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Ian Kirkpatrick

There are many reasons why Cubase is this producer’s DAW of choice.

LA-based Ian Kirkpatrick writes and produces songs for some of the biggest names in the pop world, including Dua Lipa, Jason Derulo, Selena Gomez, David Guetta, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. In this video, shot in his home studio, he talks about how important Steinberg Cubase is to his creative process and describes some of his distinctive production techniques.

Looking back on his introduction to Cubase more than a decade ago, Ian says, “I stumbled around a lot of DAWs for awhile, looking for one [that allowed me to] do the things that I was hearing and imagining. I ended up with Cubase because it was the only DAW where I could move as fast as I was thinking.”

In particular, he relies heavily on Cubase’s MediaBay feature to help speed his workflow, as it enables him to quickly and easily search through the more than 300 gigabytes of samples and loops he has collected through the years. “I don’t know how anyone works without something like MediaBay!” he says emphatically. “It’s essential for me as a starting point.”

Kirkpatrick’s Mac-based software rig is supplemented by a Steinberg AXR4 interface and a MIDI keyboard, and not much else. “All of my favorite production tricks are things I do in Cubase,” he explains, which accounts for his minimalist setup, with little in the way of outboard gear.

Ian is an especially big fan of Cubase’s editing features, as evidenced by the way his face lights up when he talks about his work on Jason Derulo’s hit “Want To Want Me.” “If you look at the session file, the edits are all lined up perfectly,” he enthuses. “There are a lot of acoustic guitar stabs in there, and I would use the real-time Time Stretch feature to extend the notes to the point where I would get these artifacts — it was as if Cubase was trying to make sense out of me stretching the notes so much. The sustain of the guitar notes would then change, too, and I would blend that in with regular guitars and synths. That’s what made those stabs sound unique, like one unit.”

Cubase played an equally big role in Kirkpatrick’s production of “New Rules” by Dua Lipa. “Going into the drop of the chorus for that song, there’s a chop that’s made up of a loop that I don’t think I would have been able to do without Cubase” — specifically the way the Slip function allowed him to look inside the loop and transpose tiny parts of it in real time, with rapid changes in pitch that made for a compelling sonic tapestry.

“If you can’t work as fast as your ideas come to you, you’re really selling yourself short,” he says. “If you can’t properly execute your ideas as fast as you’re coming up with them, you’re not using the right DAW.” Clearly, Cubase is the right DAW for Ian.

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