Sim­plic­ity is key

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

In their day jobs, away from The Nextmen vs Gen­tle­man’s Dub Club, Dom and Toby might be op­er­at­ing in rather dif­fer­ent gen­res much of the time, but they’re cer­tainly on the same page when it comes to the finer points of pro­duc­tion and the ben­e­fits of keep­ing things sim­ple. TD: “If you’re mak­ing reg­gae, you’re not re­ally do­ing any­thing crazy, mu­si­cally speak­ing. It’s not the type of mu­sic where you’ll be do­ing any mad pro­duc­tion where you have to sit there for 20 min­utes mak­ing one sound. So when it comes down to it, it’s re­ally all about the feel of the track, the feel of the vo­cal and how the vo­cal­ist sits in their range, and the BVs and horn lines. It’s all stuff that flows quite nat­u­rally on quite a sim­ple tem­plate.” DS: “If you lis­ten to the best pro­duc­tions in the world in any genre, usu­ally you’ll find that there isn’t that much go­ing on, es­pe­cially if you’re mak­ing sound sys­tem mu­sic. On a big sound sys­tem, if you add more than four el­e­ments, it mushes. Wall-of­sound-style mu­sic is not for big sound sys­tems; you don’t want too much go­ing on. You have to keep that in mind all the time: how is it go­ing to be­have when it comes to a big sound sys­tem? How is it go­ing to be­have when it’s played on a phone?” TS: “Also, the process of get­ting stuff mixed and mas­tered, you’ve got to ac­com­mo­date for that. If you’re try­ing to get a pre­mas­ter sound­ing as good as some­thing that’s been through hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds worth of gear, it’s not gonna hap­pen, so you’ve just got to be con­fi­dent and trust what you’ve got. And don’t overdo it. You learn that over time, don’t you? Early on, you throw the kitchen sink at it and then it gets mixed and mas­tered, and ev­ery­thing’s crushed and push­ing against it­self. And then you do a track where you maybe hold back loads and it’s maybe just kick and bass and a few bits, and on a sound sys­tem it’s just mega!”

: Apart from not over­load­ing the mix with el­e­ments, what other con­sid­er­a­tions do you find your­selves mak­ing when mix­ing for big sys­tems? DS: “An im­por­tant thing when you’re mak­ing club mu­sic or mu­sic for big sound sys­tems is: which is go­ing to be the low­est fre­quency? Is it the kick or the bass? And you have to make that de­ci­sion quite early. You can use sidechain­ing to punch a hole in the bass, but it’s not the best tech­nique, I don’t think. So some­times you find that putting the kick as the re­ally low sub that you can hear all the way down to 40Hz – be­low the bassline, which is start­ing a bit above that – is a re­ally good tech­nique. The kick hits you in the ch­est.” TD: “You get that with a lot of dub pro­duc­ers. If you lis­ten to a Sci­en­tist record, it’s like the kick will just melt your face. And some­times the bass might be quite high up, but be­cause it’s mov­ing so much sub, the rhythm of the kick is driv­ing ev­ery­thing. And again, there’s noth­ing much go­ing on – like four or five mu­si­cians.” DS: “And if you’ve got vo­cals in a track, there needs to be loads of space for them to pop.”

: Speak­ing of vo­cals, there’s a truck­load of su­perb singers and rap­pers on PoundForPound – Kiko Bun (on See

YouNex­tTues­day), GDC lead singer Jonathan Scratch­ley, Bris­tol MC Gardna (on Rude­boy), Joe Dukie (on High­sand

Lows), P Digsss of Shapeshifter and Juras­sic 5’s Chali 2na (on Hol­laMyName), Hol­lie Cook (on Spooky) and Eva Lazarus (on MistyEyes)… TD: “The se­lec­tion of vo­cal­ists was great, not only be­cause they’re all re­ally ta­lented, but also be­cause every­one on the record had ex­pe­ri­ence of com­ing in and do­ing a proper ses­sion. Some­times if you get some­one who isn’t reg­u­larly in the stu­dio, they might be a bit rusty or ner­vous, but every­one was fully up for shar­ing ideas and throw­ing down on the record. Credit to all of those guys.” DS: “Eva was just fan­tas­tic; and Gardna is a tour de force. He’s full of en­ergy and a great rap­per. And then Chali 2na – a le­gend!” TD: “And Hol­lie Cook is like an ethe­real reg­gae trop­i­cal god­dess.”

“Wall-of-sound-style mu­sic is not for big sound sys­tems; you don’t want too much go­ing on”

The Nextmen and GDC test their tunes on a wide range of mon­i­tor speak­ers and play­back sys­tems

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