Keith Hillebrandt:
Father of the Drone

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The Feeler of Sound  in his studio.
Audio Initiation
After finishing school, Hillebrandt figured that if he was going to hold down a job, then he might as well hold down a job that was related to the process of making music. He first got a job working for a tape recorder manufacturer, then moved over to work for a company called Audio Images that represented WaveFrame — a competitor to the Synclavier and Fairlight systems.

“WaveFrame put out an amazing machine for its time. It was a $120,000 computer with a built-in digital mixer with digital EQ you could automate, and a 32MB, 16-bit sampler in it,” he explains. “There was a sequencer that was built into the machine — a program called Texture that was written by Roger Powell.

“That was the first time that I’d heard such a tight-feeling sequencer, because everything was internal and it wasn’t going out to MIDI,” says Hillebrandt. “And it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to get that feel again out of a sequencer. Finally, with all the soft synths that are out, you can again cut out the delays of interfaces and cables and things like that.”

“You’d come up with sounds, and they would always want something even stranger,” says Hillebrandt. “This kept pushing me.”

On to StudioVision
When he got the opportunity to work for Opcode as lead tester for StudioVision, he jumped on it. Because Opcode paid him to use StudioVision all day, he could write music while testing the software. “I got to take home a lot of gear as well,” he says. “That’s where I got into the Kurzweil K2000 and VAST Synthesis, which is one of my faves.”

While he was working at Opcode, the company OSC spawned the original front-end for Pro Tools — ProDeck — and put out a sound library. “When I heard the first ‘Poke In The Ear’ CD, I was blown away, so I got in contact with them. I then made a bunch of sounds for them that eventually got onto the second and third ‘Poke In The Ear’ CDs,” explains Hillebrandt. “It was a great experience because nothing was too strange for the guys at OSC.

Diffusion Of Useful Noise
“You’d come up with sounds, and they would always want something even stranger. This kept pushing me,” he says. “Then Ron MacLeod suggested that I do my own CD-ROM, — ‘Diffusion of Useful Noise,’ which came out in 1996. Doing the CD was a lot of fun, because they gave me free reign, but they helped me in staying focused and keeping organized in assembling the library.”

But right when the library was scheduled to come out, Macromedia bought OSC. “That was the end of the OSC sound library world. So, there were about eight or nine months where Ron MacLeod, who had headed up OSC, wasn’t sure what was going to happen with my sound library,” he says.

Next page: Maker of Useful Noise

Keith Hillebrandt

1. Blessed with the Gift of Sonic Intuition
2. Father of the Drone
3. Maker of Useful Noise

Virtual Samplers & Other Effects

“I do a lot of sound design in Logic Audio, for the more rhythmic and loop-based stuff. Or if I need really precision automation. In the latest version of Logic, the automation is unbelievable! I use the new EXS sampler which has a sidechain — so I am side-chaining all my samples now. I love the EXS.

“And just having the EXS right there in your sequencer gives you one less thing to think about. It’s easier than even turning to your sampler. It doesn’t get in the way of the creative process. And the fact that the EXS24 sampler is so dialed into the Logic sequencer, the fact that you can sync everything up — all your LFOs and things like that — it doesn’t compare.

“What I’ve really started getting into recently is Native Instruments KONTAKT — that definitely takes it to a whole new level. Between the EXS and KONTAKT, I pretty much have all the sampling power I think I’m going to need.”

Useful Links

Useful Noise
Usefulnoise V.2
Jerome Dillon

DAW Software
Emagic Logic Audio

Virtual Effects & Instruments Software
Cycling ‘74 Max/MSP
Cycling ‘74 Pluggo
Emagic EXS-24
Native Instruments Absynth, Battery and Reaktor

Synths and Other Effects Processors
Nord Rack 2
Nord Modular
Electro Harmonix
Roland Jupiter 6
Roland Super Jupiter

Audio Hardware
MOTU 2408

Tannoy Reveal Monitors

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