Synths, versatile monitoring and lists. Lots and lots of lists. Elrow resident Bastian Bux shows us around his studio.
Bastian Bux – My Studio
My studio is quite minimalistic and simple, and even though I’ve had more outboard stuff in the past, I got rid of those things that were making me move around the room. My main goal recently has been to build a work environment where I could be able to stay as much as possible in the same spot: this way the sound reference stays the same during most of the session. This is the most important thing for me, as I discovered that those changes in my sound reference made me overrate or underrate what I was doing.
My main speakers have been a pair of Adam A8X since six years ago or so ago. I simply love them. Maybe they’re not the most honest speakers on the market, but I know them well. Clear and respectful on the high end and powerful and fat with the low end. They exaggerate the low frequencies a little bit, but that’s good for me because I always tend to overcharge my mixes with low sounds when I mix in flat and neutral rooms.
Nord Lead 2
I bought the Nord Lead 2 because I didn’t have enough money to afford different pieces of gear at that time. I decided to buy this one because it has every kind of sound that you would eventually need – from pads to bass sounds, from percussions to FX, and leads, of course – and all of them sound beautiful. I love it because it is super easy to find a place for its sound in every arrangement. There’s almost one layer of the Nord Lead 2 in every song I’ve released as Bastian Bux. As a lead sound I used it on ‘Tresor’, for example. The main melody that runs over the entire track was made with this cutie.
Moog Sub 37
This little beast is like a wild horse – even though it sounds amazing, it is hard (at least for me) to make it fit with other layers around it. That’s why I basically use it to fill the sub-bass frequencies or as a drone notes generator that I record live while tweaking its knobs. It sounds powerful like no other, it is easy to use in terms of interface and accessibility and once you start taming it, it becomes your favourite. You’ll find it as main sound on my single ‘Laufen’, or creating the top drums on ‘Umbral’ or my remix alongside Coyu of ‘Raise Your Glass’. And, as I said, it is present inside almost every track since a year and a half ago as a sub-bass frequencies filler.
I also have a djembe and tambourine that I use a lot to record weird sounds, not necessarily percussion rhythms or tambourine grooves. Same with the guitar. As I’m not a good guitar player, I’ve used it more to create weird percussion sounds than guitar riffs. I love to record random sounds from different positions and distances then make strange atmospheres or percussion grooves with them. If we speak about pure music, you can find the electric bass inside my first single ‘Stay’, where I used some recorded slap samples that I played on the actual instrument, mixed with synthesised sounds.
Mackie Big Knob
This is one of those things that only serves one purpose: make your life easier. I gives you a quick access to different speakers so I can A/B my reference in one click. It also has a super useful mono button that helps a lot when mixing a project or when you want to check phase cancellation issues. I also connect different sources in there, not only my main DAW, and have two different pairs of headphones connected so I can go from three pairs of speakers up to five different sound references.
I remember that I started working in this room when it was the absolute opposite to whatever a good music studio should look like. An old wood window shuddered every time I played bass notes, there were cancellations here and there, and there… But somehow I was able to make music in it. When I got enough money to acoustically treat the walls and then put all those Auralex panels, I spent MORE THAN ONE YEAR to be able to learn how to sound in there. So yeah, now I’m happy with it but when I think about moving into a bigger studio I start to sweat in anxiety.
Arturia CS80 Plugin
If I had to choose just one VST synth to make music, I would undoubtedly choose the Arturia CS80. You can find it everywhere in my songs. It is the main lead on ‘Stay’, ‘Mulberry’, ‘Beside’, ‘Prinzen’, ‘Teardrop’, ‘Screenshot’… I don’t know why I love it so much! I just can’t explain. It’s like I connected with it and it gives me what I want so fast. Tweak some parameters and try that Brilliance fader – it just makes your sound jump out of the speakers. And the delay is warm and beautiful. Essential piece.
For me it is super hard to control what I want to get out of a multiband compressor, so when I discovered that Melda had a multi-band transient designer I got one instantly. It gives you control on the transients of different frequencies, which gives unlimited control during mixing sessions. I can make the low end sharper, or rise the attack on the high frequencies of sounds like hi-hats, leaving the lows neutral. I put it in almost every channel of my projects.
Maybe one of the most important things for me in the studio is a sheet of paper and a pencil where I can make myself to-do lists. Every time a new task pops into my workflow I write it down there so I do not need to carry all those objectives all the time in my head; as well as not losing them from sight. I can focus on one task without the fear of forgetting something. I am able to read my list and I know where I am, where I need to go, how many things I need to do… Those are like weekly challenges and trust me when I tell you that this has been the best productivity booster I ever tried.