Category: Production

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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New MixBus Strategies Book And Video Series From Eddie Bazil

Heavyweight Bass group member and contributor, and all round audio guru Eddie Bazil has released his latest title ‘MixBus Strategies.

This is essential reading if you want to master the MixBus and improve your mixing!!

MixBus Strategies: The Definitive Guide For Producers offers over 180 pages of production secrets that will help both beginners and more experienced producers and mastering engineers alike, accompanied by a massive collection of before/after audio examples, screenshots and supplementary videos.

Accompanied with 17 videos and 130 audio files this book is aimed at those that like to get their hands dirty with working exercises peppered with solid physics.

For the first time ever an entire book has been dedicated in exploring and revealing some of the music industry’s secrets on how producers manage the elusive MixBus or Master Bus.

Inside you will find chapters that cover very specialized techniques and processes, each accompanied with before and after audio examples with clear and concise large screen grabs for easy reading. In addition to all detailed descriptions and analysis, each chapter includes clear screen shots from a range of recommended VST software plug ins, showing you every setting, parameter and slider position, plus every single audio example discussed in the book is included (24 bit stereo WAV files), ready to open up in your favourite audio editor and DAW for full analysis. Each process example is carefully analyzed, explaining exactly how each parameter you adjust is altering the audio, ensuring you completely understand how to use the different techniques to professionally construct your Master Bus dynamics.

To help the reader with basic principles of audio production an additional 17 videos have been provided that cover all the basic and advanced processes covered in the book.

Containing indepth tutorials on the secrets of constructing the Master/MixBus Bus Dynamics this book has chapters devoted to various current popular genres, notably Hip Hop and EDM, plus extensive examples covering all types of mixbus textures from transparent (pre mastering) to silky smooth for film, from airy to hard hitting; all types of mixbus dynamics are explained in detail!

The book’s main aim is to help you in understanding the processes and processors producers and mastering engineers use to work the Master Bus/MixBus, be it for transparent mastering or for genre-specific processing.

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