This week on the Journal we caught up with the producer responsible for our 90’s Deep House & Garage Sample Pack. They took us through their studio setup, challenges faced when creating a sample pack, and also offered some advice for aspiring producers.
Tell us a little bit about 90s Deep House and Garage and how you prepared for this release.
“This was the first sample pack I’ve ever created so it was very much about learning on the job! I really wanted to capture that authentic 90s vibe, so I knew right from the outset I wanted to use the sort of equipment and processing artists would have used back then – I used my laptop a lot but also kit like tape recorders, the Roland JV2080, Korg M1 and MPC 2000.“
What got you inspired during the creation of this pack? Any particular influences?
“My biggest influences in creating this pack were the sounds of U.S and early U.K garage. Artists like Kerri Chandler, Masters at Work, Grant Nelson, Tuff Jam, and labels like Nervous, Strictly Rhythm, Nice ’n’ Ripe and Ice Cream Records. A lot of the early UKG tracks sound like they could have been made in New York, and vice-versa, especially when the US tracks are sped up or the UK ones slowed down. I wanted to try and capture that blend in the pack.”
What was your biggest challenge in creating this sample pack?
“A big part of the sound of this genre is sampling your contemporaries, you’ll get Kerri Chandler sampling Masters at Work or RIP Productions sampling Armand Van Helden. Obviously I couldn’t do that here so a really big challenge was trying to recreate some of these sounds – for example, I had to learn how to make my own version of the resampled organ chord sound that you can hear in tracks such as 24 Hour Experience’s Allnighter or Armand Van Helden’s remix of Nite Life.
“One of the biggest challenges was also doing the vocal loops – I can’t sing myself but luckily I had two really talented people to help me out – UK house-head Maya Willcocks and Chicago vocalist Richelle Hicks.”
Tell us a little bit about your current studio setup
“My laptop and my MPC 2000 are the centre of my studio. When I use my MPC I record drum and chord hits into it and use it to build loops. I have an Akai Tomcat which has a Roland X0X style sequencer and I sometimes use this to send drum midi to the MPC. It’s a bit of a cliche but the MPC adds a really great character to the sound, and a workflow that can take a while but be really effective. I’ll then have the MPC controlling some of my hardware synths – if I want to do some 90s house or jungle I’ll use something like the Korg M1 or Roland JV2080, if I want to produce something acid-y thenI’ll use the the Korg MS20, Volca Bass or a Cyclone Analogic TT-303, and process these sounds with Behringer’s Composer and Virtualizer Pro.”
“The MS20 also has a really great external signal processor which works as a really great bandpass filter for sampled disco loops! All of this goes into a pretty basic Mackie mixer. When I’m feeling a bit lazier or I want to do a track that’s a bit more complex I’ll use my laptop and record stuff into that. I do find I’m better at finishing tracks on my laptop though – when I use the MPC I’m often having too much fun jamming to get anything finished!”
Top 3 favorite pieces of gear?
1. MPC 2000
2. Korg MS20 Mini
3. Roland JV2080
“What’s a unique, unconventional production technique that you would like to share with our readers?”
“Try bouncing out your tracks, repitching them up to +60bpm, then pitching them back down to the original speed. It can take a bit of trial and error to get the sound balanced right but it adds a lot of nice grit. Similarly try making tracks 16 bit!”
“Also try layering your chord stabs with a little bit of white noise, If you don’t have a tape deck or emulator plugin it can give them this really nice warm hiss.”
What DAW do you normally use, and what are some plugins you typically use?
“Ever since I started producing I have always used Ableton Live. It was a pretty steep learning curve to start with but once you get to a certain point it becomes completely second nature and now I can’t imagine using anything else. In terms of plugins I often use the Korg M1, TAL-UNO-LX, Arturia Analog Lab and Spark, and also Roland’s Cloud plugins.
The Korg M1 plugin is brilliant especially for the price, it should be a staple of every 90s style producer’s library. By way of sound processing plugins I use the MDA plugin suite a lot, which is a collection of really simple plugins that are all great at what they do. I’ve also recently bought Mathieu Demange’s RX950 plugin, which mimics the sound of the Akai S950 and I love it.”
Any tips or advice for aspiring producers?
“If you’re going the software route there’s loads of great free DAWs out there, so get a couple of sample packs and some free plugins and get experimenting! If you want to go the hardware route you can’t go wrong with the Korg Volca series – you can get producing some really professional tracks just by messing about. When it’s time to put your music out there, try and get the timing right – you want to wait until you’re happy to release it, but there is such a thing as being too much of a perfectionist. I know a lot of people who are too nervous to put their tracks online, but the world needs to hear your tunes!
I’d also try and speak to as many producers as possible – just message them on Soundcloud, ask about them about how they made a certain sound, what gear they use, stuff like that – producers love to talk about gear! You’ll learn a lot and make some great friends in the process.”
Check out the demo’s for 90’s Deep House & Garage Below: