Trent Reznor:
Alchemist of Melody

By Stephanie Jorgl

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Trent Reznor From the time his major hit “Head Like a Hole” broke through in 1989, through his late 1999 release, The Fragile (which was selected as Album of the Year by Spin), Trent Reznor has significantly changed the sound of rock music.

Strongly inspired by songwriters like David Bowie, Prince (the artist formerly known as “The Artist”) and Brian Eno, Reznor developed a unique sound and style that made him one of the most influential songwriters of the past decade.

Simply Irreplaceable
Reznor even managed to return some inspiration to one of his idols, Bowie, while his immense success on the radio and with record sales sparked a new generation of alternative rock bands to add digital samples, sound design and heartfelt lyrics alongside their crunchy guitar tracks.

He’s additionally touched the worlds of film and video games by doing soundtracks for Oliver Stone and David Lynch, and by scoring the music for the original Quake.

Reznor now spends his days either touring the world with his band, Nine Inch Nails, or back at his New Orleans compound composing new musical arrangements from an unlimited palette of sounds, especially created for him by a dedicated team of audio engineers.

But how did he get there?

Harvested at an Early Age
At the age of 5, Reznor was forced into piano lessons, and got good pretty quickly. Music came naturally to him and at one point he considered dropping out of school to become a concert pianist. But when he hit high school, his musical interests tuned into rock & roll.

“I always knew what I wanted to do, but growing up in Pennsylvania in a corn field, I just didn’t have any idea how to go about pursuing it,” says Reznor.

But he managed to reap a dream bigger than most farm town kids would ever know — his own team of sound engineers, a top-notch sound studio in New Orleans and a life fully dedicated to creating his art.

Next page: Dedication and vindication take “Pretty Hate Machine” to the top

Trent Reznor

1. Alchemist of Melody
2. Dedication and Vindication
3. From MIDI to HD
4. Technology on Tour

His First Synth
Reznor got his first synthesizer in high school. “I knew it was the right time for me, because all of the things I was interested in — computers and music — were coming together,” reminisces Reznor. “When I realized I could start making music on computers, that’s when I found a direction to my life.”

Sometimes Less is More
“I made Pretty Hate Machine using a Mac Plus, an Emax keyboard and a Mini Moog,” says Reznor. “That set up was cool because it was so limiting that it forced you to get the most out of what you had to work with. It was just basic MIDI, with no digital audio. But I knew the three pieces of gear I had inside and out,” he adds. Continued on next page

Useful Links

More NIN Interviews
Recording “With Teeth”
Sound Design for NIN
Producer Alan Moulder
Remixer Chris Vrenna

Nine Inch Nails
Pretty Hate Machine
The Downward Spiral
The Fragile
With Teeth
Year Zero
Ghosts I—IV
The Slip

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Native Instruments

Audio Interfaces
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