Tell us a little bit about Abstract Hip-Hop and how you prepared for this release.
The first volume of Abstract Hip Hop was very much focused on re-creating the sound of vintage vinyl records and manipulating them in different ways, so I spent the first couple of days listening through playlists of DJ Shadow, Nightmares on Wax, Mr Scruff, The Avalanches for inspiration, and also taking a listen back to the first volume of Abstract Hip Hop to get an idea of the vibe I wanted to shoot for. I also brushed up on my jazz chords on guitar and piano, ready for recording.
What got you inspired during the creation of this pack? Any particular influences?
I listened to a lot of the artists listed above but a few particular tracks caught my attention for this one such as ‘Ghostwriter’ by RJD2, ‘There is Danger’ by Wax Tailor and ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches.
What was your biggest challenge in creating this sample pack?
I really wanted to create loops that sounded as though they were genuinely chopped from vintage vinyl records and then processed with modern reverbs and delays, similar to how DJ Shadow and The Avalanches tracks sound. The big challenge of that is trying to create what sounds like snippets of classic tracks. Old records were usually recorded in a band, in studios with lots of vintage gear, so processing each element I made to make it all come together as though it’s recorded and sampled from the same authentic vintage studio recording, across 25 music loops, was very challenging.
Tell us a little bit about your current studio setup.
I work on FL Studio on a custom built PC with an i5-2500k processor and 12GB ram, with an Alesis Q49 midi keyboard infront of me and Sennheiser HD25-II headphones. I use a Zoom H4n portable recorder for when I’m on the move, a Shure SM57 going through a PreSonus AudioBox for when I’m at home, and instrument-wise I have an Ibanez Artcore AF95FM Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar running through a Boss Katana 50 Amp, a Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar, and an E4 Blaster Bass Guitar which I do have a GMB10 amp for but prefer to record line-in as it sounds way more upfront. I also have a Shimro Stradivari Violin which I can’t play very well but do manage to record a few shots and tones with, and an old African Kalimba that I found in a charity shop.
Top 3 favorite pieces of gear?
1. Ibanez Artcore AF95FM Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
2. Spectrasonics Omnisphere
3. Zoom H4n
What’s a unique, unconventional production technique that you would like to share with our readers?
More of a creativity tip than production, but when I’ve been making a song for a long time and I start to get tired of it, I bounce it out as a WAV and try pitching it up and down a semitone or two, and slowing it down or speeding it up 5BPM either way. This always allows me to hear the track in a new way and refreshes my fatigued ears, and gives a big boost to my motivation to finish it up.
What DAW do you normally use, and what are some plugins you typically use?
I use FL Studio and love everything from FabFilter and D12 Group. My favourite plug in at the moment is XLN Audio’s RC20 Retro Colour, which was perfect for processing the loops of this pack in particular to make them sound like old, worn records. Reverbs were very important for the drums on this pack to ensure it sounded like they were all coming from the same room, and for this I used D12’s Toraverb & Sanford Reverb, as well as D12’s Frontier limiter to give them a huge sound.
Any tips or advice for aspiring producers?
There’s no way to say this without it sounding cheesy. Don’t restrict yourself with genre labels, boundaries or rules – make whatever you want to make, however, you want to make it, and even if no one listens, at least you had fun and stayed true to yourself.