Sauce (or Source)


the Future Sound Of London unveil the future of FSOL-'Adventures In
Surround '- a short film accompanying the Dec 2006 FSOL front cover
story/ issue of Future Music- a UK music technology magazine-Part 1
shows a discussion/interview with FSOL plus mixing in DTS cinema of a
Surround Sound Installation 'A Gigantic Globular Burst Of Anti-Static '
for Kinetica Museum in London during Oct/Nov 2006.and charts how/why
they arrived in Surround

Part 2-the Future Sound Of London unveil the future of FSOL-'Adventures
In Surround '- a short film accompanying the Dec 2006 FSOL front cover
story/ issue of Future Music- a UK music technology magazine-Part 2
shows the actual recording/making of a 5.1 Surround sound installation
for Kinetica Museum in London during Oct/ Nov 2006 including footage of
the installation at the gallery itself along with the other art
-Kinetica is the Uks first museum dedicated to Kinetic/Interactive and
Electronic Art


"In music: the last major thing I learned was to never "work on a song"
unless I have the ideas, have the required mental space and can commit
to it. Otherwise you’ll just get frustrated and end up in the "I fucking
suck at making songs" mindstate.

So, working on ideas and sounds is super important. I also keep a
notepad of ideas so i have to remember nothing…that’s important in
terms of mental space. I always have a long list of worthwhile ideas in
terms of some songs I have on the go or just ideas that’d be great for a



Big up this thread. :clap:


In The Studio With…Will Saul

Last year saw Will Saul launch his album as Close for K7 right here in
Room Two, where for a rare happening, he took to the stage alongside our
own Houndstooth label’s Second Storey on electronic drums to realise
his productions in full. A live set proper is a hard thing to get right,
there are limits to what can be transported from the many processes and
components that the recording studio offers but we think he nailed it.
Since that project the Aus Music boss has been typically busy, not only
with the day to day running of the label but also with the release of
his DJ Kicks album as well as preparing to drop his latest EP, Pedal Power, which is due in shops next week.

He’s back at the club this weekend so wetook the opportunity to take a
look behind the curtain of his creations and see where all the magic
happens in our in the studio feature series…

So, where in the world is your studio?

Deepest darkest somerset.

Can you outline what makes up the core of your equipment set up?

Mac book pro running ablteon, RME Fireface interface and then a bunch of
outboard kit - Roland 101, Roland Juno 6, Jomox 999, Korg Poly 800,
MFB Drumcomputer, Moog Minitaur, 4 Moog pedals, 2 Eventide pedals (Time
& Space), 2 Allan & Heath desks analogue desks, and loads of
old records to sample.

Any favourite pieces?

Pretty happy with the way the whole set up works tbh

Can you tell us a bit about your working process?

Totally depends on the mood as to how I start - could be a drum pattern
out of the drum machine running through the pedals (followed by some
editing/enveloping in Ableton) and a baseline from the Minitaur then a
sample then some chords or could be the reverse really….a sample or
chord inspires a groove. I always run everything through the pedals to
get some crunch and space. Then its days of mixing and arranging….which
is always pretty boring to be honest.

How much time do you actually get to spend in there between touring and family commitments?

Nowhere near as much as I’d like to be honest. I go through stages where
I’ll do big chunks of time in the studio and then the admin suffers…

What are you working on at the moment? I know you’ve just
released your DJ Kicks compilation which we’ve really been enjoying in
the office…but is there anything production wise pencilled in for the
rest of the year?

I’m working on a 2 track single with Komon to come out later this year
which features a vocal form Ben Westbeach. Then a remix for your very
own Houndstooth.

If money were no object what would be your dream acquisition?

Yamaha CS-80 - aside form being the Synth that Vangelis used to write
Blade Runner it’s just an absolute beast….it takes about 20 mins for the
valves to warm up so the sound changes quite significantly once it
‘warms up’ which in itself is incredibly cool…its like its alive! If you
could ever find one it would cost about 20,000 gbp so out of my price
league but I have had the pleasure of playing on one….heart melting


In The Studio With… Benjamin Damage

The Welsh born but Berlin located producer, Benjamin Damage,
found a delightfully apt home for his robustly constructed beats and
other worldly synth washes when he hooked up with the 50Weapons label
back in 2010. Following some teasingly good EPs, his first full length
effort, Heliosphere, dropped last year to a pretty solid
reception, impressing both with his aptitude for dancefloor and head
spaces backed up by some serious engineering of rich and hard hitting
tones. With the album not too far in the recent past he’s already
preparing for the next phase and recently set himself about reworking
his live set for a series of key dates this spring – one of which we’re
excited to be hosting this coming Saturday in Room Two.

