Hi Henry, thanks for doing this Q&A. Please tell our readers a little bit about your background
Hi Wilf, Thanks for having me! I guess I started as a raver back in 1991 going to legendary NYC clubs like Limelight and The Tunnel, then went to College at Ohio State and met Titonton Duvante and Kevin Kennedy. Then back to NYC and started working at Instinct Records (Moby, Prototype 909) doing marketing. From there I was invited to open up Intergroove US as the managing director and build out their distribution nationwide launching labels like Noom, Time Unlimited, Plastic City, Le Petit Prince, State of Mind, Eukatech, Molecular, Tortured, Fine Audio, Soap, Monoid, Potential, Contrast, and hundreds of others importing records from our parent companies in Germany and the UK. After that, I went to work for Brooklyn Music Limited as their production manager and A&R. We took on artist projects like Atomic Babies, Roy Davis Jr. Felix Da Housecat, Frankie Bones, Adam X, Robert Armani, Doormouse, Mark Verbos, John Selway, Brian Douglas, DJ Kliprock, Rob Devs, DJ Future Funk, Lester Fitzpatrick, Angel Alanis, Juan Atkins and too many more to mention. Oh yeah, and I was part of a rave crew in NYC called Uptown Underground, that threw mega raves from 1993-2010. And I DJ’ed on the national circuit AND I made a few records under monikers such as Henry Vengeance, 45 Optimal, Enriq Da Freq, Pulse Plus, Future Funk vs. Henry Vengeance, and The TM Squad.
What is your favorite piece of hardware gear to work with and why?
My absolute favorite piece of hardware gear to work with has to be my Roland TR-606. When I bought it back in 1996, I quickly recognized it had limitations like a single output for all instruments and that it was Din Sync only. However, with some handy drilling and soldering work from my good friend Mark Verbos, I was able to create individual outputs for each instrument and get a finely tuned sound. I truly love how rustic and washed out the 606 sounds. Also, because of it’s portability, I took that thing everywhere! It was like my walkman/discman (OMG who knows what a walkman or discman is??) I spent hours experimenting with different time sequences, drum combinations, and rhythms that I still mash up today.
Is there a specific VST plugin that radically changed your workflow?
Yeah, there is a very special VST that changed my world! For the last 7 years, I stopped DJing and solely focus on composing my live performances at events. My friend Agent Orange DJ, NY, introduced me to Sugar Bytes Effectrix back in 2013 and I never looked back. Sugar Bytes gives me the versatility of generating live effects on any channel in Ableton (Including the Master) and assigning each programmable effect (delay, reverb, loop, flange, reverse, etc.) to a trigger keyboard I use in my show. Effectrix helps me do live arrangement with these effects as I can use the VST for fillers, mood builders, track builders, and anything else I can think of. It’s so much fun and you can hear this plugin in most of my recent releases.
Check out Sugar Bytes Effectrix on Plugin Boutique
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Do you have a specific workflow when it comes to creating tracks. For instance, do you start with a beat or with a melody?
I love percussion so 99% of the time I start off with a drum beat. I have a ton of custom drum racks and even stock drum kits and just start hammering away. I’ll layer multiple drum patterns on a single rack and when I am pleased with the way everything sounds, I’ll separate each drum instrument into its own channel.
Which aspect of music production do you feel you excel at?
That’s a tough question. I’d say that I have made some personal breakthroughs with arrangement in the past few years. I feel that I am always learning and trying new things and I like to take my time in thinking through different components and elements of a track. Being a DJ in the 90’s really helps me think through my composition as if I was in front of a crowd and they were dancing. It’s like, what emotions would I want to elicit with my arrangements that I would want to see a crowd move to. And then I try to put that down.
Your best advice to get that kick drum pounding?
Best advice to get the kick drum pounding is to go out and buy Izotope Neutron 3. That’s all you need to know!!! That shiz is BANGIN!!!
Out of all the productions you have made, what would be your personal favorite?
Again another unfair question. It’s like asking which child you like the best…LOL!!! But If I REALLY had to choose, my last EP titled “Hell Hole” on Format Recordings is by far some of my best work. When I listen to it, I’m like “Holy shit…did I make that??”. Brenda Curtis and Mark Angel who co-own Format really believed in me and my sound. They let me explore a harder, darker, industrial warehouse kind of techno that has such a profound sound to it. It’s not easy to make, nor is it easy to find inspiration for during this pandemic, but when this sound is in my brain for the last 30 years of partying in warehouses, this is what my mind’s eye sees. “Your Worst Nightmare” is a track that I can picture DJ’s like The Advent, DJ Rush, Volvox, or Drumcell playing at any given time.
Also my latest release “SOHCAHTOA” on the 7EVEN DEGREES compilation from Format Recordings is a whopper of a track at 145 BPM’s. It will definitely rattle the cage a little!
What is the best advice you have for other producers in the game?
Best advice is to PRESS RECORD!. You never know what you’re going to come up with and the technologies today allow you to capture every moment of it. You can go back and cherry pick those great nuances that you never would have grabbed if you didn’t press record. And don’t be too hard on yourself. If you live by the one golden rule “YOUR SNARES ARE SHIT”, then every other criticism that you’ll receive will seem irrelevant. HAHAHA!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I just got engaged and I can’t wait to share the rest of my life with my lovely fiancé Ali.
Where can people find you online?
You can find my music on any of the distribution outlets like spotify, beatport, itunes, bandcamp or:
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/henry-novelo
Website – www.henryvengeance.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/djhenryvengeance
Insta – @djhenryvengeance https://www.instagram.com/djhenryvengeance/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFEwZTHKhhJtQjoJ-yuLbIw