Stuck on that killer riff? Struggling with a mix? Then you need some pro advice! Fortunately for you, we have some killer tips for you right here, sourced from some of the most cutting edge producers of the moment…
Jargon V.A are a young production/record label from South London who’ve collaborated with the likes of Killa P, Narstie, and Ms Dynamite. Their single ‘Disappoint You’ features Tinie Tempah, and the video has been a massive hit on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPuhfNOXxGk www.facebook.com/jargonva
We also refer to old-school breaks and loops when programming swing. Variations in velocity are really important when programming percussion as this provides a more realistic sound and will create a nicer feel. When it come to sampling drums, be careful not to over use the effects. Remember that if you sample drums from a mastered track, they would have already been mastered. Lastly, playing with panning and stereo separation can also sound cool when using ethnic percussion.
East London Based Studio Rockers is a label specialising in forward thinking electronic music, from Dubstep and beyond. Artists involved include Jazzsteppa, Foreign Beggars and Benjamin Zephaniah.
On the subject Creativity/Productivity, I guess it’s a long term process of getting into an understanding of the music and the tools you use. My creativity and productivity grew along with the countless hours put into the work. For me this has almost everything to do with how I get productive/creative now.
Knowing the way around my setup and knowing what to do when I want certain sound is almost everything. But probably the most influential thing for me is listening to new music. New sounds and inputs every day. Be humble and don’t give into genre fascism – this only slows down the process of good music I think.
Dirtyloud’s blistering brand of electro-dubsteppery magic has propelled the Brazilian outfit into the big leagues, even bothering the Beatport Dubstep charts for 7 weeks straight, which is no mean feat!
The best thing to do is to always listen to the broadest amount of genres possible. Don’t focus only on the styles you are trying to make. For our groove and bassline inspiration in our club-cuts, most of the time we use stuff from Brazilian dance music – like samba, forró, mangue-beat and/or sometimes the sample-heavy funk carioca.
This source material provides rhythmic solutions, copying and cross-fertilizing these grooves with our sounds has led to many excellent results. So, the interesting music today is really “in between” several styles.
With releases on Wicky Lindows, Sub Slayers and RocStar, Schema have carved out their own niche of bass heavy business. Check their single ‘Rat Bastard’ out to see exactly what we mean. They were kind enough to give us four whole tips – one each we presume!
Learn how to program synths by loading up 2 copies of the same synth, load a preset on one, and initialize the patch on the other, then starting at the oscillators, copy each setting one by one, listening to what happens with each change. Then repeat. Soon enough, you’ll learn what everything does and you’ll be able to make loads of sounds.
If you need to bring up the kicks and snares in a breakbeat, try using a spectral analyser and multiband compression to isolate and boost the kick and snare. This will give the boost you would get from layering a kick or snare underneath, but it will preserve the groove of the break. As a rule of thumb with compression, less is more.
One of the most important things is getting the idea in your head to the DAW as quickly as possible. This can be done using keyboard shortcuts, creating a sample folder that’s easy to navigate to, and creating DAW templates with channels/buses already setup plus a notepad for a ‘to do’ list. All these help reduce the time you have for those ideas to slip away.
When you’re really stuck for ideas, don’t be afraid to stop, peel back the curtains, and go do something else. Going out on an all-nighter with your mates or even just popping down the shops for a red bull and a sausage roll, is sometimes all you need for inspiration to spark. Listening to a 16 bar loop relentlessly will only make you hate it, even if it’s really good.
Described on her own website as ‘Savage and a bit arty’ Flore is out kind of artists. Shunning genre limitations in favour of pure musical expression is a dying art, yet Flore does it effortlessly.
Picasso used to say “Good artists copy, genius steal”. I’d not go that far, but I consider music analysis as a very important way of learning. Painters learn loads of different technics before creating their own style, I think musicians should do the same. Learn how other styles work, from minimal to drum’n bass, try to practice a bit of guitars, even drums.
Analyse other people’s tracks, the way they arrange them, the way these tracks are mixed. I’ve learned a lot from this practice.
Florian Senfter is known by many names: Splank!, John Starlight, and half of ZZT – but it is as Zombie Nation that many of us will know his work. A prolific producer who it’s fair to say know’s his way round a DAW!
Side chain compression basically controls the levels of a track. If you want to go more extreme and you like your sounds to pump, you can achieve this simply by drawing a volume curve into your bassline for example.
This might sound obvious, but for many purposes the manual approach is your best bet.
Killaflaw are an electro-blues outfit from Liverpool, who have been making waves in the dance/rock interzone over the last couple of years. Their track ‘Set Me On Fire’ topped the DMC charts in America for four weeks on word of mouth alone. http://www.facebook.com/killaflaw
For a good earthy sounding bassline, use a hardware sampler that can time stretch to the BPM sequencer tempo such as an MPC or a Yamaha SU700 and sample a guitar riff. Lower the octave and add a very slight bit of amp simulation or distortion and reverb on it.
If you have a ribbon controller on your sampler you can create some crazy sounds with the filters as well. Stick it onto your computer on whichever program you’re using and add another guitar pedal distortion effect and you should have a bassline of optimum phatness.