Like the audiophiles we wish we had enough time to really be, we’re
always up for a bit of hardware voyeurism so we linked up with Berlin
based photographer Lisanne Schulze to head to Damage’s studio to uncover
what’s new and interesting about his live setup. We also engaged in our
own email exchange with Damage to find out exactly what it is that
sparked this re-jig and what exactly it entails…

So I’ve heard that you’ve put together a new live set for the summer – what sparked the impetus to change things up?

I’d been buying some equipment and testing it out, and I realised the
computer was really getting in the way and slowing things down. Having a
screen on stage seems to just focus all your attention and its a lot
more fun to just use hardware machines and be free of it. Also it makes
thing completely non-linear. There’s no audio tracks playing so you can
extend, shorten and change everything depending on how you feel.

What is it you’re performing on now exactly? Can you run us through the hardware in this new live set up…

The heart of the setup is the Sequentix Cirklon. Its a very powerful
hardware sequencer made by this one guy in Scotland. It controls
everything else (that is controllable) in the setup. What is great about
it is how easy it is to change everything so quickly. Its very
non-linear in how it works. I’m also taking a Roland TB-303, Niio Iotine
Core, MFB-522 drum machine, Eventide Space, Strymon Timeline and MPC
1000. Some of the equipment in the studio is too delicate to take, like
the ETI 4600 so I’ve sampled it into the MPC.

Do you have a favourite piece? Like what do you most enjoy playing on and with?

The Niio Iotine Core is a great sounding machine. Its almost impossible
to get a bad sound out of it. It has 3 filters, distortion and envelopes
and is very well laid out and easy to control live. Its doesn’t have
any midi or digital control. Its a very purist device.

How much of your set is new unreleased material? Do you find live sets double up as testing grounds for new tracks?

I’m writing new material with the hardware setup and eventually I’m
going to just record it live. Even the older stuff sounds very different
from the released versions. It’s all recreated and performed live, so
while there are recognisable elements its essentially new.

So what we’re seeing in these pictures, is this the live set up as you’ll be bringing to fabric this May?

The SE Boomstar was borrowed from a friend to try out. Its a good
sounding synth but a little bit fiddly to use in a live situation. Also
I’ve got a Strymon Timeline which is a great sounding delay pedal.

How does it differ from what you produce with?

Before this I’ve always mixed down in the box and recorded everything to
the computer. I use Ableton mainly to produce with, though a few things
are done with Renoise and Cubase.

Did you face any challenges when you were writing the set and
putting it together? Like did all the machines talk with each other like
they should or were there a few problems along the way to solve?

The whole process took quite a bit longer to set up than I planned. The
MPC needed an operating system upgrade and all the samples had to be
converted to a particular format.

Does all of this mean there’s a new album forthcoming? What has been coming out of your studio of late?

I’ve been working on bits for a new album all year. The live show has
influenced it a lot, but its not going to be all hardware. There are a
lot of things the computer is good for too.

Obligatory end of interview dream studio purchase question: if money were no object what’s at the top of your want list?

The new Macbeth Elements synthesiser looks really good. All the Macbeth
stuff sounds incredible and laid out in a musical way. For the studio
I’d love a Yamaha CS-80. I’ve resisted the urge to go modular so far. I
like the way you interact with different machines.


In this exclusive SoundWorks Collection sound profile we talk with
Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera and Supervising Sound
Editor Shannon Mills from Skywalker Sound about their work on Pixar’s
Inside Out.


In this exclusive SoundWorks Collection sound profile we talk with Sound
Designer and Re-recording Mixer Pete Horner and Supervising Sound
Editor and Sound Designer Al Nelson from Skywalker Sound about their
work on Jurassic World.


In this exclusive SoundWorks Collection sound profile we talk with
Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer Christopher Boyes from
Skywalker Sound about his work on Avengers: Age of Ultron.


Legendary synth designer and Grammy-winner Dave Smith was the founder of
Sequential Circuits in the mid-'70s. His Prophet-5, the world’s first
fully programmable polyphonic synth, was the first musical instrument
with an embedded microprocessor. Dave is also known as the driving force
behind the development of the MIDI specification. He has continued to
innovate, and recently unveiled his latest synth creation, the
Sequential Prophet-6.



label profile / cover story, The Wire, May 2011

by Simon Reynolds


The 10 worst things about being an electronic music producer

Making electronic music can be hugely rewarding, and there are few
things that beat the sensation of listening back to a track you’ve made
and feeling that you’ve expressed yourself in a manner that transcends
language. However, it’s not all fun and games, and its frustrations can
range from the mildly irritating to the absolutely soul-destroying.

