Category: Interviews

GOT 5 MINS FOR A QUICK CHAT – ARUNA

 

 

With the recent release of ‘Galaxy Of Dreams 3‘ on Liquicity  Records, we thought we would catch up with one of the feature artists, ARUNA

What’s Your current studio set up?

It’s pretty simple really, pretty much everything I use is ‘in the box’, so to speak. I’m on Logic Pro X. My go-to synths are Omni and Sylenth, occasionally ANA and the EXS24 for sampling. For plugins obviously the Waves stuff is great, also the Fab Filter ProQ and Saturn, Xfer LFO Tool for sidechaining and Ohmicide to dirty up my basses. Sometimes Effectrix is fun for little glitchy, stuttery things and I use a lot of the stock Logic plugins too. My monitors are KRK VXT6’s with a nice big fat sub to annoy my neighbors 🙂

Which artist inspired you the most growing up?

For me it was all the female artists coming out of the Lilith Fair era in the late 90s, Shawn Colvin, Tori Amos, Jonatha Brooke, Patti Griffin, Paula Cole and Sarah McLachlin. You can definitely hear their influence in my writing, I was really refining my voice as an artist during that time.

What made you take the step into production? Are you a DJ who started producing or a producer that started DJing?

Actually I’m a songwriter that started producing that went back to writing, who then started DJing and then finally came back around to producing again. It was the DJing that led me back – needing tracks to play live that I felt represented me, needing versions of the tracks I was singing on in the style and at the tempo I was playing, and most importantly feeling like the more I was stepping out from underneath the shadow of the producer/DJs I was working with as a singer and venturing out on my own, I started to sense that there was a musical voice inside me that was totally my own, that no one else was doing or could do, that I needed to get out and that the world needed to have.

What’s an average day in the studio like for ARUNA?

Banging my head against a wall? 😀 Fortunately that only happens sometimes, and interestingly it’s usually right before I have some sort of breakthrough that totally takes the track to the next level.  I’m a huge fan of the Pomodoro method, so I use this to break up my work on a track into bite size chunks that don’t feel so overwhelming. I also swear by Forest to keep me off socials while I’m working and to monitor how much time I’m clocking every day.   I’ve seen a lot of producers start a track with drums. For me as a writer first and foremost, I could never do this. Typically I start with the vocal and chords, and I usually have some concept for it in my head before I even start. That acts as my compass and guides my work on the track. I’m also a big fan of The Power of When by Dr Michael Breus, and I recently used the information in there to design when I work based on optimal peaks for my chronotype, which is Wolf (evening preference). So I use the hour right after I wake up when the mind is super fertile for creative exploring. And then I won’t come back to the track until 4 pm or later when my energy is at its prime.

So where do you get creative influences these days? What music inspires you and gets the creative ideas flowing?

God, I take inspiration from just about anything, music or not. Sometimes walking past a construction site I’ll hear some weird sound and start thinking how I could use that in a track. I do listen to some liquid D&B tracks and mixes but honestly I try to limit how much of it I listen to. I wanna make sure I’m keeping my perspective fresh.   This is one of the perks of coming in as an outsider. It’s much easier to break the rules if no one told you you had to play by them or even what they were. And frankly from what I can tell, with all due respect to so many talented producers, the scene needs a bit of shaking up. There are a LOT of tracks out there sounding very similar to my ears, even using the same loops. I understand the importance of historical context but for me it’s really important to keep pushing boundaries and growing, both myself as a human being and a producer and also to create something new that never existed before, that will pull people’s heartstrings but also surprise them, no matter what genre I do.

Production is a real male dominated area, especially dance music. Why do you think that is? What can we do to change that?

Oooh, this is a juicy one! It’s a big can of worms to open but it’s also one of my favorite issues to talk about because honestly at this point in my career, it’s one of the biggest drivers motivating me, to play some role in changing this. I’m convinced the main reason there aren’t more women than there are is simply because there aren’t enough prominent role models showing them what’s possible for them and that they absolutely CAN do it if they want to. Also the life of a producer can be extremely isolating. For me I’m kinda ok with this. I was an only child and was on my own a lot growing up so am used to this but it seems a lot of women might have a hard time with that aspect of it. I don’t think that means they can’t do it, they just have to find a way to do it that honors their needs and who they are. Maybe that means working as part of a group like NERVO or Koven.   On the other hand, however, the major power brokers in the industry don’t exactly make it easy for us. Everything was fine and dandy while I was out in front with a mic in my hand. As soon as I decided to step behind the decks all that changed. People who used to be nice and smiley with me were suddenly distant and aloof, even hostile, making false accusations about me pre-recording my sets, or writing live reviews saying that my crowd response was lukewarm when in fact I had video recordings of the whole place losing their minds. That aspect of it has been very frustrating but it’s also made me a lot stronger and forced me to find my confidence and self-worth inside, as opposed to needing anyone’s permission or approval.   It’s interesting what’s going on politically now as well, with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it definitely feels like now is the time more than ever for women to step up and let the world see and hear what they have in them. Our voices are DESPERATELY needed both in the music scene and in the world.   I recently started offering one-on-one mentoring for artists and producers in conjunction with Pyramind’s online mentorship program, and we’ve discussed offering a scholarship or two to some talented females who deserve it, to help level the playing field so to speak. They love the idea and are totally on board with it, although we haven’t officially announced it yet 😉

