‘I’ve now delved deeper into the synth (Make Noise O-Coast) and realise it has so much depth – it’s also inspired me to start researching modular synths and I fear that soon I may be going down the rabbit hole. I hope my girlfriend doesn’t read this’. Berlin based, UK artist, BNJMN takes us through his latest album, track by track.
“This album was made over the course of about a year and a half, during many different sessions and in 3 different studios. The first studio I occupied was a very small space, only 7 sq metres and with all the equipment facing along the longest wall, I had no space to set the speakers as they should be. This made mixing particularly difficult at times and I often had to refer to headphones to ensure the mix was good.
I then moved into a much bigger studio with a friend, where we combined our equipment to create a really great space where the possibilities almost felt endless. This time was cut short due to increasing rents in Berlin – the landlord suddenly wanted double the rent with only a few days notice. It took me a few months to find another space which is my current space.
I’m very happy as the dimensions of the room are much better than my two previous spaces, the rent isn’t too high and it’s mostly quiet during the day without having any loud bands around. Over the course of the album, I’ve used a few different setups but the core equipment has mainly been the same, which I’ve explained below.”
This is a good example of a track where the layers slowly build upon each other. Starting with the Acidlab Miami 808 clone and eventually combining the Elektron Analog Rythm and using a few layers of synths. Pretty much everything I record goes through a chain that I have going through the patch bay, which includes a Thermionic Culture Vulture, Eventide H9 and just recently a pair of Distressors.
This track was made during the period where I shared a very large studio space. I think you can hear this sonically in the track, the sound is slightly less tight than some of the others on the album and is a bit more open and expansive.
During this period, I had access to pieces of equipment which I hadn’t used before, and don’t have access to now. The main synth lines here are from a Nord Rack 2 which I really enjoyed working with. There are a few other things that I miss from that space, such as a Space Echo and an Ensoniq DP4.
I played this live with a midi keyboard going into a Waldorf XT synth, probably my most used piece of equipment in the whole studio – it’s my desert island synth and I feel like I couldn’t live without it.
This is one of those tracks which seemed to magically appear on my hard drive – I don’t remember too much about making this one. Having looked at the project file I appear to have jammed for a while and then looped the main synth part which everything revolves around. I can also hear that the Acidlab Miami was used and the reverb on the hi-hats were recorded wet going through the Eventide H9.
I mixed this several times and it took me a while until I was happy with the way it sounded, although this was way easier when I moved into my new room as the sound in here is tighter and I’ve just added a sub to the system which helps me to define the low end without having to do guesswork when mixing. The main synth which slowly modulates and changes throughout was of course on the Waldorf XT.
One of the first tracks I made when I upgraded my audio interface. I went from a Focusrite to a PrismSound Lyra before I started making this album and the difference is pretty huge. I had no idea that good quality converters could make such a big difference, but for a few days it was like listening to music for the first time again – the depth of the audio quality is pretty amazing. When I first started recording things into it I felt that I could get a new level of clarity in the music, which I think translates over the whole album. This track is pretty dense, so it helped to be able to hear all of the individual frequencies to mix it.
This was mostly recorded in the box, one of the few times I’ve done that during the past few years. It’s pretty much only samples and even the drums are samples, but during the final mixing process, I felt something was lacking in the arrangement and added some layers of synths towards the end with the Prophet 6, as well as some drum layers. I like the Prophet, but this is one of the few times I’ve used it on a release. I fear it may be sold soon to make way for other things.
This track was a happy accident. I accidentally clicked the sequencer into action on my midi keyboard, triggering the Nord rack. I immediately loved the simplicity of the loop and pretty much decided to leave it as it is, aside from adding a few more layers and some low frequencies.
I think this is still my favourite track on the album and one that I play out quite often in the more dreamier moments of a club set. The main sequenced synth is the Make Noise 0-Coast, which I had just bought and didn’t really know how to use at the time. I’ve now delved deeper into the synth and realise it has so much depth – it’s also inspired me to start researching modular synths and I fear that soon I may be going down the rabbit hole. I hope my girlfriend doesn’t read this.
Over White Peaks
This was also a live take like Glowed, also using the Waldorf XT. There are also some background noises which come from an EMS Synthi, which I was lucky enough to own for a while before realising that I could upgrade other aspects of the studio using the money I got from selling it. I miss it and it does sound incredible, but I just wasn’t using it enough to justify the price tag. Since then I bought the sub and the Distressors which already feel like an integral part of the studio. The new room is also massively important and treating the acoustics is one of the best upgrades I could have made. It’s definitely true that monitors are only as good as the room they are in.