Top producer, songwriter, and keyboard player Teddy Riley loves to break new ground, creating sounds nobody has heard before. He likes to work quickly and constantly strives for the best possible sound quality. That’s why his DAW of choice is PreSonus Studio One Pro.
Riley has been there and done that. He produced his first Billboard Hot 100 hit by the time he was 20 years old, and in subsequent years formed two hit-making R&B bands—Guy and Blackstreet—charted a number 1 single (Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”), and produced hits for a long list of major artists. Along the way, he pioneered New Jack Swing, a musical genre that combines smooth R&B vocals with hip-hop and dance-pop-style production, chock full of samples, loops, and hip-hop swing beats.
In 1991, Riley and New Jack Swing hit the jackpot: Michael Jackson, looking for a fresh sound, tapped Riley to produce half of his Dangerous album, featuring such singles as “Remember the Time,” “Jam,” and “In the Closet.” Some 32 million sales later, New Jack Swing had its most successful album, and the Riley-Jackson connection was established. As one expects from Riley, the sound was aggressive and the beats irresistible.
Last year, Sony Music Entertainment announced a major project to release as many as seven posthumous Michael Jackson albums. The first new Jackson album has already been released and is the product of multiple producers, notably including Teddy Riley. Riley’s primary tool for the project was PreSonus Studio One Pro music-production software, aided and abetted by his PreSonus FireBox interface and FaderPort control surface. In fact, Riley’s entire team has switched to Studio One Pro for all of their projects.
Riley wants to create quickly and naturally, without the tools getting in his way. “I was just waiting for something to come out to make me just feel free again,” he says. “And that’s what Studio One does. You will never get a writers block with this software… it makes me want to do something and make a bunch of music.”
Says Riley, “On the Michael Jackson project… I wasn’t happy with the sound that was coming out of the Pro Tools box, the 192. It didn’t have that aggressiveness like when I played it for them out of the [Open Labs] Neko [with Studio One Pro], coming out of the FireBox. As they finished the mix, I said, ‘Listen to this.’ So we played my mix. And everyone said, ‘let’s just send it to them like this.’ [Sony] went crazy over the mix, they really were excited about me working on the next song, they gave me more songs to do… and it’s this program for me.”
Continues Riley, “You can do pretty much anything [with Studio One].” Ultimately, though, he says, “You have to use it yourself, you have to try it yourself, to really get it. It’s starting to really spread like a disease. Everybody I introduce it to is on it.”