“I’ve been using PreSonus gear since I was 16 years old, I couldn’t be happier to be working with a brand that’s been such a big part of my life over the years.”—KRIS XEN (2022)
KRIS XEN takes you on a musical journey that could only be described as modern fusion.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and raised in Durban, he starting off as a drummer at the age of 11 and became addicted to guitars as a young teenager. He started his first bands at the age of 13 and eventually became a member of one of the most famous death metal outfits in South Africa; Vulvodynia. He is constantly evolving as a guitarist, producer and musician, and developed a great love for expanding his musical knowledge and touring.
During the pandemic Kris focused hard on writing, recording guitar and producing Vulvodynia’s most recent offering Praenuntius Infiniti from his home studio. The album was mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson.
He has played in Ron Bumblefoot Thal’s (ex-Guns N Roses, Sons Of Apollo) band, done multiple headlining tours in Europe with Vulvodynia and Xavleg, and has headlined tours in the States, Australia, and Africa with Vulvodynia.
In Technopath, Kris has worked with some legendary musicians such as Brian Beller (Bass for The Aristocrats, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani), Mattias IA Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) and Nick Johnston.
Kris has also been featured in Guitar World Magazine and was the cover page for “New Voices In Guitar,” outlining “10 fresh guitarists to keep an ear out for in the coming year” for 2020.
Kris has just released a signature guitar with Ormsby Guitars, available worldwide and is presently on tour throughout the United States with Vulvodynia.
Follow KRIS XEN on Instagram for tour information and musical updates!
I started off my mixing career mixing Tinie Tempah’s triple-platinum album Discovery. Prior to this I wrote and produced music and was signed to labels such as Virgin and Defected Records. Since mixing Tinie’s album I have been busy mixing records for many artist including BTS, Sigrid, Dua Lipa, Kodaline, The Disciples, Sigma and most recently Shane Cod and his platinum single, “Get Out Of My Head.”
I have been mixing in Studio One for six years now and it keeps getting better and better. PreSonus really listens to user feedback and implements suggested improvements frequently; I haven’t experienced this with any other DAW.
Studio One allows for a very fast workflow and because of it’s intuitive build and design I can easily focus on the mixing.
During lockdown in 2020, we decided that London was lacking in high-end state of the art podcast production facilities, so we built VOXPOD Studios. My podcast room can host up to eight people and also offers livestreaming and video recording of the shows on five video cameras placed around the room.
The PreSonus PD-70 dynamic mic has proven to be a game changer in VOXPOD studios. Its sound quality and tone set the bar above all the others on the market.
VOXPOD Studios has already started hosting shows for some big podcasts here in the UK, including the James Smith Podcast and Rugby’s leading podcast, “The Good The Bad and the Rugby.”
Lastly, another new positive feature of 2020 was the launch of PreSonus Sphere. It’s truly a brilliant way of connecting the rapidly growing number or Studio One users, world-wide. I love being able to try out suggested Presets and Studio One shared components from other engineers, writers and producers.
Brody Tullier (aka Zeno) is a 17 year-old composer based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who has been composing and arranging original music for the past four years.
Delving into advanced audio production more and more in recent years, his music has become the lively, energetic, and polished arrangements that you can hear in his recent Bandcamp releases here.
Brody’s preferred style of compositions lean heavily towards video-game inspired tracks and he aspires to one day seek a career in the video game music industry.
We wish him great success in his ongoing growth as a musician, composer and producer!
She has accumulated hundreds of millions of streams on songs she’s been a part of and earned several #1 singles. Alina’s work has been profiled in Forbes Magazine, Billboard Magazine, American Songwriter, 1883 Magazine, and more. She’s also well-known in the sound design space with LYRE’s Splice sample pack called “Perfect Pop.”
Here’s what you need to know, straight from Alina:
So I started recording myself singing pretty early on, I wanna say… 2005. I had a dynamic mic I plugged directly into the audio input of my prehistoric laptop and I had absolutely zero training in anything related to production. Then, a few years later I upgraded to an M-Box and a $100 MXL mic which is, funny enough, the setup that I got my first songwriting cut on. From then on, I kept progressing and learning, which I still do to this day, although I do have a pretty large bag of tricks at this point that I can dip into when I record different singers in different genres.