Care to share a production tip? One thing that really helped me when I was first starting out was making ‘arrangement maps’ of tracks I really liked, where I would open a blank arrange window, put that track at the top, and then mock up all the parts (kick, snare, hats, pads, lead, arps, basses, risers, etc) with penned in colored blocks so I could see what was coming in and out and where. I’ve always been good at coming up with ideas, but it’s the development of them and fleshing them out into a coherent arrangement that has often proven difficult and overwhelming. So you can copy these arrangement ideas on your own tracks, amending as needed to suit your tastes and your ears.

What’s the next 12 months got in store for ARUNA? 

A LOT of studio work! I really wanna keep pushing myself and learning as much as I can and refining my voice as a producer and growing with each new release.   Other than that, I’ll be moving out of my flat the end of this year into a brand new townhome we recently purchased. It’s literally being built as we speak, and I got to pick out all the materials for it which was a LOT of work but so much fun. It was basically like remodeling an entire house all at once but I’m really looking forward to finally living in a place where everything is as I want it. And of course I’ll be building an amazing studio there as well, something I could never really do with a rental.   Lastly I’m in the process of making all new DJ folders and completely revamping my live show, so looking forward to getting back on the road again at some point too!

 

Galaxy Of Dreams 3‘ is out now on Liquicity  Records

 

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Chris Lake Q&A on Heavyweight Bass Producer Forum

Well, here it is…The very first HWB group Q&A, and I could not have asked for a better person to start it off.

Chris Lake does not need any introduction, but if you have been living under a rock, Chris is a Grammy nominated producer, releasing some of the finest house music for the past 16 years.

The group members could ask him anything related to his music production, DJ’in, career advice…You know the drill… 

Q
Paco Reynoso If you had to start with nothing and no industry contacts today, how would you try to gain a fanbase or have a successful EP/single release

Chris LakePaco, I’ve always told people to put your focus on finding your uniqueness. You know there’s a lot of choice in this world now with everything. Music, food, technology, entertainment, everything. Think of it like how you choose what you’re going to watch on TV when you’re chilling out. You most likely want to watch something you’ve not seen before that you’ve heard is sick. When you watch something that’s a copycat of something popular, it’s not very exciting. Music is the same. If you can find something unique / new / or exciting you have a much greater chance of standing out in the crowd. So how do you do that? That’s where the time and experimentation comes in. I’ve personally been doing this for a very long time and gone through many different ideas / phases / processes until I found my lane, but, the main thing I try to aim for is to make it sound like me. I haven’t always got it right, but that’s my aim. The ultimate aim is to have such a signature sound that makes people go ‘that sounds like Eric Prydz, or this sounds like Disclosure’ etc. If you have created a sound that’s recognizable as your own (and is good of course), that’s something that can capture the attention of many people.

Q
Stuart Kettridge After you’ve initially written a track do you find yourself making many Changes? 

Chris LakeVery often yes. I always tinker with tracks after I’ve made them. Usually I road test tracks when I play them out and keep tweaking it until I feel happy that it’s hitting in all all the right places sonically / emotionally etc.

Q
Ricardo Álvarez –  Any tips for the bassline? I often find it amusing how you get them good even in unusual root keys, btw, see you in El Paso soon! 

Chris Lake – I don’t stop tweaking it until my ball hairs tingle when the sub hits

Q
Efrain Ramirez  – What’s your favorite gear that you use for your productions? Thanks Chris!

Chris LakeAbleton by a country mile

Q
Klaus –  Chris Lake, have you tried Bitwig 2? i much prefer it Live

Chris LakeKlaus yes. It’s fantastic. If you have no interest in ever collaborating with anyone and you’re only focused on your own personal workflow, I’d definitely recommend Bitwig 2. I’m just too far down a lane to change

Q
Stefan IlicWhat would you say is a better approach, sending demos to labels or sending demos directly do dj’s? And how much would you say is too much? Btw, love your work! 

Chris LakeThanks! I guess both are good ways but if you can get music directly to a DJ that’s a pretty good route. Labels get sent so much music now. So many links. It’s crazy and pretty overwhelming. I can’t listen to everything that’s sent. I have to just kinda play ‘lucky dip’ so to speak. Sucks, but it’s just reality.

Q
Robert Mulhern –  With regards to social media marketing,
What are the most Common mistakes you see musicians making on social media?
Have you got any tips for making social media work better in your favor?
When is it a good idea to post about politics on your musician page on social media if ever?
Thanks so much!
Love your music.

Chris Lake –  Common mistakes? Trying to hard.
Politics. I believe in free speech and if its something you are passionate about and believe in, by all means, go for it, but don’t be surprised if a load of people think you’re a cock

Chris Lake –  Sorry, to finish, regarding social media I’m currently sat with my pal Seb from Rising Digital ( www.rising.digital ) and having just discussed this with him, we both believe it’s all about authenticity. Also when you have the time, engaging with your fans, because at the end of the day, not everyone can go to shows or interact with you directly. Use social media to bridge the gap and show who you are as a person and as an artist.

