From his live performances to Stormzy to creating industry leading soulful sample packs, Jonni Scott is incredibly well versed in all areas of music production. We recently sat down with him to explore his favourite pieces of gear, how to get the most vibe out of a session and and why the combination of live instruments with production always wins.
Tell us a little about yourself! Projects, styles etc.
My names Jonni Scott and I’ve been doing music since I was 11. My mum is the one to thank for me being in Music as she sat me with the musicians every week at Church for years. Before Covid I spent most of my time on the road gigging. As a session musician I play in many different bands. In 2018 I played bass on the main stage for Stormzy @ Wireless festival. In 2019 I played with MIST, Mahalia and Fredo @ BBC 1xtra Live Lounge. I’ve also played on YouTube Vevo for Ray Blk’s “Action & In My Bed” video. My last live gig was for Liam Bailey in Nottingham.
Lately I’ve been working with my friend Dominic Kotlarzewski on a collection of soulful sample packs including Trap Tones which features our favourite melodic trap samples . It’s great to bounce off other musicians especially those as talented as Dominic. In my opinion he’s a genius at harmony and chordal structure. Together we managed to develop something very musical.
You play a number of instruments on your records and in all of your soulful sample packs to a high level, what was your first instrument? Was there any particular artists that you aspired to sound like?
Bass is my main instrument and I spent many years trying to sound and play like Sharay Reed and Pino Paladino. I started music production when I was maybe, 13 and never looked back. My main inspiration in production is the sonic elements and how they can compliment each other. I really enjoy contrasting textures, creating something interesting and then blending textures with good musicianship.
Artists wise when I’m putting a sample pack together, it’s always a blend. It maybe Vulfpeck vs PJ Morton or Jacob Collier vs Ty Dolla Sign.
What’s your process like both ‘in the box’ and when integrating hardware (DAW of choice, processes, mixing live sounds with synths etc)?
My DAW of choice is Logic Pro. I just know it too well. When recording any instruments, including synths I run them all through either a TLA Ivory 2 for the preamp or my 610. Even my UAD Apollo has some good preamp emulations. I like to drive the sound with the preamp. Some of my synths sound too thin with out it.
Once I’ve recorded the instruments, I get the rough idea down and then start to experiment. I may hook my synths up to my pedal board and just play with different settings or build a patch on the synth entirely. Most of the time I don’t know the sound I’m looking for so I’ll flick through presets I’ve made and then tweak to fit or listen to music in a completely different style I’m after for inspiration hoping to create some contrast.
My most recent technique is resampling. I’ll play an idea in for maybe 10 minutes and then take a break. Come back, re-pitch it, slice it, add more effects and then repeat that cycle. Once I have a texture I may play a natural instrument over it.
Often these ideas don’t work well and I’d take some bits that worked well and use them in another idea.
Looking to add some live bass into your tracks?! Check out top bass mixing tips.
Have you established any workflow hacks or tricks for ensuring a smooth workflow thus not losing a special moment?
I record the jam and mistakes because sometimes there’s something I can use or start an idea from. This next thing I’m going to say is gold dust.
Loop record, Loop record & Loop record. This feature is underused in my opinion. Anytime I’m recording I do various takes and pick the best parts. Then bounce the comp I like with the best feel. Sometimes it takes me a few loops before I forget what I think I should hear and play by feel.
Why would you chose a piece of hardware over a plugin emulation? Are these the key to your soulful sample packs?
I like the tactile nature of hardware. I like the ability to grab what I want to change without having to look at a screen. Hardware also isn’t limited to my computer CPU. To start any idea I generally gravitate towards an instrument first and use the computer to keep time. Instruments don’t need regular updates, charging or loading. They also posses overtones that are imperfect, irregular or harbour unwanted noise which add to the character of the sound. Software emulations are great though and I will use them if I don’t have the hardware.
Could you tell us about some of your favourite plugins/ what they do?
Passive EQ from Native Instruments. I’ve been looking more into MS eq techniques for stereo imaging. I like to keep mixes clean as possible and sometimes panning just doesn’t work.
C4 from Waves. It’s a multi band compressor but I use it like an eq. I tend to have a lot of mid range in my music especially if it’s soul or RnB. I use C4 a lot to help control my mid range when instruments build up.
Modulation Delay from Logic Pro. I use to create movement, almost like a chorus but I have more control over the LFO rate. As it’s a delay I can also control the left and right delay time which acts as a stereo spread tool.
What are you listening to these days?
Everything. I can never stick to one genre, production is always evolving and to stay relevant I like to listen to new music.
Do you use sample packs in your own music? What role do they play if so?
Definitely, always and forever. I use them as either idea starters or textures. I love to flip samples, make them almost unrecognisable or embellish them other instruments.