Tag Archives: Rinse FM

Chills – Start With A

What Did I Learn?

Get hands on. As I have been on the move a bit over the last year, my setup has been kept pretty  portable so I have been using either the mouse or the QWERTY keyboard to enter notes. Although this is fine, I decided to finally plump for a MIDI controller that had minimal latency and more feel to it. I opted for the Novation Launchkey 25 as I didn’t really need anything bigger and it had auto mappings for Ableton. As soon as I plugged it in I found myself playing for ages with the assignable knobs and excited by the limitless possibilities of parameters to automate. Not only will this help with arrangement ideas, it adds a human element to the performance and it’s fun.

There are no rules. Do what comes naturally when you are playing riffs or arranging sounds. Although it’s good to have a rough workflow, try not to copy or emulate other artists or styles too much. There is no wrong way to do things. Deliberately trying a different approach keeps the creative process fresh and the results will give your productions a unique sound. So, rather than comparing your output to other artists (and probably being disappointed with the outcome), you can get on with your own thing and only use yourself and your previous efforts as a benchmark.

Momentum. This one took a while to finish off as I left it a while between sessions. The longer you leave it, the less likely you are to finish it off so I always try to keep the momentum going and complete in a few days. I actually got bored of hearing it near the end but remembered when I first made it that I was bouncing around the room so at one point I was loving it. I used that reference point as motivation to finish it but it is fairly common for producers to lose interest during the final stages. You just have to remember that your potential crowd still hasn’t heard it yet so they aren’t as bored of it as you may be.

Control the stereo field. I recently attended the excellent Digitallabz production seminar in Bristol where the legendary Optical did a talk covering his methods. He suggested converting all your sounds into mono first and then mould the stereo spread to your liking rather than plumping with how the sounds comes as is. Not only will this help prevent masking etc but it will keep some of the power needed down the middle for mono club playback. Another related tip I picked up via Fanu was to HP EQ the sides (up to about 150-200Hz) using the Mid/Side option on Ableton’s EQ.

Keep template up to date. I think I slightly procrastinated on this track as I knew my sends weren’t up to date and had the wrong settings. Before each new piece I start I usually try to make sure my workflow and template are prepped accordingly so I can crack on with making music.

What Do I Need To Work On?

Riffs. Although a lot of my music is sample based, I haven’t thrown much into a sampler to jam with (in favour of plonking the one-shot on the arrangement page). By playing a riff, it keeps things musically interesting and opens up possibilities for different variations throughout the tune. Now I have a controller to do this with, I will aim to incorporate this more into my creation process from now on.

Start With A can be purchased at the Diffrent Bandcamp.

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Chills – In Too Deep

What Did I Learn?

Mixdown drums early. I tend to start with my drums, add music and fx then go back and mixdown. This time I mixed down the drums first before I progressed and it helped the track take shape. The drums (along with the bass) are the most important element so having them firing on all cylinders gives you the backbone to layer everything else on top.

Loop 8 bars when making main theme. Although my main ‘themes’ tend to be 2 or 4 bars, I found looping 8 bars (so 2 or 3 repeated themes at a time) gave a better perspective when it came to adding other elements that only appear once over 4 or 8 bars. Putting them all in and looping over 2 bars became crowded so spreading them out helped me zoom out and hear what it sounds like in context.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t over complicate things, if the vibe is working, don’t add any more for the sake of it. I was going to add a few more elements at the end of the 16 bar phrase for transition but ended up deleting ones I already had in there and I think it sounds better for it. Don’t over do it here with edits, fills, reverbed percussion and extra FX. Clearing room helped the bass turnaround become more noticeable and assisted in making the vocal poke through a bit more.

Importance of referencing. I don’t use reference tracks as often as I should but did this time around. One problem I was having was finding a tune like mine to compare to. My sound is becoming quite unique but rather than find a track that sounds similar to mine, I opted for a track that had a mixdown I wanted to aspire to. Even after the first minute of A/B testing, I noticed a few things needed tweaking. The cymbals were too prominent and the tops lacked a bit of air and its subtle nuances like that I wouldn’t have picked up on without having a benchmark to compare against.

Remove resonant frequencies. I wrote about this early on in my creative endeavours when I made Mindful, but it still applies as it is one of the most important aspects of production to keep an eye/ear on. Annoyingly, you don’t tend to spot them straight off the bat but when you do sweep and take them out, you find your sounds are a lot more pleasing and sit better in the mix.

Lighting. I randomly left the curtains drawn one morning, but quite enjoyed the ambience so turned on a desk light and cracked on. The darker room got me in the creative mood a bit more and also helped minimise distractions as it was quite a nice day outside. I was determined to get this track put to bed so did what I needed to do to get it done.

What Do I Need To Work On?

Stripping back. Keeping a minimal amount of elements and giving what’s left more space to hit harder.

Rinse FM radio play

rinse

Goal #2 has been achieved. ‘Push It Along’ was played by DJ Flight (Resident at Goldie’s Metalheadz and former BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ) on her Next Chapter show on Rinse FM.

Push It Along was mixed in between the massive Professor Popper by Stray on Exit and a Calibre remix of Total Science’s Juicy Fruit so I’m humbled to be in such company.

This has now inspired me to get my head down and keep doing what I’m doing. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to give feedback, read the blog or just listen to my music.

The full show, tracklisting and download option can be found on Mixcloud (Track comes in around 16.20, mention at 27.20)