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about Hannett's way of creating spacious mixes.
Rerecording a track through speakers in a big room is of course a classic though. That's how
reverb was always added before the development of mechanical effect units.
Hannett pulled some weird shit. Driving drummers crazy by asking them to perform on
some rooftop 3 hours after they had finished a session
Agent 47 wrote:Next time I can think of something, I will.
really enjoyed this in particualr seeing his old studio gear and how he put the track together from the core samplesIn the final episode of Behind The Sound, we join Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim taking a look at his breakthrough track 'The Rockafeller Skank'.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
Ras G - Looking for the Perfect Beat (scene preview)Take a tour of Ras G's ridiculously cool LA studio.
Gaslamp Killer - Looking for the Perfect Beat (scene preview)
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
After a few years spent mostly DJing, the Belgian producer recently got back into his studio swing. Jordan Rothlein paid him a visit in Berlin to see what's been cooking.
The name San Soda is almost inextricably linked to We Play House Recordings, the label that's released the lion's share of his tunes and whose sound he's helped define. Listening to his groovy, warm and devilishly simple tunes, it'd be easy to peg the Belgian producer as a minimalist—albeit one inspired by the '80s and '90s American house canon rather than the mid-'00s minimal techno boom that directly preceded him. To hear Nicolas Geysens tell it, keeping it simple wasn't his ultimate goal, but rather a case of him learning his craft while in the spotlight. A spate of big records, including the smash "Panorama Bar Acca Version" of his and We Play House boss Red D's "It's You" remake, meant that he's spent a lot more time on the road than focusing on his studio.
Working with limited kit in shared or temporary spaces, he's only more recently come into the means—the gear, the space, the musical and technical knowhow, the time—to make the kind of records he's long been smitten with. In the last year or so, Geysens found a permanent home base for his synths, drum machines and hardware effects in Berlin, and the stability has had a knock-on effect for San Soda. He told us we can expect some long-awaited new material from him in the coming months, and that the results might surprise people who think they've got him pegged.
You recently made a big change in your studio, right?
The desk. I used to have three or four tables, but I was tired of running around and not having everything close to each other, so I bought this desk, which I'm really happy with. All my patch bays are right in front of me, all my stuff is within hand reach.
Is it custom?
No, I got it from a company in Luxembourg, and actually, when they delivered it, there were two pieces that had the holes on the wrong side. So I had all my studio gear in the other room ready to build the thing, and then the last two pieces didn't fit. So they said, "Yeah, we are going to send you new pieces in a couple of days," so I left everything [not set up]. Then two days, three days, four days, five days, a week—I was getting very frustrated. But now I am very happy that everything is how I want it. It's actually the first time I am completely comfortable in my studio since I've been in Berlin.
You can sit in that chair, and every knob is within reach—you barely have to stretch to do anything.
That was the thing I wanted to do. And a big difference is I've got everything in a patch bay now. I used to have everything on tables separately, and then I had to get things rewired when I wanted to use different machines and only have 16 inputs. So now I'm just more comfortable. I'm in the middle and can just touch everything, hook up everything I want.
If everything is disconnected, you have to create a new setup each time you want to make a track. But when you have a patch bay and everything is hardwired, does that change the way you work?
Yes and no. It doesn't necessarily make it easier, I think, because of the options. It's always about having too many options, selecting the stuff you really want to use and selecting the stuff you don't want to use on a certain track. So now everything is within reach—you have to do the exercise in your head rather than doing it physically. Now it's not hooking up four or five machines [but having to] determine for yourself, "For this part I'm just going to use this and this and achieve what I want to achieve with this and this machine."
So in a way it's easier because you can make different decisions more quickly. You can say more quickly, "I want to use this and this, this and that," and then five wire movements after everything is hooked up, rather than having to remove everything and replace everything on different tables. But on the other hand it's also sometimes hard to say to yourself, "OK, don't touch the wire," and just continue messing with the device to try to get what you want to get.
Thinking back over some of your track titles, they'll reference particular pieces of gear or production techniques: "Juno Love," "Something About Compression," "Bright Piano." It makes me curious about how you get started on a track. Do you choose one synth or one technique you want to use as the basis and go from there?
For the last couple of years, basically everything I bought I needed to get to know. I wasn't a very experienced producer, so usually it was like that: I bought a new thing, and I found out about a new feature or a certain technique and got to study it a little bit. And then I'd just go on and try to use it in a musical way in the track. Often it would start with discovering a new thing in Ableton or a new synth or something and go from there.
So you were bouncing around a lot in Berlin before you settled on this place. What were your studio setups like then? I'm sure you couldn't always have all of this stuff out then.
Usually the MPC was my main part of the studio. I used to do most things on the MPC. So one or two drum computers, one synth or two synths hooked up to the MPC, and I'd mess around as much as I could and record on Ableton, and if necessary then add some things. But my main procedure was doing everything on the MPC and then recording the tracks on Ableton and doing very few adjustments later on. I don't like working on a computer screen. I think that is my biggest flaw right now is that I don't like to look at my computer screen. I would like to do it more, but there is some discipline involved in the arrangement, and I think I should do that more. I used to just jam on the MPC and let the tracks play, and just hit on and off all the time and then tweak a little bit, then see how it sounds maybe one or two times, then take the best part of the two tracks and put it together.
But now I changed a bit, now I bought this amazing device that is able to sync whatever is happening in Ableton with whatever is happening with my MPC and my drum computers. I used to have the MPC, and whenever I wanted to sync it with Ableton Live, I always had issues. I had delays, and it was messy whenever you were using anything else in your computer like a plug-in, and the track delays change and then you have to change your settings for your sound to come in at the same tempo—pretty essential if you want to have a good groove.
What's the device?
This thing here: the SND ACME-4 Advanced Clock Management System. How I use it is, I have an audio signal coming from Ableton Live—just a click track—and [the ACME-4] sends basically four or five MIDI-out signals and DIN sync, and also an audio click track. And this is, like, super tight, it's incredible. A kick from the 909 is right on the kick of Ableton. There are three other features: it has a big time delay, so if for whatever reason a machine is not in sync you can manually adjust it in microseconds and then bigger.
Yeah, I was going to ask what all the knobs did.
[Points to some] This is a swing, which is amazing as well, because you have 16 different swing patterns that you can draw in a program and store in here. Then you can adjust everything, so basically draw my own swings for all my drum computers, which is really nice, too. I mean, the swing in these devices is great, too, but it's so classic, you know? Now you can just draw your own swings, or if you hear a nice swing in a certain track you can draw it in MIDI, and you can put 16 in here. And even then it can be artistic, not just functional—sometimes it's nice to just have a hi-hat with a bit of delay in it. You can even manipulate it real time when the drum computer is playing, and you can hear it shift in the track. It's really a dream if I compare it now to when I was messing about with the MPC, not even thinking about swing or getting it in the different time shift. This is a dream. It's a little expensive but it's totally worth it.
For a lot of people, a device that basically only handles timing or clocking in the studio might seem like a boring purchase. But I can see how that's not the case at all.
It has changed everything. When I used to make tracks with the MPC, it took me usually half an hour or an hour just working on setting the track delays, just to have it in the right timing. And now without having to do anything, I can even play with the timing. It opens up so much more, and it makes your life so much easier, so I'm happy with it. I want to get a second one already in case this one breaks.