Music production is an often solitary pursuit, and it’s easy to forget
that there are electronic musicians all over the world who, just like
you, sometimes wish they’d never been born. So, let’s celebrate our
shared misery by naming and shaming the very worst things about creating
tunes with technology…

1. No one understands what you do

One might reasonably assume that, in the 21st century, the notion of a
’music producer’ wouldn’t be too challenging for the average human
adult. Yet it appears that this concept is outside the comprehension of
anyone that you meet in real life, especially your boyfriend or

This becomes most apparent at social gatherings, where you’ll invariably
be introduced as ‘a musician’. Naturally, you’ll be asked what
instrument you play, and when the inexplicable sentence “I can’t play
any instruments… I produce future garage” issues from your blushing
face, you’ll be written-off as either having a poor grasp of grammar, or
simply insane.

2. No one cares what you do

Even if you somehow manage to instil an understanding of your music
production endeavours in your family and friends, they won’t care about
it, and certainly won’t be impressed when your 37th release nudges its
way into the Beatport Deep Liquid Trance Top 1000 after selling three

What’s more, thanks to the democratisation of music production yielded
by increasingly affordable technology, everyone you’re friends with on
Facebook (including your bank manager and priest) also has EPs in the
Beatport Deep Liquid Trance Top 1000. If a link to a new tune on your
SoundCloud manages to get a twentieth of the ‘likes’ a gif of a cat
falling off a table does, you’re doing great!

If a link to a new tune on your SoundCloud manages to get a twentieth of
the ‘likes’ a gif of a cat falling off a table does, you’re doing

3. You don’t make any money

So you’ve smashed up the deep liquid trance scene with another genius
single that took months to perfect, and now it’s time to reap the
rewards. But what will you spend your £3.16 of royalties on? It’s a
tough decision, but at least you know that there’s no way you’re going
to develop an expensive drug habit any time soon.

Perhaps you could put it towards a new plugin? At this rate you’ll only
need to release a new EP every week until the sun explodes to make
enough for a copy of Omnisphere 2.

4. Everyone can hear everything you’ve ever released

Back in the good old days of vinyl you could get away with the odd dodgy track and people would forget about it soon enough.

Now, though, everything you release will be on Beatport and Spotify
until long after your death. Good luck getting rid of those older tracks
that set your teeth on edge with their shoddy mixdowns and overcooked
mastering: they’ll be available for anyone in the world to stream - and
judge - until the moment the Earth plunges into an ever-expanding ball
of fire that wipes out existence as we know it.

5. Hearing your music in a club is depressing

If you’ve got any kind of critical faculties left in your worn-out brain
after spending 66 hours honing your latest opus, hearing it played out
in a club will almost certainly be a soul-crushing experience.

You could have put more energy in the low-mids couldn’t you, you slack,
vain idiot?! In fact the moment you hear a piece of your music
post-mixdown and think that it sounds acceptable you might as well shoot
yourself in the face with a bazooka, because either your ears are shot
or your standards have become lower than a caterpillar’s bellybutton.

The moment you hear a piece of your music post-mixdown and think that it
sounds acceptable you might as well shoot yourself in the face with a

6. Terrible music is more popular than yours

These days one is judged on numbers of views, listens and followers, which is bad news for makers of underground dance music.

Even if you were to create the greatest deep liquid trance track of all
time, chances are it’d get about a thousandth of the views of a horrific
folk/big room mashup, or something that conforms to every dance music cliché going.

7. You have to deal with music software

Do you like updating software, fiddling with buffer settings, and
remembering dozens upon dozens of passwords? Fantastic, because you’re
going to be spending hours doing that kind of exciting stuff while you
wish you could be actually making music instead.

Plus, depending on your setup, you’re going to have to contend with
irritating copy protection, crashing software, and an 'operating system’
that’s completely inoperable.

8. You have to listen to the same music repeatedly

It’s been reported that playing loud music on repeat has been used as a
form of torture and, even if you’re monitoring at lower levels,
listening to the same track, 16-bar section, or even solitary kick drum
for hours at a time can drive one slowly bonkers.

Plus, you never know when your neighbours are going to snap and unleash
their gigantic and systematically abused pit bull Andrew on you.