A few years ago I switched from Pro Tools to Ableton Live for instrumental production, but I was struggling with the vocal production side of things in there because at the time Ableton didn’t have playlisting, so recording and comping vocals was super time-consuming and clunky.
I decided to test-run Studio One and fell in love with it immediately! With the ease of setting my own key commands, I was able to choose the commands I was used to and not have to learn a whole new set. Sprinkle in the Melodyne and VocAlign via ARA integration, and I knew that I finally found my soulmate vocal production DAW!
I’ve really come to enjoy the PreSonus PX-1 mic, which I use for on-location recording quite a bit. With the right “in-the-box” vocal chain, I can make it sound bright and crispy and much pricier than it actually is!
It’s been a really hectic year for me! At the top of 2021, I set the intention of not holding back in any area of my life or career and for the rest of the year it translated into me pursuing several things all at once. I ended up organizing and hosting an online music convention, called the Modern Music Expo, which you can watch a replay of here:
I also released an EP called 2000’s Teen, which is my first body of work as an artist! And, seeing as my main job is writing and producing music for other artists with mg production team LYRE, I also did a ton of that, my favorite being “Mafia in the Morning” by ITZY, which came out this spring.
I’m already working on my next release: filming a music video and planning the drop. Writing and producing for various projects and making production tutorials for YouTube and TikTok. But mostly, I’m just trying to relax and enjoy fall, which is my favorite time of the year. It’s so important for artists to replenish their batteries, so that’s what I’m doing!
Tell us a bit more about “LA/NY”
“LA/NY” is a new song off my latest album, Outlier. It is a bit of a different direction for me, because I wanted to put forth a killer pop tune that also shined a light on my love of a fuzzy guitar solo.
Outlier is an album built on exquisite tension: like an endless push-and-pull between desire and resistance, determination and self-sabotage, the instinctive need to belong and the urge to strike out on your own. My songs were produced by Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age and Mini Mansions) and it’s an album full of guitar-drenched sounds that’s wildly unpredictable and immediately magnetic.
What amp/pedals did you use for “LA/NY”?
It was all done within Studio One, using the PreSonus Ampire plug-in. Specifically, I used the Wild Drive, Demolition Drive, Equalizer and Delay pedals running into the Blackface Twin model amp paired with a 2×12 American Cabinet.
(NOTE: if you’re a PreSonus Sphere Member, you can download her exact Ampire Preset here)
How did you first discover PreSonus?
I first discovered PreSonus while working at a music shop in Austin, TX. They sold audio recording equipment from all different brands, but I noticed that PreSonus had the most intuitive software (Studio One Artist) included, as well as the best price point.
What was your first PreSonus product?
It was the Studio 1810c audio interface, but I have since upgraded to a Studio 1824c. I’ve got the FaderPort to the right of my computer keyboard. I also now have their Revelator io24 that you see me using in the video above, of course!
How long have you used Studio One?
About three years now.
What are your Top three favorite features about Studio One?
My favorite aspect of Studio One is how easy it is to use. The drag & drop aspect helps me work really quickly and efficiently. I also really love using Impact for drum sounds, Presence for sample-based instrument sounds, the Mai Tai polyphonic synthesizer, and Ampire for pedal FX and amp modeling.
With masterpieces such as “Alive,” “Falling Deeper,” and “Vertigo,” people from all over the world began to feel a deep connection with Kisnou’s music, counting for more than 7 million total streams on Spotify alone in 2020. Featured on BBC, New Balance, TV commercials and countless Spotify playlists, his music is often defined as otherworldly: perfect for anyone who wants to experience a real sonic journey.
From ambient to electronic, from orchestral to indie, Kisnou is a never-ending adventure that explores worlds of atmospheric sounds and storytelling. Featuring bittersweet poetry, untold stories, cold atmospheres, field recordings, and broken song structures, each song is a deep cinematic experience you will not forget.
