UK electronic collective, Urban Myth Club—comprised of electronica artist Dezz and Hollywood film composer Stephen Barton—has released its first full-length recording on TRL Music in the spring of 2006. North American radio airplay followed, as well as debut appearances at Glastonbury and the Big Chill festivals.
Their debut single gate-crashed into Apple’s iTunes Top 30 on word-of-mouth. The group used Propellerhead’s Reason extensively on the project as it lent itself perfectly to the group’s collaborative writing process—thanks in part to its extensive onboard sound library and usability.
“Not many people know this, but Reason is actually integral to the whole existence of Urban Myth Club,” says Dezz. “Whereas most bands start writing material in the studio together, the first few tracks from our album ‘Helium’ were written entirely online using Reason as the core tool for collaboration – writing musical concepts and most importantly sharing files over the Internet easily. During the two years making the recording, we did a lot of time writing together in the studio, but we had the best of both worlds, being able to also work remotely. Reason enables us to completely indulge creatively by ourselves and not have to spend time debating whether something works or not.”
Reason helped the band find a completely new way of working and they found it extremely liberating and inspiring. “Reason plays an important part in most of our compositions. To give you an idea, we must have written over 250 tracks from concepts to full-blown, eight-minute epics for our album Helium, and most started life in Reason. Whittling them down to just 13 tracks for the final album cut was the hardest thing!”
“The first track we wrote and still is a favorite was “Bird’s Eye View”. It started with me writing the melodic hook in Reason. I then e-mailed the .rns file to Ian who got totally inspired and came up with this fantastic new section. Reason’s great for exchanging or emailing .rns files because they are not huge beasties. When I got the track back the next day I thought, ‘Amazing! I would never have taken it in that direction, but it works!’ I then continued to build on the track and we would fire the Reason file back and forth whenever we felt ready to pass it on. As a result, the track developed in a very different way then had we have written it in together in the same studio.
Dezz found that it was easier to switch between working between multiple songs using Reason. “When we had loads of outboard it got to a point where it would take half the morning to wire everything up the way we had it last time and load up all the samplers with the relevant stuff. It was a nightmare if you’d wired something in line through an effect because you’d have to keep exhaustive notes on exactly how everything was configured. Now you just open a song… fantastic!”
He raves about Reason’s extensive library and flexibility. “The Rex player is unique! Nothing on the market touches it. The string library is also very lush. The ability to ReWire with other software is a major feature for us. We have quite a lot of refills but keep coming back to the factory-supplied refills because they are so good. We really like the Strings Refill as it’s very accessible software when you first start with it, but there’s also unlimited depth to it. We keep discovering new things the deeper we get. It’s also the only music software on the market we know of that lets you wire a feedback loop for creating special effects.”
Reason’s ease-of-use impressed Dezz as well. “Reason is really great for getting concepts down really quickly when inspiration hits. There is nothing worse than firing up software and messing around with loads of settings before you can get going. It’s also useful for exporting a track and taking it outside the studio. We always find it is good to listen to tracks away from the studio during all stages of its development to get a different perspective on it.”
But Urban Myth’s use of Reason goes beyond merely studio writing and tracking, they’re also using it live. “It’s so dependable and quick to load. Doing our music live, as any electronic artists will know, is not a simple task. It’s good to have something solid and reliable as part of our live kit. We’ve play huge festivals like Glastonbury, The Big Chill, and The Glade, so we need something we can rely on.”
Dezz fully expects to see more collaborations similar to Urban Myth Club, with people around the world hooking up together online, writing tracks and releasing them as full-blown commercial projects.
Note: This article has been updated to correct quote attributions.