In this week’s Journal entry, we caught up with the producers behind Retro Future and discussed favourite outboard gear, tape machines, vintage synths, and much more.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU DURING THE CREATION OF RETRO FUTURE?
Personally, I have always loved the 1980s and early 1990s electronic music. Recently there has been an incredible resurgence of these styles reimagined with a fresh and more modern production sound. The Retro scene has spawned a lot of sub-genres like Synthwave, Outrun, Electro, Chillwave, Darkwave…. Ummm anything with the word ‘wave’ in it! During the creation of Retro Future I listened to a lot of the current artists working in these styles as well as some of my old skool favourites to keep the essence of what’s so appealing about that nostalgic retro sound, but mix it up with a modern touch.
WHAT’S A UNIQUE, UNCONVENTIONAL PRODUCTION TECHNIQUE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
For me, layering is the most important production technique. It allows me to build and create unique sounds that feel more alive and organic. Also, if you add automation to each different layer within that one sound, you can create something that sounds like it’s evolving and has movement. Think about contrasting different types of synthesis together for more interesting combinations. For example, layer an analogue sound with a more glassy FM digital type sound.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR WORKFLOW AND WHAT PLUG-INS YOU TYPICALLY USE?
I like to use Propellerhead Reason and Ableton Live as my main DAW’s which are great programs for getting the creativity going and ideas formulating quickly. My current favourite plug-ins to use are Spire, OP-X and Sylenth regarding synthesisers, and I also like to use Valhalla reverbs, Tal Chorus and Fab Filter processing plug-ins. I like to keep things simple, so I do all my writing, producing and mixing inside my Macbook.
ANY TIPS OR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING PRODUCERS?
Fake it till you make it. Study your favourite artists and spend time listening and trying to emulate what they are doing to learn how they do what they do. Also, make sure you learn all the main functions of your DAW to be able to get the most out of it, as well as your ideas happening faster and more effectively.
TOP 3 FAVOURITE PIECES OF GEAR/SOFTWARE?
That’s a hard question… I would say my favourite synth is Spire, my favourite reverb is Valhalla Shimmer, and my other favourite plug-in is the Scream 4 distortion unit on Propellerhead Reason. I use that on everything! Concerning hardware, you can’t go wrong with the Juno 106, the Linn Drum LM1 for drums and DX7 for versatility. I still tend to find the DX7 an underrated synth.