The Process, Episode 3: Fast Eddie Plays Classics on the Roland DJ-808

Each episode of our Reverb series The Process sees us profiling a musician to learn more about their creative process—what kind of music they make, as well as how and what they use to make it. Click here to catch up with episode one featuring singer and multi-instrumentalist Kimbra, or here to learn more about Haz Mat's live Detroit techno setup.

For our third installment of The Process, we had the opportunity to welcome Chicago house producer "Fast" Eddie Smith into the Reverb studio to talk about his setup, which is centered around two piece of Roland gear: the DJ-808 DJ Controller and TB-03 Bass Line Synthesizer.

As he tells us in the video above, Fast Eddie only used three different pieces of gear to make his first record, Jack the House: two Boss samplers, a Roland TR-909, and a Korg Poly-800 (which was swapped in the studio for a Juno). Because of this manageable setup, he would often play his early tracks totally live—even drums—which is something that has evolved into part of his process and led him to the DJ-808.

Roland's DJ-808 is a behemoth of a DJ controller, complete with a four-channel mixer, built-in drum sequencing (a replication of the TR-S), vocal processing, and deep Serato DJ software integration. Synced with another piece of gear from Roland, the TB-03 Bass Line, the DJ-808 provides everything Fast Eddie needs in a live setting and is tactile enough to function more like an instrument than a controller.

"I like to twist knobs, I like to touch things. It seemed a little more difficult ... with a computer, because you're holding a mouse. I have everything I'm asking for [with the DJ-808]—knobs to turn, buttons to push, platters to spin. It's all-in-one. ... That's the great thing about this: You don't have to think about anything, just go. I can make a song with just the DJ-808 and Bass Line. At any point at any time while I'm spinning, I can drop a beat."

Be sure to check out the full episode above to see Fast Eddie in action, and stay tuned for another episode of The Process coming soon.

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