Category: Interviews

Got 5 Minutes For A Chat? – Erb N Dub

What’s your current studio set up? 

I built a studio complex in the Kent countryside in 2014. I also use a killer studio with some good friends of my home town Brighton.

In my Kent studio I use a Mac Pro 3.5 Six Core Machine running Cubase 9 & Ableton. I have a lot of UAD plugs ins and the standard Fab Filter, iZotope, DMG, Native Instruments etc etc.

My Monitors are Nuemann KH310A, Egg Monitors, Avantone, Sub & Sub Pac.

My rack is Apogee Ensemble, Focus Right Isa One Pre Amp, DBX Compressor, 5 Channel Headphone Amp, Access Virus B, and a few other bits.

Mics – ADK 67 tube mic (that is next level), 3 Zigma Solid State Set, AKG D112, SM58 & 57’s, Okamod Solid State Vocal Mic.

Drums I am sponsored by Yamaha and play their electric DTX750 kit. Acoustic, I play a custom made Vince Clarke kick drum, 1960s Premier Toms and snares. Zildijan A Custom & K cymbals.

DJ wise I have 2 Nexus 2000 Cdj’s & 850 Mixer. 2 Technics 1210’s, Serato, Korg Koas Pad, Sennheiser hd25 & Yamaha DXR PA.

 

 

How did you get into dance music? What made you take the step into production? Are you a DJ who started producing or producer that started DJ’in? .

I’m a drummer that started DJing and then producing. I grew up playing DNB drums in a band that had releases on Virgin. Whilst in that band I started learning how to scratch and eventually to mix Drum & Bass. When that band ended I couldn’t find the right musicians to work with so I started producing in my bedroom.

What’s an average day in the studio like for Erb N Dub.

Its always different. I tend to start around 10am and finish when I finish. Some days I spend a whole day making new sounds and the following day start a new tune. Or if I’m in mix down mode I focus on that until its done. I am one of the rare producers that likes mixing a track down. Each track is different and I love the feeling of when a track is finished, whenever that is….

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

I get them from many areas. Sometimes its writing a sick drum loop or a killer bass patch. Also, DJing helps a lot. Dropping fresh music on the dance floor and seeing what the crowd responses like, is vital. D&B and music full stop is changing all the time so its key to create current of future thinking tracks.

What is your approach to writing? Do you go in with an idea already in your head or is a more spontaneous approach?
I’m spontaneous as I’m not a keys player. Yeah I can write drums in my head but keys is something I can’t. I feel if I were to learn how to play piano it would help a lot but it would also slow down my current output. Learning piano is on my long list of things to do very soon!
If i’m tired or don’t feel creative I write sounds so no studio time is waisted.
Sound Design – How important is it to the Erb N Dub or are all about sampling? In a track how much of it is built with your own sounds? How much time do you spend on pre-production/collection samples/sound design before you start a track? Or do find stuff as you work?
I make 99% of my sounds now. Gone are the days where I would draw for sample packs. I find using other peoples packs slow me down. Endlessly skipping through samples (esp drums) becomes a blur!
I have my own library of sounds and presets I keep online that I can access in any studio. Having made my own library (that i’m constantly adding too) I have banks of drums, bass, sound effects, synth presets and more. I know exactly whats in my library. This allows me to get what I need when making music. For instance, I have some go to drums I use when starting a track, I may replace them later but straight away they sound great in any tune and I can focus on composition rather that sound design.
 

Let’s talk BASS! You get such a clean, tight, balanced and phat bottom end. . How do you make your bass lines? Favourite synth? Do you process them in a particular way?
Thanks! I use all sorts of synths. My favourite at the moment are Serum & Reaktor 6. Both these synths are limitless in capabilities. Once I have a solid bass patch made I will then process using effects like Trash & filter using EQs such as Equality or Pro Q 2. I use a lot of clipping tools creating my basses and add reverbs to taste. I tend to write riffs and hooks bounce them and repeat.
I resample a lot. Whether I keep it in the audio domain or put it in a sampler I keep twisting the basses focussing on great stereo, sonic weight and limit the hell out of them in the final stages.
I sometimes add a separate sub to the sounds but a lot of the time I balance the basses so they don’t need it.
Drums – process on there own or do you group them on a buss and then stick on the effects? Use much compression on them?
Being a drummer I love working on drums. I process each drum / loop individually. I side chain my percussion off the kick and snare and group everything together and using limiting on the group. I use Addict Drums a lot. Esp when making Neuro. I also record my own DNB loops with my acoustic Jazz Kit. Putting loops in I’ve played live gives me the edge on other producers. I doubt anyone cares I don’t know but at the end of the day I do!
 
