Richard Devine: Electro-Renaissance Man
Artist/producer/remixer/sound designer Richard Devine stays so far ahead of the curve that he gives even the most “innovative” artists a run for their money. Devine has made a name for himself as a highly-respected electronic musician—releasing four artist albums in just four years and touring the world over—and as a go-to guy for all manner of remixing, sound design, film scoring, programming and even software and instrument development. With such a diverse range of talents, it's no wonder that Devine has worked with everyone from BT and Trent Reznor to Apple and Audi—using a wealth of M-Audio gear including the Oxygen 8 v2 keyboard controller, Octane preamp, Solaris microphone and more.
What sets Devine apart from most electronic musicians is his approach to composition and his steadfast desire to stay outside of the traditional realm of electronic music. Instead of constructing tracks in a normal, linear fashion, Devine uses his collection of custom sounds, samples, and ambiences to piece together his compositions. “I usually approach songwriting and composition from a sound designer's perspective,” he explains. “I consider myself to be more of a sound designer and collage artist. I piece together fragments of sounds and process them into something new and unique. I have always tried to push the boundaries of what could be considered electronic music, and take that to a new dimension. My philosophy is simple. I keep everything detailed and non-traditional. Hopefully the listener will experience something new and profound after hearing my work.”
While the ultimate result of his efforts may resemble a sonic journey though an alternate reality, items like M-Audio audio interfaces, MIDI controllers and software titles like Pro Tools and Ableton Live are key to the creation of Devine's otherworldly sounds. “I use several M-Audio devices in my studio setup. The first piece is the Delta 1010 sound card. I have used this interface since day one. It has always been rock solid on my PC workstation. I usually use it as a recording interface with my Windows machine. The 1010 has really nice A/D converters and logical audio routing, making it easy to do sessions with. It has proven itself as a workhorse interface that I still use on many sessions for film and TV work.
“I use Pro Tools 7 and Ableton Live 5 all the time for my music production and sound design,” Devine continues. “Ableton Live is one of the most revolutionary software applications to come out in recent years. I love how easy it is to piece together ideas and construct loops with Live. It has totally helped me work in new ways that I never thought would be possible. I have done several collaborations this year using Live. The time stretching/compressing algorithms have been extremely helpful in throwing any material together and working it into something new.”
Fits in the Overhead Compartment
With a hectic touring schedule and an always-lengthy list of A-list clients making demands on his time, Devine travels with an impressive array of M-Audio products that allow him to write, record and perform wherever he is. And by utilizing both laptop-based production and performance rigs, Devine never has to worry about how he's going to get his equipment to and from a gig—as everything can be easily carried on a plane. “I just worked with BT on a new film called Surveillance ,” Devine explains. “And I used the new Oxygen 8 v2 as the main keyboard controller for all my sound design and composing needs. It was portable enough to work anywhere—back at the hotel or at the studio. We also used the M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 recorder to record all the outside source material. These little recording rigs are genius. I was really impressed with how well they held up, and the sound quality was amazing. Earlier this year I was working on Mike Patton's new solo album, Peeping Tom , where I used the Ozonic keyboard as my main interface and sound card. It proved to be the best solution for my traveling needs on the road.
“For live shows I always use the UC-33e and X-Session in conjunction with my laptop computer,” Devine continues. “I also use the Ozonic as an audio interface and controller, and I have a first-generation Oxygen8 keyboard that I also use for note triggering and extra control for my PowerBook. I have actually used M-Audio equipment for every show I have done for the last four years. I simply couldn't function without it. I never use typical MIDI keyboard controllers anymore. They have all been replaced by M-Audio controllers. I work primarily with laptop computers, so I need MIDI controllers that are portable and easy to use.”
Recipe for Success
When not working as a musical “jack-of-all-trades,” Devine also takes an active role in the design and testing of new software instruments. In addition to the custom software and computer creations he has built for his own use, he recently assisted with both Way Out Ware TimewARP 2600 and Ableton Operator. “I worked with Jim Heintz on the TimewARP 2600, and I use it all the time,” says Devine. “I would say it is one of the most accurate replications of an older analog synthesizer. I also love the GForce and iZotope plug-ins, especially the Trash and Spectron plugs by iZotope. They are truly unique in comparison to other plug-ins I have used. I use the Trash plug-in on all my drum sounds, and love the nasty layer of evilness it adds.
“Another project I worked on last year was the Operator synthesizer in Ableton 5. I designed many of the factory patches for this synthesizer,” he continues. “It is an extremely flexible FM synth that I have used on countless tracks. I also love Beat Repeater and the Grain Delay plug-ins in Live. Beat Repeater is simply awesome for chopping up beats in real-time. I have gotten so many interesting things just by using several instances of Beat Repeater on different DSP-processed sounds. I love taking completely chaotic sounds into Beat Repeater and repeating specific sections in real-time, running on multiple different channels and creating this controlled chaos.”
A Dose of Reality
While the casual listener might assume that Devine never leaves the world of software applications and instruments, just the opposite is true. Devine is an experienced studio engineer who often finds himself recording acoustic instruments in both stereo and surround for film and video game applications. “I have just started to use the M-Audio 8-channel Octane preamp,” he explains. “I have been using it on all my 5.1 surround recordings. It has proven to be a wonderful front end to my digital recording system. I have been using that in conjunction with the Solaris microphone, which has been really incredible for recording ethnic drums and stringed instruments. The detail that you can capture is unreal. There are so many positive things I could say about M-Audio hardware and software that I could be here for days talking about this.
“I have used M-Audio products on every single project that I have worked on, whether it was sound design for other audio companies, TV commercials, video games or sound tracks,” Devine concludes. “It's been the workhorse gear that keeps on going and going.”