Since 2015, Dutch producer & DJ Brooks has been a steady force in EDM. His energetic style and festival appeal have made him a mainstay across the globe. Best known for his collaborations with Martin Garrix (“Byte”, “Like I Do”) and David Guetta (“Better When You’re Gone”, “Like I Do”), as well as his remixing ability, Brooks has established himself as a heavy hitter in dance music. He’s been using FL Studio from the beginning, and we took the opportunity recently to catch up with him and learn more about his background. Read on!
Brooks – Someday (feat. Isabèl Usher)
Tell us about yourself and how you got into music.
Hey! I’m Thijs Westbroek; my artist name is Brooks. Basically, it started out at a family birthday. My cousin had a DJ set in the basement, and that’s where we always used to go to hang out during family gatherings and stuff. We kept improving ourselves and to me that led to a point where I got curious about how they make the music, if that makes any sense. I never even thought about making music — I listened to it and kind of just accepted that it was there. Playing more music and messing around with that DJ set is basically how it started. I was 14 or 15 and started to learn stuff with the demo version of FL Studio which led to a point where I realized this was something I really wanted to do. So I started saving money to get the original FL Studio and just watched YouTube tutorials to try some stuff. I also learned from the demo projects that were in FL Studio already. Eventually, I got accepted into a sound design school that was very focused on music, but also on sound design itself, for example for commercials, radio shows, and even video games. I kept improving my skills, and in my free time I made more and more music that eventually got noticed by Showtek’s management. They were the first to notice, and I signed there pretty quickly. I’m still with the same management, so I guess I could say they’re doing a great job.
How did you start using FL Studio & what does it mean to your productions?
To me it means a lot – my first couple of laptops weren’t the best ones and with FL Studio it was very easy to get that idea that’s in your head into the DAW. For me, it’s mainly the workflow that’s amazing. I’m so used to it, and I basically taught myself how to work in it. It’s kinda funny to see that all the artists that I’ve worked with have their own way of working. I’m honest when I say I’ve tried other DAWs, but FL Studio works best for me. I’m so used to it, the workflow is so quick, and there are so many great aspects of it that make sure you won’t lose your workflow & ideas in your head. Even on flights or on a train or somewhere else on the road, it’s just so easy to work with – I plug in my headphones, and I know exactly what to do and where to go to get the ideas in my head into FL Studio as quickly as possible.
Tell us about your work and some of the artists you have worked with.
How I work depends on what the intention of the track is. The audio sampling and how easy it is to work with audio files in FL Studio is super helpful when I’m making a remix for example, and is one of the main reasons I stick with FL Studio. FL is great for audio stretching — it’s super easy to mess around with a vocal which is perfect for remixes because you want to give that your personal twist and that’s exactly what you can do within 5 minutes in FL Studio. But at the same time when I’m on the road and I have an idea that can be just a melody or kick pattern or a weird 808 thing that popped up in my head – I can just drag it in and go from there. So I’d say for remixes and for original tracks that I have deadlines for when I’m at home, it’s very organized, and a lot of thought goes into it trying to figure out what I’m gonna do. But at the same time, I have the messiest projects available for when I’m on the road that eventually have turned into some of my best tracks haha. So it’s completely different, and to me, FL Studio works perfectly in both styles and everything in between.
David Guetta, Martin Garrix & Brooks – Like I Do
I’ve worked a lot with Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Showtek, Bassjackers — a lot of big names I actually really look up to. Even listening to the tracks I made with them now feels kinda funny. It’s also funny that Martin and I made a lot of songs together in FL Studio, sending projects over back and forth, and meeting at his house to finish them, which was great.
Tell us about your production environment and the gear you use.
For sound design, I mostly use Spire and Serum, but on the mixer I mostly use the stock FL Studio plugins. It’s pretty funny actually — I’ve been getting a lot of messages about how I made the bassline in my track “Someday”, how many plugins did I use and what filter is on it and how many this and that…In reality, it’s just one 3x Oscillator, which is like the simplest stock plugin of FL Studio. I just distorted the crap out of the sub, and that’s basically it. And there’s some Sytrus, which is also FL Studio, so it’s just two stock FL plugins and some distortion which is also FL Studio, so the entire bassline is made with simple FL Studio stuff, and that’s kinda funny. And I think that’s it. Of course I also use audio samples and kicks, you can get them everywhere like Splice or buying samples. I get a lot of Black Octopus and Leviathan samples, like the kicks and snares, risers, or whatever. And the synths and sounds I make with Spire and Serum, and then all the processing mostly with FL Studio stuff. Nothing that crazy actually.
I like working at the studio the most at this point. At the beginning of your career, all you do is make music, and shows are so rare. When they start to happen more and more and more, you get so excited for the shows that you want to work on stuff on the road to get them ready and play new IDs. Now it’s so hard to find the time to spend the weekend at the studio that it just feels so good to have that time again without having to set an alarm for 3 hours because you have to catch a flight to the next show. So for now I’d say the studio, but for the first 80% it was on the road, definitely.
Brooks in the Studio
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I just want to thank FL Studio for upgrading me! I was doing a show in Finland, and when I got back to my hotel and checked my email I saw you guys reached out to me with a whole bunch of upgrades and plugins that I didn’t even know FL Studio had. To be completely honest, I didn’t know I didn’t have the top version, so I really appreciate you guys for reaching out. Super proud to be part of the team – something I always hoped to be one day. So yeah, once again; appreciate you guys and hope we can do some cool stuff in the future!
Martin Garrix & Brooks – Byte