Once we previously reported, Native Instruments heralded the release of the Komplete 11 audio creation suite with Komplete Sketches: a collection of 24 commissioned compositions by a selection of artists, all of which were made exclusively with the new software. We’ ve linked up with five of the enlisted Sketches artists—WIFE, Chino Amobi, Tossing Shade, Jlin and Deru—to go in deep on their workflow processes, the useful tips they’ ve discovered throughout their career and the techniques they use to create their own distinctive audio. Read below as Tri Angle Records signee James Kelly, better identified by his artist name SPOUSE, digs into why presets plus plugins are the perfect production starting point for him.
How did creating the Sketch work for you? How did you feel about only using Komplete to create your own Sketch ?
Whenever I get a new set of software or plugins, I’ll have a notepad and write down what they are called of presets and instruments I like and stuff that I’m into. Once I actually identify those things, I try to either build on the sound that’s there or even do some reductive stuff, like fine-tune it to make it more my own and less out-of-the-box, so to speak. It’s amazing when you find something like a preset or plugin that’s perfectly suited to your taste. It just means you can work fast and start developing an idea way quicker instead of painstakingly tweaking a sound just so you can get started. I know many people who subscribe to the idea that you should get the ideas down first and be worried about the sound later, but I can’t even get my idea lower if the thing I’m working on—the kick or synth or no matter what it is—doesn’t sound like how I envision. I’ll just stop working on it. That kind of “design” is becoming a part of my work more anyway. I think the idea of writing a unique melody or a unique chord progression is almost redundant at this time. Instead, I think what’s starting to generate music sound unique and separate from other things is the sound style and the production quality. That’s the reason why I need them to be right for me before I can start developing our ideas.
Exactly what have been the most useful things you have learned over the years? Is it more about specific techniques or new software? Any kind of particular game-changers?
It’s kind of 50-50. On one hand, an excellent piece of software makes you up your game. A few of the stuff that comes out of Polyplex is so good you’re like, “Damn, the particular drums that I’ve been development sound like shit next to that. ” The other part has been trial and error. With time, you’re honing your craft plus developing your skills and ideas a bit more, constantly writing, constantly attempting new things. Starting to do paid commercial gigs made me step up my game a little. When someone’s having to pay you—whether it’s for sound design or composing music for adverts—you need to deliver something of a certain standard. It needs to be good.
Do you find that paid work needs a different approach than your own personal music does?
Yeah, absolutely. What was good about starting to do that was that I put out an album on Tri Position and then basically didn’t write anything at all for WIFE for about a year. Meanwhile I was working on these different industrial projects, and one of the things that trained me was that I am able to create quickly and turn out really good-sounding stuff when I need to. But when considering my own stuff, I have this classic mental block where I just can not finish anything and nothing’s ever good enough. With the EP I’ve just finished, it was the opposite. I pushed myself to work like I would on the commercial project and finish points more quickly. I put myself underneath the good kind of pressure just to provide myself a deadline and get this done.
How was this different in the process for this EP?
It was more about turning things around quickly and actually saying “This is done” when I felt it was done. If it’s commercial things, I’ll give myself until, state, Friday evening to finish it then I may never think of it again. But if it’s my own stuff I can end up tweaking things until the event of mastering. And I’ve definitely learned from experience. Some of the tracks on the album I did for Attempt Angle were at version 53 or something by the end of it. You recognize once you get to version 53 the fact that thing was done back in version five, but something held changing and kept getting modified. If you’re at a point where you think your song’s not good enough because you have to change a snare drum, something else is really wrong. A snare trommel isn’t going to change anything.
So I guess the difference now is that you try to keep an eye on the best picture?
Yeah, exactly. And just try to take a little bit of an objective step back from it and let it flow as naturally as it need to rather than completely overcooking it.
So how did it work together with the last EP? Did you know you were likely to do a five-track EP beforehand, or even did you just do it track by track?
I just started writing. After a while I began to come up with things that I felt great about, and for the first time in a very long time, I was in a good place regarding my music and my writing. I just wanted to write that feeling and obtain it wrapped up while We still felt good about it. I’m very lucky to have a partner whom I can bounce ideas off of, and sometimes that’s what you need: an objective opinion from someone who can say, “You’re really onto something here” or tell you that you’re totally incorrect and that it isn’t working. That will helped me a lot, and I just kept rolling with it. In the end I had these five tracks that fit together well for me, and that’s how it ended up happening.
Do you like to show unfinished stuff at an early stage, or do you await it to be nearly ready?
I’ve gotten much better. It used to be like everything was cloaked—I wouldn’t let anybody discover or hear anything until it had been 100 percent, and that’s a terrible idea in my opinion. I don’t know anybody around who wouldn’t benefit from some sort of input. And nine times out of ten, the input you need is just huge picture, objective input. Nobody ever steps in and says, “Your track would sound way better in case you tweaked the EQ on that hat” or something. It’s certainly not that kind of input; it’s consistently the bigger picture. I’ve definitely obtained better at knowing which of my friends I can rely on for constructive criticism and when it can be beneficial.
It’s really important to get the correct ears on it.
Definitely. It can be a mix of reasons: low self-esteem, or you feel shy, or occasionally it’s to do with competitiveness. I remember after i was living in London I had a number of friends who were music producers residing in the same house, and they used to only work on headphones because they didn’t would like anyone to hear them. That’s crazy.