Q
Paul Duras  – What’s your top 3 favourite plugins right now? (can include hardware if that’s your bag)

Chris Lake –  Ok here are a few –
Kick Tweak – https://www.pluginboutique.com/…/42…/3425-Kick-Tweak
UAD Little Labs Voice Of God – https://www.uaudio.com/…/little-labs-voice-of-god.html
Sonic Charge Synplant – https://soniccharge.com/synplant

Q
Joshua Patrick –  How do you achieve those amazing snare fills and builds to sit so well? Particularly in your track : ‘I want you’. Any tips on EQ for drums would be great

Chris Lake –  practice
EQing of drums – Roll off all un-needed low end form percussive sounds. Leave as much low end room for the kick and bass.

Q
Marcel MaarbaniThanks heaps for this guys! This is awesome… Something simple but not so simple for me…. I love all sorts of music but really vibe on emotional melodic piano synth bigroom whilst trying not to be generic, as a genre to strive for… the main thing I never seem to be able to ever nail properly is my kicks… the drop kick in particular. I’ve always been aware of eqing, layering top and low kicks, and trying to give my kick room to breath. But I can never get it thumping the way guys at your level can get it sounding without it being either muddy or something else. I guess my question is, what is the very few key factors, hints and tips, that you do to try to get your kicks sounds clean and mean? Or I would even love to know your go to plugs or sounds that help you get that solid backbone kick driving your tracks!? Thanks heaps Chris.

Chris LakeYou’re not alone. Getting the kick right is half the battle. Honestly, on some tracks, it’s the whole battle. It just takes a lot of tweaking and variations sometimes to get it right.

Q
Callum Reid I’ve got two main questions if that’s okay?
1) Where do you source most of your samples from and how do you go about organising them? / Do you still download samples or do you mostly stick to the ones you’ve collected over the years?
2) One of my favourite tunes from you was the Remix you did for FONO alongside rrotik. I was just wondering what you used for the bass in that track? (Eg: synth / sample / processing / etc)
How did you get it to fit in with the kick so nicely?

Chris Lake –  1. My library has built over the years. It’s a kind of organized mess. I still buy sample libraries. I’ve said it on here before but my favorite libraries over the past few years have been made by Wave Alchemy. Their stuff is superb. Great one hits.
2. The Fono mix. I can’t remember what we did the bass with on that one. I think it was just a distorted 808 kick. Eduardo (Rrotik) did a lot of the low end detail on this one so I can’t take the credit for the mix down element of the remix. That was him. Mine would be much worse.

Q
Sebastian Gawlik –  Thanks for taking the time Chris 
1. Are you working into a limiter to check what final loudness you’ll be able to achieve without distortion?
2. What sort of RMS and dynamic range are you looking at for your final product?
3. What’s some interesting ways you like to start your intros?
4. Do you find particular scales and chord shapes work better for the type of music you like to make? What are they?

Chris Lake –  1. Mostly yes. Pretty bad habit really, but it works for me.
2. I don’t look, I listen, personally.
3. My intros are not my strongest. I have to really force that side of my production. I often try to grab a piece of audio from the heart of the track then manipulate the audio somehow to lead you into the track.
4. Not really. Minor predominantly. I do like G and G minor as a key for dance. I don’t seek to start in that key though.

Q
Ben Alla When you made your break in the music industry, did you find that djing regularly at local clubs helped while making music to get you where you are? I don’t get booked often, so i just think keep making better and unique music to get a bit more exposure

Chris Lake Fuck yeah. Gave me great experience, but I would take whatever I could get that was right for me.

Q
Shoaib Shepz MughalThis is great! Thank you Klaus Hill and Chris Lake!
1. What is your starting point in making a track?
2. What do you do when you hit writers block?

Chris Lake  – 1. I just mess around with sounds and wait for some magic to happen. it’s different every time. Often just a beat really though.
2. Walk away, moan to my wife, threaten retirement to everyone around me, kick a door, eat a chocolate bar, go to sleep in a terrible mood, wake up, start the day fresh and fuck the world up
Seriously though, there is one interview I watch that ALWAYS inspires me. It’s by Tiga and it’s the best thing you will ever watch, ever. EVER.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ0z9yIMseU

Q
Kye Bonventi 1) In your opinion what is a genre that you could see breaking out and becoming quite big this year!
2) How would you go about getting vocalists even though you have a small following and are overlooked a fair bit
Cheers for this.

Chris Lake 1. No idea. I literally have no idea regarding that one, sorry!
2. That’s just down to networking. You have to find someone with talent that just wants to work with you because they vibe on what you’re doing. Dig around on Soundcloud. Loads of great artists that go un-noticed.

Q
Ash Barlow Hi Chris! I’m really interested in your workflow. When you are in writing music mode do you fiddle much with synth parameters and other “sound design” aspects or just hammer out the track from the presets (self-made or not) and samples you have ready to go? Your tracks have a solid natural confidence to them that sounds like they are written quickly and backed up by really sound knowledge.