9. People will slate you on the internet

Haters gonna hate, so you’re going to have to get used to being criticised online - even if you’re a dance music superstar.

For example, YouTube users find A Guy Called Gerald’s Voodoo Ray
"boring", claim that Frankie Knuckles’ Let The Music Use You has a
"disturbing" vocal, and opine that Derrick May’s Strings Of The Strings
Of Life is, of course, “shite”.

There’s also plenty of time for unsolicited production advice: in the YouTube comments world, Sub Focus “needs more bass”.

Haters gonna hate, so you’re going to have to get used to being criticised online - even if you’re a dance music superstar.

10. You won’t be able to use your skills in other fields

You might be able to program jacking house beats in seconds or make the
sickest bass sounds around but, sadly, these skills are totally useless
in the real world, thus rendering the hundreds or thousands of hours
you’ve spent become an uber-producer an utter waste of time.

At least when society inevitably collapses you’ll be back on a level
playing field with bankers, estate agents and re-branding experts, and
the nimble fingers you’ve developed over the years will be ideal for
snatching up even the wriggliest of grubs before they burrow back into
the charred earth. Happy producing!


Collection of D&B Producer AMAs (Q&A) on reddit

Fanu - July 2015
Villem - December 2014
Emperor - July 2015
Noisia - June 2015
Spor - February 2015
Nu:Tone - November 2014
Fanu - November 2014
Posij - June 2014
Resound - June 2014
Evol Intent - December 2014
Netsky - April 2014
ASC - March 2014
Optical - January 2014
Emperor - November 2013
Blu Mar Ten - November 2013
Om Unit - October 2013
Keeno - June 2013
Nu:Logic - March 2013
Rameses B - March 2013

TIps for D&B

This 3 part documentary was Carney’s love affair with Drum ‘N’ Bass as this was made entirely with favours and a budget of £0.00

In 1998 after Carney had been stalking LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad for a few years the larger than life manager, Tony Fordham, said to him at Turnmills, “Carney your persistence is getting noted, son.” Unbeknownst to promoters booking the band from that day on they paid for one extra DJ, who wasn’t a DJ, he had a camera. Hey Good Looking is a documentary about the record label, and the journey of the musicians and characters that got caught up in the web of delicious nonsense that was 90’s DnB.


Gregory Scott’s Kush Cafe: Inspiration is None of Your Business

As producers we have no control over when studio magic happens,
writes Gregory Scott. All we can do is turn up in the studio and do the
work; the rest is out of our hands.

Many moons ago, I read a book on meditation. Surprise surprise, I spent
more time reading about meditation than I did actually meditating. But
I’m not here to pontificate on the dubious habit of ‘researching
something’ rather than ‘doing something’. Not today, at least.

Today, I’d like to get you thinking about what it means to be an
artist, and specifically what your responsibility is – and what it isn’t
– when it comes the process of making your art. I’d like to do this
because I think we all have a tendency to get in our own way, to
frustrate our muse, without realising how or why we’re doing it.
Back to my book on meditation, this is how it connects: I’d always
thought meditation was the act of clearing your mind, of being
physically still and ‘not thinking’ – of being blank in the head. It
turns out this is a widespread misconception, one that is both
inaccurate and impractical. Trying to ‘clear your mind’ sets a bar that
is almost impossible to achieve and, more importantly, it puts you in a
position of trying to control something that is not yours to control –
namely the coming and going of your thoughts.
That was news to me, and understanding this simple piece of wisdom
opened a whole new world when it came to my own meditative practice. But
in all my reading on the topic, there was one piece of advice in
particular that struck me deeply the instant I read it. I realised I had
been told something whose application stretched far beyond the realm of
meditation, into art – into all of life itself.
The general idea is that, for the five or 20 minutes that you sit and
meditate, let go of your need to judge and/or control the process, what
it looks like, how ‘well’ you meditate, how much time you focus on
breath versus how much time you spend lost in thought.
And this is how simply and elegantly it was stated: sit on the
cushion with the intent to meditate. Everything else that happens while
you sit there is none of your business.

It’s the taking part that matters

Oh my. How does that work? Whether it’s meditation or programming a drum
groove, why bother learning all the techniques, why go through the
trouble of studying the philosophy and spending time practising the
craft if, once you’re actually doing it, everything that happens is
‘none of your business’? More to the point, what does ‘none of your
business’ even mean?