Kisnou began making music using FL Studio back in 2015, eventually working for years within the Ableton Live software environment before recently discovering Studio One and PreSonus Sphere’s creative workflow environment.
In his words:
So… at the beginning, I really had no knowledge, never played an instrument. I just jumped and went for it. I felt like I had some stories to tell.
I’m a self-taught producer. It’s pretty easy to learn so many things online. I also used to listen to a lot of music, every day—while drawing or doing homework, while coming home from school. It was a part of me and of my life, every day. Many people are surprised when I say that I’m self-taught, especially those who are musicians or producers as well. It makes me feel happy, but I have always been down to Earth and very respectful. For example, in 2020 an American writer sent me one of his books, as a thank you gift because he loved my music. The book is called Wounded Tiger, and the author is such a wonderful person. It is a book about World War II and the true stories of multiple people that lived through that moment of history. I can’t say much about it but the author is trying to find the right chance to make a movie out of it… and I might be a part of the soundtrack team. Fingers crossed!
I graduated in 2019 and got my Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music, but since 2017 I have been making music for a good fan base online that has grown quite fast. I hit my first million streams on a song, and from there it started to get even better! I had an income, collaboration opportunities, and a licensing partnership with Marmoset Music that got me some really good placements! One of my songs was featured in a New Balance commercial and a Tomorrowland video. Now music is my full time job. I currently have around 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
The first artist who actually truly inspired me to make music was Koda. He is a talented guy from Los Angeles who wrote some beautiful songs. His songs were just pure magic for me, they resonated like nothing else. I felt like the lyrics were talking to me. My favorite song from him is “Angel.” I loved the video as well, so much that I contacted the video artist a couple of years ago and we created the music video for my song “In The Origin, We Breathe.”
Other inspirations include: The Cinematic Orchestra, Bersarin Quartett, Sorrow (a great electronic/garage music producer), Pensees, and Owsey. I come from the Ableton world, so I am also very much into electronic music, future garage, and ambient. I am in love with atmospheres, long reverbs, evolving sounds, textures and so on.
Lately I have been listening to the YouTube channel Cryo Chamber. Some songs are a bit too dark sometimes, but you can find such incredible atmospheres. I find it very inspiring.
You know, I live in the countryside, so I am always spending time in nature. I feel like I am lucky to be living here, but at the same time you might feel isolated or lonely quite often. It depends on the mood I guess.
I used Ableton for 3-4 years, made great songs thanks to that DAW, but somehow… I wasn’t really feeling comfortable there. I was slowly getting sick of it, even if the creative tools, the stock plugins and workflow were amazing.
By chance I found out about Studio One and then I started to see what you could do with it and it slowly got my interest, until I finally decided to make the switch.
Currently, I just try to make Studio One adapt to my workflow and that was quite easy. The possibility to internally customize shortcuts and create macros is just wonderful in my opinion. I have many macros mapped around my keyboard, and have others on the buttons of my mouse. I have mapped CTRL + ALT as a hold command on one of the two main side buttons, then on the other one I have a Macro that activates the bend marker view, automatically swaps to the Bend Tool so that I can do my edits and then press it again to deactivate the bend view.
On the four lower side buttons I have mapped the editor, channel, inspector and browser for quick tasks. Though If I hold control and press those buttons, or ALT, I have other sets of commands to help me out.
One more functionality that I love is the Transform to Audio Track command, which prints a MIDI file into audio, but it’s better compared to what I’ve seen in other DAWs I’ve used in the past (FL Studio, Ableton, or Pro Tools) because I can print the MIDI to audio and preserve the instrument—so that If I ever want to revert back to the plug-in, I can do that at any given moment. I can choose to render the insert FX or not, which is also great.
In other DAWs, I either had to make a copy of the plug-in, print one to audio and leave the other there, just disabled. Sometimes I printed a MIDI file into audio feeling that it was perfect, then days later, I felt like I wanted to edit the plugin… and I couldn’t do it anymore because I had not copied the plug-in instance before printing.
Lastly, I’m pleased to be a featured artist on PreSonus Sphere!
