Third Son,

Coun­ter­cul­ture – Roland drum sam­ples and omi­nous basslines with the UK techno pro­ducer

Future Music - - FILESILO -

Joseph Thomas Price AKA Third Son is a pur­veyor of dark, pound­ing house and techno. With re­leases on Ca­jual and Se­lador he’s clearly im­pressed some big names, so FM’s rov­ing re­porters took a trip to ex­otic Lower Clap­ton, London, to find out more about the pro­duc­tion tech­niques be­hind his re­cent techno freak­out Coun­ter­cul­ture.

What was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Coun­ter­cul­ture?

“There are two ways th­ese sort of tracks come about: it’s ei­ther by jam­ming or by try­ing to repli­cate some­thing that’s in your head.

Coun­ter­cul­ture was prob­a­bly a case of just jam­ming. Jam­ming usu­ally leads to some sort of cat­a­lyst at least, and for me that’s the best way to make mu­sic be­cause it tends to be more fresh. Just rolling with the punches rather than try­ing to squeeze some­thing out. I think it’s bet­ter to not think too much!

“Coun­ter­cul­ture prob­a­bly would have started with the kick which is quite gal­lop­ing in a way. So it’s all cen­tred around that sim­ple rhythm, and then I think from that came the per­cus­sive el­e­ments, which are al­most a bit Latin in style. Then came the Moog idea which is that sort of grum­bling saw­tooth wave.”

Will you usu­ally start with the low-end el­e­ments?

“It’s maybe bet­ter to start with the low end and make some­thing re­ally solid, than mak­ing some­thing with keys or a the­matic idea and then work­ing back­wards. There have been plenty of times where I’ve started with a lit­tle melody or some­thing and then built the track that way, but you’re right, of­ten it will start with the lower end for me.”

You find play­ing with hard­ware in­spi­ra­tional?

“For me there al­ways has to be that hard­ware el­e­ment, that sort of playable el­e­ment. I re­ally like record­ing in, as op­posed to us­ing MIDI, it adds a hu­man el­e­ment rather than just keep­ing it all re­ally ro­botic and reg­i­mented. I think it’s def­i­nitely bet­ter to have that

hu­man touch, be­cause those lit­tle mis­takes add a lit­tle bit of hu­man­ity to it I guess.”

Do you use swing quan­ti­sa­tion?

“Yeah def­i­nitely... well, I’ll do it by hand. De­pend­ing on the el­e­ment I will shift it my­self. If it’s like 16ths or some­thing I’ll shift it slightly to the right, so it’s got that swing. If you’re us­ing 16th hi-hats you al­ways want to shift them very slightly, cer­tainly if the track’s quite straight and techno. Or, if it’s some­thing housey and looser, then I have it swing­ing al­most all the way! It de­pends on the track, but you al­ways want to add that lit­tle hu­man el­e­ment.”

In terms of at­mo­spher­ics, will you quickly get an idea of what you’re try­ing to head to­wards?

“Yeah, I think the track gen­er­ally comes to­gether pretty quickly in terms of at­mo­sphere and what it’s headed to­wards. I think within a cou­ple of hours there should be a good idea of what the track should sound like, or what it wants to sound like even­tu­ally. Weirdly my best tracks seem to be the ones that come to­gether quick­est. I won­der if you hear that a lot?”

Yes, all the time.

“I re­ally like record­ing in, as op­posed to us­ing MIDI, it adds a hu­man el­e­ment rather than just keep­ing it all re­ally ro­botic and reg­i­mented. I think it’s def­i­nitely bet­ter to have that hu­man touch, be­cause those lit­tle mis­takes add a bit of hu­man­ity to it”

“More of­ten than not with bet­ter tracks, I’ll spend more time mix­ing them down and tweak­ing the very fine el­e­ments. But yeah, I think the at­mo­sphere should come to­gether pretty quickly based on the first few ideas. Coun­ter­cul­ture is quite heavy, with the way the kick is se­quenced and then that bass comes in… as soon as I played around with that I thought, ‘OK, this is go­ing to be quite a peak-time, heavy one’. It be­came ob­vi­ous quite quickly.”

Man­ag­ing the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the kick and the bass is re­ally im­por­tant in dance mu­sic. Do you have any spe­cial tech­niques?

“I think the most im­por­tant thing is get­ting a groove that works nicely. The eas­i­est way to do that is to just make a bassline that com­pletely avoids the kick. So keep­ing ev­ery­thing short and snappy is usu­ally a good way to do it. If you do have bass that over­laps with the kick, just use sidechain com­pres­sion. For that, I just use the ba­sic Live Com­pres­sor which is good for that.

“Once you’ve made the groove, I think it’s worth putting the kick and the bass through their own bus. That way, you can glue them so it does sound al­most like a sin­gle el­e­ment and they’re re­ally bouncing off each other nicely. So for that I tend to use an API 2500 from Waves. It’s just a VST plugin but it sounds great… and I think that’s pretty much it. I try to not to over-process ev­ery­thing!”

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