The MPC was the center of your studio for a long time. Was that the main piece of gear you learned production on?
I started with Reason and Ableton—pretty basic. Then came my first two buys, the MPC and the Juno 106.
Yeah, I was super lucky. I was a big fan of Larry Heard and saw in an interview that he used a Juno 106 and immediately went online and got really lucky—I paid €250 for it. Every track I have ever done, I've used it. I can create anything I want right away.
Is this the original one, the first one that you bought?
Yeah. I love it. It becomes your language. Whenever you want to say or do something, you go back to it automatically.
What do you like most about it?
I never read anything or really studied anything about it. And without reading anything about it, this machine taught me—it made me able to use different [pieces of gear] as well, because it's so simple. It displays everything chronologically, left to right, so you know exactly what you are doing. And without knowing what all these things meant and without ever looking it up when I was working with another synth, I could just go from there. It's just so simple.
When you're programming other synths now, do you find yourself thinking about how this one works and translating that process into another?
Well by now I've actually read up about synthesis. But this is where I started from—his is like the first book I ever read, my introduction into how to make a sound.
Just having an MPC and a Juno 106—seems like a pretty friendly setup for cramped quarters in a Berlin shared apartment.
Most of my music I made in Belgium, and back then it was bedroom studios—kind of similar to this, actually, maybe a bit bigger, with no isolation whatsoever, IKEA tables, very amateuristic. When I moved from my student houses and stuff, I went to my partner from FCL, Bart [Van Neste, AKA Red D]'s house and built a little studio there. That was cool because we put a black curtain behind us and two or three tables on one side of the wall with all of the stuff in one line. You had the feel of playing a live set. I guess the last two or three years in Berlin I had similar studios, pretty uncomfortable ones, setting it up for six months and knowing you have to leave and not really putting the time and effort into setting it up the way you want to.
Then in the last year, two years, I've just been DJing a lot, so I haven't been in the studio as much. I've been trying to focus and decide for myself the perfect setup for me to work in. I think now I've found it. The last two months have been absolutely great. I've spent some time in the studio, feeling comfortable about everything. I'm pretty sure this will be my setup for a long time now. I hope.
Has your sound changed since you've gotten back in the swing of things?
Totally. I've changed so much. I don't know, I'm not the biggest fan of what I've done before—I rarely play my own stuff. A big thing for me when I make music is, I just give it to Bart, and it was more him that was saying, "Let's do this and that." If it was up to me, I would have only released four or five tracks. I'm not going to say I dislike it, but at the same time I was learning to produce music I was also very focused on the DJ part of things, and I've grown much faster in that than the producing part of things.
Musically, my world as a DJ changed a lot. Every six months passes, and I'm like, "Damn, where were you six months ago? I would never play that anymore." Moving to Berlin, too—your musical world opens up. If you travel a bit and live here, you see all these great DJs every week, and you grow much faster. So yeah, musically my world opened up, and this is definitely going to show in my production. I want to do techno, electro, African music, whatever—I've been exploring, so this is definitely going to come back in my music now, I'm sure.
What was it you thought was lacking in your productions before? Was it that variety of influences? Did you feel you weren't being as sophisticated with sound as you could have been?
Yes, those both. Technically, in the studio, I was never—I don't have patience or discipline. I like to mess around and play with things and I make 100 tracks a month, but I don't finish them, you know? It's that kind of thing. I never want to sit down and actually finish, but instead explore a new synth and try out new things. That was always my biggest flaw. So that was one part, and there is more the aspect of the skillset, the patience and the discipline in the studio. And yeah, the musical journey—you grow and you change. I think it's normal. Every producer has it, and I think it's very interesting. I recently bought two or three very old records of Levon Vincent, his really early stuff. I think there are stories on Discogs about him reusing the stock. I paid the money for them. I just wanted to hear where he came from, because it's so interesting to see what he did then and what he does now. It's the comparison between those two that's inspiring, and it teaches you a lot.
You've obviously got a lot more gear now than just the Juno 106 and the MPC. You said in an interview that when you buy records, you're not just looking for good records but timeless ones. Do you take a similar approach to buying gear for your studio? For example, you have a 909, and obviously that's a drum machine with sounds rooted in a particular time, place and style. But those styles haven't necessarily grown old, so maybe there is something timeless about those sounds.
That's true. But you still got to take those timeless elements and raw elements and put them in a context where it turns into something creative and new. And you can do that with other devices: you can manipulate the frequencies or whatever, or you can play with timing and velocity. Then you are producing, you know? I don't care too much about how many people have used the machine before or how a certain producer used it in a track. Of course you learn and you listen, and there is always a certain level of imitation. But then the final step is for you to make it your own, where you put it in a position and people will say, "OK, this is interesting."
How do you make a classic 909 drum hit into a San Soda drum hit?
Well one of my favorite things to do is this filter treatment. [Gestures to the Rodec / Sherman Restyler] You know the Sherman filter? It's like a 19-inch Belgian device, very famous for distorting everything, like a noisy sound. That came out a couple of years ago with this little device. It's actually on the market as a DJ tool, but I don't understand—I think it's a beast. You need to master it incredibly to be able to use it in a DJ context because it's so powerful.
So it's not so easy to use?
Yeah, you have to really know what you're doing because it can be so easy to blow up a soundsystem with it. The distortion is great, the resonance—it's an amazing filter. Your question was how do you make your sound your own… Say I put a hi-hat from the 909 in this. Just tweaking these knobs, you can make it into 100 different hi-hats. This was a revelation for me like two years ago when I got it. Since then, you can really give character; you can even use it for entire loops or whatever. I think it's an amazing device. So this is for me one of the ultimate tools to personalize your sound, and also to use it for multiple things on one track so it blends in.
There are other things. I mean, I have the Moog filter. Of course compression and reverb we can manipulate, too. But also your idea of music, the idea of timing or the velocity, the repetitiveness. I think Omar-S is a very good example, too. He uses the same machines for 200 tracks that he made before—the same 606, 808, 909—and I've never heard two tracks where he uses exactly the same kick drum or exactly the same clap. That shows that even tiny EQs or filtering or whatever can totally make it not generic.
You said this little Sherman device was a revelation. Is there anything else in here you'd describe that way?
The Space Echo. Definitely the Space Echo.
No studio is complete without one.
I had a lot of troubles with it. I've been back with it six or seven times already to get it fixed, which is very annoying. But it opened up my vision on the placement of drums and the placement of different sounds in the track. If I record everything on Ableton, it is coming with a return-send, so I can easily switch it off, and sometimes if it's not switched on and I hear the track completely dry, I think to myself, "This sounds like a track that I would have done four years ago," you know what I mean? When I switch it on, even just subtle hints of it opens the whole track and gives it a new dimension. So yeah it definitely changed my sound a lot.
You've got a pretty nice looking mic. Do you record vocals down here?
Yes, but that's mainly for the FCL project, but also some percussion, some congas and some shakers and some claps and snaps. I should use it more, actually, because it's always something you put on the side of your studio and forget about. Maybe I should leave it next to me and I'll use it more.
Do you know a lot about vocal recording techniques?
