Most most memorable musicians are so because they tried something different. Maybe they weren’t the first to do their special thing but they did it especially well, or they found an audience for it that others missed. They put in endless hours of hard work, and they persisted, believing in their artistic vision.
That Justin Lassen is highly successful with his musical projects is no surprise to those who know him. He has long found ways to succeed in whatever interested him. As a youngster, he dove into scientific research, won gymnastics competitions, learned multiple computer-programming languages, and learned to create quality home videos, all before he was in his mid teens. But around age 16, he dedicated himself to music. He had been playing for years, of course, but from then on, he was a musician first. He put in the endless hours of hard work, and he persisted. The result has been a fascinating career and a range of musical accomplishments.
Certainly, Lassen didn’t invent making music that is accompanied by related images. But his focus on creating music intended to be heard while viewing computer-generated (CG) art was groundbreaking. He is the only composer to be featured—twice!—on the cover of CGsociety, a leading magazine in the CG world. Lassen has pioneered the way for musicians in the CG industry, which is usually the realm of visual artists. He creates his musical magic beautifully, distinctively, intelligently, and passionately, and he believes in his artistic vision.
In projects such as his 2006 Synaesthesia series (released in 2009 as a 2-disc set), he combined music, story, data, and visual art. For this huge undertaking—a five-year effort—Lassen worked with artists who produced gorgeous and interesting computer-generated images that seem to come from alternative universes. He accompanied and enhanced these CG images with dark, deep, powerful music that similarly conjured other worlds. And while he experimented then, as now, with contemporary sounds and the latest musical tools, the influence of orchestral tradition is quite clear—despite the fact that he is mostly a self-taught musician.
Clearly Lassen is a man of many talents. As a multi-instrumentalist and composer, he’s done his share of tours and had his chances for major record deals—which he consistently turned down in favor of indie releases. His 2003 chamber suite And Now We See But Through A Glass Darkly got a tremendous response, with some 5.5 million copies in circulation. He has produced remixes for the likes of Madonna, Garbage, Blue Man Group, Lenny Kravitz, Robert Miles, Nine Inch Nails, and Linkin Park. He has scored and done sound-design for games and created a multimedia presentation to accompany a book. Perhaps his best-loved work, however, is his fantastic, otherworldly original music.
As you would expect from someone who has done so many different musical projects, Lassen has tried a wide variety of musical gear. He became a PreSonus user in 2005, starting with a FirePod FireWire interface. “I started using PreSonus gear because of their reputation. They have the coolest designs, solid manufacturing, and one of the most reliable audio interfaces I’ve ever owned,” he observes. “The FirePod was my workhorse for recording bands, instrumentalists, and lots and lots of multitrack sessions. It worked hard for me.” More recently, he has relied on the newer FireStudio Mobile. “The FireStudio Mobile works just as hard for me as the FirePod did,” he explains, “but I can take it wherever I want. Sometimes airport people take it out separately to scan it (weirdos) but it’s powered through FireWire, so it’s easy to set up on my travels.”
Lassen has used most of the major audio programs, including such well-known applications as Pro Tools, Digital Performer, FL Studio, Acid, Sonar, Live, and Sound Forge. Then he discovered PreSonus Studio One, and he was hooked. Sure, Lassen still uses other applications to take advantage of their particular strengths. But Studio One has become his go-to DAW for a wide variety of projects. And Studio One Professional 2 is getting him even more excited.
“I’ve been using Studio One 1.0 since it came out,” he exclaims. “Now I’m so happy to be using Studio One Professional 2.0. When version 2 finished downloading, I got a real tear in my eye! Seriously, this is the coolest upgrade ever. I can’t tell you how happy I am that my favorite DAW in the world has changed like this! Not just the under-the-hood stuff, but you even made the GUI prettier! The possibilities seem even more endless now.”
“Studio One Professional 2 is a breath of fresh air in the DAW market,” he continues. “Finally, something that is clean and fresh, not bloated with 10 million useless extras—and it’s focused on the creation process. Simple. Beautiful. I like the clean and crisp mixing console and the uniform set of plug-ins that it comes with. A lot of times, instead of going to some third-party plug-ins, I can get stuff done faster and simpler with the stuff in the box—that’s so cool to me. Sometimes I just don’t feel like plugging in my iLok for the third-party plug-ins. The plug-ins that come with the software just work! I dig that. The new comping feature is awesomely exciting, and of course the built-in Melodyne is pretty sweet. And I can open up sessions on my Mac or PC, and they open fine in each, natively. That’s exciting to me; it eliminates boundaries.”
Lassen is so pleased with his PreSonus hardware and software that he is actively spreading the word. “I’ve helped more than 30 of my friends set up PreSonus studios. I brought them to the music shops, told them what to pick out, taught them the basics of Studio One software, and away they went, creating their music.”
Those who know Lassen will tell you he’s a straight shooter. “I am brutally honest about gear and software, and I am not a ‘yes man’ for companies,” he states. “If I say I like a company, it means I really like them. And I’m happy to recommend PreSonus hardware and software to noobs and experienced alike.”
Be sure to check out Lassen’s new album, The Attack of Lord Retro!