This is what it means to me: first, it means that the most important
factor, perhaps the only important factor – and the only one which you
have any control over – is that you sit down and do the thing in
If you adopt this view completely, the only conversation you ever need to engage is: Am I doing it? Yes. OK then.
Your ‘work’ is done, and the rest comes down to a million factors that
are outside of your control, from your mood to the types of ideas that
come into your head to the way your mind hears the results.
Once you go beyond that – once you engage the How well am I doing this?, things begin to unravel fast.
To be clear, there is a massive difference between knowing the
topline you’re hearing doesn’t work for a song and thinking any one of
the following: why can’t I get this right, this song is lame, I’d be
embarrassed if the guys on the forum heard this, DJ Suk’s toplines are
so much more interesting than mine, my music sounds amateurish.
I’ve been slowly (and painfully) cultivating the habit of not feeding
those kinds of thoughts, of not engaging them in a conversation. They
still come, but I ignore them, and so they come less often as time goes
And nowadays, when I go into the studio to record a vocal, I adopt
the same perspective I do when I sit on my couch to meditate: I show up,
I set levels, I hit record, then I get out of the way. I set
intentions, but I don’t attach to outcomes. I work for a final take, but
I don’t tell myself I’m going to get my final take, because I have no
idea if that’s actually going to happen.
What I do know is that if I don’t show up and do the work it won’t
happen, which is why I show up and do the work. But sometimes I spend
three hours recording, and my mind is numb, and I’ve lost all
perspective, and every take sounds the same or they all sound different
but none sound good to me.

And that’s alright.
Sometimes I get fired up the instant the cue mix hits my headphones,
and every take sounds like radio gold while I’m performing. (When this
happens I’ve long since learned to simply enjoy that while it’s there,
but not believe it for one second; too many times I’ve unmuted the
speakers, hit playback, and wondered what cruel joker replaced my radio
gold hit performances with the mediocre drivel now assaulting my
delicate ears.)
And that’s alright too. I’ve trained myself to calmly hit delete on
any/all funky takes, and get right back on the horse. As a side note, I
love the delete key; I’m a huge fan of forcing my hand, trusting my
instincts, and moving relentlessly forward.

Detachment: why ceding control is liberating

How does this all tie in with the notion that what happens is none of
my business? Simple: I don’t get bent out of shape if things don’t go
the way I wanted or expected them to. I approach the work in a way that
exemplifies my idea of ‘professional’, which means I do what I do with
care, precision, attention to detail, and the full extent of my
But it also means I maintain a certain degree of detachment; I
recognise that my capabilities, especially in something as subjective
and elusive as ‘art’, vary from day to day and even moment to moment. I
acknowledge that while I have influence over the process, I do not have
control over it. I cannot force inspiration to come or a magical,
emotionally charged performance to manifest out of thin air.

What I can do is practise my craft with discipline and show up in the
studio with consistency because I understand that maximises the chances
of magic happening. Whether the magic actually happens – that’s the
part which is none of my business.
I don’t take it personally, I don’t curse heavens, I don’t get
impatient with other drivers or act grumpy with the cashier when I take a
break and get some coffee, and – probably most importantly of all – I
don’t let it stop me from coming back at the mic, confronting the work,
and hammering away until my head aches, my fingers are raw and some
semblance of emotion pops out of the monitors, reassuring me that all
the effort was worthwhile.
That gets me high for a while. Eventually, I come back down to earth, grit my teeth, and do it all over again.


Stuart Hawkes has been in audio mastering for over 25 years, and the skills and knowledge he’s learned in that time puts him in great demand from many music producers, recording artists and record labels from around the world.

Stuart has been at the forefront of vinyl mastering, coaxing the heaviest sounds out of the waxy format. Reading a list of records that Stuart has mastered is like a who’s who of pioneering electronic music and global artists such as Amy Winehouse, The Prodigy, Lorde, Ed Sheeran and Disclosure.


Plastic Jam Break Beats – Volume One (Labello Blanco NLB4 1993)

All this wax was ripped using a Stanton STR8.150 with the SPDIF Digital out into Pro Tools HD@ 48k 24bit. No gain, no edits, no fx, nothing added or taken away.


In The Studio w/ The Rhythm Masters

The No.1 Remix and Production maestros of the 90’s (Music Week) are back in 2015 to much applause.

