Having commenced his training in classical piano at the young age of 7, Underbelly aka Timothy Linetsky has dedicated over a decade to crafting electronic music. With a substantial following of over 320,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel “You Suck at Producing,” Underbelly has proven his expertise. He’s also earned recognition as an Ableton Certified Trainer, collaborating closely with the company to create instructional videos and educational materials. On Spotify, his original compositions have amassed millions of streams, garnering support from renowned DJs such as San Holo, Virtual Riot, Mr. Bill, and Morgan Page, among others. Our interaction with Underbelly, was driven by his enthusiastic adoption of our PEEL plugin, prompting an insightful interview.
– Hello Timothy, we’re delighted to have you as part of our “Artist Interview” segment. What sparked the beginning of your career in music, and what drove you to pursue it?
Thanks for having me! I started producing after hearing DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing” when I was about 13 and found out it was all made of vinyl samples. Bought myself an MPC soon thereafter and then quickly switched to Ableton. Haven’t looked back ever since!
– That indeed is a captivating inspiration! What sparks the creative fire behind your music?
I’m always pulling inspiration from new artists that I’m listening to, but these days I would say I’m most inspired by the future riddim sound pushed by labels such as Halcyon (which I got to release my Mental Kill EP with!). Also, my friends growing up always played in metal or math rock bands and that’s been a huge inspiration too.
– I enjoy “Matches” and the dubby vibe it brings to the Mental Kill EP. With your strong producer background, your YouTube channel “You Suck at Producing” has also found significant success. Could you discuss what inspired you to start the channel and how it has evolved?
Back in 2013 I saw a channel called “You Suck at Photoshop” and was like damn, I wanna make that but for producing! I was just trying to make funny videos and it just snowballed from there. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities it’s given me, including the many students I’ve gotten to work with one-on-one over Zoom that found me through my channel. These days I’m trying to make the transition from educator to artist, so expect more performance videos and stuff like that with the occasional tutorials thrown in.
– Your YouTube journey is intriguing. Another achievement is your Ableton Trainer certification. Can you share your path to getting certified and how it has influenced your teaching and creative approach?
Man, that was like the bar exam for beats! I don’t think Ableton really likes revealing too much detail about the actual certification exam, but all I can say is that it was quite challenging. Definitely have gotten some great teaching opportunities through getting certified, so I would say it is worth the effort for anyone thinking about doing it.
– Congratulations on your accomplishment! Given the breadth of your involvement in different facets of the music industry, it’s worth inquiring: How do you balance your creative and educational endeavors effectively?
I’m constantly trying to balance these two! At the end of the day I’d consider myself an artist first and an educator second, but it’s definitely a challenge living up to that ideal since my educational content has vastly outperformed my music both financially and in terms of social media attention. I’m currently trying to break out of the “youtube tutorial guy” box and put out more content just around my music (including doing more live shows), so we’ll see how that goes!
– Goodluck with that, Timothy. Shifting gears, can you share your experience using our plugin PEEL? Did you use it on your latest EP “This Perfect Mirror?” If yes, could you give an example of its use?
Thank you! Actually my latest EP is ‘Light The Match, Hide The Hand’ which came out in March on bitbird! But I love using PEEL especially on guitars and pads, it creates this really cool watery spectral low quality mp3 effect that I’ve been really into lately.
– Apologize for the oversight. What particular attributes do you find valuable in PEEL? Do you have any suggestions for enhancing these tools?
I love how simple and intuitive the interface is! And the ability to switch between isolating what’s in the selected area versus cutting it out is sick. Being able to adjust the buffer size and latency would be a neat feature!
– I will forward your suggestion to the Devs. In your experience, comparing PEEL to other spatial spectral isolators, have you noticed any significant benefits/ advantages when using PEEL?
I love the visualizer and how you can see things not only from low to high frequencies but also how the audio sits in the stereo field as well.
– I will share that with the Devs too! As an artist, content creator and Ableton certified trainer, how important is it for you to have access to high-quality and reliable plugins?
Very important, but I don’t want to discount sticking to stock devices, especially for beginners. I think it’s very tempting to buy a bunch of plug-ins thinking that you need them to make good music, but there’s so much that can be done already in just what Ableton gives you. That being said, there’s nothing remotely like PEEL built-in so I make an exception there.
– Thanks, Timothy, for your time! In conclusion, what do you see as the next big innovation in music production?
Same as in all other tech, AI, of course! Vocal deepfakes like the ones we’re already seeing of pop stars like Drake as well as audio generation tools like Google’s MusicLM are just gonna become a bigger and bigger part of music production. Very excited (and terrified) to see how this space develops!