The Berlin-based Australian producer shows us around the studio where he made his new album, Escape The Remedies. Stream an exclusive mix from MUUI below.
MUUI – My Studio
This is my studio space in Berlin since the middle of last year and where I spend most of my time writing music and listening to music. It’s looking pretty neat and organised here but it normally gets pretty messy as nothing really has a set space. I move things around me as I want to use them, swapping things in and out from the substitute bench (the couch). I write with a mostly hardware-based setup and have several machines running at once, recording individual channels into the computer to later edit and make use of some digital processing plugins.
Mackie Onyx 1640i Mixer
The mixer is connected via FireWire to my Mac Pro and all sounds are recorded via this mixer into my computer. I wanted to get a mixing desk because I had started to use more and more hardware. I chose this mixer because of the FireWire connectivity and a lot of producers I know were using various Mackie mixers. They are quite well known for their nice sound and character when you drive them quite hard.
Apart from sounding great, it’s super easy to not only record all the separate channels into Ableton but also send sounds out from Ableton across the desk via FireWire to make use of my outboard effects, compressor and the mixer’s EQ and then back into Ableton.
Sonnox Plugins & Ableton Live
Ableton is the DAW that I use and for the way I write music it’s the most supportive of my workflow. I used Logic for such a long time but it became very frustrating as I record a lot of audio with many different takes and variations of each sound and my project files would just become a jungle of sounds. With Ableton session view it’s so simple and easy to have all the takes arranged for easy recall once ideas are recorded and keeps the creative environment fun with little effort.
Other software I use is just the standard Ableton plugins like the simple delay and grain delay, and the Sonnox Oxford Plugins, mainly the EQ and compressor. I’m trying more and more to get the sound I want when recording so less processing is done on each track once the file is recorded.
Dave Smith Tempest
This is my main drum machine. Its sound is really amazing and in terms of sound design it’s super versatile with the fact thats it combines analogue and digital in one. Each sound has two analogue oscillators that can be layered with samples that come with it so you have a lot of tools to make some unique sounds. I’ve used this a lot for kicks, claps, hats and have two MUUI kits saved that I used a lot across Escape The Remedies.
It’s not a plug and play machine like the TR-8, but after the initial learning curve I find it super easy and fun to use in the studio.
Obviously this makes some pretty awesome basslines but I’ve also been using it a lot for warped leads with some delay weaving through tracks. The main sound of ‘Past is Practise’ is from the Voyager. I’ve also used this a lot for FX, like long wobbly uplifters using the LFO or modulating background effects to percussion hits.
The space machine! It only really does one thing so as long as you’re not wanting a versatile delay this is a nice purchase to have. I feed some sound through it, press record and just play around with the repeat rate and intensity, which creates some nice trippy flutter effects.
I used this a lot on the Escape The Remedies album – its use is quite obvious in tracks like ‘Polkadot Syndrome’ and ‘Desire’. I’ve also used it in the reverb only setting for atmospheric background sounds, sending some pads or strings through it well into the peak level to get out of it a totally mangled sound that with some EQ can fill in a track. I did this in the track ‘Escape The Remedies’.
I also always use this when playing live – you can hear it as the main effect in this recording from earlier this year at Ritter Butzke in Berlin.
Avalon VT747sp Compressor
I usually feed a drum machine or the bassline from the Moog into this and just push everything well into the red. It’s got an EQ also but I usually keep this flat. There’s also a nice sidechain effect where can you select certain frequencies to trigger more or less of the compressor, which I’ll usually play around with a bit for drum tracks.
A past release I used the Avalon quite heavily on is the drum tracks on the Synsyi release, a techno EP on Paranoid Dancer.
I tend to use the Sonnox compressor more than this as in the box can be a lot easier sometimes, but I’m starting to use this more and more.
Dave Smith Prophet 08
This was my second synthesiser I bought after the Virus TI. I had saved up for a synth and did not really know which one to get so I spent a long time trawling the internet to decide what to buy. I don’t really remember why I chose this but it was a great buy. Initially I did not use it much because it was a bit confusing and the small menu was a bit frustrating but over the years spending some time with it and learning more on how to use it and its possibilities I use this a lot now and I love it for basses, pads and leads.
Nothing precise ever comes out of it. Everything is a bit wobbly and dirty, and each sound has a lot of character. This is one machine I can turn on knowing I will get something I can use out of it each time. I’ve done a lot of soundtrack type music with this, a lot of which is unreleased. The bassline and lead line of this track are from the Prophet.
You can hear the Prophet in a lot of these tracks also.
One of the newest purchases and it sounds great! The DNA symbiotic digital oscillator module makes some really strange noises.
The modular setup for now is quite basic, but it has all I need to make some really complex sounds and has given me something new to explore and learn.
I’ve not written tracks with this yet but I did do a collection of modular loops under Patrik Carrera. You can hear them below.
Koma Elektronik BD 101
This is a awesome gate/delay pedal that I’ve used mainly on percussion and hats. It spits out a really dirty sound because I always just push the input gain up and record small sections, playing around with the speed, time and cycle knobs. It usually gives me some nice interesting parts I can use. It’s got a cool motion sensor on it you can use to control effect amounts – I don’t really use it except for when showing friends: “Oh hey, look what this can do.”
Nord Lead 2X
I bought this second hand some years ago and it’s great! From bass to leads, it’s versatile and always sounds great. I’ve not used it a lot in the last year or so but have just rediscovered it and a new feature that I will make use of for the next live show synced over MIDI to a drum machine. It has a cool arp hold function and you can sync the arp and LFO speeds externally via MIDI to make some on-the-fly repeating chords and sequences.
Some sounds from the Nord are used in my track ‘Back To Yours’.
I use these mostly for live as they are small and easy to take around and I’m not too bothered if they break. I haven’t really used them in making music but when I first got them I used the Volca Beats on a few tracks. The kick from this remix I did is the bass drum from the Volca Beats.
Virus TI Snow
My first synth was the Virus TI Polar but when I moved from Australia I wanted something smaller and portable so I got the Snow. The Snow gives you four MIDI channels instead of 16 and less outputs but it’s perfect. The software it comes with is easy to use and makes it easy to name and save patches for each track. I’ve used it for kicks, basses, leads, percussion, FX hits and builds – basically everything – and I will always at least have one sound from this in each track.
The main sounds in ‘A Perfect Circle’ are from the Virus TI Snow and the Analog Four.
Couch & Cables
The couch holds a lot of cables and various things like a microphone, marcass, hard drives, power suplies and also some synths that don’t fit onto my work space.
The worst thing for me in the past was not having enough cables or not having the right ones, so right now I have much more than what I need scattered everywhere.
It’s always inspirational to see great art or photography, just like it is to hear good music. Away from music I enjoy taking photos and I also like to paint. I have a few small paintings I’ve done, a few unfinished ones and some blank canvases ready to be used laying around.