Chris Lake Hey. Yeah I do quite a bit of fiddling, but I’m also not the greatest sound designer. I do mess around a lot with presets. I’d struggle without them. I’m much better at ruining a great preset than I am improving it. That’s why I don’t make my own preset sets. The good ones end up in my tracks.

Ash Barlow – As my hairy hands and chronic glaucoma testify, I’m a massive fiddler. I can also totally lose a groove/vibe of a track I’m working on through said fiddling (Shout out to the Arturia X-mas special). Do you just naturally stay “on groove” after diddling a filter for half an hour or do you have a way to refresh? I use ref tracks/TV/even human interaction but sometimes my track just sounds foreign.

Chris LakeAsh Barlow Yeah I mean I’m pretty focused. I just try to make sure whatever I’m doing is musical and keeping the vibe of the song moving forward. it’s good to learn when to tweak what, when (if that makes any sense). I’ve learned how to tweak certain things that are sonically imperative to the song immediately, then other things I leave till later on in the creative process so that I don’t lose momentum on a project.

Q
Rick Williams I’ll add to everyone’s thanks for doing/organising this, I’m a big fan of your style Chris, mainly because you’re able to get my mind to wander to a different place – especially in Sundown, gives me goosebumps every time!
Similar to Ash’s question, I’d love to ask you if you have a routine process for construction of tracks, i.e. do you have a basic setup that you first get a basic chord progression or drum line down or do you begin with sound design etc or is it different each time…?
Cheers!

Chris Lake Thanks! Yeah it’s really different every time. Sebastien Leger always put it perfectly for me. He was only ever looking for a great mistake. Just something that makes you go ‘fuck yeah, I can build a track around that’. I just look for something that excites me.

Q
Paulo Jardim Hi Chris, really digging your music. I met you ages ago in my town, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Your music really changed over the time, but since then was really well produced. But my question is, do you have a go to plugin for basslines? Or you use manly hardware?

Chris Lake Thanks Paulo. Not really. I sometimes use samples of bass tones and mess with them in a sampler. Other times I use synths like massive or serum. I like Rob Papen SubBoomBass too. Things like that. Omnisphere is good too.

Q
Edward Wolfe How many tracks do you finish a month ?

Chris Lake Depends on my touring schedule. Finish finish? Only one or two a week I reckon, but I often leave tracks 95% done then never release them. Usually because they’re not good enough.

Edward Wolfe one or two a week is pretty good going. How many hours on average is that ?

Chris Lake –  Edward Wolfe  My whole life.

Q
Koray Altiparmak Hi Chris, What’s your approach to mixing? Do you mix as you go, or prefer to knock an idea out then visit the mix later separately?
Cheers

Chris Lake I do it as I go most of the time, then give it a once over at the end

Koray Altiparmak Thanks Chris! If I may also, what’s your thoughts on master bus processing. Do you prefer to have nothing on whilst writing/mixing, and focus on tightening each element individually or by group processing etc. Or do you prefer/recommend to write into some form of mild compression, or any other plugs for that matter. There’s this major stigma around producing with a master chain active.
Thank you

Klaus Hill Koray Altiparmak there’s no stigma to it at all….there’s just no point mixing into one..then taking it of at the end

Chris Lake Nailed it Klaus.

Jase Fos My thought here was that the decisions you make in terms of track balancing would be influenced by master bus processing and so by having a ‘stand in’ during the writing process you’d be simulating what a mastering engineer would be putting on the master (which to my understanding would be a good thing however please tell me if I’m wrong). Naturally I have the sense to remove temporary compression on my master bus. Keen for your input here Klaus Hill and Chris.

Chris Lake –  Yeah I don’t really disagree with this personally. There are many ways to skin a cat.
Klaus Hillyou’re only simulating a mastering engineer if u put a limiter on……any other processing in just part of your master bus strategy, and thats where the issues show up…people mixing into compressors and eq’s, then taking those of and wondering why the track falls apart, or expecting the mastering engineer (if you use one) to be a mind reader, i know how it sounded before….

Q
Stephen Cole Hey Chris, thank you for taking the time to do this, really insightful! ‘I Want You’ is a really incredible track and I am often referencing it when checking my own mixes. Was wondering if you could enlighten us on how you made the vocals sound the way they do, processing and mix wise? Also curious about what you used to create the lead synth in the drops? Thank again!

Chris Lake Pleasure. The vocals were just recorded that way. It was originally recorded a few years back by my Wife and I but I didn’t love the vibe overall so there was a guy over working in the studio with me called Black Gatsby and we were recording a big vocal for another project. At the end of the session I asked him if he’d indulge me and record this vocal I thought would sound good in his voice. His flat mate was with him and I asked her if she’d record the female part. She’d never recorded before and I asked her to sound as raunchy as humanly possible. She nailed it because she sounded so damn sexy I didn’t quite know where to look! There isn’t loads of processing on the voice really.
As for the lead, it was created in Massive.

Q
Christian Pillot Favourite saturater?