The presets I created revolve around the use of white noise, layering and distortion: aspects that I have been exploring in the last months to create a sort of vintage but modern, textured sound. Warm, lush pads and pluck sounds, distorted reverbs and atmospheres were my North Star when creating these presets.
There’s 20 presets in all in this pack: FX chains, pad sounds for Presence, some Macros, Mai Tai patches, and a custom reverb of mine… enjoy!
Hassan has produced records for some major artists in the Middle East, and was also one of the judges on the Arab Idol show (the equivalent to American Idol in the Middle East) for four seasons, which aired on MBC. Hassan started releasing his own records featuring other artists in the region, starting with this track, back in the days when he was predominantly still working in Logic and Ableton Live:
Here’s a more in-depth account of his history and evolution with DAWs and how he’s settled upon Studio One and PreSonus Sphere, in his own words:
I started producing a long time ago, using Logic when it was owned by E-magic (the good old days!) I loved Logic, but I felt limited until I got introduced to Ableton Live. I spent a bit of time on my own experimenting with it, but it was too daunting to use for ongoing projects until I took a quick crash course in London on Ableton Live, and then I switched when I felt comfortable using it. I didn’t switch 100 percent, though, because there were many things that were better done in Logic… but Ableton was a game changer, producing music in a completely different mindset… minimalism yet experimental!
The idea of racks, drum kits, and so on was endless, and it felt like a modular system that I could change according to my needs… BUT Ableton was also limiting in many ways: it was very unstable, and lacked many features—as if they were stubborn to actually fix or introduce features. So I started looking somewhere else after years of using Ableton and experimenting with the folks at Bitwig. (I even have a 1.0 badge, I think I had the beta before they released the first version!)
Bitwig were actually adding all the things to Ableton Live that the community wanted but, again they took their own route… which isn’t what I needed until finally I got introduced to Studio One.
I first tried Studio One 3 and was intrigued, but I couldn’t rely on it 100 percent until version 4 was out, which introduced Impact XT and Sample One XT. That changed everything for me, having its ease-of-use in my production environment—yet I also get the all-in-one kind of vibe, which I have never found in any DAW available and trust me… I have looked in every corner!!!
Studio One was the first DAW that lets me produce my whole record from writing ideas to final mixes in one place. That never happened before: it was always either Logic and Pro Tools or Ableton and Logic etc. Now it’s ONLY Studio One, and after all these years that’s really something special to note, in my opinion!
The workflow in Studio One is unbeatable: the Macros are pure magic, the ability to have Key Commands to assign uncommon commands makes Studio One very powerful. Production is a breeze, yet I have all these powerful tools: I can integrate Melodyne and ReVoice Pro via ARA, and I can use Layers while recording and Patterns for beatmaking.
Studio One is the most stable DAW I have ever used, it handles anything I throw at it. I have a big appetite when its comes to production, from producing pop records to scoring music to picture/video… and Studio One 5 is keeping up at my speed! Last but not least, the folks at PreSonus are amazing at consistently striving to achieve the best DAW out there; they are very active online, enthusiastic and most importantly… they listen to the community.
And that to me is priceless.
And one other thing—my newest projects have started to incorporatethe new Show Page in Studio One Version 5 for performing live perfectly in sync with my session tracks! Exciting!
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Want to capture the sound of other industry professionals? How about collaborate with a Grammy nominated artist?
With Exchange, you’re able to use presets and sounds from select PreSonus Artists in your own projects. Under the “Browse” section, you’ll also find thousands of downloadable assets from other Sphere Members, and the ability to upload your own unique sounds.
In this last episode, Jacob takes a look at the PreSonus Sphere Exchange tab and demonstrates how to import an Artist’s sound into your Studio One song session.
When you join PreSonus Sphere your membership comes with Studio One Professional, Notion plus the native software instruments, effects and plug-ins that PreSonus offers.
Studio One Professional is a powerful and intuitive DAW that works for you – made only more powerful by the full catalog of plugins – while Notion is an easy way to create full scores, sheet music for individual instruments, or guitar tabs and chord charts. Sphere members can also enjoy ongoing software upgrades when new versions are released.
In this Sphere episode, Jacob takes us through a demo of the “Products” tab, and all that is included.