Having remixed and co-produced literally hundreds of international best selling singles from artists including Michael Jackson, INXS, Todd Terry, Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, and David Morales to name just a few, the Rhythm Masters (aka Steve Mac & Robert Chetcuti) first broke out with their classic ‘Thumpin’ remix of Todd Terry ‘Jumpin’
featuring the incredible vocals of Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown. Their
unique ability to conquer both mainstream and underground arenas is
testament to their skills and unique production sound. Later being
initiated into a clique of producers referred to as ‘Da Mongaloids’,
whose members included Armand Van Heldon, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx,
Junior Sanchez, DJ Sneak, further cemented their place in dance music

With the re-launch of dis-funktional recordings and their first release in over 10 years entitled ’20 Year Cycle’ out now on Traxsource, We decided to catch up with Steve Mac from the Rhythm Masters for a tour around his amazing studio and an Exclusive Interview.

1) What equipment do you have in your studio? (full studio kit list).

Monitoring Mix And Mastering

• Genelec 1034B Main Monitor System

• Pmc Aml 2 Monitors

• Yamaha Ns10 With Bryston 4Bst Amp

• Auratone Original

• Crookwood C1 Mastering Controller

• Antelope Orion 32 Ad/Da Converter

• Phoenix Audio Nicerizer Summing Mixer

• Apogee Ad /Ad 16 Converters

• Studer A80 1/2 Inch Mastering Tape Recorder

• Roger Mayer 456 Tape Emulator

Computers And Software

• Apple Mac 12 Core 3.07 24 Gig Ram Running

• Pro Tools 11

• Logic Pro X

• Abelton Suite 9

• Uad 8 Octo Card Running 80% Of The Plug Ins

• Waves

• SSL Duende

• Izotope

• Slate Digital

• Too Many To Mention All Of Them

EQ’s, Mic Pre & Compressors

• Fairman Tmc Mastering tube compressor

• GML 8900 mk3 gain controller

• Urei 1178

• Urei 1176 blue

• Bloo LA2A with original UTC transformers

• SSL 384 Original Stereo buss compressor G Series

• 2 X Neve 1085 original mic pre EQ’s

• 2 X Amtec PEIA EQ’S

• Brain electronics Stereo Buss compressor

• API 550A eq

• Ridge Farm Boiler Compressor


• AMS 15-80 Delay Harmonizer

• Eventide H-8000 Fw Effects Harmoniser

• Lexicon 224Xl Reverb

• Mutronics Mutator

• Culture Vulture Distortion

• Fucifier Distortion

• SPL Transiet Designer Stereo Version

• Boss Chorus

• Moog Murf

• Lexicon 300

• Sherman Filter Bank

• Lots Of Pedals Other Delay Chorus Boxes

Synths, Samplers Instruments

• ARP 2600

• Roland System 100 With Expander

• Roland Jupiter 6

• Roland JP8000

• Roland VP550 Vocoder

• Roland JD800

• Yamaha CS15

• Moog MiniMoog

• Moog Voyager Rack

• Access Virus Desktop

• DOP Modular Rack With Various Modules

• EMU Proteus 1 and 2

• Emu SP1200 Drum Machine

• EMU Emulator 4 Sampler Fully Expanded

• Akai S950

• Akai S3000

• Dave Smith Poly Evolver

• AKAI MPC Renaissance Drum Machine

• Roland MC202

• Roland TB 303

• Roland 808

• Roland 909

• Roland TR 8

• Sequential Circuits Prophet 5

• Octave Cat

• Tons of Little Synths and Drum Boxes… Too Many To Mention


• Neumann U87

• Joveson C700 Stereo Mic

• 2 X SM57

• 1 X SM58


Studio Interview

  1. What is your favourite piece of equipment to use in the studio and why?

My favorite is the Emu SP1200 drum machine. I just love it, really solid grooves and good vibes.

  1. Give us some insight into your production process. How do you typically begin constructing a track?

Well, usually I will have an idea. I like to know what I’m about to
do before I start, could be a vocal idea, a keys hook, a sample, loop or
a beat. So after I have the idea, I will work on the drums first and
get a solid groove going. I usually loop the arrangement around 8 bars
and start adding to the drums, and then the a bass line, key hooks,
vocal snippets and get everything working together. When I feel I have
enough, then I start arranging the track. If you have the right elements
from the start, it won’t take long to arrange, it just comes naturally.

  1. What piece of studio equipment or production process defines your sound?

Tough question. It really depends on what I’m working on. Earlier
this year I worked on an Acid House project and used for the majority of
it the 606, 101, 808 and 909 synced together. I just used the computer
as a tape recorder and editor, was great fun. When I’m working on the
Rhythm Masters tracks, I go straight to the SP1200 as that was our sound
big ‘n’ dirty.