Chris Lake I like the Ableton one

Q
Jason Salomon Big love! Had the pleasure of being liason for you a couple times down in Edmonton and all I can say is thank you! You’ve inspired me tremendously!
My biggest question is where do you derive your inspiration from? I find myself hitting some holes that keep me from producing for a set amount of time and then being into some crazy creative times. How do you balance those down times?

Chris Lake Vegan restaurant runs followed by DnB in the car.
That creative spark is tough to manage. I personally just try to keep reading about things that inspire me on a human level. I’m fascinated by the future and future technology. I do a lot of reading about what’s coming next and about how it’ll change the world. Keeps me very inspired. Probably helps with the music.

Q
Sebastian Gawlik What dnb do you listen to Chris?

Chris Lake  – Sebastian Gawlik I’m not very good with the names of the DnB tracks I listen to. I know Noisia are the shit.

Q
Sam HillHey Chris, Your drums always come across as being very loud and punchy..1 – Any general advice on your drum processing technique? 2 – what vsts are on your drum buss to glue them all together? 3 – What reverb/delay are you using on the vocals for turn off the lights?

Chris Lake 1. Just choosing good sounds for the drums. There is very little processing on my drums lately.
2. Lately, the most I seem to use is the new Ableton drum bus plugin. LOVE it. I also use quite a bit of distortion on individual sounds to bring out their character in the mix. Occasionally saturation. Always rolling off unwanted frequencies from sounds to leave me more room in the mix to get pressure from the sounds that need the headroom (like the bass and kick
3. Probably Valhalla room and sound toys delay (forgotten the name)

Q
Mike Rish Big fan of your earlier stuff mate like Changes, Carry Me Away and Aqualight with Seb amongst others.
1. Can you pinpoint the time it all started happening for you with touring and remix requests etc ?… that point where you realised you could quit the day job (if you had one) and said “hey, this is actually something I can make a living from.. he hobby has become a full time thing”
2. Did you have a day job prior to your success ? Haha

Chris Lake1. I had two phases. One around 2002-2003 where some of my progressive house records came out and I got my first international shows off the back of it. Second phase where it really kicked off was after I released my single ‘Changes’. I gave up my job after I signed the instrumental to Universal.
2. Postman

Q
Sebastian Gawlik –  How did universal get a hold of you Chris? That’s a huge step!

Chris Lake Sebastian Gawlik A small label signed the instrumental version and it blew up so it got licensed onto Universal

Q
Edward WolfeWould you recommend starting with smaller labels Chris Lake?

Chris Lake Edward Wolfe it worked for me. There is no magic formula. You just need to find someone that connects with your record and will give it the push it needs. There are so many tools out there now to self publish. Anyone can make a tunecore account. It’s a great time to be a creative.

Q
Adam Carter Originally called Piano Tool if I’m not mistaken… closing track on Disc 1 of Desyn‘s Balance 008. Epic mix that one. He played heaps of your early stuff 

Chris Lake Adam Carter correct. He’d finished the mix then I sent it to him and he re-did it to add the track in. Glad he did.

Q
Jake Reid Massive fan of your tunes! you’re a big inspiration for my production too! Thanks
1. What’s your “go to” reverb?
2. You mentioned UAD in a previous comment, what other UAD plugs do you use regularly and what do you use them on?
3. Do you use a special sampler or just the ableton simpler / sampler?

Chris Lake 1. Valhalla room or 2C Aether
2. I like that Ampex one. Nice for messing up sounds a little bit. The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor
3. Ableton simpler / sampler / drum rack

Q
Ryan Deighton Pretty new to your music, I’m one of those guys that has been deep under a rock. My friend brought you to my attention, been vibing your soundcloud for a minute now aha!
Got two questions:
1) how long was you producing before you took the plunge to do it full time?
2) I noticed your branding on your new tune is similar to all what I use (black background, minimal white designing) so I’m curious what inspired you for that? I’m a fan of that style, so curious what made you want to use it? I’ve always been a minimal design fan

Chris Lake 1) roughly 7 years. In that period I did go full time with it, but by full time, I really mean ‘living at my parents for nothing playing video games and finishing one track every 6 months’. Doesn’t count.
2) it was inspired by the name for the label it’s on, which is ‘black book records’. Worked with the designer to come up with something I felt was fitting. Didn’t give it a crazy amount of thought beyond that though

Q
Alec Bonnici Who’s one artist you’d love to get in the studio with?

Chris Lake Chemical Brothers

Q
Alex Whitwam On “Nothing Better” what synth and process did you use on the bass and also do you have any go to tutorials on bass sound design that youd recommend? Sound design is my weakness

Chris Lake I honestly can’t remember! I think it might be the novation bass station II. I’ve never come across a tutorial either for bass but I’ve also not looked. Sorry!

Q
Tom Heist Hi Chris, was a big fan of ‘Changes’ back in the day… Can I ask what your advice is for actually getting tracks done and having consistent output? How do you get to the point where you are finishing stuff regularly that you’re actually happy with?