Very basic. What I did is I put my duvet in front of the mic, and I made [FCL vocalist Lady Linn] sing towards it. It actually sounded great—super dry. I make her sing two or three times in different settings and see what I prefer. But I'm definitely not the super anal master of the setting of mics and the scene, it's just very basic. But I think that's nice, in my style of music—the things I've done with FCL so far—it's totally not important. As long as it doesn't sound bad, it's OK. If it sounds bad and there is too much reflection, or it sounds weak, then it's not OK. But we've done funny stuff before, like hanging up a sleeping bag in the corner of the room and she had to hide in the sleeping bag. That was pretty funny. So just basic techniques. I mean, if you are going to professional studios that do pop music, I imagine every little detail is super important. But for club music, I don't think it matters that much.
You've got a Tascam cassette recorder on your desk here.
It's an eight-track, with a line-in and return-send as well. It's a cool thing.
What do you use it for?
I never used it for an entire track. I've tried it for some tracks now, and it sounded alright, maybe a bit too dirty. I'm still thinking of having them properly mastered after having them put on a cassette tape and seeing how it sounds.
So you're basically using it as an effect?
Yes, right: for some synths or to slow it down, or put a kick on it and then pitch it down and re-record it. I use it as a tool. I think I might use it for some entire tracks now, some electro stuff, to crank up the hiss a little bit. I bought an eight-track reel-to-reel—the heads are a bit dirty, but I'm going to get it restored now, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that sounds and working that out.
That could potentially cut Ableton Live out of the process entirely.
I don't know, maybe one day. Now that I have the ACME-4, I am more happy again to focus on the computer, because I don't have to worry about wasting time worrying too much about the technical aspect. I am pretty happy to use both the analog and the digital.
Speaking of analog, you have a lot of records in here and more upstairs. Are you doing a lot of sampling these days?
The last two years I've been buying more synths and messing around with these more now. But then I got some really nice samplers again. I got the E-mu SP-1200 and the MPC3000, so yeah, now I'm sampling again.
What makes one old-school sampler better than another for a particular track?
Right now it's just a question of trying them out and seeing which one fits me the best. Also, different samplers give a different character to the sound. I think the SP-1200, I just bought because I was impressed with what people had made with it, and I wanted to try it out. But the MPC has always been my go-to. I'm so in love with these MPCs, but I just needed to get the 3000 to see how it sounded and try it out, so now it is fun sometimes, I can change it around and it adds new things to your tracks.
Can you give me a sense of the different character of the samplers? Like what sound would you reach for the SP-1200 for?
The SP-1200 is very grainy, gritty. The pitching of the samples is especially incredible. But it is also very limited—it only has 10 seconds of sample time on it. If you want to jam on this one device for a while, then you really need to make the right decisions. On the MPC, you have a gigabyte of room, and already it allows you to—if you aren't happy with your hi-hat, to look for another hi-hat. If you aren't happy with your hi-hat on the SP-1200, you better put five more records on and see if you find the hi-hat you are looking for. So this is what I like about the SP-1200: it limits you and is very basic, and it has a lot of character. The eight outputs have different sounds, and even if you sample the same kick drum a different day it will sound different. It gives it so much life and sounds like a personal touch, so I really like that. The swing is really good, too.
But then the MPC it is my favorite one—it's so fast, and as I told you, it was the first machine I bought. I was so fascinated by it. First track I sampled was "Summer Madness" by Kool And The Gang. I'll never forget that first moment, the first chord. Like the first time you head a Moodymann track or something, you just go, "Woah, it's so crazy that it sounds like this."
Do you tend to cycle in and out of gear? Like do you ever sell anything on?
I keep everything. I lend it out here and there, but I try not to buy gear that loses value—everything I've bought, I could sell it on for the same amount of money, so I don't really see it as losing money or money I should use for something else. I'm a bit of a hoarder, actually.
You're just learning to properly play piano now. Did you grow up playing any other instruments?
Not at all. I never did anything musical, nothing in my education or something like that. We sang in music class, but that's it.
Making music was an outgrowth of DJing, then?
Indirectly from DJing, but also from just listening to the tracks that I loved. I knew two or three chords, and all the music I made is just these chords. Now I've had four months of piano lessons, like one hour a week, and it has completely opened up my world. You know, next to the technical aspects of the machines, there is this whole other world of actually composing your music and melodies in the rhythm. That is a whole new path for me.
When your instrument is the studio, so to speak, like every time you sit down and play, you might come out of it with something tangible. With the piano, you kind of have to sit down and just practice, with no tangible outcome other than being able to play a little better. Does that make it any harder to stay motivated?
There is the same kind of work to do with these machines. I think of it the same way as mastering an instrument. But I do love focusing on just this one thing, and telling yourself you are going to learn this scale, and then after two hours you have got it.
Do you have a favorite chord?
I used to have one: D-minor. After maybe three or four months of piano lessons, I was like, "Oh, so that's why I've been using it."
So you didn't know the name of this sweet chord you'd been playing?
Exactly. And now I know exactly what I'm doing, which is kind of scary to know there is a system behind it. It's not based on luck—it's actually mathematics behind it. Other people say if they never had any music lessons, it benefits them in the studio. So I was kind of afraid to learn that, like if this is the way that people do it, I'm scared to stay in this little box, these will be the only progressions or the chords. So maybe I actually made music for five years without actually knowing anything just to prove to myself I don't need the notes to make something, to create something.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
Dan Berkson and James What show us around the studio where they made their long-awaited debut album, Keep Up Appearances.
This is the left side of the workstation desk. At the top are two power conditioners. Also here you see the Roland MKS-80 and MPG-80. The MKS is another great polyphonic synth that we’ve used a lot. It’s quite versatile, and it also has cartridges with presets so we can scan through a lot of classic sounds if we run out of ideas (Kid Nepro make some great presets for it).
On this side we have the first Moogerfooger chain (the second one is on the back table), and then the Moog delay has its own in and out and we mainly use it as a send rather than an insert.
This is the right side of the workstation desk. Here you see the Lynx Aurora 16 converters and one of the AMT8 midi interfaces (the second one is on the back rack).
There is a Jrak with two DI boxes which are hardwired into the NEVE 1073lb Preamps. After trying out a bunch of 500-series preamps we decided these would be the best to get for a first stereo pair. They add a warm colour to things but can also crunch very nicely if you drive them. We’re still hoping to fill the rack with some more of these.
Here are all the effects. We have two Roland Space Echoes. It’s handy to have a couple for when one needs a repair or a change of tape. We use their spring reverb a lot too.
The DBX160 is the only compressor we have at the moment. Basslines, chords and single drum shots often go though here. We love distorting the Jomox 999 drums in the Neves and the DBX; you can hear that on tracks like ‘Shadow Theory’ where all the drums have really been crunched.
We also borrowed an SSL quad compressor for some of the recordings on the album. For example, the acid line on ‘Make It True’ (Seth Troxler is releasing the extended version of this track on his Play It Say It label…) is running through the Neve 1073lb then into the quad compressor and into the computer via the Xdesk channel.
The Ibanez AD-202 is another great analogue delay effect, although its delay time is very short. It has a great feedback effect you can hear on the outro of ‘We Search For Answers’. Great flanger as well.