How do you understand exactly when a track’s finished? Do you turn it into a time thing, exactly where if it’s not working after two or three weeks, you move on to something else?
Yeah, I have definitely gotten better at that. It’s the same thing people always say. I think the best work gets carried out when that creative spark and excitement is there in the first half-hour or so. You know it’s worth the particular labor if you still feel excited, if it gives you a buzz every time you open the project and you still feel like you’ve got ideas to toss at it. But if it gets to the point where it’s like pulling a tooth and it’s barely changed after four months, it’s not good.
When you do get stuck, do you have strategies to get elements moving again?
I’ve got to say, when I was just learning how to use Ableton as well as how to produce in general, I was on Dubstepforum a lot. They had a really cool producer Q& A thing, and one of the most advantageous ones ever was with Objekt. He gave a list of points about how exactly he does shit, and everybody should read that. One of the types in particular that I thought was great and that I’ve used ever since involved when you’re doing a mixdown: turn the screen off, put earphones on and take notes with pen and paper. I’ve found that really beneficial to do.
There was one Q& The with him—maybe it’s the same one—where he said that by version forty, a track is going to have nothing to do with its initial version.
I’ve definitely been through that stuff. With this EP, some of the tracks stuck really close to their particular initial inception, and one or 2 really went in a different path with only tiny relics from the original left in them.
There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube that will teach you how to make every beat under the sun. Do you watch that kind of thing?
I used to. Back when I was reading Objekt’s Q& As I watched every single Red Half truths Music Academy lecture and every YouTube tutorial. It becomes so satisfying when you’re at the point of not needing to do that anymore and you’re very intuitively connected with your DAW and the other software you use. And today I’m at a stage where if I want to do something, I can just jump straight in and do it.
So what’s your own setup now?
It’s mostly Ableton, and then I personally use the Komplete Kontrol keyboard for a number of things because it’s nice pertaining to automation and things like that. I like outboard effects units occasionally, mainly for vocals and things like that. And then I track a lot of my own voice and put it through samplers and things like that. The whole thing winds up being very much in the box, some the elements that end up in the box are recordings of instruments or my voice—different things like that. With this report I did a bizarre, tedious factor, but it ended up getting me the final results I wanted so I can’t complain: I went to a studio to track all of my kick drums. I had them all in my DAW, then I went to a studio to send them through this big rig of Ampeg bass amps and track them entering the room live. So there’s simply no reverb on my kicks. It is like they’re being performed live in the recording space. Definitely tedious although. I got an email from Bobby, The Haxan Cloak, after I put out the record saying, “How did a person make that kick drum?! ” That’s another little success at least!
Many musicians spend a lot of time in the digital site trying to make things sound less perfect. So they might have this rich, beautiful reverb but spend a lot of time trying to make it sound like there’s something slightly wrong with it.
For sure! It’s actually interesting how there’s a tendency in electronic music at the moment exactly where people are trying to fuck up the digital perfection more and more. That’s really cool. Plus again, that relates to what I’m talking about: with electronic music right now, I feel the most interesting factors are usually cosmetic, more than actually in the songwriting.
2016 really was interesting for sound design. There are quite a lot of artists about now who also really focus more on sound than on melody and harmony.
I think We definitely moved more into a spatial thing with this EP. And as a writer, what’s exciting about that is that it builds up this massive spectrum within which you can express yourself, not only with a melody current drums but with the movement as well as the way you play with the listener’s perception of the song.
Not to be too skeptical about this, but I hope this movement does not reach a saturation point exactly where it becomes style over substance. I have seen that in metal. It begins as these really pissed-off individuals starting a band and shouting because they really have something to shout about—maybe they’re unemployed and living in a really shitty social situation or even whatever. They really have a reason to scream. Then it continues on being a trend and at the top of the foods chain is someone screaming who has nothing to scream about and is just doing it because everyone else is usually. It sort of catches on as well as the people doing it no longer know exactly why they’re doing it.
I guess there’s always that danger of emulation.
Of course , and it happens so much in music. There’s so , so much fascinating electronic music coming out right now, require things obviously move at this kind of stellar rate. It’s crazy. Also it can change so quickly. It’s actually to my taste in that I come from a noisy metal background, plus electronic music is getting to be the noisiest it’s been since Rusko was putting out tracks.
Who’s been really interesting for you this year?
I’m a big fan of my friends and peers in Bremen; the Amnesia Scanner guys are amazing and super inspirational in a great deal of ways. In terms of what I listen to at home, I’ve got a love/hate matter with that new Bon Iver. I think sonically it’s incredible. I’m nevertheless a sucker for songs, yet I don’t know why. As much as I can appreciate a lot of the stuff that’s taking place right now, I sometimes really desire a song at its primary. I love Amnesia Scanner for that reason: they do the amazing sound design thing, but at its core is a monitor you can really lock into.
It’s funny how people have been saying, “It’s never already been easier to make music” for the last decade or so. I’ve always found that will to be a pile of shit due to the fact it’s always been easy to get a any guitar or get a piano. And at the final of the day, the people who really have that drive in their soul to make it work are usually gonna do it. And I think every person I realize at some point has downloaded some songs software, loaded it up and given it a go. But they give up two weeks later because they’ve got a Martial arts class or whatever. Some people test these things and you know it’s simply a fad, but I think the people whom actually want to make music will always discover a way to do it.
The publish Tri Angle’ s WIFE Approach Beat Music-Writers’ Block appeared initial on Electronic Beats.