In this week’s edition of the journal, we sat down with the producer behind our Soulful Trap release, discussing how he prepared for this release, favourite pieces of gear and challenges behind creating a Sample Pack.
Tell us a little bit about Soulful Trap and how you prepared for this release.
For Soulful Trap, I wanted to do something unique with both the soul and trap genres. I wanted to add unique textures and emotion that blend the two together, so it has a lot of depth to the sounds but still hits hard. The first thing I did to get started was record drum sounds in the studio and then record anything and everything in my house with my iPhone that I thought might make unique sounds. That helped a lot for inspiration throughout the whole process. From there I just made drum sounds first and basically put together a bunch of beats to make up all the loops and instruments.
What got you inspired during the creation of this pack? Any particular influences?
This pack felt very natural to me as it was along the lines my typical production style. It’s kind of a culmination of several years being influenced by different artists and genres. Neo-Soul, New Jack Swing and Hip Hop all are huge influences as well several current R&B and Hip Hop producers. It’s hard to name specific artists.
What was your biggest challenge in creating this sample pack?
My biggest challenge was definitely just the size of the whole project. I’ve never done a sample pack of this size so there where multiple times where I would feel stuck or out of ideas. I think that feeling can be a good thing sometimes because it really forced me to think outside of the box and use some techniques that I would never have thought of. Some of my favorite sounds on the pack came from that.
Tell us a little bit about your current studio setup.
My setup is super simple and minimal. I don’t have much outboard gear aside from some instruments and mics, but it works for me. A lot of my creativity comes out when I process sounds that I’ve already made. Having a space to work that is creatively stimulating is really important for me as well so I’m always looking for new things to add to keep me from getting bored while I work.
Top 3 favorite pieces of gear?
Since I don’t have much gear, it kind of narrows down my choices but I love my Dx7, that thing is my baby. It feels a bit like using a calculator when I try to create or edit patches but there are so many unique sounds I’ve found for it that you can’t really get with anything else. Even though I didn’t really use it for the pack, I love my Maschine pad as well. It has such great sounds on it and works well for me for playing in beats or lead lines. At the moment I mainly use it more for live performances and such since I haven’t gotten too comfortable with the layout and interface. My guitar is my next favorite. It’s some off brand strat that was only made in the nineties but it has such a cool unique sound that feels straight out of the nineties.
What’s a unique, unconventional production technique that you would like to share with our readers?
I use a lot plugins or effects that might not seem to make sense. I like to use a modulator vocoder for a lot of percussive stuff, it seems to clean up the sound a lot and add some attack while still keeping the important tonal qualities. Guitar Rig also has some great effects that I use on synths or drums, and a subtle offset delay is great for adding dynamic and swing to drums.
What DAW do you normally use, and what are some plugins you typically use?
I use Ableton. A lot the stock plugins on there are great and save on processing. I love pretty much any fab filter plugin as well, they have so much depth to them. Volcano is great for weird filtering and phasing and Saturn sounds amazing on drums or bussed for a little extra bite. Spire is typically my go-to synth, the effects and wavetables are very unique and effective, it gives a nice blend of additive and FM synthesis. I use the waves doubler a lot as well to widen or thicken a sound.
Any tips or advice for aspiring producers?
Experiment with new things and don’t be afraid to fail or mess up. I used to always just play it safe and not try new things and ended up not making any progress with my production skills. It also helps a lot for when you have writer’s block which I suffer from immensely. Developing your own sound is such a liberating thing once you feel like you have full control over what you’re doing and once you have that down, people will come to you for your sound.