Rocket Man
Q&A and with Skye Rocket

Watch Skye Rocket’s newest video, If Summer Had A Daughter.

We can’t help but smile when we hear Skye Rocket’s upbeat, energetic productions. Creating thick soundscapes of synthesizers, guitars, and vocals can be challenging, but his mixing and production talents, along with his infectiously positive attitude, always shine through. With his last video earning over 100,000 YouTube views in under a month, he’s rapidly developed a loyal following.

His newest track, “If Summer Had A Daughter,” is not only catchy and well written, but its infectious melody, masterful production, and outstanding video seem to capture the essence of a perfect summer day. We caught up with Skye this week to find out what inspires his music, how Mixcraft has helped him record and produce his songs, and what he’s working on next.

Skye Rocket, Artist Q&A

Q: What first got you excited about music? How long have you been writing and playing songs?

A: Video games, anime, and punk rock, basically... man, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I've been singing my whole life, probably longer than I've had any right to... particularly when it'd be midnight and I'd be the spunky kid singing over the phone to the crush of the month. I realized after being in a few bands that hanging with friends was rad, but I felt so strongly about I wanted my music to sound and feel like that in order to make that happen, I had to buckle down and learn how to do all of it myself. That was when I was 13 or 14, so a little over ten years now. I basically haven't slept since, but it's been pretty great.

Q: Your recent songs have a fun, poppy vibe with terrific production. How did you develop your mixing and production style?

A: I dig stuff that punches the way love does, y'know? I make use of a lot of FM instruments, especially bass and leads; they slam through the mix like fire... the sounds I find magical tend to be retro "approximations" of "real" instruments, so I love taking those from the confines of their time and entwining them in modern, silky-smooth, star-soaked production. Set against a backdrop of hyper-alive soundscapes, it strikes a balance that sorta sounds the way a kickass sunrise looks.

Q: Some of your tracks, including “If Summer Had A Daughter,” feature tons of synth and guitar lines and countless layers of vocal tracks. How do you approach recording a song like this?

A: Ironically, the thing that works best for me is keeping it super simple. Flourishes, movements, and hundreds of things going on are really the fireworks on the cake; any good song you can play holed up with just an old guitar or piano. I love bands from the 80s like U2, or even newer ones like Angels & Airwaves that seem like they have boundless oceans of atmosphere in their music, but are centered around a simple melody... where it's almost surrounding you with light and sound, but at its core, it's almost like a lullaby or campfire song. It keeps the whole composition grounded with a lucid heartbeat, and the more you listen, the more details you pick out all around its chamber.

Q: Has Mixcraft influenced the way you write and record music?

A: Everything except the final mastering process was (and always is) done within Mixcraft. From the initial melody sketches (I would recognize the Mixcraft general MIDI piano in my sleep) to recording hundreds of takes of vocals, backup vocals, harmonies, echos, etc with extensive plugin chains, to sprawling production with over a hundred tracks running virtual instruments with automation in unison, my process starts and ends in Mixcraft. MX8 handles it with ease, especially now that 64-bit addressing is in the picture.

I've sung praises for years now about how brilliant the workflow design in Mixcraft is; its layout lends itself easily to the most common, intuitive creative tools, while layering deeper options when you look for them depending on obscurity and complexity. So many other DAWs I've tried basically throw everything in the universe imaginable at you from the get-go, cluttering the workspace and dampening the speed at which I can create... so due credit should be given to all at Acoustica not just for the degree of power under the hood (very important, delivered in spades), but how it's only in your face if you need it (also very important, delivered in spades).

Also super notable is that the inline Melodyne editor you guys have added recently - with transfers and locked-edits no longer necessary - has made my life a billion times easier than it ever has been, and it's a total joy to use and experiment with without having to worry about committing to how a Melodyne transfer is laid out. It's super fun, it rules, and including a version of Melodyne in Pro Studio is gonna round out mind-blowing production at a price that's so affordable that it punches way, WAY above its apparent class.

Check out Skye Rocket’s cover of SAD MACHINE, by Porter Robinson.

Q: What are some of your favorite virtual instruments and effects these days?

A: I adore Native Instruments FM8, as well as FMDrive (an emulation of the YM2612 in the Sega Genesis)... I have hundreds of custom patches for each and love layering them together across the EQ spectrum like a kind of sonic rainbow. Nexus is a staple for me too, and Omnisphere is wonderful, especially for pads and abstract sounds. FSQ1964, which comes with Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio, sounds like butter on my voice, and Fusion Field can give some of the most haunting, beautiful reverbs I've ever heard. That one's also in Pro Studio. It's crazy what you guys are doing.

A big part of my composition process is also thousands upon thousands of field recordings, capturing a huge range of aural phenomena. I collect sound pretty much everywhere I go. From the simple, like cutting paper, hitting switches, jingling keys, to more unusual, like leather boots hitting tree stumps, to tinfoil crunched underwater, to the way New Hampshire sounds on a snowy night... you can add compression, bitrcrushers, delays, choruses, run them through amps... and together, they make up rhythmic elements that become all your own. Sound design is important in a lot of fields, but amusingly, it's understated in music, and I love toying with it for all sorts of cool elements that add a personal flair.

I also have the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 snare in like, everything.

Q: Your recent music videos are as epic as your songs. How do you create them?

A: As far as direction goes, there are a lot of cool music videos that are essentially literal about their lyrics, with a bit of band performance cooked in, right? But I've always been more keen on videos that depict what feeling that lyric is like. "She kissed me" filmed with a kiss might visually be just some lips on lips... but I dunno about you, when I'm in deep, that kiss feels more like a hands-up roller coaster in the rain, or a 100MPH turnpike a hundred miles from civilization, or getting taken on a terrifying, extraordinary rocket, with no idea if I'll land with my bones intact. Drawing from directors like Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim, Shaun Of The Dead), I used a ton of fast cuts in “If Summer Had A Daughter,” cut from 400 videos filmed across a host of entirely different locations, because I want the video to feel more like a scrapbook; a spindle of memories of trying wild things that you remember even wilder. I love that stuff. Digging deeper, I just grew up with anime music videos and wish more "real" ones were like 'em.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: So, so many things. Singles, albums, videos, tours, and ways to tie it all together. My friends might find it weird, but I never really stop working on music; I'll be out getting groceries, or sitting with 20 people eating pizza or whatever, and something will strike where I have to pull out my phone and hum into it for a minute or two. The finish line for any given song is going over every detail a hundred times and making 500 "FINAL MASTER 7 LOUDER BASS FOR REAL THIS TIME.WAV"s, and then ironically my de-stress is to make more music. C'est la vie. I've got like 85 songs I'm demoing right now, a few covers of fan-favorites, and who knows? You will, if you check out my YouTube where I upload new stuff every week.

Q: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming musicians that might be inspired by your tracks?

A: You bet.

Take risks.
Work your butt off even when it doesn't seem like you're gaining.
The best gear is the gear you've got on you.
Grab that coffee and stay up tonight.
Don't be afraid to try crazy, uncertain things.
Even if you've got every domino in a row, people will doubt you and your odds for a long time.
Just remember, dominoes don't care if they're believed in - they fall anyway.
And most importantly, if something sounds awesome, powerful, and sincere to you... chase it.
Don't worry about people who want you to conform to genre, process, or style... or what is or
isn't "cool" or "real". You be what you think is rad; give it time, and the coolest people in the universe will pick up on that.

Also, Taco Bell is open super late, dude. Hit that up.