  1. What piece of hardware/software elevated your production to a higher level & how?

Logic and a Mac computer. Back in the day when we (Myself &
Robert Chetcuti aka The Rhythm Masters) were using the Atari and a ton
of samplers, it was really hard work. Logic and the Mac have made life
easy and now with software and plugins getting better all the time, it’s
just endless with what you can do. Every week I learn something new. I
love what I do for this reason. It never gets boring.

  1. What fresh equipment have you recently added to the lab?

The main thing I added was the Roger Mayer 456 Tape Emulator. I have
a Studer A80 Tape Machine, but it was hard work to keep it running, so
now this little box does the trick for me. Mostly on the master channel
to get great sounding tape saturation without the tape.

  1. What are your essential studio supplies (food, drink, cigs, etc.)?

Coffee in the morning is a must and lots of water. On a normal day,
I will bring food in with me from home and try n stay healthy. If I’m
working with people, then we usually go to one of the good local pubs
and eat there. Cig’s hmm… I still smoke. I gave up but started again.
That’s my very bad habit, it does give my ears a rest when I go outside
and have one though.

  1. What list of artists have influenced your sound?

There’s so many to mention here, but from back in the day I loved
Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Murk, MK, Kerri Chandler, Carl Craig, DJ
Duke and Armand Van Helden. The list goes on and on.

  1. What are your 3 favourite productions?

Another tough question. I get really bored of my own records,
probably because I hear them a million times when I’m making them. At
the moment, I love the Acid House album I have just done. A couple of
the new Rhythm Master tracks are quite special. Hmm maybe the Jamiroquai
remix I did back in the day, enjoyed doing that.

  1. What handy studio tip would you pass onto producers out there?

Master your gear inside out. For instance if you use Ableton, really
go to town and learn it from top to bottom. Don’t buy loads of gear
then only half use it, master one thing then move on to the next.


Triangular Compression Theories

I get asked a lot whether it’s
good practice to put a compressor across the mix prior to mastering.
Often this is from dance music producers so I thought it might be nice
to offer a perspective. These are just my personal views, looking at
things more from the mixing engineer and artistically creative person’s
point of view.

Dance music in particular often benefits from the
creative side of compression, creative being something purposely set up
to effect the dynamics of your mix in a way you can actually hear.
Whilst this type of compression can be applied in mastering, often to
very nice effect I might add (that’s two and a half grand of hardware
compression for you) the majority of the time, a better overall result
in terms of the fundamental core ideas in the track and what
subsequently gets added through nothing more than simply being inspired
by what you are hearing as the writer at that time, can be had by
constantly adjusting the compression organically around the track whilst
making it.

As far as a genre like dance music goes, creative mix
compression offers two very desirable “side effects”. Firstly, it can
help shape the bite of the kick drum (assuming of course that it is the
most prominent part of your track and usually this should be the case
for a full and satisfying balance) and secondly, it can add a wonderful
sense of groove to music.

a practical strategy:

compression should generally appear reasonably invisible in context of
the track, but when removed, make the track sound flat or heavy sounding
and lacking groove or “vibe” for want of a better word. I find the
minute you “hear” the compression working after you have set it, the
compression becomes the overriding characteristic of the music, which
tends to dominate the feel and generally doesn’t sound too good. This is
the mistake I hear most often: either no compression at all, or too
much, and worse, badly set up: a fast attack leading to a “muted” kick
without any bite, and too slow a release leading to a lifeless and flat
sound that doesn’t bounce back to create the groove. The divide between
compression enhancing a track and killing it is fine, so this is why I
encourage you to constantly and organically tweak the compressor around
the track as you write, nudging 0.5db here, a tiny notch on the release
control there, a smidge less bass here, a little more kick with a little
more attack there, always analyzing the feel of everything until
slowly, the groove shapes itself into something more than the sum of its

Often, with the groove working and the compressor set up
early on, a better overall track with better integrated and more
inspired ideas is yours for the writing, purely because, as mentioned,
when you are more excited by what you are hearing you tend to be more
assertive about the direction of the track. Nothing feels so good as
bypassing a compressor in the mix, listening for a minute, then kicking
it back in, it’s so exciting and really helps you feel motivated about
the track. Leaving this until mastering potentially means you might
bypass the true calling and potential of the ideas ready to be written
within the track.