We have the Lexicon PCM42 digital delay, which is useful when you need a thinner sounding delay or some cool modulation, and also the PCM70, a classic reverb which we have on the desk as a send but which we actually mainly use when we’re making synth FX. Otherwise, the projects use plugin reverbs.
And finally the Studio Electronics SE-1, a great Minimoog-style synth. It’s really good for subs; most subs, especially on our older Berkson & What tracks on Poker Flat, come from here.
Back Table Top
On the back we have the second chain of Moogerfoogers, the Roland SH-101, Minimoog and Jomox 999.
We spent a lot of time redesigning the patchbay to work with the SSL Xdesk and Xpanda. It’s a much simpler setup than when we used the Soundcraft 6000 (which was out of service most of the time).
APS AEON Monitors
We used APS AEON speakers while making this album. It was an upgrade from using the Mackie HR-824 for years. It definitely helped having a bit more low end. Good value for money, for anyone looking to upgrade…
James visited the Moog factory in Asheville at the end of 2012. They were kind enough to give us an artist endorsement discount, so he came back with all the Moogerfoogers. This was just before we started working on the album; since then we’ve used these pedals on every single track of the album and it’s really transformed our sounds… for the better!
The MF-104M (analog delay) and the MF-108M (Cluster Flux) are our favourites, for sure. We have one Moogerfooger chain on the main desk, another on the back table, and another for the delay set up as a send. We often play around with different pedal combinations in the chain.
Fender Rhodes & Roland Jupiter-4
Certainly one of our favourite pieces of gear, the classic Fender Rhodes. This one is an early Mark I that has been fitted with a tremolo/preamp from Vintage Vibes that simulates the sound of the suitcase model. Nothing compares to the real thing.
We’ve used the Jupiter-4 a lot as well; it has such a rich polyphonic sound, so different from the more common Juno series. We’ve used it for bass, pads and sound FX. Our favourite feature of that synth is its random arpeggiator setting.
ARP Solina String Ensemble
Fantastic string machine that does one thing and does it brilliantly. Perfect for those high notes. It also caught fire once. Luckily we were around!
This and the CR-8000 are amazing early Roland drum machines that get used from time to time, especially for hats.
Roland Juno 60
This synth is a real workhorse that gets used for all types of things. It has that stereo chorus that sounds great on everything. On our album it was mainly used for short sequenced synths and a lot of ambient pads.
SSL XDESK Closeup
All the intruments run straight into the desk channels by default. We use the alternative inputs for all our effect returns and computer outputs for summing.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
Good things sometimes come in small packages. Kevin McHugh gives us an extensive tour of his tiny Berlin studio.
Ambivalent – My Studio
This is my studio. It’s a small, small room in my apartment in Berlin. Exact dimensions are 2m x 2m. The room had previously been used as a home office space when I moved into the apartment in 2008. Two of the walls were glass, so I covered the whole room in audio foam. Expensive but necessary. That’s made up for by the fact that there’s a second, false ceiling, and it only shares one wall with a neighbor, which happens to be made of a half-metre of brick. I can’t figure out what the room was originally built for, but it’s managed to be a convenient (if imperfect) solution.
909 and Keyboard
These two old dogs do a lot of the work here. The Oxygen 8 isn’t anything particularly special, but it does what I need it to do, and it’s been with me since the beginning. My studio’s not very controller-heavy, as most of the gear lends itself to hands-on manipulation. The 909 is, well, everything anyone has ever said it is. I can’t add much to the volumes of praise and lists of the historic contributions of this machine. I can pick a real 909 or 808 out of any mixdown I hear, and I guess that pushed my gearlust for it over the edge. It’s gotten a lot of use on the Delft material and some on the Amber stuff, but a lot of the unreleased material coming soon has it featured much more explicitly.
Left Desk Rack
This rack is sort of the heart of the operation. Top to bottom, there’s a Neutrik patchbay, a MOTU Midi Express 128, an Eventide H8000FW, a Universal 4-710d, a UAD Apollo Quad, a Dangerous Music D-Box, an Apogee Big Ben, and a Lexicon MX200.
I’m skipping the patchbay, as that’s about as sexy as my socks. The Midi Express isn’t much sexier, but this is kind of a key part of how the whole system works. It’s kind of trendy for interfaces to include MIDI I/O, but this is more robust and reliable, and obviously offers more options.
Eventide H8000 & Universal 4-710d
Next after that is the Eventide. This is sort of like dating someone who is way out of your league, but just too gorgeous to resist. She was way too expensive, probably bad for my overall mental health, and a result of poor impulse control, but sweet ecstasy is she a heart-stopper. It just makes anything sound so glamourous. There are algorithms and DSP in this thing that can make a wet fart sound like Hans Zimmer got paid €30,000 to conduct it out of an orchestra. You can hear it quite clearly on my Amber track ‘Waves of Grain’ or on my track ‘Snowblind’. I know it’s identifiable because my friend Nyma sent me a comment after one release with just “H8000″ written. He’s a love. Hear it here.
The Universal 4-710d might be the most irreplaceable piece of gear in the studio. It’s got 4 of Universal’s 710 preamps, but have a phase-aligned pots to blend a tube pre-amp with a solid-state one. Each channel has a built-in 1176-style compressor, with just two time-constants. The fast kicks in at 5 ms and the slow comes in around 100 ms. This beast is really the source of the LA-4A stuff. Even the LA-4A name is a reference to that rich, raw, fat sound of that classic UREI gear. Though I’ve always lusted after an LA-4, it’d be hard to beat this unit on quality and functionality. Like I said, any LA-4A track is marinated in this monster’s juices, and then seasoned to taste. Hear it here.
The UAD Apollo is a solid, transparent and powerful interface. I’m not crazy about some facets of how the I/O is apportioned, particularly the ADAT setup, but it’s all made up for by the incredible plugins. More on those later.
Below that is a Dangerous Music D-Box, which is relatively more flexible than how I currently use it, but that will change soon. Nevertheless, it’s one of my most crucial pieces, and adds so much to all my tracks. Using this for analogue summing changed my mixes dramatically about two years ago. Obviously I don’t have space for a big console, but even if I did, I’m not sure I’d go to the effort. This gives me rich analogue summing, but requires a lot less hassle. Someone’s gonna slate me for that, but none of this is a statement of superiority, just my personal situation.
The Apogee Big Ben runs Word Clock signal to the Apollo, the H8000 and the 4-710d. You can’t hear it on anything, but you would definitely notice if it wasn’t there. A thankless watchman, keeping the realm in order, asking for no glory. I pour out my beer for you, Ben. Thank you for your service.
The Lexicon MX200 ain’t as fancy as its more famous cousins, but it’s got all the same algorithms, and since I run it over S/PDIF, doesn’t lose anything in conversion. A lot of common sense gets lost in the analogue/digital debates. The truth is, naturally, it’s all how you use it. This is an affordable, excellent piece of gear, and a great way to get some extra DSP and rich reverb. You can hear this on nearly all my records, including ‘R U OK’, which you can find here.
The Minitaur has some sort of evil magic that makes basses come out absolutely massive. I can’t really say a lot more about what it does than to point at two tracks where it features heavily: tracks I made with Michael L Penman. ‘Apt’ and ‘Shimmer’ both have basslines that take over a room like a cloud of smoke. Serious air-pressure changes from this thing. Also nice to get that rich Moog ladder filter sound if you want it, or if you just want to rattle people’s organs. Hear it here.
