Where to begin???
Updated: Mar 24, 2018
Easyyyyyy, as this is my first blog post I've decided to start at the beginning... obviously! When making new music it can always be a task figuring out where to begin. For me, whenever I'm making a track I always seem to start with the foundations of the track, the drums. They're such an essential part of a track in underground electronic music that they really need to have that wow factor. I mean, any track can have a cool bassline and some catchy leads in but if the drums are whack you're not gonna want to groove out to it are you?! Some artists such as Tommy Vercetti, Detlef, Latmun & Josh Gregg really stand out to me as masters of the percussive world, each owning their own style and characteristics and they never disappoint when releasing fresh material.
So... Firstly, I like to begin with selecting a nice kick drum as this is what will give the track that punch it really needs and the basis on which the whole track will have to blend in with. I can spend any time between 30 secs and 30 mins trying to find that perfect sounding kick, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this struggle. Once I've found that perfect kick for the vibe I'm feeling, 99% of the time I will whack it into mono and EQ it straight away before adding anything else, so that it's exactly how I want it to sound.
Next thing I do is sort through my endless amount of sample packs to find claps which will sit in the mix well with the kick I chose, usually layering around 3 with different cutoff times and volumes. All the claps usually sit mixed into 1 channel where I'll then add EQ in the desired frequency range. Making sure your claps fit well with your kick is where I seem to see a lot of beginner producers let themselves down as no matter how hard you try to mix it down, "if it don't sit, you're polishing a shit."
Moving on to the hats, I usually find these to be the quickest and easiest element to add into the track. I usually gather around 4 open hats and 4 closed hats then begin with a standard simple offbeat 4/4 pattern. I'll then start adding in extra hits in between these and take some out of the offbeat pattern, this gives the track a real depth to its groove just by alternating the hat samples. Here's an example of my closed hats & open hats in my most recent work in progress.
As you can see all of my closed hats are routed to channel 3, whilst my open hats are routed to channel 4. This is so that I can process both types of hat separately to achieve the best result when EQ'ing. Now, anyone who's heard my music will probably notice that I love to play with the delays and reverbs in the build up to drops. I do this by sending my claps, hats and any other percussion that is playing during these buildups to a bus called 'tops'. This enables me to add automated delay and reverb plugins to just my tops in the buildup and I think this really adds another dimension to a track rather than just a dry buildup with some FX sweeps behind. An example of what I mean is below.
Track entitled: Downtown by Mallin
Once I've got a basic drum layout for my whole track to sit on top of with my effects all ready to go, I'll then start to think about the other elements I'll be adding, but as this post is about where I begin I'll save what I do next for my next blog update.
Hope this has helped anyone who's struggling to get started with new projects and has given some insight into my production techniques.
Written by Mallin