null At Home with JT Roach

At Home with JT Roach

We talk to JT Roach – singer, songwriter and producer from Los Angeles, California – to learn about his music, his home studio and his top tips for being creative...

What is your name and where are you based?

JT Roach. I’m from Madison, Wisconsin, but I’ve been based in Los Angeles, CA, for the last seven years.

What inspired you to start making or recording music?

I’ve always been passionate about music, but I think what made me want to take it seriously is that it’s such an efficient way to share your energy with others. You can create something, and millions of people can absorb its emotion and feel it at the same time from all over the world. You can have such a positive impact with music, which has always been my goal.

What was your first ever piece of recording gear?

A Talkboy; just like the one in Home Alone 2. I used to record myself playing guitar over it when I was a kid.

What was the last piece of gear that you bought?

I just got a 3 slot 500 Series Radial Workhorse, a Mäag EQ4, and a Chandler Opto. My first time using 500 series gear, but I’m really loving the sound I’m getting with them. Got my vocals and guitars coming into the box already sounding great, and it means less tweaking with plugins, plus I get to focus on things that are more fun to me.

In which room in your home is your studio based, and were there any challenges in setting it up?

My girlfriend and I live in a two-bedroom apartment in Studio City, and I turned one of the bedrooms into my studio. Street noise was an issue at first, but I hired LA Sound Panels to treat the room and they did an amazing job. I threw all my old treatment in the closet, so now it works great as a booth.

Which Genelec models do you have?

I have a pair of the 8330As.

What type of projects do you use your speakers for?

Most of what I write, and produce, is vocally driven pop over acoustic and electric guitars, but I write and record in many genres. Lately I have been doing a lot of EDM, which has been fun.

What you think of the speakers, and what do you like about them?

I had heard the hype about Genelec from several of my producer friends, so I was very excited that I could make it happen. The first time I used them and listened to some of my favorite songs, it honestly felt like I was hearing music for the first time, in a way. The first song I played was Really Love by D’Angelo, who is one of my favorite artists. The warmth and clarity of the high end is what stood out to me in comparison to other monitors I have owned before. The high end was warm and sticky in a way that makes the listening experience so much more enjoyable. The sound doesn’t feel forced though; just balanced, warm, and comforting. Like the speakers are giving your ears a big hug.

Describe your perfect day in the studio.

Any day that ends with a song I’m excited about. Some days, that happens quickly, and some days it’s very difficult. Despite this, if I get a song that I’m proud of; that I can share with the world and people can enjoy forever, then that was a good day. If I can really enjoy the process as well, then that’s the icing on the cake.

What’s your top tip for being creative at home?

The cliches you’ve heard are true, so if you hear it a lot, take it into consideration . . . But a tip you may not have heard? If you have a TV in your home studio, throw on a muted TV show with subtitles while you produce and write. Sometimes, the visuals or dialogue can inspire a headspace to create from for lyrics or sound design. I work all day and never feel like I’m working, because I’m “watching TV and just messing around”, but by the end of the day a great song happens if you stay moving and stay relaxed. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve been enjoying that when I work solo lately.

Have you come across any new gear or apps to make home creating easier?

Suggester for iPhone is fun for finding new chord progressions, and you can export the MIDI via AirDrop to your computer. I always find that’s a fun way to stay inspired with new chord progressions. I also just got Scaler 2 recently, and it’s pretty awesome.

Which three artists would you love to collaborate with in a Zoom lockdown session?

Phoebe Bridgers. Skrillex. Jónsi.

Have you picked up any new skills during lockdown?

I’ve been writing a lot of EDM so I would say I’ve really spent time learning how to write songs for that genre this year. My artist project has always been Folk-leaning but I’m trying to embrace the electronic space and ride the momentum I have there for my project.

If there was one recording session you could have attended, which one would it have been and why?

I would love to have seen how Jónsi & Alex wrote and produced Riceboy Sleeps. That is my favorite album of all time.

Since working at home, what has become your ’Desert Island’ piece of gear? What can’t you live without?

Honest answer is any acoustic guitar. If you have a great song, the rest is downhill, and I write my best songs on guitar.

JT Roach Image 2

Do you want to be featured in our ‘At Home’ series? If so, just post some pictures of your home setup on Instagram using the #GenelecProAtHome hashtag. We’ll be keeping a look out for the most interesting home rigs, so who knows? We may be in touch with you!

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