The Mopho isn’t particularly special, but it’s been on a fair number of my tunes (such as this). Cheap and analogue, but a nightmare to program or manipulate.
The Boss VT-1 is cheesy but fun. Back when I was doing pitched-down vocals, it could add a bit more grit, mainly because it’s pretty dirty.
The MXL mic is a cheap condenser I picked up early on when I started. Some clearance bargain or something. All my vocal tracks started there, such as this.
Alesis iO Dock
The Alesis iO Dock is kind of handy for some of the better iOS apps out there. You can hear the Animoog on my remix of Joe Stawarz for Soma.
Elektron Analog Four
The Analog Four is something I’d recommend to anyone looking for a versatile, powerful, connectible, feature-rich synth with a near-limitless set of capabilities. It’s been on a ton of my stuff, most notably the bassline on the LA-4A track ‘America Kid’.
Some obscure Japanese thing I traded for a pack of gum and some old drink tickets. Nothing to see here. Please move along.
In all seriousness, I don’t know what to say about it. Owning one of these was a dream of mine for years. And if you can believe it, having it has been even better than I hoped it would be. It’s basically all over everything I’ve made since I got it, and it never ceases to surprise and amaze me.
Jomox AirBase 99, Oberheim Matrix 1000 & Korg Volca Keys
The Jomox AirBase 99 is a dope piece that’s often overlooked, and ultimately wound up discontinued. The desktop AirBase models get all the love, but this has all the same guts. Again, space is a premium in my studio, and before I got the 909, this made all kinds of fat Roland-style drum sounds. Not as popular as a 707, but way more analogue; not as legendary as a 909, but way more practical.
The Oberheim Matrix 1000 is my go-to poly. I never had the knack for that Oberheim sound, but once I got this, I understood why it made its way into so many studios. It’s perfect for making something elegant, musical or weird. It’s a key part of most of the tracks under my Amber alias, which you can find here.
In my opinion, the Korg Volca series synths are the inheritors of the Roland x0x units. Made for affordability and simplicity, they offer a lot of bang for their buck. You can hear this on my LA-4A track ‘Flare’ here.
Vermona DRM 1 Mk II
The next rack sits to my right while I’m working, and I nearly always have a hand on this badboy, the Vermona DRM1. Technically this is a Mark II, but it seems like it was the last stage before they switched to the Mark III. It’s all-analogue, which would draw some comparisons to the 808, but truthfully, it’s maybe the same species, but another animal. I usually end up patching this direct into the tube pre, because it can sound super raw when you push it hard. This one was pretty crucial to the Amber tracks, as well as my track ‘Cartesia’ on the recent Ambivalent EP on Delft.
One of the super nice features that this unit has is that the individual outs are TRS [insert] enabled. This means you can patch a voice out to an effect, and return it direct on the same channel to go back through the master output. Super handy for simple live effect, like pedals, as seen here with the Boss DD-6.
One of the most distinguishing things about these units is the clap. Somewhere close to an 808, and yet something else entirely. I used this clap constantly on all the Amber material I made last year. You can hear it really well on ‘Keep It Gone’ here.
Right Rack Continued
Next up is the Studio Electronics SE-1X. This is actually on loan to me, though I haven’t used it in ages. Diverse and fat, Moog-style sounds. This made the bassline on ‘Down’, and the lead on ‘Witchfinder’ here.
The next piece above that is a Novation A-Station. This was an update for the classic old Bass Station. This made the lead synth lines on all my early tracks, including the melody on ‘RUOK’.
Last, but not least, this synth provides the most power for the lowest cost. It’s a Freebase FB-383. I got it in a pretty beat-up state for €80, and it is one of the meanest, rawest, fattest things I’ve ever heard. They made these as 303 emulations, but if you abuse it, it can do so much more. Evidence is on my track ‘Red Ones’ here.
Adam P11A Monitors
My monitors are the Adam P11As. They sound good, maybe a little too good. I compensate by placing them poorly in a haphazard and ineffective arrangement. I’m clever like that. Being serious though, I’ve seen people go nuts trying to perfect their room or buy fancy, overpriced monitors. No setup is better than the one you know, and have tested in combination with other rooms and systems. I’ve never had a professional monitor setup, and here I am talking to Attack Magazine about my production. Local boy made good. Making something now is far preferable to waiting to make something perfect. But maybe that’s my old punk rock roots showing.
The UAD plugs are a massive part of my gear. Like I said, it’s not about digital versus analogue, it’s about smart choices about both. I’m unlikely to ever get my hands on a Fairchild compressor, so you won’t catch me snobbing on about the differences from the real gear. And it’s not just emulations – the Brainworx mastering EQ has completely revamped my mixing chain. And I don’t know anyone who has the budget or the real estate for an EMT 140 or 250, but I’ve got them both – or as close as I need to be to owning them.
This is a picture of my floor. You can absolutely hear this on every one of my records, as the chaos, disorganisation, ambivalence and impatience represented in this tangle seeps out of every corner of my music. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
The Welsh born but Berlin located producer, Benjamin Damage, found a delightfully apt home for his robustly constructed beats and other worldly synth washes when he hooked up with the 50Weapons label back in 2010. Following some teasingly good EPs, his first full length effort, Heliosphere, dropped last year to a pretty solid reception, impressing both with his aptitude for dancefloor and head spaces backed up by some serious engineering of rich and hard hitting tones. With the album not too far in the recent past he's already preparing for the next phase and recently set himself about reworking his live set for a series of key dates this spring – one of which we're excited to be hosting this coming Saturday in Room Two.
Like the audiophiles we wish we had enough time to really be, we're always up for a bit of hardware voyeurism so we linked up with Berlin based photographer Lisanne Schulze to head to Damage's studio to uncover what's new and interesting about his live setup. We also engaged in our own email exchange with Damage to find out exactly what it is that sparked this re-jig and what exactly it entails…
So I’ve heard that you’ve put together a new live set for the summer – what sparked the impetus to change things up?
I'd been buying some equipment and testing it out, and I realised the computer was really getting in the way and slowing things down. Having a screen on stage seems to just focus all your attention and its a lot more fun to just use hardware machines and be free of it. Also it makes thing completely non-linear. There's no audio tracks playing so you can extend, shorten and change everything depending on how you feel.
What is it you’re performing on now exactly? Can you run us through the hardware in this new live set up..
The heart of the setup is the Sequentix Cirklon. Its a very powerful hardware sequencer made by this one guy in Scotland. It controls everything else (that is controllable) in the setup. What is great about it is how easy it is to change everything so quickly. Its very non-linear in how it works. I'm also taking a Roland TB-303, Niio Iotine Core, MFB-522 drum machine, Eventide Space, Strymon Timeline and MPC 1000. Some of the equipment in the studio is too delicate to take, like the ETI 4600 so I've sampled it into the MPC.
Do you have a favourite piece? Like what do you most enjoy playing on and with?
The Niio Iotine Core is a great sounding machine. Its almost impossible to get a bad sound out of it. It has 3 filters, distortion and envelopes and is very well laid out and easy to control live. Its doesn't have any midi or digital control. Its a very purist device.