Chris Lake Thank you. Procrastination is an enemy. If you know what you need to do on attack, just do it. Don’t mess around. Don’t be scared to make Big whole sale changes. If you like a sound you’ve made in a vst, just flatten it to audio. What’s the worst that can happen you know? I just keep working and move forward. Don’t take the attitude of your latest track being ‘the one’. Just let it be one and keep being creative. I don’t say that with the mindset of churning out loss of music. More with the mindset of staying creative. There’s no point in stagnating on one idea.

Q
Sam Shepherd Hey Chris Lake, really appreciate you taking the time out to do this! Just had a couple of questions.
1) Just wondering if you could give any insights, on how you did the vocal chop processing on your remix of How deep Is your love? eg. Do you use simpler in ableton to achieve that effect.
2) What sacrifices did you have to make, to make it to a professional level ? How many hours were you putting into music production ?

Chris Lake Pleasure. So for vocal chops I’ll normally throw an acapella into the Ableton sampler then hit keys on the keyboard whilst moving the start point of the sample along until I find a good point that sounds musical with my rhythm. I’ll then add any effects that are needed to make it pop or sit better in the mix. Another approach is setting a small loop region within an acapella on warp mode, (let’s say 2 beats loop length) then move the loop region along within the audio clip to find a good 2 beat loop. I normally find something really quickly this way if it’s a good acapella.
As for sacrifices to make it. It’s mainly time. I’m lucky to have a very supportive family. Ever since being a teenager I’ve spent almost all my spare time making music. Beyond music, I’m a quite spectacularly boring bastard.

Q
Grant Reynolds Hey Chris, I’ve been stumped on what to ask you from a production standpoint for the last two days so I’ll ask you a couple of Fan boy type questions instead.
1. What artists inspired you in your early days of production?
2. What other sorts of music do you like listening to besides your own style?
P.S. Ive been playing your tunes out for years and seen you play in Brisbane a few years back. I remember when i first got into Djing (just over a decade ago) some of your tunes were very active in my playlists. I gotta admit, i haven’t really listened to any of your new tunes for a long while until today (i went on a more trance and progressive path personally) but I have to say your tunes are still very classy!!

Chris Lake Sorry missed this
1. Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Robert Miles, Timo Maas, Sander Kleinenberg, Sasha.
2. All sorts. Nothing is really off the table. Except country music haha. Can’t get into that at all.
Thank you!

Q
Scott Stevenson Hi Chris Lake, thank you for this opportunity. I would love your advice please on how to find the right Record Label to release music with. I make electronica/leftfield house and techno and I have no idea who the bigger/more successful highly regarded Labels are in this genre and even then how do I try and identify which one would be a good fit for me ? Is it a matter of doing some research to find the Labels that my favourite artists in the genre release on and then enquire with those Labels and basically roll the dice as to whether we’re a good fit. Thank you 

Chris Lake Hey Scott. Yeah I think you just answered your own question perfectly.

Q
Mark Baddiley Hi Chris, ive been a fan of your music for a long long time – 14 years thereabout, so many times ive been like “Whats that song?!” And then on finding out its you “oh.. Chris Lake.. of course [i love it & well composed]” Two questions:
1. How do you stay original? Do you have any processes which help to keep you original.
2. Do you ever write and get stuck. For example you have a breakdown but cant make a suitable drop? Or vice versa. If so how did or do you get past this.. ive been in this spot for years now and tried so many things but still have this big skills shortage.
Thanks – appreciate your time for us here

Chris Lake Hey, thank you!
1. I just try to push myself to always go that extra step and make things that make me go ‘ fuck yeah, I love that’ after I’ve listened to it over and over again. It’s a battle, honestly. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That leads me onto question
2. I have mountains of failures. Loads of nearly great tracks. Sometimes I just walk away from them and revisit them years later. Perfect example is I want you. I think I wrote that vocal around 7 or 8 years ago now. I just never had the beat that did it justice. It was like the 5th or 6th different beat I’d made for that vocal before I got the one I wanted (I also changed who spoke the vocal too). Just keep practicing. Don’t beat yourself up about each stage of your production being perfect like how it’s been described it should be in a tutorial or something. Just keep moving forward and give it your all. Avoid the stagnation. Move forward.

Q
Chris Davey Thank you for the Q&A. Massive respect to you, Chris. You’re one of the artists that got me hooked on the dance and rave scene even before I started DJing and producing. So thanks for that!
My main question is no.3. But I was really curious with 1 & 2 too. So if you have the time to give those an answer it’d be greatly appreciated. Ty.
1) – Firstly, your Cross The Line record with Marco Lys, to me, is easily the best Progressive House record ever made. I’ve had it for what I guess is almost a decade. I own a lot of Progressive House, many excellent tracks (Less so these days) but nothing has ever topped it. I still drop it in any relevant set I play. The dance-floor always reacts incredibly to it and I’ll probably continue playing it for as long as I DJ. I just wondered whether you had the same kind of opinion on this record? Like what are your thoughts/feelings about it? As whenever I chat or read an article, blog or interview about you. That record is never brought up.
2) – What happened to Rising Music?
3) – I’ve been producing for 6-7 years. Had my first release 5 years ago next month. I’ve released many original records and remixes, mostly through Plasmapool. Had a few records hit the Beatport Top 10. And yet, I don’t really feel as though I’ve made any progression career-wise at all. It’s been getting me really anxious, as I’ve invested so much of my time, money, life etc into it. My productions have gotten better but I get no booking inquiries, no media/magazine interest, no tangible fan-base growth etc. Did you go through this? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be seeking out a booking agent or what? How does this go from where I am to a career?
Thank you greatly for your time.