Think about when you are in a club, locked into
a tune and controlled by the music, like you’re really into this
moment. I would bet that often compression is making this lock happen.
Setting up the attack and release so that the compression returns to
zero JUST as the next kick hits can be just the ticket to making an
intense and memorable track. You would never be aware this was
happening, but often it really is that fundamental.

the triangular relationship

When setting up compression, it can be useful to break it down into a triangular relationship:

The kick itself
All the other parts
The mix compression
Try to learn this triangular relationship and how each affects the other.
up a groove that does something you like. It’s fairly important at this
stage the mix is at least reasonably balanced - so no ride cymbals 40db
louder than everything else! Now put the compressor on so it just
barely registers on the GR meters, just occasional flickering up to 1db
so you know it is right on the tip of working. Do make sure it is the
kick that is making the compressor lights flicker or your mix is
seriously out of balance for the purposes of this article! Boring as it
may sound, a standard 909 kick really is an excellent choice for this
tutorial. Set the ratio to 3:1 and the attack and release somewhere in
the middle for now. Now slowly start to add more volume from the kick
and just listen to what happens. Does the track start to sound tighter,
more exciting? Do you see the level meters responding accordingly? Is it
creating rhythm where there was none before? The kick begins to smear
slightly, becoming part of the groove. For now, leave the compressor on
and doing something semi sensible, say 2-6db of gain reduction (it will
always vary from comp to comp).

Turn the attack control as slow
as it will go. Does the kick bite/click more? Does that suit the nature
of the track? Adjust the attack faster until the kick settles into the
mix, also bearing in mind to adjust the actual level of the kick
accordingly. Where does it “feel” right? Try listening to the very tip
of the kick (like the first 50ms of it) to see how the attack control
affects this “bite” within the groove. Get this bit right! Therein lies
one major part of creating a killer drum sound, that tiny bit of bite at
the front end of a good kick - trust me on this! Do you now need to
adjust the level of the kick down a touch? Is there now too much
compression? Has the kick lost weight? Is it even the right kick? Could
it use more decay on the sound itself?* How would this affect the
compressors release characteristics? Is the kick even tuned right? The
triangular relationship is not proving quite as straight forward as you
might think!

Not to worry. Move to the release control: set it
slow and reduce the threshold by a further couple of db’s so the
compressor really over works. The track sounds flat and over compressed.
Now adjust the release control until you get a rhythmic pumping effect
that feels in time with the track, so that the gain meter returns to
somewhere near zero as the next kick hits. Now adjust the threshold back
to its original position until the compressor sounds invisible again
but is still working, maybe somewhere around 4db gain reduction as a
rough start point when the kick hits. Now listen again intently and
start to make any adjustments you feel to the triangle. Start again if
need be, practice it, learn it, get the feel for the rhythmical groove
that compression imparts and the way the kick controls the groove that
the compressor creates. Spend a whole day on it if you need to, a week,
month a year even, whatever it takes. Do this again and again and again
and again (Who said mixing was easy). Keep doing this until you feel you
have the best relationship and understanding of the three parts for
your own particular mixing style. Although this is purely music by
numbers (or even words by page!) it can often really help get things
going in the right direction, and if nothing else can be a great tool
for learning the fundamentals.

Some tracks will gel beautifully
with a db or 2 of gain reduction off the kick, others can sound immense
with 6-8 db of hard compression when the kick drops. Most of it depends
on how sparse the track is, how you set everything up and perhaps most
importantly what the track is trying to convey.

*If you choose a
kick with a long decay, often this will trigger the compressor for a
longer amount of time, so that the compressor doesn’t “release” until
the main body of the kick has stopped. Think about this - it’s a
fundamental part of the groove as it has a direct influence on how the
compressor “bounces” within the track. It is also the loudest part of
the groove and therefore calls the shots to tell the compressor what to
do, when to do and how much to do. If the kick is too long, the
compressor won’t release back to create the additional rhythm. It is
often worth playing around with the length of the kick to get the feel
right. A short sharp kick may need a longer release time to maintain the
right feel, and vice versa. The one thing you don’t want is a kick that
is still decaying and causing compression once the next one arrives.
Cue one unhappy and unbouncey compressor and instant flatness!

bottom line is: If you make tracks and apply compression as a last step
after the track is finished, you are potentially missing out on the
possibilities of making fundamentally more inspired and creative tracks.
If you apply mix compression and set it badly, you are potentially
delivering a dynamically flat track with all the appeal of a block of

Good luck with the experiments and as always I am happy to give advice, so don’t be afraid to get in touch.

Chris McCormack
Blacklisted Mastering


Surgeon Boiler Room x Dekmantel Festival DJ + Modular set

Full discussion on MuffWiggler w/ Surgeon answering questions