Lee Ann Roberts continues to be one of the brightest sparks in techno. The Amsterdam based producer/DJ welcomed Attack into her dining room studio to give us a tour of where the sounds are cooked up.
Having just released a lo-fi techno single on her new NowNow records, Lee Ann Roberts has continued to develop her sound. For harder versions of the single, it’s also worth tuning into the Félicie and Balrog remixes. If rumbling rage techno is your thing, you will not be disappointed.
As ever, what does she use to get her sound? That’s what Attack readers and beyond wish to know. Is it less is more or gear hoarder? We asked her to show us around.
Follow Lee Ann Roberts on Instagram.
Lee Ann Roberts
Hi Attack – welcome to my temporary home studio in Amsterdam! Originally this was the dining room, but hey..these are strange times.
I work here with my laptop and Ableton, together with my Adam Audio T5V monitors or the A5X. When it comes to making music, I like to keep it very simple. I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few years without a permanent base and I want to make sure that I can make music wherever I am in the world.
I was living in the USA, then Mexico, but based myself in Europe at the start of the pandemic and love being here in Amsterdam. I’ll get the chance to set up a proper studio space towards the end of the year, which I’m super looking forward to, as I need to get proper access to my vinyl for DJing and checking test pressings etc for my label and of course to expand with new toys that I have my eyes on 🙂
At the moment, most of my ideas come out of jamming in Ableton through the laptop, though a lot of the plugin’s and the new Roland TB-03 get replaced when a track gets to the mixing / mastering phase and I have access to a great studio in Germany. I actually love working with the limitations of minimal equipment as it forces my brain to work in new ways to bring a unique sound palette together, rather than just turning on the next available synth.
That said, I do have a few bits and bobs that help carve my sound…..
AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular Headphones
They are my favourite headphones, I’m super familiar with them, you know how it goes… when you are so familiar with something it’s hard to change. I also have the Sennheiser HD25 but I prefer these… great quality, comfortable & great sound isolation.
Adam Audio Monitors T5V and A5X
I love the Adams, they have a great range of speakers without breaking the bank, that give me a reasonably accurate representation of what I’m hearing in the studio or when DJing. </br>
I don’t trust myself or the room to create a master 🙂 However, I want to get as close as possible before heading off into the studio and these are perfect for this. I’ve also got the T10S Subwoofer, but don’t want a neighbour war, so I’m looking forward to getting a new place properly set up soon, so I can get as loud as I want with no complaints…!
This is my best friend…! I love this little thing.
You can hear it in most of my tracks. I generate the 303 lines here in my home studio and then they get put into real 303’s when we get to the mix and mastering stage and or when I go into the studio in Germany.
It’s a lot easier to program than the original 303 (!) but I think the real thing has extra depth that really cuts through in a club. But for immediacy and being able to work on the fly, this little guy is perfect.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Generation)
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd generation) is a great sounding reliable sound card. It’s robust and easy to use. Perfect for recording and playback.
Arturia BeatStep Pro
This is an amazing addition to my studio setup, a perfect little sequencer that allows me to record in real-time and allows me to transpose several sequences at the same time.
I was with a friend in Berlin hanging out with their modular setup and was enthralled by MutabIe Instrument Marbles and its ability to generate trippy top-lines which I love. you can hear these in “Space Yourself” and “Reality Bytes” and generative stuff that just takes you off in different directions so I started looking around for a simpler alternative and Arturia BeatStep Pro was it.
I’m using it to program beats and do a lot of the sequencing with it. I love the Random function and just record really long midi sequencers into Ableton and then edit them down.
Novation Launchpad Mini MK3
One of the things I love about Ableton is the ability to create spontaneous arrangements by jamming with the clips in session view and then I go in and edit that arrangement into a more DJ friendly format and I use the launchpad for this.
Before Ableton I was using Logic and didn’t like moving blocks around on the screen… I love making spontaneous arrangements. It’s kind of like DJing, feels very natural and has a nice flow. It’s also super compact, which makes it nice and easy for traveling.
I grew up singing in choirs and even though vocals are not always common in techno, my voice is in a lot of the tracks, often as a texture, rather than traditional vocals.
I love this mic for vocals. It has great clarity with a good tone. I know that even when I do use ‘straight’ vocals they end up distorted, resonated, telephone’d etc, but it’s better to have a good clean starting point before going down the rabbit hole.
Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI Keyboard
I wanted a master keyboard that has more than 2 octaves (despite this not fitting in a backpack – I travel with the mini version) as I worked a lot with the piano during my studies and I always want to explore more octaves than the portable options allow.
This has a great key-bed, works well with Ableton and I love Analog Lab when I’m writing and sketching stuff out – super quick and easy. It gives me recreations of all the classic synths that integrate completely.
It has so many features which makes the possibilities endless. Again, as with the 303’s, once we get into mix and mastering, a lot of the plugin’s either get re-amped or replaced with hardware, but you can’t carry an Arp 2600 with you on the road 🙂
Candles, Incense, Sage with a South African twist
I’m all about candles and incense, you can kind of say I’m an addict.
It brings such a relaxing vibe to the studio. Beautiful smells and smiles create an amazing atmosphere. I meditate and do yoga, which is super important to me – the perfect counterbalance to a distorted 140 bpm kick through a club system.
These help create an ambience which I can relate to and make me feel at home wherever I am in the world. The sage also cleans the energy in the room which gives me a clean slate to start work in the mornings. The elephant reminds me of home 🙂