Keith Hillebrandt:
Maker of Useful Noise

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Useful Noise, V.2 Logic and Peak for Sound Design
Today, when Hillebrandt designs his crazy, droney, tweaky and atmospheric mood-touching sounds and soundscapes, he relies on a Power Mac running Logic and Peak. “Peak is my main program. It is always the front end and the back end of my sounds.

“I always need a precision sample editor. A while back, when Alchemy wasn’t doing it for me anymore as a sample editor, I found that Peak did everything I needed it to do,” he says. “Plus, it’s also a program that continues to expand.

“Peak also has given me some weird sound design processes,” says a grinning Hillebrandt. “I have this process called ‘Sound Design Roulette.’ I will go to the batch processor in Peak, and I’ll set up three or four things for Peak to batch process, I’ll have it convolve and then I’ll add gain by 10db, even if it sounds normalized. Then, I’ll just grab a folder of sounds — drums, glass breaking or something — drag it on there, then open each sound. Every once in a while, I’ll have a winner!”

Why a Sound CD?
“When I left New Orleans, I wanted to do something that was uniquely me. And I don’t think that there’s anything more uniquely me than to make a CD of my noises,” explains Hillebrandt. “It’s a collection of all the kind of noises I like, and the kind of noises I like making have got real deep, dark drones and wide atmospheres, nasty drums, digital-sounding synth sounds.

The “Useful Noise” CD, distributed through Hillebrandt’s website, includes a collection of more than 1,000 sounds that Hillebrandt designed, plus a special access code that allows the person purchasing the CD to get access to Hillebrandt’s sound portal where he puts up new sounds weekly.

New Projects
Now that Hillebrandt completed and launched his “Useful Noise V2” CD, he is onto a few other projects. He just completed work on another sample collection — a 24-bit construction loop library called “Arhythmia” with insane rhythms created by former NIN drummer Jerome Dillon, blended with Hillebrandt’s unique sense of sonic processing.

“I have this process called ‘Sound Design Roulette,’ explains Hillebrandt. “I’ll batch process drums, glass breaking or something, then open each sound.”

Hillebrandt also plans to help out on Dillon’s coming solo album, which will chronicle the evolution of a certain recurring dream he’s had for years. Plus, Hillebrandt will soon jetset out to Brazil to remix a couple of artists there, including Brasil Nove.

Hillebrandt is also considering lending his sound design expertise in designing sounds for his favorite software companies. He’s also up for designing sounds for film companies, or other bulk sound design projects. “If someone hears my library and says, ‘Oh we like this kind of sound.’ I’d like to say, ‘Well, okay, here are 1,500.’”

“Music will always be my first love, though, so I couldn’t get too far away from that,” he insists. “If I were working on sounds for movies all day, I’d still go home and do music on my own at night.”

Previous Page: Father of the Drone

Keith Hillebrandt

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


The only external sampler Hillebrandt owns now is the Kurzweil K2600. “But I use that more for the processing in the K2600 than for it being a sampler.

“I created a lot of the drums on my analog synths, on my Arps, and some of the stuff came out of the Virus. A lot of the processing also went through my Roland SP-808 — which is something that Trent turned me onto — and my various pedals,” he says.

“I also love Electro Harmonix pedals, so I’ll chain a bunch of those together and just start tweaking little knobs like it’s a little modular synth or processor itself. So, I use a lot of those, particularly for drum sounds that are in the library,” he adds.

Hillebrandt uses a MOTU PCI-324 with a 2408 audio converter. His studio is synth-stocked with Kurzweils, a Nord Rack 2, a Nord Modular, an ARP Odyssey, an ARP 2600, a Virus, a Roland Jupiter 6 and a Roland Super Jupiter. He uses Tannoy Reveal monitors for listening to his mixes in his home studio.

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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