How much of your set is new unreleased material? Do you find live sets double up as testing grounds for new tracks?
I'm writing new material with the hardware setup and eventually I'm going to just record it live. Even the older stuff sounds very different from the released versions. It's all recreated and performed live, so while there are recognisable elements its essentially new.
So what we’re seeing in these pictures, is this the live set up as you’ll be bringing to fabric this May?
The SE Boomstar was borrowed from a friend to try out. Its a good sounding synth but a little bit fiddly to use in a live situation. Also I've got a Strymon Timeline which is a great sounding delay pedal.
How does it differ from what you produce with?
Before this I've always mixed down in the box and recorded everything to the computer. I use Ableton mainly to produce with, though a few things are done with Renoise and Cubase.
Did you face any challenges when you were writing the set and putting it together? Like did all the machines talk with each other like they should or were there a few problems along the way to solve?
The whole process took quite a bit longer to set up than I planned. The MPC needed an operating system upgrade and all the samples had to be converted to a particular format.
Does all of this mean there’s a new album forthcoming? What has been coming out of your studio of late?
I've been working on bits for a new album all year. The live show has influenced it a lot, but its not going to be all hardware. There are a lot of things the computer is good for too.
Obligatory end of interview dream studio purchase question: if money were no object what's at the top of your want list?
The new Macbeth Elements synthesiser looks really good. All the Macbeth stuff sounds incredible and laid out in a musical way. For the studio I'd love a Yamaha CS-80. I've resisted the urge to go modular so far. I like the way you interact with different machines.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
Our latest (and last of 2014) studio focussed interview shines light on a newly established project from Milan homed techno artists Avatism and Clockwork. The pair (who have actually been friends since their early childhood) over the course of 2014 cemented their studio based bond in their CW/A moniker, a path which takes them into comparatively tougher territory than their singular aliases in themselves represent. It's an alliance that we're very excited about homing on our NYE bill this year and one that we sought to learn more about the back story of how they create their sounds and hope to represent them when they perform live in Room Two at the end of this month...
I guess the best place to start is to ask how you guys met and came to work together?
Avatism: We’ve known each other since we were kids as our parents were friends before we were born. When we first started making music we liked different things but as time (and our careers) progressed we eventually ended up in similar territories. We both moved to Berlin in 2012 and I think that’s when we really started working together.
Clockwork: CW/A was born after we both moved back to Milan, sometime at the end of last year. We had been perusing the idea of working together for a while long before that but kept on postponing it for a reason or another till it all just came together naturally.
You said for your recent EP you wanted to work more improvisation based – how did that pan out for you is it a method you fell you want to pursue more?
Avatism: Improvisation is a key part of our CW/A project, which we want people to start seeing as something different from our Avatism and Clockwork material (although I’m aware we should have picked a less confusing name.) After doing the Avatism live show for long time I realised I wanted something more risky, but the music I made was too planned-out and organised: there was little room to improvise. It just made sense to start a parallel project and have it revolved around the performance, rather than the other way round.
The best part is that, as a result of this setup, we are now coming up with a lot of ideas during our shows. Both “Conducting the Method” and the forthcoming “Day of Riddance” EP on Parachute are made up of ideas we developed during performances. The process is no longer limited to being “from the studio to the show”, but it’s a continuous back and forth that has been really refreshing and exciting for us.
What do you think is the other’s strong point in the studio?
Avatism: Francesco is definitely more of a “musician” in the more traditional term.
Clockwork: His engineering skills.
Your latest tracks have been pretty tough numbers – is this a nod as to where you’re at right now in what you’ve been making and the live set?
Avatism: Yes, definitely. We’re both totally aware there’s a difference between this EP, what we are playing now and our previous records. Again, I think Francesco agrees that we want people to understand that CW/A is a separate thing from both Avatism and Clockwork.
After finishing my LP on Vakant last year I felt drained and wanted to start something different. I felt like I was too influenced by the people around me, my friends and my “colleagues” and I was developing a sound that was not entirely my own. I needed a break after “Adamant” and I shifted my focus onto new experiments, CW/A being one of them.
I think Francesco felt the same way and this is probably why we agreed to start CW/A with a blank slate to see where this new approach to writing music would lead us, and it brought us here.
Clockwork: I agree with Thomas. I tend to consider “B.O.A.T.S.” as an end of a musical journey that I somehow grew out of. I noticed I was part of something I didn’t fully support and it kind of scared me to be catalogued under a scene I didn’t feel I belonged to. All this brought me to sitting down in the studio and adapt a more selfish approach by making the music I really wanted to make, rather than what everybody else wanted me or expected me to make.
How does Parachute Records fit in?
Clockwork: We could say Parachute is CW/A’s main hub. When we first started writing music as CW/A we noticed we were finally making something we considered fresh and totally unapologetic, this was around the same time we were kicking off with Parachute. It just made sense for us to make music for a label we own and run and share our vision with everybody else, making the two projects go hand in hand and making them progress together from scratch.
Can you tell us a bit about your working process? Is there a particular way you approach putting your tracks together?
Clockwork: We don’t really have a specific working process we follow. Most of the time we might start working from a loop one of us started and develop on the idea together which is mainly achieved by compensating each-other’s strengths and limitations. We both acknowledge we have different areas of expertise in writing music and it’s exactly what helps this project move forward, with Thomas’ engineering studies and my conservatory studies we pretty much cover up what are two of the aspects you need to have to be able to write music the way we do (not that you really need to have a degree for any of this, but I guess it gets the idea across.)
Having said that, we will use unconventional methods of production form time to time, things we didn’t necessarily learn during our studies but stumbled across over the years we have been making music. These are the things that usually really make or break a track for us, as they add a personal touch which characterises what we want our music to sound like.
Avatism: I’ve been building a new studio for the past year, so we’re stuck in this little room at the moment. It’s definitely not the best place to mix stuff in, but it gets the job done for everything else. We have some gear that simply doesn’t fit in here right now, such as a nice Rhodes 88 MkII and an acoustic drumset, and there’s a lot of stuff we have to keep on the floor, in a corner or unplugged. It’s not as bad as it sounds though as the space limitations actually force us to change setup around a lot, which can be inspiring.
Synth-wise we tend to be somewhat “new school”. The only classics we own are a Juno-106, an SH-101, a Yamaha DX7 and an MS20 Mini. The MS20 is definitely our favorite of the bunch, as it’s really easy to use and it sounds really gritty and punchy without having to do much to the signal. The Juno is lovely but every sound you can program with it has already been done to death, so we haven’t used it too much for CW/A.
At least for me, the Nord Leads (we have both a 2X and a 4 here) are my go-to instruments as they are really versatile and easy. They can both do everything from squelching 303-style basslines to polyphonic Moog emulations to crazy detuned arpeggios. The NL4 actually has filters based on classic machines and built-in overdrive distortion for when the sound needs some more classic feel, although I feel like the 2X has a better low-end. While I’m not sure they succeed in replicating a true analog sound, it’s nothing a little bit of saturation or tape can’t fix.
We also just recently started a growing modular setup with some Pittsburgh, Makenoise and Mutable Instruments stuff we are using on our forthcoming CW/A LP. The idea is to eventually include some modules in our live set, though we have yet to find the perfect combination (especially since what we are using right now is not exactly “portable.”)
