In an age when Logic, Ableton, and Pro Tools (to name only a handful of digital production tools) can turn any computer into a home studio and make many aspiring beat makers feel deserving of the title “producer,” restraint can be hard to come by. Tools that offer a limitless buffet of options, sound, and means of creating mean that the kinds of creative restrictions that breed invention are in shorter supply than they were in the age of four track recorders and SP1200’s 10 second sampling time.
New York singer/producer Toulouse understands the power of limitations for inspiring vibrant creation.
“I don’t only use stock sounds, but I often start out with them,” Toulouse says of his process. “I guess you could say I have always known because I have always had the principle that governs my use of stock sound. Which is roughly ‘Use everything to the best of its abilities.’ Being resourceful is my superpower, as un-sexy as that word is, and Logic is my cape and mask.”
His debut single “Hurtin'” and equally impressive follow-up “So I Know You Care” sound like the products of big bands and expensive studios, not the invention of Logic tinkerer fine-tuning digital frequencies to create something warm, organic, and deeply soulful.
“Its more more fun for me at this stage to have a limited palette and extract as much juice from it, finding nuances and new ways to savor the same palette than having a sprawling feast of sounds and toys that will become more about what I have instead of how I use what I have,” he continues. “When I do acquire more sounds, I will adapt and continue to be resourceful. Another un-sexy word: problem-solving. Thats the secret key to creativity; to at least mine. And there will be no problems for me to solve if I use sounds that have already been so polished and ready-to-eat.”
Toulouse speaks of his musical process like an inventor toying endlessly with a new design.
“When I dare to part with my workstation exhausted and feeling like I just synthesized a new compound in my lab, I begin the almost obsessive act of listening back to the demo on my phone, all the while re-composing and re-writing in my head as I perform more mundane tasks like sleeping, eating, anything,” he says. “This goes on for up to a few days until I go back to the workstation, taking the meat out of the marinade and grilling it to (imperfect) perfection.”
That intense efforts comes across in every intricate, purposefully place second of “So I Know You Care,” which feels rooted in the same obsession with texture at the heart of “Hurtin,'” but exhibits a bit more structural focus.
“I don’t hear a finished product in my head, instead I know the tension, texture and tone that I want to feel when I start writing a song,” Toulouse says of his songwriting. “We will either hit or wall or arrive somewhere interesting enough to camp out long-term. But you never really finish a song, do you?”