Chris Lake 1. Thanks! Yeah I was very happy with that record but the whole project overall didn’t get loads of traction. I played running out the most off the album.
2. Rising got a little complicated on the back end so rather than continue releasing music on it I decided to stop releasing and start something new (black book recordings)
3. That’s a complicated question to answer without knowing your artist name etc. It helps to have a good team around you now because, don’t forget, this world is s noisy place and it takes a lot to make your voice heard amongst all that noise. Beatport, although powerful in the dance scene for DJ’s, is tiny compared to the music industry. Don’t rely on Beatport to make / break you career. It’s just one tool. You have to build up a presence outside of that. When a club books you, unless they just LOVE your music or what you’re doing, you need to represent a way to sell tickets for their club. Reverse the thinking. What do you need to do to make someone buy a ticket to see you. For me personally I just took the route of making records people would play and tried to stay consistent and I’ve been on the road now solid for 12 years. It’s not the answer for everyone. Maybe the key is to stop playing cross the line? MAYBE I’M HOLDING YOU BACK!!!!!


And that’s a wrap! A big thank you to Chris Lake for his time to respond to the questions from our group members. Remember to check out the links below if you want to know more about Chris Lake!

http://www.chris-lake.com/
https://www.facebook.com/chrislake/
http://twitter.com/chrislake
http://soundcloud.com/chrislake
http://youtube.com/chrislakeofficial
http://instagram.com/chrislake

 

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Got 5 Mins For A Quick Chat – Beat Assassins

We’ve known Jimmy Mofo from Beat Assassins for so many years, with a new single out, we thought it was about time we had a chat to him about his productions.

 

What’s your current studio set up? 

All my production work is done on a PC. I don’t use any Apple Mac products because I’ve learned a lot about PCs over the years and know them inside out. I can build them and maintain them to a very high standard. This enables me to run a machine that has way more processing power than a Mac for half the price.

I also use a Geforce GTX Gaming laptop which is a beast. It has the same processing power as my desktop. This I use to take my studio to another environment if I want to collaborate with another artist or mix down a tune in a pro studio.

For Monitors I use Mackie HR824 & Mackie MR8’s. I also use a Mackie Big Knob to control my monitoring and a Studer Valve Pre Amp for recording vocals.

Software:
My DAW is Ableton Live 9 Suite. I use Native Instruments Komplete 11 alongside Tal Audio plugins, Fab Filter Pro plugins, Wow 1 & 2 filters, iZotope & SoundToy plugins. My main soft synths are Serum, Massive, FM8, Dune & Sylenth.

How did you get into dance music?

I have to say, “dance music wasn’t my first love.” I grew up listening to (what I would describe as) the cooler and more alternative side to heavy metal & punk. Bands like Rage Against The Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Suicidal Tendencies, Fugazi, Nirvana and Primus. Alongside some of the British punk bands like The Clash, Killing Joke & The Ruts. Then one particular Reading festival a van pulled up next to where we were camping and they had a sound system on board. They stuck NWA’s ” Fuck The Police,” on the turntables and at that moment I was completely sold on rap & hip-hop. So I started listening to Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, NWA, Ice T to name a few alongside the punk & metal.

Then in the early nineties I started going to raves. I had a group of friends who were ex metal heads turned dance music converts. They were doing the whole M25 orbital rave weekenders. I tagged along to a few of these but found the experience of looking for the rave much more fun than the actual rave itself. Once we got there the music didn’t really interest me but I liked the fact that it was illegal and you could stay out all night and all the next day if you wished.

In 1993 I caught The Prodigy playing at a VW Beatle Rally. They had a harder edge to their sound than I had previously experienced in dance music. Then in 1994 The Prodigy dropped their album “Music For a Jilted Generation.” This album had an attitude and anger that I had never heard before in dance music. For me (and a lot of other fans of guitar music) this was a massive turning point in my music tastes. Dance music had now become rebellious and alternative in its sound and not just in its nature. I was sold.

Are you a DJ who started producing or producer that started DJing?

Most definitely a DJ first. Once I had found my love of dance music I launched a drum and bass, hip-hop & breaks night called Mofo back in the mid nineties at the Borderline Club (London). The night ran weekly every Tuesday and was very popular with students. We gave the Plump DJs their second ever booking. Then in 1998 the government introduced tuition fees and took away student grants. This meant that students suddenly became more aware of their spending once they realised it was their money and not the governments money they were spending. This really hit mid week clubbing and we had to close.

I also promoted (from time to time) Mofo Recordings parties featuring myself plus acts on my label and a guest DJ. These I would host about 3 times a year. But it’s not something I do now.

