Coming off his latest stellar release on MICHIGANDER, we had the chance to take a peak in the studio with Brian Kage.  Giving us his 5 essentials pieces of gear, this well-honed artists takes us through a bit of his creative process along the way!

“First thing — a nice cup of coffee goes a long way! I usually start up Ableton Live as it’s my main DAW. I have a lot of gear in my studio, but I always resort to the classic TR-909 and TR-808 to begin building the foundation. Since I write more melodic styles of techno, I usually try to come up with a chord progression first. Most of the time, I will truncate or cut that chord progression in half so it’s bit more digestible for the overall groove. Next, I lay down a bass line that compliments the chords and kick drum. Once I get a basic foundation down, I try to get into the sequence as quick as possible.  This way I can flesh out more parts and not get burnt out too much on the groove. 

Sometimes, I’ll sequence it all live with my APC40 Mix controllers. Other times, I will strategically arrange elements in the sequence with the good ole’ mouse and keyboard.  I tend to mix as I go, getting the right elements that work together for the song. Effects such as saturation, phasers, filters, reverbs, and delays are also equally important to add dimension.  I will review the mix at the end with subtractive EQ, and light bus compression. As I’ve gained more studio wisdom, I’ve learned that less is more. A track is done when it makes me move, and also makes me happy as cliché as that may sound.”

1. Kage 303 (RE-303 Modified)

I use this bad boy all over my records. A good friend named Raph who make modular, ( custom built it for me from a kit.  It is basically the original guts of a Roland TB-303 with some slight modifications Raph added. Also, Raph created a shiny custom faceplate for my studio. ACID in da house!

2. Roland TR-808

I got so lucky and bought this magic piece of kit on eBay. I found out I had purchased it from DJ Magic Mike of Miami Bass Fame. I asked him to sign the bottom of it! I’ve had it retrofitted for MIDI. I use this along with the 909 as the foundation for all my dance tracks. A classic BEAST.

3. Roland TR-909

What more needs to be said about this legendary grey box? I was so lucky to get one of these in such good condition. The story is that I bought it 2nd hand from a rocker type guy who bought at it at music shop in the 80s. He never used it and it sat in his closet for years until he finally put it on Craiglist. Thanks Mr. Rocker dude! It’s MINT! Used to death on so many records. I use it every time I’m making house or techno, and I love running it through effects for different flavors.

4. Roland Space Echo RE-201

My buddy Luke Hess turned me onto this one! He brought it over for some sessions we did for our collaboration group, “Reference.” I knew then and there I had to get one too! Paid a premium price via eBay, but I still use this special piece all the time for adding the extra dimension.

5. Moog One Poly Synth

I waited years for Moog to make a new Poly synth. When I asked the fine folks at Moog Instruments during Moogfest if they would ever make another Poly, they only smiled….and that’s all I could get out of em. But years later, it came out, and it was worth the wait! This thing is so large, so complex, and so awesome. Very expensive, but worth every penny. A real classic created today.

Give 3 examples of productions you have made in this studio with Youtube clips.

Brian Kage – Past Echoes
(TR909, Space Echo, more secrets!)

Brian Kage – Past Echoes (Detroit Mix) – YouTube

Brian Kage – Zonin’
(TR808, Kage 303, Moog One, Prophet 6, more)

Reference (Brian Kage & Luke Hess) – Ghetto Nebula
(TR909, TR808, Space Echo)

Also, my new Détroit EP was mostly produced, mixed, and mastered right here!


Turn it up & enjoy!