For drums we have a Vermona DRM1, an MFB-522 and a Tempest, alongside the Roland TR-8 and Yamaha DTX which we mainly use live. I think there’s a Korg Volca Beats lying around here somewhere, but I’ve only used that once, maybe twice. We tend to sample a lot of older records or found sounds with our phones or Francesco’s Zoom so it’s rare that we actually have a full beat coming from just one of these.
Most of the sounds are recorded through our 4-710D into the Apollo 16 but we also have some cheap ART, FMR and Joe Meek preamps for when the situation calls for well, a cheaper feel. If we really want to go for the lo-fi route we have this really awful Soundcraft mixer with a few busted amps in it. I have no idea what happened to it but the first two channels get this really nice (albeit intense) tape-like hiss. The 4-710D remains our favourite though because you can really mess with its tone and all the channels have a handy compressor built-in.
We tend to obsess over anything that really (and unpredictably) messes with the sound source so the OTO Biscuit, Sherman Filterbank and this beautiful Akai cassette deck our friend Clay gave us are getting used in almost every track. We also have this small Fender amp that can make everything sound like Darkthrone if microphoned correctly although it tends to be a bit too extreme (and really hard to mix.)
Most of our EQing and dynamics are done through software, as this allows for more surgical precision and instant recall. We find that a lot of the UAD stuff sounds almost as good as the hardware, and it allows us to create some really complex signal chains that would cost 10,000 euros per channel and a lot of headaches if done with actual gear. Everything is eventually sent into the SSL X-Desk and occasionally routed back in for additional mangling.
What’s your favourite and most essential item?
Avatism: Probably the Nord Lead 2X, simply because it’s the synth I know best.
Clockwork: Rhodes Eighty-Eight Mark II. I spend hours playing it. I find it relaxing.
What is it you’re performing on when you play live exactly?
Avatism: Funnily enough we have yet to play more than 3 shows in a row with the same exact gear and we keep shifting things around after every weekend in some obsessive search for “the ultimate setup”. I don’t think we’re there yet, but hopefully getting close.
The “backbone” of the set is a pretty big Ableton Live session with something like 600+ scenes. The loops and sounds from Live are divided into 2 to 7 channels and summed internally, controlled through a pair of MIDI controllers in order to use less mixer inputs as we enjoy using Xone 92s whenever possible.
For drums we use a Roland TR-8 (synced to Ableton through an RME interface) and a Yamaha DTX loaded with samples. The synth section is made up of a Doepfer Dark Energy II [unfortunately missing in the photos here] for mono leads and bass and a Nord Lead 4/2X or a Teenage Engineering OP-1 for everything else and MIDI control. The Doepfer box is usually sequenced through a Dark Time, an Arturia BeatStep or directly from Ableton while the NL is played on the fly.
We’ve tried using the Tempest instead of the TR-8 and a Juno-106 instead of the Nords/OP-1 but we always gravitate back.
To add grit and space to the dry hardware we bring a couple of reverb/delay units (Eventide Space Echo, BOSS Re-20), the OTO Biscuit and, occasionally, the Sherman Filterbank and Moog MF-101.
What do you most admire about the other’s production and skills?
Avatism: Francesco has a really keen ear for what works and what doesn’t, while I tend to overwork things a lot. I guess my approach is a bit more “scientific” while his is more akin to that of a traditional musician.
Clockwork: Precision and technique. Our stuff wouldn’t sound the way it does if it wasn’t for Thomas. whilst I’ll play most of the actual instruments we have in the studio Thomas will most certainly make them sound the way we need them to.
And finally, if money was limitless what’s your ultimate object of desire?
Avatism: Probably Victoria’s Secret or a private jet. Lame jokes aside, I’d really love to have a “proper” mixing desk, like a massive SSL 4000G or something custom-made.
Clockwork: A big ass pad in LA with a state of the art studio in it.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
An In-depth look at how the track 'Headroom' taken from the 'Soulmagnet' LP on Virus Recordings (Out on October 29th!) was constructed and produced, made by the man himself, Audio. This tutorial covers all of the processes, effects and programming involved in making a professional quality bass music track, from sounds, drums & bass to mixing the track. Hope you enjoy!
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
This is my studio space in Berlin since the middle of last year and where I spend most of my time writing music and listening to music. It’s looking pretty neat and organised here but it normal gets pretty messy as nothing really has a set space. I move things around me as I want to use them, swapping things in and out from the substitute bench (the couch). I write with a mostly hardware-based setup and have several machines running at once, recording individual channels into the computer to later edit and make use of some digital processing plugins.
Mackie Onyx 1640i Mixer
The mixer is connected via FireWire to my Mac Pro and all sounds are recorded via this mixer into my computer. I wanted to get a mixing desk because I had started to use more and more hardware. I chose this mixer because of the FireWire connectivity and a lot of producers I know were using various Mackie mixers. They are quite well known for their nice sound and character when you drive them quite hard.
Apart from sounding great, it’s super easy to not only record all the separate channels into Ableton but also send sounds out from Ableton across the desk via FireWire to make use of my outboard effects, compressor and the mixer’s EQ and then back into Ableton.
Sonnox Plugins & Ableton Live
Ableton is the DAW that I use and for the way I write music it’s the most supportive of my workflow. I used Logic for such a long time but it became very frustrating as I record a lot of audio with many different takes and variations of each sound and my project files would just become a jungle of sounds. With Ableton session view it’s so simple and easy to have all the takes arranged for easy recall once ideas are recorded and keeps the creative environment fun with little effort.
Other software I use is just the standard Ableton plugins like the simple delay and grain delay, and the Sonnox Oxford Plugins, mainly the EQ and compressor. I’m trying more and more to get the sound I want when recording so less processing is done on each track once the file is recorded.
Dave Smith Tempest
This is my main drum machine. Its sound is really amazing and in terms of sound design it’s super versatile with the fact thats it combines analogue and digital in one. Each sound has two analogue oscillators that can be layered with samples that come with it so you have a lot of tools to make some unique sounds. I’ve used this a lot for kicks, claps, hats and have two MUUI kits saved that I used a lot across Escape The Remedies.
It’s not a plug and play machine like the TR-8, but after the initial learning curve I find it super easy and fun to use in the studio.
Obviously this makes some pretty awesome basslines but I’ve also been using it a lot for warped leads with some delay weaving through tracks. The main sound of ‘Past is Practise’ is from the Voyager. I’ve also used this a lot for FX, like long wobbly uplifters using the LFO or modulating background effects to percussion hits.
The space machine! It only really does one thing so as long as you’re not wanting a versatile delay this is a nice purchase to have. I feed some sound through it, press record and just play around with the repeat rate and intensity, which creates some nice trippy flutter effects.
I used this a lot on the Escape The Remedies album – its use is quite obvious in tracks like ‘Polkadot Syndrome’ and ‘Desire’. I’ve also used it in the reverb only setting for atmospheric background sounds, sending some pads or strings through it well into the peak level to get out of it a totally mangled sound that with some EQ can fill in a track. I did this in the track ‘Escape The Remedies’.
I also always use this when playing live – you can hear it as the main effect in this recording from earlier this year at Ritter Butzke in Berlin.
