In our latest edition of The Journal, we picked the brains behind the two producers who meticulously crafted the party-vibed release, “Poolside Electronica.” We discussed their gear, their setups, and how creative block is truly all in the mind.
Tell us a little bit about some of the influences for Poolside Electronica?
Israel: “Poolside Electronica was influenced by blending 80s, Nu-Disco, and Tropical House blending all these into a release with a summer vibe.”
What inspired you during the creation of Poolside Electronica?
Israel: “I got a lot of my influence from checking out playlists and loads of YouTube links to different tracks. I was influenced by the production qualities in tracks that had solid drums – mainly beefy snares, tight kicks and blending this with some reverb filled claps and organic hats/percussion. This style of drum production – alongside some catchy melodies such as bells/marimbas and a housey piano – really set the tone for the whole release.”
Sergey: “On one hand it’s the synth sound of late 80’s – beginning of the 90’s (New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Electronic, Saint Etienne and my guilty pleasure – Stock-Aitken-Waterman vibe), on the other – modern guys who now reassess those times in their releases (St.Lucia, Oliver Nelson, Gigamesh, Goldroom).”
Were there any challenges to overcome during the production process?
Israel: “For me personally, I wanted to try to create a release that didn’t sound too repetitive of what a tropical house release would sound like. To achieve this I tried to get more of an indie/hipster vibe from out of the sounds I was creating. Approaching things with a “DIY” aesthetic. With this in mind, I was able to make things a bit edgier, keep things rawer and also add more grit/saturation to other elements.”
Sergey: “Well, since it is my first sample pack, the biggest challenge was not to run out of musical ideas too soon, but it was unfounded fear – I did fine!”
Tell us a little bit about your current studio setups.
Israel: “I use Pro Tools 10 & 11, Ableton 9.5, Cubase 8.5 as my DAWs. I’ve got loads of synths and samplers from the Junos to Ensoniqs. My main pair of monitors are the Dynaudio BM6 and I also use Beyer Dynamic D770 Pros for further referencing.”
Sergey : “My main interface is RME Fireface UCX, monitors are small JBL LSR305 and Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro phones. My main midi controller and synth is the Korg Z1 (a go-to, very underrated end-of-90s polyphonic version of Prophecy). Other guys are Juno 106, Korg MS-20 and blue MIDIed Roland SH101 with Nova mod which go-to device for basses and leads.”
What’s a unique, unconventional production technique that you would like to share with our readers?
Israel: “This isn’t so much a technique as it is just some advice I’d like to share: seek after knowledge, not material possession. Having the latest, greatest plug-ins and hardware mean nothing when you don’t know what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask people what the gear or plug-ins do and more importantly what they do not do. Slowly the tools you have around you will become more powerful. Read the manuals.”
Sergey: “It’s obvious but (for me) it always works: using layering and saturation on everything.”
Tell us a little bit about your workflow and what plug-ins you typically use?
Israel: “I’m one of the only people I know that uses Pro Tools to do a lot of my work. This is especially important in my drum production/programming. Although Pro Tools has never been a strong MIDI environment to work in, its a very powerful editing tool. Being able to take advantage of my 8+ years of using Pro Tools has really helped in making sure I keep most of my attention on the creative side instead of having to figure out how to do a certain task.”
“I used the Yamaha RX series drum machines, Roland 707, 505, Linn Drum, the Korg M1, Juno 106 and 60, and the Yamaha DX7. DX7 was a big part in getting some of the pads and poly synths. Some of my favorite plugins to use are the Izotope Trash, Fab Filter Pro Q2, Saturn and pretty much a little bit of everything from the Sound Toys collection.”
Sergey: “My workhorse for years is Cubase (now version 9). I like its own plugins and absolutely love Retrologue VST synth which I used in 80% of all melodic stuff in this pack. For the basses (along with the hardware) I used my favorite NI Monark – a Minimoog emulator which I like so much for its crude sound. Also for basses used the well known DX Lately Bass preset from Yamaha TX81Z which I opened in NI FM8 and modified it a bit. Regarding VST effects – Soundtoys plug-ins are the champions for me on this pack. Since I don’t like crystal-clear and clear sounds – Decapitator, Radiator and DevilLoc are three my best friends for making everything distorted, saturated and harsh.”
Any tips or advice for aspiring producers?
Israel: “Always look to the past for fresh inspiration and influences. Listen to the people who have influenced the artists you are influenced by. This will help you understand where a lot of your favorite producers and artists got some of their sounds and production techniques. Also, check out the circle of people your favorite artist/producers hang out with – you will not only find new artists but also understand why it is that they have ‘that sound’ and what makes it that way. Music is culture and everything around a culture exists when human intellect creates a collective of ideas and sounds.”
Sergey: “This is the everyday tip for myself – ideas usually come to the working head, so make as many tracks, loops, mixes as you can. Small bass loops, a piece of a melody, two chords – it all can lead you to a new idea or ideas, just do and try everything without doubts that you’re making something wrong.”