We join the Brazilian beatmaker in his studio to watch him deconstruct Fake
Brazilian bombshell Wehbba (aka Rodolfo Wehbba) has been steadily rising up the ranks of techno royalty over his decade-long career, with releases on Tronic, Soma and Suara along the way. Most recently he’s appeared on Adam Beyer’s ubiquitous Drumcode with his trippy, ominous Fake which can be found on the compilation A-Sides Volume 6. FM caught up with Rodolfo in his Barcelona studio to find out how he created his Drumcode debut.
How did Fake come about?
“It came out of nowhere. I was just watching TV, and because I have the luxury of having a home studio. I was able to just run in there and get started! I had the idea of making this really harsh lead sound that wouldn’t change note or anything. Once I got that sound, the inspiration for everything else came really quickly; there wasn’t a bassline or anything, just drums full-on all the time and the lead sound. Then I did the polishing touches… it was kind of a fast track to write, but very slow to treat later. The post-production was long!”
Why was the post-production process so time-consuming?
“It took a long time because I was just kind of ‘brushing’ the ideas in; I was just taking them as they came. I had the idea of the lead recorded, but I didn’t know if it was sounding as good as it should. Then I recorded the drums, just doing everything super-fast. As the ideas came I was just recording, recording and recording. I didn’t really care about how the stuff sounded while it was being recorded. So making it fit together later was a big challenge, and it took almost like a year to get the sound to where I wanted it to be!”
How long did the actual composition process take?
“A couple of hours – like three hours?”
Amazing. What challenges did you face in the post-production?
“The first challenge was to get the lead sound to work on different sorts of systems, because it was too wide. It was tricky to manage it,
especially for club systems where they have a very narrow image so lots of sounds get lost if they’re too wide and have negative phrase correlation and stuff like that. So I had to eliminate one of the channels and work with the other one and try to make it wider. Getting it to match the sound that I had initially was tricky. The next challenge was the drums, because I recorded them so fast and I didn’t really care how they sounded together. They were coming from different drum sources; I used this really old Roland drum machine the DR-110 – it’s analogue but it’s kind of a toy drum machine – and I also used the Roland TR-8 and the Elektron Analog Rytm, so they are very different. I didn’t treat them or play them together. I was just laying sound after sound on top of each other, so I didn’t really care about how they sounded together, and that was a big challenge to make that fit as well.”
How do you decide on the balance between making things sound good in mono and stereo?
“That’s a very tricky question. It depends a lot on each track of course and the material you have; you have to prioritise what is going to make a bigger difference when it’s in stereo. So the lead kind of has to be big and wide because it’s a main element of the track, but often times it’s better to have the main elements in mono
“The first demo I had of it was a big pile of sounds together and it didn’t make a lot of sense. I wasn’t really too happy with that sound! But because the track was good I was like, ‘Okay, it doesn’t matter’. It had the strength it needed to work even though it wasn’t sounding as good as it should.”
so that it sticks out and it’s right in the middle, which is the case with vocals for example. Normally they are right bang-on in the middle because they need to poke out of everything else. So it’s very tricky to decide on these things. I try to behave myself and not make everything too wide so they will all sound good everywhere. Because most of the music I make is club-focused, I tend to make stuff that will sound good on club sound systems and festival sound systems and that kind of thing. The simpler the better it is for those systems I think; it’s easier to make them sound good anywhere. So I don’t really go crazy about the wideness and stuff like that!”
How do you manage to get a full drum sound while also having other elements in the middle of the mix?
“It’s more about the relationship with frequency. Once you get pretty good separation with the frequency range of each element it makes it easier to have a lot of things in the middle. The first demo I had of it was a big pile of sounds together and it didn’t make a lot of sense. I wasn’t really too happy with that sound! But because the track was good I was like, ‘Okay, it doesn’t matter’. It had the strength it needed to work even though it wasn’t sounding as good as it should. But getting those frequencies in the right spot made it easier to have everything not opened up so much in the stereo field.”