Do you still stick anything on you master channel or do you keep that free? Do you master your own music?
Yes I use a limiter when making the track. I am very precise with my settings and keep an eye on all levels. I do master my own music. I have enough skill to get the master to sound how I want it too. Mastering is essential and if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself don’t! There are some incredibly skilled mastering engineers out there that will do an amazing job with your music!
Care to share a tip?
The weight in all music is the lower mids. Get that right and your music will thump on any sound system and even small speakers.
What’s your vision for the future  – what’s YOUR sound moving forward and where it’s going?
I will not stop pushing my sound! I love making all styles of DNB. Some days I might make a Neuro track then the next a dance floor banger. Every tune I make I learn many new techniques. My vision is to put some melody back in my music and get my mix downs even louder that they already are. Crest Factor is important too! I see music making as a vast computer game with no end. As long as I’m having fun and making a living I have no reason to stop!
Punk Rock, the new single from Erb N Dub alongside North Base is out now

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Got 5 Mins For A Quick Chat – Feint

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What made you become an electronic musician instead of, let’s say, joining a band or being a producer of bands?

 When i started out, even though i was hugely into “band” style music of all kinds, i was also much more interested in producing music for myself, the idea of having total control of every element in a track and being able to manipulate each idea as much as you want was really attractive to me! As a guitarist I would also love to try my hand at being in a band or even helping others produce theirs!
 

What are some of the questions you ask yourself when writing a track?

All sorts! “What vibe do i want in this tune” being the most important. Generally, I write a lot of my music on my guitar – I’d say most of the questions asked are probably technical. For example in my most recent tune (Words feat. Laura Brehm) I decided that I would use a slightly different style of snare drum that is traditionally heard in that style of melodic drum and bass. The snare is quite soft sounding, but is still very present in the mix – the main components of it were synthesised in Serum. The type of percussion you use is a huge part of how the track sounds! Also, while producing music that not only is very fast, but also is comprised of a lot of frequency-rich layers, you really have to spend a lot of time asking yourself which areas you are willing to compromise on – keeping the mids and highs on a detuned saw bass for example retains a lot of its aggressive nature but also leaves your less room for leads or pads (which I generally use quite a lot of!

What are some of the things you do to inject emotion into your tracks?
I just try and tie them to a certain mood or vibe; if what i write sounds like the soundtrack to a scenario in my head (whether its real or not) then its a job well done! I try not to get too much inspiration from other music – I find that a lot of emotions that I try to capture are actually heavily inspired by books or films.

Do you enjoy going out to listen to DJ’s? Is hearing music in a club environment important to you?

Definitely! I think a huge amount of electronic music is produced specifically to be heard and felt in a club environment; the feeling of hearing a massive dancefloor banger on a big system to me is just as exciting as hearing a beautiful piano solo, it just encapsulates a different mood.

Do you think it’s possible to write great dance tracks without being in the club all the time?  

Definitely! Though obviously its invaluable to know how your tunes sound through club systems and how certain mix choices influence how they sound. I definitely like to focus on the melodic aspect of dance music, so in that respect, you can really get a lot of inspiration outside of a club setting. I would say that having the club experience helps more from a technical standpoint.

Tech “nerdism” is major part of music production obviously, So what parts of that aspect give you the most fun? And what parts do you dread?

Yeah definitely! I find every aspect fun pretty much as i love to learn – finding new techniques with plugins that you have owned for years is amazing and finding creative ways to use the most simple effects is also great. I love creating new sounds from unexpected sources – a favourite example is making long ambient drones by manipulating guitar samples. I wouldnt say i dread any part of it – though long mixdown sessions can be a bit tiring!

And finally, what does the next 12 months hold for you?

Lots of new (hopefully interesting!) material, and some really exciting shows! I am currently working on some big projects but cant really say much about them unfortunately!

 

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5 Mins For A Quick Chat – Toronto Is Broken

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What made you become an electronic musician instead of, let’s say, joining a band or being a producer of bands?  

I’ve always been able to play guitar, and tried being in bands in the past whilst in school, but it was always difficult to find like minded people. We’d just end up playing Oasis or Guns ‘n’ Roses covers and I hate those bands. Even when it came to writing original material, because my tastes in music never fitted with anybody else stylistically, they’d always be a clash of opinion and had to heavily compromise. Working on my own means that I can always achieve the end result I’d originally intended, even when those ideas are quite abstract, and narratively driven.

What are some of the questions you ask yourself when writing a track?

