David Morris (Boy 8-Bit, Roy Apron, Shako)
UK based producer David Morris started producing music with an Amiga computer using 8-Bit samples, and so, the alias Boy 8-Bit. These days he’s working under the names Roy Apron, Shako. We caught up with him to learn more about how FL Studio fits into his workflow…
Tell us about how you got into music ?
My name is David Morris and I live in London, though I am originally from Cornwall in the South West of the UK. I’m probably most known for my work as Boy 8-Bit where I have released on Labels such as Mad Decent, K7, Turbo, Blood Music, Trouble and Bass and more. I am lucky enough to have received essential new tune from Pete Tong’s Radio One Essential Selection, for my track ‘Baltic Pine’ and I have also recorded several mixes for the station, including an Essential Mix, which was an incredible opportunity. I have around 40 or so official remixes as Boy 8-Bit (I’ve lost count) from La Roux and Florence and the Machine to Eric Prydz and Armand Van Helden.
My introduction to music was via my parents music collection. The first act I really remember enjoying was Queen, who my mum would regularly listen to on car journeys. This was my first introduction to rock music and from there I got more into Hard Rock and Metal, bands like Guns and Roses, Metallica, Megadeth and the like. When I was 11 my parents bought me my first guitar – a cheap Marlin Sidewinder with a awe inspiring “floating tremelo”. From there I started having lessons and learned some music theory and got into more instrumental guitar acts like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. I also played in a few bands with school friends.
My first steps into electronic music came when I discovered a copy of The Prodigy’s Experience album on the flip side of a tape copy of Slayer’s ‘Divine Intervention’ album. I ended up listening to the Prodigy side more (wracked with guilt as my metal friends didn’t approve) and I became really curious as to how this kind of music was made. At that time I had an Amiga computer with a copy of Octamed 4, which has some demo songs included, so I loaded it up and started learning to re-sequence the included samples into something new. That was the start of it, from there it lead on to trying my hand at making electronic music, mainly Jungle and Big Beat, which I got into in a big way. My parents bought me a £30 parallel port ‘Megalosound’ sampler for my birthday and after that there were no more boundaries (4 Channels of 8-Bit samples aside)
We hear you aren’t working as Boy 8-Bit any more?
Yes, after ten years of releasing music under that name I decided to call it a day. I want to move on and try different things and I don’t think they will all fit under the Boy 8-Bit banner. I have done a lot as Boy 8-Bit and I’m really happy with What I have achieved. But its over for now.
So whats next?
I am doing production work for other people, I have recently completed a four track EP for an artist called Barbarossa who is signed to a label called Memphis Industries. Its a nice mix of organic and electronic elements. Production for other people is something I really want to do more of, ultimately. I’m also continuing to put music out under my Roy Apron and Shako aliases. One more UK Bass influenced, the latter more uptempo acid techno. I’m working on a whole bunch of stuff. The ultimate aim is to get a label up and running to use it as an umbrella for all these projects. Thats something I am in discussions about now.
What are your favourite productions you have made as Boy 8-Bit?
I’m really happy with the Florence and the Machine and La Roux remixes. They were great to work with and had some incredible parts to make use of. As for original tracks,’Baltic Pine’ and ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’ from the Baltic Pine EP, the latter was one of a bunch of tracks Thom Yorke has featured in his Radiohead Office Charts. Of my newer stuff, my two “B-Sides” ‘Just Before Dawn’ and ‘Rival Turf’. Both very different. But I’m proud of everything I have put out to be honest, some of it may not have aged well, or the production may not be great as I was learning on the job, but at least I got them finished and out there.
How did you start using FL Studio & what does it mean to your productions?
I initially started using a demo of Fruity Loops alongside a copy of Cubasis VST which I got packaged with my SoundBlaster Live! soundcard on my new shiny new post Amiga PC. I would program my drums in FL and then bounce out into Cubase. Coming from a tracker background I was frustrated by the longwinded nature of programming drums in audio, especially back then with something as basic as Cubasis. FL allowed me to easily get a beat going with a bit of swing. It was even less painful losing your work each time in FL than trying to do it in Cubasis! It eventually clicked that FL Studio would be all I needed to make music and along with the lifelong updates it was a no brainer to buy a license. I also picked up the beatslicer, which was a godsend.
I find FL Studio far more immediate for getting ideas down. The piano roll is miles ahead of any other DAWs out there. The Slicer and Slice X are also great. I still use a mixture of both, as even though SliceX is far more powerful, I like the simple timestretching options in Fruity Slicer. I also enjoy using the internal controllers, a bunch of my remixes have had vocals sliced up and then their pitch altered to match a melody via the use of the Keyboard controller mapped to the pitch knob. I have also done similar things with Directwave, but using the looping and time stretching functions to give it a different effect. The Edison editor is also an amazingly simple but great tool, especially for resampling elements of a track and working them into something else.
Tell us about your production environment & toys?
I have been using the same PC for a while now, its a 3ghz Intel with 2gig ram and two 500gb HDs one System and one for Audio. I still run Windows XP as with my Audio computer I have a “if it aint broke” mentality. I have an EMU 1820m Soundcard which I have used for about 10 years. It can be a bit temperamental, but it sounds great. It is discontinued now I think, so part of the reason I am tied to Windows XP! I use FL versions 8 – 11. Mainly so I can load up old ideas and then export them out as zips and load them into FL 11. I finally took the plunge to get away from blocks and I am completely sold on pattern clips. Once you know the F4 key and force yourself to name a pattern it becomes so much more easier.
Plugins wise, I use a lot of stock FL generators and Effects. I like more retro synths so have a bunch of the Gmedia products, Oddity, impocar and the Mellotron.. I also use UAD plugins, the Roland Space Echo, The EMT plate and the precision series tools being my favourite. I also have some of the Slate Digitial plugins such as virtual console and the FX-G Maximizer plugin which is great for getting loud demo masters to play out.
I actually work in our office space, which is split via a partition from our sons bedroom. I used to have a studio, but it was probably a bit excessive.
Toys wise, a few synths. A Yamaha DX 100, A Yamaha CS01, A Roland TB303 a friend has kindly lent me. A TR 505 Drum machine that I got for £5 from a carboot sale. I also have an EMU E6400 sampler that used to belong to DJ Zinc of ‘Super Sharp Shooter’ fame. Its an absolute beast of a machine but due to child induced working time restraints I really don’t get to use it as much as I would like. I have an old Zoom FX pedal I like to use for grungy Fx too. Almost all my out board has been acquired for free, lent or bought for cheap. Aside from the cheap 505, I got the CS01 for £3 in a junk shop. I’ve been pretty lucky!
Do you have any links you would like to share?
I recently did a FACT magazine ‘Against The Clock’ feature, where I had ten minutes to make a “beat”. That should give a good overview of what I use and the basic way in which I lay down ideas in FL Studio:
Here is a link to the project after a couple of hours arranging and tidying. Its not perfect, but it could hopefully give people some ideas:
Here is my Boy 8-Bit Soundcloud which has most of the stuff under that alias:
Here is a link to some of the early Amiga music, a bit of Gabber and Jungle: