Malay (Frank Ocean, Lorde) on 4 ways to level up your productions

Malay is a GRAMMY-winning producer who has worked closely alongside the likes of Frank Ocean, John Legend, and Lorde.

In the video above, Malay brings his production and engineering expertise to the Splice YouTube channel, discussing his four tips for leveling up your music. See below for summaries and timestamps, and follow along above for more.

1. Make your simple sounds more interesting

Caught up with the elements that are at the forefront of a mix like vocals or synth leads, it can be easy for us to gloss over the sound design for the smaller sounds in our productions. However, Malay encourages us to make sure we sweat the details. Demonstrating what this looks like in action, he opens up a Pro Tools session and walks through how he crafted a unique sound for a single crash cymbal.

Go to 0:00 in the video to see this tip in action.

2. Take risks and have fun

It’s okay to lean into whatever’s comfortable and comes naturally for you, but Malay also encourages producers to balance that with taking creative risks. “At the end of the day, this is your art,” he says. “So you should just go for it.”

Go to 0:48 in the video to watch Malay discuss this tip.

3. Have a mic close by and ready

When you’re working with others in the studio, you never know when or how creative inspiration is going to strike. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be prepared to capture things as quickly as possible. “I always keep an SM7 or a handheld mic handy in the control room,” Malay tells us. “Just because if an artist comes up with an idea on the spot, sometimes they’ve forgotten it by the time they go from the room to the booth.”

Go to 1:13 in the video to watch Malay discuss this tip.

4. Reverse your samples

Last but not least, Malay emphasizes the power that reversing sounds can have on creating timbral interest. In the video, he dives back into Pro Tools and walks us through how he crafted a unique texture by reversing and layering single guitar notes. “The reverse almost doesn’t even sound like a guitar anymore, which is pretty cool,” he notes as he wraps up.

Go to 1:54 in the video to see this tip in action.

Learn more with Malay

We hope these tips inspired you to try something new the next time you’re at the studio or in your DAW. If you’re interested in diving even deeper with Malay on these concepts and much more, be sure to check out his new Splice Skills lessons below.

Dive even deeper with Malay on Splice Skills:

May 28, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.