Christian Matthew Cullen
Christian Matthew Cullen has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry as a musician and producer. He is best known for his enthusiastic and soulful playing style and uncanny ability to sound design classic and modern sounds from master recordings in a live setting.
Over the last 15 years as a professional, Christian has traveled the world recording and performing on TV, radio, arena and theater tours with: Night Ranger, Abe Laboriel Jr. (Paul McCartney), Alan Parsons, Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish), Bo Bice (American Idol), Brad Gillis (Ozzy), David Pack (Ambrosia), Deen Castronovo (Journey), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Henry Paul (The Outlaws), Jack Blades (Damn Yankees), Jim Peterik (Ides of March), Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple), Joe Zook (One Republic), Johnny Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynrd), Kevin Cronin (REO Speed wagon), Martha Davis (The Motels), Mickey Thomas (Starship), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Reb Beach (Whitesnake), Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Robbie Dupree, Rik Emmett (Triumph), Spencer Davis, Styx, Tommy Shaw, Vince Neil, and Winger. He also composes and sound designs for TV and radio advertising, film, video games, toys, and eLearning for clients such as Fox, Ford, Merrell, Google, Disney, Smirnoff, V-Tech, Tomy Infantino, an Party City.
What made you choose the Prophet-6?
“I was inspired by the classic synth sounds of ’80s records growing up and the Prophet-5 was certainly one of my dream synths. When I heard my friend Peter Dyer demo the Prophet-6 on YouTube, I freaked. I knew I had to have it. There was no need to chase down a vintage Prophet anymore.”
How are you using it?
“The Prophet-6 literally is the centerpiece of my studio, and because of that it’s also my main MIDI controller. It’s always patched into a Fatboy tube DI and ready to go. I use it all the time for my TV and record production work. I recently used it on a record featuring Jennifer Batten, who played guitar with Michael Jackson. I did all my tracks with the Prophet-6, a Vintage DX7, and a Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal. That was the moment I realized how versatile the Prophet-6 is. From silky pads to cutting sync sounds that I doubled unison guitar riffs with. The Prophet-6 was a hero on that record.
I spent a large part of my career as a touring and session player with a number of ’80s artists, and I quickly realized that if I came into rehearsal nailing not only the parts, but the exact sounds from the record, it makes you stand out from the crowd. Because I’ve moved away from touring, I still love making those sounds, so I’ve launched a sample company called Sound Famous. It’s for Apple MainStage and features iconic synth sounds from classic records using analog and virtual synths captured through analog gear and processed to sound exactly like the records they came from. The Prophet-6 no doubt will be first-call for sound design and sampling for the Phil Collins and 80’s packs.“
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“Where do I start? It’s super intuitive to program. I love the classic sync sounds I can get out of it, a la Greg Hawkes on Let’s Go from the Cars or Golden Goose from Todd Rundgren. It was a very specific sound you could get on the Prophet-5. I’ve heard a ton of VI’s that try to get it, but it’s never quite the same. The Prophet-6 nails it like the Prophet-5. You can tell the way it cuts through in the mix. It’s unmistakable and exciting. The other thing I will add is that because it’s also my main controller keyboard in the studio, I spend 10 hours or more a day playing it. The Prophet-6 must be one of my favorite synth keybeds on the planet. It’s such a joy to play.“
What does it give you that other instruments don’t?
“The specific sound of its oscillators and filters. It’s classic. It’s raw and vintage sounding, but has all the modern routing like Poly Mod, effects, and controllable detuning with “slop” that make it a huge improvement in a lot of ways over the Prophet-5. It’s truly the best of both worlds.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“Since I spend a lot of time programming with it, I developed a workflow to compare sounds quickly. I open up an empty 10’s bank, start at 0 and begin making my sound. Because I work quickly, it’s sometimes easy to go ‘past’ the sound in attempt to make it better. So once I get the sound to a good place I’ll save it and then save a copy to patch slot 1 and continue working on the sound. I can save in this bank and A/B quickly between patch 0 and Patch 1 to see what I like better. I’ll continue to do that across the patch bank. I can hear where I came from and quickly gain perspective.“
MORE ABOUT THE PROPHET-6
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