Avalon VT747sp Compressor
I usually feed a drum machine or the bassline from the Moog into this and just push everything well into the red. It’s got an EQ also but I usually keep this flat. There’s also a nice sidechain effect where can you select certain frequencies to trigger more or less of the compressor, which I’ll usually play around with a bit for drum tracks.
A past release I used the Avalon quite heavily on is the drum tracks on the Synsyi release, a techno EP on Paranoid Dancer.
I tend to use the Sonnox compressor more than this as in the box can be a lot easier sometimes, but I’m starting to use this more and more.
Dave Smith Prophet 08
This was my second synthesiser I bought after the Virus TI. I had saved up for a synth and did not really know which one to get so I spent a long time trawling the internet to decide what to buy. I don’t really remember why I chose this but it was a great buy. Initially I did not use it much because it was a bit confusing and the small menu was a bit frustrating but over the years spending some time with it and learning more on how to use it and its possibilities I use this a lot now and I love it for basses, pads and leads.
Nothing precise ever comes out of it. Everything is a bit wobbly and dirty, and each sound has a lot of character. This is one machine I can turn on knowing I will get something I can use out of it each time. I’ve done a lot of soundtrack type music with this, a lot of which is unreleased. The bassline and lead line of this track are from the Prophet.
One of the newest purchases and it sounds great! The DNA symbiotic digital oscillator module makes some really strange noises.
The modular setup for now is quite basic, but it has all I need to make some really complex sounds and has given me something new to explore and learn.
I’ve not written tracks with this yet but I did do a collection of modular loops under Patrik Carrera. You can hear them below.
Koma Elektronik BD 101
This is a awesome gate/delay pedal that I’ve used mainly on percussion and hats. It spits out a really dirty sound because I always just push the input gain up and record small sections, playing around with the speed, time and cycle knobs. It usually gives me some nice interesting parts I can use. It’s got a cool motion sensor on it you can use to control effect amounts – I don’t really use it except for when showing friends: “Oh hey, look what this can do.”
Nord Lead 2X
I bought this second hand some years ago and it’s great! From bass to leads, it’s versatile and always sounds great. I’ve not used it a lot in the last year or so but have just rediscovered it and a new feature that I will make use of for the next live show synced over MIDI to a drum machine. It has a cool arp hold function and you can sync the arp and LFO speeds externally via MIDI to make some on-the-fly repeating chords and sequences.
Some sounds from the Nord are used in my track ‘Back To Yours’.
I use these mostly for live as they are small and easy to take around and I’m not too bothered if they break. I haven’t really used them in making music but when I first got them I used the Volca Beats on a few tracks. The kick from this remix I did is the bass drum from the Volca Beats.
Virus TI Snow
My first synth was the Virus TI Polar but when I moved from Australia I wanted something smaller and portable so I got the Snow. The Snow gives you four MIDI channels instead of 16 and less outputs but it’s perfect. The software it comes with is easy to use and makes it easy to name and save patches for each track. I’ve used it for kicks, basses, leads, percussion, FX hits and builds – basically everything – and I will always at least have one sound from this in each track.
The main sounds in ‘A Perfect Circle’ are from the Virus TI Snow and the Analog Four.
Couch & Cables
The couch holds a lot of cables and various things like a microphone, marcass, hard drives, power suplies and also some synths that don’t fit onto my work space.
The worst thing for me in the past was not having enough cables or not having the right ones, so right now I have much more than what I need scattered everywhere.
It’s always inspirational to see great art or photography, just like it is to hear good music. Away from music I enjoy taking photos and I also like to paint. I have a few small paintings I’ve done, a few unfinished ones and some blank canvases ready to be used laying around.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
SunkLo wrote: If ragging on the 'shortcut to the top' mentality makes me a hater then shower me in haterade.
As part of Phuture, DJ Pierre invented acid house - pioneering, and some would say perfecting, the 303-driven style with 1987's Acid Tracks EP. Few people shaped dance music like he did, and he continues to push the acid sound to this day - though his gargantuan discography also features techno, hip-house and more.
this video brought you by roland
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
In The Studio With: Brodanse
On the 24th of this very month Brodanse will be returning to Room Three for the second expression of their live set here in Farringdon, where they’ll be seamlessly working their established records and their secret weapons together to drive their Danse Club room. To get further insight into what exactly goes into their productions and how they've arrived at such an effective performance we asked the brothers to guide us through their shared set up in the latest of our production and live set focussed feature...
Firstly can you give us a brief verbal tour of your studio?
We are really lucky, we have this stand alone building without neighbours. Our studio is on the ground floor and our offices on the 1st floor – there is even a little kitchen and toilet!
We have insulated the studio and have an Apple Macbook Pro each running Ableton 9 and run it through a 22 inch monitor screen.
Equipment wise we have a Roland TR8, Korg Electribe, Ableton Push, Icon i-controls, Juno 106, Minibrute, pair of Adam A7X monitors, Adam Sub 8 and a Fireface 400. Notepad and two chairs, tons of wires and a coffee machine.
On the other side of the room we have two Technics 1210s and a Pinoneer DJM 800 on a separate Hi-Fi system (with an old 12 inch car subwoofer reclaimed from an old car) to test out productions against tracks we play out.
What’s your favourite and most essential item?
We would have to say the TR8 – that thing is knockout!
What is it you’re performing on when you play live exactly?
A smaller version of our studio, so: Macbook Pro, Abelton 9, Abelton Push, iPad using touchAble (on a Virtual Private Network), TR8, Korg Electribe, Icon i-controls and two pairs of AiAiAi TMA1s. Oz controls the TR8 and Push for drums and clips, and Scott controls the Electribe for efx, i-controls for mix and Ipad for touchAble.
How often do you change things up in your live set?
Every time. We take out what wasn't as strong and replace it with new stuff – always tying to improve!
How much of it is new unreleased material? Do you find live sets double up as testing grounds for new tracks?
Over 90% is unreleased and some of it is for 'Live only'. It is an experiment of the remixes and originals we are working on - it is essentially what is coming out of the studio at the time. Everything you hear is as we are hearing it now and should be coming out in some form within a few months. We even do special versions of our own remixes, our current favourite tracks and some of the classics.
Can you run us through why you’re working in this set up and what creative freedom it allows you?
We watched a lot of live sets over the last few years and took what we thought was the best from each then used that as the foundation. Simplicity is key [in everything we do] - we find it allows us to be very spontaneous and take the tracks in the direction we are feeling at the time.
How different is it from what you produce with in the studio?
Not very different, there are just more details in the studio. Live set is a bit more radical with less tuning and precision, the vibe is more 'club' orientated.
How’s that developed over time? Would you say there’s been a move more in favour of digital?
Just practice, practice, practice, ideas are picked up along the way, things are learned from others and through experience. To be able showcase it on a stage like Fabric is very special!
We suppose looking at the wider picture, yes there must be a move more in favour of digital which is certainly not a bad thing as long as the connection with the origins are not lost.
And finally, if money was limitless what’s your dream studio purchase?
Jupiter 8 and Apple Mac Tower
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
In this music technology spotlight we head over to the creative studio of Critter and Guitari in Brooklyn, NY to check out their unique synthesizers.
zoronery frees the realness
BIG UP YOSELF HAN SORO
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