What made you take the step into production?

It was Joe Lenzie from Sigma who got me into production. In 2004 Joe rang me (out of the blue) and said, “Fancy making some breaks.” I hadn’t considered getting into production but thought, “Yeah why not? This could be exciting.”

At the time Joe had some Cubase knowledge and basic sound design skills. So together we sat down in the studio and slowly the Beat Assassins sound evolved to the point where in 2006 we launched Beat Assassins as a DJ Producer breakbeat act.

During the Beat Assassins breakbeat era Joe was always the executive producer and I would run the label. But we would always make the tracks together and this is how I learned. Basically by looking over Joe’s shoulder.

What’s an average day like in the Beat Assassins Studio?

If I have 4 days in a row free in the studio then it’s always about writing a new track. It usually takes me 4 days to write a tune and then months to get it just right.

If I only have 2 days free I’m working on getting existing tunes mixed down to a point where I can play them out. If it’s one day then I’m usually put the finishing touches to a track I’ll soon want to master.

 

 

So where do to get you creative influences these days? What music inspires you and gets the creative ideas flowing?

My favourite music to listen to is hip-hop, rap & grime but I wouldn’t say it inspires me to make music, I just like it. Inspiration mainly comes from other drum n bass tracks. I guess the reason for this is because dnb is like no other genre. So I’m not sure how I would be inspired by say an indie track or a hip-hop track. Back in the breaks days I was inspired all the time by lot’s of different genres but with dnb this hasn’t happened. Although recently I did start a jungle re-edit of one of the new Gorillaz’s tracks so I guess that’s a kind of inspiration.

What was your approach to writing Wake Ya Whole Block? Do you go in with an idea already in your head or is a more spontaneous approach?

I usually get ideas from vocals. Wake Ya Whole Block (my latest single) was inspired by some vocal samples I found on a free DVD that came with Computer Music Magazine. On the DVD was a sample folder containing vocal samples by DJ Assault. Most of the samples were his usual cheesy, misogynistic, booty bass vocals. However there was one line that said; “I’ll wake ya whole block with ma heavy metal.”
I cut the line down to “I’ll Wake Ya Whole Block.” Then I did some pitch bending and pitch shifting on the vocal and from there built the bass and drums round the vocal samples.

Let’s talk BASS! How do you make the bass lines for your tracks? What are your favourite bass synths? Did you process them in a particular way?

My go to synth for bass is Serum. I love Serum because you can make it sound really good just by tweaking a few knobs. The sub I usually sound design with Massive.

However I generally don’t get the completely finished bass sound out of Serum. Once I’ve designed a patch I’m happy with I’ll start the processing chain. The first plugin I’ll use is STA Enhancer Saturation plugin that brightens up the sound. Then I’ll add distortion using either iZotope Trash 2, Camel Phat 3, Ohmicide, Native Instruments Driver, Camel Crusher or a combination of these. I’ll then shape the sound using FabFilter Pro-Q2 and place a reverb or delay on a send channel for stereo width. Then to get movement in the bassline I’ll either go to Serum’s filter and LFO engines or add LFOTool to a send channel and use automation to create wobbles & growls.

To finish I’ll add some compression and EQ to the bass-group-bus and side chain the bassline off the snare above 100hz. Anything below 100hz gets side chained off the kick if needed to clear out any mud and help the kick punch through.

Do you still stick anything on you master channel or do you keep that free?

I keep my master channel completely free especially when sending off the track for mastering. However I do use an Ableton chain on the master bus called RA Ableton Mastering Rack during the creative process of production. The rack was designed by High Rankin and (when turned on) gives me a rough idea of what the track will sound like when mastered. I can tell whether the snare is punching through enough or if the sub is too loud. I also use it to roughly master my tracks so they are loud enough to play out. Once they work on the rig I can think about getting them mastered professionally.

Another great plugin that does the same thing is iZotope Ozone 7 Elements however this plugin is more Preset based. I like the versatility of High Rankin’s Ableton Mastering Chain.

Do you master your own music?

NO! I need a real pro for that. Phil Jones from Spec A & Killer Hertz does all my mastering. He is a production don, the absolute governor, the boss-man of the studio!

Care to share a tip?

I think it’s important to try and get your drums in the same key as the rest of your track. But how do you do that? Well if you re-pitch your snare or kick drum up 12 semitones (1 Octave) and then move the pitch up and down a few semitones you can tell much easier if the drum is in the right key. Try it, it really works.

What’s your vision for the future?

To keep learning and building my knowledge within production. It’s a massive subject and takes years to become a master producer. I’ve been taking one on one advanced production lessons from some amazing producers (who I’m very lucky to have as friends) because there is always more to learn.

Hopefully soon once my knowledge is really extensive I would love to get into teaching production. I have taken on a few students in my studio and they always tell me how well I explain things. Therefore I know I have the ability.

What’s YOUR sound moving forward and where it’s going?

I’m on a mission to create quirky, vocal driven drum n bass with a slightly cheeky edge, alongside some filthy bangers to the best of my ability.

 

 

LINKS
BEAT ASSASSINS ONLINE