This month’s My Studio is with Shur-i-kan who has just released a superb new deep house EP on Lazy Days, ‘Beats Strings & Life’. It’s already picking up plays and plaudits from DJs including Laurent Garnier, Jimpster, Mousse T, Julius Papp, Danny Howells, Bill Brewster, Hector Romero, Diz, Horse Meat Disco, Ashley Beedle and Mood || Swing so we thought we’d get a lesson in ‘less is more’ from the UK producer extraordinaire.
This is me in my studio. It’s in my loft, which is nice to work from but literally the worst place to have a studio for acoustic reasons. I was forced up here by my 11 month old son Finn (pictured) who took over my old studio as his nursery. Look at him gloat, he even gatecrashed my photo.
I work mostly ‘in the box’ using Logic Pro and a bit of Ableton (as a rewire slave) and have a very minimal set-up. I’d love to have one of those studios with lots of boutique, retro keyboards, but I’m too lazy, just couldn’t keep up with the dusting required.
When I moved into this room the reflections were so bad that just clearing my throat gave me the instant sensation of tinnitus. I’ve fixed that mostly by putting lots of cheap acoustic panels. However it’s still not great so I recently invested in these unassuming Phonon SMB-02s.
They are made by obsessive Japanese sound engineers, so you know they are legit. People say you aren’t supposed to mix on headphones, but these sound great and I love hearing all the details – it’s like getting my brain deep cleaned. Arigato Kumano-san!
Fender Rhodes 54
This is my somewhat rare Fender Rhodes 54 electric piano. It’s the first instrument I ever bought as a student. I found it in the ad section of a local paper (yes that long ago!). The seller sold it for £90 as he was just using it as a table. Today, they are worth thousands so that was a pretty good investment. The only problem is that I then had to buy a car just to lug it around gigs – it’s heavy.
The dreadful truth is I barely use it, I mostly keep it so I can occasionally recount that story and I like to think it lends me a vague sense of credibility when writing articles like this.
Sigh, USB cables, you either have too many of them, or not enough. This is my favourite USB cable … ok, it isn’t really, just playing with you – it’s my second favourite.
I’ve owned a few Mac Mini’s and something always goes a bit wrong with them, but somehow I keep on buying them. I think it’s because I’m tight with the wad. I used a classic Mac Pro for many years which was just amazing and loved, but then Apple stopped making them and replaced them with those stupidly priced desktops they sell now. Damn you Apple!
The audio interface is an Arturia Audiofuse. It’s handy because it doubles up as a speaker control unit and has lots of functions built-in whilst sounding decent. The downside is if I forget to switch off the speakers before I power down my Mac it blows out my speakers. Fortunately, my speakers are a hardy set of Genelec 1029a I bought off Tom Middleton yonks ago cause he didn’t like them much. I also have an even older set of Spirit Absolute Zero but I only keep those to put the Genelecs on so they sit high enough!
The heart of my production process is my store of half-baked ideas that I dive into whenever I need inspiration. There are hundreds of beats going back years – I colour code them but then forget what the colour was supposed to mean. So I just add more colours!
My hard drive is also full of samples I’ve collected over time. I’m ruthless in collecting samples from any source – be it vinyl, found sounds, blogs. I used to go round to my friends’ houses and start sampling their records too – occasionally I’d even ask permission.
That said, I don’t go for obvious samples – more weird sounds from exotic music sources that add an atmosphere to a track that would be hard to recreate in the digital domain. My productions are roughly 50% sound collage and 50% me bashing away on a keyboard so it’s an important part of my sound.
My mystery item(s) are these sets of VR headsets I have littered around.
In my other life as a different type of geek, I spend quite a lot of time in virtual reality. So I have a lot of headsets as part of my work. Little known fact, but I created one of the first VR music interactive experiences back in 2014 and am still represented as a VR “artist” by a fancy Mayfair gallery. See you all in the metaverse soon!
Shur-i-Kan’s ‘Beats Strings & Life’ is available to download and stream on Bandcamp.