The majority of the times, ideas for a track are generated from just coming up with the title, and as I write narratively, what is the story or atmosphere I’m trying to convey? Another big decision to make is what key to write the track in. At the end of the day, these tracks are to be played in a DJ set, so I think about what tracks I’m really enjoying and what keys they are in so I can play them alongside one another. With bass music, the key is very important as there are certain noted that are ideal for bass music. F minor is the most common key for bass music as the low F is the sweet spot on systems, however, it doesn’t leave much room in terms of composition for moving around and keeping the weight in the bassline to be consistent, I wouldn’t ever drop below E, unless I’m trying to achieve a certain effect. My favourite keys to write in right now are G# minor, and D# minor as they’re both related keys and both allow a lot of space for the sub bass to move around melodically.

What are some of the things you do to inject emotion into your tracks?

Definitely thinking about chord structures, and playing around with the inversion of the chord. I’m even finding the just the simple fifth chord, absent of the third note that denoted the major or minor emotion, can be a very powerful tool to work with. Production wise, it definitely has to be from creating deep and detailed atmospheres, and PaulStretch which is available for free is definitely one of my favourite things to work with right now when creating ambience and atmosphere,

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Do you enjoy going out to listen to DJ’s? Is hearing music in a club environment important to you?

Whenever I get the chance to then I love it, as I don’t really go out very much at all as where I’m from they only ever play chart music. Whenever I take trip down to London as go to somewhere like Fire, it’s amazing, drum & bass truly comes to life on a club system. I always describe drum and bass differently to other forms of music, it’s more of a physical force when you hear it on a loud system.

Do you think it’s possible to write great dance tracks without being in the club all the time?  

I definitely think it is. I rarely go out and I know I’m not amazing but I seem to always get a good response from my productions. At the end of the day it’s about knowing your workstation and how things should sound from being used to your headphones or monitors.

I constantly get asked about “the mix”, do you think there’s too much of an obsession with mixing at the moment?  Is the art of composition being lost? Or do you think that the “chin stroking” element is an integral part of the process?

Over the past year, I’ve been focussing a lot more on the composition itself as I felt like it was getting lost. Jon Hopkins has been a massive influence on me compositionally, and I’ve been listening to a lot of soundtrack music from artists such as Cliff Martinez (Solaris) and Mac Quayle (Mr Robot), by really looking into their compositions to work out how they achieved a certain feel in their music.
However, the mixdown is definitely still important. I mix as I go along as something not sitting write can really kill the vibe of the session, but I am definitely focussing more on getting the ideas down first. You can spend as long as you like tweaking knobs and levels, but once the inspiration and vibe of the session is lost, it’s lost.

Tech “nerdism” is major part of music production obviously, So what parts of that aspect give you the most fun? And what parts do you dread?

I’ve been working on my second album over this year, and I’ve really cut down on what plug-ins I’ve been using, so finding new and interesting ways to use the synths and effects I’ve been using is really rewarding; it’s not about what you’ve got, it’s about know what to do with what you have. Still to this day, drums can be a major ballache, but I think that’s the same with any drum & bass producer ha! I’ve made life easier for myself in terms of drums, and I’ve only got about 2 different kicks that I go to that I’ve made, and the same with snares. it also really helps keeps the consistency in my drums from track to track, and it makes it a lot easier when it comes to mixing them in as I know how they work best.

And finally, what does the next 12 months hold for you?

I’ve just released my latest single on Sub Slayers, “The Antidote”, a collaboration with long-time friend and fellow producer Anodyne Industries from California, who’s just recovered from a devastating bicycle accident and is well on his way to a full recovery, so I wish him all the best. On the flipside is “Deep Freeze” of which features vocals from Cianna Blaze, the MC for Maxim from the Prodigy, who smashed it on this! Following this, we’ve got our 50th release on Sub Slayers, an EP of VIP mixes that features “Spirit Song 2016”. The 2012 mix is one of my biggest fame and was picked up by the likes of Sub Focus, Metrik, Paul Oakenfold and the Crystal Method and was used as the main song in the Arcadia Spectacular show of Boomtown festival and Glastonbury. I’ve been meaning to revisit the track for a while and this 50th release was the perfect opportunity to do so!
Over the next year should see the release of my second album which I’m so excited about and the first single will be dropping soon! I can really say much about it right now, or which label it’s being released on so you’ll just have to wait and see. However, the title is set, and the tracklist is 80% there so hopefully it won’t be much longer until it’s finished!

 

You can check out and buy the new Toronto Is Broken single, The Antidote / Deep Freeze, HERE

 

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