sound”– it’s you. So, does Reason have a sound in your opinion?
I will definitely reiterate what you said, that’s super subjective. From my stance it can be a really good thing. Kind of tying into the last question, over the last weeks of learning some of the mixing practices and applying them in Reason, I am a firm believer that if done right, you can get the exact same quality (and better) of Pro-Tools, Logic, Abelton, and FL Studio. What I have learned is that its all about understanding that environment. Just from talking to several other in the box Reason users, it’s conclusive that there is a “Reason Sound.” However, that is the beauty of knowing about the DAW once you dive in. I personally say yes there is a Reason sound, but with learning the software over the year, I have been able to use that to my advantage and not only have a quality sound in my production, but also building a sound that I can truly call my own.
What tools are you using to help achieve the sound you want in the box?
Some of my go effects Rack extensions as of lately are the RE2A, the Softube Saturation Knob, Audiomatic, The Echo, and the McDSP bundle. They are all CRAZY when used tastefully. Also, I would say some of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal are the mixing channel FX. The mixing console in itself is a monster! Namely speaking of the channel strip EQ and the compressors (individual channel and master bus). As far as instruments I love Antidote, some of the presets you don’t even need to tweak. Outside of that, I love the Propellerhead RE’s–Radical Keys, The Radical Piano, A-List Acoustic Guitar. All are equally useful and are go-to items in my arsenal. Also, I have a really dope bass player from down here named JHAWK who I pretty much rely on when I need live elements on some records. He’s the man. Other than that, I program my drums in Kong as of now, but I am noticing I have a tendency to switch between that and Redrum because of some drag and drop complications (we can talk on that later).
Let’s talk Reason 8. What do you/don’t you like about it? What is it missing?
For me it was a big jump. The browser has really sped up my work flow. Should it have been an 8.0 update?? No, but the innovations were definitely a step in the right direction. The plugin discussion is a very touchy one, LOL. I know initially Props steered away from plugins due to stability issues, so outside of using Reason I am also a big fan of Kontakt, Maschine, and Native instruments in general. I doubt that we’d ever see a Native Instruments Rack extension though. One of the biggest things I’d love to see is something like Maschine, but for (or within) Reason. I am definitely and advocate for that type of integration.
Discover. Yo, is this even relevant? Have you used it for serious work? How do you feel about the direction of Props, Reason, and the community (forum shutdown) as a whole?
I feel like the idea of Discover is dope, but in the early stages of it, I haven’t taken full advantage of it yet. It’s definitely convenient for people on the go, who don’t have access to their gear when an idea sparks, but for me personally, I haven’t been able to implement a bunch of it in my workflow… yet. I will say another obstacle for me is that I am an Android user and since Take and Figure aren’t ported for Android, I cant even attempt to use it. I wish there were some other options for the Props users to communicate with the powers above, so I would have to say it was pretty disappointing that the forums have been shut down. I personally have relied on the forums to help me when I needed to figure something out. I hope in the future they can refine them or make it to where it’s a benefit to the users as well as the company.
What do you hope to see in the future of Reason?
Overall, I would like to hope the next upgrade for Reason will be a step in the right direction. I’m a drummer and a live musician before I am a producer, so realistic sounding devices, instruments, and rack extensions will continue to be a step in the right direction. Some of these third parties make some amazing plugins, so just like any user, I would love to either see the integration of plugins, and or the Rack Extension version of it. Also, as previously stated, I LOVE MASCHINE, so it would be great if Props could incorporate something in that vein to enhance the simplicity of drum programming and sampling. Kong is dope, but if they can tap into some of the elements of Maschine, that would be AMAZING. I know you and I have had some talks on how great this would be and I am sure we aren’t the only ones who feel this way!
At this moment, what projects are currently on your schedule? What’s next in your musical career/journey at this point? Where do you see the Justen Williams brand going in the next 1-3 years?
Well, a bunch of work with Dee-1, Kourtney and Justin, and just helping to build their sound in general. Also in the process of submitting a bunch of records to labels while partnering with some really talented writers and producers. The ultimate goal for myself is to establish a brand and a sound for myself. I’d like to be associated with quality music across multiple genres. I work my hardest to be as diverse as possible in music ,TV, and film scoring as well. I hope through my music I can inspire others, provide for my family, and have an impact on the culture of music in general. I’m swinging for the fences bro!
Where can we find you?
I appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me man, I really do. I am a huge fan of your work, what you bring to the table, and I definitely put a stamp on my drums because of your quality! You can find me on Youtube, just search for Justen Williams.
God bless man, and thanks again.